Thursday, July 31, 2008

News Update

Two very interesting stories just came across my desk, so here's an addition to yesterday's "News from Around the South Jersey Shore:

1. Two former "Borgata Babes" have won a lawsuit against the Borgata in a sex discrimination lawsuit to the tune of $70 million. I remember when this first hit the media -- I had just started freelancing and was writing an article about a $50 hamburger sold at the Borgata's Old Homestead Restaurant. The job had a weight-limit policy where you could get fired if you gained more than seven percent of your body weight. Borgata folks were all "oh, they're making a big deal over nothing, ha ha, disgruntled workers, blah blah blah." Oh, really? It sounded pretty dodgy to me (and smacked of Mad Men-esque gender treatment). I'd considered going undercover and seeing what it was really like working as a Borgata Babe, but the marketing people already knew me, so I don't think I could have gotten through. I'm not saying I agree with a $70 million payout, but, well, karma works in mysterious ways. Read the full report here.

2. Michael Wax was kicked out of the Borgata because he stunk, and he's not happy about it. Why'd he stink? Because he played poker for 17 hours straight.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: AC is one strange place.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

News from Around the South Jersey Shore

Jeepers, it's the fuzz! I feel compelled to say that every time I hear about a bank robbery.

What do YOU suggest to do in Wildwood?

Here's a nice article about shopping in Stone Harbor.

Ooooo...electric vehicles in Cape May.

Remember all that lightening on Sunday? It hit a rookie lifeguard in Cape May (he's OK).

Peter Max is having a show in Stone Harbor until August 3.

The Stone Harbor Bird Sanctuary now has its own bracelet.

Surfing's more expensive.

Super cute family photos from Stone Harbor!

Any Yardley-based readers? Here's one of your down in Sea Isle City.

The Radio Disney concert was TWO HOURS LATE?! Jeez, these divas start early.

And here some Wildwood pictures.

The Baltimore Sun's take on the Chelsea.

Youch: one of those banner planes crashed.

My friends from The Silence will be playing on Friday night in Ocean City as part of The Art of Surfing festival. I'll write more about this later, but if you're going to be in the area, mark it on your calendar now :-)

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August Events

Exciting news! I have two big events in August that I would normally wait until next week to tell you about, but, what the heck, they're too much fun.

On August 6, I will be a judge at the Miss Crustacean Hermit Crab Beauty Pageant in Ocean City. Oh, yes, you've really reached the pinnacle of local celebrity when the challenge of picking the fairest beauty of them from a field of pampered crabs. There's a lot at stake, too -- a grand prize of $35 and the Cucumber Rind Cup. “The excitement is palatable,” exclaimed Mark Soifer, founder of the Miss Crustacean Pageant and president of NASCRAB (The National Association of Crab Activities at the Beach) told the Cape May County Herald. My heart is already racing. If that's not enough, check out the hermit crab race held after the pageant. Sure to rival NASCAR.

On August 9, I will be helping to kick off the Brendan Borek High Tides Memorial Fund week with a book signing at Pale Moon Boutique in Avalon. 100% of the proceeds from the book signing are going to Brendan's Fund. Yes, I said 100%, so if you haven't gotten your copy or want to buy some for Christmas gifts, that would be the time (though if you plan on buying -- say -- 30 books that Saturday, please do let me know so I can make sure to bring enough!)

It's a great organization -- they give financial assistance to families who have a child with cancer. They pay for everything from travel expenses to Philadelphia for doctors appointments; groceries; rent and mortgage; back to school supplies. If you can't make it to the signing, there's a whole week of events -- the entire line up is here.

Exciting stuff! See, I told you I had some good events lined up for August. I'll also be taking a vacation (so I say -- it's hard not to work while I'm there) from August 9-12 (and, yes, I'm still hoping for a longer stay in September [that's for my mom and dad who think I work too much). Expect a lot of pictures!

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Monday, July 28, 2008

New Feature! New Feature!

Almost as soon as I started this blog, I've been part of the Amazon Affiliate Program, which means you can buy my book directly from my site via that cute little box on the left hand side of the screen.

Now you can book rooms in Atlantic City! There's a little section on the left hand side of the screen that says "Going to AC? Book Your Room Here!" It'll take you to a fab site where you can search rooms in all of Atlantic City's hotels (so if you want to go next weekend and don't know where to stay, you can search everyone at the same time).

Just another added bonus to checking out Down the Shore with Jen!

