Tags Posts tagged with "Holidays"


File photo by Steve Silverman

The best part of the holiday season can be celebrating with family members and friends. Often alcohol can be part of these events, and if a person doesn’t drink responsibly, their actions can lead to dangers on the road.

If drinking is part of the festivities or ingesting any other substances that can impair the senses, a plan of action is needed before the partying begins. There is no excuse for driving under the influence.

For decades, we have been familiar with sage advice such as having a designated driver, planning to sleep over at the home where the party takes place or calling a taxi. Of course, sometimes the designated driver decides to join in on the fun or it turns out there is no room to sleep at the house. In many areas, especially in our towns, there aren’t many taxi services. Just a few years ago, scenarios such as the ones mentioned could spell danger if a person under the influence decided to get into the driver’s seat because they just wanted to go home.

Nowadays, there is no excuse for driving under the influence of any substance with phone apps to order car services such as Uber or Lyft providing another way to stay safe on the roads.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, better known as MADD, there are more than 300,000 drinking and driving incidents a day in this country. According to the grassroots organization, in 2019 this reckless form of driving led to 10,142 deaths that year, which breaks down to almost 28 people killed a day. There are also 300,000 injuries a year due to drinking and driving, according to MADD.

All of these deaths and injuries could have been avoided if the drivers who caused them had a plan before drinking. And, let’s not forget, everyone can play a part in keeping impaired drivers off the road. When hosting a party, make arrangements for your guests who will be indulging themselves. Keep in mind the Suffolk County Social Host Law, which is primarily intended to deter underage drinking parties or gatherings where adults knowingly allow minors to drink alcohol or alcoholic beverages.

The holiday season is a time for celebrating the accomplishments of the past year and the promises of a new year. Let’s keep the roads in our communities safe to enjoy during the next few weeks and all year long.

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Gingerbread cookies and houses are one of the many symbols of the holiday season, alongside Christmas trees and twinkling lights. In fact, few confections symbolize the holidays more so than gingerbread. Many a child (or a child at heart) has spent hours carefully trying to create decorative gingerbread houses.

Although gingerbread recipes span various cultures, gingerbread houses originated in 16th century Germany. The fairy tale “Hansel and Gretel” helped solidify the popularity of gingerbread, which became part of Christmas traditions.

Even though gingerbread houses can be fun to make, there’s no denying it can be exacting work — especially for those who strive for perfection. Prepackaged kits attempt to take some of the guesswork out of the equation, but those who are crafting from scratch can employ these tips as they build their gingerbread houses.

• Go for form and not flavor. Few gingerbread houses ever get eaten, so focus on finding a dough that will bake up rock hard as opposed to one that tastes good.

• Get the right icing texture. Pastry artist Catherine Beddall says royal icing is the preferred “glue” to adhere gingerbread pieces. Beddall says icing should be thick like peanut butter and not runny.

• Mind the dough. Do not roll out the gingerbread dough too thin or it may become brittle after being cooked. Always cut out shapes before the gingerbread is baked. Let the baked pieces sit overnight to cool completely before using them to build.

• Patience is key. Allow the icing to dry for at least a couple of hours after adhering each piece and before moving and handling the house, says Beddall. Work in stages so that individual items can be decorated and allowed to dry. Then the walls can be put together, followed by the roof pieces.

• Kids likely will need help. Children may not have the patience or steadiness to handle complete gingerbread construction. They can decorate the separate pieces of the house while the components are laying flat, which is easier for kids. Adults can do the main assembly later on.

• Utilize a template. Free-handing may not be easy. Cut out templates using cardboard or posterboard for various gingerbread pieces.

One of the most important tips is to have fun. Don’t take gingerbread house making too seriously as a novice. Rather, enjoy the experience and the centuries-old tradition.

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Poinsettias and their rich red, white or variegated color schemes are the ideal backdrop for Christmas celebrations. In fact, poinsettias are among the most popular decorative flowers during the holiday season. According to the 2013 USDA Floriculture Statistics report, poinsettias accounted for about one-quarter (23 percent) of all flowering potted plant sales that year. Roughly 34 million poinsettia plants are sold in a given season.

Indigenous to Central America, the plant was introduced to North America in the 1820s when Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first United States Minister to Mexico, brought the red-and-green plant back with him from a trip abroad. While millions of poinsettias will be purchased for the holiday season, many mistakenly think their utility ends once New Year’s Day has come and gone. But with proper care poinsettia plants can continue to thrive and bring warmth and beauty to a home long after the holiday decorations have been tucked away.

