Roxy’s Best Of… Basking Ridge, New Jersey

The Best of Basking Ridge, New Jersey, from kid stuff (including summer camp) to restaurants to shopping


Christmas Present Crisis…John’s Painting and Basking Ridge Electric to the Rescue!

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This year, the big item on London and Maddie’s Christmas wish list was “new bedrooms”…and we’ve been working on making it happen this week. Yesterday, John’s Painting (908-604-8759) from Basking Ridge did an awesome job. Maddie asked for Benjamin Moore’s Aquarius (788) blue walls and Bainbridge Blue (749) trim; London also chose Aquarius but with Meridian Blue (761) trim. Manny and his crew also saved the day by hanging 3X3 Style Tile Bulletin Boards from PB Teen in each of their rooms…a task Rex and I would never have had the handyman skills to accomplish on our own. Just looking at the instructions made me a little queasy, but the guys from John’s Painting are much more than painters. After they installed London and Maddie’s beautiful bulletin boards, we locked the girls out of their rooms until Christmas morning. They’re complaining a bit about sleeping together in the guest room for the next few days, but you know how sisters can be. They can’t get into too much trouble with Santa and his elf scout, Smootie Jr., keeping an eye on them.

There’s still an incredible amount of work to be done, and this morning I discovered that two different sets of outlets in London’s room aren’t working…no blown fuses, not even the weird reset buttons you find popped out in the bathrooms…Basking Ridge Electric to the rescue! I didn’t have a lot of hope that we could get an electrician out today or tomorrow, but when I called Basking Ridge Electric (908-766-1846) I was thrilled to hear that someone should be here within the hour. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus!!


Dog Nose Best…New Dog Training Class for Kids at Somerset Hills YMCA

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For the first time ever The Family Dog is offering group classes for children and their dogs. It’s just in time for summer and promises to be great FUN for all. Held for one hour each Tuesday evening at the YMCA in Somerset Hills, Dog NOSE Best classes will turn your dog into a SUPER SNIFFER and show your child just how amazing his dog’s own innate abilities really are. By the end of five weeks together your child will be in charge of setting secret hides for your dog that he will HUNT to find. It is a game that uses mental and physical energy, can be played multiple times a day, and vastly increases the bond between your child and your dog.

For this class The Family Dog can only accept 6 dogs and it will fill VERY quickly. Secure your spot early by emailing the YMCA coordinator, Peter Barry, directly with your information. He can be reached either at 908-630-3531 or Go to for more details.


Cool Phone Call Tonight: Somerset Hills Handyman Looking for the Roxiticus Desperate Housewife

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Rex and I spent a long cold day in New York City today.  It was about 15 degrees Fahrenheit, headed to 4 below zero, with a dusting of snow on the ground.  There was a plane crash and an amazing rescue (all 155 survived) on the Hudson River on our way home on the train through Hoboken.  When we arrived home, Rex grilled salmon (out on our deck in the snow!) for dinner, while I checked voice mail messages.  Usually I’m the one making the phone calls:  “I’m looking for a cake lady for London’s birthday party… do you have a table for four at the Limestone Cafe for Maddie’s birthday dinner… can you fix my leaking _____?”  Every now and then, I get the kind of call that makes me tingle, feel good all over.

Hey, this is Shep Greene, the Somerset Hills Handyman.  I’m looking for the Roxiticus Desperate Housewife?  I just wanted to thank you for the referrals I’ve received from your web site.”  As it goes with many of the recommendations I post on my web sites, I never had the chance to tell Shep about the site, and really just wanted to be helpful to any of my neighbors in Somerset County or Morris County, NJ, who might be looking for a reliable local handyman.

About two years ago, Rex and I had a laundry list of things we needed to get done around the house and the yard… shelving in the barn, a gate falling off its hinges, hanging my punching bag in our basement gym, an electronic garage door that wouldn’t open and close, some minor repairs to London and Maddie’s outdoor play structure, a little drilling here, a little hammering there.  I think we found Shep Greene, the Somerset Hills Handyman, through our fabulous Bernardsville realtor, Ann Tannen, who spent two years helping us to find the perfect home in the Roxiticus Valley when we left New York City in 2003.  He had also done some work (see photo) for one of our neighbors down the road.  Shep came out and gave us a fair price on the labor and materials for everything on our list, and he and his team got the job done quickly and reliably. 