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

How to Pick a Jersey Peach

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I visited the Gloucester County 4H Fair and Peach Festival. This is how a peach festival is related to the shore: when you drive down the Atlantic City Expressway, Route 55 or whatever backroads your family's been taking since before you were born, you're driving through farms. One of my favorite shore travel memories is stopping at roadside stands on the way to the shore (backroads of course). My mom would get fresh blueberries, fresh peaches and fresh sweet corn that she'd cook up that night. One summer, my mom got an entire basket of peaches. They were bigger than my fist and dripped with juice. Imagine my disappointment then, a few months later, biting into a California peach. Yick.

In another branch of my freelance life, I write about sustainable living and food. I'm a regular at the Collingswood Farmer's Market, and during the summer, I rarely go to the supermarket. I try to buy as much as I can there, including breads, meats and cheeses, and this is the perfect time for it. It seems everything's in season. I can't wait for the upcoming Farm to Fork week where local restaurants are doing special menus using local foods (I'm coming to GET you on Monday, Nunzio's!) For more information on that promotion, click here. For more info on Jersey peaches, click here.

Anyway, that's why I was so excited to go to the peach festival. And, of course, I took pictures.

Behold, the Peach Queen:

This is Tara Weeast, the current NJ Peach Queen. She'll pass on her crown tonight at the festival. She's super sweet (bad pun, I know, but she really is a nice young lady).

If you've shopped supermarket peaches, you'll probably see two choices: white and yellow. There's actually hundreds of varieties -- they all come into season at different times. Nectarines are technically peaches, too, just without the fuzz. Here's some varieties:

There's also a peach judging competition:

Tom Budd of the Barnsboro Inn made a lovely salad with peaches as the main event:

It's a simple recipe, but so very good: fresh ripe jersey peaches, mixed field greens, grilled chicken breast, pancetta and/or proscuitto, bleu cheese cumbles, toasted almonds and dressing of blueberry merlot balsamic vinaigrette. Divine! You can get it at the restaurant -- the Barnsboro Inn is part of a group of Jersey restaurants adding peaches into their meals for the month of August.

Then I put on my journalist hat and toured a peach packing facility, which takes peaches from all over and packs and ships them. I'm not even going to try to explain each step, but when they're picked is important to know. A peach ripens on the branch. After it's taken all its sugars from the tree, it can still sit on the vine and get really ripe and squishy. That's not always good for packing. So when the color's good and showing that the peach has taken all the sugar it's going to take (being red doesn't mean it's ripe -- the background color should be golden yellow and now green), it's picked and send for packing. It's a little firmer at this point, which makes it easier to pack. From picking to store takes about three days -- by then, when they show up in the market, they're ready to eat.

Here's some pictures of the packing facility:

It had this whole Reading Rainbow vibe to it -- very cool to go behind the scenes.

These are the peaches in my kitchen, though they didn't come from the packing plant but from a farmer who'd picked them that day -- the best way to get them if you can.

Lots you can do with peaches. I'm baking a fun dessert today (more below). There's peach bread, peach tart, peach preserves, peach cider and peach wine. Everything's at the festival except for the wine -- I picked that up at Heritage Station on the way home.
But the fair wasn't all about peaches. There's farm animals, too.



Someone get Cute Overload on the phone:

Insert Ryan Howard joke here:

A three-year-old boy tried to sell me this mini horse. I don't think my dog would approve:

It was a fun day in the (not too hot) sun. The farmers say that peach season should run through mid-September this year -- it's been good weather wise for the crop. I'm going to freeze some to give me a splash of summer this upcoming winter.

If you want to learn more about eating seasonally (e.g. how to make the most of strawberry season; blueberry season; fall's harvest, etc.), I recommend picking up How to Pick a Peach: The Search for Flavor from Farm to Table by Russ Parsons. It's not just about peaches but arranged by season, so it offers advice on how to pick and cook produce per time of the year. It's opened my eyes to the kinds of foods I can get, eat, prepare and savor from local farms. I've been swapping for ingredients, too. Eco-PR gal extrodinare Paige Wolf had extra beets from this week's CSA delivery, so I swapped her some peaches for beets and basil. I don't think a beet's ever seen the inside of my kitchen, but I'm trying a recipe for them from Parsons' book. I'll report back.

