Category Archives: Recommendations

Don’t cook tonight!

How about eating for a good cause instead? New World Bistro & Bar is generously donating 15% of tonight’s sales to the DelSo’s very own Normanskill Farm. Why not save that bunch of kale and box of Annie’s for another night and instead head to NWBB for something a bit more interesting? The Normanskill Farm is a magical place right here in our own neighborhood and any improvements made to their property will benefit the entire city. This event will help to provide funds for bringing animals back to the farm.

Not just Jeter either.

Not just Jeter either.

Like these!

So, what do you say?  Meet you there!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Albany, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Dinner, drinking, Eating, Events, Food, Local, Normanskill, Recommendations, Restaurants, Uncategorized

Twelve ways to be popular – in 3 easy steps

1. Get yourself invited to a party.

2. Stop at Cheesecake Machismo and select 12 individual slices arranged into a Frankencake for $40.

3. Prepare to be the most popular party guest.

Image: cheesecake machismo.com

Image: cheesecake machismo.com

I love Cheesecake Machismo. I don’t get there too often because I have no self-control when it comes to their cheesecake. If you were at my brother’s house last weekend, you’d know exactly what I’m talking about. Seriously, I don’t like peanut butter stuff yet still went back for a second forkful of the slice of PB cheesecake.

Beginning last Friday, I ate cheesecake every day this week, except for Tuesday when my stomach was feeling a little off. I’m pretty sure my belly ache that evening was actually the result of withdrawal, kind of cheesecake dts.

Of the slices I sampled (11 out of 12), my favorite was the green tea and chocolate. Or the caramel pumpkin. Or, maybe, the cookies and creme. Who am I kidding – my favorite flavor is the one on my fork.

Time to eat that last slice.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Albany, Eating, favorites, Food, Local, Recommendations, Restaurants, upstate New York

Going Wild

I read.  A lot.  On any given day, I need to be prepared to “booktalk” titles, both fiction and nonfiction, with students in grades 6-12.  Intense, right?  This year, so far, I’ve read 55 books with a focus on titles of interest to middle school kids. After a couple of realistic novels about 6th or 7th graders, I generally need to cleanse my reader palate with something a bit more satisfying and tasty.  Something a bit, shall we say, Wild.

Yes, I know everyone read this book months (years?) ago while I was busy reading A Monster Calls, but that doesn’t diminish the impact this memoir had on me.  There’s just something about a female firsthand account of trying circumstances which I find completely captivating.  Imagine that.   

Cheryl Strayed’s recounting of her solo hike along the Pacific Coast Trail is an absolutely inspiring work of nonfiction.  I grew up in close proximity to the Appalachian Trail and have always been fascinated by the idea of trekking its length, but certainly not alone.  The physical and mental strength required to complete an accomplishment such as either of these is remarkable to me.  When you factor in the emotional state Strayed was in when she began her quest, her successful completion of her goal borders on the miraculous.

There were a number of passages in this memoir which caused me to pause, process and reflect, but none more than this:

“…it occurred to me for the first time that growing up poor had come in handy. I probably wouldn’t have been fearless enough to go on such a trip with so little money if I hadn’t grown up without it. I’d always thought of my family’s economic standing in terms of what I didn’t get: camp and lessons and travel and college tuition and the inexplicable ease that comes when you’ve got access to a credit card that someone else is paying off. But now I could see the line between this and that – between a childhood in which I saw my mother and stepfather forge ahead with two pennies in their pocket and my own general sense that I could do it too.”

Maybe I, too, can will go Wild someday.

Other inspiring autobiographies by women:

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Recommendations, travel

A Monster Calls

Written by Patrick Ness and beautifully illustrated by Jim Kay, A Monster Calls, relates the story of young Conor, a boy in England living in denial about his divorced mother’s health prognosis.  At night Conor is subjected to a recurring nightmare of such horror that he cannot even verbalize the events he witnesses, while during the day he is repeatedly the target of the school bully’s attentions, a situation which he initially does nothing to address.

He begins to be, amazingly enough, visited by a monstrous yew tree.  While he is initially fearful of this beast that leaves berries and spiky tree leaves in his wake as evidence of his presence, Conor’s waking reality is far more frightening.  The nocturnal visits by the beast are ultimately the only time that Conor feels “seen” and he anticipates the monster’s call along with the stories he shares.  As the novel progresses, Conor must learn to accept the questionable manner in which life doles out rewards and punishments, as well as find a way to once again feel present.

This book broke my heart.  Of course, the parallels between the divorced mom and her (far more devastating) cancer battle struck a chord with me, but it was the thought of that child’s anguish and grief which absolutely wrenched me.  I’m sure every parent in the universe shies away from exploring the thought of prematurely leaving their child(ren), but this book makes that sort of avoidance impossible.

Answering the monster’s call will most certainly ring a bell.  Read it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Boys, Recommendations

Doing it myself

It was a busy weekend, filled with soccer, long walks, friends, sunshine and household tasks. Jeter got back in the game with some dog park playtime and an attention grabbing amble through the neighborhood. I did a little cooking, some cleaning and even a more personal maintenance task – for the first time in many years I colored my own hair.

I’ve got to say, I’m pretty pleased. Don’t get me wrong, I know that my stylist does a wonderful job with my hair, but her schedule is really limited and there was something really appealing about being able to color my hair at home at my own convenience. Factor in the price ($15 vs. $110) and it seemed like a good idea. After reading some positive things about an online company called ESalon, I decided to give them a shot at mixing up a personalized batch of color for me.

My color, “dark brown copper golden,” was arrived at following a series of questions about my natural color (who can remember that?), current color and a few other details. I also uploaded a recent selfie for my color consultant to use. The site encouraged setting up a regularly scheduled delivery of hair color, but I declined that service for now.

