Spotlight on Time and Again Galleries


Time and Again Galleries can help you buy and sell everything from paintings and rugs to costume jewelry and more. They have the expertise to determine the value of a variety of goods, both modern and antique.

Jeff Zimmerman, the CEO, has seen the business expand from the New York Tri-State area to the international stage. When asked what makes him stand out from other buyers and sellers, Jeff said “My honesty, my integrity and my knowledge. I developed a following of people who trust what I say and what I do which I found to be a good business model.”

If you are in the market to buy something specific, he will do his very best to find it. Likewise, if you are looking to sell something but aren’t sure of its worth, Jeff is an experienced appraiser who is readily available to assess the value of your items. You can make an appointment or even email images of your items. “The cost for a verbal appraisal is $100 and if they decide to sell through us or to us that money is refundable,” said Jeff.

For appraisals of large quantities or high-value items, he will travel across the country. And his buyers come from not only the U.S., but all over the world. Time and Again Galleries once auctioned a pair of Chinese vases that turned out to be much older and more valuable than originally thought. They ended up selling for $160,000. The buyers, from Shanghai, traveled to the U.S. to pick them up personally. Jeff can also ship merchandise wherever it needs to go.

Many of the items he buys and sells come from family estates, attics, storage facilities and garage sales, to name just a few. “People need to know what it is they’re selling. They need to be careful what they sell and do research before they sell something,” said Jeff.

Besides dealing with single items, Time and Again Galleries offers complete and partial buyouts and cleanouts of estates. They offer top dollar for your property and are proud of the service they provide.

Jeff mentioned that the business has changed dramatically over the years. Antiques are much less desirable and more modern items are in. “Younger people are much more interested in simple and modern furniture,” he said.

He also stated that collectibles, such as Hummel’s, Royal Doulton, Roseville pottery, carnival glass and other similar items have greatly depreciated in value. Traditional French furniture that once used to be so popular has been greatly devalued as well.

Besides the items already mentioned, Jeff also buys and sells gold and silver, fine porcelain, decorative arts, bronzes, antiques and other high quality items. Auctions are held every year at different locations.

Time and Again Galleries is recognized by the Certified Appraiser Guild of America and Jeff is a certified appraiser and a member of the New Jersey State Society of Auctioneers (NJSSA.) If you have something to buy or sell, Jeff Zimmerman is confident that he can provide the best service and most accurate appraisals to ensure that you get your money’s worth.

To contact Time and Again Galleries, call 908-862-0200 or email To find out more, go to

Written for The Showcase Magazine


Homemade toys spark creativity and imagination

Old-fashioned fun for big and little kids


When many of us think back to our childhood toys, we don’t think of computers or video games. The majority of our toys didn’t make noises or light up, and we often had to use our imaginations to have fun.

Parents and caregivers can bring back this same kind of joy and wonder for their children. Yes, a lot of kids love the latest and loudest products as seen on television commercials and store shelves, but many don’t realize the entertainment value of quiet, simple and even homemade toys.

As a little girl, I spent a lot of time at my grandmother’s house. I loved playing there, even though she didn’t have a lot of money for anything extravagant. But I do remember her sewing together little square bags out of extra fabric and filling them with dried beans. She would then take a basket and have us toss these bean bags in there for points. What a great memory for me and my siblings.

There is an abundance of ideas for simple, homemade toys to be found online on sites such as, in library books and in magazines. Many of these are made with items already in our homes or even in our backyards. Making toys is also a great way to recycle all those plastic bottles and soup cans.

In her article “Really Cool Toys for Kids to Make Themselves” on, Sharon Harding writes, “Children are naturally creative and have fantastic imaginations. They can make toys out of anything.” She also goes on to cite that making their own toys “stimulates the imagination, helps children solve problems and discover that they can make their own fun.”

Besides having a great time with the end products, the making of these toys can also help children in a myriad of ways. Kids get to use their imaginations while honing their hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. Oftentimes counting is involved, so it can help children learn numbers and math skills.

