A Seder to remember… 10 ways to have an awesome Passover

seder platePassover is more commonly recognized as a Jewish holiday however, more and more modern day Christians are celebrating their roots with a communal meal, Seder as well and teaching their families about the fulfillment of the scripture.

A brief history lesson: Before the Jewish people were set free from the Pharaoh of Egypt, God sent 10 plagues upon the Egyptians, the 10th being the killing of each first born. The Jews were told to take the blood of a Lamb and cover their door post to signal to the death angel to pass over them. The lamb was then roasted and served as cries of grief rose over Egyptian homes, and the Jewish families enjoyed their first Passover meal before escaping Egyptian Slavery.

Since the Israelites left Egypt in such a haste they couldn’t wait for the bread dough to rise so they ate what was the result of unleavened bread called Matzoh. The holiday begins with the Seder meal where the Passover story is read from a book called the Haggadah and continues for 8 days.  Today, thanks to the internet and Pinterest, Passover can take on a bit of a creative spin with delicious Matzoh recipes, crafts and activities for the kids. Here, I have rounded up 10 fun (and yummy) ways to make your Passover holiday a celebration!

From Matzoh Brei to toffee.

1. Meal prep. Since rising flour is out, and Matzoh is in this week take a few minutes to plan out your meals. The wonderful folks over at Real Simple.com have a great checklist to prepare for the Seder Meal you can print and prepare.

apple slices2. Kid friendly snacking. There are so many delicious recipes floating around for Passover meals from Matzoh ball soup to pizza, try some of these great ideas for snacking with the kids: Passover Snacks

3. Matzo Brei is one of the many recipes that is often passed down from generation to generation. Since my father is yet to pass this one on I went to the internet in search of a recipe that comes close! (We like to sprinkle cinnamon over the top toffee-matzah_1weband serve for breakfast but this dish can be served sweet, savory or for breakfast or lunch).

4. Breakfast and dessert, my 2 favorite meals of the day. Chocolate covered Matzo toffee is a staple in my house for sure! Takes only a few minutes to make and is always a crowd pleaser. Essentially all you do is lay the Matzoh flat on a cookie sheet, melt butter together with brown sugar and a bit of vanilla until hot a bubbly and pour over top. Bake for 25-30 minutes until hardened. Sprinkle a generous amount of chocolate chips over the top and spread until melted and evenly covered. I like to add a sprinkle of sea salt like in this recipe from Bakedbree.com but you can also add nuts, dried fruit, sprinkles or any toppings you’d like.

Setting the scene

Elijah cupTurn your home and table into a celebration with a festive centerpiece, place setting and activities for the kids. Here are a few ideas for setting the scene.

5. Elevate the Seder plate on a cake stand for all to see in the center of the table.

6. Add a Seder place mat to the kids places. They can make their own before the big meal like this adorable one here on http://www.InCultureParent.com or create one for play like the felt plates found on www.designmegillah.com

7. Add a cup for Elijah that the kids decorate before the meal. You can create one using recycled materials in your home or get creative with some yarn and stickers like this colorful one found here on Toriavey.com.

Fun and gamesMatzo house

8. Hide the Matzoh is traditionally enjoyed by children at Passover. Children are allowed 4 questions and search for the hidden Matzoh called afikomen. Help the kids make an Afikomen Bag for hiding the Matzoh before the meal. This easy to make felt bag is adorable from www.toriavey.com

9. Keeping kids entertained during any meal is difficult so start early and and use a children’s version of the haggadah such as Sammy Spider’s First Haggadah for a family friendly story the kids will understand and love.

10. Make a Matzoh house. As symbolic as the homes in the story of Passover, bring out the builder in you and help the kids build a home of their own. Don’t be surprised if half the decorations are gone before you finish! This Matzo house from Martha Stewart (with directions) has me drooling! Beautiful!


Personal note- My grandmother was amazing for sharing so many of her stories and our roots with me. We would spend hours talking about the special traditions and memories of her own childhood. While my Grandmother is no longer with us to critique this as I know she would have loved too, a special thanks goes out to my dad for clarifying many of the details and sharing so many special recipes of his father with me through the years. One of these days those will finally be in a recipe book for me!


50 day trips for spring break stay-cations!

