Following up – Shopping @ Annie Sez!

Back in September, I was invited to a blogger preview party at the new Annie Sez store in East Brunswick.  It was a really nice event, and the folks at Annie Sez couldn’t have been more gracious hosts.  I am a terrible guest, however, because my “thank you” (this blog post) is long overdue!

Finding fabulous things at Annie Sez in East Brunswick!

There is, of course, the philosophy that all things happen for a reason.  If we subscribe to that, then we can say my delayed post is actually not delayed at all, but happening exactly when it is supposed to be.  Here’s my evidence for this line of thinking: the fabulous find that I made while shopping that fall day is actually a dress much more appropriate for the cold weather of winter.  (It’s a cozy, flattering fit, charcoal gray Calvin Klein sweater-dress.)  Up until now, the weather has been just too darn nice and warm for such a dress.

Now, after the weekend’s snowstorm, this dress is much more appropriate.  🙂

Also, now with the holidays approaching, it’s a much more seasonally appropriate time to remind all of you fashionistas that Annie Sez remains to be an excellent source for discount designer dresses for all occasions while simultaneously feels like a high-end, up-to-the-minute fashion boutique.  (I was actually surprised at how many current trends and stylish finds they had there!)

I’ll certainly be going back again before the holidays – to do a little gift shopping, and maybe find something for myself to wear to holiday parties.

See you there!

The Jersey Girl


Since school started back up, things have been pretty busy.  (That is most likely the biggest understatement I’ve ever made.)

This is why I am so especially excited to know that after school today, I will be leaving the notebooks and narratives, the lab reports and tests to grade (at least for a little while), and I will be going shopping!  There is a brand new, Annie Sez flagship store opening up in East Brunswick, and this Jersey Girl is going to check it out!

The Jersey Girl

A Birthday Gift For My Nephew

Creative Letter Art made especially for my nephew!

It’s lucky for me that my nephew (who will be four next month) isn’t yet reading this blog.  If he was, I wouldn’t be able to show you the gift I purchased for him at the Sugarloaf Craft Festival from Creative Letter Art!

I thought this collage of photographs depicting different style letters would be the perfect gift for him since he’s learned his letters in pre-school and is beginning to recognize words – names especially.  Creative Letter Art has many pre-made portraits available with a wide variety of themes to choose from.  There’s everything from fun and bright neon to subdued black and white nature scenes to the dramatic lines of architecture.

With owner of Creative Letter Art, Ethan Reiss. (photo by Jeffrey Morris)

Owner and photographer, Ethan Reiss, was inspired to begin his Rockaway, NJ business because of his own personal experiences with wanting to show those he loved how much he cared in a unique and meaningful way.  His personal journey of expressing his own feelings through words and images has led to a business which now allows any of us, no matter how much artistic talent or creativity, the opportunity to present our loved ones with a gift that reflects just how much we care about them.  (Sadly though, my photography here doesn’t do the collage for my nephew justice at all!)  In person, the collage is truly breathtaking and I can’t wait to give it to him next month.

You can take my word for it, or you can see the images in better detail on the Creative Letter Art website and facebook page.

My new Simon Xianwen Zeng purchase is the one on the left.

I also picked up a few small things for myself at Sugarloaf this time around.  (It’s hard not to find something – or many things – I want to take home there!)  At a time when so much of what we buy is made in other countries, it felt especially good to know that my purchases were directly supporting people who live and work here in the United States.

The last time I was at the show, I purchased a print from artist Simon Xianwen Zeng.  This time around, I picked up another print to go with it.  I’m thinking though, that these two prints look a little lonely and I might have to make this a grouping of three.  What do you think???  I also picked up another small print from Milltown, NJ resident, John DeAmicis and a beautiful hand sewn bag to use as a camera case.

My new camera case!

The second piece in my John DeAmicis collection.

I might just have to add the new print by Simon Xianwen Zeng to a long list because I’ve already got my eye on other items (like a hand-woven basket from Wanda Summers of Wood Weaving) that I’m planning to get in the fall when the Sugarloaf Craft Festival is back here in Somerset.

They’ll be here October 28, 29, & 30th.

And I’ll be sure to remind you about it when it gets closer!

Shopping for some art at the Sugarloaf Craft Festival in the far left of this pic... (photo by Jeffrey Morris)

The Jersey Girl

A Weekend of Good Food and Good Friends

Trying to figure when these postcards were issued...

I got to spend some time walking around (as it snowed) in Somerville on Saturday evening.  There, I visited one of the largest antique malls in the state,  Somerville Center Antiques.  The folks there were friendly and extremely helpful.  I wandered around booth after booth of collectibles, and eventually found an old (though I haven’t figured out exactly how old) 1 cent Thomas Jefferson postcard.  And officially started my collection of Thomas Jefferson memorabilia!