• Choose a hearty plant. Experts with the University of Vermont Extension Department of Plant and Soil Science say that many people mistake the plant’s leaves for its flowers. The red, white or pink bracts are actually modified leaves. The flowers of the plant are the yellow clustered buds in the center called “cyathia.” Choose poinsettia plants that have buds which are, ideally, not yet open.

• Keep the temperature consistent. Poinsettias prefer a room temperature between 60 and 68 F during the day and 10 degrees cooler at night. Humidity levels between 20 and 50 percent are ideal. Group plants on water-filled trays full of pebbles to help increase humidity levels.

• Place near sunlight. The United Kingdom-based Perrywood floral company advises placing poinsettia plants near a bright windowsill but not in direct sunlight. Do not let a poinsettia touch cold window panes. • Avoid drafts. The plants are sensitive to drafts and changes in temperature. So it’s best to keep poinsettias away from drafty doors, windows, radiators, or fireplaces.

• Don’t drown the roots. Wait until the surface of the compost dries out before watering the plant anew. Also, the decorative foil wrapper that covers pots can trap water and lead to root rot. Remove it or poke holes in the bottom to allow for drainage.

• Cut back plants. Come mid-March, cut back the plant by half to encourage new shoots, suggests the University of Illinois Extension. The plants also can be placed outside in the spring after the risk of frost has passed. Bring poinsettias back in around mid-September to early October to force them to bloom again.

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Giving to charity is a selfless endeavor that’s vital to the survival of countless nonprofit organizations across the globe. Without the generosity of donors, many charitable organizations would cease to exist, leaving the people they help vulnerable to illness and financial hardship. Fraud may be the furthest thing from donors’ minds, but it’s something charitable individuals must be aware of as they consider donating to charity.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, charity fraud increases during the holiday season, when many people embrace the spirit of giving and seek to made end-of-year tax deductible gifts to their favorite charities. The FBI also warns that charity scams are common after disasters or tragedies, including pandemics. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission noted in September 2020 that Americans had lost more than $145 million to charity fraud related to the coronavirus in the first six months of the pandemic.

One measure all prospective donors should take is to learn the signs of charitable fraud. Many charity scams target seniors, but no one is entirely safe from charity fraud. AARP® notes that the following are some warning signs of charity fraud.

• Pressure to give: Reputable charities do not pressure prospective donors into giving. A strong, trustworthy charity will accept donations whenever donors choose to make them. Legitimate operations like the American Red Cross may heighten their solicitations after natural disasters, but such groups still will not try to pressure people into donating.

• Thanking donors for donations they don’t recall making: AARP® notes that some charitable fraud perpetrators will try to convince potential victims they have already given to a cause. This is done in an effort to lower potential victims’ resistance, giving them a false sense of security and the impression that a fraudulent operation is legitimate. If donors don’t recall donating to a specific charity, chances are strong they didn’t make such a donation and that the message of gratitude is merely a fishing expedition intended to reel in new victims.

• Requests for cash, gift cards or wire transfers: Cash, gifts and wire transfers are difficult to trace, which makes it easier for perpetrators of fraud to escape the authorities. Reputable charities will welcome donations made by personal check or credit card.

Perpetrators of charitable fraud prey on the vulnerability of well-meaning donors who simply want to support a good cause. Learning to spot signs of charitable fraud can provide an added measure of protection against the criminals behind such operations.

A Sweet Sauce to Savor

(Culinary.net) There are few things better than festive holiday celebrations. Everyone is gathered around the table, ready to eat and enjoy the company. The atmosphere is joyful, the decorations are beautiful and the food is absolute perfection.

From warm casseroles to hearty proteins, most spreads are made of an array of colors with mouthwatering sides and desserts. However, there are some dishes the holidays just can’t happen without. One is a classic, traditional Sweet Cranberry Sauce. It’s popping with color and texture. Plus, it makes everything it tops taste just a little bit better.

This sauce is perfect for nearly any holiday celebration but is also a sweet treat that can be served over vanilla ice cream for dessert. It’s fruity with a hint of citrus and flavorful with a dash of ground cinnamon and a bit of ginger.

This recipe works well into the holiday season. It’s a timeless dish but with a fresh and tangy twist that’s perfect for both gatherings with many guests or simple nights at home with those leftovers you just can’t resist.

