December 20, 2008
I feel like I’m the luckiest girl in the world right now! I just had new furniture delivered yesterday (which the cats have already claimed for themselves!), it’s snowing and there might actually be some left on the ground to give us our first “White Christmas” in years, and my boyfriend cleaned off my car for me this morning and made me hot cocoa before I had to work at the library. I got some emails letting me know that there are things going on over the holidays, and I found my leftover Christmas cards from last year! Life is good!
If you have already finished your Christmas shopping, writing out cards, and prepping for the holiday entertaining, read on…there are things to do! (If you are rushing around like me, fear not…I have some helpful hints on here to help you manage to get everything done on time and on a budget…they will be listed after the “things to do” info!)
Walkin’ in a winter wonderland…
This is in NYC but I’ve seen something like this at the Botanical Gardens and it was just so cool…the Holiday Train Show at the Transit Museum features model trains running through a holiday season NYC setup. The best part is that it’s FREE!
The Old Village Hall Museum in Lindenhurst is featuring an exhibit of toys, decorations, and dollhouses from Christmases past. Call 631-957-4385 for more information.
One of my favorite things to do is to drive around and look at the light shows that people have set up on their front lawns (and wonder if they have promised their first born to LIPA–I’d hate to see their bill!). Click here to view a list of great Christmas houses!
Even if you aren’t religious, there is something special about Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve in an old church. The incense, the music, the candles, the celebration…I’m not going to list all the churches here, but this website will help you locate one close to you!
The National Park Service is hosting a Holiday Hike on Fire Island at 9AM on Friday…three hours, three miles, and parking is available at Smith Point County Park. Call 631-281-3010 for more information.
Keep it local…
Local fave Jay Scott has a couple of gigs coming up that are worth seeing…TONIGHT, Saturday, at Once and For All with a host of other local musical names such as Jessie Pagano, Chris P. Cauley and Jason Tebaldi. Next week, Jay will be at Stephen Talkhouse…I’m hearing rumors of a bus trip…let me know if you’d like to know more!
Single and looking for something to do on New Year’s Eve?
Singles Dining Out Meetup will be getting together for a New Year’s Eve dinner at Meritage. It’s not too late to join up and take advantage of this great group! (I know it will be more than Cheap Date Guidelines, but it’s New Year’s Eve…treat yourself!)
Attention, last minute shoppers!
As promised, here are some more helpful hints to make your holiday planning a bit less hectic!
Forgot to send out your holiday cards? Let the people you care about know you haven’t forgotten them with an e-card! American Greetings is my favorite online card site…but if you prefer something a little more “blue”, JibJab is the site for you. Just remember, real e-cards provide a link to click on…be careful, as there is a virus with “e-card” in the title and an attachment…real e-cards don’t use attachments!
It’s a little too late to order online for Christmas delivery, but there are still some great gifts to be had on a budget with only a little bit of running around! My favorite gift for my friends is what I call my “Take a Night Off” gift bag. Contents: 1 bottle of wine or good microbrew. Chocolate. Candle or incense. Book. Video store gift card for $10. The best part is that you can tailor this gift to anyone’s taste! (Looking to do this for an office chum or someone you don’t know that well? Here’s some helpful info! Port wine is popular and well liked…paired with dark chocolate, it’s decadent! Candle scents can be a bit tricky…vanilla is the most universally liked scent, and therefore the safest choice. The book? My pick is “The 2,548 Best Things Anyone Ever Said” and can often be found in paperback at Borders on the sale tables for under $10!)
Don’t forget the furbabies! This is the perfect time of year to get a new collar or some special treats! The best part? You can often get these items in the supermarket! Scan your supermarket’s online circular to see if there are any special deals before heading out!
No gift wrap? No problem! My favorite form of wrapping involves brown paper bags! (You might think of them as lunch baggies.) For a homespun look, add red or ivory tissue peeking out the top, and tie with red raffia. Easy, cheap, and looks great!
All for now! Check back soon as there’s always new events being emailed to me! Merry Christmas!
