Category Archives: holidays

17 Things to love about Valentine’s Day 2017

16715920_1844113935853351_7426409160263547542_o• When the 14th of February falls on a Tuesday.
• Speaking of falling – no additional snow falling.
• A great menu created and executed by a professional kitchen – thanks, John & Zach & Ben.
• Competent and attentive front of the house staff – I’m talking about you, Jackie, Jammella & Trudy.
• A tightly mapped seating chart with 2 hour turns for every table.
• Appreciative walk ins who are grateful and work with what you can offer them.
• Solo diners who are comfortable enough to dine with you on the biggest couple night of the year.
• Guests who span the spectrum – white, black, brown, straight and gay. I’m really proud of the diverse clientele we have at Lark + Lily.
• Music that set the mood beautifully – thanks, Trudy!
• Friends stopping in for dessert.
• Mild weather and cozy fireplaces.
• A sense of relaxed pleasure wafting through the dining rooms.
• Finding the perfect card for your honey at Elissa Halloran’s.
• A steady stream of pleasant people populating our bar.
• Guests thanking you for providing them with a place they love to visit.
• Having the prettiest Valentine’s menus ever! Thanks, Lori Hansen & Laura Glazer.   16716184_1844117485852996_4174399207922838321_o
• Finishing the night with something bubbly and pink.

16797713_1844175939180484_5675353717826130564_oAnd one thing not to love – please, please, please have the decency to call and cancel your reservation if your plans change. Having an empty table that might have been filled by someone looking to celebrate is really frustrating. On a related note, if you are going to be more than 20 minutes late for your reservation, I’d suggest calling to let the restaurant know. After 20 minutes (without a phone call), your table becomes mine again.

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Filed under Dinner, drinking, Eating, Food, holidays, Local, love, Observations, Restaurants, Uncategorized, Wine, winter

The New York Times: all the recipes fit to cook

image: rubylane.com

image: rubylane.com

One of the things I really miss about my life pre-restaurant ownership (in addition to loved ones, fretless sleep and true downtime) is cooking. Remember the days when I would have recipes and pictures posted here of yummy food made in my very own kitchen? These days, I’m lucky if I cook an evening meal for my family twice a week. Well, three if you’re willing to count grilled cheese and ramen. While it is certainly a luxury to eat meals prepared, served and cleaned up by others, I definitely miss being in my own kitchen puttering around sometimes.

During a recent break from school, I took advantage of having some extra time by indulging myself in a little kitchen therapy. Actually, I indulged all of us now that I think about it. One of the items I prepared was a new recipe while the other was an old favorite. Both were from recipes I had originally found in the New York Times. Maybe you don’t think of the NYT as a source for recipes, but my vintage copy (1966, baby!) of the NYT Cookbook would prove you wrong. It is one of my favorite recipe collections and I refer to it frequently.

The sides puffed up remarkably.

The sides puffed up remarkably.

The new recipe that I attempted, with great success, was for breakfast Christmas morning. In years past, bagels, cream cheese and lox were our holiday morning go-to meal, but since my divorce things have been a bit more unpredictable. I’ve made variations on pancakes and waffles and one year went to great trouble to make cinnamon rolls. They were good, but not great and, in my opinion, not worth my efforts. Crepes were requested for this year, but, honestly they’re a little more labor intensive than I like at the start of a long day. But, the Dutch Baby recipe from the Times? Well, that was perfect!

img_0778Requiring only 5 ingredients, all pantry staples, this oven baked “pancake” was one of the easiest and most satisfying breakfasts I’ve ever made. Taking only 40 minutes, start to finish, the Dutch Baby is something that can be made even on a regular school morning. It is my new favorite breakfast treat and I think I’m going to make it again this weekend. You should, too.

img_0848The ease of the Dutch Baby was definitely offset by the work involved with making the Meat Lover’s Lasagna. I’ve been using this recipe for more than a decade, despite the extensive list of ingredients and time demanded, and consider it to be a solid version of lasagna, but it comes at a price. First, there’s the actual cost of ingredients – pancetta, pecorino romano and sirloin aren’t cheap, my friend. Then, there’s the time involved in preparing this beauty. Conservatively, it takes about of 4 hours to put this delight together, maybe less if you cheat on the meatballs step. The payoff, though, is good. It is a dense, delicious and hearty entree that will provide multiple meals. That’s a good thing since I won’t have another chance to cook for days!

