So Long, Farewell…

So, remember last week when I went on and on and on about my difficulties with the notion of change (a.k.a. “having my cheese moved”)? That whether it was changing my preferred brand of laundry detergent or where I stored those little twisty-tie things that come in the box with the garbage bags, I was loathe to, shall we say, adapt to a new way of doing—or thinking? Well, it looks like I’ll have to confront those old cheese-moving demons yet again…

As many of you know from reading last week’s Events newsletter, after nearly a year of bringing you the who, the what, and the where-do-I-need-to-be of Princeton and beyond, I am stepping down from my post at Princeton Scoop. And this musing marks my last official act as editor (cue uncontrollable weeping). In fact, today is my second day of riding the rails of NJ Transit’s Northeast Corridor into the Big, Bad City (New York, of course) as I reenter the magazine publishing workforce, and although I am already chafing at the crowded subways, the guy in the Elmo costume incessantly banging on pickle buckets beneath my new office window, and the girl on the train who believes that everyone wants to hear about her dinner plans with her boyfriend, I’m embracing this change with an enthusiasm not unlike the way I consume a blend-in from Thomas Sweet: with near-total abandon and a relentless optimism about the possibility waiting around the corner (or, that next delicious spoonful, if you will).

And although I indeed will see you again in the P.S. blogosphere as a guest-writing gal-about-town, I thought it appropriate to commemorate this occasion with—what else?—a “P.S. Top Five” list:

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Friends of the Princeton Public Library Annual Book Sale: By now, I think it’s safe to say that I’ve accurately and thoroughly communicated just how much I j’adore books: Every room in my home showcases a thoughtfully curated pile of reading material, from fiction and poetry, to personal essays and memoirs, to sports writing and history, to plays, and as I mentioned in a previous post, the occasional book on cinematic horror. And despite the great proliferation of books that I haven’t yet cracked open (some people collect teapots; I collect books), I take great, if not giddy, joy in adding to my ever-burgeoning collection. So, I am nearly beside myself with bookish glee at the thought of the Friends of the Princeton Public Library’s Annual Book Sale later this month. From October 22 through October 24, gently used hardcover books, softcovers, and paperbacks for readers of all ages and interests are on sale during library hours in the new Library Bookstore on the first floor opposite the Checkout Desk. The number of books available has been increased from years past and the shelves will be re-stocked frequently (I’m already buzzing with anticipation). All book sale proceeds are used to help the library purchase books and materials and to support its many programs. Community Room, First Floor, and Hinds Plaza, The Princeton Public Library, 65 Witherspoon Street, Princeton; 609.924.9529 or princetonlibrary.org.

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Bracelets at Spruce: All summer long, I rocked half a forearm’s worth of rubber bracelets not unlike the ones I used to wear in the fifth grade (a la Madonna, circa “Lucky Star”), except these are socially responsible and made of recycled materials by women in Mali (if you’re interested, check them out here). But as the weather gets cooler, the time has come to procure some new and more substantial wrist-candy for autumn. On a recent jaunt into town, I sauntered into Spruce on Palmer Square (okay, maybe it was more like bumped and crashed my daughter in her stroller through the front door). The store has recently been given a bit of a tweak and now you can enter through one of two doors; on the left side of the store, furniture (including a fabulous wooden dining room table and chrome chairs that I need), and on the right, stylish trinkets and objet d’art, including cloth-covered journals, gorgeous coffee-table books, and lovely jewelry—lots of it. Earrings, rings, and necklaces galore, but what caught my eye was the stacks of slender, tortoise-shell plastic bangles meant to be worn by the dozen, and Asian-inspired, etched cuff bracelets in a bevy of fall-worthy hues. Prices were reasonable at $25 and $35, respectively, and needless to say, I left with a bag full. Spruce, 45 Palmer Square West, Princeton; 609.688.8312 or spruceprinceton.com.