Stuffed deer heads on walls are bad enough, but it’s worse when they are wearing dark glasses and have streamers in their antlers because then you know they were enjoying themselves at a party when they were shot.-Ellen
December 16, 2008
The holidays are closing in! I’ve got three gifts so far, haven’t done my cards, and have one day off between now and then. I’ve got three Christmas parties, my honey’s birthday, and a vet visit and a furniture delivery to squeeze in between now and then, and I’m having the family over on Christmas Eve. The rest of it may be a bit stressful, but I’m not really sweating having the family over. Why? Because I know how to entertain without having to work too hard, or spend too much time in the kitchen when I could be having a glass of wine with my guests! You don’t have to be a great cook or have a fabulous home to make your holiday entertaining a success…let me teach you a few tricks!
There are some wonderful, SIMPLE things you can make that will ensure your guests will be eating (and enjoying) while you spend your time socializing. After all, isn’t the sit down dinner best left to other people to do? I know I’d rather do the noshie thing and let people wander and chat! So let me let you in on some of my favorite party recipes (perfect for those who are cooking impaired)!
Prepackaged frozen ravioli, eggs, olive oil, bread crumbs, red sauce, grated cheese. Take the frozen ravioli and cook in boiling water until they star to float. Remove from water, dip in beaten raw egg, coat in bread crumbs and fry in oil til slightly browned. Sprinkle lightly with grated cheese and serve with red sauce. Add sprig of parsley or basil if desired. Total time 20 minutes.
Small zucchini, goat cheese, sundried tomato, sliced black olive, olive oil, baby basil sprigs. Cut zucchini into 1/4″ slices. Place on baking sheet brushed down with olive oil. Take goat cheese and blend with sundried tomato for about one minute. Place small scoops onto each slice, top with sliced olive and small basil sprig, bake in 375 degree oven for 10 minutes, and serve. Total time 20 minutes.
Pillsbury bread dough, pepperoni, ham, mozzarella cheese, spinach, garlic. This is one of my favorites! Not only is it easy, but fast! Open the bread dough, slice it down the middle and flatten . Add your favorite meats and cheeses, roll back up, place on baking tray and bake according to directions. Looking for something on the sweeter side? Instead of meat and cheese, stuff the bread with semisweet chocolate, cream cheese, nuts and cranberries. Perfect for the cake and coffee crowd!
Seafood avocado salad
Avocados, shrimp/crabmeat, chili powder, limes/lime juice, garlic, salt and pepper, fresh tomatoes (grape/cherry, halved; sliced and cubed, salted and drained on paper towel). Drain a few limes so you have about 1/4 cup of juice. Save peels. Peel avocado and cube, mix with all ingredients (to taste) EXCEPT tomatoes. Spoon tomatoes into the bottom of a rocks glass. Spoon avocado mixture over tomatoes and garnish with lime peel. Total time 10 minutes.
Port mulled fruit over ricotta
Ruby port, plums/cherries/berries (or any seasonal fruit that would lend itself to cooking in wine), ricotta, honey, vanilla extract. This one always gets raves and it’s so easy! Pour 2 cups port into a saucepan. Slice fruit (pit cherries or plums) but leave skins on. Place in saucepan with port over low to medium heat and stir occasionally, until it takes on a syruplike consistency. In a bowl, mix ricotta, honey, and vanilla extract. Stir well until thoroughly blended. Keep cool until ready to serve. Pour mulled fruit mixture while hot over cool ricotta and serve right away. Total time 10 minutes.
You’ve got the menu…now what?
Before guests even get to your home, create an atmosphere with smell and light. Candles are a wonderful way to create a mood. The honey and I got some yummy gingerbread scented candles at Michaels, priced at 2 for $7. A few hints about candles…you always hear about trimming the wick to 1/4 to 3/8″–do it! The candle will burn slower and closer to the wax, creating a more satisfying experience. Another hint–DON’T stick your nose right in the candle to see if you like the scent! Smell the lid–the true scent of the candle will be there, NOT inside the jar. Scents like vanilla and sugar cookie are almost universally liked, create a cozy ambiance, and stimulate the appetite.
