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    With apologies to the City of Trenton, "New Jersey Makes - The World Takes."

    It's called the Garden State, but more than fruits and vegetables have their seeds planted and nurtured in New Jersey.

    Innovative minds have always been some of the state's most valuable assets. And while we all know about Thomas Edison and his inventions, some people may not be aware of the host of other products and innovations that got their start in New Jersey.

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    This list is incomplete; future galleries will cover even more of the wonderful things "Made in New Jersey."

    Be sure to right-click on the links that tell more of the story about many of these 'Made in New Jersey' entries.

    Greg Hatala may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GregHatala. Find Greg Hatala on Facebook.

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    If infection control protocols aren't being followed in Newark and Wanaque hospitals, the Legislature must rattle their cages. Watch video

    In a committee room in Trenton today, a group of lawmakers, hospital administrators, infection experts, and the commissioner of the Department of Health will try to untangle the mystery that took the lives of 14 medically-fragile children and infected dozens more in two long-term facilities over the last few months.

    At the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation, 11 children died and 34 others have fallen ill from the common adenovirus, which can be life-threatening to those with severe disabilities or compromised immune systems.

    At University Hospital in Newark, three premature infants died in the neonatal intensive care unit after a bacterial outbreak.

    The root cause analysis from the Health Department is still weeks away, and we may never learn whether the culprit was human failure or tragic happenstance at either facility.

    But when they meet before the Senate Health Committee chaired by Sen. Joe Vitale, one thing must happen: They have to agree that when the most vulnerable lives are at stake, there cannot be any acceptable margin for staff error - and that doesn't always seem to be the case at either facility.

    The Legislature needs to take an especially close look at the University Hospital, which has been under intense scrutiny from DOH Commissioner Dr. Shareef Elnahal for months.

    He admits to having "concerns" about whether UH has followed proper infection protocols, and when Elnahal sent a survey team to the hospital Tuesday, it learned that UH's own infection control program "was not even aware" that two children had died the week before. A state-run teaching facility should not have such systemic problems, but it is sadly predictable.

    It is a reminder that UH's last grade from the venerable Leapfrog Group - the transparency advocate that assesses hospitals on avoidable errors, injuries and infections, which studies say kill 500 people every day in the U.S. - was a D.

    It was the second-lowest Leapfrog safety rating given to a New Jersey hospital during the Fall 2018 term. Leapfrog has high standards, and participation is voluntary, but 67 hospitals were graded, and 54 of them were rewarded with an A or B.

    "Quality measures seem esoteric," says Linda Schwimmer, president of the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute, "but they highlight the importance of transparency, particularly with regard to posting a hospital's infection rate."

    Vitale (D-Middlesex) is more blunt: "Real leadership creates and reinforces a culture of safety and excellence," he said. "It is woefully lacking at UH."

    Wanaque's reputation, meanwhile, is not sterling in all areas. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services uses a five-star grading system based on on-site inspections, with 1,500 standards reviewed. And while Wanaque's overall rating was 4 out of 5 in its last assessment, CMS gave it a 2 for health inspection.

    So this is a chance to re-examine protocols and determine where lapses may exist. Health industry experts tend to think that new requirements bring normal hospital functions to a screeching halt, but it is crucial for Vitale's committee to determine whether the state needs to be granted more authority to enforce these protocols.

    It's true that the Health Department may not be able to pinpoint the origin of these infections and the insidious pattern by which they spread. It is possible that they were the lethal link in a chain of unfortunate events perpetuated by a single employee making a tragic mistake.

    But we are certain of this: Children died, and we are obligated to seek solutions. There is no other way to honor the loved and the lost, now linked in our collective memory as a divine kinship, forming a sacred ring of eternity. They deserve our best.

    Bookmark Follow on Twitter @NJ_Opinion and find Opinion on Facebook.


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    A tiny sampling of the thousands of pets awaiting adoption in New Jersey.

    It's that time of year again, when we spend enormous sums on pets that can't tell us they hate what we got them.

    Here's just a sampling of some of the good, the bad and ... the other gifts available for your pets in 2018.


    A 'medium dog bowl' from one company costs $32 plus shipping; it must be a water bowl because there's a molded bone sticking up in the middle of it around which the dog would otherwise have to eat. My dog enjoys her water just fine out of a 32-cent Tupperware bowl.

    Another company is selling a 'Riviera Dog Bed' for only $398. The picture shows a dog that can't weigh more than 20 pounds taking up most of it. Meanwhile, a name-brand queen size mattress sells for $239, and your dog would prefer to be on a human mattress anyway, as you well know.

    There's a pillow that has 'Santa, I've Been a Good Cat' stitched into it and selling for $68. No cat I've ever owned slept on a pillow and the last time I checked, they can't read anyway.

    That doesn't mean all pet gifts are ... curious. I also found a beautiful embroidered pet Christmas stocking that comes with the pet's name for $29. And in the spirit of the season, there's a bag of rawhide bones that look exactly like candy canes for $15.99.

    And before you picture a doting senior like me as the purchaser of such things, take note: according to a survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers and reported on, "people in the 17- to 21-year-old age group -- which PwC calls "mature Generation Z" -- will spend an average of $71 on their pets this holiday season."

    "Urban dwellers in large cities will spend about the same," the article goes on to note, "followed by fathers between the ages of 22 and 35, who will spend $70 on their pets."