In her article, “Why Art and Creativity are Important” on, author Paula Bernstein writes, “When children experiment with materials, they dabble in science. Most important perhaps, when kids feel good while they are creating, art helps boost self-confidence. And children who feel able to experiment and to make mistakes feel free to invent new ways of thinking, which extends well beyond the craft room.”

Letting children help with making these toys enables them to feel a sense of accomplishment and pride in what they’ve created. This in turn will increase the likelihood of them playing with the things they’ve made and motivate them to make even more. These projects are also a great way for parents and children to spend time together in a meaningful and goal-oriented way.

Here are some ideas for parents and children:

• Want to do a hand puppet show with your kids? Grab some old socks and make faces on them. If you want to get really fancy, glue or sew some buttons for the eyes and nose and maybe some yarn for the mouth and hair. Have kids color a big piece of cardboard (even a pizza box will work) to make the “stage” that the puppets will appear above.

• Speaking of cardboard boxes, the ideas are endless. Have children paint or color the outside. These can become playhouses for kids or dolls, blocks to stack on top of each other, or even a toy box for all those homemade toys. Most kids (and cats) love boxes.

• What child doesn’t like balloons? Take large paper plates and a large Popsicle stick for the handle. Make a slit in the bottom of the plates, slide the “handle” partway into it and tape. Now they can play balloon tennis, which is even safe to play indoors since a balloon can’t do much damage. Use a bed, coffee table or a couch as your “net.” This is a great rainy day activity.

• What about homemade play dough made with ingredients already in your kitchen? For a great recipe, go to Then use cookie cutters, small rolling pins and other plastic and safe baking items to make all different shapes and patterns.

• Have your kids find some smooth rocks, paint or color on animal faces, and they’ll have their own set of pet rocks. Or use seashells; these can become sea pets.

• A simple piece of chalk can make a hopscotch board and a small rock can be the marker. This makes for great exercise and balance control.

• Holiday themed toys are also fun. Make ornaments out of old costume jewelry or cut out pictures from last year’s Christmas cards. A simple hole puncher and some yarn and you’re ready to hang it on the tree.

Start collecting things now for future toy making. Rinse out and store bottles, cans, and other odds and ends for fun, easy and inexpensive projects. Remind your children to be on the lookout for anything that can be used in your next creation. Make it a family event, one that will foster great memories now and into the future.

Written for Growing Up in the Valley magazine in Virginia

Local Lowdown: John O. McManus

When John O. McManus decided to become a lawyer, his father, John B. McManus, gave him some great advice right from the start. Being an active volunteer in his community and at church, he raised John in an environment of outreach and service, and told him to be a lawyer that helps unite families, not divide them. Thus, after watching his family get involved in a multi-year struggle over his grandfather’s estate, he decided to become an estate lawyer and founded McManus & Associates nearly 30 years ago.

John has found other ways to help families as well, especially those in care of children and the elderly. In 2005, he joined the Board of Directors of the Somerset County YMCA (SCYMCA), and has raised almost $280,000 for those in need.

John is currently the Vice Chair of the Board of Directors and Chair of the Board Governance Committee. He has also served on the Financial Development Committee and Capital Campaign Leadership Cabinet. In November, he was elected as the Board Chair for 2019.

Due to his hard work and dedication, John was awarded the New Jersey YMCA State Alliance 2018 Social Responsibility Champion Award in October. This award is presented to a leader dedicated to Giving Back and Providing Support to Our Neighbors.

When asked what makes him such a successful fundraiser, he said “the people you raise money with have to become your friends, even if they don’t start out that way.” Plus, you have to be an unselfish friend, give people what they need, and you have to give in order to get. It’s also important to form relationships with donors so they learn what is important about the Y and help them understand the story behind the mission.

John’s wife, Rosemary, not only helps raise money for scholarships for students going to college, but she also judges scholarship distributions. The awarding of these scholarships acknowledges the students’ hard work and shows appreciation for their talents.