Music can be a tough call. Usually at the holidays, you will have a crowd of varying ages and tastes coming together. Your gathering should be more about the people than the music…and you certainly don’t want to offend anyone–OR, be constantly running to the CD player to change discs. Do yourself a favor and burn a disc with a mix of songs that will play for a long while. Mix the styles–Nina Simone, Massive Attack, Johnny Cash, and Calexico can all live happily on the same CD. After all, it’s just supposed to be background music…
Pets, plants and so on…
Your furbaby may be your best friend, but not everyone may be so enamored. Do your best to contain your pets in a room that is relatively off limits to guests. Not only will you spare your guests the added bonus of fur on their clothes, but your pets will be less stressed as well. (Anyone who thinks that their pet will revel in having guests at the house might be shocked to see aggressive behavior from their ball o’ fur when meeting someone new.) Make sure that they have plenty of food and water and are able to relieve themselves (I mean the pets—but that goes for the guests as well!). You’ll ensure a much happier pet that way.
There are certain plants pets find irresistable, and with a house full of greenery, it’s entirely possible that your furbaby may decide that the balsam you’ve worked so hard to decorate would make a great nom-nom. (That’s something to chew on for all you non-cat people out there). Most Christmas plants are NOT poisonous (contrary to popular belief and all those websites with people stating that pointsettia, etc…kill animals), but will cause gastric distress (i.e.; puke). Do yourself (and the environment) a favor. Get a potted tree and put it on your deck instead. You can plant it when the holidays are over!
In the “spirit” of Christmas…
In an earlier post, I had mentioned how to put on a “cheap wine party”. It’s a great way to break the ice and get everyone chatting. Another way is with adult party games (get yer mind out of the gutter!). Click here for a huge database of grown up games that will get the crowd going!
This has nothing to do with throwing a party, but I found this article today while trying to look up a phone number! Anyone who thinks Patchogue is a hard drinking town will get a laugh out of a trial held for a couple of local barkeeps during the temperance movement this week back in 1886!
This just in…
The Harbor Crab is hosting a very special holiday event! This Wednesday, they will be hosting a fundraiser where three very deserving families will be “Kris Kringled”! Admission is FREE, there will be great food and music as well! It’s a hard year for a lot of families out there…won’t you do your part to help? Donations will also be gladly accepted.
All for now…if I don’t post before Christmas, have a wonderful Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Diwali, Ramadan (I know some of these passed, sorry!), and know that the best wishes of the season are going out from me to you!
December 13, 2008
The holidays are coming, the holidays are coming! And I have only bought three gifts so far! So much running to do, so many places to go, and so many people to see make this a hectic time of year. However, take some time to kick back with a cup of coffee and smell the gingerbread…before you know it, we’ll be well into 2009!
Don’t know much about history…
The holidays are the perfect time of year to wander around a Main Street or downtown–about an hour before the shops close. The sun has set, the shop windows are lit up with tiny lights and Christmas decorations that the dark makes seem all that much brighter. One beautiful historic downtown is Roslyn…with its clock tower, Diane’s Bakery, and more, this is worth a drive!
Stony Brook Village also has a quaint Village center that overlooks the water. With stores like Godiva, The Writing Place, and Wish…this is a great little getaway worth a stop!
While in the area, check out the Country House Restaurant! With new bar menus, you can dine on steak, crab cakes and other yummy items in what was rated 2007’s Most Romantic Long Island Restaurant and still not break the bank!
Sealed with a kiss
Want to see the seals off our coasts but not up to going all the way out to Montauk to do it? This week, CRESLI starts its Seal Walks at Cupsogue Beach. For a small donation, you can see seals frolic in their natural habitat.
The Riverhead Foundation does a wonderful job of helping and saving injured, sick, or tired sea mammals. If you have ever thought of adopting an animal, but just did not feel like handling the upkeep…here’s your answer! Adopt one of their animals! They do the work, you get the adoption certificate and the knowledge that you have done something to help an animal!
Well, the year is winding down, and the gigs are a bit fewer this time of year as everyone is rushing around trying to get ready for the holidays! However, there are still some great shows worth seeing! For example, Lucky 13 will be playing WoodSongs at the Cinemas this week. Do not miss this talented trio!
On Thursday, the 18th, the Vail-Leavitt Music Hall will be hosting “Original Voices at the Hall” and collecting for Toys for Tots!
