On Saturday, February 15 from 9 a.m. to noon, Friends of Princeton Open Space (FOPOS) will celebrate LOVE Your Park Day at the Billy Johnson Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve at Mountain Lakes House in Princeton.

During this volunteer session, attendees will join FOPOS members in identifying and removing target invasive species from the woodlands as well as free native trees and shrubs from encroaching vines. Come spring, the cleared area will be better able to host native wildflowers, birds, butterflies, and other wildlife that depend on the habitat with which they co-evolved.  more

Northern Cardinal (male) by Michele Black  

Launched in 1988 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, the Great Backyard Bird Count was the first online citizen-science project to collect data on wild birds and to display results in near real-time.

Now, more than 160,000 people of all ages worldwide join the four-day count each February to create an annual snapshot of the distribution and abundance of birds. more

By Taylor Smith

Tabby’s Place is a cage-free adoption and clinical care center for cats that essentially have nowhere else to go.

Located at 1100 US Highway 202 in Ringoes, the organization was launched in April of 1999 by Jonathan Rosenberg and his wife, Sharon. Today, the nonprofit public charity is home to more than 100 cats. Its long-term vision is to accommodate 400 cats with the installation of several new buildings across the eight acre property. more

By Taylor Smith

Community Options, Inc. invites runners, walkers, and rollers (baby strollers and wheelchairs) to help raise funds to make a difference in the lives of people with disabilities at the annual Cupid’s Chase.

The Cupid’s Chase 5K on Saturday, February 8 at the Princeton Shopping Center will raise funds to support people with disabilities in Mercer County. To register, visit cupidschase.orgmore

Rembrandt – De Poolse ruiter, c.1655 (Frick Collection)

Enjoy free museum admission and gallery talks, music performances, and sketching, or simply find yourself walking among the Old Masters and art enthusiasts from around the world at the next First Friday at The Frick Collection in New York City on February 7 from 6 to 9 p.m. First Fridays occur on the First Friday of each month, except January and September, from 6 to 9 p.m. more

By Taylor Smith

Located in the rolling hills of Warren County, two miles east of the Delaware River in Milford, N.J., Alba Vineyard is the perfect February getaway. The winery is hosting Wine and Chocolate Weekends on February 8, 9 and 15, 16 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tasting experiences are priced at $20 per person (21 and older) and include a flight of Alba’s estate wines paired with cheeses, flatbread, and a sampling of gourmet truffles, chocolate caramels, and a selection of French macarons. The price also includes an etched wine glass. more

By Taylor Smith

Tuesday Tastings with Tony: An Education Series Featuring the Wines of France

January 28 through February 25, 6:30-8 p.m.

 more

By Taylor Smith

Bistro d’Azur at 14 Academy Street in South Orange (www.bistrodazur.com) is offering a memorable and delectable Valentine’s Day 2020 prix-fixe menu, priced at $79 per person/$15 foie gras supplement. The 4-course event (https://www.bistrodazur.com/specialevents) includes your choice of amuse bouche, first course, main course, and dessert paired with BYOB or Unionville Vineyards wines (https://unionvillevineyards.com/). With choices like Oyster Mignonette, Tuna Cru, Butter Poached Maine Lobster, Butternut Squash Risotto, Lamb Rib Chops, and Warm Brie with Apple, how could you go wrong? more

By Taylor Smith

Produced in partnership with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the New York Public Library (NYPL) at 476 Fifth Avenue (at 42nd Street) presents an evening of performances and conversations centered around Toni Morrison, the American icon, writer, and intellectual, on Wednesday, March 18 at 7 p.m. more

By Taylor Smith

Images Courtesy of Morristown-Beard School

Morristown-Beard School (MBS) is an independent, coeducational day school serving nine counties and more than 85 communities in northern New Jersey. The school motto, Ad Astra Per Aspera, can be translated as “To the Stars Through Adversity,” a phrase that embodies the essence of the MBS experience. more

By Taylor Smith

Images courtesy of Agnes Irwin School

Following a nationwide search, the board of trustees of The Agnes Irwin School, a private girls school in Rosemont, Pa., recently announced the appointment of Sally B. Keidel as the school’s 14th head, effective July 1, 2020. more

Photo Credit: Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts

By Taylor Smith

The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA) in Philadelphia, founded in 1805, is the first and oldest art museum and school in the United States. In a unique partnership with area medical schools, PAFA provides humanities-based training for medical students, nursing students, university faculty members, and practicing physicians. more

By Taylor Smith

Looking for something fresh and new to serve at your next cocktail party? Two Robbers Hard Seltzer just announced the launch of its fourth flavor, Peach Berry, due to be released in January 2020. more

By Taylor Smith

Celebrate the Festival of Lights with Hanukkah candy and chocolates from See’s Candies. Like all of See’s products, the bite-size Toffee-ettes, Pecan Buds, Almond Royals, Café Latte Little Pops, and Peanut Brittle are made from scratch. See’s Toffee-ettes are, in fact, a year-round treat and one of the company’s very best sellers. And they still use Mary See’s original recipe! more

By Taylor Smith

Located at 231 Bakers Basin Road in Lawrenceville, Camp Bow Wow is a doggy day care, boarding, and grooming facility that pet parents love. With over 160 locations, Camp Bow Wow has been providing reliable pet services since 2000. more

“Scent is mood. Scent is memory. Scent is magic.”

