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Hudson Valley Halloween Events

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Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

 

 

Trick or treating and parties add to the excitement of Halloween, but here’s another fun idea. The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze, the Hudson Valley’s biggest all-ages fall extravaganza, takes place during 40 evenings through Thanksgiving weekend.

Invited by friends a few years ago, this is perfect for adults, with or without children along. 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 have hand carved more than 7,000 jack o’lanterns and elaborate pumpkin sculptures. This year, visitors will delight in a giant spider web and life-size dinosaurs and be dazzled by more pumpkin power than ever before! New additions include a jack o’lantern Statue of Liberty, a fully functioning, 20-foot-diameter pumpkin carousel, the Pumpkin Possum Posse, and a pint-sized herd of dinosaurs. Last year, over 200,000 guests attended!

Sleepy Hollow

Horseman’s Hollow takes Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow to 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 who dare to wander. 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 15-night, interactive haunted attraction at Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y., is recommended for ages 10 and up.

Who doesn’t like listening to a riveting story? Irving’s Legend brings master storyteller Jonathan Kruk into Sleepy Hollow’s circa-1685 Old Dutch Church, where for 15 evenings his spellbinding rendition of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, accompanied by live organ music and delivered by candlelight, captivates audiences. Irving’s Legend is recommended for ages 10 and up. New this year, Sunnyside: Home of the Legend is a daytime experience at Washington Irving’s Sunnyside homestead in Tarrytown, N.Y. Learn about the author and see objects related to The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and take part in historic games and Headless Horseman art activities. Sunnyside: Home of the Legend is an all-ages event.

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.

Ticket and date information These events have limited capacity and sell out. All admissions are by advance purchase timed ticket. Buy tickets online at www.hudsonvalley.org or by calling 914-366-6900 ($2 per ticket surcharge for phone orders and for tickets purchased onsite, if available).

Happy Halloween!

October 18, 2017 |

Once You Join, Showing Up is a Must!

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Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

 

 

Our three children went through scores of activities during their years in both elementary and high school. Whether it was music lessons, sports, dance club, the school newspaper, civic activities or helping out in Sunday school, we have followed the same guidelines. Once they have made a promise, signed up to be part of an organization, there is no reason except for illness that they were not going to fulfill the commitment. It was not fair to others on the team or club that is depending on my child’s share of the work or participation for my child not to show up. As a parent, this was definitely not easy to do, especially when three children were going in different directions with their school and social activities.

Our parenting perseverance paid off eventually because I could hear in their own words the disappointment and annoyance when another classmate let the group down. A high school float that needed to be finished by a deadline was down to the wire when several students repeatedly failed to show up to help. A backstage dance show was more stressful when volunteers never arrived for costume or set changes. The same frustrations surfaced years later as my girls described co-workers at summer jobs who failed to show up and headed to the beach instead. This made the workload harder for those that did come to work and added extra hours to their shifts. Apparently, the word commitment did not enter into these absent students’ decisions.

To this day my grown children often tease me about my “stiff rules” when they took extracurricular activities. My standards were plain and simple. If they wanted to be enrolled in an activity of any kind, they were required to finish out the length of the course or sessions that I had signed them up to take. There were also obligations to the group or team that they wanted to join. Besides not wasting money, I wanted them to learn that there was scheduling involved when I needed to drive them to an activity, lesson, practice or game.

There is more to teaching your child academics to prepare him or her for adult life. Learning to be committed can start with pets, lessons, household chores and student involvement. Later on in life it will translate to success in advanced educational quests, job commitment and hopefully strong ties in personal relationships as well.

October 11, 2017 |

‘Annie Get Your Gun’ Hits the Mark!

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Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

 

 

The Westchester Broadway Theatre (WBT) in Elmsford has scored another winner with Annie Get Your Gun. As a child I watched westerns and wonderful musicals from that time period with my dad. One of my favorites featured the feisty heroine Annie Oakley. Now the WBT presents its version running through November 26th, then taking a break while its holiday production runs. Annie Get Your Gun resumes December 28th and runs through January 28th, perfect for adults and children alike to enjoy.

Storyline

This musical is a fictionalized version of the life of Annie Oakley. Annie’s (Devon Perry) ability as a sharpshooter wins her a job in Buffalo Bill’s (Gary Lynch) Wild West show. Her brilliant shooting offends the masculinity of the show’s star marksman, handsome baritone Frank Butler (Gregg Goodbrod), and makes a romance between the pair impossible. A happy ending only arrives when wise old Sitting Bull gently demonstrates to the naive Oakley that she can easily win the insecure Butler by intentionally losing a shooting competition.

