Monday, February 8, 2016

Those Librarians are Busy at the Howland Public Library!

Eddie the Lilac Lion poses for his #LibraryShelfie at the Howland Public Library's Shelfie Week on Instagram.
Photo Credit: Jennifer Sarah Blakeslee

If you're not already following the Howland Public Library's Instagram feed or subscribed to their newsletter, you are missing out on exciting action! The staff at Beacon's public library, the Howland Public Library, has been quite busy with upgrades and innovations. Just when we wanted to blog about their clever Food for Fines program, they went and completed the construction on their new automatic doors!

Food for Fines Program - Ends February 28th

In lieu of paying fines, the library kicked off a Food for Fines program that ran from January 1 - February 28th* (if you're reading this now, there is still time to pay off those fines with creative ideas for local food pantries in Beacon). The library's new director, Amy Raff, experienced a successful variation of this program at her former library, that focused on toiletries for food pantries, as those can be overlooked when rummaging through cupboards for food. Socks are often the most needed by people who depend on food pantries.

As food pantries have been in the news a lot in Beacon, it has put attention on the senior community who in part use such programs. Not only do seniors need socks, they also need help for incontinence issues. Therefore, for my own fines for four overdue DVDs, my donation was absorbent underwear for women, and black and white socks. What did you donate?

*The Food for Fines Program was extended till the end of February due to upgrade-based library closures and national holidays that happened in February.

Easier to Use Computers and Rent DVDs

Announced just before 2016 started, the library unveiled new rules to make accessing their resources more lengthy and less costly. The big changes are:
  • Overdue fines for DVDs are now 25 cents a day (instead of $1.00). 
  • DVD series (with more than 2 DVDs) now circulate for 14 days (instead of 7 days).
  • Items may now be renewed twice, if there is no hold on it (instead of once). 
  • Use the public computers for 2 hours per day (instead of 1 hour per day).  PS: You can thank Beacon Reads, the little bookstore next door with the FREE cart of books out front, for help in raising money to provide those computers!
  • Use the computers if you owe less than $50 (instead of $10).
Now, don't go crazy with your late habits. Books, DVDs and other resources are in hot demand by other public libraries! Changes made to the computer use will certainly help with what type of work can be done on the computer, such as a bigger research project instead of quick email checking.

New Automatic Doors for Better Accessibility!

Taking a queue from Rite Aid's upgrade in 2014 almost across the street, the Howland Public Library modernized with new automatic doors! The previous doors were very difficult to get through, especially if you were pushing a stroller, pulling a kid wagon, or were in a wheelchair. And with the great programming at Beacon's library, the senior and kid communities are regulars! The entrance now has two rows of glass doors that slide open, which provides a new source of natural light around the front desk area. According to the library, this accessibility upgrade was made possible, in part, by a construction grant from The New York State Department of Education/New York State Library.

Take a look at the Howland Public Library's new director, Amy Raff, demonstrate walking through the doors on the library's Instagram feed:

Up Next: New Public Bathrooms!

As if the changes couldn't get any better - even the bathrooms are getting an upgrade! It's a real page-turner over there at the Library as they keep us on our toes.

Friday, February 5, 2016

New This Week In A Little Beacon Blog - Classes, Valentine's Day Deals & More!

We are starting 2016 with a lot of awesomeness here at A Little Beacon Blog so we want to give you a nice week ending wrap-up in case you missed anything.

We just announced our new Kids Classes guide which we continue to update DAILY so make sure you keep checking back.  If you know of a class we should include in our guide, let us know!

More classes added such as Ice Skating, classes from Ballet Arts Studio, and programs from Common Ground Farm.    By popular demand, we also added more categories such as Nature & Outdoors, Theater, and Private Lessons.

We have new class announcements for adults too.  All Sport Health & Fitness has a new EPOC class starting next Thursday at 9:15 am. Also sign up for their Buddy Boot Camp on February 13th if you and your partner want to skip on the Valentine's Day candy.

