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Three New Hanukkah Books for 2017

Check out these three new Hanukkah picture books for 2017.

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Hanukkah begins Tuesday, December 12.  My husband is part Jewish and although we don’t make a big deal out of celebrating, I find reading picture books with kids helps build holiday excitement. My kids are a little old now for picture book reading (their opinion, not mine!).  However, in the past we have read lots of Hanukkah books which I featured in this round up. Even if you aren’t Jewish, I think reading Hanukkah-themed books with kids helps them gain a better understanding of a different culture and holiday.  Here are three new Hanukkah books for 2017.

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Little Red Ruthie:  A Hanukkah Tale by Gloria Koster
Illustrated by: Sue Eastland
Published by:  Albert Whitman Company, August 2017
Pages: 32
Price: $16.99
Source:  borrowed from the library

Review:  This is a cute Hanukkah take on the classic Little Red Riding Hood.  Ruthie is a smart and brave little girl who even teaches the wolf about Hanukkah.  A recipe for potato latkes is included in the back of the book. This was a cute Hanukkah story.

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Queen of the Hanukkah Dosas by Pamela Ehrenberg
Illustrated by: Anjan Sarkar
Published by: Farrar Straus Giroux, October 2017
Pages: 40
Price: $16.99
Source:  borrowed from the library

Review:  This book is about an Indian-Jewish family who is celebrating Hanukkah by making dosas.  The main character gets annoyed at his little sister because she climbs too much.  Luckily though,  little Sadie’s climbing comes in handy.  At the back of the book is a recipe for dosas and sambar.  I enjoyed the multi-cultural aspect of this book very much.  However, I found the plot to be a bit forced.

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Way Too Many Latkes by Linda Glaser
Illustrated by: Aleksander Zolotic
Published by: Kar-ben Publishing, August 2017
Pages: 32
Price: $17.99
Source: borrowed from the library

Review:  Faigel makes the best latkes in all of Chelm.  But this year she has forgotten the recipe.  With her husband, Shmuel’s help,and using the rabbi’s advice, Faigel ends up making way too many latkes.  Luckily, the problem is easily solved.  Chelm is a fictional Jewish town and part of Jewish folklore.  There is more information about Chlem stories at the end of the book.  This was an okay Hanukkah read.

2017 Westchester County Valentine’s Day Dining Guide

Valentine’s Day is less than two weeks away.  If you are planning on going out to dinner with your sweetheart, reservations are a must!  Here is a look at some of the area’s restaurants that will be offering special Valentine’s Day menus.  Most other restaurants throughout the area will be open and serving their regular menu.  Regardless of where you decide to eat, be sure to make reservations now!

Please check the restaurant’s website or call for the most up-to-date information.  Additionally, please note that prices listed below do not include tax and gratuities.

Benjamin’s Steak House (Steak House)
610 Hartsdale Road
White Plains, NY 10607
reservations:  (914) 428-6868

Benjamin’s Steak House is offering a 3 course Valentine’s dinner menu for $89/person.  Dinner is served 4-10 PM.

Gaucho Grill (Argentinean Steak House)
One North Broadway
White Plains, NY 10601
reservations: (914) 437-9966 or online

Gaucho Grill is offering a special 3 course dinner for $65/person.  Dinner hours are from 3-10 PM.

Half Moon (New American)
1 High Street
Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522
reservations:  (914) 693-4130

Half Moon is offering a special 3 course dinner for $65/person.  Dinner hours are 5:30-10 PM.

Harvest-on-Hudson (Italian)
1 River Street
Hastings, NY 10706
reservations: (914) 478-2800 or online (A deposit is required when making reservations)

Harvest-on-Hudson is open from 5-10 PM on Valentine’s Day.  They are offering a special three course dinner for $69/person.

The Hudson Room (New American and Sushi Bar)
23 South Division Street
Peekskill, NY 10566
reservations:  (914) 788-FOOD

From 5-11 PM, The Hudson Room is offering a 4-course dinner for $70/person.  At 6:30 and 8:30 PM there will be live jazz musical performances.

La Panetiere (French)
530 Milto Road
Rye, NY 10580
reservations:  (914) 967-8140

The French restaurant is having two seatings, 5:30 and 8:30 PM.  The three course dinner costs $90/person or $140/person with wine pairing.

Modern on the Rails (Italian, New American)
One Station Plaza
Mamaroneck, NY 10543
reservations:  (914) 777-9300

Modern on the Rails is offering a four course Valentine’s Day menu for $65/person.  The restaurant is open until 10:30 PM.

Moderne Barn (New American)
430 Bedford Ave.
Armonk, NY 10504
reservations: (914) 730-0001 or online

From 5-10 PM, diners can enjoy Chef Ethan’s 3 course prix-fixe menu.  The dinner costs $78/person or $118/person with wine pairing.

One Twenty One (New American)
2 Dingle Ridge Road
North Salem, NY 10560
reservations:  (914) 669-0121

One Twenty One is taking Valentine’s Day reservations from 5-9:30 PM.  Chef Beck Bolender is preparing a 3 course pre-fixe menu for $65/person.