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Filed under breakfast, Christmas, Cooking, family, favorites, Food, holidays, Recipes, Uncategorized, vacation

Holiday wrap up

54cd238f-fa07-4fcb-95e4-36d1a7ec9337-7056-00000503bacda6d6_tmpSomehow 10 days have flown by and it’s back to school time. It’s been a quietly busy vacation and I’m pleased that I resisted over scheduling myself, something I’m inclined to be guilty of doing. So – what did I do? Let me tell you!

I went to the movies, twice. Bonus – neither film was rated G, produced by Disney or animated. La La Land was lovely and pretty much charmed me from beginning to end. The cast, dancing, singing and costumes all combined to give me a simple, happy movie experience. Almost equally enjoyable from a performance perspective was Jackie. Natalie Portman was really remarkable in the role and I’m certain I’ll spend some time reflecting on the story that was told, wondering how close to reality the script may have been.

As you might imagine, I ran. There were miles with the Lunar B*tches, with Jeter, solo, and as part of two different organized group runs. I also checked out an aerial class at Good Karma yoga studio. I enjoyed the class and was surprised by how comfortable and well supported I felt in the swing. Accustomed to a hot yoga studio I was a little underdressed and found myself chilly at times. Next time I’ll wear another layer.

Jeter and I got to the golf course quite a few times. Romping around in the sunshine with a bunch of buddies makes Jeter happy and tired. We always love our time there, especially when there’s snow on the ground rather than mud. A nearly white dog and mud are not a great combination, because our time outside needs to be immediately followed by a bath and then, of course, a bathroom cleaning.

Speaking of cleaning, I vacuumed almost every day. What can I say? I love my Dyson vacuum and Jeter is the most sheddingest dog I’ve ever known. I wish I could say I did some other major cleaning tasks or maintenance projects, but, I didn’t. There’s always February break for that. I’m already looking forward to it.

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Filed under Christmas, Exercise, holidays, Local, running, winter

Face wash (is not a) game

img_0800After much experimentation with my constantly changing skin (Is it dry? Sensitive? Aging? All of the above?), I’ve gathered together a collection of facial cleansers that feel like they’re working out ok for me. It’s a mix of creams and lotions,* many of which come from Origins, but there’s some Philosophy and Bliss thrown in, too. (As I wrote that sentence I had to laugh at what a sucker I am for a well named cosmetics line! Who wouldn’t want to be associated with origins, philosophy and bliss?!) The various washes and scrubs vary in price, but I think they’re a decent value just because you really only need a small amount to wash your face and they seem to last quite awhile. Unless, someone else is getting into your face wash, that is.

My middle son has been taking my Origins face wash from my bathroom in recent weeks and it has turned into a mini war. The first time it happened, I was puzzled. Where could it possibly be? The second time, I was annoyed. Really? Again? The third time I was absolutely pissed. How did this kid get to be so damn entitled? You see, if he had asked me if he could have the damn face wash, I would have said yes. I’ve got a back up Bliss I could have happily (blissfully?) used and everything would be fine. But, no, he chose to repeatedly force me out of the shower to retrieve an alternate product mid-shower which is really beyond annoying.

In the spirit of the season, and against my own sense of right and wrong, I went to Macy’s Christmas Eve eve and picked up a couple of things, including a face wash for the metrosexual boy-man I’m raising. I wrapped it up and placed it in his stocking in the hopes that this situation would now be resolved. The day after Christmas, I stepped into the shower and reached for my face wash and…it was gone, but this time so was the apricot scrub. Unbelievable.

After my shower, I went into my son’s room and retrieved his stocking with the still wrapped tube of face wash. He’s going to have to get his own. That sh*t is mine.

*Can we agree to call them potions? It just sounds so much more magical. Maybe I should create a product line called Potions?..

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Filed under aging, Boys, Christmas, family, holidays

Remember the children

Four years ago, as I sat in the humid warmth of an indoor water park while my children played, 20 children were murdered within the confines of their elementary school. As I read the story online, a bone chilling horror entered my body  and lodged in my head. I considered that it could have been my own 7 year-old child. Ultimately the horrific sadness found its way to my heart, taking up permanent residence  as I grieved for the families who will never again be the same. It remains one of the melancholic days I’ve ever known.

The month of December seems a particularly cruel time for a child’s life to be taken. Isn’t this, after all, the time of the year many devote to celebrating the birth of a child? How do we reconcile those two things – the pointless deaths of innocent school children and the birth of a savior?