    Greg Hatala may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GregHatala. Find Greg Hatala on Facebook.

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    Several women have made allegations against Tyson, who appeared at NJPAC on Wednesday.

    Appearing at NJPAC for a scheduled event, Neil deGrasse Tyson again denied claims of sexual misconduct from several women. 

    Tyson took the stage at Prudential Hall on Wednesday night just days after sexual misconduct allegations first surfaced and less than two hours after BuzzFeed News reported another accuser had come forward.

    The astrophysicist and TV host addressed the claims at the beginning of the Newark event, reading segments from a lengthy post he shared on Facebook on Dec. 1.  

    "For a variety of reasons, most justified, some unjustified, men accused of sexual impropriety in today's 'me-too' climate are presumed to be guilty by the court of public opinion," he said. "Emotions bypass due-process, people choose sides, and the social media wars begin. In any claim, evidence matters. Evidence always matters. But what happens when it's just one person's word against another's, and the stories don't agree?"

    The crowd raucously cheered after Tyson read from his statement, before the scientist launched into a nearly two-hour talk on collisions in space. It was just his second public event since the scandal broke. 

    One of the women who has accused Tyson alleges that he raped her when they were graduate students at the University of Texas in Austin.  

    Tyson, 60, is director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York and host of the Fox series "Cosmos," which will return next year on National Geographic.

    He spoke at NJPAC just after BuzzFeed News published the results of an almost three-year investigation that revealed allegations from the fourth woman, who chose to remain anonymous. 

    The woman claims that she had been at a holiday party with her boyfriend in 2010 at the American Museum of Natural History, which is home to the planetarium. She told BuzzFeed that Tyson appeared drunk and was making sexual jokes when he approached her, asking if she would come to his office alone.

    She provided an email from 2014 in which she related the account to her employer to explain why she didn't want to collaborate with the scientist. 

    Fox and National Geographic have said they are investigating the previous three allegations against Tyson, two of which first came to light on This newest accuser said she was moved to come forward after hearing about the investigation. 

    BuzzFeed spoke to more than 30 people for its story on the Tyson allegations, including the women who have made allegations, "Cosmos" crew members, and students and professors from the University of Texas. 

    The famous scientist had posted a detailed statement on his Facebook page, saying he would cooperate fully with the investigation. In the post, he addressed allegations leveled against him by three women. 

    Tyson denied that he groped or "felt up" Katelyn Allers, a physics and astronomy professor at Bucknell University who claims Tyson pawed her dress in 2009 to see her solar system tattoo, calling the encounter "creepy." Tyson said it was "simply a search under the covered part of her shoulder of the sleeveless dress."

    "I only just learned (nine years after) that she thought this behavior creepy," he continued. "That was never my intent and I'm deeply sorry to have made her feel that way."

    Tyson also denied that he made sexual advances toward Ashley Watson, who worked with him as a production assistant, at a wine and cheese gathering in his home this past summer. On the Patheos blog, Watson claims that Tyson had made misogynistic comments and kept a list of overweight actresses on his phone to prove it was untrue that women feel societal pressure to be skinny.

    In the BuzzFeed story, she says that Tyson took off some clothes and played a Nina Simone song, focusing on the line "do I make you quiver."

    "Afterwards, she came into my office to told me she was creeped out by the wine & cheese evening," Tyson said on Facebook, denying he had touched her apart from a handshake and a hug, saying their conversation was the same as usual. Tyson said he apologized, but that the assistant quit her job working with him.

    Watson told BuzzFeed that after an awkwardly long handshake that Tyson called a "Native American handshake," he held her shoulders and said, "I want to hug you so bad right now, but I know that if I do, I'll just want more." She says she was forced to quit because of Tyson's advances.  

    Tyson also addressed the rape allegation, saying that in the 1980s, he had been intimate several times with Tchiya Amet, who blogged about her claim, when they were graduate students in astrophysics at UT Austin. She alleges that Tyson drugged and assaulted her, but he casted doubt on her assessment of events because she said she couldn't fully recall what happened. Tyson also treated Amet's accusation with skepticism because of her New Age beliefs. 

    "I note that this allegation was used as a kind of solicitation-bait by at least one journalist to bring out of the woodwork anybody who had any encounter with me that left them uncomfortable," he said in the Facebook post. 

    In the BuzzFeed story, Amet says she was friends with Tyson but doesn't remember ever being intimate with him before the alleged rape, and that the alleged assault is part of what made her decide to drop out of her graduate program. Allers and Watson say they were moved to come forward with their allegations after hearing about Amet's claims and witnessing how she was not believed. 

    "I saw that her credibility was being questioned in a way that honestly had a lot of racist and sexist and anti-religious undertones," Allers told BuzzFeed. "I kinda figured if I had any credibility to lend to that so that she's taken more seriously, I should do that."

    Elsewhere in his Facebook statement, Tyson seemed to attempt a scientific remove. 

    "I'm the accused, so why believe anything I say?" he said. "Why believe me at all?"

    Tyson is scheduled to appear at Asbury Park Convention Hall on Thursday.

    NJ Advance Media reporter Jeremy Schneider contributed to this report.

    Amy Kuperinsky may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @AmyKup or on Facebook.


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    The food shopping experience hasn't changed a lot over the years.

