Roxy’s Best Of…Morris County, New Jersey

The Best of Morris County, New Jersey, from kid stuff (including summer camp) to restaurants to art galleries and shopping

Mar
15

Gimme a C, Gimme an H, Gimme an E-E-R! Rockaway Gymnastics Pairs Up with Jerzy’s Best All Starz Cheerleading Team

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Climb up the palm tree,
Slide down the cactus,
We play your team
just for practice!

I don’t know where my daughters got their cheerleading gene, but London and Maddie are always running, jumping, tumbling and leaping around the house while chanting cheers designed to taunt and distract the opposing team.  And now Rockaway Gymnastics in Rockaway NJ (the same great group of people who brought you Randolph Gymnastics in Randolph, NJ) has just the thing for the inner cheerleader in all of us.

Rockaway Gymnastics has paired up with Jerzy’s Best All Starz Cheer to introduce a cheerleading team for kids ages 5 and up.  Mark your calendar with the following dates:

  • Tryouts for the new team on Friday, May 15th, following mandatory clinics for all participants to be held from Monday, May 11th through Thursday, May 14th.
  • Rockaway Gymnastics is also holding clinics on Wednesday, April 22nd, April 29th, & May 6th at 6:00 p.m. for flying, stunting, basics, stretching & strengthening to get students ready for tryouts.

Clinics and tryouts are open to all girls and boys age 5 and up, recreational, high school and all star cheerleaders.

If you’d like to learn more or see if the cheerleading team is right for your child, tween or teenager, bring your kids to the Rockaway Gymnastics Jerzy’s Best All Stars Open House on Sunday, April 26th from 1:30pm to 5:30pm.  You can tour the gym, meet the staff, and ask all of your questions about the gymnastics and cheerleading team programs. Very similar to Randolph Gymnastics, where London and Maddie take weekly Novice II gymnastics classes, Rockaway Gymnastics provides a 13,000 sq. ft. fully equiped, state-of-the-art, olympic quality training facility.

Rockaway Gymnastics will also run a summer camp for this program… more details as the summer gets closer.

Rockaway Gymnastics, 385-A Franklin Ave. Rockaway, NJ. Phone: (973) 627-3276.

Jan
30

This Wagon’s Gonna Roll… The Padded Wagon Moving Company Delivers for Roxy Again

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Back in October 2003, when our family moved out of Manhattan to the Roxiticus Valley in Mendham, New Jersey, our realtor, Ann Tannen, recommended The Padded Wagon moving company to get the job done. We were consolidating two homes into one: our West Village loft and my four-bedroom bachelorette colonial in Somerset, New Jersey. 

There’s a nice long happily-ever-after story that I’ll post here shortly, but I’m in the midst of unpacking some moving boxes… Last night, on a slippery slope of ice, the Padded Wagon rolled down our driveway to deliver some furniture from our office in New York City.

If you’re coming to join the Roxiticus Desperate Housewives here in Morris County, (or anywhere else in New Jersey), there’s only one choice of moving company:

The Padded Wagon. Phone: (973) 335-5055, and be sure to let them know that Roxy sent you!

Jan
04

Starting to Think About Summer Camp 2009 — Roxy’s Best Of… Summer Camps in Morris and Somerset County, New Jersey

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The Roxiticus Desperate Housewives are starting to think about summer camp 2009, and I’ll do my best to cover the camps my kids have tried, and the ones my friends recommend.  Some of my favorites haven’t posted all the details on their 2009 camp programs, but I’ll provide a summary of last year’s program now and update the dates and details as soon as they become available.

Mendham Township Elementary School Pathways to Learning Summer Camp:
For starters, I can highly recommend the Mendham Township Elementary School Pathways to Learning Summer Camp that former Superintendent Christine Johnson launched in the summer of 2007. In their first experience with Pathways in 2007, my girls attended the camp’s first two weeks in July and begged me to go back for the final week in August. The MTES Cub Camp was the perfect way for Maddie, at the time a rising kindergartner, to get to know some of the other kids she’d be in class with in September, and to get to know her way around the elementary school ahead of time. Camp is open to all children (from rising kindergartners through eighth grade) in Mendham Township and the surrounding communities.

Last summer, the Pathways to Learning Camp returned to MTES, running June 24 through August 1st, 2008, with expanded hours (8:30am - 2:00pm).  We took advantage of the camp bus service that picked the girls up in the morning, but our nanny or Rex or I picked the girls up at the end of the camp day.  While I had assumed that, without Christine Johnson at the helm, the camp would be less enriching than the prior summer, London and Maddie insisted they had even more fun during their two week Summer 2008 stint, possibly because Mr. Gallo (the MTES Technology teacher) was their camp counselor.

I expect that the Pathways to Learning Summer Camp at Mendham Township Elementary School will be back and better than ever under the guidance of our new Superintendent, Kristopher Harrison.  If camp is organized as it has been in the past, campers will be grouped by grade levels in order to provide appropriate activities and meaningful experiences.

  • Cub Camp - For students entering Kindergarten in September 2009
  • Junior Tiger Camp - For students entering 1st and 2nd grades in September 2009
  • Tiger Camp - For students entering 3rd and 4th grades in September 2009
  • Bulldog Camp - For students entering 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th grades in September 2009

If I had to venture a guess, I’d say that this year’s Pathways to Learning Summer Camp will run six weeks starting June 22nd or 23rd, ending on July 31st, though it would be terrific if Pathways extended the program for eight weeks through August 14th.  Campers will spend an action packed week or weeks (you can sign up for 1 week or all 6 weeks or any number in between) engaged in activities such as creative fitness & sports games, visual and performing arts, challenges & contests to build teamwork & personal leadership skills, technology, theme days, literacy and math enrichment & skills reinforcement, and hands-on science projects. Certified teachers, district administrators, and junior camp counselors will staff the camp. In addition, a certified nurse will be on-site at all times. The MTES camp sounds “educational” but my girls never felt like they were in school, they were having too much fun!

Transportation and food services are also available at an extra cost. My kids won’t eat anything but mom’s home-made peanut butter and honey sandwiches, but there’s a round-trip (or one way) bus option that worked well for us last year.