Personalized instructions!

Personalized instructions!

From order to delivery was approximately one week and I was quite pleased with the package I received. My little box contained the color and developer, two pairs of gloves, an application brush, individual packets of color and conditioner and products to prevent staining along the hairline.

Pre-ESalon

Pre-ESalon

Saturday afternoon I gathered some old towels and got busy. 25 minutes later I got my results… My ultra blonde summer hair was now a richer shade of strawberry blonde, warmer and more even than my previous color. Now, it’s a semipermanent formula so I don’t know how long it will last or if my hair is going to fall out in clumps, but, today I’m happy with it. I think my satisfaction is due in part to the fact that I wasn’t attempting a dramatic change, more of a slight deepening of current shade. While I have no intention of permanently breaking up with my professional colorist, the price, convenience and results make ESalon an option that I will consider again in the future.

Post-ESalon

Post-ESalon

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Random, Recommendations

Has anyone seen the bridge?

That's "my" board - all the way on the right!

That’s “my” board – all the way on the right!

After vacillating for days, I made the decision Sunday morning to spend my afternoon catching some bonus paddle boarding time.  My early obligation of the day went surprisingly smoothly and I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to get on the water for one more time this season.

I arrived at the Kayak Shak in Saratoga a little before 1:00 and was on the water, solo, 15 minutes later.  Unlike my previous two paddling adventures, this time I immediately headed east.  The less traveled path was definitely the way to go yesterday.  As I paddled along, the view on either side of the water was truly spectacular.  The leaves were popping red and orange and the sky was blue, blue, so blue.  As the creek curved and turned, there were times when there was nothing man-made to mar the scene – just trees, reeds and shrubs in various rainbow shades.  And turtles.  Lots of turtles.

The man who had set me up on my board said that two miles down there would be a bridge and that became my goal.  As I twisted my core left and right, left and right, the surprisingly mild water splashed my feet and enticing me to jump in for a refreshing dip.  I decided to indulge myself once I had finally reached that confounded bridge, and it was absolutely liberating when I finally made the leap from my board into the warmish water.  I’m certain that September 28th is the latest I’ve ever gone swimming in upstate New York, and I am so very glad that I seized the opportunity that Mother Nature provided.

If you haven’t attempted Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) yourself, think about giving it a try.  I think it is easier than it looks and, from what I read, it burns a fair amount of calories.  It is also the most fun core workout I’ve ever experienced.  I’m going to start investigating waterproof bag options because I really missed my camera yesterday.  I would have loved to have captured some pictures of Saratoga’s natural beauty on an early fall day which felt like summer.

So – does anyone have any recommendations for a waterproof bag to stash my Nikon in?

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Albany, beauty, Exercise, Recommendations, Saratoga, upstate New York

Labor Day – sunshine and duck butts

After a summer spent working and vacationing, I elected to spend this holiday weekend, quietly at home. Friday night I ate al fresco at The Cheese Traveler, devouring my burger and merely indicating yes or no with the motion of my head. So good! Saturday, following a run, I ate at Mingle’s bar very much enjoying my salad and paella, along with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Sunday was a day for leftovers and binging on Orange is the New Black with a side order of tennis. It was definitely a lazy weekend, other than for Jeter who spent quality time each day at the Normanskill Dog Park.

Today needed to be different. I needed to burn some energy in the hopes that I would get a good night’s sleep tonight and feel fresh for tomorrow’s back to school activities. I decided that today was the perfect day to give paddle boarding a try – weather, opportunity, mood, it all added up and so, I hit the highway for Saratoga County’s Kayak Shack. I had a Living Social deal, bought earlier this summer for $20, which gave me 3 hours of paddle boarding for two. I was solo (do you think the businesses in receipt of deals for 2 being redeemed by only 1, tsk tsk silently and sympathetically?), which provided me lots of time to focus on keeping my balance, something of which I really need to remain cognizant in a general sort of way.

So, what was it like? I loved it! I had no issue getting on my board and moving from kneeling to standing. There was a strong current, with an accompanying wind, which made my trip out quite an exertion. It is a real abdominal workout, which I welcomed.  Seems like I’ve taken a few shots to the gut recently and any assistance in keeping that area defensively taut is welcome.  For every 4 or 5 strokes on the left side of the board, I had to take a dozen on the right side to remain on a semi-straight path. There were a couple of moments when I absolutely wobbled and fought to maintain my balance, usually when I neglected to pay attention to what was going on in the water around me. I dumped once, but welcomed the refreshing dunk in the lake and had no issue climbing back on board. Literally.

Here’s what I found kind of interesting – I grew up in lake community and feel like I have some experience with boating, be it from my teen years waterskiing or my brief time spent sweep rowing/sculling. Today, I discovered fairly quickly that motor boaters had no real regard for paddlers. There were all sorts of instances when a boat’s wake provided an experience similar to what one would find in a wave pool. It was mostly ok, but I still felt a bit irritated by the lack of respect for those of us with a paddle rather than a throttle in our hand.

I booked along at a pretty good clip as I worked to raise my heart rate and turn my fun into a true workout. The shore on both sides was marshy with leaves threatening to begin changing colors and tons of ducks greedily going bottoms up as they munched on some delicacy underwater. I paddled to a wider part in the water where things really started to feel a bit like the Wild West with motorboats and kayaks and stand up paddle boards chaotically strewn across the water. I grew up in a town filled with cowboys, but we had more of a sense of water traffic regs than most of the people I encountered today.

Bottom line – it was a wonderful way to spend a couple of hours. If anyone wants to give it a try some weekend before the water grows too cold to be described as invigorating, let me know. I’d love to go back.

Leave a comment

Filed under Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Exercise, ideas, Local, Normanskill, Recommendations, road trips, Saratoga, Summer, upstate New York