By Taylor Smith

Finding a unique and meaningful holiday gift for loved ones can be challenging.

“Like cooking, skincare is an art and ingredients matter. So, we use the simplest, most nourishing ingredients in all of our products. People see the difference in their skin. We’re promoting wellness and encouraging people to take advantage of that renewing experience that we get in the bath,” says Deborah Lukasik O’Shaughnessy, an art teacher, educator, and East End resident. more

Photo by Robert Benson Photography 

By Taylor Smith

Experience the season at New York Botanical Garden’s (NYBG) Holiday Train Show, now through Sunday, January 6, 2020. Natural materials such as fruit, seeds, pine cones, twigs, bark, stems, fungus, acorns, lotus pods, and cinnamon recreate a sweeping metropolis designed by Paul Busse of Applied Imagination. more

By Taylor Smith

Each year, Scots from around the world gather in the darkest days of winter for a traditional evening meal and celebration to commemorate the birthday of one of their favorite native sons, Robert Burns. Born on a tenant farm on January 25, 1759 in the village of Alloway, near Ayr, Burns’s early life was marked by back-breaking work on a succession of small family farms. With an ear for Scottish folk songs and traditional stories passed down by his mother, Burns grew to become a widely-respected poet and lyricist. more

High Mountain Park

By Taylor Smith

The Nature Conservancy of New Jersey is encouraging Garden State residents to stay active this winter season with the introduction of the High Mountain Challenge, inspired by New Jersey native Jessica Bagley’s running achievements. The Nature Conservancy is also hoping to raise awareness of High Mountain Park Preserve, a protected 1,260-acre tract of forested land in New Jersey’s Piedmont region (near North Haledon and Wayne). more

Image Credit: NJPAC 

By Taylor Smith

Experience two of the sharpest comedic minds onstage for one special evening as Stephen Colbert (a New Jersey resident) and Julia Louis-Dreyfus team up for the Ninth Annual Montclair Film Festival Benefit on Saturday, December 7 at New Jersey Performing Arts Center’s Prudential Hall in Newark. The comedic festivities begin at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $79.50 and are available for purchase at www.njpac.orgmore

Images Courtesy of The Asbury 

By Taylor Smith

Learn what makes the vibrant shore town of Asbury Park unique at The Asbury’s Winter Wonderland Weekend, December 7 and 8.

The Asbury is situated just two blocks from Asbury Park’s famous beach and boardwalk and is easily accessible from several NJ Transit lines. Designed with a nod to the shore town’s rock n’ roll past and proximity to the seaside, The Asbury offers upscale lodging, dining, multiple vibrant bars, live music in the lobby, and more. more

Image Source: https://wilderchild.com

By Taylor Smith

Winter often signifies a challenging time of year for birds to find adequate food and sustenance.  Decorating an outdoor tree with edible ornaments is a way to attract winter birds, providing them with shelter and a wide range of foods. more

Dana and Christopher Reeve (Image Source: https://www.christopherreeve.org/about-us/christopher-and-dana)

By Taylor Smith

This year’s gala benefit for the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation took place on Thursday, November 14 at Cipriani South Street in New York City.

The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation grew out of the community-driven Stifel Paralysis Research Foundation, which was founded in 1982 when Henry Stifel, a New Jersey high school student, was involved in a car accident that left him paralyzed at age 17. The organization evolved into the American Paralysis Association (APA). When actor Christopher Reeve was injured in a horseback riding accident in 1995, the APA was one of the first places that Reeve and his wife, Dana, sought support. By 1999, the APA and Christopher’s foundation united as the Christopher Reeve Foundation (Dana’s name was added to the moniker after her death in 2006). more

Image Sources: The Center for Contemporary Art

By Taylor Smith

Registration is underway for winter art classes for adults, teens, and children at The Center for Contemporary Art in Bedminster. With more than 35 offerings to choose from, classes begin in January 2020.

New offerings for the winter session include The Power of Pastels, Food: Form and Function, iPad Drawing for Beginners, Relief Printing, Watercolor Portraits: People and Animals, and Advanced iPad Drawing and Painting. more

By Taylor Smith

November is still a fantastic time to find fresh fruits and vegetables at area farmers markets. Here are just a few to look for: more

Dr. Richard Besser, head of New Jersey’s Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is making a difference

By Wendy Greenberg | Photo courtesy of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Dr. Richard Besser, a pediatrician and head of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), has volunteered in a clinic in every place he has lived.

Seeing children once a week at the Henry J. Austin Center in Trenton brings health inequity into focus. There, in Trenton, the life expectancy for children is 73 years. In Princeton, the life expectancy for the same-age child is 87 years.

The clinic grants a window, he said, “into the lives of children, many of whom have profound barriers to health, children growing up in very different circumstances than the children in my hometown of Princeton.”

