Friday, December 18, 2009

Dog Days

By Brianne Harrison

In all the holiday bustle, there’s one thing that a lot of people tend to overlook—in a couple of weeks, 2009 will end, and that calendar on the kitchen wall is going to be rendered obsolete. Which means, of course, that you’ll need a new one. Now, there’s no shortage of calendars out there for pet lovers—stores are fully stocked with “Adorable [insert breed of choice] Puppies of 2010”, but if you’re a New Jersey dog lover, why not be a little different and grab the 2010 Dog Days of Lambertville calendar instead?

The calendar (which was sadly absent last year) is the brainchild of Adrien Gerson, a Lambertville local who wanted to showcase the many dogs that live in the area as well as the town’s charming Victorian architecture. Adrien, who was diagnosed with MS 9 years ago, finds inspiration in Lambertville, its canines, and the humans who love them.

The Dog Days of Lambertville features 69 dogs from in and around town. Some of the notable new additions include Charlie D.O.G. Jones, the calendar’s first disabled dog (not that he lets having only three legs stop him!) and Emma, a formerly shy rescue dog who’s blossomed into a happy, bossy pup who delights in herding her four feline companions.

The calendar can be bought for $10 at Rojo’s, Tirpok Cleaners, Homestead Farm Market, Lambertville Animal Clinic, Picky Paws, Sojourner, Pet Shop Girls, No. 63, Secondhand Sams, Boxwoods, and Blue Raccoon in Lambertville. It can also be purchased online for $10 + $4.95 shipping and handling at One hundred percent of the profits from the sale of the calendar is donated to Animal Alliance, Hunterdon Humane Animal Shelter, and Make Peace with Animals.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Gifts Gone Bad

By Judith Garfield

Gift giving time is upon us once again, and although I know it’s the thought that counts, sometimes ya just gotta say “What were they thinking?”

You know the thoughts I’m talking about. Like chocolate for the diabetic, wine for the tee totaler, or peanuts for those who suffer from allergies. So many well-meaning gifts never see the light of day after their initial opening. They are immediately shuffled to the re-gift collection to await recycling to some other hapless giftee.

I don’t know why people are so averse to giving gift cards. Or money. Two things that never go out of style and are always appreciated. My relatives feel it is impersonal and looks like you didn’t care enough to select something heartfelt. From my unofficial survey I can report that this is not true. People love getting money or gift cards. They are thrilled they can actually go pick out something that they really like. Not something they have to pretend to like.

The worst presents to get are those that have no tags or discernible place of purchase. Is that brooch true vintage or is it a piece of junk from some yard sale? Alas, we will never know. We can’t help buying pieces that reflect our personal taste, which is not necessarily the taste of the recipient. It’s inevitable you’re going to get one or more bad gifts this season. You are not alone. Take a look at to see how yours measure up. You can even try to sell the unwanted stuff here. Like they say, one man’s bad gift is another man’s bad gift.

That is why I like gift cards or cash, although you do run the risk of giving cards to stores that the person doesn’t like, or worse, goes out of business before it is used. And some have expiration dates. The gift of cash is accepted by any store, is completely transferable, and never expires. If you want a cute and personalized way of giving money log onto They sell money holders in different colors with stickers that you can use to make each envelope unique.

So think outside the gift box this season. Remember, ‘tis better to give and receive!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Crib Sheet for Santa

By Maureen C. Petrosky

Everyone has a wine lover on their gift list, or maybe you’re just looking to convert your beer-loving buddies to the wine side. Here’s a cheat sheet sure to help you check off lots of those presently present–less people still lingering on your list.

A Romantic Gift for Her—Definitely Viognier here! Ask for something floral from California (like Miner) or something with class from Condrieu France. Either way you’ll win her over with this white.

A Romantic Gift for Him—Aria Sparkling Pinot Noir. With its racy red label this bottle reeks of sex appeal from its dress to its dazzling raspberry-colored bubbles. It’s not sweet but it’s most definitely flirty and delicious.

For Your Boss—You might be thinking Scotch here, but as far as booze goes it’s fun to add something new to the bar, plus it shows you put a little thought into it. If they have a fun side you can’t go wrong with Crystal Head Vodka (previously mentioned in October). It’s the smoothest around, plus it will remind them of you each time they open the freezer and see it staring back at them. Or go for a bottle of vintage Champagne. This may cost you a bit more, but it shows you’re a serious employee.

For the Host/ Hostess--Don’t go overboard here. Remember, this is a token of thanks not something that’ll make them feel like they need to return the favor. Stay in the $10 to $15 range. Hit up Argentina or South Africa for a big, bold red. These wines make great gifts and great conversation starters.

