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Guest Blogger:  Westchester Daddy

Guest Blogger: Westchester Daddy

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We’re so happy to feature a Westchester dad today for Father’s Day.    It’s always interesting to me to hear how people who aren’t Westchester natives discover Westchester, decide to make it home and best of all, hear what they love most about their town.  I believe that Westchester has something for everyone.  This dad does too!  🙂

(You can follow him online at www.westchesterdaddy.com or @westchesterdaddy on Instagram)

From Claremont to Claremont

by Kevin Hylton

I knew I was going to be ok in the burbs when I found the Bronxville coffee shop Slave to the Grind.” I have two daughters (four years and 16 months) and I’m basically stitched together with a delicate recipe of caffeine (by way of coffee) and IPA.

I don’t mean to sound overly dramatic. I was excited to move to the suburbs.  I was the riot leader in our family trying to make the move happen for years.  But even when our one bedroom apartment in Morningside Heights was bursting at the seams, the possibility and eventual reality of a signed contract of sale to move to southern Westchester kinda made me regurgitate my fish tacos.

I moved to NYC after I graduated from law school and worked for a large law firm.  But I actually moved to NY to try become a screenwriter/take advantage of the entertainment industry in Manhattan. Soon after moving to Harlem I pivoted from the law and started writing as a theater and film journalist, then a playwright and eventually I got a gig screenwriting for Disney animated TV.  All this I did from my tiny apartment in Harlem on Claremont Avenue.

When we had our second daughter, I decided to shelf the screenwriting dream for a bit.  I turned my interest in architecture and real estate into a job and became a Real Estate Broker with Houlihan Lawrence’s Bronxville office (where I still work).  Still, I secretly held on to the desire to do some screenwriting on the side but assumed moving to the burbs was the end of the writing dream.

But within months of moving, I found a HBO producer, production company owner, and a comedy central contact all while walking our dachshund in our new Fleetwood neighborhood.  Huh, I guess the suburbs are not a total cultural wasteland where dreams must go to die.

I was never cool enough to be a hipster. But I liked to feel as if I was a bit ahead of the curve. When I moved to Claremont Ave and 124th in the City it wasn’t a Columbia U outpost yet.  It was a bit dodgy. It was, however, a great place to grab an amazing taco for a buck at an authentic hole in the wall. My friends uptown were a collection of my neighbors (who at that time didn’t move every 2 years), the postal and ups workers, the woman in the laundromat, and the guys who owned the liquor store.  And my fears of moving out of this wierd NY City neighborhood was that we’d lose everything that made life feel real: diversity of culture, opinion, and genuineness.   All that and solid tacos, cafe con leche, and a decent selection of beers at the local bar. 

Little did I know that what I’d find in Westchester is exactly what I loved about Morningside when I moved uptown some 12 years ago.  Mom and pop coffee shops, restaurants (including Cuban, Cajun, Mexican, you name it), indie pharmacies and bookstores all are either in my town or a neighboring one. It’s walkable, people are friendly, and I can be at grand central in 24 minutes on the train (15 to Harlem). 

I still can’t quite fathom how we ended up buying our house on Claremont Avenue in Fleetwood.  The coincidence that years of searching for a house would lead us to move from Claremont Ave in Manhattan to Claremont Ave in Fleetwood is bizarre and oddly, really comforting (my 4 year old already knowing what street we live on.)  Regardless I’m happy we made the leap.    

If you follow my blog at www.westchesterdaddy.com or track me on Instagram (#westchesterdaddy) you’ll see some parenting cartoons, resources for parents in the burbs, and the occasional piece on real estate in the area.  I started the blog primarily due to my experience searching for a home for my family in Westchester.  We couldn’t find a site that combined parenting resources with details on towns and info on real estate. Hope you like it.

If you are still in one of the Boroughs contemplating how you could possibly find another place to call home, check out my site to learn more about Westchester.  Or just give me a call (646.388.0030). I’m partial to Fleetwood but if you like Park Slope maybe Hastings or Dobbs Ferry will be your thing. Regardless, you’ll be surprised by what you find. I now believe Westchester has a home for everyone.

If you’re in southern Westchester, below are some of the local spots I’ve found that made me feel right at home.

Slave to the Grind

(Bronxville. Solid coffee and treats in what could be an East Village coffee shop.  Piercings, suits, and flip flops all appropriate)

The Bayou

(Fleetwood.  The most amazing Cajun food and music outside The Crescent City. Like in the Big Easy you don’t have to spend a lot to have a good meal.  Order the red beans and rice some Monday and you’ll see what I mean)

Tecalitlan

(New Rochelle authentic taco spot. Legit tacos. If you’re in the know you already known about Bar Taco in Portchester.  If you are down south check this spot out.)

Bronxville Diner

(Bronxville.  Kitschy diner with nice attention to detail.  Small but mighty. This place reminds me of EJ’s in the City.)

