Category Archives: Local

Tara Kitchen

olive tapenade with artichoke hearts and sundried tomatoes

olive tapenade with artichoke hearts and sundried tomatoes

Sunday, more than ever, has become my “Me” day. Yesterday I had hours to myself to do whatever I felt like – once the waffles and bacon had been cooked, served and cleaned up and payroll had been done and the sheets had been changed and I had met with Linda Kindlon at Bake for You about adding her cookies to Lark + Lily’s dessert options…hours, I tell you.

Following an afternoon run (down one lunar b*tch, missed you, Chrissy!), I decided to follow through on my intention to eat at Tara Kitchen. I’ve been wanting to get to this spot in Schenectady forever and this post  in All Over Albany’s weekly roundup of what’s going on in the neighborhood, forced my hand.

I’m not very familiar with Schenectady, but I have spent some time in the area where Tara Kitchen is. Parking was readily available in the lot directly across the street from the restaurant. I arrived at about 5:30 and the place was hopping with nearly all the tables seated. Bar seating was plentiful. I sat at a table in front of the window and was completely comfortable even with the door opening and closing. The upstairs seating was definitely toasty warm due to, I imagine, the heat rising off of the big range in the open kitchen.

spinach with potatoes and poached eggs

spinach with potatoes and poached eggs

As I browsed the menu, I sipped a delightful tea from a small glass.  It was a magical elixir, I swear, stimulating my taste buds and giving me a boost.  I eventually ordered three courses – opening with the olive tapenade served with warm triangles of pita. It was delicious, wonderfully salty and earthy with a hint of heat. For my entrée, which was served blazingly hot, I had the spinach, potatoes and eggs, the kind of meal which would be perfect at any time of the day. There was more pita and rice served along side the tagine, I imagine just to give a diner something to pick on while they’re waiting not so patiently for their main course to cool off. The flavors were fantastic – I especially loved the cardamom, and the vegetables were beautifully cooked retaining just a touch of firmness.  I  requested some harissa to add a little zip, since I felt a cold threatening and I loved the smoky quality it lent to the dish.

warm delicious baklava

warm delicious baklava

I finished with the baklava, because, why not? Unlike some renditions of this dish, it was not overly sweet or buttery and it actually was perfect with my remaining half glass of Moroccan Pinot Grigio  (Ouled Thaleb White).  Service throughout was comfortably casual and I wouldn’t hesitate to return to this terrific little spot.  Total for my meal including tip: $43.  Pretty reasonable for a trip to Morocco, don’t you think?

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Filed under Dinner, Food, Local, Recommendations, Restaurants, Schenectady, sunday, Uncategorized

Worst mother, best neighbors

Now I need to get some new pillows!

Now I need to get some new pillows!

Last Monday, my oldest son and I took a walk with Jeter around the neighborhood. We were about a mile away from our house when we came across some curbside treasure – a leather couch in remarkably good condition. Hmmm.

I should tell you about our history with couches. In the last 20 years there have been at least 6, 3 of which were bought on Craigslist. You see, we (and by “we” I mean the male Lillys, Jeter included) destroy couches and I refuse to spend more than a couple of hundred dollars on a replacement, particularly in light of the fact that I spend very little time actually sitting on one. So….

Liam and I gave the couch a quick once over and decided it was worth my walking home to get the car. I left he and the dog and returned with my wagon within 15 minutes. That’s when the real fun started.

The couch is a small sectional in two pieces. The small piece and the cushions easily fit into the back of my car, but the larger part? It was not happening. At this point, I was committed to getting the couch and came up with my best option – drop the smaller section at home and pick up my middle son. We were going to have to carry the couch.

I wish someone I knew had been able to witness the ridiculousness of us carrying that piece of furniture approximately a mile. The laughter (mine alone), the bitching (Griffin owned that part), the cursing (all of us)…it was a classic moment in mothering which, I hope, will one day be passed down to future generations of Lillys as an example of how crazy I was.

