Phyllis Tarlow Fine Art - Hudson From Bear Mt

Archive for 2011


We ventured out of our normal playground of the Hudson Valley and traveled into the world famous New York City to have dinner at the     Neely’s Barbecue  Parlor Manhattan’s Upper East Side on First Avenue.  Funny, I’ve grown up just about an hour outside of NYC and have never had an overwhelming desire to go into the city unless for a specific adventure/event or show and dinner and yet people travel from all over the world to visit the famous “Big Apple.” -Not that I don’t enjoy an evening in the city every now and then because I do, I just don’t know that I would make that my vacation destination of choice, perhaps that is because I have such easy access and can visit anytime….

Well, back to the Neely’s! My mother (Mama D as my honey calls her) LOVES to watch the cooking shows on the Food Network– including Down Home with the Neely’s.  So when my mother told me that the Neely’s recently opened a new restaurant in the city and suggested we go for dinner one night, we agreed. 

So we booked our table via Open Table and off we went.  Arriving a bit early, we enjoyed sitting at the bar looking around at the various dining rooms that surrounded the bar and chatting with Nicki.  Nicki and her friend “Wilbur” filled us in on the how and when Pat & Gina Neely came to be part of the Merchants and how warm and friendly they really are.  Each dining room is uniquely decorated each with its own ambiance and flare. 

As we normally do, we decided on two different dishes that we would share/sample.  First we started with the Candied Thick Cut Slab Bacon which is bacon strip coated with brown sugar & slow baked until it’s crispy and it was definitely crispy!   We then settled on the Pork Sampler Platter of Spare ribs, baby back ribs & pulled pork     and the famous “Blue Ribbon” Chicken (Aka Pat’s beer can chicken)    a free range chicken cooked with a pabst blue ribbon beer can in its belly!  The chicken came with 2 side dishes and the pork sampler came with one side so we had the delicious corn bread, the southern creamed corn and the sweet potato fries!   The chicken was great1 It was moist and juicy and I added the Neely’s Spicy sauce and all I can say is hmm hmm good!  The corn bread was delicious (which actually isn’t considered a side we just made it one of our sides) as were the sweet potato fries!  For me the southern creamed corn wasn’t all that creamy but, none-the-less it was good.

 Then of course there is desert, our favorite! Now, for those of you that follow WonderfulWonders, you know my honey and I always split a dessert, well, this time we didn’t . . .shocking right! We thought we probably wouldn’t be back to the Neely’s so we should be fair to them and experience as much as we could (LOL).  We did of course share; so together we shared the Red Velvet Cake with cream cheese icing, which honesty was a bit dry for my taste and the Blackberry Cobbler with vanilla ice cream which was my favorite of the two.

 A small selection of merchandise  is available in a small curio cabinet in the foyer and on their store page of the website.

 So, for all you southern folk livin here in the north, we would say the Neely’s Barbecue Parlor is a “must-do” the next time you visit Manhattan!

As always, I wish you days filled with wonder – take a minute to wonder what it is that made you smile today!

Please feel free to “SHARE” this post with your family/friends! And don’t forget to leave your comments below, we love hearing from you!


Local Events Close to Home in Westchester County, NY

Hi everyone. . .wow we have missed being able to take our famous “day-trips” in and around the Hudson Valley this summer!  Between all the rain and our busy schedules this year we were not been out ‘n about as much as we normally are, but, the  few places we went were wonderful!

In between the many many rain filled weekends we enjoyed activities much closer to home than we normally do including:

The 14th Annual Peekskill Celebration the first weekend in August.  We rushed  to Peekskill’s Riverfront Green Park to watch the Dragons on the Hudson dragon boat races which started early in the morning on Saturday (before the rain).  This was my first time seeing these boats first hand.  The workmanship in the design/ construction of these boats is wonderful; not to mention the much needed strength/stamina it takes to actually paddle one of these boats.  These boats are rich in history and a treat to watch!


Because it was yet another cool/over-cast day, the crowds seemed to hold off in the morning when we were there but as the day went on more people arrived to take part in the Peekskill Celebration, enjoy good food and visit the many booths.



Once again the sun was finally shining on Sept. 10th, we took advantage of the great day and attend the 6th Annual Cortlandt Family Fun Day in Montrose, NY.  This was a cute / fun day for the families in Cortlandt.  And, with the record breaking rain fall during August, the sunshine and a day of games, food and entertainment was just was area families needed.


On Sept. 24th we went to the 3rd Hudson Valley Irish Fest  at the Riverfront Green in Peekskill, NY.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Irish culture and especially Irish music.  My Dad’s family hales from Ireland with my father’s great uncle being Daniel O’Connell, the famed “Liberator” of Ireland.  We sat and enjoyed music by Celtic Cross, a wonderful pop/folk band with a traditional Celtic Irish influence.  Led by lead vocalist  Kathleen Lee (I’m actually named after/for the song “I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen“) is outstanding and amazing to listen to!

