Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Pushing the Musical Envelope

"While Caramoor’s performers maintain a uniformly high level of musicianship, they embrace elements of popular culture — producing what the festival’s marketers call extreme chamber music."

— The New York Times review of the 64th annual Caramoor International Music Festival, which runs through August 5 and includes 2 Foot Yard, a violin-cello-guitar trio, and the pianist Christopher O’Riley (right).

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Fresh Start at the Blue Pig

The last set of owners at Croton's Blue Pig managed to annoy a lot of folks and sully a reputation for great ice cream. But the new owners seem to be turning things around. The Journal News' Small Bites blog has a glowing piece on the new management and their products, Westchester Magazine named it one of the three best malt shops in the county, and Slow Food Westchester has given the store its "Snail of Approval" award for using local ingredients and sustainable practices. Best of all, they now have ginger ice cream. Can't wait.
Image: The Journal News

Moe. Music

Progressive rockers Moe. 
perform music from their
17 albums. Sample their 
tunes and check out their
videos on their site or here.
Wednesday, 8:00 pm. 
Paramount Center for the Performing Arts

Monday, June 28, 2010

The NY Times Hates the Burbs

For a few years now, the New York Times has seemed to take every chance it's gotten to bash the burbs. It annoys me to no end since the Times actually covers the entire tri-state area (much of which is suburbs), and because the paper routinely tosses aside any journalistic integrity in order to get in a snide dis. This weekend's paper had a prime example.

Like much of the burb bashing, this case was in the Sunday Real Estate section. The lead article was "Large Apartments are the Rage in New York City." The anti-suburb message was implicit throughout, but only hit the level of full-blown bashing with the quote from Darren Sukenik, of Prudential Douglas Elliman: “The new Bergen County or Westchester County is now the West Village and the Upper West or Upper East Sides... Big families are back, and nobody wants to move to suburbia.” Oh really? While Mr. Sukenick is free to have his opinion, and the Times is free to share it, you would think that the reporter (or his editor) would add the caveat that this is someone whose livelihood depends on selling real estate in the city—and who therefore has a vested interest in promoting the city and knocking the burbs. That seems like a journalistic no-brainier. But, instead, the paper chose to use that quote as the call-out, so that readers perusing the paper see the large print blurb "Big families are back and nobody wants to move to suburbia" without even a source noted. The casual reader can be forgiven if she assumes that this is the opinion of the Times or if he thinks that the quote must be backed up by some evidence in the body of the piece. It isn't. Mr. Sukenick is quoted again, this time explaining that his empty-nest clients move to the city because they "don’t want to be stuck in the suburbs with nothing to do.” Now, I don't know which suburbs are being referred to, but perhaps Mr. Sukenick—and the Times reporter—should check out my blog and see the variety of things to do on a regular basis here in Northern Westchester.

Earlier in the week, in Wednesday's paper, there was another case of burb bashing. The article "Helping Parents Tune In to That Inner Voice," featured Kiki Schaffer, director of the 14th Street Y’s Parenting, Family and Early Childhood Center. In the section titled "Parenting City Kids," Ms. Schaffer is quoted as saying "Having raised my kids in the city, they have said, 'Thank you, we’re really glad you didn’t move to the suburbs.'” Since this quote is off-topic and rather stupid—how do the kids know what life in the burbs would have been like?—I would have expected the editor to cut it. Silly me.

Summer Hours

The weather is hot and the blogger is disinterested. It happens every year, right about now. So, my apologies for blowing off last week's Weekend Picks post. Thanks to my traffic trackers, I know that a lot of you check the site every Friday and use the picks post. I feel bad for letting you down—and for not promoting the many cool things that were going on this weekend. I hope you all found out about them elsewhere. In the coming months, I'll do my best to keep the critical posts going, but expect fewer posts than usual. Truth is, I'd rather enjoy the sunset on the river (as seen from Croton Point Park this weekend, above) than be at the computer.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

All About Poison Ivy

I'm a bit of a freak when it comes to poison ivy.
If a plant is green and has pointy leaves, I shriek
in fear. And start feeling itchy all over. Which is a
problem when you're hiking in the woods. So I found
the post on Westmoreland Sanctuary's Nature Notes
all about how to identify poison ivy very helpful.
Funny thing is, it turns out that what my son
reported years ago from his nature camp at
the Teatown Lake Reservation was totally
true. And I didn't believed him.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Carriage House Cuteness