We made it, with uncountable pauses along the way, to about a block from our house when I caved to the complaints and called my always helpful and strong neighbor, Emily, to literally lend a hand. As we hauled the couch down the street, two more neighbors came to our assistance – big, strong guys who completely saved our asses, not to mention backs, by muscling the couch up the stairs and into my living room.

I look forward to sitting on it soon.


Filed under Boys, DelSo, family, friends, house, Local, moms, Uncategorized

I voted “Yes” on the AHS project and now I’m sorry


Specifically, I’m sorry that I didn’t participate in getting the vote out. How sad is it that a decision as vital as whether to renovate and replace parts of the current high school could be decided by such a small percentage of the city’s population? Can’t we do better than that?

I’m also sorry that our city refused to grasp the opportunity to construct a single campus where all secondary programs could be administered. We could have provided a level playing field, one which would demonstrate our belief as a society that all areas of study, be they college or direct-to-career preparatory, are equally valid and important.

I’m sorry that the additional $5-10 a month in increased property taxes was a genuine consideration for so many home owners. I understand that taxes are a hardship for an awful lot of people and it is distressing. I, too, carefully weigh how to spend my income and am dismayed that such a disproportionate amount of the federal taxes I pay go to support military activities around the world which result in people dying. Of course, I don’t get to actually vote on that, though, right?

And lastly, I’m especially sorry that a city which has already demonstrated its desire to appeal to families by improving each of the elementary and middle schools, as well as expanding and updating the public library facilities, couldn’t find a way to finish the investment by correcting deficiencies in our one high school.

(For those of you who may not be aware of last week’s vote, read more about it here.)


Filed under Albany, Education, Local, News, Observations, Schools

Ladies First

12187768_1654731661458247_6615095249070919957_nMonths ago, as I started to imagine what Lark + Lily might look like, I had an idea about how I would like to officially launch the new business my brother and I were in the process of purchasing. I’ve been to soft openings, friends and family events and ribbon cuttings over the years and felt compelled to do something just a little bit different. Surprise, surprise, right?

I decided that I wanted to host an event exclusively for women, more specifically women who I found to be inspiring, influential and impressive. Once I had that sentiment as my motivation, the details rapidly fell into place. I settled on a date I found auspicious – the first day of a new month. Sunday, November 1st also felt perfect since we had been gifted with an extra hour with the previous night’s turn of the clock. My chef, John Futia and I developed a simple menu of finger foods, which we accompanied with sparkling wine and other gifts from the grape. It all came together with a remarkable ease.

The most challenging aspect of the entire afternoon was the guest list. Limiting my invitations to what our capacity is, was a Herculean* effort. As I considered all of the women who have inspired, influenced and impressed me over the years, the number became significant and I was placed in the unfortunate position of having to make some very difficult decisions. My only consolation? The fact that I was fortunate enough to be acquainted with so very many fabulous women. Truly.

On Sunday afternoon, as we lit candles and fireplaces, the skies turned blue. Lark + Lily soon filled with dynamic, interesting women and I was overwhelmed by joy as I watched business cards and handshakes and hugs being exchanged. Present were business owners, neighborhood activists, politicians, professionals and dear friends. The buzz was tremendous and I couldn’t have been more pleased with the afternoon – it was powerful.

If you were at Lark + Lily, thank you. I hope you found the mixer to be both enjoyable and valuable. And, if you couldn’t make it for whatever reason, please know that this was the first event for us, but certainly not the last.

*Should I say an Alcmenean effort since I’m being female-centric?


Filed under Albany, Events, Lark Street, Local, Restaurants

A rock star Halloween

Gold Dust Woman

Gold Dust Woman

I should start by admitting that the same dark green velvet dress has been the base of my Halloween costume for three consecutive years. Do not underestimate my ability to be creative when it comes to working a pretty gown into the plan! Last night I covered the top of the dress with a lace blouse, leaving the dress to look like a skirt as I attempted to channel Stevie Nicks.