  Okay, so we all know how very much I love traveling to the Catskills, I’ve been going their since I was a child with my family for Sunday afternoon drives and now I enjoy spending long weekends traipsing around the Catskills.  While I have not yet had the pleasure of staying at Gavin’s, it is without a doubt on our list of places to stay.    At the festival I bought the most amazing celtic cross garden statue! I love it! And, the amazing thing was the designer of the piece Bill Bywater of is the brother of someone my honey used to work with in Poughkeepsie, NY – which made purchasing this handmade piece even more special!

Also on Sept. 24th we attended the  1st Buchanan Family Day at the Buchanan Pavilion in Buchanan, NY.  Like the Cortlandt Family Fun Day, this event was intended to give the families of Buchanan an opportunity to get together as a community, enjoy each other’s company, meet neighbors perhaps they hadn’t met and provide a fun filled environment for the children complete with face painting, pumpkin panting, a DJ providing live music and great food provided by  Buchanan Fire Department and Two Brother’s Pizzeria,!  Buchanan’s newest eatery Taste was also there meeting and greeting their neighbors!   From pumpkin painting to face painting, fun, food and entertainment, who could ask for more. . .the event was well attended and enjoyed by all!



As always, I wish you days filled with wonder – take a minute to wonder what it is that made you smile today!

Please feel free to “SHARE” this post with your family/friends! And don’t forget to leave your comments below, we love hearing from you!


“Festa Italiana Peekskill” Festival 2011

The summer is winding down and the evening temperatures are starting to cool down here in the Hudson Valley. Of course for all of you that follow WonderfulWonders you already know how very important it is to my honey & I to support local businesses, vendors and events. This weekend we did just that by attending the 2nd year for the new “Festa Italiana Peekskill” festival.

What began with general conversation at Ciro’s Restaurant on South Street in Peekskill (in Westchester County NY) has turned into “Festa Italiana Peekskill” thanks to organizer/director Frank Cimino.  Apparently after doing some research it was discovered that 20% of Peekskill’s population is made up of Italian/Americans. With that, Mr. Cimino was on a quest, a quest to bring an Italian festival to Peekskill. Last year Mr. Cimino and a group/army of volunteers got together to bring what was a childhood memory of the great smells of good food, good conversation with family & friends to life in Peekskill.

Similar to their neighbors in Verplanck NY, who has proudly hosted the Italian Feast presented by The Society of Our Lady of Mt Carmel for the past 89years, Peekskill now proudly celebrates their “Festa Italiana Peekskill” Festival during the Feast of the Assumption. The “Festa Italiana Peekskill” features genuine native cuisine and bona fide Italian entertainers.


2011 is the 2nd year for the new “Festa Italiana Peekskill” festival and the Paramount Center for the Arts kicked off this year’s celebration with a benefit concert featuring Michael Amante. The benefit concert was for the Assumption Church and School in Peekskill. Michael Amante is one of the few tenors in the United States that is highly regarded and has been in a number of shows.

Friday night the crowd was entertained by Peekskill’s very own Internationally Acclaimed Vocal Artist Mary Mancini and World Renowned Accordion Virtuoso Mario Tacca and Doug Ferony Big Band. After the traditional Italian “salute!” (even though it may have been only water for our performing friends) everyone enjoyed themselves as they were clapping in their seats, singing along & even dancing in the streets!


The very beautiful Ave Maria performed by Mary Mancini was among the shows highlights

As with most festivals, along with the entertainment & food is a unique blend of vendors ~ many of which are local offering a unique blend of local flare and in many case homemade items featuring locally grown or manufactured materials.


  What I love most about attending these festivals is the opportunity to meet these local businesses/vendors and chat a bit with them. I simply love unique items and to meet the owner of the business and learn how they make the products is truly a pleasure for us. In return for their time & effort, we like to give them a little recognition and showcase a few of the more unique products and we have to save the trivets from Botanical Trivets are not only unique but they are exquisite! And yes, of course I had to have one for myself and I bought one as a gift!


As always, I wish you days filled with wonder – take a minute to wonder what it is that made you smile today!

Please feel free to “SHARE” this post with your family/friends! And don’t forget to leave your comments below, we love hearing from you!



Thanks to the various sites here is a brief listing of some fun exciting things to do in and around the Hudson Valley during the week of 08/01 – 07/11.

As always, I wish you days filled with wonder – take a minute to wonder what it is that made you smile today!

Please feel free to “share” this post with your family/friends! And don’t forget to leave your comments below, we love hearing from you!



Lighthouse on a Lighthouse

OMG – I can’t believe my honey and I recently stumbled upon the wonderful Shine on Saugerties art display. For those of you that follow WonderfulWonders, you will recall that for the last couple years we have seemingly “been-in-the-right-place-at-the-right-time” because we have managed to see the Horses Are Coming to Saugertieslast year and Cat-N-Around Catskill” and The Best in Show in Hudson in 2009 – how great is that!

“Shine On Saugerties 2011” features handmade wooden lighthouses.  The lighthouse design is based on the famed Saugerties Lighthouse, the oldest (1869) continuously operating lighthouse on the Hudson River, which sits at the mouth of the Esopus Creek in Saugerties.