Straight from the art…
A couple of exhibits you shouldn’t miss out on before they are gone! Through January 4, the Nassau County Museum of Art presents the Sensuous Art Nouveau World of Louis Comfort Tiffany…before you start thinking that art is all stuffy, think about it…this is the guy who designed those stained glass windows and lamps that people still love today!
The Heckscher Museum in Huntington is featuring an exhibit of Mythic Landscapes of America through January 4th.
All for now…don’t forget to check previous posts for holiday happenings, coupons, and dining deals. I’ll be back soon with more to do! NEXT POST–Holiday entertaining for singles! Throw a party, and impress your friends and family with these quick and easy recipes and fun (and yes, cheap) ideas!
Ideas? Comments? Let me know at email@example.com!
December 9, 2008
Another night at the library. Students are getting ready for finals and rushing around trying to find articles for papers that are due next week. It’s fine by me…I already decorated this place for the holidays, and dusted everything down. Not much else to do except write…and since we are heading towards the holidays (and winter break for me), I’m looking forward to jazzing up my teensy tiny apartment with a paint job and some new furniture. (Hence the kind of color related quote to open…) That brings me to my first entry…
There’s no place like home!
I love my apartment. It’s tiny, and cozy, but at the same time just big enough for me to have a few friends over for some wine and a movie. However, I’ve been there for a while, and the paint really needs to be redone. As someone who worked as an interior designer for twenty years, I like to keep my fingers on the pulse of the coming trends. And, oh, joy…the wimpy pastels and neutrals that have been everywhere for the past few years are getting kicked to the curb! Color is back (as per Pantone, the color forecasters for the fashion industry)! The hottest colors for 2009 are lemon, olive, and plum…and contrast is key! Put a soft powdery blue on the walls, throw a deep red-plum sofa in, add in some menswear accents and some old world gold drapery rods (I’m paraphrasing the Benjamin Moore website here) and you’ll be ready for 2009-2010!
The best way to update your home on the cheap is with paint. However, many people are terrified that they are going to make a huge mistake by painting with the color they fell in love with on the swatch. Fear not! Here’s how to ensure you’ll be making the right decision! For you tech savvy folks, Benjamin Moore has this nifty little widget on their website that will let you upload a picture of your own room and virtually paint it! For those of you who are a little more hands on, here’s how to ensure a good decision. Paint a piece of foamcore in the color of your choice. Move it around the room you are looking to paint and look at it at different times of day (especially the time of day that you will be using the room the most). If you love it, it’s a safe bet that you’ll be happy with it when it is on your walls.
Paint is the fastest and least expensive way to update a room. You will average 300 square feet per gallon, and for a good paint, expect to spend $30 a gallon. Cheap paint usually equals lousy coverage and more coats, ending up at a higher cost than if you had made the investment in the good stuff in the first place. Make sure you prime first! The secret to a good paint job is the prep you put into it.
Where does this fall under being a Cheap Date? I’ve had some great dates with pizza, beer and paint! Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it!
Cinema Arts has some great things coming up! This week, what is considered to be one of the first animated films–The Adventures of Prince Achmed–will be shown in all is restored glory (with organ accompaniment by Ben Model). Coming soon–the Return of Summer Camp Cinema with Black Christmas and Silent Night, Deadly Night, and ghetto kung-fu with the cult classic Dolemite! $9 gets you in!
The Staller Center has its Spring Passes for its film series on sale NOW! $25 gets you a season’s worth of great movies–at just over $2 apiece!
One thing I LOVE is Italian food. Having eaten at some of the best restaurants on LI (such as Cirellas, Mangia Mangia, etc. and etc.) AND having been engaged to one guy whose family was from Monte Verde and having been married to a Sicilian, I know good “gravy”. However, many of the really good places can be really expensive. One little gem stands out though…and it is possible to have a great meal including appetizers and an entree for under $30 (not including vino) at Carnival! Good food, huge portions, and no plate sharing fee makes this a great Cheap Date!
Is that a paintbrush in your pocket, or are you happy to see me?
The Smithtown Arts Council is hosting an Open Juried show that runs from now until December 30. This looks good…don’t miss it!