Call Shep Greene, the Somerset Hills Handyman, 60 Cherry Lane, Basking Ridge, NJ 07920.  Phone: (908) 766-3618.  And be sure to tell Shep that Roxy sent you… he’ll get the job done for you, and I like to get his cheerful phone calls!


Come They Told Me… Drummer Boys from Bonnie Brae School in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, Will Attend Barack Obama’s Inaugural Parade in Washington, DC

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Instead of jumping on the media bad news bandwagon, my blogosphere buddy Rambler has a regular “good news” post on her Lofty Matters site about the good things happening around the world each week. Starting today, I’m going to share some local good news and hope that we’ll have enough good news in Morris and Somerset County, NJ, to justify a weekly column on Roxy’s Best Of… and Roxiticus Desperate Housewives.

Come they told me, pa rum pum pum pum
A new President to see, pa rum pum pum pum
To march in the parade, pa rum pum pum pum
Traveling to DC, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

So to honor him, pa rum pum pum pum,
When we come.

Barack Obama, pa rum pum pum pum
I am a poor boy too, pa rum pum pum pum
I have no uniform
That’s fit to wear on TV,
pa rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

Shall I play for you, pa rum pum pum pum,
On my drum?

Committee gave the nod, pa rum pum pum pum
The media helped out, pa rum pum pum pum
We’ll play our drums for him, pa rum pum pum pum
We’ll play our best for him, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

They’re going to smile at me, pa rum pum pum pum
Me and my drum.

According to a recent front page article in The Bernardsville News, “a wave of media coverage and generosity has greeted efforts to equip the Bonnie Brae Knights drum corps for its march in President-elect Barack Obama’s historic inauguration parade” on Tuesday, January 20th. When the Presidential Inaugural Committee selected the school’s drum corps from among 1,382 applicants as one of only 49 groups that would march in the parade, the Bonnie Brae Knights suddenly found that its band needed uniforms, drums, equipment and funds for transportation to Washington, DC. Since the school’s boys are from broken homes and typically play on old, taped up drum sets, their plight struck a chord with the media. Television news crews descended upon Bonnie Brae’s campus on Valley Road in Basking Ridge, with network broadcasts featuring the band of T-shirt-clad boys banging away on their drums. William Powers, the school’s executive director, said: “We are the center of a media firestorm – a good firestorm. This is kind of a feel-good, underdog story….People are responding. The support from the community has been from top to bottom.” Verizon Communications, Chubb Insurance and Novartis Pharmaceuticals offered help, while countless individuals have donated $5, $10 and up. Supporters have included Bob Morrison of the Music for all Foundation, which is providing Pearl drums and uniforms; John Farbman of Drill Masters, which is providing shoes; and the Jonathan Krist Foundation of New Hope, Pennsylvania, which donated $2,000 toward bus transportation. Max Weinberg, drummer for Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band and the bandleader of Late Night with Conan O’Brien, also called the school and offered to help with drums. Thanks to the generosity of these supporters, the Bonnie Brae Knights have now raised all they need to get to Washington DC and back.

Bonnie Brae has been around since 1916 and is one of New Jersey’s largest residential treatment centers for abused, neglected and abandoned boys. It currently has 98 boys ranging in age from 8 to 18. The drum group was formed only four years ago and has no band director. The Bonnie Brae Knights seemed an unlikely choice to march in the prestigious inaugural parade. While only eight boys were in the drum corps when the choice was announced, four openings were quickly filled, and the band has since grown to 20 or 25 members. Senator Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., wrote a letter on the Knights’ behalf to the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee, which works with the Presidential Inaugural Committee to select participating groups. “The Bonnie Brae Knights drum corps is one of the most talented groups in New Jersey,” Senator Lautenberg said in a statement. “Their story, their talent and their commitment to excellence landed them a tremendous honor – performing in President-elect Barack Obama’s Inauguration Parade. I look forward to cheering them on and am honored that they will help represent New Jersey at this historic event.” The inaugural parade on January 20, 2009 will be a proud moment for the Bonnie Brae Knights – and for all of us cheering them on from New Jersey.