The lighthouses are a great way to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Saugerties’ incorporation in 1811.  The Lighthouses, which feature an operating solar light, are now on display along the streets of the Historic Village Business District, now through late September.  Not only are the models designed by a Saugerties artisan, the lumber is milled and harvested locally, by Native Lumber in Saugerties.  I highly suggest visiting Saugerties and strolling along the streets to enjoy these wonderful works of art as some thirty-two lighthouses are proudly on display.  Here are just a few:

Checker Lighthouse


Eye on Saugerties

Hudson Lights

Today is a Good Day

And, this is my favorite:

Valley View

If you are in need of some relaxation and an overnight stay with a great view consider staying in this historic landmark on the Hudson River!  Restored to its former glory, the Lighthouse hosts a rustic Bed and Breakfast. Open Thursday through Sunday nights year-round.  What a special / unique place to relax and enjoy the seasons of the Hudson River Valley (okay so we haven’t stayed yet, but can you tell I’m anxious to stay  !)

You all know how much I LOVE the water, and especially the Hudson River, I can’t imagine anything more beautiful that being surrounded by the river on a remote little shoal.          Of course to get to the Lighthouse you will need to enjoy a leisurely stroll along the half-mile trail. Many people are often seen enjoying popular activities include fishing, picnicking, bird-watching, photography, and relaxing by the riverside. There is no air-conditioning in summertime. It is heated in wintertime.

There are two second floor bedrooms each with a double-bed.

The West Room has windows facing south down the Hudson River and west towards the Catskills (probably the room I’d hope to stay) and the East Room, the larger of the two rooms, has windows looking east onto the river.

Breakfast is provided for overnight guests. Dinner can be enjoyed by one of the many local area eateries or you may bring food to the lighthouse as the kitchen is available as well as an outdoor propane grill.

The Saugerties Lighthouse Conservancy is pleased to announce the Between the Tides Festival,      its annual fundraiser and music festival. It will be held on Sunday afternoon, August 21st, 2011, from 2PM to 7PM. Hosted at the historic Saugerties Lighthouse, the festival is a family-friendly, all-ages event that includes live music, food, and drinks. It is scheduled “between the tides” so that the 1/2-mile trail to the lighthouse is passable throughout the event.

The line up of local musicians includes Paul Luke, the Josh Tyler Band, and more.

Tickets are on sale now – advanced ticket price is $25.00/person. Day of event: $30.00. Seniors $5.00 discount; children under 12 are free. Proceeds from the music festival supports the continued preservation of the lighthouse.

Celebrate the Hudson River and the historic Saugerties Lighthouse, a landmark of the Hudson River Valley. Enjoy live music, food, and drinks. The lighthouse is open for tours of the interior during the festival instead of the usual tour schedule on this day. NO PETS allowed during festival.

If you are in or around Saugerties I would strongly suggested walking through the streets, visiting the shops and eateries, and yes, plan that special weekend at the Saugerties Lighthouse!

As always, I wish you days filled with wonder – take a minute to wonder what it is that made you smile today!

Please feel free to “share” this post with your family/friends!  And don’t forget to leave your comments below, we love hearing from you!


The World’s Largest Kaleidoscope – in the Catskills!

WOW, I can’t believe how time flies. . .it’s been a few months since I last blogged, what’s up with that?   So by now most of you “regular” visitors may be saying, hmmm, WonderfulWonders hasn’t done too much traveling in and around the Hudson Valley this summer…. unfortunately you are right.  Somehow our days have been filled with work, errands and then more work. So to all of you that follow my blog, you know that now that the warmer temperatures are here it’s time for my honey and I to get out and about traveling around the Hudson Valley.

We took a drive recently to Mt. Tremper to check out the World’s Largest Kaleidoscope – Kaleidostore at the Emerson Country Store. The store is filled with a large variety of unique items from the newest trendy fashion items to vintage fashion, antique to modern furniture and so much more!

Outside the front door an adorable garden says “relax, enjoy & stay awhile.”  I love love love shops like this!

The kaleidoscope is housed in the 56+ feet tall (certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as being the World’s Largest) silo of a beautifully restored 19th century dairy barn, The World’s Largest Kaleidoscope has been mesmerizing guests since 1996, which means we happen to visit while they are celebrating their 15th anniversary!

The World’s Largest Kaleidoscope show features brilliant moving images while you listen to theater-quality sound.  While you watch the amazing images moving and taking on different shapes & sizes you are treated to great music by Gary Burke, a local composer and drummer who has worked with Frances Ford Coppola and Bob Dylan.  Listening to this music takes you back in time as you hear hints of folk, jazz, big band, psychedelic rock and patriotic grandeur.


When visiting, you will enjoy one of three shows, depending on the season. We saw the America, The House We Live In:  A look at the history of America from settlement days through the first space walks and the sixties.

With Woodstock  being only a short distance away, the music was appropriate for our location.  So, what did we do, but of course head over to Woodstock for a bite to eat and browse the shops.

As suggested in our Hudson Valley & Catskill Mountains An Explorer’s Guide book, we stopped at Alyce & Roger’s Fruit Stand on Route 28 in Mt. Tremper and picked up the most delicious corn relish! The couple (we assume Alyce & Roger) was so friendly and kind, we will absolutely go back for more of their fresh relish and jams!