Some of the local galleries are hosting holiday events that might be a bit out of Cheap Date standards to actually make a purchase; but–isn’t most of the fun just going and looking anyway? Gallery North, b.j. spoke, and the East End Arts Council all have wonderful items to please any eye.
All for now, you kooky cats! I’ll be back this weekend with lots more to do! Have an event that should be on here? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org!
December 6, 2008
I love that quote! I still pick up freelance writing gigs here and there, but most of what I write is for fun and for free. I get a lot of questions about why I blog…why don’t I just set up a website and charge for advertising space…and what I get asked about the most, “I’d really like to create a blog of my own…how do I get started?” I’ll answer these questions at the end of this post. But for now…let’s just jump right in and see what this week has to offer!
I saw this floating around on the Internet and I just had to post it here. My apologies to those who have seen it already, but I think this is just hilarious!
You have to understand…big box stores scare the bejeezus out of me! There’s something truly frightening about places you can get food AND the tires on your car changed, while renegade toddlers take great joy in careening shopping carts into the backs of passers by. I prefer the smaller shops, where help is available, special orders are a possibility, and a walk down a Main Street with shopping bags in one hand and a decaf nonfat latte in the other (I know, it’s a “why bother?” coffee drink, but I like it…) is just the ticket as to how I enjoy my holiday shopping. Browse back about two posts to get a list of local Long Island businesses (see KIOLI), or just click below for some information about some Main Streets that have lots to offer for the holiday shopper!
Bellport Village–with art galleries, quaint shops, and killer restaurants, this is a must visit little town!
To get back my youth I would do anything in the world, except take exercise, get up early, or be respectable.-Wilde
December 4, 2008
I had to go for a stress test today…so much fun! (NOT!) It seemed so easy when they they first tethered me up and put me on the treadmill. “Bring it on,” I thought. “This is just way too easy–what is all the fuss about?” Then the speed started increasing, and the angle of the incline. Pretty soon, I was a sweaty mess, breathing heavy and running on the darn thing. It made me realize that I really need to get off my butt and out exercising not only on my lunch hour, but on the weekends as well…and with that being said, let me let you in on some great outdoor activities going on this weekend that will get your heartrate up, your legs moving, and some fresh air on your skin!
Seal of approval
Starting this week, CRESLI will be running their Seal Walks. Get up close and personal with seals both out in Montauk and Cupsogue. Reservations are required, but this is something you really should not miss! $5 per adult, $3 per child, and suitable for the whole family. What I want to know more about is the Seal Cruises! Sign me up!
The Long Island Trail Lovers Coalition lists many great hiking trails on their site…just because there’s a nip in the air doesn’t mean it’s not a good time to walk through the woods! In fact, at this time of year it’s often easier to see the wildlife than when there’s leaves on the trees!
It may not be cold enough to go ice skating outdoors yet, but rest assured, there are plenty of places to go indoors! The Rinx is a personal favorite, but get on out there and find one for yourself!
I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus…
‘Tis the season–and there is so much to do and see that one could be worn out running to and fro! However, there are some standout events you may want to check out to get you and your Cheap Date in a festive mood! The Bayville Fun Park has been converted into a Winter Wonderland for young and old alike! Both indoor and outdoor events are featured, and there is something for everyone! $10 admission.
A little closer to my neck of the woods is the Camp Edey’s Winter Wonderland in Bayport. This event, which has been running for the past few years is brought to you by the Girl Scouts. $12 per carload.
My design students should appreciate this one! Holiday house tours abound at this time of year. Click here for info and dates!
I have to thank my honey for this one! Newsday has a link to dining deals that can’t be beat! Check this one out for gift cards for great Long Island restaurants at HALF PRICE! The only catch is that if you don’t use the whole value, you forfeit the remainder. Don’t forget to scroll to the bottom of the page to click on the link to view ALL the restaurants!
My honey turned me on to the wonders of Chimay–both the cheese and the beer. Created by Trappist monks, this is some good eatin’! (And drinking!) The beer can be found in quite a few places that serve or carry microbrews, but the cheese, well, that can be a bit harder to find. Fear not! Chimay has a website that will allow you to recieve emails about upcoming events in your area! Don’t miss out–sign up today!
