Thanksgiving is upon us and that means it’s time to celebrate with decadent pies, cakes, and baked goods. These New York and New Jersey bakeries offer traditional and non-traditional options that will be sure to please. From mile-high apple pies to chocolate babka, there’s something here to make Grandma proud.



Photography by Thomas Robert Clarke

For this year’s Holiday Chef Series, Urban Agenda Magazine wanted to spotlight the 
Executive Chefs from some of New Jersey’s best-known country clubs and golf clubs. Synonymous with fine dining and a rich heritage of championship golf, these chefs are used to cooking for weddings, special events, and momentous holiday 

Each chef has provided a sample of the holiday menu offerings at a particular club. Thoughtfully prepared and perfected for the season, these menus are cause for celebration.

Cheers! more

thanksgiving wine pairings

By Sarah Emily Gilbert

Don’t know which wine to select for Thanksgiving dinner? Our local experts share their go-to pairings so there’s nothing to “wine” about come turkey day.



Our windows reflect the soul of our collective abc odyssey.Peeking in through the abc eye, one captures a mobile moment of our essence…as transient as a sand mandala.”
—Paulette Cole, CEO & Creative Director, abc carpet & home

Interview by Lynn Adams Smith

Photography by Joe Garrad

abc carpet & home has been described as the magic carpet store. The flagship store windows are pure theater and act as the magnet that pulls shoppers in, for a full sensory experience. Once inside, the exploration begins, and be prepared for an inspirational visit.

There are six cavernous floors with a rustic warehouse atmosphere, filled with home furnishings, decor, chandeliers, pillows, jewelry, rugs, and much more. As you meander through the store and admire the creative selection of products, you will be immersed into the textures, colors, drama, and love of it all. Manena Frazier is the abc Visual Director and has shared insight into their aesthetic and vision. more

web featureBy Ellen Gilbert

When Calvin Klein introduced “Obsession” in 1985, it was swooningly described as a “compelling, potent, powerful and intensely provocative scent.” Christian Dior’s “Poison,” which also came out that year, was no less effusively hailed as a “true magical formula…an irresistibly seductive fragrance, characterized by spectacular appeal.” Clearly, Yves St. Laurent’s “Opium,” an earlier (1977) entrant in the fragrance competition, hadn’t cornered the market on rave reviews: “rarely in the history of fragrance has a creation embodied such enchantment, mystery, magic, and exoticism,” said one reviewer.

Although they may have had the lead on overheated names and descriptions of their products, the truly “obsessed” in the world of fragrance and cosmetics was, many believe, one Josephine Esther Mentzer (1908- 2004), a.k.a. Estée Lauder, the American businesswoman who, along with her husband, Joseph Lauter (later Lauder), founded her eponymous cosmetics company in 1946.

Without a beauty business as an alibi, Estée (pronounced ‘Esty’) Lauder might well have gone to jail for aggravated assault with deadly face powder or lipstick,” writes author Joshua Kendall in America’s Obsessives: The Compulsive Energy that Built a Nation, his examination of driven personalities who made it big (Steve Jobs, Charles Lindbergh, and Henry J. Heinz are among his subjects.) His chapter on Lauder contends that “for this cosmetics tycoon, putting makeup on women’s faces was not a chore; it was all that she ever cared about.”

For doing the only thing she cared about, Lauder racked up some impressive achievements: inducted into to the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame in 1988, she was the only woman on Time magazine’s 1998 list of the 20 most influential business geniuses of the 20th century. In 2004 George W. Bush posthumously awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She hobnobbed with world leaders and counted the Duke and Duchess of Windsor among her good friends. more


By Taylor Smith

“When I look back at my life, it almost seems like 
I was destined to become an opera singer.”

Soprano Ailyn Pérez made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Micaela in Carmen. She won both the 15th Annual Plácido Domingo Award and the 2012 Richard Tucker Award, making her the only Hispanic recipient in the award’s 35-year history.

Ailyn Pérez will return to The Met stage in Spring 2016 as Musetta in Zeffirelli’s La Boheme. This summer, she will perform as Juliette in The Santa Fe Opera Festival’s production of Gounod’s Romeo and Juliette. Other recent performances include Jake Heggie’s Great Scott at The Dallas Opera and Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro at The Houston Grand Opera. more

Choco Expo

Friday, November 20

10AM-9PM Photos with Santa & Santa Paws at Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, NJ (now through December 24).