That's right, Valentine's Day is next week!  Our friends at River Therapeutic Massage is offering a sweet "RTM Valentine LOVE!" massage package for the month of February.
While we're talking about Valentine's Day, when planning your night out don't forget to check out our Restaurant Guide which has also been updated with who is open and what is coming soon in 2016.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

It's Ready! The Kids Classes In And Around Beacon Guide!

Living in Beacon has spoiled me - spoiled me into expecting loads of creative and enriching classes for kids in any town that I am visiting. There are two issues with this:
  1. How would I know where to find all of these classes?
  2. As a person who lives here, I see whizzes of great classes that people post streaming down Facebook, but what were they again? And how would everyone in the whole world see those single posts?
And so A Little Beacon Blog's Things To Do In Beacon Guides were created - to showcase all of these things that people can do in dedicated Guide where you could have all of these choices in one place, in an easy-to-scan list of phone numbers, addresses, and links available with the tap of a finger or click of the mouse, with local, insider information about them when available, and that is updated as new options become available.

The Kids Classes Guide was two years in the making because it is just so big! And  the wave of new classes being offered happens a few times a year. We are currently in one of those waves - early February when Winter Sessions start for most programs from art to yoga to swimming- making this a perfect time to launch the Kids Classes Guide that helps families in Beacon and neighboring towns plan which programs to hook their kids into.

Because after all - just around the corner is Summer! And the Summer Day Camp Guide! Updates to that are underway now. For now, dive into the Kids Classes Guide to see which Little Dragon Karate program on Main Street Beacon or Snapology program at the Fishkill Rec Center you can plan for your family!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Launching Soon...The Highly Anticipated Adult + Kids Classes Guides

It's finally happening...the Adults and Kids Classes Guides at A Little Beacon Blog. This is a collection of classes that people living in and around Beacon really want to know about. These Guides will be a part of A Little Beacon Blog's Things To Do In Beacon Guides, and will be maintained and promoted throughout the year.
There are many ways to participate: 
1. If you are teaching a class, please submit your information to Those added will be added at a Basic level to a related category (like LANGUAGE, or PAINTING). 
2. If you teach and you want your listing to stand out and get into our social media streams, you can start an advertising subscription as a Featured Business, details are in the Advertising Package which you can download here. Please note, you do not need to do this in order to be included at a Basic level in the Adult and Kids Classes Guides. This is for if you want to step it up a notch.
3. If you work for a business or corporation who supports the arts and community events, we are working with sponsors of single Guides or of all of the Things To Do In Beacon Guides, which includes Restaurants, Classes, Shopping, Beauty, etc. This major sponsor level helps us maintain and promote these Guides which helps smaller businesses and artists get the word out. To get your logo on the flyer and to be part of the initial launch of these highly anticipated Classes Guides, please email 

Look for it soon! We are adding classes on a daily basis and perfecting how we want you to see it.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Best Brunch in Beacon, NY

Photo Credit: Beacon Bread Company

This Best Brunch roundup is updated as Beacon grows and changes, and was originally published years ago for those seeking syrup-topped weekend breakfasts. This roundup continues to be a favorite destination for those searching out the best brunch in Beacon, NY, so we want you to access an up-to-date list. Restaurants are a hot ticket in Beacon these days, so the number of brunch and breakfast offerings is on the rise every day. Below, you'll find a selection of brunch destinations, with more added as we explore them.

Last Updated: 1/24/16

232 Main Street
Homespun was Beacon's original brunch destination. Famous for their deep-dish vanilla french toast or yogurt with fruit, or a delicious bowl of oatmeal, you will find something you like here. Drinks include beer, coffee and tea, and flavorful sodas like Orangina. Eat inside, or take advantage of the garden patio in the back during warmer months. Reservations not accepted; it's first-come, first-serve. A great option for early risers.