Last year’s camp tuition was $269 per 5-day week, $218 for 4-day (holiday) weeks, or you could pay $1,490 to register for all six weeks. The MTES Pathways to Learning Summer Camp is a great value if you don’t need full-day day care. At some of the “country club” camps mentioned below, you could pay $1,000 for one week of camp.

Annie’s Playhouse Summer Stars:
My girls have also attended the Annie’s Playhouse Summer Stars Musical Theatre Camp for two summers, and we’ll be back again this year. The camp runs 8 weeks, with a big show towards the end of camp where you’ll see your kids (and other talented summer stars) strut their stuff on stage at the Bernardsville Presbyterian Church.  Annie hasn’t announced precise dates yet, but my best guess based on last year’s dates would be June 15th through August 7th, although London and Maddie will still be in school if the first week starts June 15th, so depending on the last day of school in other districts it may be June 22nd to August 14th.

Annie’s Playhouse Summer Stars.  Phone: (908) 658- 3002.  Please be sure to let Annie know that Roxy sent you.

Pavan’s Tennis Academy at Fox Chase Tennis Club in Chester, NJ

London had a make-up lesson this morning over at Pavan’s Tennis Academy at Fox Chase Tennis Club, and Pavan assured me that he’ll be running his awesome tennis camp for kids of all ages (kindergarten through high school) again this summer.  London and Maddie spent three hours a day with Pavan for one week in August last summer and both girls dramatically improved their strokes and presence on the tennis court.

Based on last year’s dates, I’m going to guess that Pavan’s Summer Tennis Camp will run 9 weeks from June 22nd through August 21st.  Last year’s pricing for the one hour Munchkins (age 4-7) and Advanced Munchkins (age 7-8) program was $140 per week.  The three hour Beginner and Low Intermediate (age 9 and up) program was $345 per week.  The four hour USTA Players’ Development, Intermediate and Advanced Intermediate (USTA and high school age) program was $500 per week.

Phone 908-879-5231.  Please be sure to let Pavan know that Roxy sent you.

Randolph Gymnastics

Randolph Gymnastics in Randolph, NJ, where London and Maddie are training for the Olympics, will offer a 10-week Summer Day Camp program from June 29th through August 28th.  Both a full and half day camp schedule is available.  The full day runs from 9:00am through 4:00pm and half day runs 9:00am through -1:00pm.  Before and after care is available if needed.  The minimum age for Randolph Gymnastics Summer Day Camp is five years old. Some of the camp’s activities will include: recreational gymnastics & open work-out, arts & crafts, games and races, swimming, non-contact team sports, and a climbing wall.  The schedule is flexible, and you’ll find rates on the Randolph Gymnastics web site for one to five days per week and one to ten weeks of camp.  Phone (973) 584-4111.  Please be sure to let Shannon know that Roxy sent you.

Garden State Ballet:

Garden State Ballet, where London and Maddie attend weekly ballet classes, will offer a summer program at each of its three locations in Randolph, Rutherford, and Newark, NJ.

The West Morris YMCA Backyard Pool Program:

No, it’s not a day camp, but it’s what my girls like to do on summer afternoons. For the first three summers after we moved out from New York City to the Roxiticus Valley, my kids had private swimming lessons in our backyard pool. The West Morris YMCA sent out a high school or college kid who’s passed their lifeguarding tests and the kids learn at their own level on their own turf (or surf, as it were). Unfortunately, due to the crazy price of gasoline last year, the West Morris YMCA canceled their Backyard Pool Program for the Summer of 2008.  This summer, the price of gasoline shouldn’t be an issue — today I watched our local Exxon station post the price at $1.49 per gallon vs. last summer’s four bucks.  As soon as I learn more (they usually mail out applications in April), I’ll let you know if the West Morris YMCA Backyard Pool Program will resume in 2009.

Word of Mouth Summer Camps, Untested by this Roxiticus Desperate Housewife:

We have friends who swear by Harbor Hills Day Camp in Randolph, NJ. Since I have an nanny (remember, I’m an investment banker, not really a housewife), I’m not really interested in putting my kids on a bus at 8 in the morning and not seeing them again until 4 or 4:30pm. However, if you’re looking for a full day camp with round-trip bus service and all the “country club” extras your kids can imagine (swimming, bungee jumping, go carts, etc.), Harbor Hills may be the place for you.

Hi-Hills Day Camp at Gill St. Bernards is right down the street from us in Gladstone, NJ. Cheaper than Harbor Hills but not quite as luxurious, Hi-Hills does offer horseback riding.

Meadowbrook Country Day Camp in Long Valley, NJ is another option if you’re looking for full day care, want to spend a bit less than you would at Harbor Hills, and want your kids to have a more outdoorsy camp experience (e.g., fishing instead of bungee jumping).  My good friend and fellow Roxiticus Desperate Housewife, Lynette, has twins who have enjoyed the camp for the past two summers, and one of my loyal readers left the following comment:  “My 2 children have attended Meadowbrook for the past 2 summers (and attended Valley Brook, the adjoining preschool and kindergarten school). They have had a wonderful time, had tremendous supervision (pools have always scared me at camps!) and have made long time friends. Wonderful summers at Meadowbrook.”

Roxy’s Mailbag received a rave for Soulshine Farm Summer Camp in Randolph, NJ: Yoga, farm activities, organic food!

If you have a favorite summer camp that you’d like to share with Roxy’s Best Of… readers, please leave a comment on this post or contact Roxy.

Jan
02

From Roxy’s Mailbag: Care Focus Home Care Agency in Parsippany, New Jersey

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Dear Roxy,
I came across your web site and I hope you might be able to help. Roxy’s Best Of… Morris County, New Jersey has an icon for “Home Services” in your header and yet there are no services listed. I have just opened a new home care agency in Parsippany, NJ called Care Focus. This service is designed to help elderly who do not want to go to a nursing home but need help around the house during the day. I offer Companions who can assist in meal preparation, light housekeeping, driving to doctors appointments, reading, games…a variety of different services. I wanted to know if it was possible to list our company under your Home Services? You can reach me at (973) 515-3034.
Thank you for your time,
Nicole Gargano

Dear Nicole,

Thanks for the reminder that I need to work harder at updating the content on all of my Roxy’s Best Of… local sites.  Since I haven’t had the need for your services, I can’t give you the Roxy’s Best Of… official seal of approval, but I’d be happy to share the information about your home care agency with my loyal readers.  The start of the New Year 2009 is certainly a reminder that we’re all getting older and some of us need a bit of help with everyday tasks.  I’ve been struggling with that very issue on behalf of my 83-year-old mom, who lives in Somerset County.  She doesn’t need a nursing home and might do well in a multi-tier assisted living facility, but in the meantime, she shouldn’t be climbing the basement stairs to do her own laundry.