Fruit season couldn't come at a better time, at least for me. I've hit some snags in the last few weeks, both personally and professionally. I have a few ways of ironing out the kinks. One is running (I'll see y'all at the Bridge Run and the half marathon of the Philly Marathon this fall). The other is baking. So last weekend I used fresh Jersey blueberries to make a Blueberry Boy Bait; fresh blueberries, peaches and blackberries (OK, with some bananas) for a wonderful fruit salad; and this afternoon, I'm making Sour Cream Peach Kuchen, a recipe from Sonsie, a restaurant and wine bar that calls the Pier at Caesars home. The recipe is below. I think by taking my mind out of my immediate head and focusing it on something else (the run, the recipe), my mind works out some problems on its own. I wouldn't be the writer I am today without running. It's been a major boost for my health and my work life.

Also, you might have noticed that I haven't been down the shore too much lately. Those bumps in the road have something to do with it, and I'm plain ol' tired from running back and forth to the shore of over a year now. I'm cooking up some good events in August, and it looks like I'll be taking a September vacation down the shore -- my favorite time to go. Until then, here's the recipe!

Sour Cream Peach Kuchen from Sonsie in Atlantic City

3 cups all purpose flour
1¼ c sugar, divided use
½ t baking powder
¼ t salt
1 c butter
5 white peaches (peeled and sliced)
5 yellow peaches (peeled and sliced)
1 t ground cinnamon


4 egg yolks
2 c sour cream
2 T sugar
¼ T ground cinnamon

Preparation - kuchen:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 13x9- inch baking dish.

In a bowl, combine the flour, ¼ cup sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press onto bottom and 1-inch up sides of prepared baking dish.

Arrange peaches over crust. Combine cinnamon and remaining sugar. Sprinkle over peaches.

Bake at 400 Degrees for 15 minutes.

Preparation - topping:

In a bowl, combine egg yolks and sour cream. Spread evenly over peaches.
Combine sugar and cinnamon, sprinkle over the top.
Bake 30-35 minutes longer or until golden.
Serve warm or cold.

**Update** The Sour Cream Peach Kuchen was the hit of dinner last night. It was relatively easy to make, too, so I highly recommend!

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Your Shore Weekend

Weather's supposed to be gorgeous at the Jersey Shore this weekend. I was trying to sneak out today for some beach time, but my brothers are coming in from NYC and DC, so I'll be staying local.

In any case, here's what's going on:

PEACH FESTIVAL! OK, the Gloucester County 4H Fair and Peach Festival isn't quite at the Jersey Shore, but it is on the way if you take Route 55 to the shore. I visited yesterday (and if I hadn't dropped my camera and had to use my mom's then realize I didn't have the right cables, there would be pictures on the blog -- I hope to put them up by Monday), and had tons of fun. Information's here. If you can't get to the festival, look out for those roadside stands selling produce. It's prime peach season. And try to get a pit popper. I picked one up yesterday, and it takes care of that peach pit problem.

Aretha Franklin's performing at the Borgata tonight.

Also tonight Donna Summer at Caesars and Gov't Mule at the House of Blues. Summer is also playing on Saturday night.

Fan of The King? Then check out tonight's Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest at Resorts.

Whoopi Goldberg will be at Harrah's on Saturday (on a sad note, George Carlin was scheduled to perform Saturday night as well -- RIP).

PAULA DEAN! She'll be putting mayonnaise into every recipe possible at Caesars on Sunday.

Cahal Dunne’s Grand To Be Irish Show is in Ocean City tonight.

Saturday in Ocean City is the 44th Annual Miss Hemisphere Pageant.

It's War at the Shore time in Sea Isle City. No, not real war -- it's a rugby tournament. (And if you missed it yesterday, here's my video about Sea Isle City -- also lots of info about Wawa)

In Avalon, there's two reggae concerts on Saturday, one at noon and one at 7pm.

Wildwood's hosting an Ultimate Frisbee tournament this weekend.

If you've got kids (or are a kid at heart), there's a Radio Disney Concert in Wildwood on Saturday.

And in Cape May, check out the Captain Kidd hunt on Saturday and Sunday.

Oh, and it's shark week:

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Down the Shore with Jen: Sea Isle City

Gotta love Wawa.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Best of the Best This Year

Saturday was my birthday -- big day. And today I'm celebrating another milestone: Down the Shore with Jen is one year old.

I started the blog not with a bang, but with a bowl. July 23, 2007 was a very gloomy day (not unlike the weather outside my window). It reminded me of similar days down the shore when I was a kid when my mom would take me and my siblings to the Showboat in Atlantic City to go bowling. It was a great thing to do on a blah day (and, unfortunately, the bowling alley there is no longer in operation), so I wanted to share with others that suggestion. Here's that post.