Joes of Fleetwood

(Fleetwood. Many claim this to be the best pizza in Westchester. It gives any old school spot in the City a run for it’s money.  Grab a slice in their no frills spot or sit down to dine in the adjoining restaurant.

Beer Noggin

(Bronxville. If you’re serious about beer you best stop in here. Excellent collection of bottles and rotating taps at this beer shop with regular, daily happy hour and growler options.  Their website has a blog covering beers as well)

For more spots to hit in the Many villages and towns around Westchester check out my site at  www.westchesterdaddy.com

German Style Biergarten Opens in Port Chester (Thursday – Sunday)

German Style Biergarten Opens in Port Chester (Thursday – Sunday)

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Love checking out new restaurants and can’t wait to try out the Village Beer Garden .  I’m a little biased, but I’ve always thought that it was about time that that we have a German style Biergarten in Westchester.  This new addition to the large Port Chester restaurant scene is now open, though only on Thursday & Friday from 4PM and Saturday & Sunday from 12PM located at the Metro-North Port Chester Station.

Our House Hospitality, whose eating and drinking establishments include the Rye House in Manhattan and Port Chester, and Sala One Nine, Tapas Bar & Restaurant in the Flatiron District of New York, has created an open-air urban retreat reminiscent of a German Biergarten – only now with the whistle and hum of a north and south bound locomotive in the background.   Steeped in history, the Port Chester tracks were laid circa 1840, coinciding with the originating Munich beer gardens which have since inspired decades of beer halls and breweries around the globe. Village Beer Garden paints the picture of one such gathering place, filled with communal butcher block tables with seating for 200, dotted with red patio umbrellas, and wrapped in steel-glass framing and green shrubbery. Overlooking an active downtown retail, dining, and entertainment district, Village Beer Garden is at the center of a historic town which continues to evolve.  An extensive local craft and imported beer list and creative cocktails mark their territory, complimented by an authentic-meets-A-typical Oktoberfest style menu. Bar pickins include house made pretzel nuggets, sweet/spicy/dill pickles, German meatballs, and fried cheese curd. Lighter fare comes in the form of chicken or salmon Niçoise, chilled shrimp cocktail, and German cucumber salad. A sausage menu ofkielbasa, bratwurst, sweet and hot Italian sausage, and boudin blanc share the plate with krauts and slaws. Crispy chicken schnitzel, juicy burgers, and frankfurters round out the food offerings, with added tater tots, sprouts, spaetzli, and fries.

3 Broad Street – Port Chester, NY 10573 -(914) 481-8771 – https://www.villagebeergarden.com

Got Sneakers?

Got Sneakers?

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My daughter and her friends all have the same sneakers. White Adidas Superstars, with three stripes on the side. You know, the ones that were cool in the 80’s? Look around at the mall and you’ll see every kid is wearing them. She’s on her third pair since April 2016 and keeps getting the black stripes. When I take her out looking for sneakers, I have tried to steer her towards “cuter” ones (without laces) especially slip-ons which are easier for summer. In our travels recently, I have found some pretty ones so decided to share them.

Got Sneakers?

Sk Studio Art Gallery Grand Opening

Sk Studio Art Gallery Grand Opening

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I recently discovered an incredibly talented artist.   Simone Kestelman, born and raised in Brazil, is new to Westchester and is really making her mark.  She’s a lot of things;  an interior designer, installing custom pieces for your home and gallery owner that rivals the hippest art studios in Brooklyn.  Her space in White Plains doubles as a gallery to visit and enjoy her displayed work but has an area for #momslikeus to purchase some of her original pieces.   Currently, there are thousands of pieces for sale in her beautifully restored, 9,000 square foot location in White Plains.

Simone’s work is inspired by her education and travels and reflects current social issues.  Being as well traveled as she is, she’s had the opportunity to observe and understand first hand, the physical and emotional pains of injustice and inequality that affects different societies.   Each piece in her gallery tells a story and comes from a place of deep thought and passion.  Interestingly, her use of the color red symbolizes the magic of children.  She attempts to see the world through the eyes of a child, filled with magic and bright moments.

Simone is a multimedia artist focusing on ceramics, glass and photography. Simone is an internationally acclaimed artist with over 30 years experience. Simone recently moved her gallery from Brazil to White Plains. Her work has been at exhibitions in Greece, Brazil and the US.

Join Simone in a discussion and presentation of her works on June 9th at 7pm and 8pm.

“I think art is the physical expression of our souls at a point in time. I put my feelings and aspirations into my art. Having a living art gallery enables me continuously record my inner state, while also having the freedom to reinvent myself. “-Simone Kestelman

Meet Simone at Sk Studio Art Gallery Grand Opening Event

June 9th, 2017 6pm-9pm

Melissa Tomlin of New York Style Life, is proud to present a Grand Opening Reception for local Brazilian artist Simone Kestelman

Sk Studio Art Gallery

122 Westmoreland Ave
White Plains, NY

(entrance to gallery is on Intervale Street)

Please RSVP by May 26th to gruyich@hotmail.com

Wine and light refreshments will be served.

