Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Rave for Ethiopian Restaurant

"Lucky Mount Kisco has snagged the rarest of rare in Westchester County—an Ethiopian restaurant—and it’s a honey. The food at Lalibela is rich and delicious."

— The New York Times review of the new Lalibela restaurant, which received a "Worth It" rating (the second highest).
Image: The New York Times

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

American Beauty

Year Built: 1920
Square Feet: 1,648
Bedrooms: 4
Property: 0.14 of an acre
Location: Peekskill, a short walk to the station, Depew Park, and the artists' district.
Best Features: This classic Four-Square house has great bones. There's loads of woodwork and original details, and the rooms all look bright and spacious. The house has been nicely restored, with an attractive kitchen. The small lot boats a lovely patio and garden.
Downside: There's only one full bathroom. Some finishes look they need updating.
Taxes: $8,191
Asking Price: $375,000
Agency: Houlihan Lawrence
Maps: Google Map, bing Map

Monday, July 26, 2010

Making the Move from Brooklyn

It's been almost nine years since the wife and I left the city, where we had both lived our whole lives, and headed north. The transition was both challenging and rewarding in ways that we hadn't foreseen. In the meantime, plenty of people have gone through the same move. I'm going to start posting chats with readers about their moves to the area and their lives here. To kick things off, one reader, Lauren, recently shared her experiences making the move from the city.

Where do you live? How long have you lived there?
We’ve lived in Katonah for about a year now.

Where did you move from?
Cobble Hill, Brooklyn

Why did you pick the area?
We were looking for a place within commutable distance to the City, with natural beauty and open spaces. With a baby on the way, great public schools and relative safety were important. Northern Westchester offers all of this, including a reputation for being more down-to-earth and welcoming than other “commuting” towns, not to mention less congested. We also found a fair selection of housing within our price range here.

What has been the hardest part of the transition from the city to the rural burbs of Northern Westchester?
We don’t even know where to begin with property maintenance! It’s also been challenging to keep in close contact with our city friends.

What do you miss most about living in the city?
Walking… neighborhood restaurants, friends’ apartments, parks, etc.

What is your favorite thing about living here?
There are so many favorite things! But the thing I appreciate most is what a beautiful part of the country this is. We love being near so many wonderful parks and nature preserves, not to mention the little stand of woods right behind our house.

What do you tell city friends who think you were crazy to move up here?
Come visit, then tell me who’s crazy.

Thanks for sharing, Lauren!

If you'd like to be interviewed about your experiences moving to, living in, and/or working in Northern Westchester, email me.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Weekend Picks

Activities and things to do this weekend in Northern Westchester

Shakespeare in the Garden Enjoy a performance of Macbeth amid the splendor of the Japanese stroll garden. Friday, 6:30 pm. Hammond Museum

Night Flyers The animals of the night are among the most mysterious. Learn about owls, bats and other animals that use the cover of darkness to hunt and move around. Saturday, 1:00 pm. Teatown Lake Reservation

Shell Treasures Discover the beauty and variety of mollusks. Learn about life in the sea  and make your own craft to take home. Saturday, 11:00 am. Croton Free Library

Picnic at Bylane Farm Enjoy fun, food, gardens and games at the 18th-century farmhouse and lush nature sanctuary. Saturday, 11:00 am to 3:00 pm. Bedford Audubon Society

Permaculture Andrew Leslie Phillips, the founder of Hancock Permaculture Center, presents a lecture on permaculture. Saturday, 2:00 pm. Hilltop Hanover Farm

Midsummer Night Music The series continues with "Purely Classical," featuring the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra. Saturday, 5:00 pm. Lasdon Park and Arboretum

Reggae Soca Splash Join the "jamdown in the street" with Ed Robinson, Ragga Lox, and others as they perform free on Esther Street. Saturday, 6:00 to 10:30 pm. Downtown Peekskill

The Poetry of Farm Life: Goat Song Enjoy a delicious goat cheese tasting as author Brad Kessler reads from his acclaimed book, Goat Song. Sunday, 2:00 to 3:30 pm. Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture

Tour of the Chinese Friendship Pavilion The horticulturist gives a walking tour of this beautiful gift from the city of Jingzhou, China, and explains the pavilion's symbolism. Sunday, 2:00 p.m. Lasdon Park and Arboretum

Words & Music: Bach and Poetry Come hear poetry inspired by and interspersed with Bach's cello suites performed by cellist Robert Kogan. Sunday, 4:30 pm. Hudson Valley Writer's Center