We absolutely had to go back to Cafe Mezzaluna on Route 212 in Saugerties.  We knew from out last visit how special this place was and it was confirmed again when we walked in the door and Sherri greeted us with that same warm & friendly smile.  More specifically, she asked if we were again staying at the  Grouse House/Penthouse (where we spent a long weekend last year).  Her remembering us and where we stayed re-confirmed why we LOVE Cafe Mezzaluna!

There are many great places in and around the Catskills and Hudson Valley and we love exploring them all!

As always, I wish you days filled with wonder – take a minute to wonder what it is that made you smile today!

Please feel free to “share” this post with your family/friends!  And don’t forget to leave your comments below, we love hearing from you!


Love – Love – Love – Hudson Valley Restaurant Week 2011 March 14th – 27th

Hello Hudson Valley!  Okay so you all know that my honey and I totally enjoy dinning at various restaurants in and around the Hudson Valley.  We are always eager to seek out the newest and greatest restaurants, cafes, and other special eateries!  What better way to try out a few new places than during Hudson Valley Restaurant Week 2011!

A quick summary (for those that may not fully know what restaurant week is) about Hudson Valley Restaurant Week:  this year some 160 restaurantswill be participating.  Participating restaurants offer a 3-course prix fixe lunch for $20 and/or prix fixe dinner for $28.  This is a wonderful way to experience restaurants that you may not have otherwise visited or hadn’t had the chance to visit!

So with my honey working part-time several evenings during the week and many of the participating restaurants don’t include Fridays & Saturdays, we were limited on the number of evenings we had available but we selected three.  One had been on our list for some time we just hadn’t had the chance to get there and two were elected last minute.

The Birdsall House    located at 970 Main Street, Peekskill, NY – in a word, WONDERFUL!  We had wanted to visit this restaurant for about the last 6 months and just never seemed to be able to get there.  So because we had such limited time during restaurant week we made sure Birdsall House was on our list and we weren’t disappointed!

Owners Tim Reinke and John Sharp have done an amazing job in preserving the 1940’s look and feel of this bar/tavern now top shelf restaurant too!   We loved the mix-n-match authentic furniture which provides an eclectic interior.    The cool leather booths, wooded tables,  black and white checked floor with old-fashioned sky light all contributed to maintaining the feel of that 1940’s bar/tavern appeal. 

Kevin, our waiter, was extremely friendly, very helpful and completely made us feel welcome.  There is something to be said when the owner, the chef, your waiter/waitress or any of the staff of a restaurant go out of their way to be friendly and sincerely make you feel welcomed and that they honestly appreciate the fact that we visited their restaurant!  Hats off to the Birdsall House staff!

The Birdsall House was actually across the street from its current location and was a B&B where George Washington frequently stayed.  The current Birdsall House was formerly Connelly’s Bar (my grandfather apparently was known to have visited Connelly’s from time-to-time).  What’s even more special for me personally is the fact that all the beef used at the restaurant comes from Hemlock Hills Farmalso located in Peekskill, NY and (here’s the special personal touch) the farm is owned by my mother’s cousin!  As a child, I visited “Aunt Katherine on the Farm.”  Because I had a “1st” aunt named Aunt Kathryn, we always referred to my mother’s “1st” aunt my great or “2nd” aunt as Aunt Catherine on the farm.”  Farmer John, as Birdsall House owner John Sharp referred to) is my 2nd cousin.  Not only is the meat local but most everything else too from their cheeses and famous locally brewed beers!

Now for an ever more unique and special treat, the Birdsall House owners utilized the wide open wall space to project some of the best old movies in silent!    

So the first course for me was the Lentil and Chick Pea SaladFresh green lentils, wheat & spelt berries, parsley, radicchio, Meyer lemon vinaigrette and my honey had the Sausage & Cheese House made pork and fennel sausage, Adirondack black wax cheddar, porter and caraway mustard, mesclun salad!  Then our main course; for me was the Jerk-Spiced Shrimp Skewers:      Collard greens, curried okra & tomato, habanero hot sauce – and yes, it was hot! While my honey enjoyed the Braised Pork Belly:      Portobello mushroom broth, soft-poached egg, crème fraiche, scallions.  Okay so while you all know that normally my honey and I share a dessert, we both had our own during restaurant week! Hey this way we had the chance to sample as many wonderful dishes as possible!  For me it was the Sorbet Trio     and my honey had the Apple Bourbon Bread Pudding   Nutmeg whipped cream toasted pecans!

Amazing food, wonderful setting and gracious owners – watch the video and I’m certain you too will want to go this great hot spot – we will absolutely go back!