  1. slidePlaygrounds: Weather is (cross your fingers) warming up and the Hudson Valley is sprinkled with wonderful playgrounds! Spring Break week is a great chance to stretch your legs from a long winter away from the monkey bars and jump back on a see-saw! Our favorite Hudson Valley Playgrounds.

Hop on over to these local Easter egg hunts 

  1. Outdoor Discovery Center– Cornwall, 845-534-5506: Offering a spring break camp for ages 6-9. Weekend programs for the entire family and mid- April, Grasshopper Grove, an all- natural playground for the children will re-open for the season.
  1. Locust Grove– Poughkeepsie, 845-454-4500: The grounds and gardens are open to the public from 8am until dusk. The views are spectacular and the grounds are beautiful all year round. If warm enough, pack a picnic lunch and visit locust grove for a wonderful afternoon.
  1. The Mid Hudson Children’s Museum– Poughkeepsie, 845-471-0589: Take the family to the Captain Bubble Science Show during spring break week and enjoy the day at the Children’s Museum. With many new and exciting exhibits kids will have a great day exploring at the museum. If the weather cooperates you can combine your trip with the walk over the Walkway over the Hudson and/ or a walk down the waterfront.

Need a bite to eat while you are spending the day out? Here is a list of kid friendly restaurants in the Hudson Valley. 

  1. The Hudson Valley Rail Trail: One of the Hudson Valley’s treasures is the many rail trails that wind through the woods, over rivers and through the mountains. We have the Walkway over the Hudson, The Dutchess Rail Trail, Harlem Valley Trail, The Catskill Scenic Trail, The Mohonk Preserve, Orange Pathways, and the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail.
  1. Shaupeneak Ridge– Esopus: Another of the Hudson Valley’s many treasures is the amazing family- friendly hiking spots throughout our region. From spots overlooking the Hudson River like the Shaupeneak Ridge to spots in the IMG_0886mountains or even just a quick trip around a lake like at Bear Mountain State Park. Other great hiking spots here.
  1. Trevor Zoo– Millbrook, (845) 677-3704: A wonderful little zoo open year round. You can spend a few hours visiting with the animals and exploring the zoo, pack a picnic lunch and eat near the llamas and then take a short drive over to Millbrook Tribute Gardens and playground.
  1. Bounce! Trampoline Sports– Valley Cottage, NY (845) 268-4000: There is always a chance for a rainy spring break so keep a list handy of some of the great indoor play spots in the area for little ones to get their energy out while having a great time with the whole family. Bounce is one of the many places that kids of all ages could have a great time at!

Rainy day? More top indoor family fun spots!

  1. 20140729_200607The Drive InHudson Valley & Capital Region– Grab some blankets and hop in the car this spring break. Many of your favorite drive- ins are open!
  1. Library– Check your local library or Hudson Valley Parent Calendar Page for inexpensive ways to spend spring break with the kids. Many of the libraries are offering special school’s out programs such as shows and arts, crafts and activities.

Can’t stop at just 10! There are so many great places within driving distance of the Hudson Valley to visit. What would you add to the list? Tell me in the comments!

New York

  1. Rocking Horse Ranch– Highland, (845) 691-2927
  1. Saugerties Lighthouse– Saugerties, (845) 247-0656
  1. Storm King Art Center– New Windsor, (845) 534-3115 (Opening April 1st)
  1. Poughkidsie– Poughkeepsie, (845) 243-3750
  1. Emerson Place- World’s Largest Kaleidoscope– Mt. Tremper, 845-688-5800
  1. Museum Village– Monroe, (845) 782-8248
  1. Castle Fun Center– Chester, (845) 469-2116
  1. Bronx Zoo– Bronx, NY (718) 367-1010
  1. Billy Beeze– West Nyack, NY (845) 535-9277
  1. Greenburgh Nature Center– Scarsdale, NY (914) 723-3470IMG_4668
  1. Bear Mountain Zoo– Bear Mountain, NY (845) 786-2701
  1. NYS Museum– Albany, NY (518) 474-5877
  1. Vanderbilt Mansion– Hyde Park, (845) 229-7770
  1. Air Rock Gym– Albany, (518) 459-7625
  1. Capital District Flower Show– Troy, 518-629-4822 (April 27-29)
  1. Sprout Creek Farm– Poughkeepsie, NY (845) 485-8438
  1. FASNY Museum of Firefighting– Hudson, NY (518) 822-1875
  1. Howe Caverns– Howes Cave, NY (518) 296-8900
  1. Lego Land– Yonkers, NY (866) 243-0770
  1. The National Museum of Play– Rochester, NY (585) 263-2700
  1. Museum of Natural History– New York, (212) 769-5100
  1. Central Park Zoo– New York, (212) 439-6500
  1. Hunter Mountain– Hunter,(800) 486-8376
  1. IMAX- Palisades– West Nyack, (845) 358-4629
  1. Great Escape Lodge & Water Park– Queensbury, (518) 824-6000


