Get Ready for Fishing Season!

As the latest round of snow slowly melts away and we officially enter spring, that means one thing for anglers in New Jersey – fishing season!

LafayetteBridge

Paulinskill River, Lafayette – Sussex County

Waters that are stocked by the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife are now officially closed to fishing until April 8th, 8:00 a.m. It is incredibly important to leave these waters as they are while staff and volunteers stock and allow fish to become acclimated to their new surroundings.

It is also incredibly important that those required purchase a fishing license and know the fishing regulations for New Jersey. I know many people complain about the cost of the licenses for fishing and hunting, but they really are important. These fees help make sure our rivers are stocked, and rules are enforced through conservation officers. They also provide other great programs like Hooked on Fishing, Not on Drugs (Glenn and I are proud to be a part of) and free licenses for specific groups of people, such as handicapped, senior citizens, and active military. My husband and I always catch and release, but we still purchase a trout stamp because we believe in the work Fish and Game does and we know how limited their budget is. So I ask each and every one of you who requires a fishing license to spend the $22.50 and make the purchase. The cost of a ticket for fishing without a license is FAR more expensive.

Enjoy the fishing season, follow the regulations, fish ethically, and remember to “carry in/carry out.

Tight lines!

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End-of-Year Gift Giving in New Jersey

We all have someone on our list that is tough when it comes to gift giving. Since many are looking for an end-of-year tax deduction, why not give someone a donation in their name to a special Jersey charity? Here are some great New Jersey-based charities that will support important organizations while giving a special gift.

adoptaspeciesAdopt a Species: The Adopt a Species from Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey is a favorite of mine. You choose one of the endangered species that calls New Jersey its home in order to help them survive and thrive. You can pick from several species, including the bald eagle, the Indiana bat, the blue-spotted salamander, and the Pine Barrens tree frog to name a few.

Peters Valley School of Craft: This organization also has a special place in my heart. As fine and performing arts are eliminated from public school systems, groups like Peters Valley become more and more important. Founded in 1970, this small artist colony was officially established in partnership with the National Park Service to promote and encourage education and excellence in craft. Peters Valley is actually nestled within the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and was once the farm village of Bevans. They offer workshops for both children and adults, as well as demonstrations and open house events. If you are looking to purchase a truly unique gift, you will definitely find it in the shop and gallery.

Antler Ridge Wildlife Sanctuary: Antler Ridge is a 120-acre preserved farm located in Warren County. This special place is a wildlife rehabilitation center that provides vital care and treatment to sick, injured, or orphaned wildlife. From fawns to chipmunks, these little creatures are brought back to good health so they can be released back into the wild. They are brought over 1,000 animals a year for care and it costs on average $175 per animal per month to provide the care they need.

Under My Wing Avian Refuge: As a life-long bird owner, I love to see an organization focused specifically on birds. Under My Wing provides a safe permanent residence for tormented and unwanted exotic birds and maintain their lifelong care. People sometimes do not know that birds can live a very long time and aren’t prepared for the commitment. My cockatiel just turned 20! In other instances, the bird may outlive the owner and family members may not be able to care for the bird. Under My Wing works to provide care for these birds when no one else can.

cssCamden Sophisticated Sisters, Distinguished Brothers – DB’z & The Almighty Percussion Sound (TAPS): I saw this group on television recently and just loved them! Located in Camden, the Sophisticated Sister and Distinguished Brothers are a precision drill team and TAPS provides great percussion sounds. They combine hip hop, jazz, and military moves with percussion. The kids learn teamwork, self-respect, confidence, discipline, and a love for the arts. Camden is a tough place and the Sophisticated Sisters, Distinguished Brothers, and The Almighty Percussion Sound provide these kids with a positive and safe environment.

If you are looking to donate to a worthwhile organization, I hope you will consider one of these great non-profits. Like I said in the beginning, if you have a person that is hard to buy for, making a donation in a loved one’s name could be a great way to help an organization and provide a special gift for someone you love.

Small Business Saturday – Jersey Style

While many people look forward to Black Friday for a good deal on a television set, I look forward to Small Business Saturday.

Small businesses are the driving force behind the nation’s economy. According to the Small Business Administration, in 2013, New Jersey small businesses employed over 1.7 people. More than 50 percent of those companies have more than 500 employees. Whenever possible, I work to support local businesses, and Small Business Saturday is a perfect time to get out and support businesses in your community.