    We already have drones delivering online purchases in some parts of the country. You have to admit - you probably didn't think you'd live to see the day.

    Yet it's interesting that supermarkets are remarkably similar today to the experience a succession of generations have had over the years.

    Think about it. The manual cash register (and its almost musical sound) has been replaced by bar code scanners ... but the process of your purchases passing along a conveyor as you move through the thin checkout line is hardly different.

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    Items are still arranged in rows of shelves that we push shopping carts up and down. The carts themselves may be made of plastic instead of metal but the design has barely been altered.

    Fruits and vegetables are still open to be chosen individually; meats and fish are neatly arranged in refrigerated displays. It's an experience we had as children that our own children -- and likely their children - have been and will be able to share.

    Here's a gallery of vintage photos of supermarkets in New Jersey. And here are links to more vintage photo galleries of supermarkets and food stores in the Garden State.

    Vintage N.J. photos of supermarkets

    Vintage photos of supermarkets and food stores in N.J.

    Vintage photos of neighborhood food stores in N.J.

    Greg Hatala may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GregHatala. Find Greg Hatala on Facebook.

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    The book, titled 'Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies,' chronicles Ausiello's last days with his husband, who died of cancer.

    Focus Features just picked up a movie project based on a book from Michael Ausiello, Deadline reports.

    Ausiello, 46, who grew up in Roselle Park, is founder of TVLine, a website that covers television (which is a sister site to Deadline).

    In Ausiello's 2017 memoir: "Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Other Four-Letter Words," he documents his relationship with his husband, Kit Cowan, and their last days together before Cowan died. The photographer had been diagnosed with an aggressive neuroendocrine cancer.

    "Big Bang Theory" star Jim Parsons optioned the book last year and is set to star in the film, which will be directed by Princeton native Michael Showalter ("The Big Sick," "Wet Hot American Summer").

    Dan Savage, writer of the column "Savage Love" from Seattle's The Stranger alternative biweekly, who served as an executive producer on ABC's "The Real O'Neals," and David Marshall Grant (ABC's "A Million Little Things") will write the screenplay. Parsons will also serve as a producer. 


    This won't be Ausiello's only project for the screen. The Union County-reared writer who formerly lived in Bloomfield is also developing a TV series based on his New Jersey upbringing.

    The half-hour '80s dramedy is inspired by Ausiello's "TV-obsessed, closeted-gay childhood," Deadline reported in July, saying the writer, a huge fan of "The Smurfs," would be penning the script for Warner Bros. Television and serving as an executive producer. 

     Amy Kuperinsky may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @AmyKup or on Facebook.


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    Pets throughout New Jersey await adoption.

    Last week, I wrote about the money pet owners will spend on gifts for their furry friends this holiday season. But, what are the options for people on a budget -- or, for those, like me, who are just plain cheap? has some suggestions for low-cost, and even no-cost, pet gifts.

    Some household items make great cat toys. If you were going to throw out old shower curtain rings, toilet paper cardboard tubes or just plain empty boxes, your kitty can have hours of fun with them instead.

    A simple homemade dog toy can be made by inserting an empty plastic water bottle into an old sock, then tying a knot in the end. Dogs love the crunching sound.

    If it's okay for your dog to have peanut butter, give him or her the old plastic jar before you throw it out; it'll provide lasting fun for your dog and for you watching.

    Those little bell balls that were all the rage on shoelaces can be tied to a doorknob with string to make cat toys all around your house.

    Finally, you can make a durable pull toy for your dog by braiding long strips of old clothes.

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    A truly memorable decade.

    If you're not in your 40s or older, you likely don't remember Arthur C. Clarke, a British historian, inventor and writer who hosted a number of television shows in the 1980s. Clarke also co-wrote the screenplay for the 1968 film "2001: A Space Odyssey."

    In the 1960s, those who looked to what the future might bring tended toward "Jetsons" visions of 21st century America, complete with cities in the clouds and flying cars. Clarke made some of his predictions in 1964 as to what life might be like 50 years later and, unlike his contemporaries, many of his predictions were spot-on.

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    While not naming them, Clarke foresaw both internet and cellular technology by noting that people of the future would have instant contact with anyone anywhere on earth and that business could be conducted from any location in the world. He saw what we call telecommuting as becoming available to many workers.

    Clarke predicted robotic surgery and noted that surgeons on one continent could treat patients on another. He saw people volunteering for cryogenic suspension and saw bioengineering, including cloning of animals, as scientific fact in the future.

    Clarke almost perfectly described 3D printers being able to "replicate" solid items and predicted that computers, barely out of the vacuum tube era in 1964, would eventually be able to start thinking for themselves ... artificial intelligence.

    Here's a look at the way things were in New Jersey back when those concepts were science fiction, not fact. And here are links to more galleries you might enjoy.

    Vintage photos of the 1950s in N.J.

    Vintage photos of N.J. in the 1960s

    Vintage photos of the 1970s in N.J.

    Greg Hatala may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GregHatala. Find Greg Hatala on Facebook.

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    Veteran Star-Ledger journalist was Pulitzer finalist in 2013

    The newspaper was never wrapped in plastic and tossed in the driveway. It was nestled in the skinny space between the storm and front doors of our house in Summit, dry and intact.

    That is where I found The Star-Ledger every day after school, for as long as I can remember.

    Many people my age recall getting The Newark Evening News until it folded in 1972, but I don't. We always were a Star-Ledger family.

