Five Pumpkin Breakfast Recipes for Fall

(Just about) everybody loves fall. But do you ever get tired of the leaves, the brisk morning air or the pumpkin everything? NEITHER DO I! I don’t just love pumpkin because of the weather. It’s also delicious and really good for you. Pumpkin is rich in vitamin A and beta-carotene, which help promote the health of your eyes and skin. The fiber in pumpkin also works to keep your digestive system happy. That’s why I enjoy these pumpkin breakfast recipes all year long (shhh…don’t tell fall).

Print Recipe
Warm Autumn Oatmeal
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 minute
Servings
Ingredients
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 minute
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Combine oats, pumpkin, milk, and apple into a bowl.
  2. Microwave for one minute.
  3. Add peanut butter and pecans, stirring to combine.
  4. Top with cinnamon.
Print Recipe
Pumpkin Protein Smoothie
Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Blend all ingredients together in a blender.
Print Recipe
Pumpkin Granola Bars
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Servings
bars
Ingredients
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Servings
bars
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line an 8 by 8 pan with partchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together oats, walnuts, spices and salt. Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together pumpkin, honey/maple syrup, applesauce and vanilla until smooth.
  5. Pour over oats and stir to combine. Mix in chocolate chips.
  6. Evenly press the mixture into the pan.
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until edges are golden brown.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool on a rack for 5 minutes before cutting into bars.
Print Recipe
Pumpkin Parfait
Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, layer yogurt with pumpkin puree and granola.
  2. Sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice.
Print Recipe
Pumpkin Pancakes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Servings
pancakes
Ingredients
Prep Time 20 minutes
Servings
pancakes
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, pumpkin, egg, vegetable oil, and vanilla.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and whisk gently until combined. Let the batter set for 5 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, preheat a pan to medium heat. Drizzle vegetable oil on the warmed pan.
  5. Ladle 1/3 cup of the batter onto the pan for each pancake.
  6. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the bubbles around the edges are open and set. Flip and cook on the other side for an additional 2 minutes.

Looking for a cozy dinner for an autumn evening? Check out our recipe for Tasty Crock-Pot Beef Stroganoff.

10 Pumpkin Patches To Visit in Upstate New York

Fall has arrived and you’re ready to hit the pumpkin patches. But which ones should you visit?

To help, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite pumpkin patches in these regions of upstate New York: Rochester, Buffalo, Syracuse, and Utica. Grab your kids, camera and in some cases your pet. Head over to the pumpkin patch to enjoy some fall family fun.

There are a lot more great pumpkin patches in upstate New York. If we missed your favorite one, add it to the comments section below!

For more, read Pumpkin Picking at Chase Farms in Fairport, NY.

Rochester

1. Stokoe Farms

    • Admission: General admission is $15 on weekends (also Columbus Day weekend) and $10 during the week. Discounts for seniors and members of the military (with ID). Kids under age 2 are free.
    • Activities: They have over thirty-five activities for their visitors, including picking pumpkins fresh from the field, enjoying a wagon ride, trying out their pumpkin launchers and apple cannons, and exploring the corn maze.
    • Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sept. 15 – Oct. 28.
    • Location: 656 South Rd, Scottsville, NY 14546

2. Wickham Farms

    • Admission:  They offer “fun passes,” which are not required but are a great option for people who are looking to enjoy multiple attractions for a flat rate. Otherwise, the separate activities have fees.
    • Activities: They have 20 activities, including a pumpkin hayride, pumpkin patch, corn maze, jumping pillow, and miniature golf.
    • Food: Fresh doughnuts and homemade cookies at the farm bakery, apple cider (hot or cold), Finger Lakes Coffee Roasters coffee, and farmer food trucks.
    • Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day. Orchard is 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekends.
    • Location: 1821 Fairport Nine Mile Point Rd, Penfield, NY 14526

3. Pick’N’Patch

    • Admission: It’s free to enter, but many of the activities require tickets.
    • Activities: Some of their fun activities include the barnyard bouncer, corn maze, apple blaster, and hay rides.
    • Hours: Fall season is Sept. 15 – Oct. 31. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
    • Location: 2205 Rts. 5 & 20, Stanley, NY 14561

