News + Views

Pumpkin Blaze Extravaganza and Other Attractions

Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat







By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel




What would Halloween be without pumpkins and spooky activities? Imagine a place to visit where thousands of these are on display and provide a great way for family and friends to celebrate the beautiful autumn season. Adults coming without children will enjoy this outing as well!

Once again The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze®, the Hudson Valley’s biggest all-ages fall extravaganza, will run for a record 45 select evenings from late September through Thanksgiving weekend. The walk-through experience lights up the wooded pathways, orchards, and gardens of historic Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., where a small team of artists hand-carve more than 7,000 jack o’lanterns and elaborate pumpkin sculptures. Visitors will love seeing Blaze favorites, such as a giant spider web and the mammoth sea serpent, and will be awed by more pumpkin power than ever before! New additions include a medieval castle guarded by a flock of Jack O’Lantern owls, a functioning windmill, and a full set of Instagrammable zodiac signs. The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze Shop offers a full bounty of Blaze-specific merchandise including candles, hats, T-shirts, magnets, caps, mugs, and jewelry. An onsite café also sells refreshments.

Visit the Horseman’s Hollow at Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y. to experience Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow at its most terrifying extremes. Visitors will walk a haunted trail where creatures lurk in the shadows, ready to strike fear into the hearts of those brave enough to venture into the darkness. Professional actors, award-winning feature-film makeup artists, and state-of-the-art special effects make the Horseman’s Hollow experience all too real. This 16-night haunted attraction at Philipsburg Manor is recommended for ages ten and up.

Also at Philipsburg Manor is The Unsilent Picture, a brand-new event for 2018. The immersive theater experience features an original black and white film starring Tony Award-winning actor Bill Irwin accompanied by musicians and an in-the-flesh special effects Foley artist. The movie, which was commissioned by Historic Hudson Valley and shot on location in buildings at Van Cortlandt Manor, is the center of this 16-night experience. It is recommended for ages ten and up and contains scenes of drinking alcohol, smoking and snuff tobacco use, implied violence, and mature themes.

There are more opportunities to be captivated by Irving’s Legend than ever before. Master storytellers Jonathan Kruk and Jim Keyes, accompanied by live organ music bring to life The Legend of Sleepy Hollow during afternoon and evening performances at Sleepy Hollow’s circa-1685 Old Dutch Church. Irving’s Legend runs for 16 select dates in October and is recommended for ages ten and up. All events are held rain or shine. Proceeds support Historic Hudson Valley, the Tarrytown-based private, non-profit educational organization that owns and operates the historic sites that host these events.


These events have limited capacity and sell out quickly. All admissions are by advance purchase timed tickets.

Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling 914-366-6900. There is a $2 per ticket surcharge for phone orders and for tickets purchased onsite (if available).


October 10, 2018 |

An Apple a Day…

Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat







By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel



While I’m not sure how accurate the old saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” is, I’m sure it has something to do with the health benefits of eating fruit. There are scores of fruits I enjoy, but perhaps the most versatile for both cooking and recipe use is the apple. I can easily name about 8 varieties; however, it is hard to conceive that there are thousands of them today. They are used in both sweet desserts and for inclusion in other main course meals to add either a sweet or sour taste.

Think about how often the apple is mentioned in both literature and science. From the Bible with Adam and Eve, to Newton, who it is believed discovered gravity when an apple fell on his head, and to the stories of John Chapman, aka Johnny Appleseed and his travels planting apple trees in the Ohio wilderness. How often have we seen still life paintings with a bowl of apples on the table? To name a few, these can be viewed in the works of painters Cézanne, Crivelli and Courbet.

The best use for apples is in two of my favorite recipes, one of which was introduced to me by my mother-in-law, who was a wonderful cook. I now make her recipe for a German Apfel Kuchen (Apple Cake). Applesauce is also an easy recipe to make with children.

Apples are in season now, so take advantage of the good prices and fresh produce and try these and other recipes!