Here are some great small businesses in New Jersey to check out:

Starting at the top of New Jersey in Sussex County, Peters Valley in Layton offers a number peters-valleyof wonderful hand-made goods, so not only are you supporting a small business, you are supporting the arts. There’s always something new to check out. Whenever I am up in Sussex County, I stop in to see what it new and rarely leave empty handed.

Moving down Sussex County, check out Whitewater Flies. If you have someone on your list that enjoys fly fishing and the outdoors, check out this great little fly shop. Greg and his team are incredibly helpful and can guide you to make the best picks possible.

Entering Morris County, I love going to downtown Denville. The main drag is almost completely small businesses. Faith and Begorra offers some great Irish and Catholic gifts, such as handmade sweaters and Irish jewelry. Kevin’s Fine Jewelry has beautiful jewelry in a variety of different price ranges. If you need a lunch break, head to Sergio’s for an Italian treat and then to Mara’s for some dessert.

If you have a book lover on your list, I recommend you check out the Old Book Shop in Morristown. They have a great selection of old and limited edition books as well as magazines and vintage post cards.

shop-chester-njAnother favorite small town in Morris County is Chester. The historic downtown retail district is lined with great shops filled with art, antiques, and more. I always enjoy walking around Chester Crafts, Collectibles & Antiques. There is always something unique and interesting and is a great place to find that special gift for someone on your list. Objects of Desire is another great shop full of handmade jewelry and a variety of accessories.

Growing up in Essex County, I used to love to go to Bloomfield Avenue in Montclair. One of my favorite stops was always The Inner Eye. This was always a unique place and you never knew what you were going to find. Just off Bloomfield Avenue on Church Street, you’ll find That Little Black Dress. There is always something unique available and it was voted a favorite New Jersey boutique.

Frenchtown1-smA great spot in Hunterdon County is Frenchtown. I wrote about a visit to Frenchtown during the summer. Of course my favorite spot is The Spinnery. If you have a yarn lover on your list, this is the place to go! If you have someone with a sweet tooth, check out Minette’s Candies. They have not only all the hard-to-find candy brands we grew up with, they have great stuff like truffles and chocolate covered pretzels.

At the tip of the state, you’ll find Cape May; a favorite spot of mine. Check out the Whale’s Tale and Splash for great unique gifts with a “down the shore” feel. If you want a sweet treat with a real Jersey feel, pick up a gift at James Candy Company. I’ve picked up Fralinger’s Original Salt Water for something different as a hostess gift when going to a party.

These are just a few of the different and wonderful small businesses you will find in New Jersey. I hope you will use Small Business Saturday as a good excuse to check out the great businesses that are in your area. What are your favorite businesses? Please add to the list in the comments section below.

New Jersey and the Cranberry

As I have always said, New Jersey has many things to offer. One wonderful taste of Jersey is the cranberry.

New Jersey is the third largest cranberry producer in the nation, behind Wisconsin and Massachusetts. Agricultural cooperative, Ocean Spray, was founded by three growers in 1930, two from Massachusetts and one from New Jersey. Ocean Spray still grows cranberries in New Jersey.

Out of the roughly 700 farms overall that grow cranberries for Ocean Spray, about 20 are in South Jersey and they produce between 500,000 and 600,000 barrels of cranberries a year.

According to PineyPower.com, the North American cranberry industry has a long and distinguished history. Native peoples used cranberries as food, in ceremonies, and medicinally. They mixed cranberries with deer meat to make pemmican, a convenience food that could be kept for a long time. Medicine men used them as poultices to draw poison from arrow wounds, and women used the juice as a dye for cloth. In New Jersey, the Delaware Indians used them as peace symbols. They got their name, “crane berries,” from the early German and Dutch settlers who thought their blossoms resembled the neck and head of a crane.

So when you enjoy your cranberry sauce today, those berries may well have been harvested in New Jersey!

Why I love New Jersey

My husband and I were watching a television show about real estate in Montana. One couple was planning a move from California to Montana. Now, when most people think of Big Sky Country, they imagine the open prairie, cowboys, and wood cabins. Instead of embracing the lifestyle, they were trying to shoehorn California living into their new house. They obviously shouldn’t have left California. That’s where their heart is.

That’s kind of like how I feel about New Jersey.

Frankford-Cemetery

Frankford Cemetery in black and white by Lisaann VanBlarcom Permunian.

I am often asked a simple question. “Why would you EVER want to stay in New Jersey?”