 Our 2nd restaurant was      Opus 465465 Main Street in Armonk.  Voted Best of Westchester 2009, we dined here on Saturday evening, the night of the Super Moon! The setting was a bit more formal – the service was polite and the food was prepared perfectly!  As the dining room upstairs was quite full, our waiter was busy-busy as he attended to many tables.  I started with the Blue Apple Salad:         Mesclun greens tossed with diced apples, glazed walnuts, crumbled bleu cheese and reduced balsamic vinaigrette while my honey had the Soup Sampler:     mini cups of Lentil, Crab Corn Chowder and Cream of Broccoli which all three were excellent!  We wished we could have ordered a pint of each to go!  For our main course, I had the Half Moon Tilapia  Tilapia fillet pan roasted with asparagus and sun-dried cranberries in a chardonnay sauce (I had mine prepared w/o the mushrooms – sorry to all you mushroom lovers) and my honey enjoyed the Chicken Scarpariello  Breast of chicken sautéed with crumbled hot and sweet sausage, roasted red peppers, spicy pepperoncinis, garlic, white wine and crispy potatoes.  And now for the finale – dessert – I totally enjoyed the Smores while my honey wrapped his fingers around the Banana Wrap!   

On to our 3rd, and unfortunately our last, restaurant of Hudson Valley Restaurant Week 2011 –        Traditions 11811 Old Tomahawk Street – Route 118, Granite Springs, NY – OMG, all I can say is… OUT OF THIS WORLD!  Mike, our server, was cheerful, the atmosphere was friendly and inviting and the food was simply delicious!  

I started off with the Strawberry Apple Season Salad: Mesclun green topped w/sliced apples & strawberries, caramelized walnuts and gorgonzola cheese in whipped strawberry vinaigrette.    I was in heaven with this salad which is now among the best appetizer salads I’ve ever had (my other favorite was a Celery Root-Beet Apple salad I had last year during HV Restaurant Week at Cathryn’s Tuscan Grill – Cold Spring NY) while my honey had the Meatball Salad: Chopped Romaine lettuce, tossed w/EVOO & aged balsamic, finished with shaved parmigian, their “Homemade Honey Ricotta,” and a giant meatball with a touch of marinara! Of course I tasted the Meatball Salad (just to make sure it was good for him of course, LOL) it was wonderful! 

On to our main course, I had the Saccette: Imported Italian “Pasta Pouches,” filled w/three cheeses, tossed in a tomato cream sauce with fresh peas (I had mine prepared w/o the mushrooms).  This dish was amazing!  The pasta was al dente and the sauce was over-the-top creamy!  My honey had the Prosciutto Wrapped Pork Tenderloin:     A thin prosciutto coating, served w/caramelized onions in sweet demi glaze! Somehow hmm hmm good takes on a whole new meaning here!   Our one neighbor had the New Orleans Paella:        Slightly spicy tomato-based chicken, chorizo sausage, mussels, clams and shrimp while his wife enjoyed the Chicken Rocco:      Light crusted chicken cutlet, stuffed w/goat cheese, grilled asparagus, & sun-dried tomato, finished w/touch of white wine gravy . . . so tell me, are you hungry yet!

Now let’s not forget the dessert, my honey always says, “there’s always room for dessert” and this dessert is not to be missed!  The ladies had the Ice Cream Crepe: Warm delicate French crepe, filled w/vanilla ice cream, finished w/maple syrup, chocolate, raspberry puree and fresh cream while the men had the Waffle Sandwich: Fresh Belgium waffle, vanilla gelato, a dash of maple syrup, fresh berries & cream – too delicious! 


For me personally, the so-called “cherry on top” was having the owner Michael stop by our table just to say hello, ask about our satisfaction with our dinner and thank us for visiting Traditions 118.  It is that kind of customer service that is missing in so many places today and yet is so important to overall success.  Special thanks to owner Michael & our server Mike for making our evening wonderful!

Combined with great company, having our neighbors join us for this diner, fabulous food, very warm and inviting environment made for one of the best dining experiences we during restaurant week!

Overall we loved all our dining experiences during Hudson Valley Restaurant Week.  There is still a couple more days if you haven’t yet dined at a participating restaurant!  We thank all the participating restaurants and their staff for hosting such an outstanding event!  We look forward to 2012!

As always, I wish you days filled with wonder – take a minute to wonder what it is that made you smile today!

Please feel free to “share” this post with your family/friends!  And don’t forget to leave your comments below, we love hearing from you!


2011 Hudson Valley Gateway Experience

Hello Hudson Valley! What a great day, I am so excited, why, a number of reasons; tomorrow is the beginning of spring and today we attended the first (I believe the 1st)                   Hudson Valley Gateway Experience at The Mansion on the Hill at Colonial Terrace Conference Center, 119 Oregon Road, Cortlandt Manor, NY.

This great event provided area residents an opportunity to attend a fun-filled, jam-packed day while learning about and meeting some of the Hudson Valley-based businesses.   The first-ever “Experience” is a regional showcase for vendors to display their best products (many having been voted “Best of Westchester”) and services to the local market.  A few local personalities were on hand meeting and greeting too!  Our own WHUD 100.7 radio personality Kacey Morabito (also a friend from high school for me!) was busy announcing the various vendors in attendance. 

Nearly ninety (90) area businesses from across the Hudson Valley were there interacting with everyone, providing information, coupons, samples and more!  I completely love events like this where the businesses/vendors are accessible and eager to meet the community. 