If you are unable to attend the event there will also be an open house Saturday June 10th from 11am-3pm (no RSVP needed)

Follow Simone online:

http://www.simonekestelman.com/

@sk_studio_ny

 

Epic! Like Netflix for kids books!

Epic! Like Netflix for kids books!

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Epic! is an unlimited eBook subscription service ($4.99/month and FREE for elementary school teachers and librarians) with the largest catalogue of high quality books from well known publishers that creates a unique and fun experience to get kids excited about reading. Similar to Netflix, Epic! provides personalized reading recommendations based on age and interest and instant streaming. To date, over 20 million books per month are read by children across the nation.   Epic! makes a great gift for a child who loves technology.  

Epic! has become one of the most popular apps in kids and education categories because of its unique ability to provide quick, streamable literature that is controlled by kids. There is a read-to-me feature that provides an audio reading experience to enhance early learners, as well as, quizzes that help educators provide assessment and learning while remaining fun for students.

Kids use technology, and they like engaging in games. The efforts of companies like Epic! bring a melding of education with entertaining technology. It’s comforting to see that there are people like Markosian who choose to dedicate their entrepreneurial creativity to developing technology that benefits learning.

Read more of this article from Scholastic: http://blogs.scholastic.com/rodberger/2017/03/children-self-managed-reading-that-promotes-literacy.html#.WQ0kq1PytTY

You can find more info online at:   https://www.getepic.com/





Westchester Woman Wednesday:  Meet Aleesia Forni

Westchester Woman Wednesday: Meet Aleesia Forni

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Shawna and I go to a lot of restaurants. Some are chef’s tastings or new seasonal menu previews and others are full service meals or grand openings.  It’s always an interesting assortment of guests and we often wonder afterwards who created the guest list.   We leave with lots of new Instagram followers and some of them, we might never run into again.  It’s a fun way to meet people who love the food scene here in Westchester and try some new places out, that we can in turn share with our readers. One “Westchester foodie” that we have seen at a number of events is our Westchester Woman Wednesday for March.   Her name is Aleesia Forni and she a journalist for the Westchester Business Journal and the Westchester WAG Magazine.  Her food photography skills are incredible. She’s one of the rare foodie experts who actually uses a real camera, instead of using an iPhone with filters.  Because of the work that she does, her IG account is amaaaazing– See for yourself by following Aleesia on Instagram at @AleesiaEats

So we decided we wanted to get together with Aleesia and talk about food, dining and just “good eating” in Westchester.   We met for dinner (most Westchester Woman Wednesday meals are lunch) due to Aleesia’s busy work schedule.  She has a job that any one of us would love.  Between the WAG Magazine and the business journal, she’s busy with pretty awesome assignments.  We knew she was not from the area, but we learned over dinner that Aleesia is anything but a Westchester native.  She grew up on a farm in Ohio, attended Ohio State University and wound up in moving Westchester after a short time living and working in Virginia Beach.  Her longtime boyfriend John has been with her every step of the way, each following their own career paths and building their resumes since college.  Their choice to live in the Peekskill/Montrose area was based on their shared interests.  They wanted to find the balance between city and country life.  In one hour they can can enjoy a sporting event in NYC or find themselves on hiking trails in the mountains.

Aleesia is not what we’d call “moms like us” but she’s a dog mom. A really good one, actually. Without being married or having a child, she already has a college savings account for her first child.  (I think I about fell off my chair at that one actually…) Her dog is her baby for now and she’s factored into her budget, one day a week at doggy day care because she realizes the importance of socializing her dog.  And yes, we asked, the dog also has pet insurance.  Why?  Because she’s researched it and realizes that it’s worth having.  It’s safe to say that she’s uber-responsible and what one would call a “conscientious consumer.”  No fancy doggie clothes or impulse buys for this dog.  On my best days pre-age 30, I don’t think I was ever this logical.

So what does she do for fun in Westchester?  Certainly not what I would have guessed.  She has a Pinterest Group!  (I glanced over to Shawna for a reaction and realized that she had no idea what that even meant. I told her it was like Girl Scouts for GrownUps.) They meet once a month and work on things they found on Pinterest pages.  The group consists of 10-15 women, who found one another on Meetup.com.  They knit, make crafts or other projects that have caught their eye.  They meet once a month and take turns supplying materials and space.  I’m certain that Shawna and I will visit one of these groups at some point.

By the end of dinner, I was not sure if I had even covered all of our topics.  I had stopped writing and just listened!  I think we sort of did….although, a very different conversation than we had over lunch with our January and February friends, Cassandra and Julianne!  Our car ride home from dinner was spent talking about post-college days and how neither of us lived or worked the way Aleesia does.  The shared opinion of these two moms is, her mom must be proud!