When my husband and I were married there very were few things that were non-negotiable. One of those non-negotiable items is that I would NEVER move out of New Jersey.

“Why?”

New Jersey is my home. I was born in Columbus Hospital in Newark and spent over 30 years in Belleville. When a move needed to take place, we stayed close by in Nutley until we could decide on our next move. While it may sound crazy, going to the next town over from Belleville was tough. I also felt like I had betrayed my beloved Belleville by moving to our rival town. Two years later, we moved again. Instead of town-to-town, we moved county-to-county. Again, I almost had a nervous breakdown.

As my regular readers know, I don’t deal well with change. I know people who have moved across the country and half-way around the world. Me? I move from Essex County to Morris County and I could barely handle it. I’m a Jersey Girl through and through. I would’ve been very happy to stay in my house on Irving Street for the rest of my life.

Where else can you be at an awesome beach and then the mountains within a two hour drive

Rutt's Hut

A typical meal at the Jersey famous Rutt’s Hut.

in the same state? Have the best REAL Italian and REAL Portuguese cooking in the same city? I can go fly fishing in Walpack or grab a cheese steak at Seaside Heights. You want a great deep fried hot dog? I know the place. Oh, and I don’t pump my own gas.

Some people see Newark Airport and the Turnpike. Me? I see important places that played key roles in the birth of our nation. We are tough. If you are from Jersey, you need to be tough to fight off all the stupid stereotypes from those horrible television shows which I will not name.

So will I travel? Sure. But I will always come home to my New Jersey.

Going Home: Seton Hall Weekend

Seton Hall Class RingIn September around the country, colleges have their own versions of “Parent’s Weekend” to show off the best of their schools. This weekend was Seton Hall’s turn. When I received the announcement about all that would take place on the campus, I felt a longing to take a ride to visit my college home.

My day started with taking something out of the jewelry box I hadn’t worn in quite a while – my college ring. It still fit perfectly and was a good reminder of my college years. I took the ride like I just did it yesterday. Parkway South to 280 West. South Harrison Street to South Centre Street to the Farinella Gate. Just as it was when I was a student, parking was tight. I found a spot behind Xavier Hall. I headed to the walkway. I was home.

Fahy HallI wasn’t an alumnus visiting her old campus. I felt like an undergrad again. The first thing I saw was the was the new sign in front of Fahy Hall announcing the new name of the College of Communication and the Arts. I was very excited when I received the announcement about the College earlier this year. I felt like it was a great acknowledgement of all it adds to the University.

I headed into Fahy and went downstairs like it was yesterday. I went right to what was then known as the “Mac lab” and saw a Electronic Publishing and Pagination Labsight that just warmed my heart. It was the sign for the Pagination and Publishing Lab. I peered through the window into the dark room and it looked a lot different than I remembered. Gone were the 15 Macintosh computers with two laser printers. It now looked like a high tech classroom with the best technology available today. I spent more hours in that area than I can remember. It was the heart of my education. I looked at the names on the doors and many are still the same. Hoffman. Kuchon. Plummer. Yates. Zizik. While I was College of Communication and the Arts at Seton Hallthere, these were many of my mentors. I saw Professor Reader in his office. We chatted for a few minutes. He told me Professor Rosenblum had retired and is now living in California working for Google from time to time. Dr. McKenna has also retired. Those two men, along with Professor Gottlieb, were the core of my education at Seton Hall and I am forever grateful for their care and guidance.

Seton Hall PiratesI left Fahy and walked alongside Xavier to “The Green.” Along the way there were great welcome signs; another reminder of the warm welcome I felt the first time I walked on the campus as a senior at Belleville High School. The moment I walked on the campus, I knew this was where I belonged. When I walked into the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, I knew I would get married here; about six years later, I did.

I then turned right and went in the side door of the Student Center and up to the second floor. The office of The Setonian was in the same place. I was the News Editor for one year and Professor Gottlieb was the advisor. As I have mentioned in a post on another blog, when she would compliment me on an article and approved it for The Setonianpublication, it was true “Pirate Pride!” Every Wednesday would start at the Setonian office reading and editing articles for the paper. Later in the evening, we would head over to the Pagination and Publishing Lab to run galleys to put through waxers (yes, I am dating myself) to complete the layout. I learned not just about good journalism, but print production and publishing. The evening would often technically finish early Thursday morning. Two of us would drive to the printer with the boxed up flats so they were there as soon as they opened in the morning so the paper would be on campus Thursday afternoon. I’m not going to lie; it was brutal and there were sometimes I wanted no part of it. There came a Dr. Tracey Gottliebpoint when I had to say goodbye to the work on the paper. I was sad, but knew it was how it worked. You entrusted the work to the next class. I did discover a nice surprise as I walked around the corner; my mentor, now “Dr.” Gottlieb’s office! She is now Vice President of Student Services. A very well-deserved position.