Year Built: 1810
Square Feet: 1,800
Bedrooms: 3
Property: 1 acre
Location: Ossining, on the western edge of the Teatown area, close to town and train.
Best features: This restored carriage house boasts some lovely exposed beams and stone walls (two of my favorite things). The setting is beautiful and tucked away in the woods. The taxes aren't crazy and the price seems very reasonable to me.
Downside: The house is very close to its neighbor (which I assume was the main house that this carriage house once belonged to). The kitchen appears to be tight and in need of updating, and some of the bedrooms look boxy.
Taxes: $13,348
Asking Price: $479,000

Monday, June 21, 2010

Exploring Watercolor

The Ossining Arts Council's "Art of Watercolor" show presents a large array of works using this classic medium. The exhibition runs through July 10.
Images: The Ossining Arts Council

Friday, June 18, 2010

Weekend Picks

Catch the culture--from Chinese to Counter--and enjoy the great outdoors with fun activities and things to do in Northern Westchester 

Clearwater Great Hudson River Revival Some things change, and some remain the same. Pete Seeger, Joan Osborn, and a host of others will perform on the festival's seven stages. According to the article in the New York Times, this year's festival is going back to basics, with a reaffirmation of its political and counterculture roots. In addition to music, dances, plays, and food, there will also be rides on the Sloop Clearwater and the Mystic Whaler. As always, all proceeds go to the non-profit organization's effort to keep the Hudson clean and clear. Saturday and Sunday, 10:00 am to dusk. Clearwater Great Hudson River Revival Festival

Chinese Culture Day Enjoy the mesmerizing sounds of Melody of Dragon, an ensemble playing traditional instruments from China, including the bamboo flute (dizi). There will also be folk crafts of Chinese paper cutting and calligraphy. Saturday, 1:00 to 3:00 pm. Hammond Museum

Marionette Fairy Tale "The Valiant Little Tailor," a Brother Grimm's fairy tale about a clever commoner who becomes king, is performed by The Singing Harp. Saturday, 3:30 pm. Warner Library 

Farmer's Forum Take an informal walking tour of Hilltop Hanover’s fields and greenhouses with the head farmer, who will answer any gardening questions you bring. Saturday, 10:00 am. Hilltop Hanover Farm

True West The Mighty Theatre Company performs Sam Shepard's “True West.” Saturday, 8:00 pm. Paramount Center for the Arts

Dweezil Zappa Plays Zappa Dad would be proud. Dweezil Zappa continues his "Tour De Frank," performing the classics of his father, Frank Zappa. Saturday, 8:00pm. Tarrrytown Music Hall

Collaborative Stories Aloud An interactive performance event by the Cat House Associates, who will read examples of their recent literary accomplishments and invite members of the audience to participate in the creation of new stories. Sunday, 4:00 pm. Bean Runner Cafe

Father's Day Fishing Bring your own gear and catch a big one for pops. Sunday, 1:00 to 3:00 pm. Westmoreland Sanctuary

Michael Nappi Celebrate dad with the music of Michael Nappi, who will play tunes from his CD "Here We Go Again." Sunday, 6:00 pm. 12 Grapes Music and Wine Bar

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Relisted with Lower Asking Price—and Taxes

When I featured this cool contempo in Croton on April 9, 2009 it had an asking price of $999,000, which I thought wasn't that bad. But it also had a totally staggering annual tax bill of $41,544. After being taken off the market, the listing is back—and it seems that the owners successfully grieved their taxes. The asking has been cut to a reasonable $899,900. More important, the taxes are now $31,716—which is still high, but not totally crazy for a 5,000 square foot house on 3.5 acres with river views. The house still needs some updating, but it has some great spaces and nice views. Houlihan Lawrence, Google Map, bing Map

Save the Sturgeon!

Sean Maiorano, Ossining High School Senior and 2010 winner of the Museum of Natural History Young Naturalist Award, discusses the Atlantic sturgeon, one of the oldest—and biggest—fish in the Hudson River.  Learn about the current status of these fish and what we can do to protect them. Thursday, 7:30 pm. Teatown Lake Reservation

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Jazz in the Sculpture Garden

The Katonah Museum of Art kicks off it's annual "Shades of Jazz" series tonight, Wednesday. Cuban master Pedrito Martinez performs amid the sculptures at 6:30 pm. Order a picnic meal and the museum provides wine and beer.