With a winning score and fabulous vocals by the two leads and ensemble, old favorites met with audience approval judging from their extended applause. Songs such as There’s No Business Like Show Business, The Girl That I Marry and Anything You Can Do, all wonderful Irving Berlin creations, make this production even more enjoyable.

The WBT always offers unique stage design, creative choreography and is consistent in its amazing casting selections. Delicious dinner and lunch selections also complement the theatre experience. Every show features performers that are perfect for the part, have strong singing and dancing abilities and most important — chemistry.

Devon Perry is perfect as the woodsy, homespun Annie who relies on her marksmanship to feed her siblings, but when she falls in love has to discover her way around the romance arena.

Funny, heartwarming, and loaded with favorite classic songs, this production is a lively, wonderful production not to be missed! With the holidays coming, gift certificate presents or a night out with friends offer an easy way to get into the holiday spirit.

For reservations:  Call (914) 592-2222 or visit: www.BroadwayTheatre.com

Discounts for Groups of 20 or more as well as for children, students and senior citizens at select performances.

Ticket Prices: Dinner & Show range between $56.00 and $84.00 PLUS TAX depending on the performances chosen. Also check the website for on-going Special Offers!

 

October 4, 2017 |

Autumn Explorations – Dutchess County

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Bits & Pieces Column

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by Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

 

 

Enjoy the beauty of nature and the wonderful season of the foliage colors by going for a drive. There is so much to do in our area, especially in Dutchess County. Only 90 minutes from New York City, the heart of historic Hudson Valley is ideal for apple and pumpkin picking and a host of seasonal activities to enjoy. The Dutchess County Tourism Bureau offers an extensive agenda of things to do for both outdoor enthusiasts and those who prefer indoor activities. Dutchess County offers arts and entertainment, kids activities, farmers markets, floral festivals, craft fairs, concerts, shopping, antique hunting and so much more!

While the weather still cooperates, you can hike, bike, golf, and do some boating and fishing. Dutchess County has wonderful sites to partake of any of these pleasurable outdoor pastimes. There are golf courses, all with breathtaking views to enjoy. For those that love hiking, combine it with something for your taste buds, especially if you are a wine aficionado. Try the tours and tastings along the Dutchess Wine Trail. No need to travel to California vineyards when we have beautiful ones right here on the east coast! Some of the sites along the wine trail offer weekend activities that include musical entertainment and fine food to accompany the wine tasting.

History abounds in the Hudson Valley, and no visit to the area would be complete without a taste of our legendary past. There are castles and historic homes that are national landmarks such as Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Hyde Park, the Vanderbilt Mansion and the Samuel Morse Home as well as more than twenty other fascinating sites. A visit to the Morse home (he is the inventor of Morse code and the telegraph) includes a landscape garden tour as well as a visitor’s center with his inventions and artworks on display.

 

There are too many events to list here that are planned for the next few months. Dutchess County has exhibits, contests, music, crafts, tractor pulls, and flea markets. Speaking of flea markets, one of the most famous sites for this is the Stormville Airport Antique Show and Flea Market where more than 600 vendors from across the nation display an enormous variety of antiques, collectibles, and new items.

For more information, visit: www.stormvilleairportfleamarket.com

For more information about Dutchess County tourism call (845) 463-4000 or (800) 445-3131, or visit: www.dutchesstourism.com

Invite a friend, or gather up the family and head outdoors and visit some of these wonderful sites. Autumn has arrived and it is time we go out and celebrate it!

September 27, 2017 |

Ideas for Leftover Foreign Currency

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Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

 

 

For those readers that have made trips abroad this summer and have returned home with small amounts of that country’s currency, what do you do with it? Most often the coins or small paper bills are stored in a desk or jar, left unused. Most “souvenir coins” are too small to exchange back to U.S. currency, but they are a nice reminder of a vacation. Speaking of exchanges, if you have a large amount of currency left over, exchange it promptly once you return home. Recently a friend came across money from a trip to Barbados in the 1980s and went to the bank to exchange it. Luckily it was only about fifty dollars. The bank teller said that “in some foreign countries the money expires if you don’t turn it in within their set time frame,” and this was the case here.

 

Displaying Money

 

Years ago we ate in an international restaurant in Virginia. They had a unique display of coins and bills from around the world. Even patrons began to add to the decoration if they saw some coins or bills were missing. They began to give the owner currency “to add to your collection.” Unbelievable to see was that it was a huge frame hung fairly low on the wall above a large seating area and it did not have a glass frame over the display. In other words, the coins and bills were reachable if an unkind patron were to remove one. None were removed as the printed names of each country had currency below it. If you have currency that you would like to display there are many ways to do that. Bookstores sell special binders or insert sheets where coins can be inserted for safe keeping. These loose-leaf pages can be put in a binder as a collection of overseas trips. Perhaps you are handy with a craft glue gun and would like to turn several coins into magnets for your refrigerator. Arts and craft stores have rows of shadow boxes or small wooden plaques that can be stained or painted as the backdrop for your coins that are glued to it. If you have a friend that is a school teacher that has geography units as part of the curriculum, some coins can be used as a teaching tool. Then again, if you know of someone traveling to the country for which you have leftover money, you can always give it to he or she to use.