The money raised also helps to offset childcare costs for families having difficulty making ends meet, and helps defer costs of membership fees so their children can exercise and be healthy.

Summer camps are also financed with this money so parents can continue to work and support their families while their children have a rich and positive experience.

John credited his success to others, such as David Cerciri, the CEO of SCYMCA, who John believes transformed the Y into an efficient and charitable organization. His other role model, current Board Chair Mark Irwin, has an enduring, unmatched everyday commitment to the Y.

As his father raised him to give to others, John and Rosemary of Basking Ridge have raised their children the same way. Their eldest daughter, Allie, a graduate of Johns Hopkins, has spent time in Africa and South America assisting people there. Their middle child, Emmie, is in undergraduate school at the University of Notre Dame. She has received the President’s Volunteer Gold Service Award and plans to become a human rights lawyer. Their youngest son, Matthew, attends the Pingry School and this year will receive the President’s Volunteer Gold Service Award for his commitment to the community, including the Y.

You do have to give in order to get, and with this award, John is getting the recognition he deserves.

Written for The Showcase Magazine


How reading to animals can help children improve their literacy skills

jason and dog

Reading is a necessary skill for everyone, but sometimes children can feel overwhelmed with doing it and even more afraid of reading out loud. However, reading to animals can make it a lot more fun and enormously less threatening.

There are quite a few programs that offer children this opportunity, such as Paws to Read, Tales to Tails, Bow Wows and Books, and Pawsitive Reading. No matter where you live in the country, you can usually find a program nearby.

One of the larger and more well-known programs is PAWS for Reading, which is one of nine programs run by PAWS for People, an award-winning, all-volunteer nonprofit organization. The therapy animals involved with the program, whether they’re dogs, cats or bunnies, are well trained and loving. Children receive supportive feedback and guidance, as well as stickers and bookmarks, from trained “human” volunteers.

“It’s a lot of fun sitting next to the dogs who often have their tongues hanging out while I’m reading. Plus, it’s something really different to do,” said Jason B., from Dover, DE, who has been taking part in the program for the last four months at his local library.

Many of these programs usually take place in libraries and schools, but sometimes they are done at animal shelters. According to Project Literacy, “The Read to the Animals program has become a great opportunity for students to improve their reading accuracy, speed, comfort, confidence, and ability with a furry animal friend in the audience. Another added benefit of the program is that the animals in the shelter are gaining socialization and companionship throughout the reading sessions.” It’s a win-win situation.

On, author Melissa Taylor in her article A Reader’s Best Friend: The Many Benefits of Reading with Animals, cites educational researcher and linguist Stephen Krashen, who says that “a child’s ‘affective filter’, or affective emotions such as low self-esteem and anxiety, can create a mental block that often inhibits learning. Reading to pets removes that mental block and increases the chance for learning to occur.”

While reading to animals, not only do participating children improve their reading skills, but teachers, librarians and volunteers have reported an increase in their confidence, communication skills, self-esteem, social skills and attendance rates. As stated on the PAWS for Reading website, “Nationwide, similar programs have tracked a rise in students’ reading test scores and attitude toward reading.” Special-needs and English-as-a-second language (ESL) students also benefit greatly from these reading programs. There are even programs available for teens and adults.

According to the National Education Association, “Having kids read a lot is one of the crucial components of becoming a good reader. Young readers need to become practiced at recognizing letters and sounds. The only way to get good at it is to practice.”

Reading is not only an important skill set for education, but for everyday enjoyment as well. Getting lost in a good book is something we never outgrow and instilling a love of reading in children is one of the best gifts we can give them.

This is why it is so important for kids to become proficient readers who don’t see reading as a chore or something that they need to do. Instead, children should find pleasure while in the midst of a story and feel a sense of accomplishment when finishing a book.

These unique literacy programs, along with parents, teachers, librarians, volunteers and animals, can help accomplish these goals. Reading is learning, regardless of the subject matter. It opens up our minds to a myriad of possibilities and lets us experience a whole new world, if only for a few hours.

