News + Views

The Christmas Voyager — Westchester Broadway Theatre’s Holiday Musical

Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat







By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel



We all have certain people on our gift list that are difficult to shop for each year. What do you give someone who has everything and says, “There is nothing I need”? The solution is simple. Go out together for an evening of fantastic entertainment and a delicious lunch or dinner meal at the Westchester Broadway Theatre (WBT) in Elmsford. It’s featuring the perfect production this season with The Christmas Voyager, based on the book by Robert Fitzsimmons and Kathy Wheeler. The show opened November 22 and it will run through December 23.

It’s billed as a delightful holiday musical and a true celebration of the season. All the splendor of Christmas is brought to life in a magical journey through yuletides past. Holiday songs we all know and love are wrapped up in a heartwarming celebration of spirit that will delight audiences of all ages.

“The star shone down upon the earth a dazzling silver beam while in a far-off galaxy the star was also seen. And so our voyager began his quest to reach that source of light. Two thousand years to find his way and end his astral flight.” Lost in a future time and desperate to return to his home galaxy, our Starman Noel journeys back through time searching for that magical December 24th evening when three brilliant stars came together and changed the course of history.  Knowing that these same stars will set him on the right course toward home, Noel journeys around the world and touches down in a small town in America, the North Pole, Dickens’ England and many other places on his quest.

The show features dazzling effects and many favorite Christmas songs — We Need a Little Christmas, Holly Jolly Christmas, Silver Bells, It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas, Deck the Halls, Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, Let There Be Peace on Earth, We Wish You a Merry Christmas, Silent Night, and more. Cast members include Zach Trimmer as Noel/the Starman, Katie Brunson, Jayson Elliott, Bonnie Fraser, Lily Lewis, Tony Triano, Allyson Tucker, and Daniel Scott Walton.

The WBT continually offers gorgeous, creative set design that easily transports the audience to the period of the storyline. Enjoy this production as part of your holiday celebrations with family, friends or as a fun place to gather with co-workers for your business’ annual holiday party.

Visit or call (914) 592-2222. (Discounts for groups of 20 or more.)


December 6, 2017 |

Local Events Welcome You!

Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat







By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel



Throughout the year, there are scores of lovely events going on around the Hudson Valley with many at no cost to attend. Depending on the time of year, these can be outdoor concerts, fairs, craft shows, lectures, workshops or a host of other activities that appeal to guests of all ages. Right now there are two such events coming up that readers might like to know about.

Artisan Faire

Starting on November 30th and running through December 3rd, Muscoot Farm in Katonah will host an Artisan Faire, a unique idea for a holiday shopping experience. It will feature and highlight handicrafts similar to old world creations. Muscoot Farm is an early 20th-century interpretative farm museum on Route 100. The farm is owned and operated by the Westchester County Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation. It was opened as an open-air interpretive museum and park in 1974. It now features year-round events open to the public. The Faire will be located in the Main House and includes vendors selling hundreds of handmade items. Shoppers will find baskets, woven towels, pillowcases, ornaments, table runners and mats, baby items, wall hangings, soaps, pottery, wood boards and more.

Hours for the Artisan Faire are Thursday, November 30th 3 to 8 pm, December 1st noon to 5 pm, December 2nd noon to 4 pm and December 3rd noon to 4 pm. For more information visit or call (914) 864-7282.

Art Exhibit

In addition to being a place for reading and borrowing books or films, libraries are perfect places for a variety of activities happening there, including lectures, workshops, exhibits and cultural displays. In December, the John C. Hart Library in Shrub Oak will be hosting an art exhibit and welcomes guests to come see the display. The artwork on display will be paintings by students that joined the Yorktown Parks and Recreation class of Jeanne Demotses, an art teacher. She has taught there for many years as well as in other venues throughout Westchester. Ms. Demotses is also an artist and maintained a studio in Peekskill’s art district for more than 20 years and is now at The Hat Factory there. Jeanne’s own work has been exhibited in galleries and public space and is also in private and public collections both in the U.S. and Europe.

The opening reception is on December 9th from 2 to 4 pm. The paintings will be on display from December 9th through December 31st, 2017. Library address: 1130 East Main Street, Shrub Oak, NY.

November 29, 2017 |

High School Seniors Preparing for College

Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat







By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel



The year will go quickly for seniors heading off to college. There is ample time for parents to prepare a student who will be living away from home, perhaps for the first time. There is much to adapt to, such as getting along with a roommate, finding one’s way around campus, taking on a heavy academic workload and living without family close by. The last thing a student needs is to have to tackle unfamiliar daily tasks never handled before. Now is the time for these simple life skills to be introduced.

