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Free smartphone photo workshop at Morristown National Historical Park

A great photo can be made by those who learn to "see" differently. How to take better photos with your smartphone will be the focus of a free Oct. 5 workshop at Morristown Historical Park.

Participants, who may also bring point-and-shoot and other cameras, will take an exclusive photo tour of the Ford Mansion, one of three Revolutionary War sites at this United States national historical park, also the site of Jockey Hollow and Fort Nonsense.

“The Art of Phoneography” workshop will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. It includes instruction by photographer and author Xiomaro, who was commissioned to create a photographic exhibit and booklet on the Ford Mansion, which served as George Washington’s headquarters during the war.

The fact that smartphones are often on hand and easy to use has resulted in an abundance of shared photos, says Xiomaro (pronounced “SEE-oh-MAH-ro”).

“Almost 100 million photos are posted to Instagram alone -– every day,” he says. But convenience and ease aren't what make good photographs.

“The secret to better photographs is not in the camera, it’s in applying the principles of seeing used by artists for centuries,” he notes. His workshop will cover five key artistic principles, illustrated with slides of photographs and paintings.

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Garden State Cat Expo & Show 2019 set for July 20 - 21 in Edison 

Hundreds of cats and their people will head to the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center on July 20 and 21 for the 83rd annual Garden State Cat Expo & Show.

Cats will show their best features to the judges, model designer gowns and demonstrate their agility at this fest of all things feline, set for 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days at 97 Sunfield Ave. in Edison. Learn about 42 pedigreed cat breeds, shop for unique kitty gifts, get expert guidance on cat care, sit for cat-inspired face painting, or have a pet’s picture recreated as a caricature. Many homeless cats also will be available for adoption.

Those strolling the exhibit halls might think they’ve fallen into the rabbit hole. This year’s Cats in Wonderland theme is a spin on the beloved Lewis Carroll fantasy that will bring the Cheshire Cat and other characters in decorations, costumes and contests. 

Admission is $15, $12 for seniors and $8 for children under age 12. The $35 family rate admits up to five people (two adults max.) At, print a coupon for $1 off adult or senior admission. Bring cat food to help feed rescued cats.

The cat expo is the major fundraiser of the Garden State Cat Club, the registered not-for profit organization that produces the event annually to support its endeavors related to cat welfare, including donations to no-kill shelters and state rescue groups, including Angel Paws in Colonia and Cause 4 Paws in Union County. 

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Winterhill Antiques store closing sale in Scotch Plains (photos)

Love Chinoiserie? Here are just a few of the pieces available. Winterhill Antiques, a fixture on Park Avenue in Scotch Plains, will close its doors on July 27.

This closing, however, represents a move to a new shop in Morris County for owner Yola Chalabi. We're told the new location is in Chester. Photos show a more recently constructed shopping center with attractive, contrasting roof dormers. The shop, Grouse and Pearls, is being prepared to open in a few weeks.

Chalabi has owned Winterhill, formerly Country Cottage Antiques, since 2009. She also is known in the area for her antiques evaluation events held at the Fanwood Museum, at Fanwood's historic train station. 

Among the six other Winterhill dealers who will be clearing pieces from the two-level store at 425 Park Ave., some will relocate to or expand offerings at Summit Antiques Center, some are already working in estate and home inventory sales, some will venture into the antiques show circuit, and others were still exploring options.  

In the meantime, there is much to be found in the expansive showroom, including furniture (such as a classic Eames lounge chair and ottoman), chandeliers and lamps; period housewares; signed artwork (at least one piece by Peter Max), jewelry

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Beautiful Kitchens by Paul: Makeover for Westfield family of seven

The making of a dream kitchen


A Westfield couple’s dream home involved carving space from their backyard for a 310-square-foot kitchen. The addition would make room for lots of storage, two dishwashers and a 13-foot-long island.

“I felt it was important to give them an island that can seat every member of their family,” said Paul Barreto, owner of Beautiful Kitchens by Paul. He worked with the couple to plan the new kitchen and its island that seats seven, including their five children.

The two-level island elevates casual dining for the large family. One side of the island’s leather-finished granite top steps down to the same height as the other counters, expanding food prep surfaces and making it possible for several family members to cook together comfortably.

Like the kitchen’s custom, American-made Wellborn cabinetry, the island is topped with dark titanium granite from Brazil. Paul designed the island with a two-level top. The elevated area is for casual dining, and the lower for food prep. He also converted the home’s original kitchen into an office, with desks built from the same cabinetry used in the kitchen.

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Grace's House: Plainfield show house pits high design against cancer  

Grace's House, a show house open until May 19 at 950 Hillside Ave. in Plainfield, benefits the Valerie Fund

The renovated 1870 home, in Plainfield's Hillside Avenue Historic District, retains many original features of its Second Empire architecture. Photo by Kimberly L. Jackson 

The house showcases the work of local artists, with numerous custom features conceived by area designers. Decorative items are being sold, with 15 percent of each sale going to the Valerie Fund. Room designed by Swati Goorha. Photo by Kimberly L. Jackson There are four good reasons to go and see a designer show house in person.

The first, of course, is to support a worthy cause. The second is to get ideas, often from top interior designers, that can offer insight into the use of color, the latest materials, and the possibilities for blending custom furnishings with well selected antiques, artwork and imaginative “off-the-shelf” pieces.

The third reason is the insights a show house can offer into renovation of an older home, or the options for new construction.

At Grace’s House, a show house open Thursdays through Sundays through May 19, the fourth reason is perfectly illustrated: the opportunity to enjoy a visual feast of jaw-droppingly gorgeous home design.

About a year ago, this property at 950  Hillside Ave. in Plainfield’s well-manicured Hillside Avenue Historic District was a distressed house on auction. It still had a crushed roof from a tree felled by Hurricane Sandy, and it had been vacant for five years.

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