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mt. Kisco Manor

Year Built: 1909
Square Feet: 5,199
Bedrooms: 5
Property: 1.6 acres
Location: Mt. Kisco, in the Captain Merritt's Hill section, a short walk to main street and the station.
Best Features: If you like grand houses with oodles of original details and moldings, then you might like this property. The house is full of well-proportioned rooms with wonderful features. The property is lovely too, and features a nice looking pool and a carriage house. The only problem with the outdoors is that...
Downside: The property is adjacent to the Saw Mill Parkway (which is busy and noisy). Inside, some of the wallpaper should really go and the kitchen cabinets are too standard for my taste.
Taxes: $25,850
Asking Price: $1,649,000
Agency: Vincent & Whittemore
Maps: Google Map, bing Map

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Movies and Mojitos

Bring a picnic dinner and blanket to enjoy along with Cuban hors d'oeuvres and a thirst-quenching Mojito before settling in to watch a movie in the Katonah Museum of Art's Sculpture Garden. The film Boxers + Ballerinas juxtaposes the lives of people living in Cuba and Miami. Thursday, 7:30 pm. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Moody Monday Morning

The beauty before the storm yesterday morning, as seen from my train window pulling out of the Croton-Harmon station.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Family Fun

Kids will grove to the music, great songs, and nature-inspired dances of Annie and the Natural Wonder Band. At Peekskill's Riverfront Green, Monday, at 7:00 pm.

Good Review for New Brew Pub

"Birdsall, which opened in March, has been getting a lot of attention for its terrific selection of craft beers... But Birdsall is most impressive for the combination of good, locavore food that it provides along with the drinks."

— The New York Times review of Peekskill's Birsdall House, which received a "Worth It" rating.
Image: The New York Times

Friday, July 16, 2010

Weekend Picks

A few choice activities and things to do this weekend in Northern Westchester

Bedknobs and Broomsticks Three kids and an amateur witch help stop an invasion in this stylish musical fantasy. Saturday, 12:00 pm. Jacob Burns Film Center

Family Concert Bring the kids to enjoy Sandra Wong and The New Trad Trio perform in the Venetian Theater. Saturday, 1:00 pm. Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts

Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi To celebrate the 80th Anniversary of the Paramount, the Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi Band will perform with a dynamic lineup of musicians. Saturday, 8:00 pm. Parmount Center for the Peforming Arts

Midsummer Night Music The series continues with "Fabulous Strings" by the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra. Saturday,  6:00 pm. Lasdon Park and Arboretum

Pond Study Learn what creatures live in and around the farm pond. Sunday, 1:00 pm. Muscoot Farm

Dragonfly Dance Dragonflies dart, hover and dive in pursuit of food and mates. Come along as a naturalist catches and releases a few of these winged wonders. Sunday, 1:00 pm. Teatown Lake Reservation

Hand-Me-Downs: Scenes from a Life A solo play, written and performed by Donna Barkman, integrates the anger of Antigone and the nonsense of Mother Goose. Sunday, 4:30 pm. Bean Runner Cafe

Farm to Table: Fruit Harvest berries and herbs from the terrace garden, then cook everything up into a simple and delicious snack using fruit and other seasonal foods. Sunday, 11:00 pm. Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sears-iously Sweet

Year Built: 1937
Square Feet: 1,352
Bedrooms: 3
Property: 0.23 of an acre
Location: Croton, in a lovely corner of the village close to the Croton River.
Best Features: Cute and neat, this little Sears & Roebuck kit house is bursting with vintage charm. There are lovely details inside and a nice screened porch and big deck to enjoy the outdoors. The location is great for those who want to be in walking distance of some amenities while also feeling a bit removed from things.
Downside: The kitchen looks pretty dated, and many of the rooms appear to be on the tight side.
Taxes: $10,395
Asking Price: $529,000
Agency: Prudential River Towns
Maps: Google Map, bing Map

Jazz in the Garden

Lunching at Lasdon Arboretum is always a pleasure, but it's even sweeter on summer Fridays. From 12:00 to 2:00 pm there will be live jazz every Friday. So bring a picnic and enjoy the lovely sounds along with the stunning gardens.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

From the Horse's Mouth

Starring Annette Bening and Julianne Moore, The Kids Are All Right is getting loads of buzz. Catch the film and then hear co-screenwriter Stuart Blumberg be interviewed by New York Times critic Janet Maslin. Thursday at 7:15 pm at Jacob Burns Film Center.

