Teenage Cool

Greek Goodies

Corrections or additions?

These articles by Jamie Saxon were prepared for the November 3,


issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Best Bets

It was the hottest booth at the New York Gift Show," says Dale Stokes,

"and we’re the only ones in this area carrying it." "It" is a body

whip that’s scooped out like ice cream and comes in equally yummy

"flavors" like strawberry and kiwi.

Stokes is the owner of Do Me a Favor, a company that specializes in

social printing (stationery and creative invitations), upscale gift

giving, and party and event planning. Last fall Stokes held a holiday

extravaganza in her West Windsor home to showcase her products and

services but this year she says she wanted to add a charity element.

She has paired up with Marjorie Young, director of Community House, an

organization that offers summer computer camps to underprivileged

children in Princeton, to transform the Carl A. Fields Center on the

Princeton campus, into a winter wonderland of 14 "vignettes." A

portion of the event’s sales will go to underwrite the costs of the


The Pamper Yourself vignette, fashioned around an antique 300-pound

clawfoot bathtub that the resourceful Stokes (who one Christmas made a

gingerbread house in the exact likeness of her own house) found on

eBay, features a host of treats for the work-weary, like a neck wrap

filled with lavender and shaped like a stuffed animal that you

microwave and wrap around yourself after a hard day at work. "It’s an

instant massage," says Young.

Other vignettes include a country store, personalized holiday cards

(offered at a 20 percent discount), pottery, baby goods, jewelry,

toys, handbags and small leather goods, and candy and cookies. A diva

of the unusual, Stokes, who represents close to 200 printing and

giftware companies, scours the New York Gift Show and does extensive

research to find the creative and unusual. "I had six candy buyers out

there looking for me," she says: "We have the most incredible

low-carb fudge. You absolutely can’t tell it’s low-carb. Among the

dozens of unique gift offerings are paper dolls drawn to look like

your child, hand-painted eggs from Austria, and hand-painted candles

from South Africa.

Stokes and Young met the way lots of parents meet – through their

kids. When Young’s fifth grade son was about to start at Chapin, the

school paired them up, as they do with all new students, with another

parent and student – in this case, Stokes. "The first time we spoke on

the phone," says Young, a Lawrenceville resident, "we talked for two

hours," setting in motion a fast friendship. (Both their sons are now

in high school.) "While the rest of us send holiday cards that say

‘We’re barely making it,’" says Young, "Dale sends a CD with her son,

Gregory, playing jazz music on the piano, labeled ‘Have a Jazzy


In summer, 2005, Young plans to expand the Community House summer

computer camp program with "Explorations" camps in drama, science,

ethnic dance, art, and other "things you’re not going to find at the

Y," says Young. "If they’re not here doing this, what would they be


Do Me a Favor Holiday Extravaganza. Saturday, November 13, 10 a.m. to

6 p.m.; Sunday, November 14, noon to 4 p.m. Carl A. Fields Center for

Equality and Cultural Understanding, 86 Olden Avenue (corner of

Prospect Street), Princeton. Children welcome. Entertainment includes

a cappella groups of Princeton students and giveaways. 609-936-8885.

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Teenage Cool

There’s not a kid in a dark corner forcing your kids to smoke weed,"

says Dr. Ron Taffel, a noted psychologist and family therapist who New

Woman magazine has called "a Spock for our time." "Kids make these

decisions on their own to get closer to each other. Their friends

become their second family, just as or even more powerful than the

first family at home. It’s not peer pressure. I call it peer bonding.

It’s the power of the second family."

Taffel, who has appeared on the Today Show, 20/20, and Larry King

Live, writes a monthly column called "Family Life" for Parents

Magazine and is the author of "The Second Family: Dealing with Peer

Power, Pop Culture, the Wall of Silence – and Other Challenges of

Raising Today’s Teens." He speaks on "The Tyranny of Cool: What Every

21st Century Parent Needs to Know about Listening, Limiting, and Maybe

Saving Your Teen’s Life," Tuesday, November 16, at 7:30 p.m. at the

Hun School in Princeton. He will discuss safe privileges, back-talk,

lessening negotiating, reducing stress, and handling the new realities

about teen sex and drinking.

Taffel defines the tyranny of cool as the pressure to be cool, the

pressure to fit in. "The tyranny of cool does not reach a fever pitch

in high school, but rather starts early and becomes the most intense

in sixth, seventh, and eighth grades, when kids are already vulnerable

to the pressures of adolescence."

Taffel wants parents to look at early adolescence in a different way.

"There is a lot of information out there, a glut that changes from

week to week. It can be very confusing. But after years of working

with kids and going over research, there is rock solid stuff we know

that works with kids and practical, concrete tools parents can use."

"The Tyranny of Cool, What Every 21st Century Parent Needs to Know

about Listening, Limiting and Maybe Saving Your Teen’s Life," Dr. Ron

Taffel, Tuesday, November 16, 7:30 p.m., the Hun School, Edgerstoune

Road, Princeton. Free. 609-921-7600. Sponsored by CommonGround, a

collaborative of twelve Princeton area independent schools.

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Greek Goodies

There are two truths to the holidays: one is that you’ll finish

decorating your tree, plug in the lights, and one strand will be dead.

The other is – people will come to your house and expect to be fed.

And for many working professionals that means a big bother.

The 125 members of the St. George Ladies Philoptochos Society, many of

them first- and second-generation Greek mothers and grandmothers, have

spent the last three weeks cranking up the eight ovens and

industrial-size Kitchen Aid in the kitchen of St. George Greek

Orthodox Church in Hamilton, cooking and baking like mad so that you

can fill your freezer with delicious Greek home-baked foods like

moussaka, baklava, and pastries – way ahead of the holiday craziness.

Nearly every dish sold in Yiayia’s Kitchen can be frozen. "Many of our

members rely on their purchases from Yaiyia’s kitchen to reduce their

cooking duties from Thanksgiving to New Year’s," says Fotini Floudas,

president of the Philoptochos Society, adding that all the items also

make wonderful gifts. A Princeton resident, Floudas came to the United

States in 1986 with her husband, Chris, a chemical engineering

professor at Princeton University.

Yiayia is the Greek word for grandmother – and all of the recipes,

says Floudas, are family recipes. There’s not a cookbook in sight; in

fact the Society is hoping to publish their own.

"Everything that can be frozen comes with full instructions on how to

bake," says Floudas. In addition to moussaka (baked eggplant with meat

filling and cream sauce), Yiayia’s Kitchen offers roast chicken

oregano, pastipsio (baked macaroni with ground beef filling with cream

sauce); spinach pie, and roast lamb with Greek herbs. Also freezable

are baklava (layers of filo strudel sheets sprinked with a mixture of

chopped walnuts and spices and bathed in a honey syrup), tsourekia

(holiday bread loaves that you can slice and freeze), honey cakes,

finikia (rich spicy cookies dipped in honey and sprinkled with nuts),

and kourambiedes (powdered sugar cookies).

Philoptochos means "friends of the poor," and proceeds raised from

Yiayia’s kitchen will benefit the many charities the Society serves.

They bake and bring food to sick people, visit hospital patients, and

hold fundraisers. Although Floudas earned an undergraduate degree in

chemistry in Greece, the only chemistry she is using now is in the

kitchen. She says: "I’m so busy (with the Society) I can’t work."

Yiayia’s Kitchen, Friday and Saturday, November 12 and 13, 11:30 a.m.

to 8:30 p.m., St. George Greek Orthodox Church, 1200 Klockner Road,

Hamilton. Foods for entertaining and gifts. Lunch, $8; dinner, $10.

Take-out available. 609-586-4448.

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