Find more recipes perfect for celebrating the holidays at Culinary.net.

If you made this recipe at home, use #MyCulinaryConnection on your favorite social network to share your work.

Sweet Cranberry Sauce

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Servings: 8


12 ounces cranberries

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup orange juice

1/2 cup water

1 1/2 tablespoons ginger paste

1/8 tablespoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons orange zest

vanilla ice cream (optional)


In large skillet over medium heat, combine cranberries, sugar, orange juice, water, ginger paste, salt, ground cinnamon and orange zest.

Bring to simmer. Stir until thickened to desired consistency, 15 minutes.

Cool 30 minutes. Transfer to bowl. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes. Serve alone or over vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Watch video here.

Long Island’s largest year-round, professional theatrical venue, The Argyle Theatre (Mark and Dylan Perlman, Managing Partners; Evan Pappas, Artistic Director), presents the iconic holiday favorite ELF The Musical with book by Thomas Meehan & Bob Martin, music by Matthew Sklar, lyrics by Chad Beguelin and based on the New Line Cinema Film written by David Berenbaum. Performances begin Thursday, November 11th for a limited engagement through Sunday afternoon, January 2nd at The Argyle Theatre (34 West Main Street, Babylon). ELF The Musical is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International.

Directed by Evan Pappas, with choreography by Valerie Wright and music direction by Emma Weiss,the cast will feature Timothy Fraser as Buddy, Carolina Miranda as Jovia, Mark Epperson as Walter, Michelle Mallardi as Emily, Tamara Daly as Deb, Robert Anthony Jones as Santa/Mr. Greenway, Korie Lee Blossey as Store Manager, Kieran Brown and Landon Forlenza as Michael, as well as Kaitie Buckert, Melissa Goldberg, Garrison Hunt, Tre Kanaley, Molly Model, Drew Reese, Lucas Ryan, Mikaela Rada, Garret Shin, and Melissa Strain.

Mark and Dylan Perlman, Argyle Managing Partners, shared “We are thrilled to ring in the season with the holiday show of our generation: ELF The Musical.”  They went on to say, “Experience this heartwarming, holiday theatre magic that is sure to be a blast for the whole family! With our Artistic Director Evan Pappas at the helm and an absolute all-star team behind this production it is sure to be a holiday spectacular you don’t want to miss!”

Buddy, a young orphan, mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported to the North Pole. The would-be elf is raised, unaware that he is actually a human until his enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth. With Santa’s permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father and discover his true identity. Faced with the harsh realities that his father is on the naughty list and his half-brother doesn’t even believe in Santa, Buddy is determined to win over his new family and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas.

This modern-day holiday classic is sure to make everyone embrace their inner Elf. After all, the best way to spread Christmas Cheer is singing loud for all to hear!

The creative team includes Set Design by Tim Golebiewski, Costume by Jolene Richardson, Lighting Design by John Salutz, and Sound Design by Brianne Boyd.  The Technical Director is Michael Kauffman and Production Coordinator is Alison Savino. The Production Stage Manager is Craig Matthew with Assistant Stage Managers Emily Todt and Shannon Stewart. The Casting Director is Michael Cassara, CSA.

ELF The Musical is sponsored by Forerunner Technologies, Inc.

For performance schedule and tickets visit www.argyletheatre.com or call (631)230-3500. Tickets are priced from $40 – $79 Use Code: TIMES for $10 OFF*

*Discount valid off individual, premium mainstage tickets only. Not to be combined.

Steven Uihlein and Jeffrey Sanzel in a scene from 'A Christmas Carol'

Join Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson for the 37th annual production of A Christmas Carol from Nov. 13 to Dec. 26. Celebrate the season with Long Island’s own holiday tradition and broadwayworld.com winner for Best Play. Follow the miser Ebenezer Scrooge on a journey that teaches him the true meaning of Christmas — past, present and future. A complimentary sensory sensitive abridged performance will be held on Nov. 28 at 11 a.m. $20 tickets in November; December tickets are $35 adults, $28 seniors and students, $20 children ages 5 to 12. To order, call 928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

The John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport continues its MainStage season  with White Christmas from Nov. 11 to Jan. 2, 2022.