All the best,
Roxy

Care Focus Home Care Agency, Parsippany, NJ.  Phone (973) 515-3034.  Be sure to let Nicole know that Roxy sent you!

Dec
30

Celebrate New Year’s Eve at the Best Restaurants in Morris and Somerset County NJ… or Ring in the New Year at Home with a Little Help from the Best Butchers and Caterers

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Whether you’re planning to celebrate the New Year 2009 with family at home or out on the town in Morris and Somerset County, New Jersey, if you’re staying local for the holidays, Roxy’s going to help you find what you need to make the season special. I’ve put together a list of Roxy’s Best Of… Morris and Somerset County Restaurants, and I’ve provided some details about New Year’s Eve special dinners and events along the way. If you’re planning to prepare (or cater) a fabulous meal for your family and friends, Roxy’s got the butchers, bakers, caterers, party rentals and other services to entertain at home.

When I get to talking with my husband, Rex, about the Roxy’s Best Of… online empire, he often says, “you should rate everything on a scale of one to four stars” and I always respond, “But I wouldn’t want to write about something that wasn’t a four-star fave!” When I look through the list of Roxy’s Best Of… Restaurants, I will admit that I would choose each of them for a different occasion, mood, or cuisine, but I still feel like each one deserves four stars for its own category. If I’ve received a recommendation from a friend or other source, I’ll include it under a separate list of additional restaurants that I have not yet tried, along with any information I can pass along.

Roxy’s Best Of… Morris and Somerset County Restaurants:

The Bernards Inn in Bernardsville, NJ:
Rex, London, Maddie and I enjoyed Christmas Eve dinner a couple years back in the dining room at the Bernards Inn. There was something delicious on the menu for each of us, and the evening was joyous and festive in all the right ways.

This year, you can celebrate New Year’s Eve in style at The Bernards Inn with a special prix-fixe dinner with three or four courses on Wednesday, December 31st. The first seating will be from 6 pm to 7 pm and offers a three-course prix-fixe dinner. Executive Chef Corey Heyer will present a spectacular holiday menu of outstanding appetizers, entrees and desserts. Guests can also enjoy live piano music in the Library Bar. The cost is $110 per person. Reservations are required and can be made by calling (908) 766-0002. Ring in the New Year at the second seating, which will feature a four-course prix-fixe dinner with seatings between 9 pm and 10 pm. The second seating is $170 per person and includes a glass of Champagne and party favors to welcome in the New Year.

For those of you coming in from out of town, or if you’d just like to avoid driving after you ring in the New Year, keep the celebration going all night at the Bernards Inn with a romantic overnight stay for two that includes overnight accommodations in a luxurious guest room, a bottle of champagne nestled in ice, a decadent assortment of chocolate-covered strawberries and chocolate truffles, the four-course a la carte dinner (the late seating), a midnight champagne toast, a sterling silver Bernards Inn wine stopper, an a la carte breakfast on New Year’s Day 2009, and late check-out. The Bernards Inn New Year’s Eve Celebration Getaway is priced from $650.00 based on guest room accommodations. Taxes and gratuities are additional. For reservations, call 908-766-0002.

The Bernards Inn, 27 Mine Brook Road, Bernardsville, NJ. Phone: (908) 766-0002.

The Black Horse Tavern in Mendham, NJ:

Café Azzurro in Peapack, NJ: Italian bistro. BYOB. Open 7 days a week for dinner from 5pm to 10pm, Monday-Friday for lunch from 11:30am to 2:30pm. Private rooms available for parties of up to 80 people. 141 Main Street, Peapack, NJ. Phone: (908) 470-1470.

Equus in downtown Bernardsville, NJ: Fine dining in a historic tavern. Renowned Chef Michael Perselay. Extensive wine list. Open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner, plus Sunday brunch. Private dining room seats 15-50 for parties and weddings. 1 Mill Street, Bernardsville, NJ. Phone: (908) 766-3737.

Due Terre Enoteca in Bernardsville, NJ:

The Gladstone Tavern in Gladstone, NJ:

Grill 73 in Bernardsville, NJ:

Limestone Café in Peapack, NJ:

Opah Grille in Gladstone, NJ, where Rex, London, Maddie and I spent one of our first New Year’s Eves in the Roxiticus Valley, has unfortunately closed, as recently as October or November 2008.

Origin (French Thai) in Morristown, Basking Ridge, and Somerville, NJ: Thai food might be just right to kick start your New Year’s Eve celebration (or First Night in Morristown). Rex and I took the girls to Origin Thai II in Morristown one year for Valentine’s Day dinner and found extraordinary flavors for all four of us. I haven’t been to the original Origin Thai I in Somerville, New Jersey (wow, Somerville sure has changed since I went to high school there in the ‘80s!), but I have received raves from friends in the area. Open for Lunch, Monday – Friday, 11:30am to 3:00pm, Saturday 12pm to pm. Open for Dinner, Monday – Thursday, 5pm to 10pm, Friday & Saturday, 5pm to 10:30pm, and Sunday from 3pm to 9pm. Origin Thai I, Somerville, NJ. Phone: (908) 685-1344. Origin Thai II, Morristown, NJ. Phone: (973) 971-9933. Origin French Thai, 100 Market Place, 25 Mountainview Boulevard, Basking Ridge, NJ. Phone: (908) 647-7781.