September 20, 2017 |

School Lunch Packing Begins Again

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Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

 

 

Making a child’s school lunch is easy for about the first two months of school. Then the challenge begins on how to make the lunch “exciting” and healthy at the same time. Because children consume 35-50% of their daily calories in school, healthy lunches are doubly important. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), one in three American children and teens are overweight, even obese; triple the rate in 1963. Later in life this can translate to high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and elevated blood cholesterol levels. So here are a few budget-friendly ideas from the AHA for making children a healthy lunch and keeping them happy.

Creative Sandwiches

Make a smarter sandwich using different breads like 100% whole wheat tortilla wraps or whole wheat pita pockets. In addition to lettuce and tomato, try shredded carrot or zucchini and thinly sliced cucumbers, peppers or apple or pear, especially on a turkey or chicken sandwich. Children’s tastes are more sophisticated nowadays, so many will enjoy avocado or hummus as a swap for cheese or mayo. Dinner leftovers are also good, with grilled chicken being very versatile.

Speaking of leftovers, last night’s dinner can appear in a lunch thermos the next day. Think about giving your child leftover vegetable or bean soup or a veggie-filled chili made with lean beef or ground chicken. Kids love spaghetti or curly pasta salad, which can be loaded with diced vegetables for a tasty lunch. Snacks or treats after lunch doesn’t always mean it has to be candy or cookies. Kids love to “dunk” their snacks. Having apple and pear slices to dip into low-fat plain yogurt or peanut butter works nicely. Cortland, Empire and Ginger Gold apples brown at a slower rate than other apples, so they are more appealing later in the day. Try to avoid packing sugary drinks like “power” drinks, soda or juices with added sugar to your child’s lunch box or home meals. Water or school-purchased milk is a great option to reduce sugar in the diet. Substitute crunchy cut veggies or fruit for the fried, fatty chips.

Try to get your child involved in coming up with lunch ideas, too. If they help to pack their lunches, they’re more likely to eat that lunch! On nights you have a bit more time, like a Sunday night, have them choose which piece of fruit or what type of whole grain bread they want and let them assemble their lunch. Make this a weekly routine as another great way to spend family time together.

September 13, 2017 |

Childhood Memories Evoked by Special Foods

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Bits & Pieces Column

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By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

 

 

Do you remember when the sound of the Good Humor truck’s bells sent your heart racing? Who can forget such tasty treats as coco­nut, chocolate éclair or toasted almond ice cream pops? You can still buy them in the supermarket, but the impact is not the same as waiting for that magical truck to appear on a summer evening.

Certain foods have connections to our childhood that can bring back wonderful memories. Who remembers the popular NYC restaurant chain, Horn & Hardart (H&H)? As a little girl, trips to the city with my grandmother always included lunch at the “auto­mat.” What was an automat? It was a cafeteria with an unusual way of serving its offerings. There was a whole wall of little glass windows, similar to post office boxes that some people use to receive mail. Above the windows was the name of the item inside. Customers peered in the window and saw sandwiches, cake slices, puddings, Jell-O, sal­ads, etc. Self service — customers dropped the correct change in a coin slot next to the chosen window to unlock it. (In those days most items were under a dollar!) Seating there was unique too, as you sat at any empty spot rather than waiting for your own table. This often meant being at the same table with others already seated, like you did in a school cafeteria. Prices were reasonable, the food was good, and we often chatted with the most interesting people during our meal, discussing our day in the city.

Pudding!

The highlight of eating at the automat was having a dish of their fabulously deli­cious tapioca pudding. If you’ve eaten at Horn & Hardart you know what I am talking about, especially if you are a tapioca enthusiast! This pudding was thick, rich, and creamy and contained large “pearls” of tapioca. (Tapioca is a starch derived from the cassava root, native to South America.) I just now learned it is also gluten free, which we never knew back in the day. I have nev­er found another tapioca pud­ding able to hold a can­dle to this heavenly dessert at H&H. Even making it myself at home from packaged “tapioca pearls” does not come close. Can it be my memory of this pudding is tied to its taste, or is it something more? Perhaps it is the fond memories of going to the city with my be­loved grandmother. Whatever the answer, the memories remain over half a century later!

 

September 6, 2017 |
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