Based on the beloved film, this heartwarming adaptation follows vaudeville stars and veterans Bob Wallace and Phil Davis as they head to Vermont to pursue romance with a duo of beautiful singing sisters. This family classic features beloved songs by Irving Berlin including “Blue Skies,” “I Love A Piano,” “How Deep Is The Ocean” and the perennial favorite, White Christmas.The cast of WHITE CHRISTMAS

Directed by Matt Kunkel with choreography by Drew Humphrey,  the cast features DARIEN CRAGO as Judy Haynes, MEADOW NGUY as Betty Haynes, DANIEL PLIMPTON as Phil Davis and AARON YOUNG as Bob Wallace.

The cast includes ANNABELLE DEANER as Susan Waverly, KEITH LEE GRANT as General Henry
Waverly, and SUZANNE MASON as Martha.


Tickets are $80 for matinees and on Saturday evenings, $75 all other performances. To order, call 261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com.

Photo from Statepoint

If your casual baking hobby has turned into an obsession, you’re in good company. Baking swept the nation as a way to pass the time in 2020, with an overwhelming 84% of respondents identifying as bakers in an end-of-year Packaged Facts survey of Americans.

However, there’s a difference between good and great baking, and it all starts with what’s in your pantry. According to the Baking at Home experts, here are seven must-have items you need to take your at-home recipes for breads, cobblers, cakes and more to the next level, as well as tips for using these pantry essentials to their fullest potential.

1. A flour-based baking spray: As every home baker knows, one of the trickiest steps of any recipe is the final one – releasing your treat from the pan without damaging it. If you’ve had a few failed attempts, you may have seen your creations go from masterpieces to flops in just a few short, heartbreaking seconds. To stick the landing every time, (and never see your efforts go to waste again) try using a flour-based baking spray like Baker’s Joy for an easy release from the pan, and faster, more successful baking overall.

2. Shortening: While many view shortening and butter as interchangeable, they’re not the same. Be sure to reach for shortening any time you want your recipe to rise high and retain its shape or to attain that perfect flaky pastry or crust. Making plant-based swaps? An all-vegetable shortening like Crisco can be successfully used in place of butter for an all-vegetable twist on classic recipes.

3. Baking powder: The workhorse of many recipes, one can’t overstate the importance of a dependable, double-acting baking powder. To that end, stick with tried-and-true brands like Clabber Girl, which has been making pastry perfection for over 100 years. Pro tip: quickly test baking powder’s efficacy by mixing a teaspoon with hot water. No fizzing reaction? Time to toss it.

4. Baking soda: Baking soda is the wild and more potent cousin of baking powder, so it’s important not to get them mixed up, especially as baking soda is often specifically called for in recipes containing an acid (think buttermilk and citrus.) While there are many liberties you can take in the kitchen, guessing how much baking soda to use is not one of them. Always measure the exact amount listed to avoid a bitter taste in your finished product.

5. Premium spices, seasonings and herbs: Any serious baker worth their salt will have a “go big or go home” mentality when it comes to spices. Give dishes extra depth by culling your collection to include only high-quality selections that pack a punch, like Spice Islands. Remember, keeping spices dry prolongs flavor, so place your rack in a cool, dry place away from oven heat.

6. Molasses: When mixed with white sugar, molasses can make a great substitute for brown sugar, but that’s just one of its many uses. A pantry staple and American tradition, it’s vital in dishes where moist consistency and depth of flavor are essential, such as pecan pie or gingerbread. Molasses from iconic brands like Grandma’s Molasses can also be the oohs-and-aahs-provoking secret ingredient that has friends and family reaching for seconds.

7. Vanilla extract: Whether you’re cutting back on added sugars or you’re simply low on the sweet stuff, you can use vanilla extract as a flavorful, better-for-you sugar substitute.

With a well-stocked pantry and a good understanding of your ingredients, your creations will come out just the way you want them, every time.

For more baking tips, as well as recipe ideas and tutorials, visit bakingathome.com.


'Barnaby Saves Christmas.' Photo by Peter Lanscombe/Theatre Three Inc.


The holidays have arrived at Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson with Barnaby Saves Christmas from Nov. 20 to Dec. 26 with a sensory sensitive performance on Nov. 21. Come join Santa, Barnaby, Franklynne and all of their friends for a wonderful holiday treat. As Santa’s littlest elf and his reindeer friend set off on their journey to save Christmas, they meet some new friends along the way and learn the true meaning of Christmas, Hanukah, and the holiday season. All seats are $10. To order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.