Shop Local for the Holidays

As much as I tried to deny it, the summer is long gone. Now that the clocks have changed and it is dark before you get out of work, everyone has turned their attention to the holidays.

The problem this year, however, is the ongoing supply chain issue. Cargo ships wait out in the Atlantic and the Pacific to unload goods. The ongoing shortage of truck drivers across the nation. It’s enough to make you batty.

Or is it?

Every year I remind people to shop local for small business Saturday. With everyone starting to shop earlier this year due to all the panic, this reminder to shop local comes earlier than usual. And the great thing about Jersey is that there are plenty of special places to shop with a unique Jersey flair.

Just Jersey

The best place to start is at Just Jersey in Morristown. This special shop presents unique art, craft, food, and more from over 200 Jersey-based residents. From jewelry, to homemade jams, to glassware, you will find a great variety of unique items in any price range. Best part is they all come with that special Jersey flair we have all come to know and love.

Peters Valley School of Craft

If you have never been to Peters Valley, I highly recommend it. It is not just a great place to visit, you will enjoy a beautiful ride on the way there. Their facilities are located within the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, once the farm village of Bevans. Before that, it was the tribal ground of the Lenni Lenape people, whose ancestors were the first craftspeople and makers of the land. Bevans was lost to the Tocks Island Dam Project of 1960-70’s through eminent domain. Eventually the project was scrapped and the name Peter’s Valley was reinstated in remembrance of early settler and surveyor Peter Van Neste.

Peters Valley offers not just beautiful surroundings, but onsite classes in a variety of crafts. Know someone who always wanted to try blacksmithing or weaving? Consider paying for a class for them to attend. Looking for something handmade? Visit their two unique galleries and leave with a beautiful gift that is sure to create a lasting memory. The Holiday Market begins November 20th.

West End Garage

One of my favorite places in this state is Cape May. And the West End Garage is a really cool place. Filled with funky gifts, you’ll find something for even the hardest person on your list. Check out original art by Maggie May Oysters, who uses locally sourced oyster shells in her artwork or Patricia Jackson Jewelers, highlighting their Exit Zero collection.

Pretty Handy

Belleville mug from Pretty Handy

This great little Nutley shop takes “shop local” a step further. Not only are you shopping Jersey, you are shopping Essex County. Pretty Handy offers town swag for Nutley, Bloomfield, Newark, Clifton, and of course, my beloved Belleville. If you are trying to show your town pride, this is a great place to check out.

Reddie to Burn

Of course I can’t finish out this post without a mention of my favorite candlemaker, Jersey Girl, and Goddaughter, Alyssa Lyn Reddie. Reddie to Burn offers all-natural hand-made candles in a variety of scents. Each soy candle has plenty of scent, from pumpkin soufflé, to apple and maple bourbon, to plenty of others, there’s something to please every taste.

Get shopping!

No matter what you decide, I hope you will consider shopping local and supporting local small businesses and artisans. You are helping those right in your community; no supply chain issues!

The Official Jersey Bucket List

As we all continue to wait to be paroled from Coronavirus jail, many of us are making plans of what we would like to do once we are free to go anywhere and do anything. Well, this had me start to make a “Jersey bucket list;” all the things Jersey-related someone should do at some point.

I hope you consider checking out some of these ideas once we are turned loose. Whether you are a foodie, a shopper extraordinaire, or someone who loves the outdoors, there is something on this list for everyone.

Visit High Point: At 1,803 feet above sea level, High Point State Park is the highest spot in the state. High Point is also the highest peak of the Kittatinny Mountains. The view is simply spectacular, as you can see New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. The land for High Point State Park, donated by Colonel Anthony R. and Susie Dryden Kuser, was dedicated as a park in 1923. You can hike, swim, fish, and camp.

Hike the New Jersey Section of the Appalachian Trail: While you are checking out High Point, get on the Appalachian Trail. The “AT” as it is often referred to, is a non-governmental, independently managed recreation facility of the national park system and is the nation’s longest marked hiking only trail at 2,180 miles. The AT runs from Maine all the way to Georgia. The New Jersey section is 74 miles long. If you are a serious hiker, many can complete the entire New Jersey section in less than a week. It can also be traversed in shorter day hikes. Hiking the Trail is a great way to see some of the most beautiful parts of the state.

Rutt's Hut

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

Complete the Hot Dog Trifecta: In Jersey we have opinions about EVERYTHING. Including who has the best hot dog. For many, it comes down to three: Rutt’s Hut in Clifton, Hirams in Fort Lee, and Hot Grill in Clifton. I know some who would argue River View East in Elmwood Park or Maui’s Dog House, North Wildwood. We certainly have a ton of great options!