While all the businesses / vendors were wonderful, a few of my personal favorites include:

I completely fell in love with the hottest trend in readers…well the hottest European trend … clic readers!  These are great and Stephanie Waters, owner of   CraftGoggles, is the ONLY vendor in the entire state of NY to have the license to carry these adorable readers!  The strengths vary from 1 to 3.  And for those of you that know me, yes, I did purchase a pair for myself!    I simply couldn’t resist!  So if you use readers, you know – a pair in the bathroom, a pair in the kitchen, a pair by your bedside and so on and so on, I strongly suggest you contact Stephanie. Keep checking her website (it’s currently under construction) or call her direct at 1-845-603-6124!!

Next on my list of new favorites is     G&K Sweet Foods! Kecia is amazing! With her business partner Gay, these two women have to be among the friendliest & personable ladies you will ever meet.               Their “sweetness” automatically draws you to their table and trust me, once there, you won’t want to leave!  Their sweet potato pie is will have you smiling for more.  The recipe is based on legacy recipe passed down by Gay’s great-grandmother.  My congratulations to these two amazing women for not only creating this successful women owned business but for continuing the legacy and preserving their family history & heritage through the use of recipes passed down through the generations. 

An already mentioned favorite but well worth mentioning again is 12 Grapes – the best music & wine bar in town!  It’s true when they say “a little bit of SoHo in historic downtown Peekskill”! 12 Grapes has received numerous awards and rave reviews including:

·       featured in the Jan. 2011 issue of Westchester Magazine Entitled “A Little Night Music”, this is a great article on food & music venues in the area.  The first photo, of the 12 Grapes stage, includes 5-time Grammy nominee Jon Cobert on keyboard, Mark Rivera on sax (Billy Joel’s sax player), Seth Glassman on bass, Denny McDermott on drums and Russ Velazquez on vocals. And what a night it was!  Click HERE to read the article.

 ·       Dec ’10: 12 Grapes was featured on Toni! on New York TV Everyone in New York loves TV’s Entertainment Reporter, Toni Senecal.  Formerly with WPIX & FOX5, she now has her own cable TV show.  We were happy to have Toni visit with us on December 8th as part of a Jazz special with Wynton Marsalis (Wynton visited 12 Grapes  last year after he performed at the Paramount). 
The Toni! on New York episode aired on 12/22 and 12/25. Click HERE to watch the video.  Toni’s spot on 12 Grapes is found at 20:35 thru 23:00 (you can fast-forward to it). 

 ·       Jul ’10: 12 Grapes was awarded Westchester Magazine‘s Readers’ Pick for “Best Place For A Date Night” See the July ’10 “Best of Westchester” issue of Westchester Magazine. Click HERE for the online story.

 We very much enjoy events like this as we love meeting new people in and around the Hudson Valley!  A very special THANK YOU to everyone for hosting such a spectacular event – one that is sure to grow each year!  Thank You to the Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce organizing the event and to your wonderful sponsors:  


As always, I wish you days filled with wonder – take a minute to wonder what it is that made you smile today!

Please feel free to “share” this post with your family/friends!  And don’t forget to leave your comments below, we love hearing from you!


A WINTER WEEKEND IN THE ADIRONDACKS (revisiting childhood vacation spots Lake George & Brant Lake)

For those of you that follow WonderfulWonders, you know that I very rarely go back to places I’ve already been.  Never really sure why, just never felt the strong desire to go back (with the exception of Plymouth, MA).  Well, this past weekend we set out to attend the Lake George 50th Anniversary Winter Carnival 2011 in Lake George NY.       Interesting that as a child I vacationed in nearby Brant Lake for much of of youth as we returned year-after-year staying with my aunt, uncle and cousins.  With Lake George being so close we ventured into the lake community each year to visit many of the area’s local attractions, shop and have dinner in some of the many restaurants. 

So while our initial intention was to attend the Winter Carnival, I must admit, I was looking forwarding to “going back” and revisiting the places I enjoyed so much as a child. Heck, I celebrated a milestone in Lake George – I turned 13 and my aunt bought me my 1st bottle of champagne to celebrate the occasion!  Along with my bat-n-ball that I received every year as my birthday always seemed to coincide with our vacation to Brant Lake and back in the mid/late 1960’s and early 1970’s a bat-n-ball was about as exciting as it got in that community.  Looking back now, I LOVED every minute of those times!

We arrived in time for dinner Friday night.  Jack‘s American Bistrowas highly recommend by Ron (our inn keeper) so we headed over to headed over to Jacks.  We started with the Fried Calamari with the most delicious homemade creamy orange ginger sauce! That sauce was more than wonderful!  I enjoyed the Chicken Cordon Bleu ham, with swiss cheese, Japanese bread crumbs, honey-mustard sauce, and mashed potato while my honey enjoyed the Braised Short Ribs pulled off the bone, roasted vegetables, potato “ravioli”, and red wine demi.  The food was great and the service was perfect! Thanks to Ron our inn keeper we had a delightful dinner on our first night in the Capitol Region.