At a New York City health center, Besser met a grandmother who knows her grandchildren needs daily physical exercise, but was concerned about the safety of playing outdoors. He met a youngster whose asthma attacks were triggered by environmental contaminants in the family’s apartment. At the Trenton clinic, he met a mother of a son with significant developmental disabilities who has been waiting two years for services that would help him.  more

The 99th Running of the Race Meeting Steeplechase

By Taylor Smith | Photos courtesy of Far Hills Race Meeting 

This October 19 marks the 99th running of the Far Hills Race Meeting, an annual event held at Moorland Farm in Somerset Hills, New Jersey. Based on a fox hunt organized by the Essex Hunt in Montclair circa 1870, the modern-day event involves legal wagering and has grown to be one of the richest purses in America. Guy Torsilieri, president of the National Steeplechase Association and co-chair of the Far Hills Race, assures newcomers that “there’s something for everyone.”  more

Fall is a great time to visit the many area wineries. Mark your calendar for these upcoming events…

By Laurie Pellichero

Alba Vineyard
269 Riegelsville Warren Glen Road, Milford
www.albavineyard.com

Alba Vineyard’s 93-acre estate is set in the hills of Warren County on the north side of the Musconetcong River Valley, a tributary of the Delaware River. The farm, originally a dairy farm, dates back to the late 1700s. The vineyards are the first cultivation of the land, so the soils were never subject to years of other farming and depletion of nutrients. Alba believes in sustainably farming premium grapes and crafting them into exceptional wines of great value.

Tastings are available daily from 11am to 5pm, 6pm on Saturday. The Arbor at Alba Vineyard features wood-fired pizza and estate and reserve wine tastings every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 11am to 5pm through mid-November. Music is featured from 1:30 to 5pm on Saturday, and 1 to 4:30pm on Sunday. Upcoming acts include BC Combo on October 26, the Kathy Phillips Trio on October 27, Last Thursday Band on November 2, 6th Street Trio on November 3, Frank DiBussolo Trio on November 9, and the Eric Mintel Quartet on November 10. more

Morris Canal and Smith’s General Store at Waterloo Village, New Jersey. (Photo by Zeete, Wikimedia Commons)

By William Uhl

MORRIS

Morris County is making old new again, starting with the Morris Canal. A relic of its time, the historic commercial waterway fell into disrepair over a century ago. Recently, however, the canal has found a new life in bits and pieces: passionate volunteers are restoring sections as hiking trails and bike routes for public use, a project known as the Morris Canal Greenway. Currently stretching just over 4 miles, it will eventually extend between the New Jersey Transportation Heritage Museum and Waterloo Village, a historic canal town.

On the eastern edge of Morristown, the Schuyler-Hamilton House preserves another important part of history — the wartime romance between Alexander Hamilton and his wife Betsy Schuyler. In the late 1700s, General Washington sent Hamilton to Morristown to prepare the townspeople for the second winter encampment. Within the walls of the house, Hamilton and Schuyler met, and later courted, before marrying in Albany in 1780. Though its outside appearance is everyday, the interior is filled with historical artifacts such as portraits, furniture, and tools from centuries ago. more

By Stuart Mitchner

This Book Scene began with lunch at cookbook legends Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer’s newly opened Canal House Station restaurant in Milford, N.J.

At the time, all I knew about the Canal House series was what I heard from my wife on the drive up. According to an August 12 article in Food and Wine, the “meticulous restoration” of the Milford station took about two years, with the result evoking “the warmth of a dear friend’s home…. Even the entrance, past the small garden and through a back door, contributes to the familiar sensibility the brand new restaurant has already managed to create.”

I understood “familiar sensibility” as a way of describing the quality that has made the Canal House books so popular, an idea that accords with the Cambridge English Dictionary definition of sensibility as “an understanding of or ability to decide about what is good or valuable, especially in connection with social activities.”

Poetry Up Front

I found the “familiar sensibility” in evidence as soon as I opened my wife’s prized copy of Canal House Cooks Every Day (Andrews McMeel $45) to a photograph and a poem that would seem to have more to do with what is “good and valuable” than with cooking. The first image you see after turning the title and dedication pages is a blurry vision of blue sky and cloud mass photographed through the window of a plane en route to Istanbul; taking up the facing page is C.P. Cavafy’s poem “Ithaca,” which begins, “When you set out on your journey to Ithaca,/pray that the road is long,/full of adventure, full of knowledge” and ends “Wise as you have become, with so much experience,/you must already have understood what these Ithacas mean.”

As someone whose heart has never soared at the sight of a cookbook, I was more impressed by the association of cooking with a “beautiful voyage” than with any of the celebrity testimonials on the endpapers, except perhaps the tribute to “this kitchen bible” from actress Jamie Lee Curtis, a Canal House devotee who, like me, is not a “foodie” and admits to “no discernible culinary talent.” In fairness to Jamie Lee, the resemblance is strictly superficial; she cooks every day for “lots of people” and I’m a back-up cook, occasional sous chef, grater of cheese, composer of salads, and cleaner-upper. more