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French Dip sandwich at The Peasant Grill: What would one of my “Top Five” lists be without some sort of foodstuff on it? Well, I’ve saved one of my very favorites for last, The Peasant Grill in Hopewell, as this little gem of a takeout-or-eat-in café is among the best in the area. And what makes it so taste-bud-blowing, you ask? Perhaps it’s the stacks of homemade dessert bars (i.e., brownie, lemon, cookie, raspberry, pecan pie) in clear plastic containers piled high on the counter (can you say, “impulse buy?”). Or maybe it’s the baby spinach salad with dried cranberries, goat cheese, and delicious candied pecans in white balsamic pear vinaigrette. Yes, it’s all of these things and more—and my vote firmly goes to the mouth-watering French Dip sandwich with caramelized onions, melted Swiss cheese, and au jus. Especially when you smear the homemade, red-skinned potato salad that comes on the side on top of the sandwich. Heaven on a baguette, I tell you. The Peasant Grill, 21 East Broad Street, Hopewell; 609.466.7500 or thepeasantgrill.com.

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One Day by David Nicholls: So, sue me if you think this particular list is a little “book heavy;” but it’s my swan song and I’ve just got to include this must-read or I will have failed you as a purveyor of pop culture. I mentioned in a post back in July that I had picked up a book (at the recommendation of my “new best friend” Jennifer Weiner) for my beach vacation. Little did I know that it would turn out to be my favorite book of the summer (nay, of the year … so far) and would have me reading obsessively until 1:30 a.m. to get to the end (and then obsessively re-reading passages from it for the next 48 hours because I just couldn’t put it down). One Day by British author David Nicholls is the tale of Emma and Dexter, Dexter and Emma, who have a romantic interlude the night of their graduation from university, and somehow manage to resist what we as readers know from page one: that they are destined to be together. The book tracks their intermingled lives by checking in on them for the next 20 years on the same date: July 15 (St. Swithin’s Day in Britain). Funny, clever, bittersweet, and heart-wrenching, it’s a beautiful book that’s more addictive than the vanilla sea-salt and caramel ice cream from The Bent Spoon (and if you’ve ever had the vanilla sea-salt and caramel ice cream, you know what I’m talking about). Labyrinth Books, 122 Nassau Street, Princeton; 609.497.1600 or labyrinthbooks.com.

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National Breast Cancer Awareness Month: From the pro-footballers’ helmets during Sunday’s games to the bowls of safety-pinned pink ribbons on retail countertops everywhere, it’s clear that pink is the color du jour this month. And as well it should be: October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and pink is the cause’s signature color. So, consider this my PSA for all you readers of the female persuasion (and the guys out there who have moms, wives, sisters, and/or girlfriends in their lives): If you haven’t already, visit your doctor and make an appointment for a mammogram. I recently had my very first mammogram, and although I wouldn’t say it was as fun as macking on the aforementioned scrumptious sandwich, it wasn’t that bad, either; and the overwhelming sense of relief I had after it was done—and after I very happily received the news that everything was perfectly normal—was worth all of the squishing, pulling, and tugging. So, just do it. Enough said. For more information, visit nbcam.org.

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So, with my beloved Sharpie pens and a shiny, new red Moleskine notebook tucked into the beautiful Chloé bag I scored at jane a couple of weeks ago (it’s the most sublime shade of purple and it boasts serious hardware ), I have returned to the fray that is the life of the commuter. And tonight as I bobbed and weaved my way through the rush-hour crowds of Penn Station tonight, heading back to lovely Princeton, I fell in step behind a lanky young man carrying a canvas tote bag emblazoned with the message: “Change is great!” And despite the fact that my cheese is on the move again, I have to agree.

Jennifer Henderson is a freelance writer who has recently returned to the mean streets of New York to work for Vanity Fair. She lives in Princeton with her husband, daughter, and chocolate Labrador. She vows to update the loyal Princeton Scoop readers on her trials and tribulations as a commuter on the Northeast Corridor rails. E-mail her at jphscoop@gmail.com.


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