A Day in Bronxville

I grew up in a small rural town in Upstate NY. When I was younger, I remember spending time in the village's downtown. Over the years big-box and chain stores were popping up nearby and all the small, locally owned businesses started to close, including our family business. What I instantly liked about Westchester when I moved here is the abundance of town centers with locally owned restaurants and stores. Every so often I like to visit a new town to explore what they have to offer. Such is the theme of today's post: a day in Bronxville, NY.

I first explored Bronxville with a new friend when we went to see the movie Black Swan and to grab a cup of coffee. A couple weeks later, my husband and I went exploring when we both had the day off from work. The main attraction: Slave to the Grind. This is a local coffee shop that also sells a wall-full of whole bean coffee. I've had a hard time finding local coffee shops around here (aka not Starbucks) so was thrilled to check this place out. Jackson said his coffee was so-so but enjoyed his coffee cake. I loved my chai latte with soy milk. The atmosphere was perfect and we played mancala (which we brought ourselves) for at least an hour.

After our stop at Slave to the Grind, we wandered around downtown. We stopped into an independent book store called Womrath Bookshop and an eclectic gift and clothing store called Peoria Emporium. I loved finding this unique shop that stood out amongst some of the more traditional Westchester clothing stores. Granted the clothing prices were still too high for me, but the gift items and jewelry were reasonable. I'd probably go back to buy a gift for a friend someday. It was so cold the day of our adventure that we didn't go into any other stores but there are several more places to check out another day.

I can't finish before mentioning the local movie theater where I saw Black Swan. It is so incredible that the town still has a movie theater with the old-style marquee. I've been to two others like it in Westchester and feel good about supporting the town theater. What charm and history!

Check out the village's Chamber of Commerce website for business listings and events. You can also see a list of all the shops in Bronxville on the Westchester Magazine website.

Happy Adventures in Bronxville!


Social groups in Westchester

One might argue that it doesn't matter if you've discovered hip places to go in Westchester if you don't have anyone to accompany you. It certainly isn't much fun to go to a film or restuarant alone and sometimes you just don't want to show up to an art opening by yourself. Problem solved: Meetup.com.

I was so excited when I happened upon this website which describes itself as the "world's largest network of local groups". After a few minutes of browsing the site, I realized that there are Meetup groups for all kinds of personalities or interests. Like wine tasting or coffee cupping? They have a group for that. Like to party at Happy Hour? They have lots of groups for that. Want to try yoga, gardening, or scrapbooking? You're covered.

Here is a highlight of just some of the Meetup groups available in Westchester--

New Girlfriends of Westchester: Recently I joined this group to make friends with other 20-something women. Past meetup events included a blook club, games night, wine tasting & Halloween related activities.

New In Town: This group plans a vareity of social groups for singles and couples, including cocktail parties.

Wednesdays Wine Social: Want to learn more about wine? Try this monthly Meetup at Chiboust in Tarrytown.

Westchester 20 Somethings: Into the Happy Hour scene? This group organizes events like a trip to Dave & Busters and a Halloween pub crawl.

DIY Craft Club: Time to get inspired at these group crafting events.

Tarrytown Raja Yoga: Try out this yoga group hosted by Betsy Ho who studies at the Himalayan Institute.

Novice Hikers: This group has over 1,000 members and has already hosted 127 meetups!!


Talk Cinema series at SUNY Purchase

Salvatore Vuono/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

While my husband is no longer a student at SUNY Purchase, I still keep up with the campus events, in hopes of finding something to do on the weekends. Approximately once a month the Performing Arts Center (PAC) at SUNY Purchase hosts a great film series called Talk Cinema, hosted by film critic Harlan Jacobsen. What makes these film showings so unique is the audience doesn't know ahead of time what film they are about to view. One reason for the secreacy is that the films are being shown ahead of their release dates! Past films include Brokeback Mountain, Amélie, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

The next screening is Thursday, December 16th at 7pm. Adult tickets are $17.50 (plus handling fees) and can be purchased on the PAC's website or in person. You can find the PAC on the SUNY Purchase campus at 735 Anderson Hill Road, Purchase, NY 10577.