Buffalo

1. The Great Pumpkin Farm

    • Admission: Admission is $8 per person at the gate for all seven festival weekends (Children ages 2 and under are free). Weekdays are free.
    • Activities: Pumpkin picking, boo barn, jumping pillow, playground, and more!
    • Hours: 10 a.m. to dusk every day, Sept. 15 through Oct. 31.
    • Location: 11199 Main Street, Clarence, NY 14031

2. Wheatfield Pumpkin Farm

    • Admission: There is no admission fee, but the activities do have fees and they are cash only.
    • Activities: Haunted hayrides in October, family farm hayrides daily and a corn maze.
    • Hours: Sept. 23 – Oct. 30, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (extended hours on haunted hayride nights)
    • Location: 6920 Nash Rd, Wheatfield, NY 14120

3. Kelkenberg Farm of Clarence

    • Admission: General admission is $13 per person, children and adults.  No charge for children under age 2.  Admission includes the pumpkin picked in the field. They don’t allow pets.
    • Activities: Pumpkin picking, hay rides, pony rides for kids, farm tour, straw maze, and more.
    • Hours: Open starting Sept. 15. Open every weekend in October and Columbus Day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Fridays 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. without reservations.
    • Location: 9270 Wolcott Road, Clarence Center, NY 14032

Syracuse

1. Tim’s Pumpkin Patch

    • Admission: Free admission, additional charges for certain activities.
    • Activities: Corn maze, animal barn, tractor wagon rides, the hay fort, the fossil dig, and pumpkin picking. Dogs welcome.
    • Hours: The season is Sept. 15 to Oct. 31. Open every day of the week 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the fall season.
    • Location: 2901 Rose Hill Rd, Marietta, NY 13110

2. Katie’s Pumpkin Patch

    • Admission: Free admission. Free corn maze with any purchase, and $1 hay rides.
    • Activities: Pumpkin picking, hay rides ($1 per person) and a corn maze (free with any purchase).
    • Hours: Season starts Sept. 21. Weekdays 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (when it starts getting dark before 7 p.m., they will close at 6 p.m.). Sundays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed on Saturday.
    • Location: 8484 Dunham Rd, Baldwinsville, NY 13027

Utica

1. Pumpkin Junction

    • Admission: Free general admission and their corn maze is free.
    • Activities: They have pumpkin picking, a Halloween store, and the free Cornfusion Corn Maze.
    • Hours: Open Sept. 10 to Oct. 31 daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
    • Location: 2188 Graffenburg Road, Sauquoit, NY, 13456

2. Cullen Pumpkin Farm

    • Admission: No admission fee, but wagon rides are $3 (kids under age 5 are free).
    • Activities: Pick your own pumpkins, wagon rides, the Pumpkin Express, corn maze, and fun places to take pictures!
    • Hours: Open daily 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. starting Sept. 8 through Oct. 31.
    • Location: 587 Cullen Road, Richfield Springs, NY 13439

Did we miss your favorite pumpkin patch? Add it to the comments section below!

Can’t get enough pumpkin? Check out  5 Pumpkin Breakfast Recipes for Fall

How to Stop Work from Killing Your Gym Motivation

It’s 8 p.m. on a gloomy Monday and you just had a long day at work. You finally finished cleaning up after dinner and are exhausted. Your feet hurt, you’re mentally drained, and all you want to do is sit on the couch and scroll through your Facebook feed or catch up with your latest TV show. You realize you wanted to get to the gym, but today just isn’t the day. You think to yourself that you’ll definitely go tomorrow because you’re going to bed “early” tonight.

This is the dangerous habit we let ourselves fall into. I like to call this the, “I’ll do it tomorrow” excuse.

Let me start this off by saying that I am an avid gym-goer. I enjoy going to the gym, sweating, and working hard. When I tell people this, their usual response is, “Well aren’t you lucky, I can’t even get myself off the couch,” or some sarcastic comment not too far off.

My friends then proceed to ask me how I do it (stay motivated). “Don’t you get sick of going to the gym?” My response to that is – well of course.

Getting motivated and staying motivated aren’t easy. The way I see it is a mind game.

