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  • Susan Welsh

These are a few of my favorite things. . .


I collect snowglobes and paper weights-- microcosms of magical worlds where glitter and lights and bubbles create dreamscapes, encapsulate nostalgia, and hint at possibilities. Today, as the snow swirls around the pines and blizzard-grade winds literally howl outside, I feel like I'm living inside one of my globes.

I've struggled for over a week for a theme for this week's blog. I was thinking Champagne, afterall Steph just gave me Peter Liem's gorgeous book: Champagne: The Essential Guide to the Wines, Producers, and Terroirs of the Iconic Region for Christmas. It's a beautiful, must-have book for any Champagne aficionado and a treasure by any book-lover's standards. I haven't yet read it cover-to-cover but that's only because the bulk of my reading time has been dedicated to the haunting, unique, and soul-provoking novel, Lincoln in the Bardo. With 166 characters and an audio book that includes the voices of a dizzying cast of celebs including husband and wife Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally, plus a multitude of other talents like Carrie Brownstein, Lena Dunham, Ben Stiller, Julianne Moore, Susan Sarandon, Kat Dennings. I plan to listen to the audio after I read the book (that's how much I'm intiuged by it!) and I can't pass a cemetery these days without thinking about how one day I may also find myself "skim-walking" around with other apparitions in other-worldy navigation and rumination.

This is a book that has me thinking more about the Civil War than I have since high school history class, visiting the Hall of Presidents at Disney or reading about Lincoln's assassin, John Wilkes Booth, in the Washington DC Newseum. It's also a book that triggers my already neurotic anxiety loop, going round and round questioning the way I choose to pass every precious second on this earth, breathlessly pursuing my dreams and holding fast to the love I have for Steph, Scout, family, friends. How much time do I spend reading, writing, actually out in the world "living"? How much time have I wasted doing. . .(no, don't even go there because dwelling on the woulda', coulda', shoulda' is not being "present"). Endless loop, endless noise, endless angst.

In grappling with theme and deciding, finally, to just freefall into whatever thoughts may click onto the next slide of this mindstream carousel, I reminisce through this year's photos, captured and held on my Twitter, Facebook and Instagram feeds, threads, timelines, posts. . .

Here, a year of favorite things in 2017. The year I was "Hammersteined"--beginning with a beautiful morning spent at Highland Farm, birthplace of Oscar Hammerstein's incomparable lyrics and, channeled through the lovely, mellifluous voice styling of Doreen Taylor. Now I've been blessed with the honor of documenting the journey of the project to restore and preserve the legacy of Oscar and his work through the Hammerstein Center. A dream writing gig if ever there was one!

Doreen Taylor sings the lyrics of Oscar Hammerstein in the room where he wrote them

Will Hammerstein giving "thumbs up" for preservation of Highland Farm

PLUS, three shows on Broadway this year! God bless the "time flexibility" my new career has freed me to enjoy. Beginning with Cats, my niece's birthday gift and her first show on Broadway. I had seen it at least a few times in the past, but this song, which I first heard in my 20's taking on new resonance in my 50's. The words will get me----Every. Single. Time.

SPRINGSTEEN ON BROADWAY

First time I've EVER seen Bruce on stage. Read the memoir and perhaps should have done it the other way around. He was amazing as one would expect. My heart stopped when he came on stage. Then he spoke the words I had read and it became clear--this is a Broadway show, not a concert. Excellence of musicality. Excellence of storytelling, but there is a difference. More restraint, less spontaneity. Memorable, full gratitude for the experience, but it may have cured me of the desire to ever spend that much money again on a ticket for anything, especially under the guise that it was a limited engagement which appears to keep expanding proportional to sales revenue.

BEAUTIFUL

For my money the best number was "It's Too Late" perfectly capturing the vibe in transition from New Jersey Suburbia to bohemian Laurel Canyon, California. The change in coast is palpable. The East Coast/West Coast transition is real. It's captured in this song. There is something about the palm trees and the sunsets and the Pacific that get in your blood and become formative. My four years in Malibu were like that and will always define me for the influence and the sensory and cultural ways Cali if so different from Jersey.

FARM TO TABLE

With the advent of Ferry Market in New Hope and the continued success of Stockton Farm Market, we River town dwellers have been blessed with better options for eating. A few of my favorites--

Tom SciaScia of SciaScia Confections

You'll want to try one of everything, but my favorites are his dark chocolate bars with cashews and (as mentioned in a previous post) his Dutch Baby dark-chocolate covered pretzels, limited production and an item I'm constantly reminding him I'm there to buy. Just assume chocolate is one of the major food groups. Like champagne, I think the mere existence of it in our world is to make us happy.

anything and everything from these two guys!

Lima Fusion

Jack Egoavil, co-owner and manager

I love all the cebiches, and I'm there for vegetable arepas at least once a week. The entire staff is friendly, and genuinely enthusiastic about the delicious Latin American fusion food they're creating.

Alex Talbot of curiosity doughnuts

I've said it before and I'll say it again--Joie de Vivre and Donuts equals wild joy and this guy brings it! His creations may be single-handedly responsible for the extra five pounds concentrated around my waistline and a significant upswing in my cholesterol. Is it worth it? HELLS YES. But on that note I am cooling it on the sweets for a few months, just to get back to fighting weight.

Of course, buying this marvelous book of decadent desserts won't make the dieting any easier, but if you're a lover of sweets this is another must-have on the shelf. From a true dessert genius, Stella Parks. Talk about a double feature. She showed up for a book signing alongside donuts! Follow her at Brave Tart and treat yourself to a feast of fascinating food history, amazing photographs, and decadently delicious recipes from someone who is passionately obsessed, gifted, and on my list of food goddesses I admire and worship.

Stella Parks and Sushi

Simply the best. Zach and Zoe honey. . .

Stay tuned. Next on my list of favorite things, an homage to New Hope, history and culture-- past and present. . .until the next blog, I raise a toast to good eating, drinking and loving. Happy 2018.


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