Blues by the River

Relax at Peekskill's Riverfront Green park and enjoy the blues, rock, and R&B sounds of OC Blues Xpress. Wednesday at 7:00 pm.  

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


What could be funner than catching a family-friendly flick in the great outdoors? How 'bout doing so with the majestic Hudson as a backdrop. Every Wednesday this summer, Croton-on-Hudson will be showing movies at lovely Senasqua Park. This week's feature is Where the Wild Things Are. All are welcome and the films begin at dusk.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Weekend Picks

Activities and things to do this hot summer weekend in Northern Westchester

Sundown Band Enjoy the tunes of the Sundown Band as you catch the sunset over the Hudson from Senasqua Park. Friday, 7:00 pm. Croton-on-Hudson

Pleasantville Music Festival Catch more than 18 acts performing on 3 stages. Artists include Jakob Dylan (left), The Bacon Brothers, Rusted Root, and Carney. Saturday 12:00 to 8:40 pm. Pleasantville Music Festival

Farm Adventures A farm educator leads kids ages 8 to 12 around the fields and woods for archaeological digs, pond exploration, tracking, and shelter building. Saturday, 10:00 am. Hilltop Hanover Farm

Family Fishing Workshop Parents and kids ages 6 and up can participate in this workshop. Saturday, 10:30 am. Lewisboro Library

Annual Butterfly Count An annual rite of summer, the North American Butterfly Count is a way for all butterfly enthusiasts to partake in a citizen scientist monitoring effort. Saturday, 10:00 am. Teatown Lake Reservation

Puppet Pals Norma Maher of Storytime Stage and master puppeteer Vito Leanza combine talents in this workshop in which kids can make their own puppets and put on a show. Saturday, 11:00 am. Croton Free Library

Wild Food & Ecology Tour Noted naturalist and author "Wildman" Steve Brill will lead a tour to explore our woodlands, wetlands, and thickets where edible weeds, medicinal plants, and fungi flourish. Saturday, 1:00 pm. Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Contemporary Art Join artist/curator Marcy B. Freedman in the Sculpture Garden for cocktails, live music, and a conceptual performance. Have your burning art-related questions ready. Saturday, 7:00 to 9:00 pm. Katonah Museum of Art

Midsummer Night Music The annual concert series with the Ridgefield Symphony starts off with Tony Award-winning soloist Debbie Gravitte singing Broadway favorites. Bring a picnic or buy food on site and enjoy the enchanted gardens. Saturday, 6:00 pm. Lasdon Park and Arboretum

Downtown Music Series The annual free Downtown Music Series kicks off with performances by the Bill Saxton Trio, the Magnets, and Kim Clarke. Saturday, 8:00 pm. Downtown Peekskill

The Sunset Switch Listen to a reading of The Sunset Switch and then make a related craft. Sunday, 11:00 am. Teatown Lake Reservation

Croton Arboretum Garden Tour Visit a number of private gardens in the area. Sunday, 12:00 to 5:00 pm. Croton-on-Hudson

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Coolest Split-Level Ever!

Year Built: 1968
Square Feet: 3,400
Bedrooms: 5
Property: 2 acres
Location: Katonah, a short ride from the village
Best features: This nifty house has big, bright spaces with great lines and cool details. Love the beams, clerestory windows, and skylights! The kitchen looks fabulous. There's a big deck, nice pool, and even a pool house.
Downside: As cool as it is, it is still a split-level (or "bi-level split," according to While the area is lovely, this particular stretch of the road is pretty developed and feels a bit (dare I say it?) "suburban."
Taxes: $20,270
Asking Price: $825,000
Agency: Coldwell Banker
Maps: Google Map, bing Map

The Politics of Cuban Art

Dr. Damian Fernandez, former Director of the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University, examines the role of the artist in Cuban politics since the 1959 revolution. Wine reception to follow. Thursday, 7:30 pm. Katonah Museum of Art

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Film and Discussion

In Mao's Last Dancer, director Bruce Beresford tells the mesmerizing story based on the the autobiography by Li Cunxin, who was taken from a small village at age 11 and brought to Beijing to study ballet. After the film, the director will be interviewed by New York Times critic Janet Maslin. Thursday, 8:00 pm. Jacob Burns Film Center

Creative Conversation

Join author David Goodwillie as he talks with his editor about writing contemporary fiction and his debut novel, American Subversive. Thursday, 7:00 pm. Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

