Category Archives: ideas

What (this) Mom really wants for Mother’s Day…

to…

• wake up and not need to immediately take the dog out because one of the Fabulous Lilly Boys (FLB) already has done the job

• make extra coffee and enjoy it on the back deck in the morning sunshine

• find the newspaper on the dining room table without having to actually leave the house

• sample an array of baked goods, thoughtfully selected by one of the FLB, from the Delso’s Bake for You

• take a walk along the Normanskill with the FLB and Jeter, too.

• not have to referee a single spat or argument between the FLB

• a brief nap and a long run, order of said events unimportant

• walk to the Capital City Gastropub without a single complaint from the FLB about how far it is (<1 mile)

• two (3?) glasses of wine at aforementioned dinner destination

• climb into a freshly made bed with a good book

It’s really that easy. I don’t want or need flowers, chocolate or jewelry.  A card, preferably handmade,  is always appreciated and saved forever.  Could someone please get this list to the FLB?

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Filed under Boys, DelSo, holidays, ideas, moms, sunday

14 for 2014

It’s a new year and we in Albany have a new mayor. I’ve been thinking about some changes which I would welcome in 2014 and here’s what I’ve come up with…

1. It would be awesome if Albany drivers would recognize that a yellow light means slow down, not speed up. Maybe we could collectively work on this, fellow Albanians?

2. Running around the neighborhood in the throes of winter is an exercise in navigation as I contend with unshoveled sidewalks. Could we maybe pair high school students in need of  community service credit with seniors who might welcome a hand with this chore?

3. Imagine if Washington Park had a gas line to power up all those vendor trucks during festivals? Would you miss the drone and exhaust of those diesel generators they currently use?

4. Albany has lots of cool historic sites and museums. I would love to see some sort of discount card for residents to encourage their attendance at some of these places. Maybe even  a reward (a cup of coffee or discounted baked good from a local business?) if individuals visited a certain number of sites would be possible.

5. The Lakehouse in Washington Park is underused. Let’s get a café in there or a series of open mics/poetry readings to get people inside that beautiful building.

6. Albany seems to be the double parking capital of the northeast. How about channeling Guiliani and his quality of life campaign? Ticket them! Post a police officer by a frequently run red lights and attempt to correct the behavior of those who fail to acknowledge that red means STOP.

7. When I take my regular 5 mile run I often think how cool it would be if Albany had a dirt track or path between the sidewalk and the curb for runners. Is that possible?

8. Speaking of outdoor exercise, in the warmer months the Corning Preserve of Washington Park parade grounds would lend themselves to al fresco yoga classes, don’t you think?

9. As long as I’m indulging my own personal pipe dreams, wouldn’t it be amazing if residents could earn credit on their property tax bill by “adopting” a beautification project in the city? You know, maintain a public garden or median green patch or be responsible to dig out all the fire hydrants in an area of town.

10. On a related note, for those of us who like to pay their property tax bill in person, on the 31st of January, of course, would it be possible to have some recycling bins available in City Hall for residents who may need another one? I’d rather not have to go to DGS to replace one of mine which recently went missing.

11. I’d love to see a winter carnival in this fine city. Capital Hills or Lincoln Park would be perfect locations – sledding, cross-country skiing, snowman building and snowshoeing activities would be a blast. Maybe some local sports stores could bring rental equipment and run clinics and we could get a couple of food trucks for warm up refreshments. Sounds
fun, yes?

12. The former Friendly’s on Delaware Avenue has been vacant for years. Can we either renovate and lease it or tear it down? It’s an ugly eyesore in my neighborhood!

13. Can we agree to retire the phrase Smalbany? Perhaps banish it to an island along with the Kardashians and Miley Cyrus?

14. We’ve got some exciting political energy going on locally. Let’s work with our elected leaders to encourage smart growth and positive attitudes in this New Year. I know we can make it a good one, friends.

How about you?  What can you add to this list?

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Filed under Albany, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, ideas, Local, Recommendations, winter

The Big Easy for little $

Planning for the recent girls’ getaway began months ago.  The topic had been bandied about like a pair of traveling pants, each of the four of us adding her own particular curve to the project.  The criteria was simple: not too far, not too expensive, the simpler the transportation the better.

When I came across a terrific airfare deal (Newark to NOLA $260 r/t) while I was browsing Southwest’s site, on day 3 of my annual two-week vacation with the boys, I immediately sent out a group text.  In no time flat, tickets had been purchased, a time-share had been inquired about and personal calendars had been cleared.  We were a go.