I suppose I should confess right now that, beyond the glittery scarves, wig and tambourine, everything for my costume came directly from my own closet. That says something, doesn’t it?

imageAs I get older, I find myself I’ve returning to my younger years when it comes to adopting a costume for a night. The Stevie Nicks thing was inspired by that biography I read a couple of months ago and, even though quite a few people thought I was a gypsy rather than a rock and roll goddess, I enjoyed last night’s adopted persona. Special points to those who detected the powdery residue on my nostrils.

The front of the house staff at Lark + Lily proved that they are indeed a family, specifically one with the last name of Ramone. They really rock.

imageHope your Halloween was fun and filled with more treats than tricks!

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Filed under aging, Albany, holidays, Lark Street, Local, Observations, Restaurants

Running with Alabama Shakes, Bradley Cooper and a bag of poop

I tried a new Pandora station for yesterday’s afternoon run – Alabama Shakes radio.  It opened with an Amy Winehouse song and never looked back.  Good stuff.  When the first Alabama Shakes’ song, Always Alright,   came on, it took me immediately back to Silver Linings Playbook, a movie (and book) I absolutely loved.

DSC_0408I started thinking about when I saw the Shakes back in June at Mountain Jam and how, as I was photographing the band for the Times Union, I was approached by a woman who requested that I share some of my photos with her.  It turns out this woman, a hair stylist, had done the lead singer Brittany Howard’s hair that morning and was hoping to get some good images to help promote her business.  Of course, I complied and emailed her a number of jpegs a few days later.

DSC_0393I wondered how I had ever created a life in which I occasionally get to take pictures of famous people.  I mean, really? How friggin lucky am I?  I thought about The Shakes, and the presence of their music in a Bradley Cooper/Jennifer Lawrence film, and considered how much I enjoy the talents of each of them.  I shook my head in amazement that I could probably play Six Degrees of Separation and get to Bradley Cooper.  It made me smile – despite the bag of dog poop I was toting.

Speaking of which, sometimes it feels like I’m closer to Bradley Cooper than I am to a trash receptacle when it comes to running my regular 5-mile loop.  While I thoroughly enjoy the thought of having a connection to the very handsome Mr. Cooper, I think I’d be even happier if there were more trash cans available along Whitehall Road and New Scotland Avenue.

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Filed under Albany, concerts, Exercise, Local, Movies, Music, Observations, running, upstate New York

Squirrelly Six – 2015

The last time I ran up, and I do mean up, at Thacher Park was over the summer during ARE’s trail series. The weather was fine and the people were nice, but the course began with a murderous hill which made me a bit cranky. I don’t mind hills*, but, please let me work up to them!

IMG_7415Last Sunday’s Squirrelly Six caught me a little unprepared. You know, the week you open a restaurant and work 6 consecutive days/nights may not be the right time to register to run six miles through the woods, but there I was, nonetheless, at 9:30 in the morning at the starting line. The weather had been a concern since rain was in the forecast and I was worried it might be kind of cold. We (my Lunar Girls were there, too!) totally lucked out with a mostly dry run through some fresh mud from the previous night’s showers in an almost balmy 50’ish . Mud is fun, though and I nailed it when it came to running attire, luckily selecting layers which kept me comfortable for the duration.

IMG_7409I’ve done this race, I think, 3 consecutive years and the course which debuted this year was my absolute favorite. The trails were mostly fairly wide with limited hills and the vista was spectacular. No, really – it was a stunning morning with peak foliage and a mood enhancing layer of fog in the valley. I was unable to resist stopping twice to snap a couple of pictures because it was that scenic. It was an absolutely beautiful run and the perfect personal reward at the end of a long week.

IMG_7403Next up – After the Leaves Have Fallen in early November. It’s a bit more than twice the distance which means it should be at least twice as fun, right?

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Filed under beauty, Exercise, friends, Local, Recommendations, running, sunday, upstate New York