5-8PM Ladies Night at Bars of Beauty in Oradell, NJ. Discounted blowouts, facials, and complimentary champagne.

7PM Walt Disney on Ice 100 Years of Magic at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ (through Sunday, November 22).

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By Anne Levin

At New York Old Iron in Brooklyn’s Gowanus section, under the F and G subway train tracks, rows of reclaimed clawfoot tubs and old pedestal sinks are piled end to end. Some are chipped. Some are yellowing. Others are encrusted with decades of grime.

But to the homeowners and apartment dwellers who roam the cluttered aisles of this and other architectural salvage outlets in New York, New Jersey, and beyond, those blemishes are hardly a deterrent. Their nicks, dents, and age spots are seen as signs of character — especially if they fit into a design scheme that calls for styles of an earlier era rather than new furnishings made of modern materials.

The stacks of old doors and mantels at Philly Provenance, the ornate chandeliers at Philadelphia Salvage, and the reclaimed beams and flooring at Recycling the Past in Barnegat all represent a growing trend in reusing and reclaiming articles from the past to furnish homes of the present. But not all salvage is vintage. At Green Demolitions’ locations throughout the tri-state area, whole kitchens that are nearly new and completely functional sit waiting to be reclaimed. And they can represent considerable cost savings. more


By Mort Zachter

Sixty years ago this month, the Brooklyn Dodgers defeated the New York Yankees to win their first and only World Series. Less than two years later, the Dodgers played their final game in Brooklyn and moved to Los Angeles.

For Brooklyn, the loss was immeasurable. The Dodgers were a source of civic pride—a final link to a time, before 1898, when Brooklyn was an independent city. Especially when it came to baseball, Brooklyn had always been cutting-edge, as well as quirky.

In 1862, the first enclosed baseball field ever built, the Union Grounds, opened in Williamsburg. A Brooklyn writer, Henry Chadwick, invented the box score. A Brooklyn pitcher, Candy Cummings, threw the first curve. A Brooklyn player, Dickey Pierce, laid down the first bunt. A Brooklyn manager, Wilbert Robinson, was the first, and probably the only person to try catching a grapefruit dropped from an airplane. And a courageous Brooklyn player, Jackie Robinson, became the first black man to play in the major leagues in the 20th century. more


By Linda Arntzenius

He was America’s most eligible bachelor. She was an ambassador’s daughter born to privilege. Tall, slim and boyishly handsome, he swept her off her feet and into the clouds. Literally. Before long they were flying together, exploring together. They were golden and the tabloids couldn’t get enough of them. But when tragedy struck and the paparazzi became an intrusive burden on their personal lives, they fled to Europe in search of peace. It was bad timing to say the least. Europe in the 1930s was readying for war. Almost inevitably, the expert aviator was drawn into a mire from which he would never fully emerge.

Anne Morrow met Charles Lindbergh just seven months after the young aviator had landed at Le Bourget airfield near Paris at the end of his astonishing 1927 non-stop solo flight across the Atlantic. He was the most famous person on the planet, the first modern superstar, an overnight celebrity welcomed into the most exalted of circles. She was a top Smith College student visiting her parents in Mexico, where her father, Dwight Whitney Morrow, a former partner at J.P. Morgan & Co., was U.S. Ambassador. Lindbergh was on a goodwill tour. more

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Most people wouldn’t expect a former educator to establish a distillery, but for Randy Pratt, there was a connection between the two worlds.

By Sarah Emily Gilbert

You could say that Randy Pratt was born with the will to learn. After many years vested in education as a teacher, administrator, and instructor on the collegiate level, he was well equipped to overcome the learning curve that came with opening up a distillery. Although he was a newbie to the distilling industry, Pratt was a veteran in the classroom. So, he signed up for several workshops and a distilling class at Michigan State University until he was ready to open up Great Notch Distillery in Bergen County.