Many of us find being with dogs and cats calming to both our minds and bodies. Interacting with animals often leads to lower blood pressure, an improved mood, and a sense of comfort.

While every reading program in slightly different, the animals involved are usually therapy dogs and the volunteers that assist with the programs are generally required to go through a training session themselves. Once you find a program nearby, you can check out the individual requirements.

In her article Books and Bones: The Benefits of Reading to Animals, Cecilia de Cardenas focuses on a program called R.E.A.D, Reading Education Assistance Dogs. “R.E.A.D. dogs are usually mild mannered and patient, calm and well groomed. Other animals have been used in the program as well, from rabbits to guinea pigs to parrots.”

In Virginia, you can currently find these types of programs in Arlington, Alexandria, Hampton, Richmond, Williamsburg, Roanoke, Virginia Beach, New Kent, and other cities in the state. A great resource for locating these programs is “My website is there to connect people with ‘read to animal’ programs across the country. I write children’s books and know how important it is for children who are struggling with reading problems to have a safe, non-judgmental environment in which to practice their reading skills,” said Lee Wardlaw, the website creator. Not all cities and states are listed, so if you don’t see yours, use the email form to send a message to Wardlaw and she will get back to you with that information.

Increasing your child’s literacy skills while giving him or her a furry companion who will listen without judgment is a true gift all around. And they might get in a good snuggle or two.

Published in Growing Up in the Valley Magazine, VA

Book review of Shelter in Place


What started out as a fun-filled day at the mall – watching movies, shopping and grabbing a bite to eat – became a memory that people there would never forget. They heard the term “shelter in place” many times before, but only then did they really understand what that meant. Sometimes hiding meant the different between life and death.

Nora Roberts, a New York Times best-selling author, weaves a tale that unfortunately mirrors real life all too often. Shelter in Place, published in 2018, shows how average people doing everyday things can quickly become victims and sometimes heroes while a nightmare unfolds around them.

Sixteen-year-old Simone Knox, who by a stroke of luck was in the restroom when the first gunman entered the movie theatre where her best friends were sitting, had the presence of mind to call 911. Her actions saved a lot of people that day, and she was heralded as a hero. Inside, however, she felt like a coward for not doing anything to protect her friends that day, even though the operator told her to stay hidden. Once old enough to be on her own, Simone tried to escape the pain by running as far away as she could from her hometown.

Reed Quartermaine was working at his after-school job and was on a break when the second shooter came into the mall. As he ran to hide, he spotted a scared little boy looking for his mom. Scooping him up and hiding him from the bullets saved both of their lives that day. Reed too was hailed as a hero. To deal with his pain, he went on to become a cop so he could try to prevent more crimes against the innocent.

Little did they know there was one person left from that night who was the mastermind behind the terror, and she wasn’t done with her plans yet. One by one Patricia Jane Hobart was coming after the people who survived the carnage, and that included Simone and Reed. Now in a relationship and looking forward to their future, they will once again have to fight for their lives and the lives of those around them.

Shelter in Place is a book about the courage and resilience of everyday people who are forced to confront evil, not once, but twice. Will Simone and Reed escape with their lives once again, or will Patricia succeed the second time around?

To find out more about this book and the author, please visit

Written for The Woodbridge Magazine in the UK.

A different kind of New Year’s resolution


How many times have you promised yourself you would lose weight in the new year, or maybe stop smoking? And how many times have your New Year’s resolutions been broken by February 1st or even sooner?

Instead of promising to give up or do something to make yourself feel better, how about making a resolution to make others feel better? If you’ve always wanted to volunteer, find a cause that you can embrace and sign up to make a difference. After all, it’s easier to break a promise to yourself than it is to others who are relying on you for basic needs.

If you love animals, volunteer at an animal shelter or rescue group. For those avid readers, what about signing up with Literacy Volunteers of America? Or, if you like crafts, think about spending time at a nursing home teaching residents how to crochet or knit or whatever it is you are talented at? If you’re musically gifted, you can also play some music for the seniors and maybe show them how to play a simple tune or two.