Towne Crier Cafe,
379 Main Street
Brunch and lunch are served at the Towne Crier Cafe, located in the "Market Square" district of Beacon, aka the middle of Main Street. The kitchen creates a new menu every weekend; they can be previewed in the restaurant. A full bar is available, so you may enjoy wine, beer or cocktails. The restaurant is large and can accommodate large parties.

Beacon Falls Cafe,
472 Main Street
The Beacon Falls Cafe is an American bistro with a menu that serves variety. They do serve craft beers, and have outside seating on the front sidewalk. Brunch at Beacon Falls Cafe is quite convenient for those shopping at the boutiques located on the East End of Main Street, or if you're attending an event at the Howland Cultural Center

The Roundhouse at Beacon Falls,
2 East Main Street
Brunch at The Roundhouse at Beacon Falls is perfect for large or small parties who are looking for an incredibly beautiful view of the falls. Dining here is serene, even in warmer months when you can hear the rushing water from a table nestled below street level, in the riverbank. A full bar is available, so you may enjoy wine, beer or their famous cocktails. Served from 11am-3pm.

Chateau Beacon,
37 Lamplight Street
Located just a few short minutes outside of downtown Beacon, Chateau Beacon's brunch menu offers Pancakes with Spiced Maple Syrup, Bananas Foster French Toast, Eggs Benedict Florentine, and a Vegetable Frittata. The booths are big at Chateau Beacon (as is the entire restaurant), and you'll find plenty of TVs surrounding the bar. To get there from Main Street, take a right on 9D, drive over the I-84 overpass, and take a left at the little statue of a soldier. Opens later in the morning, at 11am.

Beacon Bread Company,
193 Main Street
Carbohydrate lovers will enjoy the selection of breads, croissants and other pastries. Eggs can be cooked your way, and grilled vegetables may be added to any order. Food with a Lebanese flair is on the menu, including homemade yogurt for those who crave protein with their french toast. During the warmer months, seating is available at picnic tables outside. Reservations are not accepted, and it's first-come, first-serve. A great option for early risers.

213 Main Street
Hungry weekenders and longtime locals welcome the fried chicken and oxtail options at BJ's Soul Food, served with a side of mac and cheese, collard greens, or whatever specials are on the menu for the day. Be sure to ask for their cornbread. The breakfast menu includes pancakes and eggs, and for dessert, enjoy a large slice of a triple-layer, homemade, frosted cake. A great option for early risers.

Yankee Clipper Diner,
 397 Main Street
Hungry families have their choice of Belgian waffles with fruit toppings, pancakes, french toast, eggs cooked your way, loaded omelets, hashbrowns, and the usual choices found in diners. This old-time favorite is sure to have a booth or table for you. Enjoy a milkshake while you wait.


Ella's Bellas,
418 Main Street
While Ella's Bellas does not offer a traditional brunch that includes syrup, early risers will find the cafe open for a great cup of Tas Kafe coffee, a heartier latte, or a piece of quiche or bread pudding. Yogurts are available in this kid-friendly cafe, and garden seating in the back is a must during warmer months. Gluten-free eaters will love this bakery for the many truly delicious options on offer.

Beacon Pantry,
382 Main Street
Beacon Pantry is a local favorite for elevated snacks like a croque monsieur, prosciutto cotto, French ham, grilled cheese, goat cheese salad, house made granola, yogurt, chocolate croissant and other baked goods. Perk up with a cup of Stumptown coffee.

Beacon Bagel,
466 Main Street
Beacon Bagel is sure to fill the bellies of large and small crowds, with or without children. We did a review of one of their breakfast bagels here as a great to-go option for those who need to hit the road early on a weekend morning. Several sandwich options are available, to be supplemented with coffee, juice and (why not?) cookies.

To make your own top-notch brunch at home, find easy pancake mixes from Bob's Red Mill at Key Food, specialty syrups sold in several of the above-mentioned cafes, and delicious bacon and house-stuffed sausage at Barb's Butchery.

