Picture Perfect: My New Jersey Memories

Not a grain of sand in sight. (photo by Melissa Morris)

Everyone’s definition of their home state differs a bit.

Many people think about warm weather in New Jersey in terms of the shore.  For me, the warmer weather also reminds me of long drives  on country roads, away from traffic, and even away from the beach.  I spent many springs and summers in my childhood along these roads with views such as this one, admiring hard-working farms, and enjoying fresh produce we bought at the small, roadside farm stands.

Scenes like this are a big part of my Picture Perfect, New Jersey definition. Hazy, and hot, and home…

The Jersey Girl

NJ’s State Dinosaur

Did you know that New Jersey has a state dinosaur?  We do.

New Jersey is actually the site where the first, fully intact dinosaur skeleton was found!  Even back in the days of the dinosaurs, New Jersey was the place to be!

The Jersey Girl

On June 13, 1991, the duckbilled Hadrosaurus foulkii was named the New Jersey state dinosaur.

(The bones were found in Haddonfield, NJ in 1858.)

Read more about it through these links:



Picture Perfect: Sunset Sunday in the Snow

The peaceful pastels of a winter sunset in New Jersey

About a week ago (before the recent warm weather melted the snow away) I took this picture in Mercer County at sunset.

A quiet road was the perfect setting to appreciate the contrast between the stillness of the snow-covered ground and the colorful movement in the ever-changing sky…

Happy Sunset Sunday.

The Jersey Girl

January 12, 2010 ~ More Snow

So, the predictions were correct and we got some more snow (about another seven or eight inches of fluffy, fresh snow here in central New Jersey.)

Though I especially love the summer months (and have been daydreaming about the warm sun and being able to wear flip-flops and tank tops again), I do enjoy snowstorms.  I like the snow not only because it turns everything in sight into blank coloring book pages, but also because of the sense of calm it brings with it.

As it falls quietly, the snow gently forces everything (and everyone) it touches to slow down.  The familiar, fast pace of New Jersey is temporarily replaced and we move in slow motion…

The Jersey Girl

December 27, 2010 ~ Old Photos and New Music


Opening the backdoor in the morning to mounds of snow (even after clearing it away a few times through the night)!

With crazy winds whipping around the almost two feet of snow that came yesterday, here in Central New Jersey, I’ve been inside working on my genealogy project.  Boxes (and boxes and boxes) of old family photos and online research capabilities have been keeping me entertained and off the roads.  It’s fun to see how far back my family has been here in New Jersey; my Jersey roots run deep!


I’m not the only one who’s been busy…Those Mockingbirds of Montclair, NJ have been working on new music, planning new shows, and breaking in new band members.  They’ve been nice enough to send over a link to their newest single, a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” (follow the link, then right-click, and then press “save as”).   If you like what you hear (and I’m sure you will – it sounds really great live, too!), make sure to pass the link on to your friends and check out www.ThoseMockingbirds.com for information about upcoming live shows and links to their other amazing songs.

Stay warm!

The Jersey Girl

December 8, 2010

I’m really pleased with the responses I’ve received from writers and photographers interested in writing about our beloved state of New Jersey.  If you are interested in a writing or photography opportunity, and haven’t already sent me an email, please do!

The new website is coming along quite nicely and should be ready for visitors soon!

Though I’ve been absolutely up to my eyeballs in school work recently, I’ve also been lucky to come across some really awesome new music to keep me company while I work.  Gerry Perlinski, Those Mockingbirds, and Vesta all have new stuff in the works that you have to hear!  And I’ll share it here, soon…

The Jersey Girl

Please stay tuned…

Our new, expanded and more comprehensive online format (which can also be found through the address, www.notesonthestateofnewjersey.com) will be up and running soon.

In the mean time, if you (or someone you know) might be interested in writing about, or taking photos of, the fabulous things happening in New Jersey, please send me a direct email message and let me know a little bit about yourself.  Our online project is expanding, and we are looking for skilled writers and photographers who are interested in employing their talents to share their knowledge of, and love for, the Garden State.

Also, if you have any New Jersey events that you would like to share, please feel free to email that information directly to calendar@notesonnj.com.

The Jersey Girl

Hooked on New Jersey

Top Row Left to Right: Melissa Morris, Ilse Vliet, Lydia Lewis, Kathy Donovan, Janet Keller Laughlin, and Linda Rae Coughlin (curator) Bottom Row Left to Right, Janet Santaniello (curator), Susan Johnson, Dee Rosebrock, and Debbie Walsh

To show their appreciation for the Garden State, many talented women from New Jersey, and the surrounding area, have displayed their New Jersey-themed artwork in a special exhibit at The Barron Arts Center in Woodbridge, NJ.  This exhibit, Hooked on New Jersey, is unique because each piece of art is a handcrafted, hooked rug.

Yes, rug.  A rug like the ones you are familiar with on the floors in your homes.  However, these particular rugs have been specially designed and carefully crafted to celebrate the fabulous state of New Jersey.  They truly are works of art and collectively make up one of the more enjoyable shows I’ve been to in a while.

Kathleen Donovan and The Jersey Devil

Kathleen Donovan’s rug called THE JERSEY DEVIL was selected to appear on the promotional materials for the exhibit.   The Watchung, NJ resident says, “I have always had an interest and love of animals.  That interest crosses over to include animals in mythology and folklore.  We in New Jersey are lucky to have one well-known creature of folklore (or maybe not) the Jersey Devil.”   I was lucky enough to meet Donovan, who has been hooking rugs for 10 years, and chat with her a little bit about her artwork.  She hopes that her portrayal of the Jersey Devil will make people think of him as a graphic novel hero.  I can certainly see it!

Linda Woodbury's Lucy.

