Monday, November 30, 2015



I love to check around and come up with interesting gift giving for the holidays.  My neighbor Juan always talks about doing things with the family.  I also think about my neighbor Chris and his wife, Jessica.  They have two young children.  Gifts don’t necessarily have to be tangible.   Spending a day with the family on an outing could raise a smile with all of the members.

I explored a few places on Long Island that I had never been.  The Long Island Children’s Museum, for instance, is one of three more interactive and educational sites.  An adult is not allowed to walk around it without an accompanying child.  
There are two floors each having several specific areas.  Pretend that you are about to ride on the Long Island Railroad or buy ice cream from a truck at the TotSpot. Explore the larger-than-life pages of seven favorite fairy tales from around the world.   Listen to sounds at the “Sound Showers”, build a house at the Building Room with Keva planks, Create a toy at Bricks and Sticks, and discover the ways that animals find and eat their food.  Make a commercial, play some instruments and be a part of a show when interactive performers, including musicians, storytellers and more come to the 150-seat theater.  Climbing area too.  The museum is located at 11 Davis Avenue in Garden City.


Over at One Davis Avenue is the Nassau County Firefighters Museum and Education Center. Their mission is to provide public education, training, and awareness in fire safety.  Trace the evolution of firefighting with antique artifacts and their contemporary counterparts.  Interactive exhibits include: Call 911; Crawl Low in Smoke, Stop-Drop-Roll and Home Escape Planning.  You can see, feel and experience ladders, hoses and fire trucks.

There are two areas to this museum, one of which houses the exhibits, the other is the theater. Group programs are age appropriate: Pre-K and Kindergarten; Elementary, Middle and High School; and Senior Citizens – focusing on the safety “challenges” confronting older adults.

Right now they are having a contest to name the new 20-foot-tall Dalmatian Puppy Mascot.  It’s for youngsters under the age of 12.  Winning name youngster will be given a party for up to 30 children and four adult chaperones.  Contest started November 9, 2015 with the last entry accepted on January 15, 2016.

 Incidentally, the museum is located inside the Cradle of Aviation Museum.  If you love IMAX movies, this is beyond that as they have Dome Theater.  The actual center of the screen is as if you focused on the corner of your room where the ceiling meets the wall.   Your entire peripheral vision experiences the movie.  More about that this museum at another time.

Another gift…more tangible and fun, too.  Workman Publishing Company has a whole bunch of calendars and books, especially by Boynton.  My favorite is the Mom’s Family Calendar where you can list the names of other and pen in the activity along with stickers.  Animal characters.  I found a few other interesting wall calendars as well.  Unlikely Friends has photos of unlikely animals snuggling against another one.  Then there is the Matisse calendar.  When you are finished, you can take each monthly page of art and frame it.  Two books: one is about cat’s behavior and the other has to do with chickens.  Stay tuned to my blogs as my cats and rubber chickens read the books.  You can find these in stores or buy them online.

I have been getting my laundry done by a laundromat located at 97-03 Jamaica Avenue, in Woodhaven.  Free pick-up and drop off.  It comes back to me folded and smelling fresh.  If you are living in Woodhaven, the phone number is 718-849-8630.   It’s a gift to me.   How about doing the laundry as a gift to someone else….in the family.  Check around for prices.  It’s worth not having to do it yourself as well as not adding to the utility and water bill. 

Now that the winter is about to give us some of those cold temperatures, splurge a bit for the Dyson Bladeless Heater Fan.  I first tried the fan and found that it really cooled off an area of a room.  Not as much as an air conditioner, though.  It is like this personal fresh coolness without the noise.   The Heater Fan is even better.  You can control the temperature to have it either emit heat or coolness as well as the speed of the fan.  They come with a remote control and cleaning is a cinch…just a wipe.  I just went to the website and saw that they also have a humidifier.   OMG.  I get forced heat coming from vents.  I feel as if I can’t breathe by the morning.  I did try having a humidifier attached to the furnace but couldn’t deal with cleaning it, changing the water, etc.   This one says that it projects and ultra-fine mist and maintains it throughout a 172 square ft. room.  Oh wait.  The temperature control gives you high velocity cool air in the summer.   I’m not sure how the water goes in there and whether cleaning is required.  I’ll get one and pass on the info.  Check out the products on

Here’s another great idea. League of Kitchens cooking workshops, a culinary adventure.  You go to the home of an older female immigrant and help prepare a meal.  They are not chefs that work in restaurants.  They are the same women that people say, “I learned to cook from my mother/grandmother”.   Isn’t it amazing how the cooking contest shows throw in a token female and ever barely win.?  You hang at the dining room table prepping the food, go into the kitchen to listen and watch the meal being cooked and then get to eat the meal. There are a maximum of 6 people as you first enjoy lunch, schmooze and talk about the cuisine.  She will tell you where she buys her food, her background, etc. 