I think naturally we all want a quick and easy fix to getting motivated and are all in search of the golden secret, but when it comes down to it, it’s about your own willpower and mental strength. If you are having a hard time getting motivated try these tips to step up your mental game:

1. Set a goal for yourself.

It’s important to know what you are working towards. Working out becomes a lot more motivating when you have a destination in mind and can visualize it. Start simple, set a goal to get in 10,000 steps a day and get to the gym at least once a week.

2. Find a Role Model.

Find influencers that speak to you and make you feel inspired. It’s great to see how others are getting motivated and pushing themselves. My personal favorites are Jill Christine, and Linn Lowes.

Side note: Just because your fitness role model may be on page ten of their fitness journey doesn’t mean they didn’t start from their own page one. Transformation photos can be fun to look at, but don’t get bogged down when you don’t see your own instant results after only a week. Keep pushing. We all have to start somewhere.

3. Change into Gym Clothes When You Get Home from the Office.

It’s one less step later in the evening. Maybe you still need to cook dinner or so some other chores around the house, but at least you’re ready to go. This takes away any possible ongoing battle you could have with yourself later in the night about getting ready or staying home.

4. Pep-Talk Yourself.

Don’t be afraid to give it a try. You can really amp yourself up with this one. Remind yourself that you are strong enough to do this and you will feel great afterward. Positive thoughts are key- don’t get in the way of yourself. Even try a power pose to boost your mental game and attitude.

5. Eat healthy Throughout the day.

Oftentimes junk food can make you feel bloated and sleepy. Your body will likely thank you for eating healthy and fueling it with the proper nutrients and a wholesome diet. Check out some of our recipes so you can change it up for yourself.

6. Listen to Music.

Roll down your windows on the way home from work and jam out to music that gets you energized. Create a gym playlist that has your favorite hits. Listening to upbeat music can really change your mood. Need inspiration? Try our Fearless Playlists.

7. Find a Gym Buddy.

Let’s face it, some days it can be hard to hold yourself accountable. One simple way to fix that is finding someone to work out with. Set goals together and make sure each is holding up on their end. Maybe even make it into a tiny competition.

8. Take a Power Nap.

Twenty to 30 minutes is the perfect amount of time to nap and wake up feeling productive again.

9. Get outside and Enjoy the sun.

The gym isn’t the only place you can get out and get active. There are plenty of outdoor activities to get your blood pumping and body moving. Grab a friend and get some fresh air. It’s good to find other sources of activity; the gym can become mundane and uninteresting. Keep it new and exciting for yourself!

Need more help? Check out these articles:

4 Tested Ways to Break a Caffeine Addiction

Americans consume 400 million cups a day of a very addicting drink. Coffee! Latte, macchiato, black, iced, hot, cappuccino; there are so many ways to indulge in the morning beverage. It’s almost impossible not to find one you love. However, too much of this enjoyable and invigorating drink can lead to some serious health problems, such as insomnia and high blood pressure.

Don’t worry coffee enthusiasts; the delicious beverage does have its health benefits. However, if you find yourself feeling super dependent on it, it may be time to find other ways to get some pep in your step.

I recently decided to test four ways to get an energy boost without that second (or third) cup of Joe. I recruited some reluctant co-workers to put them to the test.

Lemons, lemons, the magical fruit.

One possible substitution for coffee aficionados is drinking warm lemon water in the morning. After getting over the week-long coffee withdrawal she had to undergo due to pregnancy, Erika Gruszewski said this coffee replacement actually made her feel better throughout the day than coffee did. Erika said “I feel better drinking the water than coffee. Sometimes in the morning, I’m tired when I wake up, but by the time I get to work, I feel fine. I also don’t get a crash like I used to have on coffee… and I never get jittery”. So, maybe it’s time that lemons become your daily grind.

Jam to some upbeat beats.

Music and dancing might not solve all problems, but it may set a good mood for the day. When trying this method, Joy Auch found the music that made her most energized on her morning commute was the songs with a very quick beat cranked up loud. Joy said, “It distracted me on my morning commute from the fact that I was missing my morning java”. However, Joy said this challenge still won’t keep her from her beloved brew, since she loves coffee and drinks it in moderation. But if you are looking to consume less coffee, Joy said this method may be worth a try!

Send a chill down your spine… literally.