After dinner we went back to our B&B,    The Manor Inn located on Glens Street, Glens Falls.  Ron & Denise the inn keepers of The Manor Inn are great and previous “neighbors” both originally being from Connecticut.  This 1921 Victorian inn has 4 bedrooms 2 w/private bath, each decorated with warmth and style.  We stayed in the Black & White room with its luxurious antique bedroom furniture featuring a magnificent Queen size bed.  We couldn’t have asked for more!

Saturday morning we headed over the Lake George to partake in the Winter Carnival festivities!  We were disappointed that there was a high wind warning in affect throughout the day preventing the Hot Air Balloon Tether Rides in the morning, the helicopter rides, the Saratoga Skydiving and especially the hot air balloon moon glow.  While those events/activities were cancelled, we were able to completely enjoy ourselves at the remaining events/activities.  With those brisk/whipping winds the Chowder Cook-Off was not only tasty but the warm chowder was much needed!  The day was filled with car races on the lake, ice diving demonstrations, snowmobiles & ATV having fun on the ice throughout the day, many children’s activities and more.  We stopped to admire the various sculptures on display and available for sale.  What caught our eye immediately was the simply beautiful eagle by Sculptures by Frank.  Frank has been creating his cchainsaw art here in the heart of the Adirondacks since 1990.  His mission is to “provide quality hand crafted art at an affordable price.”  Imagine our surprise when we discovered him specializing in Bears, Moose’s, Seagulls and Eagles!  Well, you all know how much my honey and I enjoy eagle hunting during the winter months here in the Hudson Valley along the Hudson River so, we simply couldn’t resist purchasing the most amazing eagle sculpture!

To complete our Saturday we ventured over to the local park for a dog sled ride!  Okay, maybe they weren’t huskies but the thrill was the same!


Sunday was spent trying to find my childhood vacation spot in Brant Lake.  Like I mentioned in the beginning of this post, I spent much of my childhood vacations at Brant Lake.  We stayed with my aunt, uncle & two cousins.  Every year, usually the last two weeks of July my aunt & uncle rented a cabin known as “The Martha Ray” at Mead’s Cabins.  Going back this past weekend was both exciting and a bit disappointing….while I absolutely found Mead’s Cottages, I can’t be certain that I found The Martha Ray which makes me sad.  I’m not sure if it is going back in the winter makes it look so very different, or if it’s time, 35+ years can make a difference.  I know that some sections have gone private since I was last there and perhaps that in itself has made the appearance different but it was sad none the less.  We used to walk straight downs the road past Martha Ray and right on to the beach, now, you can no longer do that from what I can tell, maybe I’m wrong, hopefully I’m wrong and I just missed it!  If by chance you too have vacationed at Mead’s Cottage at Brant Lake I would love to hear from you….please share your comments below!

To complete this day filled with reminiscing childhood memories, Sunday evening we had a nice dinner at Mario’s Italian Restaurantin Lake George.  What’s amazing is that one night when I was a child (maybe 7, 8 or 9) we had gone into Lake George to have dinner at this very same restaurant.  It was there that when my parents turned away from me for only a moment, I somehow wandered to the stairway and fell down what at the time, seemed to be a huge flight of stairs.  It was somewhat serious, the ambulance came, took me to the hospital and all I remember was having a bad headache!

And let’s not forget the all important art of shopping LOL! Yes, we all know that we are very good at visiting the local shops & boutiques on our many trips and this was no exception.  I love  the Indian Teepee Gift shop in Bolton Landing!          Be prepared because when you walk in the door you’ll be surprised at how much there is to see in this adorable half-century-old store.  Here you will find everything from edible goodies, crafts, toys, plush animals and novelties, plus cozy slippers and flannels to keep the adventurer warm on those Adirondack winter days. The snowy Christmas section will entertain kids even in summer. And there isn’t a better place to scoop up those all-important souvenir sweatshirts!  So I had to have a new fleece that proudly shows my love of the beautiful Adirondacks!  The Silo Country Store & Restaurant is another gem in the Adirondacks and not to be missed!    


As we made our way to Monday (President’s Day) we found ourselves waking to about 5″ – 6″ inches of fresh snow!  So what to do in this freshly fallen snow in the beautiful Adirondack Mountains – we decided on snow tubing!  Now, I’ve NEVER been snow tubing so we were in for an experience! 

We made our way to West MountainWe were so excited as neither of us had ever been tubing!  Our excitement took precedence over our frame of mind as neither of us read about the tubing trails – we didn’t know how many or how high they were.  After we purchased our lift tickets we soon discovered there are 6 tubing chutes, four lower 700’ long chutes with a 65′ drop and two upper 1000’ long chutes with a 100′ vertical drop – YIKES! Okay so this was about the time I thought hmmm, maybe I should reconsider.  But I didn’t reconsider; instead we started out on the lower chutes and after having “mastered” that, we eagerly ventured to the upper chutes!  We of course went down together, meaning we were each in our own tube but my honey was securely holding on to my tube.  Apparently going down together is very popular and a common practice (whew, lucky for me!).

Enjoy more pictures!

As always, I wish you days filled with wonder – take a minute to wonder what it is that made you smile today!

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X2O Xaviars On The Hudson – My Valentine's 2011 Dinner

 OMG! How else can I describe both my Valentine’s Day 2011 (which was a weekend long adventure filled with gifts & surprises) and my exceptional dinner at X2O Xaviars On The Hudson in Yonkers, NY.  X2O sits in the water on the only turn of the century Victorian pier that is still in use on the Hudson River. X2O’s Main Dining Salon’s 25 foot vaulted ceiling and 3 walls of glass frame offers views of the George Washington and Tappan Zee Bridges, as well as sunsets over the Palisades.

 We (probably more like me) have had X20 on our/my list of places to have dinner for about a year now.  Being from Northern Westchester County, traveling down to Yonkers isn’t first on our “can’t wait” to-do list (nothing again Yonkers itself), but, X20 was high on the “must do” list. 

 My honey surprised me with roses Saturday morning as he informed me that this was Valentine’s weekend!  As we set out that morning to go eagle watching/scouting, I had no idea what was in store for dinner or that there even was a dinner in the plan.  So, you can image my surprise when I learned we had reservations at 6:30 at X20 Xaviars On The Hudson!

 Where to begin…X20 provides the complete package – everything from the magnificent view of the George Washington Bridge/NYC skyline, the most pleasant/friendly servers (Chase was outstanding!) to welcoming conversation with the Maitre D Greg Vann.  I was very impressed by the fact that Greg went out of his way to spend time chatting with us, showed us their wine room and overall made us feel welcomed.  I think too, his sincere appreciation that we came to X2O was evident in his conversation, again making our experience all the more special! All these elements combined set the stage for what was nothing short of a spectacular dinner. 

 We started with a nice bottle Riesling as we toasted Valentine’s 2011.  I began with the Winter Citrus Salad with Lump Crabmeat Ginger & Miso Dressing which was Blood Orange, Meyer Lemon & Grapefruit with Frisee while my honey started with the Lobster Crepe Mascarpone & Chives Sauce American with Star Anise & Tiny Salad – both were delicious leaving us eagerly anticipating our entrees!


Winter Citrus Salad with Lump Crabmeat Ginger & Miso Dressing

Lobster Crepe Mascarpone & Chives

I decided on the Braised Short Ribs of Beef Parsnip Puree and Fried Cauliflower Chili & Onion Crust with Asian Yam Chips.  I completely fell in love with the parsnip puree and the fried cauliflower (which came highly recommend by our server Chase) completely exceeded my expectations! 

Braised Short Ribs of Beef Parsnip Puree and Fried Cauliflower

My honey chose the Pan Roasted Hudson Valley Chicken Barley & Apple Risotto with Braised Fennel Foie Gras & Sauce Perigourdine. 

Pan Roasted Hudson Valley Chicken Barley & Apple Risotto with Braised Fennel

Now for those of you that follow my blog and read my post on various places we have dined at, you know that we always share the desert,  We decided on the Warm Valrhona Chocolate Cake Grand Marnier Ice Cream & Orange Confit! HmmHmm GREAT!

Warm Valrhona Chocolate Cake

For those that may not be aware, Peter Xavier Kelly (born in Yonkers, NY) owns/operates some of the most critically acclaimed restaurants in the Hudson Valley.  He was working in local restaurants at the age 14. While attending Marist College (for Business Administration), his love of the food industry was developed as he held a various jobs in various NY restaurants. He traveled to France to perfect his skills in the culinary world.

 In his early twenties, this self-taught chef opened Xaviar’s in Garrison (which was closed and re-opened in its current Piermont location) and began his journey to success. To date, Peter owns some of the most renowned & acclaimed restaurants in New York State, all located in the Hudson Valley, north of New York City. Xaviar’s at Piermont, The Freelance Cafe and Wine Bar, Restaurant X & The Bully Boy Bar, and X2O Xaviars on the Hudson have all received popular praise and the industry’s most coveted awards and accolades.  Zagat’s Survey (29 out of 30), New York State Restaurateur of The Year 1998.

ZAGATRatings & Review

Food Decor Service Cost
27 28 25 $70

Smitten surveyors say Peter Kelly “has done it again” with this “spectacular” waterside venue in Yonkers – voted Westchester/Hudson Valley’s Most Popular – that “more than delivers on the hype” with “knock-your-socks-off” “adventurous” New American cuisine matched with “magnificent river views”; add in a “stellar” wine selection, “seamless service” and a “stunning” room, and even if a handful huff “overpriced”, for most it’s a “triumph” all around; P.S. “try the prix fixe lunch – it’s quite a bargain”, as are the small plates in the lounge.

 I’m sure many of you also know that in 2007 Peter appeared on the Food Networks Iron Chef America and beat Bobby Flay in Battle “Cowboy Rib Eye.”

 Can you tell we loved it! So now we want to experience the views, and oh yes, the food, during the daylight hours….so, my honey said we’ll just have to go back and do brunch!

 As always, I wish you days filled with happiness and “wonder” – take the time to “wonder” what it is that made you smile today!