I didn't know what would happen with the blog when I started, and I picked "Down the Shore with Jen" on a lark. I knew it could be a good way to get the word out about my book, but I really started it as a way to share my experiences about writing a book, and about the shore. I was processing so much information in such a short period of time that I needed an outlet for sharing those things. I never expected the blog to take off like it did, or for people to come up to me at events saying "You're Down the Shore with Jen!" -- and to have all you fine folks following along with my adventures.

So here's an extra treat for you. I've gone back through a year of posts, laughing, smirking, and and at least one point, throwing my hands over my eyes and go "the horror!" It's been a fun morning -- reading back through posts about book process was quite a flashback.

Here's my favorites from the last year:

10. Doo Dah, Doo Dah (April 28, 2008): How could you not love dogs in costume? This was my post about Ocean City's Doo Dah Parade. Very silly. Very fun.

9. Built to Last (August 5, 2007): I wrote about...sweatshirts. Yup, sweatshirts, but for good reason. A lot of people buy a shore-themed sweatshirt as a souvenir. I've had my share, and wanted to tell people where they could go for items that would last more than one winter. It also spawned a long running joke with Jack Wright, publisher of Exit Zero, because he says the sweatshirt in the picture is ugly. I disagree. I think it's neat.

8. Down the Shore with Jen and Em (November 19, 2007): This was the first time I made a trip to the shore and kept the blog in mind, hence the pictures. This trip also inspired a piece I wrote in Cool Cape May, one of the best things I've written in the last year.

7. I Feel Pretty (February 19, 2008): One of the most popular posts on the blog! I wanted a knock out dress for my book launch party, so I asked you, the readers, to help. I didn't buy any of these dresses (here's pictures from the party so you can see what I wore), but it was fun hearing what you had to say.

6. The Boardwalk, a Race, and one Stuffed Blue Pig (March 31, 2008): This was my post about the weekend surrounding the Ocean Drive 10 Miler, which is the longest race I've ever run. It's also about a shore waking up from its winter slumber. I was so happy about finishing that race, and so proud that I didn't require immediate medical attention when it was over, and I think this post shows that.

5. Blast from the Shore Past (March 4, 2008): My mom cleaned out her attic and came across a lot of stuff from my shore childhood. It was a lot of fun to write about, and remember things I had forgotten (or tired to forget -- take your pick).

4. How to Have an Upcake Party (February 11, 2008): I love Upcakes -- obvious if you've read the blog. But this post really cemented it for me that they're a great product, and that the people who make them are wonderful. I coordinated the party with the folks from Dixie Picnic, and it worked so well that I had Upcakes for my birthday on Saturday. I was thrilled to be able to take Upcakes with me on the NBC 10! show. I'm not an egomaniac in that I think I can make or break a product, but I do know I gave this small restaurant in Ocean City at least some sort of boost, and this post was the start of that.

3. January at the Jersey Shore (January 18, 2008): I love the shore in the off season (post-Labor Day, here I come!), so when I took a trip down in January, I photographed my journey and created one of my favorite posts. The shore doesn't lose its gloss just because it's too cold to go in the water. In some ways, it shines brighter.

2. Today's Floods Down the Shore (May 12, 2008): When I headed down the shore on May 12, I didn't know that I was driving into a late season Nor'Easter. I had to do an interview and get food for my book launch party. I did neither and ended up reporting on a wicked May storm. I had just signed up for twitter, too, and found a lot of readers by twittering about the storm. The experience was exhausting, but I'll admit: it was a rush. I debated about which post to put for number two -- the pictures from the storm or the aftermath. The storm pictures are more powerful, I think.

1. The Aftermath (September 4, 2007): The post I wrote the day I sent my manuscript to the publisher. I kept a tally of how my behaviors changed in the last month, and was shocked about what I learned (Listened to Guster on Ice: Live from Portland by Guster: 25 times that month versus 5 times a month normally). I was so relieved to have the book done, and the post shows that.

I've written about so much on this blog -- a wedding, my dog, my grief. And I thank you so much for following along.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Good Eats: Green Cuisine

I'm a big fan of shore foods, but they can pack quite an icky health punch (you don't want to know how much high fructose corn syrup's in salt water taffy -- really). As proof of how good/bad shore food is, I gained 10 pounds while researching my book last year.