Pierre’s Restaurant and Wine Bar in Harding Township, NJ: As you may have heard or read here, Pierre’s Restaurant is closing on January 1st, 2009, so this special dinner on December 31st is your last chance to ring in the New Year with Chef Michael at Pierre’s. Here’s a glimpse of Pierre’s special New Year’s Eve Menu:

gay parisian cocktail: champagne with mount gay rum and cointreau

appetizers:
ravioles du royans with truffle butter
crabmeat with avocado, blood orange, and grapefruit
smoked salmon, caviar, creme fraiche, blini
terrine of hudson valley foie gras

main courses:
beef tenderloin, madeira, potato gratin, haricots verts
duck breast, sour cherry sauce, wild rice, brussels sprouts
mustard-crusted rack of lamb, ratatouille, roast yellow fin potatoes
striped bass, julienne vegetables, champagne sauce

desserts:
artisan cheeses with dried fruit and crackers
ocumare chocolate marquise, espresso anglaise
crepes normandes with apples and calvados
blackberry and meyer lemon pavlova with pistachios

coffee, petits fours, and chocolate truffles

Price is $87.50 per person (20% gratuity added to all checks)

Pierre’s Restaurant and Wine Bar, 995 Mount Kemble Avenue (Route 202), Morristown, NJ. Call (973) 425-1212 for New Year’s Eve reservations.

The Pluckemin Inn and Plucky’s Tavern in Pluckemin, NJ:

The Publick House in Chester, NJ:

Rosey’s Trattoria in Randolph, NJ:

Sammy’s Ye Olde Cider Mill in Mendham, NJ: “We don’t have a sign. But for 74 years people looking for great steaks have had no trouble finding us.” – Sam, Phil & Maryann Fornaro, Owners. Open Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Closed Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. 353 Mendham Road West, Mendham, NJ. Phone: (973) 543-7675.

Verve in Somerville, NJ:

Vine in Basking Ridge, NJ

Roxy’s Best Of… Morris and Somerset County Butchers, Bakers, Caterers, Prepared Foods, Wine Merchants and Party Rentals:

Chester Meat Market in Chester, NJ: Standing Rib Roasts. Crowns of Pork. Crowns of Lamb. Rack of Lamb. Beef Tenderloin. Rex and I will be calling Louie to order our fresh holiday meats early, and I’d recommend that you do the same. Open Monday-Saturday, 7am to 6pm. 27 West Main Street, Chester, NJ. Phone (908) 879-7523.

Cocoluxe in Peapack, NJ:

Carol Falcone, our favorite “Cake Lady,” in Far Hills, NJ:

Carl Posey’s Grillmasters Catering in Bedminster, NJ:

Ken-Rent in Bernardsville, NJ: Rex and I have used Ken-Rent for large parties and small, and have always been pleased with their service. Ken-Rent provided everything from the tents, tables, and chairs to tablecloths, plates, glasses and silverware for Rex’s huge backyard birthday party one summer. However, they’ve also been happy to serve our less extensive party needs, such as coat racks and champagne flutes for our annual holiday open house. Reserve now for the holidays! Ken-Rent, 67 Claremont Road, Bernardsville, NJ. Phone (908) 766-7114.

Monterey Gourmet in Bernardsville, NJ: Full service catering for all occasions. Holiday baskets for all occasions, shipped anywhere and delivered locally. Gourmet deli and take out dinner entrees. While Rex and I have not used Monterey Gourmet for a party in our home, we’ve enjoyed their gourmet specialties from around the world at a variety of parties hosted by our neighbors and the other Roxiticus Desperate Housewives. Check their web site for special holiday menus. Monterey Gourmet, 167 Morristown Road (Route 202) in Bernardsville, NJ. Phone: (908) 766-2000.

M&M Perrotti’s Butcher and Prepared Foods in Far Hills, NJ: To be fair, Rex and I will need to split our holiday meat order between our old friend Louie in Chester, and Mario Perrotti in Far Hills, NJ. Our family got to know and love Perrotti’s this past summer when London and Maddie were at Summer Stars camp at Annie’s Playhouse in Far Hills. Brothers Mario and Michael Perrotti are closing in on their first anniversary in their red-faced building in the Far Hills Center, so stop in to help them celebrate, be sure to tell Mario that Roxy sent you, and take home a feast for your family. Perrotti’s holiday specialties include: Prime Rib Filet Mignon, Crown Roast of Pork, Homemade Italian Sausage, Family-Size Lasagna, Manicotti & Eggplant. Perrotti’s also does catering for all of your holiday parties or special occasions. Perrotti’s is next to Country Curtains in the old Romo Books location. Open Monday – Wednesday and Friday from 9am to 6pm, Thursday from 9am to 7pm, and Saturday from 8am to 4pm. Call for Holiday Hours. M&M Perrotti’s, 27 Route 202 South, Far Hills, NJ. Phone: (908) 306-8806.

Additional Morris and Somerset County Restaurants:
Dolce in Basking Ridge, NJ:

Red Oak Grille in Basking Ridge, NJ: Enjoy lunch or dinner in a casually elegant atmosphere. New menu featuring pan seared sea scallops, Szechuan skirt steak, Cuban sandwich and more. Weekly entertainment. Intimate parties are their specialty. 579 Allen Road, Basking Ridge, NJ. Phone: (908) 781-9400.

Scalini Fedeli in Chatham, NJ: My friend and fellow Roxiticus Desperate Housewife, Lynette, has all of her birthday dinners and special celebrations at Scalini Fedeli in Chatham, NJ, but I can’t add it to the Roxy’s Best Of… list as I’ve never tried it. 63 Main Street, Chatham, NJ. Phone: (973) 701-9200.

The Station Pub & Grub in Bernardsville, NJ: While Rex and I have eaten both lunch and dinner at the Station Pub & Grub and I’ve enjoyed the meals and the beer on tap, it doesn’t quite make the “Best Of…” cut. However, if you’re looking for a cut above the usual sports bar and casual dining and a wide selection of beers and ales, do give the Station Pub & Grub a try.

Trattoria Bolu in Basking Ridge, NJ: Small plate menu. Antipasti. Wood-fired thin crust pizzette natural. 100 Marketplace (at the intersection of Martinsville Road and Mountainview Boulevard), Basking Ridge, NJ. Phone: (908) 647-0033.

Trio in Martinsville, NJ: Book your holiday party now – restaurant and catering. 1938 Washington Valley Road, Martinsville, NJ. Phone: (732) 469-8746.

Additional Morris and Somerset County Butchers, Bakers, Caterers, Prepared Foods, Wine Merchants and Party Rentals:

Burrini’s Old World Market (butcher) in Randolph, NJ:1204 Sussex Turnpike, Randolph, NJ. Phone: (973) 895-6100.