The Mating Rituals of Manakins

Kimberly S. Bostwick, Ph.D. will share the secret mating rituals of manakins, a family of small birds found in subtropical and tropical Central and South America. One species in the Andes "violins" its wings to make sound. Dr. Bostwick has captured manakins' rituals on high-speed video. Wednesday, 7:30 pm. Bedford Audubon Society

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

New England Zen

Year Built: 1900
Square Feet: 2,185
Bedrooms: 3
Property: 0.48 of an acre
Location: Bedford, on a dead-end lane close to the Village Green.
Best features: Can you say "charm"? This farmhouse has been beautifully updated to maintain its classic appeal while adding some contemporary splash. The big main room is bright and inviting, and there are loads of large windows and vaulted ceilings throughout. The small property is nicely landscaped, and the barn is picture perfect.
Downside: Both the house and the property are on the small side. The house is pretty close to busy Route 22/172.
Taxes: $7,600 $9,600
Asking Price: $879,000

Monday, June 14, 2010

Troubadours on Tour

Catch John Allair and Bill Toms 
as they make a stop on their 
"Troubadours Across America" 
tour. Wednesday, 6:30 pm, 
at the Bean Runner Cafe.

Bringing Back Molière

"John Tyrrell gives Argan fluttery hands that are forever probing the state of his head, his heart, his pulse, his digestion, and lovingly fingering the pills and tinctures and compounds meant to cure his nonexistent ailments. It’s no surprise when we learn he wants to marry off his eldest child, Angelica (Libby Conkle), to an asinine young doctor just for the free medical care."
—The New York Times review of the production of Molière's "The Imaginary Patient" at The Schoolhouse Theater, through June 27.
Image: The New York Times

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Living (and Selling) Westchester Modern

The spring issue of Westchester Home magazine is all about modern living in the county. The cover story features a 1957 home  designed by Skidmore, Owings, Merrill architect Arthur Witthoefft. Once on the verge of being bulldozed, the house was restored by Todd Goddard and his partner, Andrew Mandolene. Mr. Goddard is a realtor with Houlihan Lawrence who specializes in what the magazine calls "high-end iconic contemporary properties." His website, architecturalhomesny, has info on his house and his current roster of mod listings (one of which has the distinction of being a hot property). While the homes are pretty strictly high-end, the site is a fun read.
Photos: Westchester Magazine

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Something Different

Year Built: 1986
Square Feet: 3,368
Bedrooms: 4
Property: 4.9 acres
Location: The Huntersville section of Yorktown Heights, tucked away at the end of a dead-end road.
Best features: The listing calls this house "arts and crafts," but I'd call it Bavarian Country Manor. Whatever it is, it's unique—and quite appealing. The large house boasts many spacious rooms with high ceilings and walls of windows. Outside, there's a big deck and lots of lovely woods.
Downside: The paint colors are a bit intense and not for everyone. The formal decor might not play to the house's strengths.
Taxes: $22,996
Asking Price: $849,000

Monday, June 7, 2010

Fuel for Thought

Job Koelewijn's Sanctuary—made mainly out of books—is part of the exhibition "Double Dutch," which showcases the works of sixteen artists, much of it created specifically for the exhibition. Through July 26 at the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art in Peekskill.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Weekend Picks

Some choice activities and things to do this weekend in Northern Westchester

Art Unveiling Watch as Job Koelewijn’s installation Water Works is unveiled at Annsville Creek Preserve in Peekskill. Refreshments will be served. Friday, 7:30 pm. Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art

Drive-by Truckers The band Drive-By Truckers is one of the most well-respected alternative country-rock acts of the 2000's. Friday, 8:00 pm. Tarrytown Music Hall

Peekskill Open Studios The Peekskill Art Council's 13th annual extravaganza showcase artwork from more than 100 artists. Come visit over 32 artists in their working studios. Live music, dance, and performance art events will be held throughout town, including at the riverfront park, downtown, the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, and the new Peekskill Clay Studios located at the Hat Factory. Check out the article in the New York Times. Saturday and Sunday, 12:00 to 5:00 pm. Peekskill Arts Council

Teatown Hiking Challenge Take the challenge in celebration of National Trails Day. Hike all of the reservation's major trails in one day! Saturday, 9:00 am. Teatown Lake Reservation

Butterflies for Beginners Learn about basic butterfly ecology and recognition, and then take a walk to see what species are out in the meadow. Saturday, 1:00 pm. Ward Pound Ridge Reservation

Sounds and Sights of the Shoreline
Come explore the beauties and wonders of the Hudson River shoreline. Study the effects of the high and low tide. Saturday, 1:00 pm. Croton Point Park Nature Center

Babes in the Woods It is the time of the year when the forest is alive with young animals, birds, and plants. Enjoy a hike to find the places where the young ones are hiding. Saturday, 3:00 pm. Westmoreland Sanctuary

Croton Summer Fest Enjoy music, food, and lots of fun in the Upper Village. Sunday, 1:00 to 6:00 pm. Croton Village

Authors' Reading Mindy Lewis, Laura Shane Cunningham, and Mimi Schwartz read from the anthology Dirt: The Quirks, Habits, and Passions of Keeping House. Sunday, 4:30 pm. Hudson Valley Writers Center

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Too Good to be True?