  1. Norwalk Aquarium– Norwalk, CT (203) 852-0700IMG_0262
  1. Stepping stones– Norwalk, CT (203) 899-0606
  1. Mystic Aquarium– Mystic, CT (860) 572-5955
  1. Monster Mini Golf– Danbury, CT (203) 744-4653
  1. Danbury Mall- Indoor play area and carousel– Danbury, CT
  1. Danbury Railway Museum– Danbury, CT (203) 778-8337
  1. CoCo Key Water Resort– Waterbury, CT (203) 706-1000


New Jersey

  1. Liberty Science Center– Jersey City, NJ (201) 200-1000
  1. Adventure Aquarium– Camden, NJ (856) 365-3300
  1. Diggerland USA– West Berlin, NJ (856) 768-1110
  1. Sahara Sam’s Indoor Water Park– West Berlin, NJ (856) 767-7580


  1. The Crayola Factory-Easton, PA (610) 515-8000
  1. Sesame Place– Langhorne, PA (215) 752-7070
  1. Please Touch Museum– Philadelphia, PA (215) 581-3181
  1. Great Wolf Lodge– Scotrun, PA (570) 688-9899

10 ways to celebrate the first day of spring


Fun fact: Spring fever is not just a saying. Experts say the body’s makeup changes due to different diets, hormone production and temperature during the warmer months. As the snow continues to melt this week I can say for sure I am well into spring fever mode. The boys are itching to be outside (we actually shoveled a path to the backyard swings today) and hit the playgrounds and I cannot wait to open windows and air out the long winter germs and dust. Looking ahead to Friday’s equinox, I have rounded up 10 ways to celebrate the first day of spring.

1. Another fun fact & a science experiment. According to many, and maybe it’s urban legend that on the spring equinox you can in fact stand an egg up on it’s end. The science says that due to the earth’s position with the sun certain gravitational pulls come into effect. Experts say that if you have enough patients you can balance an egg any day of the year but it is certainly worth the try (and the science lesson)! More info here.


2. No better way to celebrate than with a free scoop of ice cream at Rita’s Italian Ice!FREE RITAS

3. They don’t call it spring cleaning for nothing. The beginning of spring is one of the few days during the entire year I can actually stand the thought of cleaning. I love the cool air blowing through the house and the lemony smell of cleaning products on a beautiful spring day!


4. It’s been a long winter, treat yourself! The first day of spring this year falls right at the tail end of Hudson Valley Restaurant Week. Go out for lunch or dinner with a discounted, fixed menu at many favorite eateries and grab a fruity frozen drink… it’s officially spring!

pough bunny5. Visit the Easter Bunny! Another sure sign of spring is when the Easter Bunnies start hitting local malls and events. You can get photos taken of the kids at many locations throughout the Hudson Valley. Our favorite is Adams Fairacre Farms since it’s FREE and when my kids are screaming bloody murder at the giant over sized rabbit on two legs I don’t mind torturing photographing them for a funny photo for their senior yearbooks one day. 😉 Though my kids usually do enjoy waving to him from afar at the Poughkeepsie Galleria’s beautiful set up. We have a great list of bunny photo ops in the HV here.

Visit ME with Hudson Valley Parent magazine at the Poughkeepsie Galleria this weekend for the Annual Hannoush Hunt!

6. Celebrate spring by doing your part to fight against local hunger at the Empty Bowls Fundraiser in Warwick this Friday. The event is completely family friendly featuring live music, kids games, pottery activities, silent auction, delicious soups and desserts and bowls for purchase!