We had 4 months to squirrel away put aside spending money and make some plans.  We investigated what to see, where to go, where to eat, how to get around.  We had a very loose collection of ideas for the trip and reservations for one “big night out” restaurant.  Here’s how we did things…

We parked a single vehicle in Newark at the Parking Spot 2.  Customer service and the price (5 days, $54) were both more than satisfactory.  When we arrived in New Orleans, we took a cab, with a trunk surprisingly large for the vehicle’s size, which came out to about $15 each.
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Breakfast our first morning was beignets and cafe au lait, take-out, from Cafe du Monde.  Barely $20 for four, no table-service tip necessary.  Lunch was a bargain at K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen, a casual spot where guests order and pay at the bar and a runner delivers your food.  I went with a small Caesar salad with a cup of the chicken and sausage gumbo on the side.  I think it was about $12 with another couple of bucks for a tip.
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On our way back to our accommodations, we popped into a local grocery market and made some purchases, both practical and impulsive.  There was some cheese, a bit of pâté, crackers, fruit, cereal, milk, yogurt and 1/2 and 1/2.  You know, basics.  Breakfast could now be at home.

We did a lot of walking, opting for a cab only a couple of times due to rain or distance.  There’s also a streetcar system which runs 24 hours a day and offers a $3 all day pass.

Using recommendations from friends, along with Yelp, we found our way to a couple of inexpensive spots within walking distance.  Killer Po Boys, located in the back of the bar at Erin Rose’s, lived up to its name and I thoroughly enjoyed my $12 Gulf shrimp Po Boy.   An excellent bloody Mary on the side added only $3.50 to my tab.  Money well spent for sure!

There was a taco truck I had hoped to catch up to but, alas, it wasn’t to be. We did find a terrific nearby taqueria, Felipe’s, where for $40 (including a generous tip), we bought a mess of tacos and soup to go.  Pairing our meal with drinks at “home” made this dinner a tremendous and tasty deal.
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Don’t get the impression that we’re nickel and dimers, because we’re not. Sunday night we indulged in a fantastic meal at Restaurant R’evolution on Bienville.  We had originally considered the $75 per person prix fixe menu, but elected to go a la carte instead so we could sample more items on the enticing menu.  We selected a salumi sampler for 4 (only $6 more than the salumi plate for 2), crab beignets and a beet salad to start.  We were only able to eat about half of the salumi, but it packed up nicely for snacking on later during our stay.  We shared 3 main courses (ricotta gnocchi, beef short ribs, shrimp and cheese grits) and were comfortably satiated even after the heavenly creme brûlée bread pudding and treasure chest of one- bite sweets that followed.  Our 3.5 hour experience, with a cocktail, a $70 bottle of wine and 25%+ tip came to $100 a person.
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We were naturally craving something a little less indulgent for lunch the following day and found a yummy salad and soup in a nearby food court.  Our meals were fresh, creative and a bargain.  I had yellow split pea soup along with a salad with some Asian notes like ginger and soy for barely $10.

Cheap airfare, a friend’s generous offer of their one bedroom timeshare and thoughtful expenditures for transportation, food and beverages made our get away a treat without breaking the bank.  NOLA – I’ll be back.

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Filed under Eating, friends, ideas, Recommendations, road trips, travel

YOLO – NOLA

image: gonola.com

First, apologies for YOLO. I’ve never used that acronym before and I promise to retire it immediately.  The term, that is.  The sentiment? Not likely.

I’ve got a little trip planned with three of my besties – a long weekend in New Orleans.  I’m rather ridiculously excited.  I’ve never been to this city before, but its reputation as a destination for eating, drinking and music has interested me for years.  Factor in 5 nights with terrific company and this is about to get real!

The girls and I are in accord when it comes to travel – make a reservation or two, include a nonnegotiable destination or site and wing the rest.  Here’s what we have so far:

  • Dinner at Restaurant R’evolution.  We plan to experience their traditional holiday four-course meal known as Reveillon.
  • At least one visit to Taceaux Loceaux.  I’m hoping to try the avocado fries and the bourbon glazed pork belly.
  • Coffee and beignets at Cafe du Monde.
  • A garden or cemetery tour
  • A riverboat cruise
  • The national WW II Museum.

What else?  Anything you’d recommend?  How about a place for breakfast or great music?  And, lastly, I have repeatedly heard that it is important to stay within a fairly small perimeter for safety.  I don’t know, I remember hearing that it was treacherous to drive in L.A. and I wasn’t overly impressed by that experience.  It seems to me that if you’re a New Yorker you know the importance of remaining aware of your surroundings without living in a bubble.  What do you think?  How about places to get a few miles of running in to offset the decadence?  Any experiences or tips you’d like to share would be welcomed!

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Filed under Christmas, Eating, friends, holidays, ideas, Recommendations, travel

Choosing happiness

Somehow I’ve come to be perceived as the epitome of the gay divorcée.  I’m not exactly sure how that happened, but I think this article may provide some insight.  You see, I intuitively do many of the things the article suggests.