So I made of point of picking out the healthy places you can go while at the shore. My favorite is Green Cuisine in Stone Harbor. It's an in-season spot only, and the food is amazing. The Greek Pita is the perfect balance of all those healthy carbs, veggies, protein and fats you need, plus it's service with fruit. I can't remember how many times I ate there last summer, trying to undo damage from boardwalk food. I was there the weekend it opened this year too.

I also really like the health food market on Route 9 in Clermont between Avalon and Sea Isle. They sell fresh Karen & Rei bread, but I can't for the life of me remember the name of the store. Anyone?

Also, Dixie Picnic upcakes might look like they're bad for you, but they're not (when eaten in moderation). I can see why the owner was puzzled about why they were named a junk food. There's nothing junky in them -- just good sweet stuff.

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Looking for Sources: Consignment Shoppers

My apologies for the non-shore related post, but I'm looking for people in the Philadelphia/South Jersey area (shore included!) who buy, have bought or are buying consignment furniture. Is that your or someone you know? Drop me a line at jenmiller27 [at] gmail [dot] com.


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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Weekend Wash Up: Happy Birthday, It's My Birthday

Why? Cause it's my birthday! I also went to Donald's 50th in Walt Disney World back in 1984 and have been in love with the duck ever since.

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Your Shore Weekend

It's going to be steamy all over the place this weekend. If the heat's too much (or even if it's not), here's what else you can do down the shore.

The big event! Lucy the Elephant is celebrating a birthday! On Sunday, the ol' gal will be 127 (but doesn't look a day over 99). To celebrate, the fine folks who keep Lucy in shape are throwing a party that involves, among other things, a moon bounce (not sure if Lucy is light enough to jump on it, though).

The concert of the weekend in Atlantic City is Elton John at Boardwalk hall on Saturday.

For laughs: Brad Garrett is playing the Borgata and Eddie Griffin will be at the House of Blues on Saturday.

Michael McDonald will be at the Trump Taj Mahal on Saturday.

The Ocean City Pops are playing a concert on Sunday night.

I loved to boogie board as a kid (and, ok, still do). This'll be perfect others who love it, too: boogie board races in Wildwood.

Also in Wildwood, there'll be a Christmas in July Boat Parade on Saturday.

The Vietnam Vetrans traveling wall is in Wildwood this weekend.

It's Night in Venice time in Ocean City -- the annual boat parade takes place on Saturday. I went for the first time last year, and if you'll allow me a tangent: On Night in Venice day of 2007, I was in the thick of researching my book. The plan was to a Night in Venice party on the bay with my father and his now wife after I was done for the day. I had a shore house in Avalon last year, so I drove up to Ocean City early in the morning to research shopping on Asbury Avenue.

It was an incredibly hot day -- I parked my car at 9am and was soaked with sweat by 9:15am. I had breakfast while watching the jam up getting on and off the 34th street bridge (rental houses change over on Saturdays and create massive traffic jams), then walked the streets, stopping in every shop and restaurant. One of my last stops was Sun Rose Words & Music. I was so dehydrated and exhausted by the time I got there that, when I saw a sign about local author signings, I blurted out "I'm an author" to the first person I saw. I don't blame her for giving me a funny look, but once I caught my breath and some air conditioning, I explained what I working on, and they were the first people to offer me a book signing. I took a nap and a shower at my dad's B&B room after that and had a nice time at the Night in Venice party after. Apparently I was rested enough to go out in Avalon that night because by the time I got back to the shore house, I was ready to go out again.

I've thought a lot about what the shore means to people over the last few months. I was too busy writing the book last summer to really think about it, and now that this summer is mostly dedicated to work stuff about the shore, I sometimes feel like I'm missing out on what I love best about the shore -- I won't be doing a house for a summer or a week, and I'm not going to Night in Venice this year. But I'm hoping to get some time in down the shore on September (and I might not even write about it!)

Though I have to say I have a good reason to not be at Night in Venice. Saturday is my birthday, and celebrations are planned! So have a nice time at the shore, and stay cool any way you can!

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

News from Around the South Jersey Shore

Surfer? Click here.

Want to save gas on your shore vacation? Check out this article about biking.

This is a good picture of a fun store in Cape May.

Time for some cute family vacation pictures!

Cape May in the Washington Post.

You can now get a guide nature tour via your cell phone.

A battle of epic proportions will take place down the shore today: the Cape May Hearald vs. Exit Zero will battle it out on the softball field for all the glory that comes with slow pitch...and they're playing for charity, too, so check 'em out.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

How's the shore doing?