7. Forecast is showing a few flurries on the first day of spring this year but I am still a firm believer in spring being a sure sign of puddle jumping season! You can visit a park, take a walk down the street or find a puddle in your own driveway just get out there, get wet and dirty and  enjoy those first signs of spring! IMG_0944


Another great idea to get in the mud is to bring your gardening indoors and start your spring seedlings! Here are some expert tips on curing winter gloom with spring blooms.

8. I get excited for the warmer months to hit the drive in with my boys. Luckily the wait is over in Orange County.. The Warwick Drive in is having their Grand re-opening on the first day of Spring! You can catch The SpongeBob Movie with the kids at 8pm. A great way to welcome the new season!

The next two events are actually happening on the second & third days of spring but both are family fun ways to welcome signs of spring walkspring that they are making the list too!

9. The Signs of spring walk at Esopus Nature Preserve gets families outside and closer to nature on 3/21. Whether the snow is on the ground or not you will probably still catch a glimpse of a variety of wildlife including birds, plants and more.

10. Poughkidsie is throwing a birthday party on the 22nd celebrating the arrival of spring. Kids can create a flower pot, enjoy pizza & juice, creative play in the village and face painting from 12-2pm.

Do you have any special 1st day traditions? Share in the comments!

Top 10 (…okay 15!) places to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

May your blessings outnumberclover
The shamrocks that grow,
And may trouble avoid you
Wherever you go.
Irish blessing
Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day and I have rounded up 15 great places for families or date nights in the Hudson Valley. Wear your green and hit the town because there is lots of fun to be had this weekend and all the way through St. Patrick’s Day!

1. Parades. I’m sure by now you know which parades you are hitting this weekend, but it wouldn’t be a St. Patrick’s Day event list without mentioning some of the best parades in the Hudson Valley. You can find a great list here.

2. St. Patrick’s Day Family Workshop. Children and their families are invited to the Harness Racing Museum in Goshen for the St. Patrick’s Day parade this weekend where kids can create a pot of gold noise maker to wave as the parade passes. Snacks and hot chocolate will also be available and the museum for everyone to enjoy and only $3 a child!shamrock run

3. Shamrock Run. Kingston holds one of the largest parades in Ulster County and is kicked-off with the great Shamrock Run, a 2 mile fun- run that supports the annual Kingston Parade. Wear your green and show your support!

4. St. Patrick’s Shindig. Get a baby sitter Saturday night for the Rhinecliff’s annual shindig with live music by Little Creek and an Irish themed 3- course dinner for only $23.95!

paddy on the river

5. Paddy on the River. WRRV is hosting a band new St. Paddy’s tradition this year down on the Beacon Waterfront! I’m not entirely sure it’s something you will want to bring the kids around since there will be plenty of beer. But with live music and traditional Irish food this event looks like lots of fun for mom & dad!

6. St. Patrick’s Day Kids Yoga. Grab your love for one of the great date nights from above and drop the kids off for a few hours of St. Patrick’s Day yoga fun! The kids will enjoy social time, yoga, crafts & snack. Kids ages 3-12 are welcome but you need to reserve your spot in advance.

7. St. Baldrick’s Day. Show your Irish spirit while supporting an amazing cause in Saugerties this Saturday. Are you brave enough to shave your head for childhood cancer? If not, you can still show your support at this family event with raffles, a bake sale, entertainment and face painting.

corned beef at woodstock firehouse7. Corned Beef Dinner Fundraiser. If you are craving an amazing corned beef and cabbage meal you can find one Saturday at the Zena Firehouse in Woodstock. Support your local firehouse while enjoying some delicious holiday food. You can eat in, take out and even request delivery!

8. St. Patrick’s Day will coincide with Hudson Valley Restaurant Week this year so you can enjoy a reduced price pre-fixed lunch or dinner at a participating restaurant on St. Patty’s Day! You can find a list here.

And here are a few favorite restaurants with special and/or entertainment for a good St. Patty’s Day meal:

9. Ramblers Rest (Poughquag or Monroe) elsies place corned beef

10 The Blarney Station (Warwick)

11. Bacchus Restaurant (New Paltz)

12. Elsie’s Place (Wallkill)

13. Dutch Ale House (Saugerties)

14. Hurley Mountain Inn (Hurley)

15. Hickory BBQ and Smokehouse (Kingston)

While I do my best to verify events, dates and times please check websites or call ahead when making plans.