Maybe we can honor those children who were killed in Connecticut by making a commitment to the children who are fighting for their lives in Aleppo. Even if the battle is over, children and their families are going to need assistance as they rebuild their broken lives after years of conflict. Perhaps the perfect way to remember some of the children our world has prematurely lost is to make a donation, directed to Syrian refugees, to Save the Children, UNICEF or some other humanitarian organization.  It’s not too late yet to try to save those children.

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Filed under holidays, Observations, politics, Uncategorized

Albany – it’s the most wonderful time of the year

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As I close in on 30 years as a resident, I still find myself charmed by Albany. Don’t get me wrong, there are things that make me insane (folks who double park when there is an available space, I’m talking to you!), but I continue to fall in love with my adopted city. Yeah, that’s right. I love Albany.

Last Saturday was one of those days that could have been stress filled and hectic, yet somehow instead managed to be a wonderful welcome to the holiday season. The guys and I went across the river and in a remarkably fast time, located, agreed upon and cut down a(nother) perfect Christmas tree – defined, for me, as tall and thin with long, soft needles. It fits perfectly in our family room.

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Traditional pre-tree killing selfie

We followed our outdoor activities with a fantastic lunch at our favorite Chinese spot – Ocean Palace on Central Avenue. This was the first time we actually ate in rather than taking our order to go, and we were all really happy to sit down and enjoy lunch with a couple of pots of hot tea. We’ll do this again!

Our next stop was Winter WonderLark, aka my favorite Lark Street event. Holidayimg_0678 festivities abounded and we kept ourselves warm browsing the pop up Half Moon Market and chatting with friends as we waited for the start of the Santa Speedo Sprint. There were no Lillys racing, but we provided enthusiastic support to the stalwart runners. What a fun way to do good work – I’m proud of you, Albany!

As fireworks lit up the sky, I found my way to the Lunar B*tches and the starting line for the Last Run. I love this race – the crowd, the course and the enthusiastic spectators combine to make this my favorite 5K. Even when I fall, rip my outer layer tights and skin my knee! The Capitol, City Hall and Washington Park looked absolutely magical.

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By 6:00 p.m. I was changed and ready to go at Lark + Lily, which was a good thing because we had a busy night. I was thrilled to welcome friends, regulars, and runners fresh from the race to my cozy wine bar. img_0707

My day wrapped up with a little music and a bite to eat with a friend. The cover band rocked (their take on Eruption was epic!) and my grilled cheese at the Gateway Diner satisfied my hunger  as a long and lovely day came to an end. I went to sleep full in every way.  Thanks, Albany.

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Filed under Albany, Boys, Christmas, Events, favorites, friends, holidays, Lark Street, Local, Music, Recommendations, running

Gobbling it up

0bbb8e4e-6135-4907-a905-aa6a4f3d8ec2-5076-00000482afb9a836_tmpAs I extracted the flyers from today’s paper promoting Black Friday, and even Thanksgiving Day special sales, I couldn’t help but wonder which “door buster” item would cause an injury as consumers rushed in to buy one. Would it be a television? Maybe a toy of limited quantity but mass appeal?

We can read about that later, because this is thanksgiving. Today we gather to share a meal and a moment with family and friends. Or, perhaps, we don’t. Maybe the holidays have just gotten to be a little weird and you find yourself at loose ends without a real plan for the day. You’ve had invites, but nothing really appeals because the size of the gathering doesn’t feel right (you pick – too large or too small) or the drive is too far, so you’ve not committed to anything beyond a 5K. With that already under your belt, the day stretches out ahead of you with…

Some melancholia. It is impossible to not think of past holidays focusing, as is your way, on the ones which make you smile. There have been a lot of those.

The promise of possibility. The day is yours to use as you wish – a long walk with the dog, a glass of wine or two, a movie that you’re interested in seeing, some holiday baking to get a jump on…

Acceptance that this is holiday you just might need right now – one that is quiet and doesn’t require being “on.”

Appreciation that your children have a large family who will surround them, feed them and provide them with their own holiday memories to reflect upon forever.

Gratitude for the opportunity to feel thankful every single day of the year. While life is not without challenges, the gifts many of us have received are the sort that lend themselves to daily acknowledgement – health, sustenance and love.

If you find yourself alone on Thanksgiving, remind yourself that true appreciation of our blessings should not be limited to the last Thursday of November. Be thankful for the day you have been given, each day. I most certainly am.

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Filed under holidays, musings, Observations