Hoeffner Meats, 72 Market Street, Morristown, NJ. Phone: (973) 538-3106.

Dec
26

Christmas Crisis in Roxy’s Kitchen Sink: Reissmann Plumbing to the Rescue

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What is it about the holidays that always seems to bring plumbing problems to our home? Over the past five years since we’ve lived here in Mendham Township, New Jersey, we’ve had the following holiday plumbing incidents:

  • Thanksgiving 2003: Backed up toilet in the half bath off the kitchen
  • Thanksgiving 2004: Broken washing machine
  • Christmas 2005: Broken hot water heater spewing water all over the basement floor
  • Christmas 2008: Kitchen sink clog spewing water all over the kitchen floor

It’s not every year that we have a plumbing problem, but whenever we do, it’s Reissmann to the rescue! This morning, I found Rex standing at the kitchen sink with a plunger, and knew we were in trouble. I suspect that he dumped the excess fat from our Christmas prime rib down the drain, but whatever it was, we have one serious clog. After trying a “blast” of Liquid Plumber and one of us on each side of the double sink with a plunger, we ended up with water spewing out from the pipes down below. “Call Reissmann!” Rex cried, and I reached for the phone. Five hours later, Scott was here to repair the damage… which turned out to be a huge plug of solidified fat the size of a giant champagne cork.

Thanks, Reissmann Plumbing, for saving our holidays!

Reissmann Plumbing. Phone: (908) 879-5530 and don’t forget to tell ‘em Roxy sent you! Click here to get a money saving coupon… Reissmann Plumbing will MAIL you the coupon, so get one now before your holiday plumbing crisis. They also have a Frequent Plumber Card for people like me… after five validated visits, I’ll have an hour of free labor on my next call.

Dec
23

Quick Holiday Shout Out to CRP Music Store in Rockaway, New Jersey: Thanks for Fixing London’s Guitar

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My loyal Roxiticus Desperate Housewives and Roxy’s Best Of… readers know that my two girls, London and Maddie, have started a basement band (the garage is too cold this time of year) called the Butter Bites. The girl band has asked Santa to bring them a set of drums for Christmas to add to their collection of musical equipment: a really nice keyboard that Santa delivered last year, a karaoke machine and a portable amplifier, and a broken kids’ guitar. Well, if CRP Music in Rockaway, NJ, has anything to do with it, the guitar won’t be broken for long.

Yesterday, I dispatched our fabulous nanny to Rockaway with the mission of buying a cheap pair of beginner drumsticks (counting on Santa to deliver the drums) and having London’s guitar restrung in time for our Saturday Christmas celebration. Unfortunately, as I brought the guitar out to the car, I noticed that it was not only missing a couple strings, but had a bit of a broken neck. It’s a cheap ($80) kids’ guitar, and I only wanted it fixed if we could do it for under $35. Our nanny was on her way to another music store which will not be named because my mother taught me that if you don’t have anything nice to say, well, don’t say anything at all.  She got a bit lost and stopped at CRP Music to ask directions to the other store. Turns out she should have just settled in at CRP Music, since the other store wouldn’t touch the guitar and wanted double the price for drumsticks. Thankfully, our nanny has good sense and returned to CRP Music, where she brought home drumsticks for $4.27 and left the guitar for restringing and repair. Our story should have a happy ending… I spoke with the guy at CRP Music today and he’ll be able to glue the guitar’s neck back together and we’ll hope to have it ready for Grammy to pick up on Saturday on her way here…just in time for the Butter Bites’ performance at our Christmas celebration with Rex’s entire family.  If you come by on Saturday and the house is a rockin’, don’t bother knockin’, come on in and jam with the Butter Bites!

CRP Music & Recording Arts Instruction, 350 Route 46, Rockaway, NJ 07866. Phone: (973) 246-1298. Don’t forget to tell ‘em Roxy sent you!

Dec
13

New Year’s Eve Celebrations 2008-2009: Morris County NJ Continues the First Night Tradition

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Twenty years ago, during my first holiday season after graduating from college, I went up to Boston to visit one of my best high school girlfriends, Grey Hound, and learned about Boston’s tradition for celebrating New Year’s Eve.  Even though it is technically the last night of the old year, Bostonians call their celebration “First Night.”  First Night is an outdoor artistic and cultural celebration on New Year’s Eve, taking place from afternoon until midnight.  The event celebrates a community’s local culture, often featuring music, dance, comedy, art, and always has plenty of food, fireworks, and ice sculptures. Most entertainment is freely available outside, but admission to indoor events requires the simple purchase of a First Night button, whose profits support the celebration as a whole. First Night celebrations are generally alcohol free.  The First Night tradition was started in Boston in 1976 by a small group of artists, and its popularity quickly made it an annual event. Soon other surrounding communities started their own First Night celebrations. In 1993, First Night International (click here to find the First Night celebration closest to you) became a non-profit organization dedicated to helping other cities set up their own celebrations. It has since spread to cities all over the United States, Canada, Great Britain, and New Zealand.

This year marks our family’s sixth New Year’s Eve celebration in New Jersey, and Rex and I have always taken the girls out for an early dinner — Opah Grill in Peapack-Gladstone, Pierre’s in Harding Township, Plucky’s Tavern at the Pluckemin Inn in Pluckemin — and end up back at home, playing board games, making popcorn, and watching the ball drop in Times Square on TV.  For the first time, London and Maddie seem to be about the right age for us to consider the First Night Morris County event on the Green in Morristown, New Jersey.  I’m going to outline some of the kid-friendly events and performers here as we make our plans, and I would love to hear from anyone who has attended Morristown’s First Night celebration in past years.