This follows up on the post from yesterday: how are gas prices affecting the shore season?

In the good news corner, Atlantic City saw an upswing in traffic over the July 4 weekend compared to the July 4 weekend of 2007.

According to the South Jersey Transportation Authority, 97,133 cars passed through the Pleasantville toll booth of the Atlantic City Expressway on July 4, a 14.2 percent increase from the 85,026 cars in 2007. And that doesn't include cars coming in from other roads that lead into Atlantic City.

Also surprising: the Beach Boys played a free live concert on July 4 at the Atlantic City Hilton and drew 50,000 people. The Hilton folks had expected 5,000 to 10,000.

Even Lucy the Elephant made out: she saw a 5 percent increase in visitor counts over the same period last year, with tours and retail sales both running ahead of 2007’s.

All good. But bad signs? By all accounts, street traffic along Asbury Avenue in Ocean City was down last Thursday during their very popular Downtown Market Day. Some of the shops and restaurants are saying business is down, too -- not the worst they've seen, but down.

Could it be that people are visiting but spending less? Not eating at restaurants, and not tempting themselves with shopping? Perhaps. I know I do the same at home. But based on the constant backups on the Atlantic City Expressway, I'd say that the shore is going to do fine this summer.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Is this you?

Fellow freelance writer Caren Chesler is working on an article about vacationing at the shore. With her permission, I'm posting what she's looking for:

"I'm looking for people who went or are going to the Jersey shore for their vacation because they don't want to spend a lot of money on gas. The subjects don't have to be from New Jersey -- they can even come from NYC -- but they must have opted to vacation on the Jersey shore on account of gas prices."

Is this you? Drop me a line at jenmiller27 [at] gmail [dot] com and I'll forward her your information.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Please be Careful

It was a sad weekend at the Jersey shore: two people died and one person is missing after swimming in the water. There are very strong rip currents out in the water, so please, mind the red flags and don't go out further than your ankles until the lifeguards get the all clear.

If you've never gotten caught in a rip current, it's scary stuff. If you're caught in one, don't fight it -- swim parallel to the shore line until you're out of it since rip currents don't usually stretch all the way down the beach. For more information, click here.

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Your Shore Weekend

I'm tempted to say that this will be a big shore weekend, but they're all going to be big shore weekends now through Labor Day (after which I might be taking my shore vacation -- I love Cape May in the fall). July and August are prime time, so there's lots to do. First, the concerts:

KC and the Sunshine Band is playing Bally's on Friday and Saturday.

Tony Bennett is playing Caesar's on Friday and Saturday as well.

Wanna laugh? Stephen Lynch will be at the House of Blues on Saturday.

Van Morrison is at the Borgata on Saturday.

And Mickey Rooney is playing the Atlantic City Hilton through tonight.

There's a magic show in Ocean City on Sunday. Can't make it? Then click here.

Athletic weekend in Sea Isle City: Saturday is a rugby tournament and Sunday is a Phillies Home Run Derby.

There's a five miler in Avalon on Saturday (I've hung up my running shoes until the fall -- just too hot out there for me).

If you're a fan of something old, there's a antique fair in Stone Harbor on Saturday.

Lots going on in Wildwood. The major events are New Jersey State BBQ championship and Angelsea Blues Festival.

Over at the Historic Cold Springs Village, there's a Civil War Encampment taking up residence over the weekend.

And, finally, Cape May is site of an antique auto show on Saturday.

I had a busy week at the shore and talking about the shore, so I'm sticking at home this weekend. Believe it or not, I have to get started on articles that will appear in magazines this winter. Such is the life of a magazine writer!

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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

News from Around the South Jersey Shore

This isn't exactly news, but I will be signing books at Sun Rose Words & Music on Asbury Avenue in Ocean City -- 10am to 1pm (ish) on Thursday.

Now onto the news:

Here's a nice write up of Wildwood's weekly events.

This doesn't look like fun. Remember: there's traffic lights on the Garden State Parkway around Stone Harbor.

If I had a half million dollars, I don't think I'd blow it on a gambling spree. Then again, if I stole from my employer, I'd be stealing from me.

I'm such a sucker for blog posts with lots of Jersey Shore pictures. Are you, too? Then check out this Stone Harbor vacation.

And here's some more.

No pictures in this post, but still fun to read.

A casino on Route 30? Maybe.

Great article on Terry O'Brien's new book. It's a scream -- sometimes literally.

Beach tag fees are up.

Some classic Jersey Shore memories here.

