Friday, February 5, 2010

Puppy Bowl VI: The Big Game With a Side of “Awwwww”

image courtesy of

By Brianne Harrison

For some people, Super Bowl Sunday is the highlight of the year. For others…not so much. Fortunately, for pet lovers who aren’t big fans of the big game, there’s an alternative with a huge Awwww factor: the Puppy Bowl.

That’s right: instead of watching 250+ pound men crashing into each other, you can watch 60 of the cutest creatures in the world (all rescue dogs, by the way) wrestle over toy footballs, with occasional cutaways to action shots from the underneath water bowl camera. There’s also a kitten halftime show. And this year, New Jerseyans can cheer on some of their own: two puppies on the team, Duncan (left) and Jake (below), were adopted from All Star Pet Rescue right here in the Garden State.

Puppy Bowl VI airs on Animal Planet from 3-5 p.m. February 7. Set your TiVo and start planning that “tail”-gate party!

Join the Cause
Most of us are looking for ways to help out after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, and animal lovers have a unique opportunity to do so. A group of organizations and individuals have joined forces to raise funds for the American Rescue Dog Association, which has deployed several canine teams to aid in the recovery of victims. How can you help? If you have a Twitter account, post the message:

“We're donating to ARDA to support their work in #Haiti. Please help and RT @BRACpet @NorthStarVETS @WedgewoodPetRx”.

The campaign, which started January 25, will continue through the next few weeks. You can also donate to ARDA by visiting

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Go Figure

By Judith Garfield

It all started in 2nd grade.

I remember listening to Mrs. Dennis explaining about quarters and dimes and how much did you need to buy that loaf of bread and suddenly there was vomit everywhere. I’ll never forget the horrified yet perplexed look on her face as she gazed down and saw the mess beneath her feet. After that I don’t remember anything. The diagnosis: Math anxiety, pure and simple, and it has only gotten worse since that day.

According to the experts, math anxiety is an emotional reaction to mathematics based on a past unpleasant experience which harms future learning. I’m a textbook case.
That rising feeling of panic that precipitated the incident is fairly common, because what we don’t understand frightens us. And boy, was I frightened. My brain just did not compute what Mrs. Dennis was so patiently trying to explain. I was forever doomed to be overcome with panic, helplessness, and paralysis whenever I was required to solve a math problem. Problem solving is not one of my strengths.

And that of course leads us to the computer, where problem solving is forever coming up. The computer that sits there daring me to find the correct button to push when directed by commands on the screen. With a computer there is always the fear that if I press the wrong button I could cause the breakdown of cyber space. Or worse, I could lose every piece of information that S. has ever stored. We share a computer, so I try to be somewhat cautious with my indiscriminate button pushing. Usually, I commit to the key, strike it, then hold my breath and pray nothing terrible will happen. So far I’ve escaped disaster.

I suppose it all comes down to not wanting to look like a moron. Honestly, there are times when I am utterly humiliated by my inability to navigate simple machines. Even cash machines cause me anxiety. I like to say it’s because I’m right brained. A creative type. That may be partly true. But it just doesn’t explain why I can’t even put the cordless phone back the proper way until someone takes pity and shows me.

In my next life I plan on being a left brain math whiz and computer genius. Until then, I’ll just try to push the right buttons.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Secret to Savoring Winter

By Maureen C. Petrosky

Oh, you groundhog! Yes, PA’s famed Punxsutawny Phil says six more weeks of winter. While many of you are groaning through another grey day, I’ve decided to grab some wine--red of course--and get back into the kitchen. You see there is so much more to wine than just drinking it. That’s why last night I poured my heart into a pot of Coq au Vin.

Cooking with wine can be just as sensual as sipping it. Yet, the aromas that filled my home from this simple one-pot French fare are those I only associate with winter. You don’t get to spoil yourself with beef stew in summertime, and it’s unusual you’d be slurping butternut squash soup in spring. Both of the aforementioned winter wonders are made only richer and more comforting with addition of wine. Wine is fabulous for deglazing a pan and keeping all the deliciousness of the fond (a chef’s word for the yummy brown parts that stick to the bottom) intact. Also when speaking soup, adding a ¼ cup of wine after you sweat your onions or mirepoix adds depth to the flavor and a richness you just can’t find in other liquids. While you’re used to sipping it, next time the chill is getting to you try stirring it too.