Decide which is the Best Italian Hot Dog: Just like everyone has their favorite hot dog joint, there is always an argument as to who has the best Italian hot dogs. It comes down to two places: Dickie Dee’s in Newark and Jimmy Buff’s in West Orange. Try both and decide for yourself.

SunsetBeach

The rocks at Sunset Beach

Visit Sunset Beach in Cape May: This is one of my favorite places in the entire state. I could easily spend an entire day at Sunset Beach. Take the kids to play miniature golf, grab a bite to eat the The Grille, or do my favorite thing of all – dig for Cape May diamonds on the beach. The most touching moment of the day takes place as the sun sets. At the end of each day at Sunset Beach during the summer, make sure to stay and watch the flag ceremony. All of the flags flown at Sunset Beach are veterans’ casket flags that families bring with them from their loved one’s funeral. It is a truly moving event.

Shop the outlets in Atlantic City: As you leave Cape May, check out the great deals at the outlets in Atlantic City. From Calvin Klein, to Coach, to Cablea’s, there’s something for every member of your family. It is definitely worth the ride!

Visit Morristown National Historical Park: One of my first dates with my now husband was a visit to Jockey Hollow. It is a great place to see “where America survived.” The entire area is known as Morristown National Historical Park and includes multiple interesting places to explore and commemorates the sites of General Washington and the Continental army’s winter encampment of December 1779 to June 1780, where they survived through what would be the coldest winter on record.

Plan a Wine Tasting Event at One of Jersey’s Wineries: The Garden State is home to over 40 wineries. It’s history goes all the way back to 1758 when Great Britain’s Royal Society offered £100 to any colonist who would produce red or white wine “of acceptable quality,” meaning the wine was of the same caliber as that being purchased from France. While New Jersey’s wine history has experienced challenges, it is now flourishing!

Visit all of New Jersey’s Lighthouses: There are over 20 lighthouses still in existence in New Jersey and they are from the top of New Jersey to the bottom; not just down the shore. About half of those are open to the public.

Catch a Wild Brook Trout on a Dry Fly: When people talk about fly fishing they usually think of two things: Montana and the movie A River Runs Through It. What you might not know is that there’s plenty of great places to fly fish right in New Jersey. As someone who has been fly fishing for over two decades, there is nothing like catching a fish – any fish – on top water. To me, the most perfect catch is a native wild brook trout on a dry fly. For me that would be on one of four of my favorite dry flies: an Adams, a Royal Wulff, A Blue Wing Olive, or an Elk Hair Caddis. And not your standard 12 or 13 inch brook trout; a serious brookie. In case you didn’t know, the brook trout is the state’s official fish.

Go to Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart: One of the most beautiful churches in the state is the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark. During Pope John Paul II’s visit to the United States in 1995, he celebrated evening prayer at the Cathedral. At this occasion, the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart was elevated to a minor basilica to become the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart.

Enjoy Dinner at The Belmont: Growing up, I had two favorite restaurants: The Finish Line and The Belmont and I had favorite dishes at each place. At The Finish Line, I loved their zuppa di pesce. At The Belmont, I know many people go for Stretch’s “Famous” Chicken Savoy, but for me it was always their Scrod “Di Giacomo” Oreganato.  I haven’t been to The Belmont in a long time, and I am way overdue.

Lemonade and a Cheese Steak at The Midway: Like many others, I have great memories of going “down the shore.” I’ve learned your shore stop has a lot to do with you age. When I was a teenager, like many others, my stop was Seaside. A favorite practice of mine was to grab a cheese steak and lemonade at The Midway, sit on one of the many benches, and people watch. It was always fascinating. Sadly, Sandy and the boardwalk fire took away the “shore of my youth” as Governor Christie put it. What hasn’t changed is the opportunity for cheese steak and lemonade at The Midway while people watching.

Visit the Pine Barrens: The Pinelands is the largest remaining example of the Atlantic coastal pine barrens ecosystem, stretching across more than seven counties of New Jersey. Congress created the New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve, the country’s first National Reserve, to protect the area under the National Parks and Recreation Act of 1978. The reserve contains Wharton State Forest, Brendan T. Byrne State Forest, Bass River State Forest, and Penn State Forest. It is approximately 1.1 million acres and spans portions of seven counties. The reserve occupies 22% of New Jersey’s land area and it is the largest body of open space on the Mid-Atlantic seaboard between Richmond and Boston. The Pinelands was designated a U.S. Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1983 and an International Biosphere Reserve in 1988. It is also known as the home of the legend of The Jersey Devil.

I’m sure there’s a lot I am missing. What is on your Jersey bucket list?

The Old Guard in Morristown

Yesterday my husband and I had the pleasure of hearing the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corp give a concert at the Washington’s Headquarters Museum. It was the first time I saw them in person and it was a great event!

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The Old Guard Fife and Drum at Washington’s Headquarters.

For those who are not familiar, the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corp was formed in 1960. They perform in traditional uniforms modeled after the musicians of General George Washington’s Continental Army. Military musicians wore opposite colors of their assigned regiments so they could be easily identified by officers so they could give orders to the army via different musical calls. If you would like to hear some of the music they perform, you can download it here.

The Washington’s Headquarters Museum is a great place if you have never visited. I have blogged about it in the past and I highly suggest you visit it. Known as “where America survived,” they mark the sites of General Washington and the Continental Army’s winter encampment of December 1779 to June 1780. It includes Jockey Hollow, Washington’s Headquarters Museum, Ford Mansion, Fort Nonsense, and the Wick House. Each separate area tells a story about the soldiers who lived there and how New Jersey played a critical role in America’s fight for freedom.

There is a lot to experience and you could easily spend multiple days exploring the area and learning about all that took place there. I know my husband and I will be heading back there during the summer to see first hand what these brave soldiers experienced and thank the souls who lost their lives on that ground for their persistence in the fight for freedom from an oppressive monarchy.

Independence Day – Jersey Style

Many may not realize the significance of New Jersey in the fight for Independence. Morristown National Historical Park is nationally significant as the site of the 1779-80 winter encampment of the Continental Army under General George Washington. This amazing place represents patriotism and sacrifice during this pivotal period in our nation’s history.

There are multiple locations in the area of Morristown that are worth a visit in the summer. From Fort Nonsense, to Jockey Hollow, to Ford Mansion – you can easily spend a few days experiencing all this area has to offer.

RevTimes-2016-logoThere are plenty of great events taking place during the upcoming Independence Day Weekend. Known as “Revolutionary Times Weekend,” the event will also salute the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service and the 200th anniversary of the Trustees of the Morristown Green.

Saturday, July 2nd
The Hanover Township Landmark Commission kicks off the weekend with a free tour of its 1718 Burying Yard located off of Route 10 East in Whippany. This one-hour tour will highlight people who first settled Morris County and are buried in the cemetery.

Sunday, July 3rd
Morristown National Historical Park will host a Revolutionary War encampment at the Ford Mansion. Costumed re-enactors will be on hand demonstrating a soldier’s life in the Continental Army. As a special event, between 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. the park welcomes the United States Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps for a concert, on the lawn between the Ford Mansion and the Washington’s Headquarters Museum.

Als0 on the 3rd, check out a fireworks display. Fireworks will begin at 9:15 p.m. at Central Park of Morris County, off West Hanover Avenue. Central Park of Morris County will be open for picnicking beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Monday, July 4th
Events will begin at the Ford Mansion where the Continental Army re-enactors will march to the Morristown Green at 11 a.m. At the Morristown Green there will be family activities beginning at noon. Members of the Morristown National Historical Park’s ranger corps will provide the annual Reading of the Declaration of Independence, a long-standing Morris County tradition, at 12:30 p.m.

Following the reading there will be a musket salute and free guided tours of the Presbyterian Church of Morristown‘s church and Colonial-era graveyard.

So make sure to party this weekend like it is 1776!

New Jersey and Independence Day

Ford Mansion

Independence Day is a day for great American pride. What you may not know is that New Jersey played a pivotal role in the Revolutionary War. If you want to celebrate our independence in a patriotic way, check out some of these locations and events.

Ford Mansion

Ford Mansion, image circa 1930. Credit: National Park Service

Morristown: This may be one of the most well-known locations in the Revolutionary War in New Jersey. Morristown is home to Washington’s Headquarters and Jockey Hollow. Historic Ford Mansion was home to General Washington’s military headquarters for six months during the winter of 1779-80. Despite the extreme winter, Washington was able to hold his army together and continue the fight for freedom. The national park consists of four non-contiguous units including the Washington’s Headquarters Unit, the Fort Nonsense Unit, the Jockey Hollow Unit, and the New Jersey Brigade Area. The park features two original structures, the Ford Mansion in Morristown and the Wick House in Jockey Hollow. Soldiers camped at Jockey Hollow until June, 1780. There is an encampment at the site with reenactors to educate visitors on what soldiers endured while onsite. There are approximately 27 miles of walking trails in the Jockey Hollow Unit.

Sandy Hook: Built in 1764, the Sandy Hook Lighthouse is the oldest standing lighthouse in the country. At one point during the war, there was talk about destroying the lighthouse so it wouldn’t fall into the hands of the British. Major William Malcolm received orders in a letter dated March 6, 1776 to “take the glass out of the lantern, and save it if possible; but if you find this impracticable you will break the glass. You will also endeavor to pump the oil out of the cisterns into casks, or not being able to procure casks, you will pump it out onto the ground. In short, you will use your best discretion to render the lighthouse entirely useless.” Less than three months later, the British had the lighthouse repaired and back in operation and would remain under British control for most of the war.