There is enough food prepared to that you can take home the leftovers.  Greek, Lebanese, Indian, Argentinian, Korean, Trinidadian, Bengali, and Afghan.  Most locations are in Queens.  You go home with pages of information that include all of the recipes, the particular types of seasonings and more.  You won’t have to take notes while you’re chopping and slicing.  An immersion workshop costs $149 for the Five and have hours session. 

Thursday, November 26, 2015


The Joe Lapchick Character Award Foundation is a foundation committed to encouraging and promoting good character in the sport of basketball.  Each November the foundation recognizes a group of iconic basketball figures, from all levels of men’s and women’s basketball, who have demonstrated honorable character throughout their careers much like the legendary Coach Joe Lapchick, who coached St. Johns and the New York Knicks.

On Friday November 20, Cathy Andruzzi, a former Queens College basketball player, stepped up to the podium to introduce former coach Lucille Kyvallos.  The occasion was having Coach Lucille Kyvallos receive the much deserved Lapchick Character award.

“It is a wonderful honor for me to present to you and tell you about our great coach Lucille Kyvallos.  Lucille Kyvallos’ story is about an individuals’ love for the game of basketball.  A story of not only a great coach but also a great basketball player…a story of a woman of integrity and character.

Born and raised in Astoria, Queens, young Lucille started playing basketball with the boys in the school yard at age 14.  However, her walk to the school yard was much different than yours and mine.

In 1946 it was not considered appropriate for a girl to walk through the neighborhoods of Astoria with a basketball under her arm. So as not to be denied the opportunity to play the game she loved, young Lucille used her mother’s sewing machine to make a drawstring bag for her basketball so that it would be hidden from the public.

By the time Lucille (who they called ‘Big Lulu’) was 17 years old she was one of the best basketball players in NYC.  In the late 40’s Bryant High School did not have a girls basketball team so she played for several recreational teams. Comprised of young girls who loved the game of basketball, they would travel around playing in gyms throughout NYC.  On weekends they played against men’s teams. She also played in the Old Madison Square Garden location with her Queens Rustics team.

In 1951, she headed to college, first attending NYU.  While there she took a job coaching the Cathedral H.S. girls basketball team where her team went 37-4.

Coach Kyvallos transferred to Springfield College to study Phys Ed.  Although Springfield did not have a women’s basketball team, she wouldn’t be denied playing so she played on a company sponsored industrial league team in Springfield.

In those days Springfield frowned upon their female students playing sports. If caught she could have been booted out of school.  Lucille Kyvallos would have someone go with her to the game and stand by the door of the gym.  If someone from the college would come by, they would tell her and she would leave the floor.

Nasmith Basketball Hall of Famer and former Springfield Assistant Director and Coach Ed Steitz once said Kyvallos was the best basketball player, male or female, who ever came to Springfield College. 

Graduating from Springfield, she taught high school for a few years and headed to Indiana University to get her masters, choosing Indiana for their specialty in Motor Learning. She was hungry to learn about the scientific principles of a player’s movement on the basketball court including how to cut, timing of movements and the effectiveness of jump stops vs. lay-ups. 

After coaching at West Chester State in 1962 with a record of 52-2, she joined the faculty of Queens College and became the head women’s basketball coach.  In only three years coach Kvyallos had built another nationally recognized program and in 1971 Queens College was invited to play in the National Invitational Women’s Tournament in North Carolina.

Now on a mission to compete at the highest level and never having that experience, she wanted to prove women, if given the opportunity, could develop those skills.  She believed that women should have the opportunity to strive to be their greatest and prove that females could be competitive athletic performers.

Seeing an opportunity to put Queens College and NYC on the national map, coach Kyvallos and Queens College submitted a bid and were awarded to host the 1973 AIAW National Championship.  In March of 1973, 16 college teams from all over the country would converge on the Flushing campus and history would be made. Our Queens College team would advance to the Championship game in front of a packed standing room only crowd to play defending National Champions Immaculata.

It was an electric feeling that my teammates and I will never forget.  Journalists like Dick Schaap were there at Fitzgerald Gym to watch the game, one that advanced the game of college women’s basketball nationally. 

The game caught the eye of Rob Franklyn, an executive at Madison Square Garden and invited Coach Kyvallos to play a game at the Garden, saying that she could pick the team.  Ecstatic and knowing the significance of this game, she needed a fitting opponent and chose Immaculata College.

On February 22, 1975 in front of 11,500 spectators Queens College played Immaculata in the first women’s college game to be played at the garden.  This past January MSG celebrated the 40th  Anniversary of this historic game with a re-match of the Immaculata vs. Q.C. game.

Queens College continued to be a dominating force in women’s basketball from 1971-79 and was ranked in the top 10 in the country without the aid of athletic scholarships.  In 1977 Coach Kyvallos was selected as the head coach for the USA Women’s Basketball competing in the World University Games in Bulgaria, winning the Silver Medal.