Maybe you’re gearing up for Super Bowl weekend, but it’s easy to ready yourself for something simply divine like coq au vin (a.k.a. chicken and wine). Now grocery stores, like the glorious Wegman’s, make it uber easy to pick up your wine without a second trip to a specialty store. Great bargain buys end the aisles like exclamation points, offering you a chance to add a new ingredient to your typical repertoire. Maybe not on game night but one night soon, indulge in seasonal cooking. Comfort foods like Coq au Vin don’t require a culinary whiz; in fact, most one-pot wonders are suitable for even the kitchen rookie. For under $10 you can find yummy, belly warming red wines to sip and stir into your next dish. So instead of whining over the cold, enjoy the chance to warm up in the kitchen.

My Wine Find-
Vina Zaco, Tempranillo, 2006, Rioja, $9.99- A bottle for the coq au vin and a bottle to drink alongside are equally enjoyed. While Coq au Vin usually calls for Burgundy, this robust, fruity red did the trick and saved me some money. It’s true, you should only cook with what you would drink, just try to save some for the cooking!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Night of Hope

By Brianne Harrison

I’ll admit—I’m girly, and I like pretty, sparkly things. And I really like having a chance to save a bit of money on those sparkly things while also contributing to a good cause, but how often do you get the chance to do that? Well, on February 11, Yanina & Co. in Cedar Grove is giving you just that chance at its Night of Hope Event.

From 6 to 8 p.m., attendees can enjoy exclusive discounts on all Yanina & Co. jewelry, as well as delicious hors d’oeuvres by Lu Nello Restaurant and chances to win fabulous prizes, including art deco-inspired diamond earrings, Oved diamond studs, a Swiss-made Louis Erard men’s watch, and a one-year membership to the Park Avenue Club. All proceeds from the night will benefit the Valerie Fund of Saint Barnabas Hospital, which offers comprehensive health services for children with cancer and blood disorders.

Need an extra incentive? The first 25 women who walk through the door will receive a free pair of the pearl and diamond earrings pictured above, valued at $350. That’s right—free jewelry! What’s not to love?

RSVP by calling 973.857.5544.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Dinner at Daddy Warbucks’

By Pat Tanner

Remember the movie “Annie,” starring nine-year old Aileen Quinn? Do you know that the scenes of Daddy Warbucks’ mansion were filmed at a real-life manor house on the grounds of what is now Monmouth University? And that is remains EXACTLY AS DEPICTED IN THE MOVIE?

I think I knew back around 1980 that filming was taking place in Monmouth County, but then didn’t give it another thought for decades. Until, that is, I learned of an annual candlelight dinner held in what is in reality Wilson Hall, but which is forever etched in my mind (and that of millions of others) as Daddy Warbucks’ mansion.

The yearly dinner, open to the public, is a fundraiser for the upkeep of the 130-room limestone palace, built in 1929 and dubbed “Shadow Lawn” by its owners - Woolworth president Hubert Parson and his wife, Maysie. The dinners, which accommodate about 120, are held in the gilded splendor of the Versailles Room. They sell out well in advance, and are so popular that the University doesn’t bother to promote them. When I inquired a month in advance of this year’s dinner, which I’m sorry to inform you was held on January 22nd, they were already 90% full. Which is why I’m telling you about it after the fact--so you can get your name on the list for next year.

Which you will want to do, because the evening features a three-course dinner with wine, a captivating after-dinner lecture and photo presentation that relates, with great affection, the truly sad, truly strange tale of Shadow Lawn, and a guided walking tour. All for $50 per person.

I signed up because of the unique venue and its history rather than the food and wine, which is overseen by the University’s caterer, Aramark. So I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of both, and learned that Aramark’s man there once worked at the acclaimed restaurant Nicholas in Middletown.

I was also tickled to learn that the grown-up Aileen Quinn actually returned to Wilson Hall/Monmouth University, where for a while she was an adjunct professor in the theater department. Daddy Warbucks would have been proud.

To get on the mailing list for next year’s candlelight dinner and tour, phone 732.571.3505 or send an email to: