Tags Posts tagged with "Holidays"

Holidays

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Port Jefferson’s 21st Annual Charles Dickens Festival was Dec. 3 and 4 across the village. Visitors came out and experienced all of the sights, sounds and activities during Port Jefferson’s annual Charles Dickens Festival Dec. 3 and 4. Street performances, parades, a gingerbread house contest and several showings of A Christmas Carol at Theatre Three were just some of the fun attractions during the two-day holiday festival.

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Stop cutting back mums and Montauk daisies by the Fourth of July to ensure autumn flowering. Photo by Ellen Barcel

By Ellen Barcel

Holidays are a time when people enjoy a rest, take a vacation from work and like to celebrate special occasions. But, holidays can also serve as markers for gardeners, a calendar of sorts, reminding them what needs to be done and when.

February 2 is Groundhog Day, a day in midwinter where whimsy takes over and the rodent “predicts” either an early spring (as this year) or six more weeks of winter. In any event, February is the perfect time to check out the gardening catalogues, plan your future garden and start your hardier crops indoors in a sunny location. Check the seed packages to see how many weeks before moving them outdoors you should sow the seeds. Cuttings from early flowering shrubs, like forsythia, can be made in February and brought inside to force early flowers.

Poinsettias can be toxic to children and pets, so place them out of reach during the Christmas holidays. Photo by Ellen Barcel
Poinsettias can be toxic to children and pets, so place them out of reach during the Christmas holidays. Photo by Ellen Barcel

March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, is the traditional start of the pea planting season. Of course, it’s really important to check the weather and the soil conditions. Peas are one crop that prefers cool weather but can’t grow in the extreme cold we usually have on Long Island in mid-March. Think of this as a heads-up to get ready to plant as soon as the soil is workable and warm enough.

Easter is a holiday when people tend to bring forced plants, grown in nurseries, into the house. Be really careful here as lilies, while traditional for the season, are toxic to cats. Even the water that the cut flowers are placed in can cause series health issues for them if they drink it; so keep lilies away from your cats. Generally, plant Easter gift plants in the garden as soon as possible but usually after the blooms have faded — so you can enjoy them in the house.

Memorial Day (some people say Mother’s Day, which is a bit earlier) is usually the start of really warm weather, so that tender annuals, such as tomatoes and herbs such as basil and dill can be moved outdoors. Marjoram and summer savory will also die in a late frost; so wait till the weather is warm enough.

Fourth of July is usually considered as the last date in the growing season that perennial flowers, like Montauk daisies and mums, can be pruned back and still complete a flowering cycle, blooming in very late summer to autumn. The rule of thumb is to start pruning them when green buds appear in spring, and stop 100 days before bloom time. That is usually July 4.

Stop cutting back mums and Montauk daisies by the Fourth of July to ensure autumn flowering. Photo by Ellen Barcel
Stop cutting back mums and Montauk daisies by the Fourth of July to ensure autumn flowering. Photo by Ellen Barcel

Labor Day is generally the last day in the growing season that second (or third) season crops can be planted. The first frost day on Long Island is generally considered to be early to mid-November; so count backward from that day for the exact planting time, based on the number of days each plant takes to mature. Some varieties of bush beans will produce a crop in 50 to 60 days, which means plant them in early September, that is, Labor Day for a crop before frost. Also, very tender houseplants should start to be brought indoors if they have summered outside. Particularly watch the low night temps.

By Columbus Day all your houseplants should be indoors. Move tender shrubs or small trees like figs to an unheated garage once the leaves fall. Lift tender bulbs and store them in a cool dry place once the leaves have all died back to the ground.

Thanksgiving, late November, is usually the last time you can plant spring bulbs like daffodils, hyacinths, tulips, etc, outside. Those and other spring bulbs can actually be planted as long as the ground is not frozen. If you miss the cutoff date, consider storing them in the fridge till spring.

Christmas is a time when many decorative plants are used in the house. Be particularly careful with indoor plants, such as poinsettias, which can harm both young children and pets if ingested. And we all know that little kids and pets put everything in their mouths.

While the above are generalities, always take into consideration the actual conditions at any given time. If a sudden cold front is predicted for mid-September, make sure that your houseplants are indoors. If the ground is still frozen in early April, then you just can’t plant your early/cool weather plants yet.

Ellen Barcel is a freelance writer and master gardener. Send your gardening questions and/or comments to leisure@tbrnewspapers.com. To reach Cornell Cooperative Extension and its Master Gardener program, call 631-727-7850.

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By Emma Kobolakis

Winter dinners are inherently cozy. The air is colder, so the food is heartier. Some of us close our eyes and imagine a beautifully browned bird with bountiful sides of stuffing and sauce, a la Thanksgiving dinner. Others salivate at the thought of glazed ham or roast vegetables. That’s the grand thing: Our preferences are unique to each of us, and those preferences are built on shared experiences. The nostalgia felt when revisiting those experiences builds our anticipation to indulge, year after year, with friends and family.

That’s the grand thing: Our preferences are unique to each of us, and those preferences are built on shared experiences.

What’s your fondest holiday memory? Perhaps it was the time that you snuck handfuls of marshmallows and ate them in front of the TV while mom was making sweet potato casserole. Or the time that you and your friends decided to buck tradition and host a potluck, where you had a bite of everything and collapsed, moaning, on the couch. Or that one year when you decided you were the second coming of Martha Stewart and resolved to cook the entire feast, yourself — only to be saved from certain disaster when guests arrived to help. Or perhaps you carried it all off with a flourish.

If you’re a nervous home cook, it isn’t easy to devise a winter-worthy side or main course, which is why many of us do tend to play it safe and stick with the tried and true. However, there’s much to be said about taking something basic and adding some new flavor to it. The idea is to cook seasonally, with an eye on what’s readily available, as that usually has the best flavor. And it’s just as important to highlight those flavors in a harmonious way. Try to think outside the box of root veg and roasted meat; you might be pleasantly surprised.

In order to riff successfully on a classic, start with the basics and change one or two elements. Stuffing is fine and dandy, but what about stuffing a squash with a heady mixture of pork, sage and bread crumbs? And it wouldn’t be right to disregard those of us who don’t eat meat at all. Try a steak — a cauliflower steak, caramelized and served with a hearty relish. Or if you’re tired of the typical protein-heavy main courses, how about pastitsio, a Greek meat and pasta pie that will induce the same itis in your guests. They’re designed to serve at least four and are easily doubled (or tripled) to feed a crowd.

—Holiday dinner recipes—

Butternut squash stuffed with pork, sage and bread crumbs — Serves 4
Active Time: 30 minutes — Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS: 2 tablespoons butter; 1 teaspon olive oil; 2 stalks celery, diced; 2 shallots, sliced; 2 cloves garlic, sliced; 1 pound sweet pork sausage, casings removed; 1 small bunch sage (chiffonade); 1/2 cup bread crumbs; 2 medium-sized butternut squash, sliced in half lengthwise and seeded; 1/2 stick butter, melted; salt

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Melt 2 tablespoons butter and a glug of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Sauté the celery, shallots and garlic until translucent.
3. Add the sausage, breaking up with a spatula into small pieces.
4. Once browned, add sage. Salt to taste.
5. Remove from saucepan, place in bowl. Add bread crumbs until desired consistency is reached.
6. Brush butternut squash with melted butter and sprinkle with salt.
7. Mound stuffing into squash hollows and sprinkle with more bread crumbs and melted butter.
8. Roast until the squash is soft when poked with a knife, about 45 minutes.

Pastitsio  Serves 8
Active Time: 1 hour — Total Time: 2 hours

INGREDIENTS: olive oil for frying; 1 large onion, chopped; 3 cloves garlic, minced; 2 pounds ground beef; 1 teaspoon cinnamon; 1 teaspoon oregano; 1 teaspoon thyme; 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes; salt; bread crumbs, for garnish; 1 pound ziti; 1/2 stick butter, unsalted; 1/4 cup flour; 2-1/2 cups whole milk; 1 cup Parmesan (+ 1/2 cup for topping); nutmeg

In order to riff successfully on a classic, start with the basics and change one or two elements.

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Prepare meat sauce: heat olive oil in heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add onions and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 2 minutes. Add beef and sauté until no longer pink. Add cinnamon, oregano and thyme. Add crushed tomatoes. Salt to taste, and let simmer for 45 minutes.
3. Prepare béchamel: Melt butter. Add flour and cook until golden-brown and nutty. Stream milk in slowly while whisking. Whisk every so often until béchamel is thick. Salt to taste. Grate nutmeg into it, about 1 teaspoon’s worth.
4. Prepare pasta: Boil pasta until al dente; it’ll be baked again. Combine pasta with meat sauce.
5. Pour pasta and sauce mixture in 13- by 9-inch buttered baking dish, topping with béchamel. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and extra 1/2 cup Parmesan. Bake for 1 hour, until golden brown and bubbling. Serve hot.

Curry cauliflower steak with roasted red pepper relish — Serves 4
Active Time: 30 minutes — Total Time: 1 hour

INGREDIENTS: 1 head cauliflower; olive oil; 2 tablespoons curry powder; 2 roasted red peppers; 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped; red wine vinegar; honey; salt; 1/4 cup chopped peanuts

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
2. Slice cauliflower head into 1/2-inch thick “steaks.” Rub with oil and dust with curry powder.
3. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in cast iron (or ovenproof) skillet. Fry on both sides until browned, then move to the oven for 15 minutes, or until tender.
4. Meanwhile, prepare the relish. Chop red peppers and parsley.
5. Whisk red wine vinegar, honey and salt in a bowl. Stream in olive oil until emulsified.
6. Add peanuts and salt to taste.
7. Serve steaks with relish on top.

Emma Kobolakis is a professional cook, food writer and recipe developer based in New York. Her work has appeared in Serious Eats and on the tables of diners in Brooklyn.

Coram resident Vincent James, right, poses for a photo with his family members at the Holiday Dream event in Coram. Photo by Giselle Barkley

For the past eight years, Rhonda Klch and her company Equity First have made many dreams come true.

This year is no different with Klch’s annual Holiday Dream event, which provides Christmas gifts for Long Island families in need. On Sunday, residents who registered for the event picked up their Christmas presents at the Coram Fire Department headquarters from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Klch, a Miller Place resident, and event volunteers upped the ante this year by getting gifts for around 250 families from Mount Sinai, Miller Place, Port Jefferson, Port Jefferson Station, Selden, Medford and other towns across the Island.

A little girl plays with a balloon during Rhonda Klch’s Holiday Dream event. Photo by Giselle Barkley
A little girl plays with a balloon during Rhonda Klch’s Holiday Dream event. Photo by Giselle Barkley

“These kids feel like they’re walking on a cloud,” said Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station), as several children ran around with balloons in the background after receiving their presents and meeting Santa.

Cartright was one of many people Klch called this year when searching for families in need of some holiday cheer. Local schools and churches were also contacted to find these families. While the families don’t need to be homeless to participate in the program, many of these families are financially unable to afford presents around the holidays.

People like Gordon Leonard of Selden said with the recession it’s harder to live on Long Island, making special seasons like the holidays more stressful.

“We came here because some Long Islanders understand the plight of many other Long Islanders, and they’re giving because they know people are struggling just to be New Yorkers,” he said. “We don’t want to leave. What choice do we have.”

While his son Devon received several gifts from the program this year, he said his favorite part about Sunday’s program was spending time with his family.

According to volunteer Priscilla Arena, of Mount Sinai, the event was a success this year.

“The outpour from the community has been tremendous and I’m hoping that it’ll only increase next year,” she said.

Last year, the event helped around 167 families. Arena got involved with the program around a month ago after Klch, a business associate and friend of hers, told her about the event. For Arena, helping the program and the families who benefit seemed natural.

For residents like Tiana Wyche, who lives in a shelter, Holiday Dream was important to bring joy to her children. Wyche is originally from Riverhead but currently resides in Port Jefferson Station.

Rhonda Klch, on right, poses for a photo with volunteer Priscilla Arena at the Holiday Dream event in Coram. Photo by Giselle Barkley
Rhonda Klch, on right, poses for a photo with volunteer Priscilla Arena at the Holiday Dream event in Coram. Photo by Giselle Barkley

“Unfortunately, financial restrictions impact everybody and it becomes difficult over holidays,” Klch said. “I think people have this perception that just because you live somewhere, you’re doing very well. But unfortunately, people get so blind.”

Klch added that people don’t always realize how many families struggle to live on the Island, much less celebrate the holidays. She started spreading the word about the event among people in the business district. While Holiday Dream is the main event where children pick up their toys and have breakfast with Santa, there are toy drive events prior to Holiday Dream that Klch and her company host to raise more donations.

For Carmen Nunez and her family, who moved from the Dominican Republic to Port Jefferson Station, the program was extra special. Her family wasn’t used to getting presents around this time of year.

“I feel so happy,” she said. “Thank you to [Comsewogue ESL teacher Denise Saul] and everybody who tried to make [the children happy by giving them presents], especially this time for Christmas. It’s beautiful.”

While the family is trying to do the best they can here on Long Island, Saul said they are continuing the event’s mission of giving to others and spreading joy.

“Even though we gave them presents, they’re talking about who they can share [the presents with],” Saul said. “They are selfless themselves.”

According to Cartright, remembering the spirit of giving is important this time of year, and she hopes to keep giving in the future through the Holiday Dream program.

“A lot of community organizations and individuals come together to remind the kids that this is a season of giving,” Cartright said. “The holiday season is not only about receiving. They’re reaching hundreds of kids now, and I can only imagine as the years go by, how many kids we’re going to be changing their lives by letting them know they’re loved and supported by the community.”

‘E.T. the Extra Terrestrial’ will be screened on Dec. 26 at the Cinema Arts Centre. Photo from CAC

By Melissa Arnold

The holidays are all about spending time with the family and making memories, whether it’s by shopping, baking together or traveling. But when all the hustle and bustle wraps up next week, some families might be left wondering, “Now what?”

The Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington is offering a unique suggestion: Give your kids a taste of your childhood.

Beginning Dec. 26, the theater will celebrate Winter Holiday Week, where moviegoers can see some of the most beloved family classics on the big screen for the first time in decades.

The lineup includes “E.T. The Extra Terrestrial” on Dec. 26, a 25th anniversary celebration of “Home Alone” on Dec. 28, “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” on Dec. 29 and a special sing-along version of the musical “Grease” with onscreen lyrics on Dec. 30.

“These are shows that evoke memories for a lot of people, and getting to see it in the theater with their families or friends can be a lot like reliving the experience of seeing it for the first time,” said Raj Tawney, publicity director for the theater.

The CAC plays host to all kinds of artistic expression, not just film, including  concerts and lectures. The theater typically screens films with serious or intense themes that are best suited for adults, but they also offer events for all ages at least once a month with their Cinema for Kids and Families series.

“We’re looking for films that will interest a large audience and maintain our integrity as an art house cinema,” Tawney explained. And with kids off from school until the new year, there’s no better time for family films.

Also in the lineup for the week is Kid Flix Mix on Dec. 27, an hour-long collection of 11 live-action and animated shorts from the New York International Film Festival. The films come from all over the world, but all dialogue is in English.

“Kid Flix Mix has films from Australia, France, Russia, Norway, England and many other places throughout the world, which is a great opportunity for kids to learn something new,” Tawney said. “They can see more than just what’s a part of their culture. They’ll learn the importance of fantasy and that creativity comes in so many different forms.”

Many of the short films feature animals. One film, Torill Kove’s “Me and My Moulton,” was an Oscar nominee this year.

Before or after the show, Tawney recommends visiting the center’s Skyroom Café for a meal or snack, beverages and conversation. “People really love getting together at the cafe to talk and relax after a show,” he said. “The day doesn’t have to end just because the show is over.”

Winter Holiday Week will be held at noon every day from Dec. 26 through Dec. 30. The Cinema Arts Centre is located at 423 Park Ave., Huntington. Tickets are $12 for adults and free for children under 12.

To buy tickets or learn more, visit www.cinemaartscentre.org or call 631- 423-7611.

Triple cancer survivor, veteran and volunteer firefighter seeks to give back to community

Albert Statton, above, stands in his gear as a Greenlawn firefighter. Photo from Statton

A Greenlawn volunteer firefighter, Army veteran and three-time cancer survivor has faced many battles in his life, but now he is fighting a different kind of battle.

Albert Statton, 64, created the Operation Enduring Care project at the Greenlawn Fire Department to collect food and clothing donations to help people who need immediate assistance and “offer them some type of comfort.” All of the donations collected will be given to The Salvation Army-managed homeless shelter at the Northport VA Affairs Medical Center.

Statton was drafted into the military in 1970 and served as a combat medic in Germany, Asia and across the United States. He finished his last tour of duty in the late 1990s but returned to his roots when he received treatment at the Northport VA after he was diagnosed with cancer in 2009. He found solace in dropping off items at the shelter on his way to chemotherapy.

“When being treated, it’s a physical and a mental battle,” Statton said in a phone interview. “I had highs and lows. I tried to make it a positive by bringing donations to shelter, so instead of going for me I was helping someone.”

He said the shelter for homeless veterans gets as many as 60 families a week that ask for assistance, especially during the holiday season.

Statton’s desire to help others is something he said he learned as a firefighter.

“You never say, ‘I was a firefighter.’ I am a firefighter and the things I have learned are ingrained in me forever.”

He said the volunteers at Greenlawn took his sick father to the hospital more than 20 times, so afterward he wanted to make a donation to the department to say thank you.

“I realized I didn’t have enough money to repay a debt like that,” Statton said. “I wanted to give back to the community the same way they did to my father.”

Statton served his community proudly until he was diagnosed with cancer.

He is impressed with the level of dedication all of the volunteers at Greenlawn bring to their work and how much they learned about the rescue system.

“So many people take the time to raise the bar on what’s available for the community,” Statton said.

He credits his cancer recovery to the members of the fire department for their inspiration and good wishes while he was sick, and their visits to his bedside at the hospital to pray with him.

One story in particular stands out in his mind: Statton, in the hospital, was once so battered by his treatment that he stopped breathing, and he found out later that at that same moment his comrades had begun a prayer group for him. He regained his ability to breathe minutes later.

“I had a very supportive network of brothers and sisters that encouraged me to persevere,” he said. “My respect and my love goes very deep for the fire department.”

Donations to support Statton’s effort to give back to local veterans can be dropped off at 23 Boulevard Ave. in Greenlawn. Statton said canned meats and vegetables are in high demand, as well as packaged undergarments and socks.

Congressman Steve Israel speaks on the dangers of hoverboards at the Commack Fire Department on Dec. 15. Photo by Victoria Espinoza.

One of this year’s hot holiday items might be a little too hot.

Hoverboards have been flying off the shelves this holiday season, but recent safety issues, including multiple cases of boards catching fire or exploding, have given some shoppers pause. That’s why U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D) gathered with members of the Commack Fire Department Tuesday and urged consumers against buying hoverboards specifically made in China, because he said the type of batteries used in them may ignite.

“Hoverboards may be the hot holiday gift, but they are literally catching on fire and igniting questions about their safety and the safety of lithium-ion batteries,” Israel said. “New Yorkers should remain hesitant before purchasing these hoverboards and stay vigilant while using and charging them.”

Hoverboards are self-balancing and electronic two-wheeled devices on which people can travel from place to place. When riding one, a person may appear to be levitating, or hovering, similarly to those on the hoverboards featured in the film “Back to the Future II.”

Israel stood beside a photo display of several fires that the Commack department had already responded to where hoverboards caused combustion inside someone’s home, destroying property and, sometimes, entire rooms.

Hoverboards shipped from overseas use lithium ion batteries, which can combust if heated or overcharged due to their limited voltage range. Israel called for more research from the U.S. Department of Energy on the safety of using lithium ion batteries in hoverboards.

The congressman also noted that airports already task their security personnel to remove all lithium ion batteries from checked bags for the same reason.

“Well if we know that those lithium ion batteries could be a hazard to the plane, and we know a hover board with a lithium ion battery could be hazardous to our homes, that says we need to do a little bit more research,” Israel said.

Commack Fire Marshal Joe Digiose flanked the congressman on Tuesday and said he urged residents to be careful when buying hoverboards until more research is completed. He said there is no research that shows the American-made products are not working well, but the ones from overseas pose more of a danger and are being shipped at a very high rate to the United States.

“We recommend you don’t buy them but if you do, buy an American-made one,” he said.

Don Talka speaks on research of lithium ion batteries at the Commack Fire Department on Dec. 15. Photo by Victoria Espinoza
Don Talka speaks on research of lithium ion batteries at the Commack Fire Department on Dec. 15. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

Don Talka, senior vice president and chief engineer at Underwriters Laboratories has been involved in research on lithium ion batteries for years, starting back when they were involved with similar issues in laptops. He said the major problem is the mating of the battery with the rest of the electronics used in the hoverboards.

“What we’ve learned through our research … is that the combination and how these pieces interact causes the issues,” Talka said. “And how the batteries are charged and discharged are all items which need further investigation.”

At the press conference, Israel inspected the box that a hoverboard came in, and said that despite all the instructions and caution labels about the product, there is nothing to be said about the battery.

