Best of LI 2019 Pick Your Own Tree 571

Holidays are about tradition.  Decorating a Christmas tree is a favorite holiday tradition in many of our homes.  Why not make selecting your tree as much of a tradition as decorating it?  Bundle up and head to a local Long Island Tree farm to cut down your own tree this Christmas season.

Before you go, here are a few things that you should know:

  • What type of tree do you want?  Here are the 4 most common and their characteristics:
    • Douglas Fir -The most popular and versatile Christmas Tree, which we have the most of and grow very full;

    • Blue Spruce -Beautiful blue tinted tree with very strong branches for heavy ornaments, but spiny. Some are blue green while others are more straight blue;

    • Norway Spruce -Similar to blue spruce with strong branches and sharp needles but have beautiful dark green needles. Slightly less sharp than Blue Spruce;

    • White Pine -Strong branches, more “bushy” looking trees with very long needles.

  • If you are looking for a Blue Spruce or and White Pine, make sure to go early in the season as they tend to sell out early.
  • While some places provide handsaws and rope, not all provide both.  Make sure you know what is provided or pack both just in case.
  • Dress appropriately. These farms are all open fields and wind tends to make them much chillier than other areas. Make sure little ones are bundled up.
  • Not all places take credit or debit cards. Call Ahead or bring cash just in case.


Matt’s Christmas Tree Farm

Matt’s offers the following species: Norway, blue and white spruces, balsam and concolor firs. They provide you with everything you need to choose and cut the perfect tree. Bow saws, and netting are available.  Matt’s also offers trailer rides back with your tree and loading assistance.  Candy canes are given to each child.    Live trees in either pots or burlap balls available of  you may also choose to have a tree dug from the fields (weather permitting). Leashed dogs welcome. Cost: $12-$17 per foot.

WHERE 305 Weeks Avenue, Manorville

WHEN Open every day from the day after Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve. except Tuesdays,  8:00 am to 4:30 pm

INFO (631) 875-1465

Mike’s Christmas Tree Farm

Mike’s Christmas Tree Farm is a family-owned business with thousands of trees to choose from. Cutting your own tree at Mike’s Christmas Tree Farm is a wonderful way to enhance your family’s holiday experience.  Mikes carries a good selection of Norway Spruce, White Spruce, Colorado Blue Spruce and others. Saws are provided, balled and burlapped trees are also available.  All Christmas Trees (except Blue Spruce) $13 per foot, Blue Spruce $17 per foot.

WHEN Open Every Day from Day After Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm

WHERE 323 Weeks Avenue, Manorville, NY  

INFO (631) 874-355;


Carter Choose & Cut Christmas Tree Farm

Have some old-fashioned holiday fun cutting your own fresh Christmas tree.  Carters has a variety of trees to select from including Scotch Pine, White Spruce, Blue Spruce, and Norway Spruce. Trees range in height from 3 to 9 feet tall.  Bring your own hand saw, or borrow one of theirs (no chainsaws permitted).  Pre-tagging is available, starting November 16 (trees must be paid for in full on the day of selection)  Tree wrapping is provided for most  trees. Be sure to bring a sturdy rope to fasten your tree to your vehicle.

WHEN Open Saturdays and Sundays, November 16th until December 22nd,  from 9 am – 4:30 pm

WHERE 123 North Country Road, Miller Place

INFO (631) 331-4699


Lewins Farms Baiting Hollow Nursery

Lewins offers 4 varieties of trees: Douglas Fir ,Blue Spruce, Norway Spruce and White Pine. Customers are permitted to bring their own saws or can rent one for a $5 deposit. Tractor rides are available out to the field and back to the front. Customers can also walk straight out to field and carry their trees back themselves. Trees wrapping is provided as well as the rope/twine for tying to cars. Securing the trees to the cars is the responsibility of the customer. Pre-cut trees and “live” balled trees are available at the front of Entrance.

WHEN Field Opens Friday after Thanksgiving, weather permitting, Open everyday but Tuesday for 2019 season, from 9 am to 4 pm

WHERE Located on Fresh Pond Avenue in Calverton / Baiting Hollow

INFO (631) 929-4327;


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Bellport High School Robotics Team Attends First LI TECH Challenge Qualifier 50

Bellport High School’s Bellport Clippers Team 12899 participated in the FIRST Long Island TECH Challenge qualifier, a robotics competition, held at William Floyd High School on Jan. 11. Under the direction of high school technology teacher Jaime Canjura and alumnus Brian Larkin, the 11-member robotics team competed against 21 Long Island teams from Suffolk and Nassau counties.

FIRST Tech Challenge teams are challenged to design, build, program and operate robots to compete in a head-to-head challenge each year. The team’s next competition will be held on Feb. 2 at the Long Island School for The Gifted in Huntington.

Since the 2018-19 school year, the team has doubled in size and hopes to continue growing due to the interest of incoming eighth grade students participating in the Bellport Middle School FIRST Lego League.

“The team’s philosophy is to inspire students to be and do their best,” Mr. Canjura explained. “We follow the concept of Gracious Professionalism, a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community.”

The South Country Central School District extends team members Joseph Balsamo (lead software engineer and programmer), Jake D’Esposito (programmer and IT), Robert Gronenthal (secretary and robot chassis designer), Isaiah James (team president and lead designer), Chris Lannon, Thomas Miller (treasurer), Ainesis Reid (media, marketing and programming), Soteria Reid (media and marketing specialist), Antonio Suarez (mechanical hardware technician and designer trainee), Jack Stark (mechanical hardware technician and designer trainee) and Michael Vengroski (team captain and lead designer) best wishes for success.