Go Knights!


Rex Will Love This Recipe: Braised Beef Short Rib with Hazelnut Spaetzle from Dolce in Basking Ridge, New Jersey

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As I’ve mentioned over on my Roxiticus Desperate Housewives site, I’ve been finding great new material and feeling quite productive on my recent train commutes from the Bernardsville, NJ, train station to our investment banking firm’s office in New York City. This morning, I picked up the Newark Star-Ledger on the train, and found two intriguing articles: an interview with Max Ehrich, a New Jersey teenager dancing in Disney’s High School Musical 3, as well as a feature entitled “Gender Specific” by Janet Leonardi about the “male palate” and the hearty meals and recipes that appeal to men. The front page of the Star-Ledger’s SavorToday section caught my eye with a huge photo of Braised Beef Short Rib with Hazelnut Spaetzle, one of the hearty dishes served by Chef Paul Bogardus and Dolce in Basking Ridge, NJ.

I clipped three recipes for Rex from Janet Leonardi’s article in the Star-Ledger: Light Irish Lamb Stew, “Man Food” Chili Lasagne, and the one I think will be his hands-down favorite – Braised Beef Short Rib with Hazelnut Spaetzle, created by Chef Paul R. Bogardus at Dolce in Basking Ridge, NJ. Paul Bogardus believes that men “tend to steer towards bolder flavors; peppery, spicy, heartier, fuller flavors… to them, food and the eating of it are both a social activity and necessity…Younger men enjoy red meats, sirloin, ribs, chops and fried or bar type meals with a cold beer. Portion control is still not an issue, and the art of dining is not very highly regarded except when on dates or at business dinners.” Guys, who knew your chef was watching you so closely? As men mature and move into their 40s and beyond, their eating habits mature as well. Bogardus continues, “Metabolism slows, men become more health-conscious, fish and seafood come into play and they begin to appreciate textures and the separate delicate flavors in dishes.”

As my loyal readers know, my husband Rex is the chef in our family, and I agree with the thoughts Chef Paul Bogardus has expressed. In the past year and a half, with guidance from his nutritionist, Corinne Bush at the Far Hills Pharmacy in Far Hills, NJ, Rex’s cooking has become much more oriented to a fit and healthy lifestyle. His current favorite recipes come from Bobby Flay’s “Grilling for Life” and “Boy Meets Grill,” and he’s also bringing more vegetables into the mix, giving up on starches (mashed potatoes, risotto, pasta, pasta, pasta) entirely and trying to get London, Maddie and me to cut back.

Since there are sooo many terrific restaurants in the Greater Roxiticus Valley (Mendham, Bernardsville, Chester, Basking Ridge, Morristown, Morris and Somerset County, NJ), Rex and I have not had the chance to try Dolce yet, so I would appreciate comments here from any readers who have tried the Basking Ridge restaurant. Has anyone had the Braised Beef Short Ribs? What are your other favorites? Gentlemen, do you agree with Chef Paul Bogardus on his assessment of your manly palate, and the way it changes as you grow older?


A Taste of the Hills…Honoring the 20th Anniversary of the Adult Day Center of the Visiting Nurse Association of Somerset Hills

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Rex and I just received an invitation from the Friends of the Adult Day Center of the Visiting Nurse Association of Somerset Hills to attend “A Taste of the Hills” on Sunday, November 2nd, 2008 from 6:00 to 9:00pm.  This fundraising event will be held at Fair Winds at Basking Ridge Country Club.  Guests will taste soups, hors d’oeuvres, salads, entrees, wines and desserts from around the world and around the block.