Chapel of the Immaculate ConceptionI took a walk through The Green and looked at all the events they had set up for the kids. It was a perfect weather day and the kids were having a great time. I was sorry to see there weren’t any tables for all the different activities, but it was OK. I enjoyed meandering around the campus. The old library has been replaced by a new building for the Stillman School of Business. The Chapel is just as beautiful as always. There were several weddings taking place throughout the day. Happy couples beginning their lives as husband and wife, just as I did with my husband Glenn in 1994.

I walked alongside President’s Hall and Marshall Hall to the new library. It is truly a marvel. A great university deserves a great library and this is definitely it! I walked up to the reference desk and asked if there are old copies of The Setonian still kept in the library. I explained thanks to Hurricane Irene, I lost all my clippings. The woman was very sorry and gave me the contact information for someone who could help me. I plan on calling him during the week.

Alpha Gamma Delta Seton HallJust as I finished at the reference desk, I saw a student walk by wearing her Alpha Gamma Delta shirt. I hurried after her and told her I was in pledge class Alpha Xi. She was so nice! She brought me over to the table where she was sitting with her other sisters and we all had a nice chat. They are lovely and intelligent young women. They told me about all that is going on with the sorority. I loved how they would refer to their sisters as “Gams.” I was happy to hear the college had finally taken a hard stance against hazing; the primary reason I drifted away from the sisterhood when I was an upperclassman. It sounds like the college has gone a little too far in the other direction, but I am happy to hear students today are well protected against such nonsense. I gave them my email address so they could keep in touch with me. It was a great visit!

I then walked over to Duffy Hall to the bookstore. Just like many other spots on campus, it is in the same place with a nice updated look. Of course I had to pick up a few new things. I almost picked up an AP Style Guide but decided against it in case students still need to make purchases. I still have my Style Guide I purchased when I first started taking my journalism courses.Mother Seton

My last stop of the day was inside the Chapel after one of the weddings. I knelt and prayed just as I had done many times before. It was nice to have some quiet reflection. As always I prayed for my family members that have gone home to God, for those who are here, for strength, for wisdom, and offered my thanks for allowing me to be part of the Seton Hall family. I offered a prayer at Mother Seton before leaving.

pirate-smI headed back down the path alongside Xavier to my car. I put my new Pirate magnet that was handed out on The Green on the back of my car. I began to head out of the lot back to South Centre Street. My transition from undergrad to alumnus took place as I passed the column at the gate. I was thankful for such a wonderful day. I enjoyed walking around the campus and meeting some of the current Gams was great! It was a day full of great memories. As I age, I try to forget the bad and remember the good. And I have a lot of good memories at Seton Hall University.

Belleville Goes to Hell’s Kitchen

Anyone who is a regular reader of my blog knows I grew up in Belleville. It was a great place to grow up. My life consisted of Girl Scouts (Brownie Troop 255, Junior Troop 292), drama club, and of course marching band. My years in band were the best times growing up. I made great friends and, thanks to Facebook, I’ve had the opportunity to get in touch with many of them.

I can’t tell you how proud I am of so many of them. Jennifer recently graduated from Seton Hall Law, Trish is a published author, and Pat Tortorello is an awesome chef and now television star. He will be on the upcoming season 16 of Hell’s Kitchen.

“Tort” as he was known to his friends back then has been an awesome cook for as long as I can remember. His New Year’s Eve parties were epic to say the least. The food was always awesome! He was a drummer in marching band and still plays in a band today. He was a great friend and a lot of fun growing up. He would pick us up in his hot little sports car after school and drive us home. We though we were just awesome. Band football on Sunday. It was the best. We all went through thick and thin together and we are all proud of Tort and can’t wait to see the show!

You can meet Pat in person at a viewing party at Runway 22 in Fairfield on Friday, September 23rd.

We all know Jersey people are tough. And Belleville people? Well, we can hold our own. I am sure Tort can handle Chef Ramsay and will do Belleville, and New Jersey proud!