LUCY the elephant is a Jersey girl with whom many of us are familiar, but here, depicted by Linda Woodbury of Glen Ridge, NJ, we see her in a brand-new way.  Woodbury says, “Lucy has been an iconic symbol of the Jersey Shore throughout my life.  When I signed up for a class hooking ‘Women with Attitudes’ Lucy was a natural choice for a rug.  She does project great attitude, where she stands at the edge of the sand looking out over the Atlantic Ocean.  Lucy is visible from 8 miles out at sea, making New Jersey the only coastline in the world marked by a six-story high elephant shaped navigational aid.”

Cynthia Boult's New Jersey Vanity Plates

Cynthia Boults of Annandale, NJ designed her rug VANITY PLATE (along with the help of the NJ DOT!) after NJ’s license plate that reminds everyone – just in case they forget – that we are the Garden State.  Boults shares a little about why she was inspired to hook a rug with this design, “I moved to New Jersey in 2004…proudly put a Garden State license plate on my fire engine red farm truck!  This truly is the Garden State.”

Janet Keller Laughlin and symbols of New Jersey

Some of the artists have been hooking rugs for years, and others like Janet Keller Laughlin from Hopewell, NJ, have just gotten started.  Laughlin’s first rug design, HARMONY ALONG the DELAWARE, was adapted from her own original black and white illustration.  It took her over a year to complete, but the result is simply beautiful.  Of her rug, Laughlin says, “My rug design depicts the harmonious coexistence of New Jersey’s flora and fauna.  The “Trenton Makes the World Takes” bridge is the backdrop for the bucolic spring garden that features our state symbols…the red oak tree, the violet, the goldfinch, and the honeybee.  This illustration was the logo for the 2008 Garden Club of America Zone IV flower show held in Trenton, NJ.”

There are dozens of other beautiful rugs that I’d love to share with you, but you’re going to have to head over to Woodbridge and see them for yourself!  The Hooked on New Jersey exhibition, co-curated by Linda Rae Coughlin and Janet Santaniello, will run until October 24th.  Exhibit hours are 11am to 4pm Monday through Friday and 2pm to 4pm on the weekends.

Go check it out and (if you aren’t already) get hooked on NJ too!

The Jersey Girl

Picture Perfect: Summer in New Jersey

Summer in New Jersey means a lot of things to different people.  It can mean the beach and the boardwalk, concerts, amusement parks, carnivals (and all that tasty carnival food), hiking, fishing, camping, picnics, and so much more.  As the weather begins to turn colder and fall approaches, this Picture Perfect Sunday, we’ll take a minute to reflect on what a fantastic summer we’ve had, here in New Jersey.

I am very happy to share with you captures depicting what Summer means to five New Jersey photographers – beginning with the winning photo of our first ever Jersey Girl Photo Contest…

The featured photo and winner of the “Summer in New Jersey” Photo Contest:
“Unique Diversity” by Jenna Zawacki

In the photographer’s own words:  “While most New Jersey beaches consist of scattered shells in hot sand, one can find a treasure amidst the glowing tides of Diamond Beach.”  – Jenna Zawacki

* * *

There are so many talented photographers in New Jersey, and it was a lot of fun to look through the photos submitted for the contest.  Though we could not use them all here, there are a few more photos of “Summer in New Jersey” that I would like to share with you.

“My Son, Marshall” by Sandra Saponaro

In the photographer’s own words: “My son, Marshall.” – Sandra Saponaro

“The Giant Ferris Wheel @ Great Adventure” by Billy Hoffman

In the photographer’s own words:  “New Jersey is such an awesome place to spend your summer; there are really just countless ways to spend your days and nights.  But two things seem to represent the Jersey summer better than anything else, the Jersey Shore and Amusement Rides…” – Billy Hoffman

“Jersey Shore” by Misty Layne

In the photographer’s own words: “I’m a (somewhat) recent transplant from Alabama, been here almost a year, so it was my first summer in Jersey.  🙂  I think this photo represents summer in Jersey because it seems to be an iconic summer thing to do.  At least this is what everybody here has informed me.” – Misty Layne

Finally, one of The Jersey Girl’s contributing photographers, Christina Rudczynski, wanted to share a special photo of hers and say a little something about New Jersey.

“Time Travel” by Christina Rudczynski

In the photographer’s own words:  “One of the biggest misconceptions of New Jersey is that it is dirty.  This picture represents a place in New Jersey that has not changed much through the years and is not dirty.  Standing in this iris garden you feel as though you have stepped back in time (even if you are looking at cars surrounding the garden).  Walking around this garden, you forget all the noise and pollution and you are engulfed with the beauty of your surroundings, and say to yourself ‘This IS New Jersey.’  It is only one of the many beautiful places to be found in the state of New Jersey.” – Christina Rudczynski

* * *

Thank you to everyone who submitted photos for our first contest!
Make sure to get your cameras ready to take lots of fall pictures here in New Jersey (those leaves are already beginning to change!), and keep an eye out for our next contest!

The Jersey Girl

Picture Perfect: Final Days to Submit Your Photos!

Calling all photographers!

There are just a few days left to submit your Summer In New Jersey” photos.

Winning photographs will be published here on the website and announced through the post on September 12, 2010.

Contest Guidelines:
*Submit up to 2 photos per person.
*Photos must be emailed to
Melissa with SUMMER in the subject line.
*Please include your name, address and phone number in the body of the email.
*Photos must be received by September 8th.
*Photos must be taken
this summer in New Jersey to qualify for the contest (date and location of photo should be included with submission as well as a title and a brief explanation as to why you think the photo represents “Summer in NJ”).
*By submitting photos, you agree that they may be used for publication on The Jersey Girl website and/or any promotional materials for the website.
*All published photos will be credited to the artist.
*Winners will be announced here on the website.

Good luck!

The Jersey Girl