“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

By Taylor Smith

Kale’s Nursery & Landscape Service operates a beloved Christmas Shop every holiday season that is a “must-see” for families, friends, and those seeking to experience some yuletide magic. 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

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

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

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 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

Image Credit: Thomas Robert Clark Photography

By Taylor Smith

Take a trip back to the 1920s at Hopewell Theater’s New Year’s Eve party on Tuesday, December 31 starting at 6 p.m. The evening features a three-course dinner by Brick Farm Tavern; live music by Philadelphia’s vintage swing band, Parlour Noir; a swing dance lesson; party favors; and a cash bar. The event is semi-formal and vintage attire is encouraged. more

“Give what you have. To someone, it may be better than you dare to think.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

By Taylor Smith

Giving back during the holidays doesn’t have to cost a lot of time or money. Simple gifts of happiness and good cheer can go a long way in improving another person’s day. Here are some suggestions for being more generous this time of year. 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. 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

Princeton-Born Pianists Christina and Michelle Naughton are Rising Stars

By Anne Levin

Classical music claims a long tradition of sibling performers. There are the Shahams (violinist Gil and pianist Ori), the Labeques (pianists Katia and Marielle), and the Capucons (violinist Renand and cellist Gautier) — just to name a few.

Currently prominent on that roster are Christina and Michelle Naughton, 31-year-old virtuoso pianists who spent their first year of life in Princeton, and returned last month to perform as soloists with the Princeton Symphony Orchestra (PSO). The glamorous Naughtons, whose father taught computer science at Princeton University, are not just sisters — they are twins. Good luck telling them apart.

As toddlers, the girls moved from Princeton to Madison, Wisconsin, when their father, Jeffrey Naughton, joined the faculty of the University of Wisconsin. Their earliest music study was with their mother, an amateur pianist. There was no grand plan, at first, for professional careers. more

Dr. Richard Besser, head of Princeton’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

Leonora Carrington, British, active Mexico and United States, 1917–2011, Crookhey Hall, 1987. Color lithograph. Gift of David L. Meginnity, Class of 1958. © Leonora Carrington / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Princeton University Art Museum Exhibit Explores Wellness and Illness, Care and Suffering, Across Time and Cultures

By Laurie Pellichero | Images Courtesy of Princeton University Art Museum

Pandemics and infectious disease. Mental illness. The hopes and dangers of childbirth. The complexities of care. These concepts and many others are explored through more than 80 art objects from around the world — from antiquity to modern times —including paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, photographs, and multimedia, in “States of Health: Visualizing Illness and Healing,” on view at the Princeton University Art Museum November 2 through February 2, 2020.

“With the medical humanities a growing field, ‘States of Health’ afforded us an extraordinary opportunity to pose important questions about how we visualize both wellness and disease,” says James Steward, Nancy A. Dasher-David J. Haemisegger, Class of 1976, director. “By positioning objects that have likely never been in dialogue with each other before, the exhibition draws on multi-disciplinary perspectives to consider health and healing today, how artists have interpreted these states over time, and how they both differ and share certain characteristics across many cultures.”

“States of Health” is displayed in four thematic groupings: “Confronting Contagion,” “States of Mind,” “Worlds of Care,” and “Birthing Narratives,” with cross-cultural juxtapositions throughout the exhibition considering both broad issues and specific historical events from a visual perspective. more

“…improving the value of care in the United States is one of the biggest challenges our health care system faces. We also face challenges in providing care in a way that is equitable and that addresses other drivers of health, including social factors.”

Executive Director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics (LDI)

By Donald Gilpin | Photos by Hoag Levins

Rachel Werner, M.D., Ph.D., took over last May as the first female and the first physician-economist executive director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics (LDI). She is a professor of both medicine at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine, and health care management at the Wharton School; a member of the National Academy of Medicine; and a practicing physician at Philadelphia’s Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center. 

Werner came to Penn in 1994 after graduating from Macalester College in Minnesota. She earned her M.D. in 1998 and her Ph.D. in health economics in 2004. She joined the Penn faculty in 2005 as an assistant professor of medicine and an LDI senior fellow. A longtime member of LDI’s executive committee, Werner has played an important role in expanding LDI data services and was director of the LDI health economics data analyst pool that provides LDI fellows with statistical analysts. more

Baker’s Alley in Princeton, looking south toward Nassau Street c. 1925. A historic African American neighborhood that was demolished to make way for Palmer Square. (Photo courtesy of Historical Society of Princeton.)

By Taylor Smith

The September 28, 1928 issue of Princeton Alumni Weekly (PAW) announced that “Plans for a gigantic program of reconstruction in the heart of Princeton, to cost several million dollars, have recently been made public by Edgar Palmer ’03, President of Princeton Municipal Improvement, Inc. This development will affect the section on Nassau Street from Upper Pyne Dormitory to the Second Presbyterian Church. The area to be reconstructed extends as far as Quarry Street, four blocks to the north of Nassau Street, and is bounded on the east and west, respectively, by Witherspoon Street and Quarry Street.”

Edgar Palmer.

PAW goes on to describe: “In place of numerous old wooden houses and tenements which are not only unsightly but which also form a great fire hazard, there will be two large apartment houses of the ‘garden’ type.”

The municipal square model was not everyone’s ideal. Significantly, the plan involved the removal of Baker’s Alley and the relocation of the majority of Princeton’s African American community to Birch Avenue.

Longtime Princeton resident Shirley Satterfield is an expert on the history of African American life in Princeton. “My family is six generations in this neighborhood, and I love this neighborhood,” she says.

Satterfield describes Palmer Square as Princeton’s first example of “urban renewal.” When asked to characterize the effect of Edgar Palmer’s plans on the African American community, Satterfield states, “It wasn’t a hardship for us, it was a movement for us.”

“A lot of our families were domestic workers and they didn’t talk about discontent to the children,” she adds. “In those days, a lot of people didn’t complain.” more

A new manager carefully balances what made the market a draw for 71 years with new reasons to shop under the iconic sign

By Ilene Dube | Photos by Charles R. Plohn

Cantaloupes the size of basketballs; sweet red peppers the size of, well, what I previously thought cantaloupes to be. Peaches with a blush of fuzz and tomatoes with names like Oxheart Riviera among the usual Brandywines and Sun Golds. These are among the recent finds at the Trenton Farmers Market, where the air is scented with basil, smoked sausage, and barbecue.

The 71-year-old institution has been infused with new energy since Chris Cirkus, longtime manager of the West Windsor Farmers Market, took the helm in January. She is the fifth manager in the market’s history.

Cirkus wants people to know that she’s still managing, and committed to, the West Windsor market. On a recent Saturday, after breaking down in West Windsor where she’d stood in the hot sun since 7 a.m. greeting customers, making sure everything went smoothly, and playfully interacting with the children accompanying their parents, Cirkus zipped over to Spruce Street in Lawrence Township (technically it’s located in Lawrence Township, even though it’s named the Trenton Farmers Market) and continued her duties. 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