“Every part of [launching Great Notch] has been a learning experience. Being a one-man show, you get to learn all aspects of the business and take the bumps and bruises that go with it…the paperwork itself is daunting. I have terrific friends and family who pitch in when I need help. It certainly has been a challenge. One that I’m up to conquering.” more

pray for paris web

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”
― Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

In honor of the recent tragedy in France, Urban Agenda highlights Instagram accounts that capture the country’s undying beauty and resilience. more


The design maven and social media tastemaker shares the 10 things that she can’t live without

By Sarah Emily Gilbert

Designer of interiors and textiles Uma Stewart understands that a room goes far beyond painted walls, high-end furniture, and matching accessories. That’s why her design process is centered in her client’s family, friends, interests, and culture. In short, it’s a reflection of their lifestyle. Aptly named Uma Stewart Interiors and Lifestyle, Stewart’s design firm incorporates this philosophy into each of its projects. For Stewart, fusing lifestyle and design is almost second nature as her brand is a clear extension of her own family, friends, interests, and culture. One look at Stewart’s Instagram, blog, or website shows that she lives her brand. Stewart’s photo with her son, her Balenciaga cuff mixed with bangles from India, and her posts about music clearly influence her designs. Her aesthetic combines high fashion, culture, and livability, so that when she completes a space, it beckons friends and family to gather in it. Between the recent release of the Uma Stewart fabric line, a new collection of patterns in the works, and a line of cotton, velvet, and hemp solids on the horizon, there seems to be no end in sight for the multitalented designer. Below, Stewart’s list of 10 favorite things provides further insight on she blends lifestyle and design. more

NY Giants

Friday, November 13

10 a.m. to 5 p.m.: 36th Annual Classic Creations Holiday Boutique at The Hermitage in Ho-Ho-Kus (through Sunday, November 15).

4 p.m.: Thanksgiving Cooking for Teens class at Chef Central in Paramus. 201.576.0100

7 p.m.: College basketball: Seton Hall vs. Dartmouth at the Prudential Center in Newark.

7 p.m.: Valley Hospital Auxillary Holiday Soiree at the Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus.

8 p.m.: Frank Sinatra Jr. in concert at the Bergen Performing Arts Center in Englewood.

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Photo courtesy of The Nassau Inn

By Sarah Emily Gilbert

Why spend a fortune booking a flight for a vacation when you can retreat in the good ol’ Garden State? New Jersey is home to a surprising number of charming inns and hotels that are full of character and coziness. If you are looking for a quiet, relaxing and more intimate getaway, the following destinations are perfect for you. more

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See how this young designer is taking the furniture and lighting industry by storm

By Sarah Emily Gilbert

Nothing is better than snuggling into your bed during a thunderstorm. The distant thuds have a calming effect when you know you’re safe and dry in the comfort of your home. Perhaps no one appreciates this feeling more than designer Richard Clarkson, founder of Richard Clarkson Studios, and creator of the Cloud – a $3, 360 smart lamp that brings thunderstorms into your home.

No, you didn’t misread that last sentence. Clarkson has, in fact, designed an interactive lamp that mimics the sights and sounds of a thunderstorm – and looks like a real cloud. According to the press kit, the Cloud detects a user’s presence using motion sensors and creates a unique lightning and thunder show dictated by their movement. The system features a powerful speaker system from which the user can stream music via any Bluetooth compatible device.   They can also program the Cloud to make lightening flashes to the beat of the music or have Clouds communicate with each other (click here to see the Cloud in action). more

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Urban Agenda gets to know the painter, photographer, and Instagram sensation whose artwork is out of this world

By Sarah Emily Gilbert

Painter and photographer Stella Maria Baer has been on the move for much of her life. She was raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico, worked as a wrangler on her family’s ranch in Wyoming, went to Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, and attended Yale University’s graduate school in New Haven, Connecticut where she settled with her husband and dog. But like the planets that Stella Maria Baer paints, there seems to be some sort of gravitational pull on the artist that takes her back to the west. Currently a resident of Denver, Colorado, Baer has not only made the desert her home, but also the source of her artistic inspiration. Using her signature earth-toned color palette, Baer creates minimalist watercolor paintings that often feature planets and moons. While the western terrain and the cosmos are literally worlds apart, one look at Baer’s Instagram shows how similar they can be. In one of her posts Baer writes, “Sometimes Colorado looks like the moon,” and her photography proves it. The rock strata look like Saturn’s rings, the sand resembles a desolate planet, and the vast landscape evokes the same sense of wonderment that is caused by stargazing. Below, Urban Agenda learns more about the talented woman who has made the west her muse. more