The Lessons

Laundry is one of those daunting tasks a teen will come across while at school. Perhaps the teen never tackled a pile of laundry and is clueless where to start. Does the student know not to wash black tee shirts with white clothing? This has to be taught as we discovered when our student came home with clothing that had not been color sorted. The size of the washing machine determines how large of a load can be washed at one time. Explain that there are cycles for delicate, regular or heavily soiled clothing. The same applies for putting items in a dryer. Towels and sheets may need longer times to dry while tee shirts and lightweight cloth or delicate fabrics have shorter time spans. Stress the importance of reading labels to see whether a garment can be washed or put in the dryer.

Handling money is another area that a teen may need beginner’s advice on now. Start a checking account for your student at least six months before leaving for school so statements will arrive at home and there is time to review them together. It is vital that each check be recorded in the checkbook register and the math completed to determine the balance. Many adults prefer online banking, but for a student I would suggest standard check writing to understand the process and be hands-on from the start. We also gave our student her own credit card with a five hundred dollar limit. It was to be used to purchase books and other necessities. Since all freshmen are enrolled in the food plan, there was no need to buy food, other than snacks or miscellaneous items. Credit card statements should also be reviewed to make sure the charges are correct and any returns are applied. All of these tips will help your student with a smoother adjustment to college and make life easier.


November 22, 2017 |

Wise Choices for a Healthier Thanksgiving

Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat







By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel



What’s not to like about a meal consisting of roasted turkey, delectable sides, and oh, those wonderful desserts? It’s easy to indulge during the holiday, but some pre-planning can make your choices a bit better.

The American Heart Association (AHA) notes that even small changes can be important while not sacrificing taste at all. What you eat and how you prepare it can help reduce your risk of stroke and heart disease. Risk factors include poor cholesterol, high blood pressure and excess weight. These risk factors can be addressed by preparing tasty dishes without overdoing the salt, sodium, cholesterol and saturated fat. Studies show that nearly 80% of cardiovascular events, including stroke, may be prevented if risk factors are controlled. One of their suggestions is skipping white mashed potatoes and going for sweet potatoes instead. They are a source of vitamin A, C, potassium, and fiber that can make a tasty side dish.

To replace mashed potatoes, cook cauliflower instead. Boil the cauliflower until soft, drain and then whip with an electric beater. Sprinkle in onion or garlic powder for taste. For your stuffing, use less bread and add more onions, celery, vegetables or fruits such as dried cranberries or apples to make it a lower calorie version. Use whole wheat bread to make it an even healthier option.

For gravy or sauces use low-fat buttermilk or low-sodium chicken stock in place of cream or whole milk. You’ll achieve a creamy consistency and loads of flavor, minus the unnecessary fat and calories. Avoid packaged, processed foods with a high salt content. Go with fresh fruits and vegetables instead of canned and limit the amount of salt while you cook. If you are using packaged foods, look for the Heart-Check mark and you’ll instantly know if that food has been certified by the AHA to meet guidelines for heart-healthy foods.

When it’s time for dessert, think about fruit cobblers without a bottom crust or make a pie packed with more fruit, less sugar and only crumb topping. Homemade pumpkin pie filling can be cooked in small individual Pyrex dishes without a crust. Top with low fat whipped topping. Fresh fruit can also be served as an extra dessert.

Thanksgiving will be just as memorable, because it is the friends and family gathered around the table that is the reason to celebrate! Happy Thanksgiving to all our PennySaver readers and may your holiday be a happy, healthier one this year!


November 15, 2017 |

Film Favorites Worth Sharing

Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat







By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel




We recently attended the annual Hampton International Film Festival (HIFF), which is a five-day event of films and special programs. With more than one hundred-fifty films and shorts to pick from, it’s difficult to pick which films to see.

On opening night we saw a fabulous film, Itzhak, a documentary about famed violinist Itzhak Perlman. The life story of this “greatest living violinist” captures the audience from its start, and high praise is deserved for director/producer Alison Chernick for this accomplishment. The story is told with vintage photographs, film clips and current interviews of Mr. Perlman and his wife Toby in their New York City apartment. Toby is also an accomplished violinist, and they met when both attended violin camp as teens one summer.

Itzhak was born in Tel Aviv to parents who were natives of Poland. The family moved to the United States when he was a boy of only ten so he could study at Julliard. Having contracted polio when he was only three, it was a difficult start that he overcame when his musical genius was recognized. Throughout the film, viewers saw and heard the fantastic personality of Itzhak Perlman shine through despite the hardship of his early life and illness.

Some HIFF films go on to be shown in theatres while others might be shown on cable or Netflix. Presented by The American Masters series on PBS TV stations, watch out for broadcast dates for Itzhak, so you don’t miss it!