Apfel Kuchen


  • 4 -5 cups baking apples, Granny Smith (or other)
  • 1 14 cups white flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 12 teaspoon salt
  • 12 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 34 cup sugar
  • 1 12 tablespoons white flour
  • 12 teaspoon cinnamon


  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Mix 1 1/4 cup flour, baking powder, 2 tsp sugar, and salt and sift once.
  • Cut 1/2 cup butter into dry mix with a pastry blender to pea size.
  • In a small bowl, beat egg with 2 tbs milk and add to dry mix.
  • Mix thoroughly and pat dough into a greased or oiled 9×13-inch baking dish.
  • Pare and core apples, then cut into thin wedge slices and place on dough in rows until covered.
  • Dot apples with 2 tbs butter and mix 3/4 cup sugar, 1 1/2 tbs flour and cinnamon together.
  • Spread dry topping over dotted apples, and bake in oven for 30-45 minutes, until golden brown.
  • Serve plain or with vanilla ice cream


Homemade Applesauce



October 3, 2018 |

Film Festival for Movie Buffs Coming!

Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat







By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel




If you love films and discussions about them, here is the perfect film festival for a weekend getaway on the East End of Long Island. The Hampton International Film Festival’s (HIFF) 26th annual event runs over the Columbus day weekend (October 4-8, 2018). What is this event? HIFF was founded to celebrate the Independent film – long, short, fiction and documentary, and to introduce a unique, varied spectrum of international films and filmmakers to the public. The Festival is committed to exhibiting films that express fresh voices and differing global perspectives, with the hope that these programs will enlighten audiences, provide invaluable exposure for filmmakers and present inspired entertainment for all.

Ardent followers and movie buffs will once again be treated to outstanding films, the chance to see many of the celebrities appearing or directing in them, and the opportunity to attend workshops, lectures and seminars that delve into the world of film making. Over the years the selection committee that accepts films to this prestigious film festival has chosen many that have gone on to become both critically acclaimed and/or commercial successes. Some of the most successful films from the long list include The King’s Speech, 127 Hours, Black Swan, Toy Story 3, Waiting for Superman, Blue Valentine, Made in Dagenham, Miral, Slum Dog Millionaire, and The Artist. Documentaries, shorts and international films are also part of these richly diverse selections which are offered along with special programs such as its “Conversation with…,” the annual Kodak Cinematography Master Class, Breakthrough Performers, Animation Master Class, as well as the attendance of notable talent.

Opening Night Film

Writer/Director Sara Colangelo’s The Kindergarten Teacher will be the Opening Night Film on Thursday October 4th. The film stars Maggie Gyllenhaal, Parker Sevak, Rosa Salazar, and Gael García Bernal. It tells the story of a kindergarten teacher who seeks to cultivate the poetic talents of one of her students with questionable methods. Maggie Gyllenhaal and Colangelo will both be in attendance at the festival.

With over 100 films offered by HIFF the list is certainly extensive and diverse with enough choices to entice viewers of all ages and tastes. “We are elated to kick off our 26th edition of the festival with a film from one of our Screenwriters Lab alumna and to also announce an eclectic and intriguing first group of films with narratives and themes that are sure to resonate with our audiences,” said David Nugent, Artistic Director of HIFF. “To be able to include so many completed feature films from our prestigious Screenwriters Lab is truly a dream come true, especially for our opening night,” said Anne Chaisson, Executive Director of HIFF. “For eighteen years our lab has mentored over 75 screenwriters, and these three films from female directors offer diverse perspectives and have all garnered critical acclaim this year.”


For more about HIFF visit:


September 26, 2018 |

Old Fashioned Words Rarely Heard Now

Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat







By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel



As technology propels us into a realm of words and expressions we’ve never imagined, some words have quickly faded from use. I’m sure many teens of today will not even know what some of these words meant or what the items are used for in everyday life.

Just the other day a Donna Summer’s song came on the radio that had the line “dim all the lights and put your old victrola on” as one of the stanzas. I am positive this word would most likely be a mystery to most people 40 and under. This invention was a phonograph from the Victor Talking Machine Company in New Jersey, but eventually the word became the generic term for any brand of phonograph back in the day. My grandmother had one, and I remember as a child that the turntable was powered by winding up with a handle that made the springs move. She stood by to make sure I didn’t “overwind.”

Two other words that took on names from the real product were Thermos for a vacuum bottle and Jell-O for any brand of gelatin. These were very popular products back in the 1950s.