Cape May from the side of the Cape May-Lewes Ferry.

Birding may be real big in the spring and fall at the Jersey Shore, but it doesn't stop in the summer.

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The Beat Goes On...

Wow, what a rush! I had lots of fun on the NBC10! show today. Now if I could only remember the story behind salt water taffy while live on air ;-)

If you missed the 11am airing, it also shows on NBC10 in Philadelphia at 2pm. Or you can just click here.

I spent yesterday picking up all that food. Lemme tell you -- that Mack & Mancos pizza smells so good. They'll half bake the pizza for you so you can take it home and freeze it -- or finish cooking it in the NBC10 studio. They'll ship it, too, for all you out of towners.

But a Jersey Girl can't rest. On Thursday, I'll be signing copies of my book at Sun Rose Words & Music on Asbury Avenue in Ocean City from 10am to 1pm-ish. Stop by! I'll probably be eating an Upcake!

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Down the Shore with Jen on NBC10!

On Wednesday, I'll be talking with the fine folks of the NBC10! show about Jersey shore foods. It airs at 11am and 2pm in the Philadelphia area on channel 10. If it goes online, of course I will let you know!

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Monday, July 7, 2008

I Like the Nightlife

Over the last few weeks, I've jumped into the nightlife scene of the South Jersey Shore (which could explain why I've been missing chunks of sleep as of late). I'm not too much of a partier, but, hey, when in Rome...

So here's my round up of nightlife spots I've check out, starting in Atlantic City and going south:

The Beach Bar at Trump Plaza. Atlantic City's got a beach, so of course there should be bars on it. The amazing thing about the Beach Bar is how different the crowds can be on two different nights: the Friday crowd is, on average, 15 to 20 years older than the Saturday crowd, with matching music (KC and the Sunshine band is good about once a summer, FYI). Could be because Saturday nights are packed with bachelor and bachelorette parties, which gives the whole place a festive vibe. I always said if I were a single guy, I'd hang where the bachelorette parties are. My tip: Do not, under any circumstances, wear stilettos. I kept getting my shoes stuck in the boardwalk slats. A bum laughed at me, as he should have.

Providence at the Tropicana. I was there late night after the Beach Bar, and it was mobbed. Lots of girls dancing in cages, and people imitating the dance moves on the floor. Big meat market, too, but fun to watch. My tip: Friends don't let friends get bottle service, especially at 3am.

Tomatoes. The sushi here is amazing. It might not seem like a beach bar, but my friends were doing saki bombs at the dinner table and bar. Follow it up with a night at Maynard's down the street, and you've got quite a night set up for you.

Ocean City. Just kidding. It's a dry town ;-)

The Princeton. This place never changes -- loud music, expensive beers, and where everyone goes by the end of the night. That's why I have a love/hate relationship with the place. I think texting has changed the vibe. Lots of people staring at their phones trying to meet up with people (and sometimes when they probably shouldn't be)! My tip: Ladies, wear closed toe shoes. Otherwise, you'll end up with gunk all over your feet. Also, the Circle Tavern portion is a good lunch spot in the winter.

Brown Room/Boiler Room at Congress Hall. I haven't been down to these wonderful Cape May bars in season, but if the crowds in May are any indication, they're still bumping. The Brown Room is a chill, vintage 20s setting for drinks and conversation with an occasional band. The Boiler Room, which used to be where the boiler was, has great jazz on Saturday nights.

This is by no means a comprehensive list, just where I've been hanging out of late. I still want to get down to the Princeton when they do live karaoke (e.g. you sing karaoke but with a backup band); wing night at the Winddrift; and maybe, if someone can drag me out, the No Shower Happy Hour at the OD in Sea Isle -- all in the name of research, of course!

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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Your Shore Weekend

Giddy up, shoobies. Big weekend ahead down the shore. I'm updating today because tomorrow's a holiday and, well, I'll be too busy swimming and sipping cool drinks at the annual Verzella Family Fourth of July party. So here we go:

To start, I'll be talking and signing books on Saturday at the Woodland Village in Clermont. Clermont is a shade inland between Avalon and Stone Harbor. The Woodland Village is next to Avalon Campground, which I've written about before (because I love it so). I'll be on at 1pm.

Fireworks! Lots of fireworks! Harrah's and the Borgata are planning a big bang of a display tonight. Start time is scheduled for 9:30pm. Ocean City is having their fireworks on Friday night at 9pm. Sea Isle City and Cape May are also having theirs on Friday. Avalon's are on Saturday. And Wildwood has fireworks every Friday night in season, so why should this Friday be different?