Princeton: On January 3, 1777, Princeton Battlefield transformed into the site of what is considered to be the fiercest fight of its size during the American Revolution. During the battle, American troops under General Washington surprised and defeated a force of British soldiers. The Battle of Princeton gave Washington his first victory against the British on the field. With the victory at Princeton, morale rose in the American ranks and more men began to enlist in the army.

Battle of Second River

Battle of Second River market. Credit: Anthony Buccino/Bellevillesons.com

Belleville: Of course I must include my beloved home town of Belleville, known as Second River during the Revolutionary War. The Battle of Second River in Belleville was fought from Sept. 12 through Sept. 14, 1777. It was the only battle fought in Essex County during the American Revolution. The cemetery alongside the Belleville Dutch Reformed Church holds the bodies of 66 Revolutionary War Patriots.

Hopewell Township/Titusville: These two town names may not sound familiar, but trust me they are incredibly important to our nation’s fight for freedom. This area is the location of Washington’s famous crossing of the Delaware. On December 25, 1776, the Continental Army had little to celebrate that Christmas and seemed beat by hunger and cold. After crossing the rough winter river at night, General George Washington and the Continental Army landed at Johnson’s Ferry, at the site now known as Washington Crossing State Park. At 4 am, they began their march to Trenton where they defeated the Hessian troops in an unexpected attack. This battle was quickly followed by the Second Battle of Trenton on January 2, 1777, and the Battle of Princeton on January 3, 1777.

These are just a few of the important historical locations in New Jersey. I hope you take time to check them out.

Shop Small in New Jersey this Weekend

Small Business SaturdayWhile many are focused on Black Friday and the big box stores, what I am really excited about is Small Business Saturday. Depending on the study and the area, anywhere fom 50% to 80% of money spent stays right in that local community. Many towns are planning special events this upcoming Saturday. Here are a few:

Hackettstown: They are extending Small Business Saturday to Small Business Week! Some of the events include a Luce Decor Holiday Open House, Hackettstown Historical Society is having a special event on December 6th from 5:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m., the Old Souk Trading Company Semi-Annual Sale takes place from Saturday, Nov. 30 to Friday, Dec. 6.
Collingswood: Earthen Treasures will be at the Art Within Reach Event December 6-8, Grooveground is offering special deals that include extra gift cards when you purchase a gift card. Blue Moon Premiun Oil & Vinegar is giving a $5 off a “make-your-own” sampler. There are also plenty of specials at stores for the kids like Duck Duck Goods and ExtraordinaryEd. You can find the complete list at the Collingswood Patch.
Denville: The town of Denville starts on Friday with plenty of activities, including a tree lighting, story time with Mrs. Claus, and choirs from the local schools.
Middlesex, Union and Somerset Counties: the Tri-County Chamber of Commerce will host its first “Shop Small Business Saturday” at the Somerville Elks Lodge located at 375 Union Ave. (Route 28) Bridgewater, NJ 08807.  The show will have a variety of vendors offering unique boutique-like items and services as well as merchandise from consultants for larger companies.
Morristown: The Morristown Patch is lending a hand to Morristown’s Small Business Saturday by offering free parking when you come to “shop small.”

These are just a few of the events going on around the state. Know of others? Add to the comments section below. Or better yet, post them on my Facebook page! And make sure to shop small this weekend!

Jersey Icon: Jockey Hollow

When my husband and I were in the beginning of our relationship, one of our first dates was to Jockey Hollow in Morristown. My then boyfriend, now husband, really enjoys the history of the Revolutionary War, and I had never been there before, so it was really interesting!

Jockey Hollow

Jockey Hollow, Morristown.
Credit: Wally Gobetz

There were re-enactors roaming the area answering questions and telling us about day to day life for the members of the 12,000-plus Continental Army, which remained at Jockey Hollow from October of 1779 until June 1780. During their time at Jockey Hollow, they endured some incredibly harsh winter weather; even worse than the winter at Valley Forge. Their housing was very small and simple and often housed more than 10 men at once. Desertions were not uncommon due to the harsh conditions.

Now, this historic area is a wonderful place to spend a day and learn about this important location in the Revolutionary War. The area makes up approximately 1,200 acres with walking tours, hiking and biking trails, and an apple orchard in addition to multiple historic buildings. There are re-enactments throughout the year and park rangers are always on hand to answer questions. At the end of the day, consider heading to The Green and have dinner at one of the great restaurants in Morristown.

So think about spending a nice fall day at Jockey Hollow and learn about this import historical location!