Tapastre in Somerville, NJ

After antiquing, and just a few blocks away, I had dinner at Tapastre.  The menu, cleverly organized by countries including France, Italy, Turkey, and Greece, offered a large selection of tapas-style dishes.  I thought the Seared Scallops, with a bacon pesto and blue cheese cracker, were especially delicious.

Sunday brought a great work session (and pizza!) with good friend and web developer, John Conde in Jackson.  We made some updates to the Notes on the State of New Jersey website and more additions are on the way shortly.  We’re almost ready to start posting the articles.  It’s very exciting!

Then, I got to catch up with old friends at Taste in Red Bank where, again, I had a variety of small plates – though this time with a much more American feel.  The Buffalo Deviled Eggs seemed like a pretty unusual idea to me, but they tasted great!

Now, its back to work and back to checking the weather forecast.  We’re under a storm watch again, and it looks like this next storm could be messy.

Be safe and have a great week!

The Jersey Girl

Fall Foliage at the Sugarloaf Craft Festival

Melissa Morris Sugarloaf Festival 2010

A painting? A drawing? A photograph? No, this is hand-embroidered art by Nguyen's Chi Art at the Sugarloaf Craft Festival.

Right now in New Jersey, though plenty of leaves have fallen to blanket the ground, you can still see leaves of bright orange, deep amber and rust colors on many of our trees.  Walking through my neighborhood, or driving around, (or exploring parks while Geocaching), I’ve been compelled to stop and take pictures in order to capture some of these vibrant colors before the season changes.

Recently, when the Sugarloaf Craft Festival was back in Somerset, NJ, I also found plenty of beautiful fall foliage in the hand-crafted artwork on display.

Lee and Christina Nguyen, from Northwales, PA, brought their hand stitched artwork to the festival.  The texture and vibrant colors of the embroidery work drew me in to each scene. You can visit their website for an online gallery of their work.

Melissa Morris Sugarloaf Craft Festival 2010

Framed, hand stitched art by Lee & Christina Nguyen, of Nguyen's Chi Art, at the Sugarloaf Craft Festival in Somerset, NJ

Other artists at the Sugarloaf Craft Festival not only brought leaves into their art, but brought the art to actual leaves.  Mary Anna Barratt and Dennis Ray, of Nature’s Creations, displayed natural leaves and blossoms that had been covered in copper and finished with patina or precious metals for a variety of finishes and effects.  Just like when the leaves were once found in nature, no two pieces from Nature’s Creations are the same. For orders, or information on custom pieces, you can visit their website.

Melissa Morris Sugarloaf Craft Festival Leaves

A few of Nature's Creations leaves that had "fallen" onto their display table at the Sugarloaf Craft Festival in Somerset, NJ

Plenty of my other favorite artists and vendors from the last festival returned for this show, including Terry Lo with her beautiful, hand-made scarves.

The Sugarloaf Craft Festival will be back again in March of 2011.  Visit their website or check back to for more information.  You won’t want to miss it!

The Jersey Girl

Sugarloaf Craft Festival is back in New Jersey!

Just in time for the holidays, the Sugarloaf Craft Festival is back in New Jersey.  Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (October 29-31) local and national artists and vendors will be showing and selling a variety of crafts.

You never know what treasures you may find at the Sugarloaf Craft Festival

Information about artists and purchasing tickets can be found on the Sugarloaf Craft Festival website, and if you want to see a little bit of what my experience was like the last time I visited the festival, just click this link.

Happy shopping!

The Jersey Girl

Extended Rutgers Gardens Farm Market Season!

Due to consumer and vendor demands
the Rutgers Gardens Farm Market is extending the market season!

Now you will be able to shop for
locally grown and made products until
Friday, November 19th.

The following vendors will be there during the extended season:

*Chickadee Creek Farm * Davidson Exotic Mushrooms * Funnibonz Barbeque Sauce * Fruitwood Farms * Grab Em Snacks * Picklelicious * New Brunswick Coffee * Randi’s Gourmet Foods * Stefan and Sons Meat Store * Woods Edge Wools Farm * Yona’s Gourmet Delights *Valley Shepherd Creamery * Village Bakery


For more information on the market please visit or read about my own visit to the farm market here.

The Jersey Girl

BareWires Surf & Skate ~ Spring Lake, NJ


BareWires Surf & Skate in Spring Lake, NJ (photo by Cresitello/ESM)

Surfers, skateboarders, and shopaholics alike have a new place to call home in Spring Lake, NJ.