Lost Vocabulary

Who remembers wearing galoshes when it was raining? How did you put them on yourself or when dressing your children? To make it easier to slide your shoes inside your galoshes we put used Wonder Bread bags over each shoe. Imagine the schoolteachers who had to direct this same process at the end of the day when it was dismissal time.

How about when it was time to bake a cake and the recipe called for beating two or three eggs to pour into the batter? That’s when an eggbeater came in handy! Speaking of beaters, my grandmother had a carpet beater, made of wicker. It had a long handle and ornate bottom, shaped like a flower. She took the small area rug outside, hung it over the clothesline and then beat the rug so the dust would fly out. Speaking of clotheslines, some adults might think why use one when you can throw things in the dryer. There is nothing more refreshing than sheets and pillowcases hung out to dry in the sun. By the way, a snippet I read in the PennySaver stated that “Clothes dried outside do smell better because of a process called photolysis. What happens is that the sunlight breaks down compounds in the laundry that cause odor, such as perspiration and body oils.” Don’t forget to have a supply of wooden clothespins on hand, skipping the plastic ones, to really go back in time.

When it comes to gadgets, how many youngsters have used a rotary phone or even a typewriter with ribbon? Think about the heavy, first time Walkman portable audio player that everyone thought was the best invention ever! Now it’s long gone and obsolete.

Both vocabulary and the useful items we thought were so great move on at a rapid pace, yet in memory remain on the nostalgic list of days gone by.


September 19, 2018 |

Grandparents Day Evoked Sweet Memories

Bits & Pieces Column

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By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel



Grandparents Day fell on September 9th with some schools holding special activities or assemblies to which grandparents may have been invited to honor the occasion. As a grandmother myself, these activities are enjoyable; however, just spending time with my grandchildren is more rewarding than any organized celebration. For me, the years I spent with my own grandmother are still etched in my heart and evoke both a joyful feeling and a tinge of sadness knowing they are long gone. No matter how many decades have passed since my grandmother left me, the wonderful things we did together are still dear memories.


It was such a treat to spend an overnight visit at my grandmother’s house while she babysat. She was the one who introduced me to the wonders of listening to radio programs that required one’s imagination as the storyteller wove the next chapter of the daily serial. Then there was the Jack Benny show and other musical favorites of hers that would be broadcast and that she never missed. With the radio on, grandma and I would play cards or she would teach me how to embroider a simple pattern on a piece of white fabric for practice. The décor in her living and dining room are still vivid, and I can see the framed picture of General MacArthur, cut from a magazine cover and nicely framed, hung on a corner wall of the dining room. Below it was an old steamer trunk, with a small lace tablecloth draped over it for decoration. This ornate trunk always looked like a pirate’s chest to me and I wondered what treasures might be inside of it. When I stayed at grandma’s she would ask me to do her a favor and dust under the bottom of her ornate dining room table to reach the swirls and squiggles of the wood carvings below. Grandma would hand me a dust cloth and for my five minutes or so of “work” she’d give me a dime, which to a seven-year old at that time was a lot of money. (Enough for two candy bars back then.) When explaining to my mother why she gave me the extra money for what I thought was just helping out, grandma said with a smile “because she earned it.”

The best part of these overnight visits was the breakfast grandma made the next morning. She had a glass frying pan that made the most delicious scrambled eggs ever! Perhaps it was the large pat of butter that was melted in the pan before she poured in the scrambled eggs, but they were out of this world. To this day I remember grandma saying as she scrambled my eggs, “be sure that the eggs are nice and frothy before pouring them into the heated pan.” Now, whenever I scramble eggs — still following grandma’s reminder — I look down at the bowl to make sure they are perfectly frothy, and I smile.


September 12, 2018 |

Lunch Box Choices and Ideas

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By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel



School is now in session and along with it comes the daily chore of packing lunches for the children. Some parents might be running out of ideas as to what to pack in their child’s lunch box each day and may want to hear a few new suggestions. Perhaps it is time to reevaluate what is made for lunch. It is the wise parent who packs only “healthy” lunches in an effort to steer their child toward a lifetime of sensible eating choices. It isn’t easy fighting peer pressure when your child sees others in the lunchroom with sweet treats and processed, packaged foods in their lunches.