Plates (New American)
121 Myrtle Boulevard
Larchmont, NY 10538
reservations:  (914) 834-1244 or online

Plates is having four Valentine’s Day seatings, with a 3 course prix-fixe menu.   The 5:00 and 6:30 PM seatings cost $65/person and the 6:30 and 8:00 PM seatings cost $85/person.

Red Hat on the River (French Bistro)
One Bridge Street
Irvington-on-Hudson, NY 10533
reservations:  (914) 591-5888 or online

Red Hat on the River is offering a special Valentine’s Day menu for $72/person plus gratuities.  They also have four special Valentine’s Day cocktails that they will be serving that evening.

Rosemary and Vine (Mediterranean)
29 Purchase Street
Rye, NY 10580
reservations:  (914) 481-8660

On Valentine’s Day, enjoy live music while you dine on Rosemary and Vine’s 3 course prix-fixe menu.  The vegetarian menu costs $45/person and an additional $28 for a wine pairing.  The restaurant is open until 9 PM.

Thyme (New American)
3605 Crompond Rd.
Yorktown Heights, NY 10598
reservations: (914) 788-8700

Thyme is offering a 3 course menu as well as a complimentary glass of champagne and a chocolate rose for $90/person.  Dinner hours are 4-10 PM.

Putnam County:

The Arch  (French)
1292 Route 22
Brewster, NY 10509
reservations:  (845) 279-5011

The Arch is serving a 4 course Valentine’s Day menu from 5-9:00 PM for $85/person.

Hudson House River Inn  (New American)
2 Main Street
Cold Spring, NY
reservations:  (845) – 265-9355

Hudson House River Inn has special 3 course Valentine’s Day menu for $47/person.  Their regular menu is available to order from as well.  The restaurant is open for dinner from 5-9 PM and they will have a keyboardist playing live music.  They also have special Valentine’s Day overnight packages as well.

Jaipore Royal Indian Cuisine (Indian)
280 Rt 22
Brewster, NY 10509
reservations:  (845) 277-3549

Jaipore has a special Valentine’s lunch buffet served from 12:00-2:30 PM for $15.99/person.  They are also offering a special dinner buffet from 5:00-9:45 PM for $25.99/person.

Ramiro’s 954 (Latin)
954 Route 6
Mahopac, NY 10541
reservations:  (845) 621-3333 or online

This Latin eatery is offering a 3 course prix-fixe menu for $55/person, which includes a dessert to share.  The restaurant is open from 3:30-9:00 PM.

Rockland County:

BV’s Grill (New American)
400 High Avenue
Nyack, NY 10960
reservations:  (845) 675-8740

BV’s Grill is offering a special three course Valentine’s Day menu on Saturday, February 11 from 4-11 PM as well as on Valentine’s Day from 5-10 PM.  The dinner costs $150/couple and includes a champagne toast and dancing.

Quinta Steakhouse (Steakhouse)
24 E. Central Ave.
Pearl River, NY 10965
reservations:  (845) 735-5565

Quinta Steakhouse is offering a special Valentine’s Day a’la carte menu as well as their regular dinner menu.  Dinner is served from 5-9 PM.

Sixty 5 On Main (Mediterranean)
65 Main Street
Nyack, NY 10960
reservations:  (845) 358-5200

Sixty 5 on Main is offering two seatings, 6:30 and 8:30 PM.  Ginetta’s Vendetta Band will be playing live music beginning at 7 PM.  They are offering a 4 course dinner with a complimentary bottle of red, white or sparkling wine for $130/couple.

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7 Low-Cost and Fun Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching.  I’m not one that gets very excited about Valentine’s Day as a romantic holiday.  However, I enjoy celebrating the holiday with the kids.  They still get excited over the little things, so I have to take advantage of it while I can!  And that’s what really makes parenting and celebrating most holidays special. I’m not one though to spend lots of money on candy-filled hearts and stuffed animals for the kids.  Like I said, for me it’s all about the little things.  Here are seven low-cost but fun ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day!

1. Decorate the house – Hand up red, pink and white streamers and/or balloons.  Or keep it simple and cut out construction paper hearts.   We have an outdoor heart flag that we hang up outside as well as some Valentine heart kitchen towels.  Remember, little things.

Red clothes

2. Wear red or pink!  –  I’m sure most of us have at least one piece of red or pink clothing.  This is the time when I pull out the red sweater, that I might have also worn at Christmas time!   I stopped buying those cute, holiday-themed shirts for the kids years ago, when I realized that they only got worn a handful of times.   So, on Valentine’s Day, they wear the red graphic shirts that they already own.

Heart Cookie Cutters

3.  Have a heart shaped breakfast  – Break out the heart shaped cookie cutters and make heart-shaped pancakes.  Or shape them free-hand if you’re really good! You can serve them with sliced strawberries and strawberry yogurt for a festive breakfast.   To continue the heart-shaped food theme, you can use the cookie cutters to make heart-shaped sandwiches to pack for school lunch.