“That has been established as one of the single greatest threats to property and potentially lives when they’re coming from China,” Israel said. “That’s why we want to comply with the energy chair to fully research this and make sure that people aren’t being exposed to greater risk and threat by lithium ion batteries.”

The town’s Chief Fire Marshal Chris Mehrman shows how Christmas tree fires can have devastating results. Photo from Brookhaven Town

Brookhaven Town officials demonstrated the dangers of Christmas tree fires last week, igniting an unwatered tree in a model living room.

The Dec. 9 event was aimed toward raising awareness about proper care for live trees. Before the dry tree went up in flames, officials from the town’s Division of Fire Prevention failed to set a properly watered Christmas tree on fire.

The dry, fiery tree caused damage to the model living room, referred to as a “burn pod.”

“This was a frightening, first-hand look at what could happen if Christmas trees are not sufficiently watered,” Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) said in a statement. “I urge everyone to make sure when purchasing a fresh Christmas tree to keep it properly watered to prevent a fire like we witnessed today.”

Christmas tree lights and Hanukkah candelabra called menorahs can also create fire safety issues. Councilman Dan Panico (R-Manorville) warned residents to “inspect your lights for frayed wires or broken bulbs.”

Christmas trees caused 210 house fires across the country annually between 2009 and 2013, although almost a quarter of those fires were intentional, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Another more than 750 unintentional fires per year were caused by other holiday decorations. The fires result in injury, death and property damage.

“It took only seconds for this fire to develop and consume the burn pod and cause severe damage,” Councilman Neil Foley (R-Blue Point) said in a statement.

The National Fire Protection Association has advised people to place trees at least 3 feet away from heat sources like fireplaces, radiators, vents or lights, and to make sure it does not block any exits. It is recommended that 1 to 2 inches is cut from the trunk’s base before the tree is set into its stand, the association said, and trees should be watered daily.

For more information, visit the National Fire Protection Association at www.nfpa.org.

Tours of decorated mansion held through Dec. 30

From left, Karen Mills-Lynch, Phyllis Kelly and Mary DiFronzo of the Three Village Garden Club trim the tree in the Vanderbilt Mansion library. Photo from Vanderbilt Museum

Interior designers and garden clubs deck the halls of the Vanderbilt Mansion in Centerport each year, and hundreds of visitors see the delightful results beginning the day after Thanksgiving.

The 24-room Spanish Revival house — listed on the National Register of Historic Places — is enhanced with garland, holly, 10 elegantly ornamented trees, poinsettias, brightly wrapped packages, greens and pine cones from the Vanderbilt estate and an enchanting atmosphere of early- and mid-twentieth century holiday cheer.

Lance Reinheimer, executive director of the museum, said, “We’re grateful to these imaginative decorators, who generously donate their time and talent to create an atmosphere of charming holiday grandeur and sophisticated living. They bring magic to this historic house.”

Participating this year were the Dix Hills, Centerport, Honey Hills, Nathan Hale and Three Village garden clubs; Harbor Homestead & Co. Design; and the master gardeners of the Cornell University Cooperative Extension. All have participated in the project for many years.

Artists and garden specialists from the Three Village Garden Club (representing Old Field, Setauket and Stony Brook) decorated the spacious, paneled Vanderbilt library and its tree. Beneath the tree are faux gifts wrapped with bright papers, foils and ribbons. Ornate, two-foot, stylized silver trees adorn the fireplace.

“We trimmed the tree with gold and copper ornament balls and with strands of clear, multi-faceted stones to reflect the light from the small white bulbs,” said Joann Canino of the Three Village Garden Club. “The white poinsettias used as ornaments suggest doves, a symbol of peace. We also placed white poinsettias with silver bows on the mantel of the library’s large fireplace.

“The Vanderbilt Mansion is an architectural celebration. It’s one of those grand houses that has a warm, family feeling. Our club is pleased to be part of dressing it up for the holidays. It’s great fun.”

Mary Schlotter and daughter Krishtia McCord, both of Centerport, decorated the bedroom of William K. Vanderbilt II, and the Moroccan Court next to the Vanderbilt library. They operate the Harbor Homestead & Co. design firm.

For the past several years, Schlotter also has been among the designers invited to decorate The White House for the holidays, the Fourth of July and Halloween.

“Mr. Vanderbilt loved peacocks and had them on the estate,” Schlotter said. “The bedroom color scheme is inspired by the colors in peacock feathers — deep teal, cobalt blue, apple green, plum and gold. We wanted it to look like a sophisticated man’s room,” Schlotter said.