Teacher’s Gifts—I gave wine last year and they couldn’t have been more thankful. Even if they are teetotalers, this will arm them with something to offer to those unexpected guests who pop in over the holidays. Ask your wine shop owner for a Sancerre or a Chenin Blanc. If you aren’t going to give the gift yourself and plan on sending it in with your kids, go for a wine book instead. A copy of The Wine Club or Great Wine Made Simple are great go to’s.

For Your Favorite Blogger—Just kidding. Happy Holidays and Cheers!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Carol(s)

By Brianne Harrison

It’s a great week for music lovers. And really, even if you’re not particularly musical, isn’t there something about holiday tunes that still makes you want to join in (or at least get caught up in the spirit)? Here are just a few of the most “noteworthy” events:

Classical Christmas Concert: Internationally recognized pianist, composer, and conductor Siegfield Tepper and his son, critically acclaimed violinist Christer Tepper, will be performing at the Flemington Assembly of God church in Flemington on December 18 at 7 p.m. Call 908.782.5232 or visit for more information.
Kids Helping Kids Concert: Heading up to the city? Catch Red Bank-based band Six Volt headlining this concert, which features young artists from across the country performing to raise money to help feed homeless children over the holidays. For tickets, go to or call 212.352.3101

Celtic Holiday Classic: The Pipes of Christmas: The Pipes of Christmas will celebrate its 11th season with two performances in Summit this Saturday (2 p.m. and 8 p.m.) and one performance in Manhattan on Sunday (2:30 p.m.). For more information or to order tickets, visit or call 212.868.4444.

The Masterwork Chorus Performs Handel’s Messiah: The Masterwork Chorus will be performing one of Handel’s most celebrated works at 8 p.m. this Saturday at the Community Theatre at Mayo Center for the Performing Arts in Morristown. If you miss the show, you can still catch them at Carnegie Hall on the 23 at 8 p.m. Visit or for more information.
PSO Pops! The Holiday Concert: The Princeton Symphony Orchestra will present its annual family holiday concert at 4 p.m. December 19 at Richardson Auditorium. For more information, visit

Homegrown for the Holidays: Grab dinner and a show at McLoone’s Supper Club in Asbury Park this weekend. This concert benefits ReVision Theatre. Visit to order tickets.

Candlelight Carol Service: Yearning for a good old-fashioned holiday service? The First Presbyterian Church of Englewood is holding its 98th annual Candlelight Carol Service, featuring the Cancel Choir, soloists, violin, harp, and the junior choir leading traditional carols. The event is Sunday, December 21 at 4 p.m. Free and open to the public.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A German Christmas Eve

By Pat Tanner

I’ve known Maren and Werner Pinnow of Hamburg, Germany from when their two young daughters, now grown, arrived for pre-school at the Princeton Waldorf School - without understanding a word of English. The youngsters amazed us all when, within a month, they were comfortably chatting with their classmates. The Pinnows stayed on in the U.S. years longer than they intended, returning home only when they feared their daughters might forever lose touch with their heritage.

I recently got a glimpse into that heritage when I received an email from Maren describing the family’s traditional Christmas Eve celebrations. “On the evening of the 24th we begin by opening presents. Then we have our traditional dinner: potato salad with German sausage. Werner and I had this kind of dinner even when we were little – maybe because it can be prepared in advance and you don’t have to spend so much time in the kitchen. It’s very common, especially in the north of Germany.”

In fact, that dinner sounds just right for any night during the busy holiday season. This year, I will combine German tradition with New Jersey specialties by serving assorted sausages from my favorite farms – Griggstown and Cherry Grove – and whipping up my version of German potato salad, which replaces the usual boiled potatoes with fluffy baked ones. I’ll serve beer from a New Jersey brewery and end the meal on a German note with a platter of pfeffernusse. Who knows: if time allows, I may even make the cookies myself.

Serves 6

5 large baking potatoes
Vegetable oil, for rubbing on the potatoes
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1 small garlic clove, minced (optional)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard (you might want less)
1/4 cup minced parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup vegetable oil, such as safflower oil
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pierce each potato once with the tines of a fork. Rub a small amount of vegetable oil over the potatoes and bake for 45 minutes, or until tender. Meantime, combine onion, garlic, mustard, and parsley in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Place the olive oil, vegetable oil, and white wine vinegar in a saucepan. Heat until mixture just begins to boil (do not let it boil), remove from heat, and carefully pour over the onion mixture. Stir and set aside.

Cut potatoes in half and scoop out the insides, forming chunks. Pour the dressing over the potatoes and combine gently.