Kid Friendly Events and Performers at First Night Morris County 2008-2009:

Harlem Wizards, 7:00pm and 8:00pm, Morristown High School Main Gym, 50 Early Street (200 seats):

Transformation Face Painting, 7:00pm - 9:00pm, Morristown High School Cafeteria, 50 Early Street (50-70 seats):

Kit’s Interactive Theatre, 7:00pm and 8:00pm, Morristown/Morris Township Library, 1 Miller Road (80 seats):

Will Shaw, 7:00pm and 8:00pm, Presbyterian Parish House - Upstairs, 65 South Street (300 seats):

Mr. Fish’s Science of Magic, 10:00pm and 11:00pm, Presbyterian Parish House - Upstairs, 65 South Street (300 seats):

Meet the Musicians (Bach), 7:00pm and 8:00pm, Church of the Redeemer Parish House, 36 South Street (250 seats):

Children’s Fun Festival, 7:00pm - Midnight, Masonic Temple Downstairs, 39 Maple Avenue (150 seats):

Musical History of New Jersey, 7:00pm, Presbyterian Church on the Green, 57 Park Place (700 seats):

Kenneth Little Hawk, 7:00pm and 8:00pm, Freeholders Room at the County Administration and Records Building, Court Street (175 seats):

Big Jeff and Mr. Kleiner, 10:00pm and 11:00pm, Freeholders Room at the County Administration and Records Building, Court Street (175 seats):

StarFish (Rock ‘n’ Roll for Kids), 7:00pm and 8:00pm, Hyatt Morristown Terrace Ballroom, 3 Speedwell Avenue (450 seats):

Fireworks on the Green at 9:00pm and Midnight

Dec
09

Holiday Celebrations at the Best Restaurants in Morris and Somerset County, New Jersey

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Whether you’re planning to celebrate the holidays with family at home or out on the town in Morris and Somerset County, New Jersey, if you’re staying local for the holidays, Roxy’s going to help you find what you need to make the season special. It’s a work in progress, but I’ve put together a list of Roxy’s Best Of… Morris and Somerset County Restaurants, and I’ll be adding more details about Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve special dinners and events along the way. If you’re planning to prepare (or cater) a fabulous meal for your family and friends, Roxy’s got the butchers, bakers, caterers, party rentals and other services to entertain at home.

When I get to talking with my husband, Rex, about the Roxy’s Best Of… online empire, he often says, “you should rate everything on a scale of one to four stars” and I always respond, “But I wouldn’t want to write about something that wasn’t a four-star fave!” When I look through the list of Roxy’s Best Of… Restaurants, I will admit that I would choose each of them for a different occasion, mood, or cuisine, but I still feel like each one deserves four stars for its own category. If I’ve received a recommendation from a friend or other source, I’ll include it under a separate list of additional restaurants that I have not yet tried, along with any information I can pass along.

Roxy’s Best Of… Morris and Somerset County Restaurants:

The Bernards Inn in Bernardsville, NJ:
Rex, London, Maddie and I enjoyed Christmas Eve dinner a couple years back in the dining room at the Bernards Inn.  There was something delicious on the menu for each of us, and the evening was joyous and festive in all the right ways.  This year on Christmas Eve (Wednesday, December 24th), the Bernards Inn presents two festive dining options that are perfect for entertaining family and friends. Enjoy a three course, prix-fixe dinner in the dining room or an enchanting buffet in the Ballroom. The prix-fixe dinner has seatings from 4:30pm to 8:00pm and is priced at $90.00 for adults and $45.00 for children under age 12.  The buffet has seatings from 5:30pm to 7:30pm and is priced at $75.00 for adults, $35.00 for children ages 6 to 12, $15.00 for children ages 2 to 5 and no charge for children under age 2.  Roxy has it on good authority that Santa Claus will be at the Inn on Christmas Eve with treats for children of all ages.

Celebrate New Year’s Eve in style at The Bernards Inn with a special prix-fixe dinner with three or four courses on Wednesday, December 31st. The first seating will be from 6 pm to 7 pm and offers a three-course prix-fixe dinner. Executive Chef Corey Heyer will present a spectacular holiday menu of outstanding appetizers, entrees and desserts. Guests can also enjoy live piano music in the Library Bar. The cost is $110 per person. Reservations are required and can be made by calling (908) 766-0002. Ring in the New Year at the second seating, which will feature a four-course prix-fixe dinner with seatings between 9 pm and 10 pm. The second seating is $170 per person and includes a glass of Champagne and party favors to welcome in the New Year.

For those of you coming in from out of town, or if you’d just like to avoid driving after you ring in the New Year, keep the celebration going all night at the Bernards Inn with a romantic overnight stay for two that includes overnight accommodations in a luxurious guest room, a bottle of champagne nestled in ice, a decadent assortment of chocolate-covered strawberries and chocolate truffles, the four-course a la carte dinner (the late seating), a midnight champagne toast, a sterling silver Bernards Inn wine stopper, an a la carte breakfast on New Year’s Day 2009, and late check-out.  The Bernards Inn New Year’s Eve Celebration Getaway is priced from $650.00 based on guest room accommodations. Taxes and gratuities are additional. For reservations, call 908-766-0002.

The Bernards Inn, 27 Mine Brook Road, Bernardsville, NJ.  Phone:  (908) 766-0002.

The Black Horse Tavern in Mendham, NJ:

Café Azzurro in Peapack, NJ: Italian bistro. BYOB. Open 7 days a week for dinner from 5pm to 10pm, Monday-Friday for lunch from 11:30am to 2:30pm. Private rooms available for parties of up to 80 people. 141 Main Street, Peapack, NJ. Phone: (908) 470-1470.

Equus in downtown Bernardsville, NJ: Fine dining in a historic tavern. Renowned Chef Michael Perselay. Extensive wine list. Open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner, plus Sunday brunch. Private dining room seats 15-50 for parties and weddings. 1 Mill Street, Bernardsville, NJ. Phone: (908) 766-3737.

Due Terre Enoteca in Bernardsville, NJ:

The Gladstone Tavern in Gladstone, NJ:

Grill 73 in Bernardsville, NJ:

Limestone Café in Peapack, NJ:

Opah Grille in Gladstone, NJ:

Origin (French Thai) in Morristown, Basking Ridge, and Somerville, NJ: While Thai food might not be the first cuisine you think of for Christmas Eve dinner, it might be just right to kick start your New Year’s Eve celebration. Rex and I took the girls to Origin Thai II in Morristown one year for Valentine’s Day dinner and found extraordinary flavors for all four of us. I haven’t been to the original Origin Thai I in Somerville, New Jersey (wow, Somerville sure has changed since I went to high school there in the ‘80s!), but I have received raves from friends in the area. Open for Lunch, Monday – Friday, 11:30am to 3:00pm, Saturday 12pm to pm. Open for Dinner, Monday – Thursday, 5pm to 10pm, Friday & Saturday, 5pm to 10:30pm, and Sunday from 3pm to 9pm. Origin Thai I, Somerville, NJ. Phone: (908) 685-1344. Origin Thai II, Morristown, NJ. Phone: (973) 971-9933. Origin French Thai, 100 Market Place, 25 Mountainview Boulevard, Basking Ridge, NJ. Phone: (908) 647-7781.