    Like most boys my age, I went right to the Sports section. First stop was Jerry Izenberg. The guy had the best job in the world, writing about sports, and I knew I wanted to do that someday.

    The dreams of that prepubescent boy came true, as did others.  Those dreams began with this newspaper and today the "working part" of this wonderful half-century association comes to an end. This is my farewell column.

    I say the working part because I will always be associated with this paper. It is, and will remain, my identity. My obituary will say "former Star-Ledger columnist," foremost.

     I'm proud of that. I always was, and always will be. Every time I introduced myself or made a call and said the words "Mark Di Ionno, from The Star-Ledger," I felt a heart race of pride. It was a physical effect.

    Each time I received a letter or email or, later, an appreciative comment on, I felt publicly validated. Each time a reader reached out with a problem to solve or a story to tell, I felt called upon to do something meaningful. There were thousands upon thousands of those communications over the years. Thank you all -- for reading, for reaching out, for your part in that telepathic relationship between writer and reader. I was blessed to have you all on the receiving end of my work.

    At Thanksgiving this year, I wrote a column about the practice of gratitude. Several of you sensed I was winding down and wondered if that was a farewell column. Let's say it was Part I, because when I look back on my career, all I can think is how grateful I am it unfolded this way.

    Mostly, I'm grateful for the all the friendships I made in this frenetic business, the bonds formed chasing stories, making deadlines and reflecting on whatever good it accomplished. There are too people to name. But over the years I have had mentors, and people I have mentored, people who were like big brothers and sisters to me, or I to them. We were a Star-Ledger family.

    When all is said and done, it's not the stories or awards that matter. It's the people I loved. And loved working with.  And loved talking with. I loved coming to the newsroom every day and still do. That's the hardest part of leaving.

    The recent evolution of this business is well-documented but, technology aside, media always has been a young person's business. It needs fresh eyes, fresh legs and fresh ideas. A smart man knows when to move over.

    Accepting that now allows me to evolve as a writer and make a greater investment in my novels. A theme of my most recent, "Gods of Wood & Stone," is about staying relevant. A retired ballplayer headed to the Hall of Fame feels lost and fears all he is, is who he was. The other main character, a Cooperstown blacksmith, fights to make history relevant in a sports- and celebrity-obsessed world. I know the feeling of both.

    Readers of this column know I used it to advocate for better promotion of New Jersey's under-appreciated Revolutionary War history. I'm especially thankful to have the opportunity and voice to do that.

    Thankful is the best word to sum up how I feel about my career. Lucky is the second-best word.

    Fresh out of the Navy, I was lucky to get Izenberg in a sports writing course at Rutgers-Newark, and he became my lifelong mentor. In appreciation, I dedicated my first novel, "The Last Newspaperman" to him.

    In a few short years, I, too, was a sports columnist at the New York Post.

    In New York, I was lucky to get to know Pete Hamill, and the world of a street columnist enticed me. I dreamed of that job, and eventually got it here, in my home state at my home paper.

    My former editor, Jim Willse, despite being a New Yorker, luckily appreciated my Jersey authenticity, in both knowledge and voice and gave me this space. His successor, Kevin Whitmer, let me keep it, through very tough times. I'm grateful to both.  

    My first column editor, David Tucker, and I were a high-wire act. A poet, he understood the cadence of language. He knew exactly what a column needed to sing but, like all great editors, also knew to get out the way and let me do the singing. Same for Rosemary Parrillo, who took over after David retired. I was lucky to have both.

    I'm grateful that my career here dates enough years to have worked for both Sid Dorfman and Mort Pye, the shoulders on which this paper's editorial legacy was built. I am the last person in the company to have worked for both. That's how much this place is in my DNA.

    It was Sid - he was always just "Sid" to the people who worked for him -- who helped me make the transition from sports to news by saying the magic words all journalists dream of.

    "Do what you want," he said. "Go out and find the stories and write them."

    I did that, the best I could.

    And there is one more piece of gratitude and luck I have to mention.

    When I came to work at The Star-Ledger in 1990, I got to learn so much about this crazy state of ours.

    It, too, became part of my DNA and I was determined to represent it, and its people, well. I covered New Jersey. I never seriously looked to go anywhere else. I wanted to end my journalism career at The Star-Ledger, New Jersey's greatest newspaper.

    And now I have.

    Mark Di Ionno may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MarkDiIonno or at

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    N.J. home makeover is a regular feature on that showcases designer, contractor and DIY renovations, large and small.

    N.J. home makeover is a regular feature on that showcases designer, contractor and DIY renovations, large and small. To submit your renovation for consideration, email with your full name, email address, phone number and town/city. Attach "before" and "after" photos of what you renovated.

    When Dillon Lawler and Tayor Daniels hit the stores on Black Friday in 2016, they weren't out to get an early start on Christmas shopping for their family and friends.

    The engaged couple had a kitchen renovation in mind, and they were window shopping to decide on the appliances they wanted.

    "I don't think we were ready to buy then," Dillon said. But, near year's end, they found themselves facing what they were told were the season's best prices. "We probably saved $2,000," he said. "The refrigerator was basically half price."

    Dillon, a scenic carpenter who builds sets for movies and television, planned to renovate the kitchen on his own. And he'd be working on deadline to finish the kitchen so they could move into their new home before their June wedding.