Photo caption: Members of Bellport High School’s Bellport Clippers Team 12899 held their robot designed for the FIRST robotics competitions.

Photo courtesy of the South Country Central School District


Raise Your Bar Serving These New Year’s Eve Cocktails 578

Blood Orange Gin Punch Recipe

Get the party started with this simple cocktail, this modern take on a classic screwdriver is an easy-drinking crowd-pleaser. To keep the party moving, put it in a punch bowl and let your guests serve themselves.

Recipe Serves 10

Shopping List
⅓ cup cane sugar
5 sprigs organic fresh rosemary
11 or 12 organic blood oranges
1¾ cups gin
1¼ cups prosecco
5 cups ice

Peeler, punch bowl, small sauce pot

1. Make the simple syrup
In a small sauce pot, combine 1½ cups water and sugar and cook over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add 3 rosemary sprigs and bring to a boil (set aside the remaining 2 sprigs for serving). Remove from the heat and let steep until cool, about 30 minutes.

Discard the rosemary. Measure ½ cup simple syrup; save any remaining simple syrup for another use.

2. Prep the orange wheels and twists; mix the cocktail

  • Cut 1 blood orange in half, then cut one half crosswise into thin slices. Do not remove the peel; discard any seeds. Reserve the other orange half for juicing.
  • Using a peeler, remove the zest in 2-inch-long strips from the blood oranges, being careful to remove only the outermost orange layer and leave behind the bitter white pith. You’ll want 1 strip per serving, or 8 to 10 total.
  • Juice enough oranges to measure 3¾ cups.
  • Cut the remaining rosemary sprigs into 1-inch pieces and set aside for garnish.
  • In a punch bowl, combine the orange juice, gin, prosecco, simple syrup, and 1 cup ice. Stir until well incorporated, then add blood orange rounds.

Set out rocks glasses and the remaining ice and invite everyone to make their own cocktail, garnishing with an orange twist and a rosemary sprig.

Tip: To save time, make the simple syrup the night before; let cool and refrigerate in an airtight glass jar. If you prefer a nonalcoholic cocktail, skip the gin and prosecco, increase the amount of orange juice, and add a splash of soda water or iced tea just before serving.

Recipe & Photo courtesy of SunBasket


Giggle Juice

Giggle Juice is delicious combination of moscato, lemonade, and vodka that is sure have all your family and friends laughing.

Recipe Serves 8

Shopping List

1 (750-ml) bottle moscato
3 c. pink lemonade
1 can lemon-lime soda
1 c. vodka
2 c. sliced strawberries

Pitcher, stirrer, glasses, knife, plate for sugar
1. Rim glasses with lemon wedge and dip in sugar.
2. In a large pitcher, stir together moscato, pink lemonade, soda, vodka, and fruit. Add ice and stir to combine.
3. Divide among glasses and serve
Recipe & Photo courtesy of Delish


Kombucha-Campari Spritz 

The fermented tea everyone’s drinking has recently made its debut as a cocktail mixer. When you think about, that makes a lot of sense. Kombucha is tart, fizzy, and a little bit funky, just the thing to mix with your favorite spirits. Here pair ginger kombucha with Campari for a low-alcohol drink you can sip all night.

Recipe Serves 2


Shopping List
1 organic lemon
2 ounces Campari
2 cups ice
4 ounces ginger kombucha

Cocktail shaker, medium frying pan

1. Char the lemon garnish
Cut the lemon in half crosswise, then cut half into thin rounds; save the remaining half for another use. In a dry medium frying pan over medium-high heat, add the lemon rounds and cook, turning once, until fragrant and lightly charred, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

2. Make the Campari spritz 
In a cocktail shaker, add the Campari and half the ice. Shake well, about 30 seconds.

Fill two rocks glasses with the remaining ice. Strain the Campari into the glass and top off with as much kombucha as you like. Garnish each glass with a charred lemon slice and serve.

Recipe & Photo courtesy of SunBasket


Moscow Mule Recipe

A Moscow mule is actually very easy to make. It only has three ingredients: vodka, ginger beer, and lime. We like to garnish it with mint, but it’s not necessary.

Recipe Serves 2


Shopping List

2 oz. vodka
1 oz. fresh lime juice
1 oz. (12-oz.) can ginger beer
Lime wedges, for garnish
Mint (optional for additional garnish)


Cooper mugs, Stirrers, knife

1.Fill two copper mugs with ice. Pour 1 ounce vodka and 1/2 ounce lime juice over ice in each mug. Pour ginger beer into each cup until mostly full. Stir.
2. Garnish with mint and lime wedge to serve.

Throwing a Party and don’t want to play bartender all night?  Serve this Moscow Mule punch- which is basically one giant Moscow mule.

Shopping List
4 c. ice
4 c. ginger beer
3 c. vodka
1 c. freshly squeezed lime juice
1 c. mint leaves, plus more for garnish
limes, sliced, plus more for garnish
Punch bowl, Ladle, Cooper mugs, Stirrers, knife

1. In a large punch bowl, combine ice, ginger beer, vodka, lime juice, lime slices, and mint
2. Ladle punch into glasses or copper mugs and garnish with more mint.

Recipe & Photo courtesy of Delish

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