Pierre’s Restaurant and Wine Bar in Harding Township, NJ:  As you may have heard or read here, Pierre’s Restaurant is closing on January 1st, 2009, so this special dinner on December 31st is your last chance to ring in the New Year with Chef Michael at Pierre’s.  Here’s a glimpse of Pierre’s special New Year’s Eve Menu:

gay parisian cocktail: champagne with mount gay rum and cointreau

appetizers:
ravioles du royans with truffle butter
crabmeat with avocado, blood orange, and grapefruit
smoked salmon, caviar, creme fraiche, blini
terrine of hudson valley foie gras

main courses:
beef tenderloin, madeira, potato gratin, haricots verts
duck breast, sour cherry sauce, wild rice, brussels sprouts
mustard-crusted rack of lamb, ratatouille, roast yellow fin potatoes
striped bass, julienne vegetables, champagne sauce

desserts:
artisan cheeses with dried fruit and crackers
ocumare chocolate marquise, espresso anglaise
crepes normandes with apples and calvados
blackberry and meyer lemon pavlova with pistachios

coffee, petits fours, and chocolate truffles

Price is $87.50 per person (20% gratuity added to all checks)

Pierre’s Restaurant and Wine Bar, 995 Mount Kemble Avenue (Route 202), Morristown, NJ. Call (973) 425-1212 for New Year’s Eve reservations.

The Pluckemin Inn and Plucky’s Tavern in Pluckemin, NJ:

The Publick House in Chester, NJ:

Rosey’s Trattoria in Randolph, NJ:

Sammy’s Ye Olde Cider Mill in Mendham, NJ: “We don’t have a sign. But for 74 years people looking for great steaks have had no trouble finding us.” – Sam, Phil & Maryann Fornaro, Owners. Open Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Closed Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. 353 Mendham Road West, Mendham, NJ. Phone: (973) 543-7675.

Verve in Somerville, NJ:

Vine in Basking Ridge, NJ

Roxy’s Best Of… Morris and Somerset County Butchers, Bakers, Caterers, Prepared Foods, Wine Merchants and Party Rentals:

Chester Meat Market in Chester, NJ: Standing Rib Roasts. Crowns of Pork. Crowns of Lamb. Rack of Lamb. Beef Tenderloin. Rex and I will be calling Louie to order our fresh holiday meats early, and I’d recommend that you do the same. Open Monday-Saturday, 7am to 6pm. 27 West Main Street, Chester, NJ. Phone (908) 879-7523.

Cocoluxe in Peapack, NJ:

Carol Falcone, our favorite “Cake Lady,” in Far Hills, NJ:

Carl Posey’s Grillmasters Catering in Bedminster, NJ:

Ken-Rent in Bernardsville, NJ: Rex and I have used Ken-Rent for large parties and small, and have always been pleased with their service. Ken-Rent provided everything from the tents, tables, and chairs to tablecloths, plates, glasses and silverware for Rex’s huge backyard birthday party one summer. However, they’ve also been happy to serve our less extensive party needs, such as coat racks and champagne flutes for our annual holiday open house. Reserve now for the holidays! Ken-Rent, 67 Claremont Road, Bernardsville, NJ. Phone (908) 766-7114.

Monterey Gourmet in Bernardsville, NJ: Full service catering for all occasions. Holiday baskets for all occasions, shipped anywhere and delivered locally. Gourmet deli and take out dinner entrees. While Rex and I have not used Monterey Gourmet for a party in our home, we’ve enjoyed their gourmet specialties from around the world at a variety of parties hosted by our neighbors and the other Roxiticus Desperate Housewives. Check their web site for special holiday menus. Monterey Gourmet, 167 Morristown Road (Route 202) in Bernardsville, NJ. Phone: (908) 766-2000.

M&M Perrotti’s Butcher and Prepared Foods in Far Hills, NJ: To be fair, Rex and I will need to split our holiday meat order between our old friend Louie in Chester, and Mario Perrotti in Far Hills, NJ. Our family got to know and love Perrotti’s this past summer when London and Maddie were at Summer Stars camp at Annie’s Playhouse in Far Hills. Brothers Mario and Michael Perrotti are closing in on their first anniversary in their red-faced building in the Far Hills Center, so stop in to help them celebrate, be sure to tell Mario that Roxy sent you, and take home a feast for your family. Perrotti’s holiday specialties include: Prime Rib Filet Mignon, Crown Roast of Pork, Homemade Italian Sausage, Family-Size Lasagna, Manicotti & Eggplant. Perrotti’s also does catering for all of your holiday parties or special occasions. Perrotti’s is next to Country Curtains in the old Romo Books location. Open Monday – Wednesday and Friday from 9am to 6pm, Thursday from 9am to 7pm, and Saturday from 8am to 4pm. Call for Holiday Hours. M&M Perrotti’s, 27 Route 202 South, Far Hills, NJ. Phone: (908) 306-8806.

Additional Morris and Somerset County Restaurants:
Dolce in Basking Ridge, NJ:

Red Oak Grille in Basking Ridge, NJ: Enjoy lunch or dinner in a casually elegant atmosphere. New menu featuring pan seared sea scallops, Szechuan skirt steak, Cuban sandwich and more. Weekly entertainment. Intimate parties are their specialty. 579 Allen Road, Basking Ridge, NJ. Phone: (908) 781-9400.

Scalini Fedeli in Chatham, NJ: My friend and fellow Roxiticus Desperate Housewife, Lynette, has all of her birthday dinners and special celebrations at Scalini Fedeli in Chatham, NJ, but I can’t add it to the Roxy’s Best Of… list as I’ve never tried it. 63 Main Street, Chatham, NJ. Phone: (973) 701-9200.