    They had closed on the three-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bathroom house days earlier. To accomplish their vision for the kitchen, a wall that separated it from the dining room would need to come down.

    They had an architect assess their ideas for the space.

    "I wanted someone to come in and say you will be okay if you remove this wall, your structure will be okay," Dillon said. "We wanted to take down the one wall because the original kitchen was very small."

    And dated.

    "The kitchen had all original cabinets, appliances and counter tops," Taylor said, describing their two-story 1937 Colonial. "It was also closed off to the rest of the house."

    But it offered access to many areas through multiple doors.

    For such a small space, there were five doors in kitchen, Dillon said. There was a door to the dining room, a door to the basement, a door to the garage, a door to a pantry closet, and a door to the backyard.

    "There were two doors in the back corner, one was a pantry closet and the other was an exterior door," Dillon said. "The pantry closet bumped out into the garage, and both of those doors were closed off to make room for more cabinetry."

    The pantry also would be knocked down to give them more garage space. With the wall taken down between the kitchen and the dining room, they have a door to the backyard from what had been the dining room.

    Their cabinet supplier helped them configure the new cabinetry layout to maximize kitchen storage, and Dillon's father helped with installation when the cabinets arrived.

    Over most of the six months he had to finish, Dillon was working full time.

    "It was basically another full time job on the weekends," he said of the kitchen project.

    When the show he was working on wrapped up in mid-April 2016, he devoted himself to the kitchen with a little more than a month's renovation time remaining.

    "We actually stayed with my parents who live right down the street," said Taylor, who works in real estate sales.

    While Dillon worked on the kitchen, she was painting rooms upstairs.

    With the exception of installation of their quartz counters and a new gas line that supports the kitchen range, Dillon did most of the work. He had some help from his father. One project challenge came with replacing the floor.

    "Originally, they had linoleum," Dillon said. "I ripped that up, and I found hardwood floors under it."

    The joy was shortlived.

    "It had a bunch of termite damage," he said. "When we were buying the house, we did see the termite damage, but what we could see wasn't that bad."

    Turns out the termite damage extended to the subfloor, and it had to be reinstalled. The new floor above it is red oak.

    "We tried to match the existing floors," Taylor said. "They had the floors all redone, and they looked amazing."

    Taylor wanted the kitchen to have a clean-lined timeless aesthetic. The couple selected their refrigerator and range from Samsung's black stainless collection to complement their color scheme and to avoid visible fingerprints from their toddler son. Their kitchen cabinets are painted a light gray, and the walls are a subtler shade.

    "We knew we wanted to stay neutral," Taylor said. "We knew we wanted gray cabinets and a white backsplash. To accent the gray cabinets and walls, they used gray grout between white subway tiles.

    This backsplash became a favorite feature of the kitchen, along with the peninsula-style island topped with a walnut butcher block top that Dillon oils regularly with a food-grade mineral oil.

    "The thing that worked out best is that it wasn't a problem if I changed my mind," Taylor said. "With the little things here and there, it's a lot easier to tell your future husband."

    With changes and challenges, Dillon managed to meet the project deadline without cutting any corners, his wife said.

    "We moved in a week before the wedding," he said. "Our wedding was June 2, and we moved in Memorial Day weekend."

    The one thing Dillon wishes he had done was to replace the kitchen window over the sink.

    "I don't like how small it is, and it is quite old," he said. "Looking back, since I had everything open, I think I would have done a bigger window. That's my only regret."

    What they renovated

    They combined the kitchen and dining room of a 1,200-square-foot 1937 Colonial in Cedar Grove.

    Who did the work

    Dillon Lawler, the homeowner, with some help from his father and hired professionals as needed.

    How long it took

    About six months, from December 2016 to May 2017

    What they spent

    About $14,000 for appliances, cabinetry, materials and installation of a new gas line.

    Where they splurged

    On cabinetry and quartz countertops that resemble marble. "Taylor really liked the marble look, but I liked the resiliance of quartz," Dillon Lawler said.

    How they saved

    Dillon did much of the work in the kitchen renovation, and they got their appliances on sale.

    What they did themselves

    Nearly everything

    What they like most

    The subway tile backsplash and the butcher block island

    What they'd have done differently

    They would have replaced the original window in the kitchen instead of refinishing it.

    Kimberly L. Jackson may be reached at Find Entertainment on Facebook.

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    Dogs and cat throughout New Jersey await adoption.

    If you're interested in helping homeless animals but aren't able to adopt one, there are a number of other ways you can be of assistance.

    Realistically, not everyone can adopt. People who live in apartments or developments that have no-pets policies fall into that category, as do people with allergies or disabilities that will not allow them to care for pets of their own. offers these suggestions for ways people who want to help can participate in caring for homeless animals.

    * Help out at a local shelter. It's not glamorous work by any means, but it's vital and will be very much appreciated. You can do anything from help walk dogs to bottle feed kittens, help clean kennels or cats' cages or even help with bathing and grooming. Contact your local shelter to find out their policies regarding volunteers.

    * If you're handy, you can lend a hand in many ways. Shelters usually need repairs of many kinds, so fixer-uppers can help out like that. If you sew, quilt or crochet, you can make blankets for your local shelter.

    * Help out at an adoption event. Many shelters and rescue groups participate in local events by hosting a table with pets available for adoption. They also hold these program at malls, pet supply stores and banks, and can always use a helping hand.

    * For galleries like this one and for online adoptions sites, often a shelter or rescue group doesn't have the time or equipment to shoot good photos of their adoptable pets. Something as simple as making yourself available to shoot and provide digital files of pet photos can be a big help.

    * Donate. It doesn't have to be money; shelters need cleaning supplies, pet food, toys for the animals and often even things we don't think twice about getting rid of like old towels and newspapers. Every little bit helps.

    If you don't know where your local animal shelter or rescue group is, a quick online search will reveal a number of results. It doesn't take a lot of time or effort to get involved but it provides immeasurable assistance.

    Greg Hatala may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GregHatala. Find Greg Hatala on Facebook.

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    Millville is home to the nation's largest holly orchard.

    By now, holiday music has been playing on the radio and in stores for weeks. Some people can't get enough; others can't wait until it's over.

    xmas1962vineland2.jpgLisa Hatala ready to rock out on her brand new Schroeder piano in 1964. 

    There was a time when it was almost an obligation for a top-selling artist to release a Christmas-themed single or album.

    Sometimes, it didn't represent the artist's best work. Esquire magazine ran an article in 2016 that included one writer's list of the worst Christmas songs of all time (by well-known artists, that is). The list includes "Wonderful Christmas Time" (Paul McCartney and Wings), "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" (Bruce Springsteen) and "Oh Holy Night" (Christina Aguilera).

    How about the best? We'd have to base that on sales, and music sales have become a lot less simple to count.

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    There was a time when sales simply meant the number of records purchased; now, with the internet, things have had to change. There are downloads instead of straight purchases and then there's streaming - according to new parameters set by the Recording Industry Association of America, for example, 150 streams of a song equals one paid download.

    So with that in mind, here are the top 10 Christmas songs of all time through 2017, according to Billboard:

    10.  "Last Christmas" (Wham!) 1984

    9.  "White Christmas" (Bing Crosby) 1943

    8.  "Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)" (Trans-Siberian Orchestra) 1996

    7.  "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" (Andy Williams) 1963

    6.  "A Holly Jolly Christmas" (Burl Ives) 1964

    5.  "Feliz Navidad" (Jose Feliciano) 1970

    4.  "Jingle Bell Rock" (Bobby Helms) 1956

    3.  "The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You)" (Nat King Cole) 1953

    2.  "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" (Brenda Lee) 1964

    1.  "All I Want for Christmas Is You" (Mariah Carey) 1994

    Here's a gallery of New Jerseyans celebrating Christmas through the years. And here are links to more Christmas galleries you might enjoy.

    Vintage N.J. Christmas photos

    Vintage photos of celebrating Christmas in N.J.

    More vintage photos of celebrating Christmas in N.J.

    Greg Hatala may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GregHatala. Find Greg Hatala on Facebook.

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    Pets throughout New Jersey await adoption at shelters and rescues.

    Better Homes and Gardens ( has some sound advice if you've ever felt the impulse to by a pet for the holidays.

    "Adding a pet to the family is a long-term commitment. It's a decision that needs input from everyone who would care for the animal. That's why pets should not be given as holiday gifts.

    The scene has been replayed so often in popular culture that it has come to symbolize the holidays as much as tinsel and candy canes: A shopper, with freshly wrapped packages bulging out of two different bags, casually walks by a pet store window as the snow falls gently around her. The puppies behind the glass, all floppy ears and paws, madly scramble over each other trying to capture the shopper's attention. The temptation is too great. The shopper whisks into the store and impulsively purchases an animal for her beloved.

    This season, many shoppers will buy a dog or cat to give to a friend or loved one. Their motivations can be as varied as the snowflake: Some will buy an animal on impulse, some because they're caught up in the spirit of the season, and some just because the doggie looks so darn cute in the pet shop window.

    None of them is the right reason to add a new pet to the family.

    Adding a pet to the family is a serious, long-term commitment. It's a decision that needs input from everyone who would be involved in caring for the animal. What type of animal would have a personality most compatible with a person or family? Who would be the primary caregiver of the pet? How much will it cost to feed and provide veterinary care? Who would look after the animal during trips? Could someone be allergic to the pet?

    Instead of buying a puppy or kitten as a gift, consider waiting to adopt a pet after the holidays. You could give a loved one a "gift certificate" from a local shelter, or a snapshot of a shelter pet, or even a stuffed animal representing a shelter pet-all which can be used as "passports" to adopt an animal later. This not only promotes responsible adoption, but provides a little fun, too.

    After the holidays, if your loved ones decide they are indeed willing and able to adopt a pet, you can bring them down to the local shelter where they can use their 'passport' to adopt their new friend.

    The alternative to this scenario can be sadder than the Island of Misfit Toys."

    Greg Hatala may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GregHatala. Find Greg Hatala on Facebook.

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    "You don't take a photograph, you make it." -- Ansel Adams

    I'm pretty sure I wasn't alone in giving a mental thumbs up to the TV screen when watching one of the installments in Rocket Mortgage's "Lingo" commercial series.

    In the installment, a couple is in an art gallery near a man who offers his interpretation of a painting of a gray dot. "And here we see the artist making an attempt to bare his soul," he says with emotion ... after which Keegan-Michael Key pops in behind the couple and translates for them: "It's just a gray dot."

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    So, as the cliche says, art is in the eye of the beholder. And, it occurs to me -- someone who has combed through thousands and thousands of photographs shot by folks who do not consider themselves artists -- it's sad to think of all of the gallery-worthy art that will never be pondered. In the genre of photography, I can't possibly be the first person to think that if you took the work of everyday people -- those not considered artists -- and hung their pictures in galleries, art would be on display.

    We see photos taken by everyday people that, intentionally or not, mirror many of the things that we've been told make for great art. Here, we're providing a gallery of beautiful photos taken in New Jersey that are more than just gray dots.

    And here are some other vintage photo galleries you might enjoy.

    The vintage N.J. photos that touched us in 2017

    More vintage N.J. photos that are works of art

    Even more vintage photos from N.J. that are works of art

    Greg Hatala may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GregHatala. Find Greg Hatala on Facebook.

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    Consider a new pet in the new year from a shelter or rescue.

    Here is this week's collection of some of the dogs and cats in need of adoption in New Jersey.

    If you're considering a new pet in 2019, think about adopting from one of these or the scores of other shelters and rescues throughout the state.

    We are now accepting dogs and cats to appear in the gallery from nonprofit shelters and rescues throughout New Jersey. If a group wishes to participate in this weekly gallery on, please contact Greg Hatala at

    Greg Hatala may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GregHatala. Find Greg Hatala on Facebook.

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    "Get your motor runnin', head out on the highway."

    Asphalt is a naturally occurring building material found in both asphalt lakes and in rock asphalt (a mixture of sand, limestone, and asphalt).

    According to the National Asphalt Pavement Association, the first recorded use of asphalt as a road building material was in Babylon around 615 BC, in the reign of King Nabopolassar. Its first appearance as a historical marvel in popular literature might be in Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House on the Prairie" when she wrote about arriving in Topeka, Kansas:

    "In the very midst of the city, the ground was covered by some dark stuff that silenced all the wheels and muffled the sound of hoofs. It was like tar, but Papa was sure it was not tar, and it was something like rubber, but it could not be rubber because rubber cost too much. We saw ladies all in silks and carrying ruffled parasols, walking with their escorts across the street. Their heels dented the street, and while we watched, these dents slowly filled up and smoothed themselves out. It was as if that stuff were alive. It was like magic."

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    New Jersey, first in so many things when it comes to things we sometimes take for granted, was also part of a first for asphalt. In 1870, Belgian chemist Edmund DeSmedt laid the first true asphalt pavement in the Unites States in front of the City Hall in Newark.

    NAPA notes that today asphalt covers more than 94 percent of the paved roads in the United States.

    Here's a look at street scenes from throughout New Jersey, many on roads paved in asphalt. And here are links to other galleries you might enjoy.

    More vintage photos of N.J. street scenes

    More vintage photos of streets and roads in N.J.

    More vintage photos of street scenes in N.J.

    Greg Hatala may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GregHatala. Find Greg Hatala on Facebook.

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    Dogs and cats throughout New Jersey await adoption.

    The year 2018 is over, but the drive to 'Clear the Shelters' goes on.

    'Clear the Shelters' is an annual pet adoption drive sponsored by NBC- and Telemundo-owned television stations across the country. More than 91,900 pets were adopted since the 2018 event was launched in July, over 26,000 on August 18 alone. By year's end, a total of 102,686 pets found homes as part of the drive.

    The program began in North Texas in 2014 as a partnership among the NBC and Telemundo stations in Dallas-Fort Worth and dozens of North Texas animal shelters. More than 2,200 homeless animals were adopted that first year, the most in a single day in North Texas.

    The need remains great to find homes for the millions of homeless animals in the United States. The number of animals entering shelters each year is about 6.5 million, 3.3 million dogs and 3.2 million cats, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Though the number has declined from about 7.2 million in 2011, with the biggest drop in the number of dogs, approximately 1.5 million shelter animals end up being euthanized each year.

    On the happier side, about 3.2 million shelter animals are adopted annually and another 710,000 are returned to their owners.

    Clear the Shelters began in North Texas in 2014 as a partnership among the NBC and Telemundo stations in Dallas-Fort Worth and dozens of North Texas animal shelters. More than 2,200 homeless animals were adopted that first year, the most in a single day in North Texas.

    For more information, go to

    Greg Hatala may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GregHatala. Find Greg Hatala on Facebook.

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    The "Theatre of Terror" features four short films directed by local filmmaker Tom Ryan.

    In the two years it's taken for production company Theatre of Terror to toil away on their eponymous anthology feature, anthology horror has continued a resurgence that makes the film's premiere Saturday, Jan. 12 at the historic Loew's Theater in Jersey City perfect timing.

    In a vein reminiscent of the "Twilight Zone," the "Theatre of Terror" features four short films directed by local filmmaker Tom Ryan. Influenced by horror TV that also includes "The Outer Limits" and "Tales from the Dark Side," Ryan is careful to point out that, while this anthology's four films have a degree of social commentary, "Theatre of Terror" is mostly in the character-study mold of those shows. "I think we focus on that a lot more than making a broader statement," Ryan said. 