As the AIAW folded and the NCAA took over in 1982, QC did not have the funding to recruit and compete at the level that she had established, the great players from NY were being recruited and offered scholarships by schools all over the country.  Queens did not have dorms, budgets facilities and other resources to compete.

Coach Kyvallos retired from coaching the game she loved, in her 12 years at QC where she compiled a career record of 239-77 and was inducted into the NYC Basketball HOF, West Chester College HOF and QC Athletics HOF.

Our 1972-73 team was the first women’s team to be inducted into the NYC Basketball HOF and QC Athletics HOF. This Spring we will be honoring Coach and naming the main court in Fitzgerald Gymnasium at QC The Lucille Kyvallos Court. 

For those of us that had the opportunity to play for Coach, we learned more than X’s and O’s.  We learned about life. We learned about how to compete. We learned to reach for the sky and challenge ourselves.  And we learned the importance of team, integrity and character. 

Coach Kyvallos led by example.  She never backed down or played it safe. She fought to give us every opportunity in basketball she never had.  And we are grateful for her.

In ending I would like to share this last story with you. When I was going through Coach Kyvallos’ archives I came across some amazing stories about her life that I never knew, many of which I shared today.  One stood out among them.  On Feb. 26, 1950, George Douvis, a sports writer for the Long Island Star wrote a piece, titled ‘Lucy Kyvallos Basketball Star’.  He wrote, ‘Lucy Kyvallos, a smiling 17-year-old Astoria lass, is rated one of the outstanding female players developed in New York City.  A real great player who should go places.  Remember the name Lucy Kyvallos.'  George Douvis was right.  Ladies and gentlemen please welcome ‘Big Lulu’ Coach Lucille Kyvallos.”

Monday, November 23, 2015


Having enjoyed the bill of fare at Press 195 in Rockville Centre, NY, I decided to experience their second location in Bayside (40-11 Bell Boulevard) where I was able to speak with the company’s Executive Chef, Brian Karp.  
Although Brian was busy, he made time to chat with me about the menu. The title “Sandwich King” is on the back of the shirts.  That’s his thing!  What makes a difference is not just the combinations of what goes into a sandwich but the sauces that he creates.  

Brian does not do the cooking.  He gave instructions to Alejandro Tripiana, already a great chef, on how to prepare the sauces in Bayside, the same as he did with chef Tato Ortega in Rockville Centre.  The rest is almost obvious from looking at the menu.

Both Press 195 locations have a lengthy restaurant, rather than a wide one.  This locale begins with the bar area of many high tables and chairs as bars tend to have and probably meant more for “drinkers”.   There are enough low ones to dine comfortably as well.  Perfect for me. 

Kaitlyn Martinez was my waitperson.  She has been working there for 7 years.  When I asked which sandwiches were the most popular, she called them out by number.  Kaitlyn pointed out that beyond the bar area and past the dining area, there is a closed-in garden open year round.  With the low temperature, that area is heated.  You can also go past that and into the open garden, which is in use during the warmer months.

Press 195 is a popular spot for people in the area that are on their lunch break.  Kaitlyn said that these sandwiches can come out fast enough for a half hour relaxing experience.   The evening brings the beer crowd.  That is due to the huge variety of tap and bottled beers. 

Let’s get to the food.  I’m now into tea.  They have a green tea with pomegranate.  Excellent.  Kaitlyn also told me about a Sangria that they make.  I had to taste it.  White wine with seltzer, pineapple juice and orange juice.  They then throw in julienned apples and top with a slice of orange.  There is a red wine Sangria available as well.

Buffalo Chicken wings was my starter.  I don’t like them hot.  These had just the right “kick”.   I’m sure other people would call it ultra-mild.  

Now we get into the sandwiches.  I had asked Brian as to what was made “in-house” as I’m certain that they did not create their own deli meats or cheeses.   They do have a fresh Mozzarella.  Meat balls, burgers, brisket, pork loin, and chicken.  Brian’s favorite sauce is a pineapple sesame sriracha .
Since Thanksgiving was approaching, I selected the Thanksgiving sandwich made with a knish.  You have the potatoes, turkey, fontina cheese, cranberry/pear chutney and gravy.  The pear provides the sweet contrast to the sourness of the cranberries.  

One of the newer panini sandwiches is one called Momma Karp’s.   It had shredded slow braised brisket with a caramelized onions sauce. It is topped with a crunchy purple jalapeno coleslaw.   Not skimpy on the meat and again just the kick in the cole slaw.  

At Press 195 you can create your own sandwich.   I remember having a particular one in Pittsburgh and wanted to duplicate it.  I chose the pork loin as the meat and fresh mozzarella for the cheese.   Then a tomato slice, cole slaw and Belgian Fries (which they are noted for) goes right into it.  Wow.

I was too stuffed to have dessert.  Brian told me that he makes a New York style cheesecake and a Carrot Cake (with a cream cheese frosting).  I got a slice of the carrot cake to go.