Doing something for others will also make you feel better about yourself. The rewards of volunteering are not just experienced by the recipients, but by the givers as well.

In an article by Hilary Young, titled Why volunteering is so good for your health, it was stated that people who volunteer say it makes them feel healthier, lowered their stress levels, enriched their lives, and improved their mood and self-esteem. Some of them even reported “that their volunteer work has helped them manage a chronic illness by keeping them active and taking their minds off of their own problems.” Aren’t these some of the results we’re looking for when making those New Year’s resolutions?

Whatever your interests or talents, there is a cause looking for help. People find it easier to give money, which by all means is sorely needed. But it’s getting out there and joining with other people who have the same goals in mind that makes volunteering more meaningful.

Written for The Country Register published across the U.S. and Canada.

Memories of Christmas Past Add to the Joy of Christmas Present


Who can forget the excitement of Christmas morning as a child? I remember waking up before the sun rose to sneak out and see if Santa did indeed come, while my parents were still sleeping soundly in their beds. Oh, the joy of seeing presents piled under the tree! There was nothing like it.

However, when I think back to those times, it’s not the presents I remember, but the people who shared the day with us. Some of them aren’t here in person anymore, but they are alive and well in my memories. One of my grandmothers didn’t have a lot of money to buy us expensive gifts, but her cookies, pies and homemade presents were just as meaningful as anything she could have bought. My other grandmother brought us gifts galore from a variety of stories and catalogs. My brother and sister and I could not wait for her to arrive at our house with her bags and bags of presents, somewhat like Santa himself. However, both grandmothers were equally special because we knew they loved us. Whenever I think of Christmas I can still recall the happiness they brought with their presence.

Even though we have lost some people, our family continues to grow and there are new faces to be found around the tree. Fortunately, I still have both of my parents, and thanks to my brother and sister, I have nieces and nephews and their children to share the day with. I also have, thanks to my husband and his daughter, a wonderful grandson and granddaughter to add to our Christmas celebrations.

My family is my favorite and most meaningful gift all year round. Who needs presents when you’re surrounded by people who love and appreciate you? When everyone is stuffed with the food I prepared and wrapping paper litters the floor, it’s the smiles on their faces that make me joyful. I know someday when they all look back, it will be the conversation and laughter that will be remembered, not just the clothes and toys, although of course they are nice too.

Here is a cookie recipe that I make every Christmas. They look like little piles of snow when they’re done, and taste oh so delicious. Enjoy!

Forgotten Cookies
From the kitchen of Susan Baldani

2 egg whites*
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup semi sweet or milk chocolate morsels
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. With electric mixer, beat egg whites and cream of tartar to foamy soft peaks. Gradually add sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Fold in vanilla and chocolate morsels. Drop by spoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets. Place in oven, turn oven off and forget cookies overnight (or at least one hour).
*Tip: egg whites whip better and fuller when they have been out of the refrigerator for about a half-hour or so.

Handmade Gifts are Treasures Filled with Love


Throughout the years, I have received many gifts for all sorts of occasions. However, the ones I remember the most and still have today are the ones made by family and friends. After all, anyone can buy a gift from a store or order something over the internet, but it takes a dedicated and loving person to create something just for you.

I never had a talent for making things by hand. Luckily for me, people around me were blessed with this skill. My grandmother knitted, crocheted and sewed beautiful blankets, sweaters, tissue box covers, slippers, clothes and much more. My sister did needlepoint and other fancy crafts of which I was the grateful recipient. I watch friends of mine knit and crochet the loveliest things to give as gifts.

Not only are these items made with love, they are also useful and add beauty and comfort to everyday life. The quality of most handmade treasures is remarkable. There are many things around my house and other family members’ homes that were made over 30 years ago. On my dining room table sits a napkin holder that my grandmother Helen made when I got my first apartment at the age of 20. I’m 49 today, and it’s still used regularly and looks as good as new. In my cedar chest are crocheted blankets that are over 40 years old and still keep me warm on frigid winter nights.