My Staycation

I spent my holiday weekend within a short radius of my house, but still managed to get in a lot of scenery, sun, splashing, and fireworks. Living in the lower Hudson Valley is a joy, especially in the summertime. Hope you all had a great holiday, too!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Holiday Weekend Picks

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

Friday Fireworks Get a jump on the celebration! Come to Louis Engel Waterfront Park for free entertainment and fireworks two nights before the nation's birthday. Friday, 9:15 pm. Ossining

Yonrico Scott 2010 Grammy Winner Yonrico Scott is the longtime drummer of the Derek Trucks Band. He is joined on stage by guitarists Andy Aledort and  Geoff Hartwell. Friday, 9:30 pm. 12 Grapes Music and Wine Bar

Music Jam Bring your instrument or just come and listen. Bring a healthy potluck dish to share. Friday, 6:30 to 9:30 pm. Hilltop Hanover Farm

Garlic Weekend Celebrate the 4th with a weekend of garlic-themed programming and hands-on farm activities! Enjoy garlic tastings, garlic activities, Farm-to-Table classes, and more. Saturday and Sunday, 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture

Red Wolf, White Wolf and Blue Aawwwooooo! Learn about the mythology, biology and ecology of wolves in North America and enjoy presenting special patriotic gifts to the Ambassador wolves, Kaila, Lukas and Atka! Saturday, 7:00 pm. Wolf Conservation Center

Handsome Harry Enjoy the movie Handsome Harry, starring Jamey Sheridan and Steve Buscemi. Then listen to a Q&A with the film's Director, Bette Gordon, and cast members. Saturday, 8:00 pm. Paramount Center for the Arts
A Night at the Opera One of the most hilarious movies ever made! A great time for kids and adults alike. Friday through Sunday, 12:00 pm. Jacob Burns Film Center

Independence Day 1800 Festivities begin with the roar of the cannon and feature a reading of the Declaration of Independence. Join the Independence Day Parade through the manor along with its costumed residents. Stirring patriotic speeches and songs follow the parade, and military re-enactors invite one and all to drill and muster. Sunday, 10:00 to 6:00 pm. Van Cortlandt Manor

Peekskill Concert and Fireworks Kick off the fun with Peter Spink and his band. Then sit back and enjoy a grand fireworks display. Sunday, 7:30 pm. Peekskill

Pops, Patriots & Fireworks Family concert with fireworks display. Great music with hamburgers and hot dogs on the picnic grounds. Sunday, 8:00 pm. Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts

Old Fashioned Fourth Play old-fashioned games and try your hand at churning ice cream. Buy your hot dogs and hamburgers at the Concession Stand or bring a picnic lunch for an afternoon of fun. Sunday, 1:00 to 3:00 pm. Muscoot Farm

First Mondays Artists Salon This month's discussion is on the topic of "21st Century Savvy for Artists: Using the Internet." Local artists will be sharing works and everyone is invited to join the discussion. Monday, 6:00 pm. Bean Runner Cafe

Thursday, July 1, 2010

June Sales and Deals

The number of homes going to contract in the area stayed steady from May to June. But only two previously-featured Hot Properties went to contract, both of which I featured last November. The Croton house is notable because the final asking price is actually $25,000 higher than the original asking—and I see no evidence of any work that was done to the place since it was first listed. Meanwhile, three of the Hot Properties that sold last month were only on the market for a short spell, and the other two were sitting for over a year. What a wacky market!

Contracts signed on single-family homes

May: 63
June: 65

Hot Properties That Went to Contract

Location: Ossining
Featured: November 24, 2009
Asking Price When Featured: $494,222
Last Asking Price: $449,999

Location: Croton
Featured:  November 5, 2009
Asking Price When Featured: $599,000 
Last Asking Price: $624,500 

Hot Properties That Closed

Location: Katonah
Featured: April 13, 2010
Asking Price When Featured: $1,975,000
Last Asking Price: $1,975,000
Sold for: $1,875,000

Location: Peekskill
Featured: April 27, 2010 
Asking Price When Featured: $229,222
Last Asking Price: $229,222
Sold for: $220,500

Location: Ossining 
Featured: April 6, 2010 
Asking Price When Featured: $524,222
Last Asking Price: $524,222
Sold for: $524,222
Location: Bedford Corners
Featured: March 26, 2009; March 25, 2010;
Asking Price When Featured: $1,395,000
Last Asking Price: $1,275,000 
Sold for: $1,200,000

Location: Yorktown
Featured: December 18, 2008
Asking Price When Featured: $925,000
Last Asking Price: $749,000
Sold for: $700,000