For a full list of all restaurants in Beacon, where you can find lunch or dinner despite a special breakfast menu, visit A Little Beacon Blog's Restaurant Guide.

Boot-Ready Toes In An Instant, At Lilium Spa Nails On Main Street

Pedicures are normally associated with summer and flip-flops. Less-discussed is the often chronic, mostly silent problem of ingrown nails that can make one shudder at the thought of putting on socks and placing a sensitive toe into a well-padded, waterproof boot. Keeping toes pretty for padding around a cold kitchen floor or just vacuumed carpet doesn't make it into winter issues of fashion magazines.

We know from A Little Beacon Blog's Beauty Guide that there are several options for getting your toes done around town. But if you want a pedicure right now this instant, even if it is in the middle of snowstorm Jonas (note: a snowstorm that simply gave Beacon an inch or two), then you want to walk to the pedicure place and avoid brushing off your car, driving, parking, and repeating.

This storefront has housed a nail salon for years. Currently managed by a husband-and-wife team, a mani-pedi is at your fingertips - pun intended. If you see a sign on the door that says something like: "We're here... call this number and we will be right there," you can believe it. Living upstairs, the managers will come down to help you right away.

While the appearance of the shop may be ready for an upgrade, the actual experience of the pedicure hits all of the important pressure points. Warm, bubbly water, ingrowns carefully removed, a scrub rub applied, all finished with a leg massage. Plus, they offer a 10-minute chair massage stool for anyone in need of a quick neck and shoulder rub.

For those who enjoy fast fashion, and need to quickly pick up a pair of Hello Kitty ear muffs, you will also find a retail selection in the front of Lilium Spa Nails. Anyone who has spent much time in New York City will recognize the tabletop spread of cellophane-wrapped scarves, gloves, and hats. During the research for this article at Lilium, a trio of moms with double-wide strollers popped in, in need of a fresh pair of gloves while traveling.


Thursday, January 21, 2016

TBT Throwback Thursday for Kelly Ellenwood's Singing Career in Phantom of the Opera

Did you know that we have a real, live, former cast member from Broadway's "The Phantom of the Opera" living in our town of Beacon? It's true: Kelly Ellenwood played the role of Carlotta Giudicelli in "The Phantom of the Opera" from 1994 to 1998. She also played Mrs. Fezziwig in the Madison Square Garden production of “A Christmas Carol” from 2000 to 2003. This four-year span was during the final years of its ten-year run in the theater at Madison Square Garden. One of the performances from this time is preserved in the Lincoln Center Archive. Frank Langella, stage and screen star, performed the role of Scrooge that year.

Kelly has kept up with the arts in Beacon, becoming involved in various community projects. She is currently Vice President of BeaconArts, as well as a Founding Member and Director Emeritus of the Wee Play Project, which has raised over $100,000 to build the toddler park in Beacon (we covered it here when they secured a playground upgrade). She is also involved with the Beacon Arts and Education Foundation (BAEF) which has raised $80,000 since its inception in 2004, and is currently an adjunct Professor of Voice at SUNY New Paltz.

Carlotta (played by Kelly Ellenwood) in The Phantom of the Opera.

You have most likely seen Kelly around town at the annual lighting of the Bicycle Christmas Tree produced by BeaconArts, or presenting at Board of Education meetings on behalf of the high school theater initiatives with The Beacon Players. Most recently, you may have read about Kelly in The Philipstown Paper in a preview of the Beacon Music Factory's 3rd Annual New Year's Day concert. At that event, Kelly and the Beacon Music Factory All Stars band performed Linda Ronstadt's 1974 album, "Heart Like a Wheel."

Being that most people know Kelly in her current roles, we are dedicating this #TBT, Throwback Thursday, to her career in opera and community service, which helped us learn even more about what makes her tick:

Did you stop singing operatic style?