If your child likes to eat sandwiches, experiment with different breads and pitas. Try whole grain, fruity breads or those containing nuts and raisins. Cream cheese on raisin walnut bread is absolutely delicious! Pita pockets and tortillas come in several sizes and can be used to wrap or fill with a host of tasty foods.

If you are trying to steer clear of too many cold cuts and avoid the nitrates and preservatives found in these luncheon meats, use leftovers from your previous evening’s dinner. Dice up small pieces of leftover chicken cutlet, turkey or roast beef and use these pieces to fill a pita. If you find it easier to buy cold cuts, stick to those with low sodium, such as turkey breast or specially marked ham or cheeses.   Buy cold cut meats with no nitrates or added colors and avoid artificially colored yellow cheeses.

When filling a pita pocket, add thin slices of cucumber, shredded carrot pieces or diced lettuce or spinach leaves to create a medley of color and texture. Finger foods are fun for young children to eat and are easier to manage than trying to hold a huge sandwich in their tiny hands. Try cutting pieces of leftover meatloaf, chicken or cheese and dicing up fresh vegetables for them to munch on. Cherry tomatoes are easy to handle and can be added to the lunch box by placing a small portion of these in a plastic bag. There are plastic containers that contain several compartments, and each day they can be filled with an assortment of veggies. Green peppers, green or yellow zucchini slices, celery sticks, mushroom caps and carrot sticks make a crunchy, healthy group to choose from. If your child likes salad dressing, add a little creamy ranch dressing to one section for dipping. For the older child, add walnut, almond or cashew pieces in another compartment.

Parents have the choice of what to buy and how to train their children about what to eat. Starting a lifetime of healthy choices begins right now, when parents still have control over what their children will be eating. With a little imagination parents can pack an exciting lunch that their children look forward to eating with eager anticipation! And if it is a really tantalizing selection, you can bet none of it will be traded away to a classmate.

September 5, 2018 |

Being Prepared for an Emergency

Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat







By Evelyn J. Mochbeichel



Are you prepared for an emergency? How would you know if there is an emergency? Where would you get assistance? If you do not have the answers to these questions, then you need to find them out.

For residents of Westchester County, this can be made easier by simply reading the detailed publication that is mailed to every home. “Planning for Emergencies” was originally implemented to provide important information to area residents concerning the Indian Point Power Plant facility; however, the tips it contains can also be applied to emergencies that are weather related and for accidents such as spills of contaminated materials. Published in conjunction with Westchester County, the New York State Disaster Preparedness Commission, Entergy Nuclear Northeast and Con Edison, the detailed publication includes a map of Westchester County and listings of evacuation locations for each school in their districts as well as the routes of all Westchester County bus lines.

Westchester residents can call the County’s Department of Emergency Services at 914 231-1850 to request a copy or visit:

Residents of other counties should contact their Executive’s Office to find out if a similar booklet is offered.


Town municipalities often hold meetings to inform residents or town and business members of the best way to respond to emergencies. These meetings share ideas about building safety and inform tenants of what plans are in effect should they need to be evacuated for any reason. Working parents should know where their children that attend school or a daycare center will be sent should the school need to be evacuated. Parents’ personal contact phone numbers should be given to the school and promptly updated if any numbers or work locations have changed. When your child’s school sends home a form that requests your contact numbers as well as those of others in charge of picking up your child, BE PROMPT ABOUT RETURNING THIS INFORMATION.

Do you know what your child’s school would do in an emergency? How would you hear about the emergency if you work in another area? Is there is a “phone chain” that has been set up to let parents know of an early dismissal or some other safety issue? Volunteer to be part of this chain so you are aware of the latest information when it is released from the school. Know the radio stations that would broadcast the information. Have at least one station on your car radio programmed to the station you would need for emergency updates. If you are at home, place a label on your radio identifying the station you need to tune to for emergency broadcasts. In case of a power failure, make sure you have a battery operated radio and fresh batteries in supply.

Emergency planning is also important at work and in any public building. Regularly scheduled “drills” should be held so everyone is aware of the quickest and safest way to leave the building. Maintenance staff should check that no emergency exits are locked, bolted or difficult to open and that exit signs are well-lit and easy to see. Windows should be tested regularly to insure they are not stuck shut with layers of paint. Fire extinguishers should be conveniently placed and inspected regularly to make sure they are in proper working order.


August 29, 2018 |
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