Year Built: 1750
Square Feet: 3,000
Bedrooms: 3
Property: 1.2 acres
Location: Cortlandt (with a Croton address and Hendrick-Hudson schools), on Watch Hill Road.
Best features: From the front porch to the gorgeous floors to the many fireplaces, this oldie looks like a goody. The rooms are big, the many windows bring in lots of light, and there's loads of country charm. Both the taxes and the asking price seem remarkably low for what you're getting.
Downside: What's the catch? My guess would be the location—just over 300 yards from Route 9 (which is a highway here) on one side and about 300 yards from the power lines on the other side. Beyond that, the kitchen looks like it could use a refresh.
Taxes: $6,077
Asking Price: $545,000

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

To Market, To Market

Fat pigs are probably one of the few things you can't find at a local farmers' market. Click on the links to find out what is available at some of the markets near you.

Where: Municipal Lot on Municipal Place and Riverside
When: Wednesday, 1:30 to 6:30 pm, through November 17
Website: Community Markets: Croton

Mt. Kisco
Where: Boys and Girls Club of Northern Westchester
When: Saturday, 8:30 am to 1:00 pm, through November 20
Website: Community Markets: Mt. Kisco

Cabbage Hill Farm
Where: St. Marks Church, Mt. Kisco
When: Saturday, 9:30 am to 1:30 pm
Website: Cabbage Hill Farm 

Muscoot Farm
Where: Muscoot Farm
When: Sunday, 10:00 am to 3:00 pm, through October
Website: Muscoot Farm

Where: Main and Spring Streets, next to Market Square
When: Saturday, 8:30 am to 1:00 pm, through December 18
Website: Community Markets: Ossining

Where: Bank Street, between Main and Park
When: Saturday, 8:00 am to 2:00 pm, June 12 through November
Website: Peekskill Farmers Market 

Where: Memorial plaza at Manville Road
When: Saturday, 8:30 am to 1:00 pm, through December 18
Website: Community Markets: Pleasantville

Stone Barns
Where: Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture
When: Friday, 2:00 to 4:00 pm; Saturday, 1:00 to 4:00 pm; Sunday, 2:00 to 4:00 pm
Website: Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture

Where: Patriot's Park, Route 9
When: Saturday, 8:30 am to 1:00 pm, through December 18
Website: Community Markets: Tarrytown

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

May Sales and Deals

It looks like so many would-be buyers rushed to get the tax credit before it expired at the end of April that not that many were left around in May. The number of contracts signed in the towns this blog covers was certainly down quite a bit last month. Nonetheless, a few Hot Properties got lucky and a number made it all the way. The Bedford Corners house was previously engaged back in February 2010, but evidently that deal fell through. Let's hope the second time is the charm.

Contracts signed on single-family homes
April: 114
May: 63

Hot Properties That Went to Contract

Location: Katonah
Featured: April 13, 2010
Asking Price When Featured: $1,975,000
Last Asking Price: $1,975,000

Location: Montrose
Featured: August 12, 2009 
Asking Price When Featured: $975,000
Last Asking Price: $889,000

Location: Bedford Corners
Featured: November 18, 2008 
Asking Price When Featured: $475,000
Last Asking Price: $325,000

Hot Properties That Closed

Location: Ossining
Featured: February 23, 2010
Asking Price When Featured: $1,100,000
Last Asking Price: $1,100,000
Sold for: $955,000

Location: Croton
Featured: February 4, 2010
Asking Price When Featured: $349,000
Last Asking Price: $320,000
Sold for: $296,000

Location: Katonah
Featured: October 29, 2009
Asking Price When Featured: $1,185,000
Last Asking Price: $1,185,000
Sold for: $1,045,000

Location: Yorktown Heights
Featured: January 7, 2008
Asking Price When Featured: $699,000
Last Asking Price: $499,000
Sold for: $499,000

Location: Montrose
Featured: November 12, 2007
Asking Price When Featured: $568,000
Last Asking Price: $528,000
Sold for: $500,000