10 Favorite spring-themed events in the Hudson Valley


I have been counting down the weeks to write this blog post! 2 more weeks until “Spring”! . While I really don’t mind the snow at the beginning of the season, by March I am daydreaming of flowers and green grass, heck, I would just be happy with the 10 minutes less time it will take to get out of the house when we can finally pack away these boots and coats! Winter with toddlers is exhausting. But I digress, dreaming of spring today and I am happy to share with you my Top 10 Picks for spring- like events coming up in the Hudson Valley. Think warm thoughts and enjoy 🙂

1. St. Patrick’s day parades– Okay, not spring per se but it is out doors, floats are involved and it means spring is near! We are really excited to dig through the snow to find a spot at the Dutchess County St. Patrick’s Day parade this Saturday but there are many others throughout the Hudson Valley and this month you might want to check out.

2. Maple Syrup Weekend– Again maple weekendit’s at the top of my list because it doesn’t necessarily have to do with spring exactly but I wanted to share anyway. Other than St. Patrick’s Day parades, another sure- fire way to know spring it coming is the start of Maple Sugar Season. I can smell the pancakes now! One of our favorite farms and a new Sugar Bush to our area is the one at Madava Farm. We are really looking forward to their Maple Weekend March 21-22 & 28-29. The grounds are just gorgeous. Other Maple events can be found on this nifty list: hvparent.com/maple-sugar

IMG_76573. Signs of spring walk–  Welcome the start of spring with a stroll through the forest. This family friendly walk with nature expert is a fun way to get outside after a long winter. You are sure to see plenty of wildlife including birds returning home, toads, salamanders and maybe spot a spring bud or 2! The Walk takes place in Saugerties on March 21st.

4. A visit with the Easter Bunny & Hunt- There is no doubt that for many people the highlight event of the spring is Easter. From visits with the Easter bunny to Easter egg hunts throughout our area our calenders fill up fast this month. The Poughkeepsie Galleria is hosting once again the Hannoush Hunt. We did it last year and it was a lot of fun, though I think that parents were into it more than the kids 😉 It is essentially a scavenger hunt throughout the mall. There are also crafts and activities for the kids at center count, and the best part.. I will be be there with Hudson Valley Parent so make sure you say hello!

5. Spring Extravaganza- Kids can participate in a egg hunt inside the mall, create an egg theme craft, color a page for the coloring contest and visit with the town of Poughkeepsie police for a Child ID card. The Easter bunny will be there for a visit and photo and new this year, two by two petting zoo will be visiting too!funny bunny

6. Funny Bunnies– Families can learn all about the native eastern cottontail and go on a hunt in search of finding wild rabbits! You can meet live rabbits at the center followed by bunny crafts for the kids!

7. Spring Festival and egg hunt– The Beekman rec. holds a very night spring festival and egg hunt each year. They separate the kids by age in the tennis court and offer a large variety of free activities including photos with the Easter Bunny! Families can enjoy the bounce house, petting zoo, a game of Frisbee golf and many different craft projects.

8. Easter bonnet parade & Egg Hunt– Join in the Easter bonnet parade for kids of all ages. Raffles, guess the jelly bean jar contest, egg hunt and a special appearance from the Easter Bunny!

fishkill farms egg hunt9. Annual Spring Egg-Stravaganza– Not your average egg hunt, Kids can learn about dying eggs with fruits and plants, participate in a spring planting workshop with seeds they can take home and go on a hayride. Of course the star of the event is hunting for eggs. There are special surprises along the way including a visit from Mr. Easter Bunny himself for photos and fun.

10. Easter Egg hunts- Most towns have their own Easter Egg hunts. Hudson Valley Parent is working on a full list of the events as the towns are still releasing information. There are a number on the calender right now and I will add the list when it is available. Walden Egg HuntEaster Egg Hunt (Wappingers)

If you are up for a little trip, the Capital District Garden and Flower Show is worth checking out too.

Did I miss any of your favorite events? Let me know in the comments!