Another film, Goodbye Christopher Robin, is the life story of author A.A. Milne. This is a sensitive portrayal of the little boy who was the subject in his father’s Winnie the Pooh book series. Milne was inspired to write his stories after seeing his only child playing with his stuffed animals. One might think this film is how whimsical and happy Christopher’s life must have been during the years this book series started and hit peek popularity; however, viewers are quickly immersed in Christopher’s life and come to see that the fame was not something we’d come to envy.

Newcomer Will Tilson (Christopher Robin) is absolutely adorable, and his dimpled smile melts your heart. The strong performances by Domhall Gleeson as A.A. Milne and Margot Robbie as Christopher’s mother complete this sensitive, enchanting and touching story. You will never look at storybook characters and the fame it brought its authors the same way again.

Read about other films in this year’s HIFF festival that might be in theaters soon.


November 8, 2017 |

Scary Movies and Monster Trivia

Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat







By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel



When I was about seven or eight years old I loved watching old black and white scary movies with my dad on the weekends prior to Halloween. These classic films included stories about mummies, werewolves and vampires, all of whom had me peeking out from under the sofa throw blanket each time a monster appeared on screen. Far less intense than the graphic and gory horror films of today, most of the “fright” was created by scary music and shadows across the screen.


When you think about the stories we have read to our children, the benevolent sounding word “fairy tale” conjures up happy tales of princesses and elves. However, when you recall the popular ones like Snow White or Sleeping Beauty, there is an evil queen wanting to harm the princess at every turn.

Our two grandchildren visited recently, and before bedtime they wanted me to read them a story. I still have books that belonged to our three children, and I let the grandkids pick one for me to read. They picked Jack and the Beanstalk, which I haven’t read in years. Do you recall the words the giant says after his famous “Fe Fi Fo Fum” chorus? Paraphrasing it is about “grinding bones to make his bread!” My six-year old grandson turned to me with wide eyes and asked, “What is the giant going to do?” Quickly covering up the words that just spilled from my lips, I mumbled something about “Oh, he is just trying to scare people and is pretending he is going to be mean so they don’t steal his gold.” For the rest of the book I read more slowly, changing the wording to be less scary.

Reflecting on my childhood and words that were a bit frightening, many brought images of monsters and scary beings to life. See how much “monsters trivia” you remember of names that made you shiver! Happy Halloween!


  1. What actor starred in the films based on Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein?
  2. Bela Lugosi became famous for his repeated role as what monster?
  3. From where did Lugosi’s monster hail?
  4. What is the simplified name of the Pacific Northwest and Canadian monster called Sasquatch?
  5. Who is the beast covered in white fur that is found in the Himalayan Mountains?


  1. Boris Karloff
  2. Dracula, a vampire
  3. Transylvania, Romania
  4. Big Foot
  5. The Abominable Snowman, also called the yeti (yet-tee).
October 31, 2017 |

Halloween Safety Reminders

Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat







By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel



Halloween is on the way with excitement building for little children. While so much has changed about this holiday, safety rules remain. It goes without saying that an adult should accompany young children when they go trick-or-treating. Some towns have organized parades or Halloween parties, sponsored by civic groups or school organizations. These are also fun for children so there is no need to go door-to-door. However, if your child will be going out on Halloween night, here are some tips from the U.S. Government General Services Administration (GSA) and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission that parents should keep in mind.

When you are shopping for a costume, try to coax your child into a brightly colored costume that is visible and easier for cars to spot on dark roads. For darker colored costumes, stick some reflective tape on the costume to help make it more noticeable. Also put the tape on tote bags they are using to hold their candy. Make sure they have a flashlight or glow stick along. Use face paint instead of a mask that might obstruct their view.   Before the holiday, test the makeup to make sure the child is not allergic to its ingredients. Avoid costumes that are below their shoe line or that have flowing capes or skirts that might cause them to trip.

It is tempting for children to eat the treats they are receiving along the way, but try to impress on them that they not do this. Throw out any candy that looks opened or partially unwrapped or contains homemade goods if you do not know the giver personally. It seems such a shame to discard homemade items, but err on the side of safety rather than worrying about wasting food.

While on the subject of checking the treats they receive, parents of very young children should remove any choking hazards such as gum, peanuts, hard candies or small toys before the child gets hold of them. By the way, make sure your child’s Halloween costume is flame resistant in the event that a cape or part of the costume does come in contact with a flame.

Pedestrian safety is vital and children should be cautioned against running out between parked cars or across lawns and yards where ornaments, furniture, clotheslines or lawn sprinklers present dangers. Sturdy shoes or sneakers are a must and mommy’s high heels should be avoided for little girls’ dress-up costumes.

Wishing everyone a safe, fun and Happy Halloween!



October 25, 2017 |
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