If you’re looking for a sudden burst of energy, why not add cold water to your morning shower?  When I tried this method to skip my morning coffee, it definitely made a difference. While I did get tired later in the afternoon, the cold shower helped me get through the morning without coffee. This was definitely a simple way to integrate a caffeine-free energy boost into my routine.

Get your blood pumping!

Not all of us can find the energy to do a full workout in the morning, but could simple stretching or yoga sessions kick start your morning?  As a busy mother of two, Julie Goonan is a coffee fanatic. In fact, before I came up with this challenge, she drank coffee from 5:30 a.m. until she got to work at 8 a.m. But, replacing her caffeine fix with a meditation and stretching session delayed her need for caffeine until she got to work. When asked about the challenge Julie said, “As a mom of two this is not easy. But I totally get it. And I am hoping the longer yoga sessions pay off in the long run!”

There you have it, four ways to put the pep in your step that don’t include caffeine. If you consider yourself a coffee addict, consider substituting the third cup with one of these tricks.

Hidden Gems: Sonnenberg Gardens

(Photos courtesy of Sonnenberg Gardens)

My aunt and uncle recently visited from out of state, and I was deputized family tour director. We decided to make a day trip to Canandaigua which included the Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion State Historic Park.

Videos and photos give you a sense of the sprawling 50-acre estate. In person, you can see why the Thompson family kept the name Sonnenberg, meaning “sunny hill” in German. I recommend 2 to 3 hours to visit.

The author enjoying Sonnenberg Gardens on her recent visit.

Volunteers are Key

In 2006, the State of New York declared Sonnenberg a state park. However, the state does not fund daily operations. Therefore, the park relies on admission, donations, and 320+ volunteers who pitch in by driving visitors around, answering questions, and even tending rose bushes.

The knowledgeable, friendly folks we met added charm to the visit. The volunteer who drove us around the estate gave us lots of local stories and interesting information.

The Highlights

The Italian Garden. Photo courtesy of Sonnenberg Gardens

You can wander around on foot and listen to an audio tour available through your cell phone that provides an overview including:

History of the Estate: Sonnenberg was the summer estate of Frederick Thompson, a New York City banker, and Mary Clark Thompson, an area native and daughter of a New York governor. They both came from wealth and privilege, a fact that is certainly on display in their home. Yet they also gave back to the community by funding universities, museums, and scientific research.

Japanese Garden: Mary visited Kyoto, Japan in 1903. This inspired her to hire Japanese craftsmen to build her a garden complete with a Buddha statue and tea house.

The Japanese Garden. Photo courtesy of Sonnenberg Gardens.

The Rose Garden. Photo courtesy of Sonnenberg Gardens

Rose Garden:  In the original garden, only red, pink, and white roses grew. The garden was reconstructed in 1973 to resemble the original. Today, 2,500 rose bushes are in bloom.

The Rose Garden. Photo courtesy of Sonnenberg Gardens.

Deer Park: Mary imported European fallow deer and created a special area for them to graze on the south lawn. We saw one up close while we were there!

Roman Bath: Although in ruin today, in 1914 water was pumped from Canandaigua Lake and was warmed for this heated pool.

Mansion: The 40-room Queen Anne style home has large windows and breezy porches. 19th-century furniture, clothes, and accessories give you a flavor of what the mansion may have looked like. You can wander around by yourself, poking through the rooms.

Photo courtesy of Sonnenberg Gardens.

Statues: There are a number of statues throughout the park, including one of the Roman goddess Diana (she had her own temple on the grounds but the statue was relocated to another garden due to decay) and a statue of Pan in the rock garden.

The Details

  • Location: 151 Charlotte Street, Canandaigua, NY 14424
  • Hours: Open 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., 7 days a week May 1 through October 31.
  • Extended Summer Hours (Memorial Day-Labor Day): 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
  • Accessibility: Wheelchair accessible with the exception of the 2nd floor of the mansion and some areas in the Rock Garden. A tram service may be available from the parking lot to the mansion and back.
  • Dog-friendly? The park does not allow pets, except service animals.
  • Admission: $14 for adults (discounts available), $2 for children ages 12 and under

For more info: Visit the Sonnenberg Gardens Website or call (585) 394-4922.

Don’t Miss

Check the online calendar for lots of events throughout the year like an orchid show in the spring, moonlight concerts in the summer, haunted walks in the fall, and holiday decorations in the winter.

How I Came to Love These Zucchini Bread Recipes

I didn’t care much for my first-ever attempt at making zucchini bread. I didn’t want to make it, but my mom had asked and I wanted to help. However, the problem was, zucchini grossed me out.

Overcoming my Fear of Zucchini

I have nothing against zucchini. I had just never eaten it or even seen zucchini up close until my mom handed me a giant mixing bowl filled with grated zucchini. I didn’t want to touch it. I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to actually eat it.

The author initially had some hesitancy about eating zucchini.

My mom handed me the recipes and I made the bread. But I never got around to trying it. Later on, my friend convinced me to try one of her zucchini muffins. Although I was terrified the muffins would be the strangest and grossest thing ever, they weren’t. This was a big step toward overcoming my fear of zucchini.

My Journey to Loving Zucchini Bread

Flash forward a year and I actually decided to make zucchini bread for a work meeting. My mom didn’t have her recipes anymore, so I looked up recipes for zucchini bread and chocolate zucchini bread.

I started with the plain zucchini bread. I’m not a fan of nuts, so I skipped that ingredient. I was pretty excited once I put the pans in the oven. I then began to work on the chocolate zucchini bread.

The author bakes zucchini bread.

Halfway through the directions, I realized I didn’t have enough white sugar. At this point, it’s about 10 p.m. on a Sunday night and I was not in the mood to drive to Wegmans. I did a little googling and realized I could substitute the brown sugar I did have for the white.

I didn’t know if it would work.  But I hoped for the best.

Being a chocolate fanatic, I may have added extra chocolate chips. As I was about to start pouring the batter into the pans, I realized I had already used my only two loaf pans! I got creative. I pulled out two round cake pans and poured in the batter, effectively changing chocolate zucchini bread into chocolate zucchini “cake!”

On Monday morning, I brought the zucchini loaves to the meeting and the favorite by far was the chocolate zucchini bread because of the sweet chocolatey goodness. However, my favorite was the regular zucchini bread. It was sweet and tasty!

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Try them out for yourself and let me know what you think. Trust me, as an extremely picky eater myself; it’s not as weird as it sounds (or looks).

Print Recipe
Zucchini Bread
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
loaves
Ingredients
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
loaves
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease two 8x4 inch pans.
  2. Sift flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl.
  3. Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, and beat well.
  4. Stir in the zucchini until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pans.
  5. Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the pan comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a rack for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan and let completely cool before serving.
Recipe Notes

Recipe adapted from AllRecipes.com

Print Recipe
Chocolate Zucchini Bread
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
loaves
Ingredients
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
loaves
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Place grated zucchini in a sieve to drain any excess moisture.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9x5 inch loaf pans.
  3. Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and cinnamon until smooth.
  4. Add melted butter and almond extract to egg mixture. Beat until smooth.
  5. Stir grated zucchini into egg mixture.
  6. Slowly add flour mix to the bowl and mix everything together.
  7. Divide the batter into two pans.
  8. Bake for 40 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before serving.
Recipe Notes

Recipe adapted from SimplyRecipes.com.

Healthy Substitutions

Note that there are many substitutes you can try to make your zucchini bread even healthier. Try using:

  • Egg whites instead of the whole egg;
  • Unsweetened applesauce instead of oil or butter;
  • A smaller amount of chocolate chips;
  • Whole wheat flour instead of white flour;
  • Agave nectar instead of sugar;
  • More healthy alternatives

15 Ways to Stop Stress Now

You’re stressed. But you don’t have to cruise to a tropical island to relieve your stress or anxiety. Here are some simple ideas to get you out of your rut:

  1. Drink a cup of hot tea.
  2. Breathe … deeply.
  3. Step outside. Breathe in the fresh air.
  1. Have lunch with a co-worker, friend or family member.
  2. Doodle.
  3. Listen to music.
  4. Walk!
  5. Plant-ify your house or workspace.
  6. Stand and stretch. Every hour.
  7. Praise others.
  8. Smile! Try a full-fledged smile that leaves crinkles around the eyes.
  9. Erect a “wall of inspiration” in your work area.
  10. Clean up your house or workspace.
  11. Skip work email. Talk in-person or over the phone.
  12. Set work meetings for 45 minutes (instead of one hour). More time between appointments!

More Stress-Free Inspiration

Read 12 Ways To Workout On The Cheap and 50 Small Changes For A Healthier Life.

New To Medicare? This Cheat Sheet Should Help

You may not have given much thought to choosing a health insurance plan if you always obtained a plan from an employer. The benefits were there when you needed them.

But when your 65th birthday comes along, you’ll probably need to pay more attention to your insurance. Why? You’re now likely eligible for Medicare. You’ll likely have to go and pick your own plan from a health insurance company. This can be especially daunting if you’re retiring and need to protect your health and your budget.

Don’t worry. My job is to explain Medicare in an easy-to-understand way. I’ll let you in on what you need to know and how to go about choosing a plan.

First, let’s understand the basics.

What is (Original) Medicare?

Medicare is health insurance from the federal government for US citizens and permanent residents who are at least 65 years old. Congrats! Through years of hard work, you’ve earned coverage.

Medicare is separate from both Medicaid (an income-based program) and Social Security.

Younger people with disabilities or people with end-stage renal disease may also be eligible for Medicare.

What are the Parts of Medicare?

Medicare has four parts:

  • Part A helps cover inpatient stays at hospitals or skilled nursing facilities, home health services, and hospice care.
  • Part B helps cover medically necessary doctor’s visits, outpatient care, and some medical equipment and preventive services.
  • Part C plans, also known as Medicare Advantage, are approved by the federal government and run by private insurance companies. These plans provide all Part A and Part B benefits, but you may pay less for certain services. They may also include extra benefits and Part D prescription drug coverage.
  • Part D covers only prescription drugs. Private insurance companies offer Part D plans.

What does it cost?

Watch the following video to learn if you have to pay for Medicare Parts A and B:

What if I want more coverage?

Private insurance companies offer other types of plans with extra benefits and lower out-of-pocket costs. There is typically a monthly premium for these plans.

For example, you can purchase a Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) which includes Part A, Part B, and Part D all in one plan. The private insurance company sets out-of-pocket amounts like deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance. These plans may also include extras like gym memberships, dental cleanings, and coverage for glasses and hearing aids.

These plans allow you to choose your doctor from a network. You should check with the insurance company to find out if your doctor is in their network.

You can also choose to purchase a Medicare Supplement plan (also known as Medigap). In this case, Medicare is your primary insurance and pays the majority of your costs. The Supplement plan will fill in the gaps, helping pay Part A and B deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance for things like hospital stays and doctor visits. These plans are regulated by your state, and benefits are the same regardless of which insurance company you choose. These plans do not include prescription drug coverage, but many companies also offer stand-alone Prescription Drug Plans (Part D plans).

With a Supplement plan you can visit any doctor’s office or hospital in the country that is currently accepting Medicare patients.

Choosing Between Plans

You cannot have both a Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement plan at the same time. You pick one or the other.

Why choose a Medicare Advantage plan? Why choose a Medicare Supplement plan?
Lower monthly premiums, and the convenience of having all the coverage you need in one plan. Little to no cost out of your pocket in the form of deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance.
Extra benefits like gym memberships and dental cleanings. Choose a doctor nationwide.

Watch the following video for Medicare Advantage enrollment periods:

In New York State, you can buy a Medicare Supplement plan at any time throughout the year.

When to Sign up for Medicare

If you’re working past 65, ask your employer how Medicare works with the employer’s coverage. This depends on the size of your company. For more, watch this video:

That’s it!

I hope this helps! If you have any other questions, please feel free to review some of the resources created by myself and my colleagues at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield by going to ExcellusForMedicare.com.

Ok, one more thing

Looking for information about new Medicare cards? Click here to learn more.

Hidden Gems: Salem Art Works

If you are in the Albany-Lake George area and have a taste for outdoor sculpture, then Salem Art Works in Salem, N.Y., is well worth the trip off the beaten path.

Salem is a small village located southeast of Lake George on the New York-Vermont border. Founded in 1762, Salem features beautiful 18th and 19th-century architecture. A great place to have dinner is the Salem Tavern, where a Salem Art Works staff member plays records (yes, vinyl) in the bar on Tuesday nights. Running through the area are the Battenkill River and White Creek, which are graced with three classic wooden covered bridges.