So basically? Just look up this weekend and you're bound to see something preetty.

Moving on...

The Beach Boys are playing a free concert on the beach in front of the Atlantic City Hilton. Rumor has it that John Stamos will be here. And I now feel like I've stepped back into 1988.

Melissa Ethridge is playing the Borgata on Friday.

Rush is at the Trump Taj Mahal on Friday.

Jay Leno will be at Caesars on Saturday.

John Legend
plays the Borgata on Sunday (and Philadelphia's Welcome America on Friday, FYI)

Hey fair skinned lads and lasses: Ocean City's having a freckle contest today. Details here. If you're freckless like me (it's the Italian in me), there's also a homemade freckle contest [Mom, I'm sorry about the loss of your brown marker]

Of course it wouldn't be Fourth of July without a bike parade. Ocean City's having theirs on Friday.

Got kids? Disney's doing a big High School Musical promotion in Wildwood at the convention center.

Cape May's having a Great Lawn Party at Congress Hall on Friday. I love Congress Hall, and I love that lawn. But I love my family more, so I'll be in Collingswood on Friday and headed down the AC Expressway on Saturday.

With that, have a great weekend!

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News from Around the South Jersey Shore

Philadelphia Weekly reviews Stone Harbor's Quahog.

Sea Isle's got a new trolley system.

The Tropicana still doesn't have a license.

The price of a trip on the Jitney's going up from $2 a ride to $2.25.

Fishing update for you.

Uh oh: the bridge on the Route 52 causeway into Ocean City got stuck.

Here's an interesting piece about the type of celebrities casinos are bringing in to Atlantic City.

If you'd like to read about someone ELSE down the shore, click here.

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Pictures of the Day

Today's pictures come curteosy of the every fabulous, ever fashionable Amy Z. Quinn, fellow writer, reporter and the head honco of Citizenmom. The first picture is of her grandfather on the beach in Atlantic City in the late 1940s. The second is over her grandmother, mother and aunt on the beach in North Wildwood in about 1952. Here's what she has to say about the third picture:

"The women are my grandmother (the short one on the right), and two of her sisters, all West Philly girls, all now deceased. They were three out of 11 children -- six sisters -- in their family. I love this photo so much because you know they were right in the middle of some kind serious woman chat and probably went directly back to whatever they were talking about when the shutter snapped. I'm looking forward to some moments like that with some of my own sisters at the Cove this weekend."

Look at those bathing suits! Can anyone breathe in those things?

Got a shore picture you want to share? Send them my way via jenmiller27 [at] gmail [dot] com.

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Jen vs. Beach Tag Checkers

I know I'm supposed to be on a quick vacation this week. But NBC10 called and wants to do a segment next week, so back at work I am (tentative air date is 2-3pm on Wednesday, July 9).

But I'm glad to say I made it onto the beach yesterday even if it wasn't exactly as I hoped.

My friend was moving from Atlantic City to Margate, so my plan was to sit on the beach for an hour before the moving van arrived. To make things easier, I chose to sit on the beach in Margate. It's a nice beach. I enjoyed my time there last week. So I parked my car, slung on my backpack, grabbed my beach chair and was ready to hit the beach until some 12 year old at the beach entrance told me that a day pass would be $10.

Um, what? $10 for the day? THE DAY?!

If you're not familiar with the Jersey Shore (you read this blog because you think I'm funny, right?), some beaches require a pass during peak times. I'm actually a fan of this because it helps keep the beaches clean. My family always had Avalon season passes. This year, an Avalon season pass runs $24, and a day pass is $6. That doesn't sound too unreasonable to me. But $10 for an hour of beach time?

So I turned on my flip flop heel and headed a town down to Longport. There was a sign posted about tags, but no checker. I kept an eye open for roving checkers and was ready to jump into the water should one come my way. It's not that I don't want to support the beaches (I mean, I did write a book about the area), but I couldn't stomach the idea of paying $10 for an hour of beach time.

I didn't get run over by a wandering beach tag checker, but I did go into the water. I don't know how Polar Plunge people do it. Yesterday was cold enough, though it did wake me right up.

Speaking of Margate, I had dinner last night at Tomatoes, a wonderful restaurant with amazing sushi. Dinner was followed by drinks at Maynard's, which is your typical shore bar. Too bad my group got there late to sign up for a Quizzo team -- I had a leg up on shore trivia ;-)

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