Focusing on smaller, less mainstream brands like RVCA, Patagonia, Ezekiel, Insight, Nike 6.0, and Chemistry Surfboards, owners of BareWires Surf & Skate,  Adam Holloway and Brian Smith, have taken a unique approach to their new store.  “We want to thank brands like RVCA, Patagonia, and Ezekiel for taking a chance with us.  We got a lot of feedback that this area was over saturated in terms of surf brands. But people like Paul Kane with RVCA and Jimmy Pasch with Patagonia understood our vision and supported us,” says Smith.  Those interested in smaller independent labels are in luck as well since the guys have also paid special attention to labels like AMBSN out of San Clemente and Rhythm an Australian surf company based on The Gold Coast.

Ezekiel clothing at BareWires in Spring Lake, NJ (photo courtesy of BareWires)

The Spring Lake shop is the second BareWires location, and it has a distinct vibe compared to the other shop in Long Branch.  Holloway and Smith worked really hard to get the store to look the way it does, carefully planning the layout and executing finishing touches.  Creating a shop with a cool atmosphere and core knowledge was important. Just because it’s a surf shop doesn’t mean it shouldn’t look nice,” says Holloway.

“We feel like we have a lot to bring to the community in terms of knowledge and experience.  Brian and I grew up here, we surf here and live here.  We want BareWires to be a shop that has something for everyone, all skill levels; everyone is welcome,” says Holloway.

Can you find the Jersey Girl? I'm somewhere in this photo from the night of the BareWires grand opening party! (photo by Cresitello/ESM)

To celebrate the grand opening of the shop, BareWires hosted a party and attendees included company representatives, local surfers, and many of Holloway and Smith’s friends.  Also in attendance was New Jersey artist, Ronnie Jackson.  Jackson’s energetic, colorful artwork – inspired by the ocean, beaches, and wildlife found around the Jersey shore – is featured in the shop.

With breathtaking photos from Eastern Surf Magazine chief photographer, Donald E. Cresitello on display, to a BareWires original surfboard from the 1970s, to fashions the whole family will love, you won’t find a similar shop or experience around.

Stop in soon and check out BareWires Surf & Skate in Spring Lake, NJ!

The Jersey Girl

Related Links and Additional Information:
Address:  219 Morris Avenue, Spring Lake, NJ
Phone: 732-359-7780

BareWires Blog:
BareWires on facebook:
BareWires in Long Branch:

The Best Jewelry Store in New Jersey ~ Walter Bauman Jewelers

Walter Bauman Jewelers - the Union, NJ location

This Jersey Girl is also a Jewelry Girl.  Ever since I was very young, I have appreciated jewelry and loved wearing it, making it, and admiring it for the art that it is.  It made perfect sense that back in college, when I was looking for a part-time job, I would choose to work in a jewelry store, but it wasn’t just any old jewelry store…

My mother (from whom I’ve inherited this love for jewelry) began shopping at Walter Bauman Jewelers right after I was born.  I grew up visiting the store (in the then East Brunswick location) with her on weekends when she shopped for gifts for friends and family.  I was fascinated by the beautiful pieces they sold, always looking for something new each time I visited, and I began to especially appreciate the unique estate and antique pieces.  The stories behind the estate pieces fascinated me as much as the jewelry itself.  The patient and friendly salespeople took the time to show me the jewelry, let me try it on, and explained as much as they knew about its history.  I could spend hours examining the craftsmanship of the pieces, deciphering the sometimes worn engraving, or simply imagining who had owned it once upon a time.

These fond memories have stayed with me over the years, and though store locations have changed, as well as some of the salespeople, their spirit has remained the same.  I continue to have a positive experience each time I shop with Walter Bauman Jewelers.

With Russell Bauman near the Union location's estate jewelry counter. (Photo by Christina Rudczynski)

There are currently four NJ locations: Union, Clifton, Short Hills and the original West Orange store that opened in 1960.  Each location has at least one trained gemologist or diamond expert on hand, as well as a jewelry craftsperson.  The stores are run by Walter Bauman’s children and grandchildren who work diligently to provide the same quality merchandise, value, and service as when the company was founded.

The quality shopping experience at Walter Bauman Jewelers has not gone unrecognized.  This year, Walter Bauman Jewelers was voted the Best Jewelry Store in New Jersey by New Jersey Monthly.  Russell Bauman, of the Union location says, “”We didn’t even realize what a great thing it was to win New Jersey Monthly’s poll until people started congratulating us when the issue came out.  We just really appreciate all the customers who took the time to vote.”

The next time you are shopping for a special gift, an engagement ring, or a trendy little something for yourself, be sure you visit a Walter Bauman Jeweler’s location.  I just may see you there!

The Jersey Girl

Walter Bauman Jeweler’s website
Store Locations