Salem Art Works occupies the grounds of a 119-acre farm on the edge of the village. It is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit art center and sculpture park. Large sculptures occupy the grounds and can be enjoyed while strolling the trails of the park. Expect to walk about three miles altogether if you want to cover all of the trails. The park also features some beautiful views of the Green Mountains.

So What’s My Connection?

Just in case anyone who knows me is wondering why this unrepentant suburban redneck has a connection to the arts, let me explain. My high school buddy, Nick Micros, is a recognized sculptor now living in Switzerland. Early this year, Nick told me that he would be moving his collection of six large sculptures from New York City to the Salem Art Works.

Six large sculptures created by Nick Micros.

Having outgrown his studio in New York City, Nick learned that Salem Art Works hosts exhibits of many artists known for their larger works. He welcomed an invitation to show his collection in a rural setting with plenty of space. His pieces had never been shown together in one place at the same time. Nick’s collection will be on display at Salem Art Works for three years.

Sculptor Nick Micros and author Hugh McCabe pose in front of one of the sculptures at Salem Art Works.

I told him to count me in as a helper. Given that Nick needed my help, and I only see him every few years, this was a great opportunity to lend a hand and spend time with one of my closest friends. It took us three whole days to set up Nick’s collection, some of which needed to be cut into sections for transportation to Salem. Because the outer layers of these works are made of plaster and cloth, we were able to put them back together.

Just Like Old Times

Sculptor Nick Micros and author Hugh McCabe.

Working on the project with Nick was just like old times. Nick and I played football, lifted weights and worked summer jobs together through high school on Long Island. As different as we are (technical geek vs. the artist), our connection is still as strong as it was when we were young. With Nick now living in Europe, we treasured the time together. It was especially gratifying to help Nick with a project that would have been a stretch for Nick to complete on his own.

Opposing Figurative and Abstract Imagery

Sculptor Nick Micros with one of his works.

Nick’s sculptures are a mixture of opposing figurative and abstract imagery. They include multiple large and small objects and represent people, events and times in Nick’s life while paying tribute to modern art masters. Knowing Nick and having grown up together, I found the sculptures to be very familiar. When you see them, expect to be struck by their size and overall form. As you move closer, you will be drawn into intricate details that will keep you lingering with each piece for quite some time.

Hugh McCabe admiring a sculpture at Salem Art Works.

Visiting Salem Art Works is well worth your time. With its mission of supporting emerging and established artists, there is a vibe and energy that is palpable. You’ll have an opportunity to view an amazing variety of artwork in a unique and beautiful setting. It will be worth your departure from the beaten path.

Hope you enjoy the visit!

The Details

Address:  19 Cary Lane, Salem, New York 12865

Phone: (518) 854-7674

Admission: Free. Donations are greatly appreciated.

Park Hours:  Dawn to dusk, 365 days a year

Winter Office Hours: Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. (October – May)

Summer Office Hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. (June-October)

Guided Tours: Available daily during office hours (please call ahead). Self-guided tours are also available, but you can simply enjoy wandering through the grounds during daylight hours.

A Peach of A Summer Salad!

Last summer, I was looking for something new to add to the traditional cookout menu. The fresh peaches sitting in the basket on the counter caught my eye and I wondered how I could use them other than in a pie, cobbler or to top ice cream.

This savory salad, the perfect combination of sweet peaches, peppery arugula, and tangy blue cheese is a complement to any cookout or a stand out meal on its own.

Give it a try and you may find, like we did, that it will be added to the list of “traditional” cookout foods at your house!

Print Recipe
Peach and Arugula Salad with Blue Cheese
Servings
Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat grill to high (or use a grill pan). In a large serving bowl, whisk together extra-virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste; set aside.
  2. Halve and pit peaches; cut each into 6 wedges. Lightly brush wedges with oil. Place on hot grill for 30 seconds on each side.
  3. Add baby arugula and onion to dressing; toss gently to coat. Arrange peaches on top and garnish with blue cheese and hazelnuts.
Recipe Notes

In place of arugula, try baby spinach. Instead of blue cheese, use goat cheese or feta. Can't find hazelnuts? Use walnuts, almonds or pecans. For a slight twist on the original, you can also toss in blueberries or other seasonal berries of your choice!