4.  Make (or buy) a Valentine’s treat – This year Valentine’s Day is on a Tuesday….a school day.  So I’m a bit hesitant with this one myself.  I know that there will be parties at school and lots of candy attached to those Valentines that they give and receive.  However, it’s a special occasion.  So heart shaped cookies or brownies will most likely be making an appearance after dinner.

5. Have a scavenger hunt – The kids loved this the year we did it.  I took Hershey Kisses and hid them around the house, giving little clues as to where the next set was hidden.   The Valentine’s Day bags of Hershey Kisses have red, pink and silver wrappings.  You can assign each child a different color and match hiding spots and clues accordingly.

6. List reasons why you love your kids – Or better yet, you can make it a family activity.  Each family member writes down reasons that they love the other members of the family.  You can do this before dinner and then read them aloud while you’re eating.

7.  Give the kids coupon books – We did this one year as a Valentine present for the kids.  We made coupons that entitled them to things like extra screen time, or a free pass on one of their chores.

Bonus:  To help you prepare for next year, hit the stores the days after Valentine’s Day and stock up on decorations and items for next year!!

How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day with your kids?

Celebrating Chinese New Year in Westchester County

Chinese New Year begins this Saturday, January 28th.  This year is the year of the Rooster.  There are several events where families can celebrate Chinese New Year in Westchester County and the surrounding areas.  Although we are not Chinese, I am fortunate that we live in an area where there are many opportunities for families to experience different cultures and experiences.  You can read all about Chinese New Year in this post.

Although this information was accurate at the time of posting, please check individual websites for the most accurate and up-to-date information.  

Free:

Saturday, January 28, 2017 (Chappaqua, NY)
The Chappaqua Library  is hosting an all ages Chinese New Year celebration from 3-4:30.  The event is free but pre-registration is required.

Saturday, January 28, 2017 (Carmel, NY)
Although the Chuang Yen Monastery is not normally open during the winter for visitors, they will be open on January 28 for a Chinese Lunar New Year Blessing Ceremony from 9 AM – 5 PM.

For a Cost:

Saturday, January 28, 2017 (Greenwich, CT)
The Chinese Language School of Connecticut is hosting their 15th Annual New Year’s Celebration.  This event will take place from 11 AM to 3 PM at the Greenwich High School Student Center in Greenwich, Connecticut.  Festivities include a dragon dance, a Chinese Buffet, music, crafts, demonstrations, performances and more. Tickets cost $30/child, $45/adult.

Saturday, February 25, 2017 (Purchase, NY)
The Westchester Association of Chinese Americans (WACA NY) is hosting their Chinese New Year Celebration on February 25, 2017 at SUNY Purchase College.  The theme this year is “Culture and Traditions of the Chinese New Year Festival” and will include food sampling, calligraphy, paper crafts and more as well as dance, martial art and musical instrument performances.  Early bird tickets are available until February 13 and cost $15/child, $20/adult.

Saturday, March 11, 2017 (Mahopac, NY)
Dragon and Crane, an “American Chinese Cultural Center” located in Somers, NY is hosting their Chinese New Year Celebration on March 11, 2017 at the Putnam National Golf Club.  This celebration includes an appetizer and cocktail hour, performances, buffet dinner, dessert and awards ceremony.  Non-member tickets cost $43/child, $75/adult.

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Chinese New Year 2017: Year of the Rooster

This Saturday, January 28 is the start of the Chinese New Year.  The date changes every year since it is based on the lunar calendar.  Over the next fifteen days this holiday will be celebrated with parades, lion dances, firecrackers and lots of good food!

There are many myths and traditions associated with this holiday.   Prior to the new year, families often do a thorough cleansing of their houses to sweep away any bad luck.  Plastic firecrackers are often hung inside houses. They symbolize the loud noises that real firecrackers make and are intended to frighten evil spirits away.  The color red is the main color of the Chinese New Year and is associated with joy and happiness.  Children receive red envelopes with “lucky” money.

Each year in the Chinese New Year is an animal from the Chinese zodiac.  2017 is the year of the Rooster.  Roosters, those born in the years 1933, 1945, 1957, 1981, 1993 or 2005 are considered to be loyal, hard-working and brave.   However, this year is believed to be unlucky for those born in a year of the Rooster.

Food plays an important role during the Chinese New Year.  Different foods are thought to bring luck into the new year.  A new year’s feast may include fish, which symbolizes abundance and prosperity,  golden, fried dumplings since gold symbolizes wealth and prosperity, long noodles, which represent longevity and mandarin oranges, which are considered to be lucky.

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Although I am not Chinese, I think that it’s important to educate and acknowledge my children about other cultures. Last year we read several books about Chinese New Year.  In previous years we have made a Chinese dinner together, complete with egg rolls and homemade dumplings.

 

There are many ways that you can celebrate Chinese New Year with your family!  You can make a Chinese lantern, wish each other Happy New Year in Chinese,  read a book about Chinese New Year, have a meal that includes some of the lucky foods, or even attend a local celebration.

Kung Hei Fat Choy!  How are you celebrating Chinese New Year with your family?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!  We are fortunate to be spending this day down in Maryland with my family.  We are grateful for you, the readers of this little blog.  May you enjoy this day with your family and friends and reflect on all that you are grateful and thankful for.