Schlotter and McCord added wreaths of teal-blue feathers to the top of the French doors that open onto the bedroom porch with a view of Northport Bay. “Acorns are a feature of the Vanderbilt family crest, and we used acorn ornaments with the greenery that decorates the fireplace mantel. Ivy vines sprayed with gold paint and woven through the garland trim the doorways.”

In the Moroccan Court, with its rare Spanish and Portuguese tiles, they decorated the built-in tiled bench with throw pillows. The colors of the pillows match those in the antique tiles, each of which is a miniature folk painting. Decorations include a café setting with a small round table and two chairs; a basket of fruits and nuts; silver candles in ornate, antique bronze candlesticks; up-lighted palm trees; a candle-lit silver lantern next to the small fountain set into the floor; and gauzy, transparent fabric hung in front of the tall, arched windows.

Christine Lagana and her friends from the Dix Hills Garden Club decorated the Portuguese Sitting Room. “The tone was set by the deep blue in the rug and the sculpture of a knight on horseback, which has the same colors as the rug,” Lagana said, “and by the medieval theme of the 1494 fireplace surround, which features carved faces of crusaders.

“We added gold ribbon and pine cones to the garland, and small turquoise and cobalt ornament balls on the tree. One group of large ornaments displays a replica of the Vanderbilt family crest inside clear-glass globes.” Acorn-shaped ornaments echo the acorns in the family crest, which is painted on the fireplace hood in the dining room.”

Guided tours of the decorated mansion will be held through Dec. 30. During the day, tours are given Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday (including Dec. 28 and 30) at 12:30, 1, 2, 3 and 4 p.m. Visitors pay the general admission fee plus $5 per person for a tour.

The popular Twilight Tours of the mansion will be given Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 26 and 27, from 7 to 9 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for students and seniors (62 and older) and $5 for children 12 and under. Hot chocolate and cookies are included. This event is a treat for visitors, and the only time of the year the Vanderbilt family’s private living quarters can be seen at night.

The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Mansion is located at 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport. For more information, call 631-854-5579 or visit www.vanderbiltmuseum.org.

Kate Keating and Austin Morgan in a scene from ‘Frosty.’ Photo by Michael DeCristofaro

The holidays are upon us and that means it’s time for “Frosty” to come to life at the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport. Under the direction of Richard T. Dolce, the annual production, with a spirited cast of five adult actors, presents a lively show with song and dance that is perfect for its target audience.

Uber-talented Kate Keating reprises her role as Jenny, a young girl living in the town of Chillsville who loves the snow and loves winter. With the help of her mother, lovingly played by Courtney Fekete, Jenny builds a snowman who magically comes alive, and the duo are quickly best pals. Making his Engeman debut, Austin Morgan is a terrific Frosty and quickly connects with the audience, especially after he dances to “It’s Your Birthday.”

Jen Casey is the villain Ethel Pierpot, who wants to make Chillsville warm and snow-free so she can build a new factory. Her weather machine starts to make everything melt, including Frosty. With the help of the audience, Ethel Pierpot’s plan is foiled and, after a thrilling chase scene through the theater and an intense snowball fight, the machine is turned off.

From the very beginning the theatergoers become part of the show, thanks to the efforts of the narrator, Michael Verre, who guides the audience through the story with comedic genius. Verre draws the most laughs as he goes from being bundled up for winter to wearing less and less each time he makes an appearance on stage to demonstrate how warm Chillsville is getting.

Asking a full house last Sunday how to stop Ethel Pierpot from turning Frosty into a puddle of water, Verre received some creative suggestions, including have Frosty “go to a new town where there’s plenty of snow,” “put Frosty in an ice cream truck” and “reverse the machine to cold.” At the end of the show, all the children are asked to wish for snow to keep Frosty from melting and are rewarded for their efforts.

There was magic in the air at the Engeman Theater that morning — yes, a snowman came to life and, yes, it snowed inside the theater. But even more magical than that were the priceless expressions of joy, excitement and wonderment on the faces of the children in the audience.

Meet the cast after the show for pictures and autographs. An autograph page is conveniently located at the back of the program.

Take your child or grandchild to see “Frosty” and let them experience the magic of live theater. They will love you for it.

The John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport, will present “Frosty” through Jan. 3. Tickets are $15 each. For more information, call 631-261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com.