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By Sarah Emily Gilbert

You could say the Ho-Ho-Kus Inn and Tavern has withstood the test of time – more specifically, over two centuries worth of time.  Constructed in 1796 as a residential home, the beautiful Dutch Colonial became a tavern in 1890, until it underwent a seven-month, $1.5 million renovation in 2009 in order to become the Ho-Ho-Kus Inn and Tavern. On the National Register of Historic Places, it’s become a coveted North Jersey landmark and a highly sought after destination for fine dining and events. Under the direction of Executive Chef Hank Barrett, the Ho-Ho-Kus Inn offers a diverse array of flavorful tavern fare featuring seasonal ingredients.  more

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Find your Zen with these kaleidoscope-clad cakes by Stephen McCarty

By Sarah Emily Gilbert

Vegan chef Stephen McCarty takes eating cake to the next level with his intricately designed edibles made under the name Sukhavati Raw Desserts. Using natural plant and fruit extracts, McCarty hand draws kaleidoscope mandalas on each of his vegan cakes. With flavors like Acai Blueberry Mango Cheesecake and Coconut Lime White Rainbow, McCarty’s cakes taste good, look good, and are good for you – what else could we ask for in a dessert? Below, we give you a “taste” of McCarty’s elaborately decorated cakes from his Instagram (@stephenmccarty). more

Cryo 1

Cryotherapy expert Julie Shanebrook explains how three minutes in -260 degrees can lead to a healthier you

By Sarah Emily Gilbert

On September 9, millions of viewers watched as Michael Strahan from Live! with Kelly and Michael entered into a “Whole Body Cryotherapy” chamber provided by the Texas-based company, CryoUSA. Although the idea of cryotherapy – and the cryotherapy chamber – looked like things of the future, according to Kelly Ripa, Strahan, and thousands of cryotherapy diehards, it’s time is now.

There’s no better proof of this than the new cryotherapy spas popping up across the country like Westfield, New Jersey’s Chill Cryotherapy. Opening its doors early next month at 327 South Avenue West (directly across from the South Avenue Train Station), Chill Cryotherapy will be bringing this European craze to north Jersey. So, what exactly is cryotherapy and why is it becoming the next big thing? Urban Agenda turned to owner and founder of Chill Cryotherapy, Julie Shanebrook, for more insight on this innovative health trend.  more

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The artist responsible for Paper Fashion’s stunning shadow dancers reveals the 10 things she can’t live without

By Sarah Emily Gilbert

Every time I write a “10 Favorite Things” article, the song “Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music gets stuck in my head, but Maria’s list is never in tune with the one I’m writing. That is until I decided to feature Katie Rodgers. The woman behind Paper Fashion, Rodgers is responsible for the stunning illustrations of shadow dancers that have been commissioned by the most discerning clients. Although Rodgers was born and raised in the rugged Georgia countryside, her proclivity for drawing high-fashion women in dresses led her to become one of the most sought after freelance illustrators in the country. In fact, Rodgers artwork has been commissioned by the likes of Cartier, Kate Spade, Alicia Keys, and Stuart Weitzman, just to name a few.   more

New work from Mark Evans

“I was born with a pencil in one hand and a knife in the other.” 

By Sarah Emily Gilbert

Today, leather is considered a luxury. It’s the makings of designer shoes, jackets, and handbags, expensive furniture, and lavish car interiors. Ironically, the same material used for our beloved Louboutins has been employed for a variety of functional and artistic purposes since prehistoric times. Artist Mark Evans captures both the primal and posh sides of leather with his micro-leather sculpting and etching. Combing his penchant for risk-taking, knives, and art, Evans precisely carves massive leather canvases in order to create stunning images that have been sold for close to $800,000. Below, the eloquent artist explains his love of wildness and how a bloodstained leather jacket led him to his craft. To follow all of Evans’ work visit or follow him on Instagram (@markevansart). more


Urban Agenda turns to Instagram to highlight the best NJ farms for fall

By Sarah Emily Gilbert

The leaves have changed to fiery reds and mustard yellows, pumpkin spice lattes are in high demand, and people’s leather boots have made their fall debut. With Halloween just around the corner, New Jerseyians are fully embracing the peak of autumn. That means weekends full of pumpkin picking, hay riding, and wine tasting galore. Lucky for us, our state is abundant in local farms that welcome all those with fall fever. In order to highlight the memories being made at New Jersey farms this fall, Urban Agenda turned to Instagram. more