When someone gives me a gift they made themselves, I really treasure it because I know it is one of a kind. I also recognize the time and expense that went into making it.Also, whenever I use a particular item, I always think about the person who made it, and it makes me smile.

The Country Register is filled with many shops selling yarn, fabrics and other materials to make your own beautiful birthday, holiday, graduation, baby or just-because gifts. When I look through an issue, it makes me want to take lessons so I too can create something wonderful for my loved ones. I just might have to sign up for some soon. Fortunately, the Register lists those too!

Written for The Country Register distributed across the U.S.

Spotlight on Forest Lodge Catering and The Sherwood Chalet

Forest Lodge, located on 50 pristine rustic acres in Warren Township, is celebrating their 88th year in the community. What started out as a summer family and friends retreat in the 1930s has evolved into one of New Jersey’s largest and most creative event venues.

Linda Taylor, vice president of the facility for over 30 years, is involved in all aspects of the event planning and considers it her specialty. “The most important thing we can do is listen and get to know each one of our clients so their ideas are executed to perfection,” she said.

Owners Charlie and Maria Alberto of Watchung, along with Linda and their new general manager Brian Howard, have successfully made Forest Lodge one of NJ and NY’s most sought-after venues. Every event is tailored to their clients’ needs, including custom menus and themes. Do you want to feel like you’re in New Orleans at Mardi Gras? If so, you and your guests can enjoy steaming hot Jambalaya and Shrimp Creole while the jester, jazz band and full size float turn Forest Lodge into Bourbon Street!! Is Vegas more your style? Then you will find yourself surrounded by casino games and hourly shows featuring magicians, dancers, ventriloquists and other performers. Or how about a country and western theme with a petting zoo, pony rides, hay rides, and a pumpkin patch? One of their most popular themes is the Jersey boardwalk, with carnival games, rides, inflatables, and a zeppole trailer full of funnel cake, fried Oreos, and fresh-squeezed lemonade.

In addition to theme parties, Forest Lodge is famous for corporate events such as company picnics, team building, seminars and meetings, as well as corporate social responsibility programs which assist employees with giving back to their communities.

Helping clients plan their special occasions is something Linda takes pride in. Since the outdoor venue can accommodate up to 5000 people, every detail has to be carefully thought out and executed.

In addition to all the outdoor events, The newly renovated Sherwood Chalet hosts elegant indoor events such as weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, and holiday parties and can hold up to 200 people. Scott Dubin, in the role of banquet manager, has added a youthful perspective while making use of his years of experience in the hospitality industry.

Whether you prefer an elegant, formal sit-down dinner or a sumptuous buffet, they can fulfill your wish. One of the most popular client choices is their interactive live stations package, offering foods from all over the world including Asian Stir Fry, good old American Mac and Cheese and Indian cuisine.

If you can’t decide between an indoor or outdoor event, The Sherwood Chalet with its outdoor deck and patio can offer a combination of the two. Towards the end of the night at one wedding, they had food trucks with pizza, tacos, and ice cream parked right outside the doors. Also, at a bar mitzvah, the host was able to entertain their young guests with inflatables, rides and an exciting roller coaster!

The Sherwood Chalet hosts only one event at a time so you can be sure that their professional staff is interested in you and only you. It’s a unique place to have a party or event and ideas are only limited by imaginations. For instance, Linda recalled how one wedding had a horse for a ring bearer; another had a “Dog of Honor,” and a bar mitzvah had a live “mermaid” behind the seafood bar.

Forest Lodge is open year-round and all catering is done on the premises. The venue is a first job for many of the local kids since they hire 125 to 150 part-time employees for the summer months. Many of these teens work there through college.

Due to the popularity of their venue, Linda recommends scheduling parties one year in advance, if possible.

Forest Lodge is located at 11 Reinman Road in Warren, NJ. To find out more, go to or call 908-754-7300.

Written for The Showcase Magazine