While they haven’t announced this year’s tasty participants, the 2007 exhibitors included:

  • Alba Vineyard
  • Bamboo Grille
  • Country Picnic
  • Demeter’s Pantry/Taste of Crete
  • Due Terre Enoteca in Bernardsville, NJ
  • Edible Arrangements
  • Fair Winds Catering
  • Gary’s Wine & Marketplace in Bernardsville, NJ
  • Gladstone Tavern in Gladstone, NJ
  • Gourmet Touch Bakery
  • Green Mountain Coffee
  • Grill 73 in Bernardsville, NJ
  • Illy Caffe
  • Le Petit Chateau in Bernardsville, NJ
  • Meadow Wood Manor
  • Nagano Japanese Restaurant
  • Olde Mill Inn/Grain House in Basking Ridge, NJ
  • Pierre’s
  • Ross & Owren
  • The Bernards Inn in Bernardsville, NJ
  • The Famished Frog in Morristown, NJ
  • The Store in Basking Ridge, NJ
  • Tim Schafer’s Cuisine
  • Tsuru
  • Vine in Bernardsville, NJ
  • Willie’s Tavern in Bedminster, NJ

For more information please contact Betty Heitmann at (908) 647-5076 or betrob at optonline dot net or Jackie Welsh at the VNA (908) 204-8858.


Introducing Roxy’s Best Of… Basking Ridge and Bernards Township, New Jersey

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Roxy and the rest of the Roxiticus Desperate Housewives don’t spend as much time in Bernards Township and Basking Ridge as we do in Mendham, Bernardsville, or Chester, but we recently received a request for the Best of Basking Ridge from a reader who was thinking about moving to Basking Ridge, and we aim to please, or at least to try to provide answers to your questions.

Here’s a link to the Bernards Township Chamber of Commerce. The Bernards Township Chamber of Commerce can also be reached by phone: (908) 766-6755.

Basking Ridge/Liberty Corner is home to the Somerset Hills YMCA. You can contact the Somerset Hills YMCA by phone at (908) 766-7898.


While Roxy’s Best Of… can’t make a personal recommendation, we can give you the names and phone numbers of a few local Basking Ridge/Bernards Township restaurants and hope you’ll share your thoughts with your neighbors by posting a comment here after you’ve tried them. We’ll also promise that we’ve never heard anything bad about the restaurants or merchants listed on our site.

Olde Mill Inn and Grain House Restaurant: an elegant inn and historic restaurant located off Route 287 (Exit 30B) at 225 Route 202 in Basking Ridge, NJ. Weddings, bar mitzvahs, social events, corporate meetings, outings and retreats. Phone: (800) 585-4461.

The Store: a touch of old-fashioned Americana, 55 South Finley Avenue in Basking Ridge, NJ. Super Sunday Brunch, Monday Lobster Festival, Prime Rib Night Tuesdays, Pasta Night Wednesdays, Steak Night Thursdays, drink specials in the lounge. Telephone: (908) 766-9853.

The Ridge Restaurant: housed in one of Basking Ridge’s historic buildings, The Ridge Restaurant at 25 South Finley Avenue offers a selection of Italian dishes ranging from homemade soups and appetizers to entrees and imported Italian desserts and coffee. Family-friendly, serving abundant portions for reasonable prices. Phone: (908) 766-5701.

Kid Stuff:

A couple years back, we held our younger daughter’s 4th birthday party at Color Me Mine, Highland Village in Liberty Corner/Basking Ridge, NJ. That was our Olivia the Pig theme birthday. I’m not sure I was thinking straight to put 25 four-year-olds (half boys) in a ceramics studio, but everyone had a good time and nothing got broken.

Early Childhood Education:

Before our girls were accepted at Westmont Montessori School (on Route 24 between Chester and Mendham, NJ), we considered The Allbrook School in Liberty Corner. In addition to the early childhood education program, Allbrook has a Montessori program for grades K-8. Phone (908) 580-0661. One of our teenage babysitters went to Allbrook until the 4th grade, and she turned out OK.