    The four films consist of "The Gift," about a scorned mother who meets a stranger willing to do whatever it takes to be reunited with the family she's estranged from; "The Bookworm" is the story of a young man getting more than he bargained for when he purchases an old library with his inheritance; "Abducted" is a country bumpkin's obsession with an alien encounter changing his life forever; and in "Endangered," three radical activists trying to save endangered wolves find themselves facing something much more dangerous.

    The Bloomfield-based production company made sure all four films were shot in the state. "I was born and raised in Jersey City," Ryan said. "I've been living in Bloomfield for maybe the past 15 years or so, but I still work with Jersey City actors and locations, and we actually shot part of our film at the Loew's. I premiered a feature film I did called 'Faces' in 2014 (there). That film was shot all over Jersey City, so I like to return to the town where I grew up."

    Ryan said he didn't want to write scripts for something that was beyond the capability of the Theatre of Terror team to shoot, "so we basically tried to keep the story within reach of a lot of the locations, and we actually got some really fantastic locations for these "100 percent Jersey-shot" stories.

    "As far as the first film, we needed an antique shop, and that was a place that we shot in Bloomfield: a small ma and pa antique shop that was just perfect and creepy. ... For our second film, we needed a mansion and we needed a library. I reached out to the town of Bloomfield, and there was a mansion called the Oakside Manor, and it's an old colonial that was beautiful and perfect. I told them I was a local filmmaker, and they were great about working with me and letting me shoot in there."

    "I also shot in the Glen Ridge Public Library," Ryan said. "I scouted six or seven libraries, and it was the only one that still had kind of a classical wooden shelf, rows, staircase, wooden trims and everything, as opposed to these more updated libraries which are a lot of metal racks and they're not as comfortable and as picturesque as Glen Ridge was."

    Friends of the production team happened to have a house out in the woods that fit the third film, said Ryan. He found everything he needed for the fourth film in Branchville. "I found this picturesque diner, and I reached out to the owner, and she let us shoot on her property. And I wound up meeting Mayor Anthony Frato, and he got some locals out, and they wound up being in the film."

    Theatre of Terror team-members Louis Libitz and Michael Beck grew up in Jersey City and still live there. Ryan said they all went to the Loew's Theatre when it was still fully functioning, and he loves to share his work among the historic architecture the Friends of the Loew's have renovated.

    Doors open at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 12 for the 8 p.m. screening of "Theatre of Terror" at the Loew's Jersey Theatre, 54 Journal Square, in Jersey City. The first 100 people in the door get a free movie poster. Purchasing tickets online gets the buyer a chance to win a copy of "Theatre of Terror" on Blu-Ray.  

    Check out Theatre of Terror's Facebook page to learn more about the company's troupe who are on and off the screen, and check out Ryan's film "Faces" on Amazon Prime Video.

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    When you least expect it ....

    What's a "candid" photo? Pretty much anything that hasn't been staged. By "staged," I can mean anything from a publicity photo to a group shot of family all standing in the same pose.


    Why do we like candid photos so much? A friend of mine explained it, and I can't possibly do any better:

    "There is something compelling about pictures where the subjects don't know they are being photographed. A sort of invitation into a moment in time unfettered by vanity or awareness that just captures a split second of life."

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    And even when the subjects are aware of the camera, simply going about living and enjoying life make these photos priceless.

    Always one of our most popular galleries, here are split seconds of life from New Jersey's past, with a few classic photobombs thrown in for good measure.

    And here are link to other similar galleries you'll enjoy.

    Vintage candid photos from N.J.

    Vintage N.J. candid photos

    Vintage candid photos in N.J.

    Greg Hatala may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GregHatala. Find Greg Hatala on Facebook.

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    Consider a shelter dog or cat for your next pet.

    Petfinder -- an online, searchable database of adoptable animals -- compiled a list of common misconceptions about pet adoption in the hopes that if myths are debunked, more people will adopt dogs and cats from shelters and rescues.

    "I don't know what I'm getting."

    There is likely more information available on adoptable animals than pets for purchase in pet stores. Many of the pets from rescue groups are in foster care, living with their fosterer 24/7; information on their personality and habits is typically vast. Even shelters have a very good idea about how the dogs and cats in their care behave with people and other animals.

    "I can't find what I want at a shelter."

    Not only are their breed-specific rescue groups, but some rescues and shelters maintain waiting lists for specific breeds. There are even means on to be notified when certain breeds are posted for adoption.

    "I can get a pet for free from a friend or acquaintance; why pay an adoption fee?"

    The "free pet" from a source other than a shelter or rescue group isn't necessarily free. Adoption fees usually cover a number of services and treatments including spay/neuter and veterinary checkups. Covering these costs on your own would call for spending the following estimated amounts:

    * Spay/neuter: $150-$300
    * Distemper vaccination: $20-$30, twice
    * Rabies vaccination: $15-$25
    * Heartworm test: $15-$35
    * Flea/tick treatment: $50-$200
    * Microchip: $25-$50

    "Pets are in shelters because they don't make good pets."

    Here are the main reasons animals end up in shelters or with rescue groups:

    * Owners have to move, pets not allowed
    * Allergies
    * Owner having personal problems
    * Too many, no room for littermates
    * Owner can no longer afford a pet
    * Owner's health does not allow for pet care

    While no one can say that every pet adopted from a shelter or rescue will work out perfectly, it's important to remember that misinformation about these homeless animals often keeps them from finding loving homes.

    Greg Hatala may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GregHatala. Find Greg Hatala on Facebook.

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