The Station Pub & Grub in Bernardsville, NJ: While Rex and I have eaten both lunch and dinner at the Station Pub & Grub and I’ve enjoyed the meals and the beer on tap, it doesn’t quite make the “Best Of…” cut. However, if you’re looking for a cut above the usual sports bar and casual dining and a wide selection of beers and ales, do give the Station Pub & Grub a try.

Trattoria Bolu in Basking Ridge, NJ: Small plate menu. Antipasti. Wood-fired thin crust pizzette natural. 100 Marketplace (at the intersection of Martinsville Road and Mountainview Boulevard), Basking Ridge, NJ. Phone: (908) 647-0033.

Trio in Martinsville, NJ: Book your holiday party now – restaurant and catering. 1938 Washington Valley Road, Martinsville, NJ. Phone: (732) 469-8746.

Additional Morris and Somerset County Butchers, Bakers, Caterers, Prepared Foods, Wine Merchants and Party Rentals:

Burrini’s Old World Market (butcher) in Randolph, NJ:1204 Sussex Turnpike, Randolph, NJ. Phone: (973) 895-6100.

Hoeffner Meats, 72 Market Street, Morristown, NJ. Phone: (973) 538-3106.

Dec
09

Ghost of Girl Scout Present: London’s Brownie Troop Explores the Gingerbread Wonderland at Frelinghuysen Arboretum, Open Now Through Sunday, December 14th

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In the midst of this holiday season, I’ve been writing a bit about our family feeling like we’re living out Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol through London’s Brownie troop in the form of the Ghost of Girl Scout Past, Present, and Future. Last weekend, London and Maddie celebrated the Ghost of Girl Scout Past at an old-fashioned Girl Scout Christmas caroling event with a big group of local Daisies, Brownies, and Girl Scouts at the Kings supermarket in Mendham, NJ. The girls and I also dreamed about the Ghost of Girl Scout Future… a sleepover for over 200 Girl Scouts at New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in Newark, NJToday’s post is the story of the Ghost of Girl Scout Present. This week, London’s Brownie troop will explore the 17th annual Gingerbread Wonderland at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum.

After the girls visit the Gingerbread Wonderland, our fearless Brownie troop leader has invited the girls to her home the following week to make their own gingerbread creations. Maybe it’s the Ghost of Gingerbread Past that has visions of pounds and pounds of icing dancing in my head. While I am not a particularly “crafty” person, Rex and I have always preferred the notion of celebrating birthdays and holidays at home, rather than choosing from the wide selection of kids’ birthday party venues in Morris County, NJ. So when London turned four during her first year of pre-school at Westmont Montessori, Rex and I decided to invite her entire class of 20, plus ten more friends and siblings, for a gingerbread house decorating party in our home. It says something about my state of innocence back then that I was actually disappointed when all I could find in the stores were pre-constructed gingerbread houses, since I thought it would add to the excitement for the kids to construct the houses during the party (What was I thinking??!!). I found an after Christmas sale on gingerbread houses at Linens and Things, our nanny and I piled thirty (30!!!) gingerbread house kits into our shopping carts, and we brought them home to prepare for the big event. Four years later, my good friend Hope and I look back on the pictures of that party and laugh over the two of us in red sweaters with our matching KitchenAid mixers, whipping up pound after pound after pound of decorative icing in pink and purple for the kids to decorate their gingerbread houses. Luckily for our fearless Brownie troop leader, when she suggested that the kids all come on over to construct and decorate the houses in her home, another wise Brownie mom convinced her that things would go more smoothly if the girls constructed their gingerbread houses at home ahead of time, and spent their time giggling and decorating at the official Brownie meeting.

The description from the Gingerbread Wonderland on the Frelinghuysen Arboretum web site reads like something from a fairy tale: The rich, spicy scent of gingerbread beckons us into the holiday spirit at the incredible Gingerbread Wonderland at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum in Morris Township. Thousands of visitors annually are thrilled to find that the fantastic handmade structures are not limited to traditional houses. Past entries in this scrumptious exhibit have included a grand piano, a cheery birdhouse and even Santa’s sleigh.   Fantastic creations have included fairy tale castles, haunted houses, covered bridges, log cabins, cathedrals, and trains. Materials have included shredded wheat thatched roofs, fruit roll-up windows, pretzel logs, sugar cube walls, ice cream cone turrets, and candy of every kind. The gingerbread creations are the result of the creative genius of children, adults, families, school classes and scout groups. Entries are judged on creativity, style, method and neatness, with ribbons awarded in every category. Guests may cast their vote for the annual People’s Choice Award.”  The annual Gingerbread Wonderland exhibit has become a Morris County, NJ tradition, and Frelinghuysen Arboretum invites you to make this feast for the senses part of your family’s holiday tradition. It sounds so tempting that I’d better remind London of the tale of Hansel and Gretel to be sure she doesn’t try to eat any of the houses!

Frelinghuysen Arboretum’s Gingerbread Wonderland opened last Saturday, December 6th and runs through this Sunday, December 14th.  Suggested donation of $1.00 per person. Groups of more than 10 must call the Frelinghuysen Arboretum at (973) 326-7601 for reservations.

Also at Frelinghuysen Arboretum during the holiday season:

  • Create a Holiday Centerpiece on Saturday, December 13th: Just in time for the holidays, young people can create their own centerpieces with fresh seasonal greens. All materials – greens, containers, decorations – will be provided. Young people should bring their own pruners and a box in which to take home their arrangements. Grades 1-3: 10am to 11:30am. Grades 4 and up: 1pm to 2:30pm. Cost is $30 ($25 for members of The Friends of The Frelinghuysen Arboretum). To register, please call (973) 326-7603.
  • Super Holiday Sprouts on Tuesday, December 16th from 4pm to 5pm: Using fresh evergreens, young sprouts (children 5 and 6 years old) will create a simple holiday arrangement suitable for a special someone. Registration is a must as space is limited and walk-ins cannot be accommodated. Cost is $20 ($15 for members of The Friends of The Frelinghuysen Arboretum). To register, please call (973) 326-7603.

Frelinghuysen Arboretum, 53 East Hanover Avenue in Whippany, NJ. Open 10am to 5pm daily and until 8pm on Fridays.