Wolffer Vineyard has a great tasting room and on Thursday nights they feature jazz from 5:30-7:30PM. Wine is served by the glass…but if you are looking to save some coin, do as I do–buy an entire bottle and split it with your Cheap Date. This is what I do at almost any vineyard. Why? Often, the prices by the glass in a tasting room can add up quickly. Many good wines are under $20 a bottle; in fact, many can be found in the $10-15 range. When you figure that you can get four glasses of wine from one bottle, that brings you down to, oh, say, $3.75 per glass as compared with the somewhere around $6-8 (and more) per glass you would pay if purchasing individually. My pick? The 2006 Reserve Merlot (and I’m not even a merlot fan!). This is a fruity, medium bodied wine that would pair well with a burger or possibly even a stew (depending how you make yours).
All for now, kooky cats! Keep checking back…there’s always new content being added! Got an event? Email me at email@example.com!
December 2, 2008
This is a busy week as all get out and you can be sure that Miss Chris is going to be exhausted after all is said and done getting her Cheap Date on! There is just so much going on that you, my readers, have NO excuse sitting home and not getting out, whether flying solo or with another Cheap Date minded person, and enjoying all this time of year has to offer! So grab the eggnog, make a mistletoe hat and head in the direction of someone special, and don the fuzzy mittens and earmuffs. This is going to be a short holiday season…make the best of it!
Feeling just ducky!
And again, I’m going to miss the annual lighting of the Big Duck! Join Quacker Jack in Flanders for some “duck carols” and get some of your Christmas shopping done in the Duck Store while awaiting the arrival of Santa! FREE! Call 852-3377 for more info.
Meadow Croft, on the border of Sayville and Bayport, will be hosting an event for families and history lovers alike! Experience how Christmas was celebrated 100 years ago this weekend, the 6th and 7th. $6 gets you in.
Also this weekend, Deepwells Farm presents their Holiday Boutique. Santa will be available for photos at the St. James Country Store across the street. $5 admission.
On December 7, the Yaphank Historical Society is conducting a Candlelight Christmas Tour. Private homes, the Suffolk County Police Museum and several churches will be visited on the tour. Call 924-3401 for more information.
Port Jeff hosts their Dickens Festival this weekend, from the 5th thru the 7th. Someone have a hot toddy for me in case I don’t make it!
Stony Brook Village hosts its Festival of Trees this weekend! Walk the promenade of trees and snack as merchants provide light refreshments. Watch Santa arrive in a horse drawn carriage and throw the switch to light a 70 foot tree! FREE!
God bless us, every one!
Tiny Tim was onto something when he said that. We may all be different, but this is a time of year we should embrace our bretheren and maybe learn from our differences…taste a new food, learn some new words, try a new experience. With all the talk of hate crimes as of late, it makes me sick to read the racist remarks on the blogs and news sites. There are so many more of us who want to reach out…and here is your opportunity! On December 12th at the Blue Point Brewery, Jack’s Waterfall and Jay Scott will be playing a benefit concert, with the proceeds going to Rosario Lucero. Other events are in the works, including a candlelight vigil and events at the Brick House Brewery and Once and for All. Check back next week for more information (or email me and I will send you all the info I have). The event actually starts the night before, on the 11th, with a very special Live in the Lobby performance by Katie Pearlman, and will also feature Cathy Kreger.
Love can rock you…
Another one that exceeds Cheap Date guidelines by just a bit is one hot ticket that I’d really like to see (um, honey? This is a blatant hint of what I would like to do this weekend…) The University Cafe presents Sloan Wainwright and Lucy Wainwright Roche in a special holiday concert.
I’ve got some goodies for you! Wednesday, December 3rd, Paul Mac Menamin will be the featured artist at the Grey Horse Tavern in Bayport. Stop in, grab a microbrew and one of the artisanal cheese platters, and admire the beauty of his work.
The Brookhaven Arts and Humanities Council presents its Big Stuff exhibit starting on the 4th (reception is on the 7th) at the Gallery on the Hill. This is a pretty cool concept…a show for artists who work large (with the minimum set at 2 feet by 4 feet). Catch it before it’s gone!
I’ll be back in a few days with lots more to do! Do you know about an event that should be on here? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Methinks it’s time for a nice eggnog with Bailey’s…chat soon!