Life isn’t always easy or joyful or simple.  What I try to remind myself of is this: regardless of how I’m feeling or whether I’m struggling or not, life continues moving forward.  I can’t control that.  What I can try to manage though is how I’m going to approach the challenges with which I am faced and so, I choose happiness.

Being divorced isn’t something I ever imagined being.  It wasn’t really part of the plan, you know?  I’ve learned, however, that some things are intended to be full length works, while others are merely a series of short stories.  I’m okay with chapters, both in literature and in life.  I suppose that would be me embracing items 4, 6 and 10 on that list.

Since my divorce I have been much more creatively active.  I write like a fiend and both my writing and my photos have been publicly shared.  Somehow I’ve turned into a runner and have become more physically fit than I had ever imagined being.   I guess that’s kind of embodying numbers 2 and 7, isn’t it?  Isn’t there something you’ve been wanting to do or try?  What are you waiting for?

Life’s big decisions can be fraught with fear and what ifs, but I guess I’d rather risk failing at something new than stay in a losing situation.  The unknown can certainly be scary, but if you shift your view ever so slightly, scary might just become exhilarating.  Item 5 – check.

My relationship wasn’t necessarily “bad” but the circumstances didn’t allow me to be the best me I could be, which, I suppose, was “bad” for me.  I think that my ex and I both are being good to ourselves during the times we are childless.  That would take care of 1 and 3 on the list, I think.

Numbers 8 and 9 don’t really apply to me.  My definition of success has never really been tied to ambition or financial accomplishments. When it comes time to memorialize me, all I hope for is to be remembered for having had a nice family and a life filled with love and experiences.  I’ve always been moderate about my indulgences and that has not changed.  I try to remain aware of how my body and mind are responding to what I’m ingesting and adjust accordingly.

Choose happiness.  There’s plenty to go around.

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Filed under aging, ideas, love, marriage, musings, Observations, relationships

Breasts and beers

image: rlv.zcache.com

What are you doing October 5th? Nothing?  Well, I’ve got a couple of ideas for you to consider. First – there’s the Komen Race for the Cure. This annual event is a fundraiser for breast cancer research and, although I haven’t participated, I’ve always heard the vibe is incredibly positive and empowering.  Maybe get some friends together and do the run or the walk?

20130920-112012.jpgI would have loved to have accepted the invitation I received this year to join a team, but I already had made a commitment to volunteering to help out at Wolff’s Biergarten’s 4th annual Oktoberfest downtown. And, you know what? So can you! Email beervolunteer2013@gmail.com for your chance to lend a hand (the one which isn’t holding a stein) at one of the best parties of the year. There will be music, food, dachshund races and a selection of beers which would make my Opa weep.

Last year’s weather left a little something to be desired, but Matt promised that if I wear an authentic, low-cut dirndl the sun will shine! (Actually, he never said that at all. It is a conversation which occurred completely in my own head.). Whatever – put a sweater on, if necessary and get yourself there. It’s going to be wunderbar!

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Filed under Albany, beer, cancer, Events, Exercise, ideas, Recommendations, running, upstate New York

September 12th, twelve years later

Waking up on this day a dozen years ago, I remember being happy that I could finally get out of bed and escape the image of those towers falling down behind my eyelids, over and over again. The sky was once again stunningly blue, but now it was silent with all commercial airline traffic grounded as the world focused their attentions on Ground Zero.

During my drive west on the thruway to work, I passed a convoy of trucks carrying generators and other equipment, their destination without question. There was still a sense of urgency and the hope for survivors yet to be found was a beacon, to which it seemed we all looked.

There was kindness present in unexpected places. Drivers waved to one another, inviting an easy merge into traffic or permitting a turn which would more typically be denied, as we are accustomed to all being in such a damn rush. The world slowed down.

It’s difficult to believe that twelve years have passed since that horrible and scary time, but what is more difficult to accept is that many of us have forgotten how a simple act of kindness can radiate with as much force as the collapse of a tower. Or two.

The world became a different place for millions of people on September 12, 2001. Husbands and wives woke up for the first time as widowers. Children opened their eyes and saw a world with a gaping hole where once their mother or father had been. Parents mourned the unimaginable loss of a child, which to me, is the ultimate affront to the way nature is supposed to function.

Today would be a great day to do something nice, to make a gesture which is unexpected and generous in spirit. While I hope to never again witness a horrible tragedy like the one which occurred in our country twelve years ago, each day provides us with an opportunity to erase even the tiniest amount of sorrow in the world by the smallest act of kindness. Wouldn’t that be a great 9/11 memorial?

PS – A childhood friend of mine, who lost her husband far too young to a different type of terrorist, cancer, began an organization called Gift it Forward. Check it out here.

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Filed under Events, ideas, musings, NYC, Observations