Not really... I just don’t delve into the extremes anymore. I used to get paid pretty well (and regularly, LOL!) for what is known literally as “the money notes.” I’m aging and I simply don’t have the same ease of access to that part of my range, and frankly, it is a lot of work to maintain. But I make up for it in other ways! :) Age and experience do have their advantages.

Where can you be found singing now?

What is so great about Beacon is that there are plenty of opportunities to collaborate. I’m working on a concert concept with my dear friend and colleague Irina Mozyleva and another fabulous Beacon musician (and mom), singer-songwriter Carla Springer; and I’m even starting a new band! Not quite ready to announce yet, but stay tuned. All you need to know is that I bought an accordion yesterday.

I’m also asked to sing regularly at SUNY New Paltz where I’m on faculty, and you never know, Madera Vox may make a comeback. [Editor's note: The quintet featured Kelly on voice, and others on oboe, bassoon, piano and percussion.] I’m definitely not doing too much theatre these days, and I’m definitely not auditioning, although I do still get calls fairly often.  If the project is right, I will make time in my schedule to work in the city, at a regional theatre or do a special concert out of town. And I’ve been known to sing the national anthem from time to time at big sporting events. [Editor's note: How many people can say that?!]

Are your children following in your footsteps?

Both my girls love to sing and are innately good musicians. We have been doing some trio work together recently, which has been really fun and gratifying. Since you asked, Rowan is one of two children at her school asked to participate in the All County Chorus Weekend, coming up at the end of February. That will be a great experience for her. And we just found out a couple of days ago that Rhiannon will be playing the title role in the Beacon (HS) Players production of PETER PAN. The show dates are April 8, 9, 10 and you should buy your tickets NOW! It’s going to be just great. They are even bringing in “Flying by Foy” so the kids will be actually flying. It’s pretty extraordinary. So glad that there is a strong drama program at the high school. So yes, I guess they are “following,” although they both made these opportunities happen all on their own. #proudmama

What was your first foray into contributing your time and creative energy to Beacon on a volunteer or community level?

I guess it would have to be my seven-year stint fundraising for and building the Wee Play Tot Park.  I am thrilled that the organization has grown and continues to do so much good in our community.  I like to think that the playground was a catalyst for much of the growth we are experiencing now in this town.  I remember moving here in 2003, and not knowing where to find other mothers with young kids. We built a network, and that network continues to drive change and bring people together, as well as attract new residents. It makes me super proud.

What community and/or public school initiatives are you currently working on that you want to share with us today?

Well, I am super active in BeaconArts as a board member. If I’m re-elected at the end of this month - our Annual Meeting is January 27 - it will be my last term. I’m looking forward to implementing our strategic plan, and further stabilizing the organization as it heads into its 15th year.

I’m also active with the Beacon Arts and Education Foundation (BAEF) as the BeaconArts Board liaison. BAEF is a sponsored project of BeaconArts. As a parent, I’m fairly active at both of my kids’ schools, although I recently made a personal pledge to be MUCH more active at the high school - there is so much positive stuff that happens that gets overshadowed by the less positive.

PS:  We could use help with the BHS PTSO West Point fundraisers! The Beacon High School PTSO works concessions at West Point sports events, including football games, and raises a pretty decent amount of cash for the organization to give away as scholarships, teacher grants, etc. You have to be 16 and have an ID to work. The Beacon High School PTSO has a Facebook page if you want to find out more.

Carlotta and her understudies in the touring company for "Phantom of the Opera." This photo was taken on one of their last days on the road, in Denver.

Can You Spot Kelly In This Video?

To add to our Throwback Thursday, here is a video with Tim Curry as Scrooge during the 75th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, in which Kelly gets a little facetime in costume from her days of performing in MSG’s Christmas Carol. It was right after 9/11, and Kelly says about that day: “I remember the feeling very well. The temperature was quite warm, not cold at all as we breezed down Broadway. Intense memories!”