December events at Sarah Lawrence College

A great way to find cultural events in Westchester is to check out websites of the area colleges and universities. I had forgotten that Westchester is home to the premier liberal arts institute, Sarah Lawrence College. SLC is such a goldmine that I can't believe I didn't consider checking out their events until now.

Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The college's website has a monthly calendar of campus events that are open to the public. While some descriptions are minimal and pricing information not included, I did find some of this information also listed on the ArtsWestchester website, and see that many of these events are free. Can't get better than that!

Here are highlights of the December events at SLC:

TONIGHT Friday 12/3/10: A screening of the new movie "Rabbit Hole", starring Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart and Sandra Oh. The film starts at 7pm in the Donnelley Lecture Hall in the Heimbold Visual Arts Center.

Thursday 12/9/10: SLC's gamelan ensemble, Gamelan Angklung Chandra Buana, will be performing at 7pm in Reisinger Concert Hall. If it weren't for Jackson who wrote a college research paper about gamelan music, this event never would have jumped out at me. I think we might check it out.

Friday-Sunday 12/10-12/12/10: During this weekend there will be five dance performances, all part of the Winter Dance concert series. Most of the performances are in the evening but there is one afternoon performance on Sunday at 2pm. While the website doesn't give details about style, the SLC Dance program site says that students enrolled in this area of study learn modern, post-modern, ballet and world dance forms. All performances take place in the PAC Dance Theatre.

Sarah Lawrence College is located at 1 Mead Way, Bronxville, NY 10708. You can also download a visitor's brochure with directions and a campus map.


freeARTSweekend - Dec. 3-5th 2010

ARTSWESTCHESTER has organized an impressive three-day event of free activities in Westchester County on Dec. 3rd-5th. The activities encompass a wide-variety of arts including dance, music, film, storytelling, crafts, and art/cultural museums. Here are a sample of activities that peaked my interest:

If only I didn't have to work Friday I would check out the free adult jazz dance class from 9:30-11am offered by Evolve Dance in Tarrytown, NY

I love being crafty so I may just check out the Book Making workshop at the Mt. Vernon Library from 1-2:30 this Saturday. 

I am super interested in the P.A.M Band Robotic Musicians performance at the ArtsWestchester location in White Plains. Not only are there several performances in the afternoon but there is also a lecture and, it sounds like, an opportunity to play the instruments.

To see the entire list of over forty free things to do this week visit: freeARTSweekend


Nature walk at Cranberry Lake Preserve

This weekend I was lucky enough to have my Mom visit. While we really wanted to do something to get into the Christmas spirit, all the events I could find are taking place in December. But when I saw a posting for the "Great Turkey Walk-off" at Cranberry Lake Preserve I thought it was the perfect way to exercise off our holiday food indulgences.

The nature preserve is large (190-acres) with 4 trails. The trails are fairly easy to navigate but with all the fallen leaves covering the path this time of year we had to look down a lot to make sure we didn't trip over hidden rocks. Cranberry Lake is the obvious focal point of the preserve and the paths take you right down to the water's edge. According to the History Trail pamphlet the lake was formed by glaciers 18,000 years ago and the lake is named after the abundance of cranberries that grow on the south end of the lake.

You can learn more about Cranberry Lake Preserve on the Westchester County Parks website and download a copy of the trail map. One of the best things about this county park: it's free!


Field - a hip Larchmont boutique


A wallet I purchased from Field
Black Friday is finally upon us and I think the most-fitting first entry I could write today would focus on shopping. So I chose to feature a fabulous little boutique in Larchmont, NY called Field. This store is quite small but packed in every corner are beautiful displays of home goods and accessories. I love this store because the products selected by owner Gunda Sabel-Sheehan remind me of the same fabulous items I read about in design blogs.

Field is located at 2095 Boston Post Road, Larchmont, NY. http://www.fieldny.com/
Happy shopping!