Category Archives: Recommendations

19 Things I’m loving

The Super Bowl was already weeks ago (Remember? The Patriots won. Again.) but there’s something I’ve been thinking about ever since the big game…why would celebrities, like really rich and successful public figures, appear in advertisements or commercials about products which they weren’t enthusiastic about truly using? All of those actors and sports figures in the big budget commercials, do you think they need the money? How much money would you want to be paid for promoting and intrinsically endorsing something you genuinely appreciate and use? Would you want more money if it was item or service that you didn’t actually avail yourself of?

if you know me, you know I don’t value money very much. I appreciate it and understand working to have enough,* but I certainly don’t believe the accumulation of it is my life’s work. And, while I’d happily consider accepting money from companies whose products I truly use, I’m just about equally pleased to just share the following list with you of things I’m really loving right now. Here goes…

 

  • New Max Mara framed eyeglasses.
  • My Waterpik, although I wish the cord was retractable.
  • Concert and airplane tickets
  • The Bleecker Salad at Dove and Deer
  • An Unlimited Subscription for Rent the Runway
  • Walks/Runs/Skis with Jeter at Albany Muni
  • My clunkiest Frye’s
  • Aaron’s 11:15 class on Saturdays at the Latham Hot Yoga Spot.
  • Aldi’s for produce and baking supplies.
  • Kat von D’s Studded Lipstick in Double Dare.
  • Van Morrison’s Poetic Champions Compose – I forgot how much I love this record.
  • Hot bubble baths. I can not get enough of my tub these days!
  • Midnight blue velvet skinnies from Gap bought on super sale for $12.
  • The lushness of my plants.
  • Wednesday night date night.
  • CBD roll-on applied to my sore muscles.
  • A true sense of owning my happiness.
  • Spending time with someone who makes me laugh.
  • Feeling comfortable in my skin.

What would be on your list?

*however you define “enough.”

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Filed under Albany, beauty, Dinner, Eating, Exercise, Fashion, favorites, Food, friends, ideas, Local, musings, Normanskill, Observations, Recommendations, running, Uncategorized, x-country skiing, yoga

More carbs, please

I don’t know what it is, but I can’t stop eating. Carbs are my thing and recently I have been going to town cooking, and eating, pasta. It’s a little too soon to be officially “carb loading” for either of the 1/2 marathons for which I’ve already registered, so I have no excuse other than it tastes good. And I like it.

Last week, I made a spicy bolognese sauce that I thought was delicious, albeit a little meaty. I will definitely riff on that recipe in the future because it was hearty, simple and really easy to put together in a single pan. I love that!

Over the weekend I made a lentil and butternut squash soup that ticked all my current boxes – lentils and orange vegetables. Again, the list of ingredients was reasonable and the prep practically effortless, an ideal combination of circumstances when one is planning lunches for the week. I mean, come on, how great is it to pull out a pint of homemade soup for lunch on a cold day? With a little forethought, you could be living the high lunch life

The more labor intensive culinary project of the weekend turned out to be gnudi. Have you had them before? I think the first ones I ever had were made by Nick Ruscitto and they were delightful. Lighter than gnocchi with a softness that proves the delicacy of their maker’s hands, these ricotta cheese dumplings are pillows of tenderness perfectly finished with the most simple of sauces. I had to make them.

I found a recipe and got busy, draining the ricotta and exploring methods for how to eventually form and cut the gnudi. After chilling the dough, I opted for the long log technique, slicing the log into .75” pieces which I then gently placed in boiling water. Like many Italian recipes I’ve prepared, the challenge is the amount of time required, not necessarily the level of skill of the cook.

I cooked the gnudi in batches, resting uncooked ones on a plastic wrap covered baking sheet and cooling the cooked ones off under in a colander. Eventually I placed all the gnudi into a plastic container and drizzled them with olive oil. I was saving them for Monday’s “meatless” dinner when I planned to sauté them in olive oil and a dollop of bacon fat with mushrooms, onions, garlic and roasted cauliflower.

Mondays can be rough after a busy weekend, but when dinner and multiple lunches are prepared before Sunday officially ends, they’re not so bad at all.

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Filed under Cooking, Dinner, Eating, favorites, Food, ideas, Observations, Recipes, Recommendations, soup, winter

Randoms – February, 2019

  • I have absolutely zero feelings regarding whether the roll of toilet paper is supposed to be installed over or under.
  • However, double parked vehicles blocking available legal parking will probably be my trigger if I should ever totally lose my sh*t.
  • I’m at a stage in the aging process where I believe liberally applied moisturizer and not wearing my glasses (so I can’t see so well) takes five years off my face.
  • There’s an entrance to the parking lot at the nearby shopping plaza that is one way, but which way is undecided. Traffic uses it both to enter and exit the lot. A street sign was once placed indicating the correct direction. It was lying on the ground within days of installation and was gone in less than a week.
  • I’m obsessed with lentils at the moment. This is the latest recipe I prepared.
  • Made gnudi for the first time this weekend. Like most Italian food I’ve ever prepared, it’s labor intensive, but not particularly difficult to make.
  • We’re expecting some weather this week. If you happen to have a corner lot, please consider the difficulty of those in wheelchairs, or less physically mobile, and shovel a path that includes access to the street.
  • Every single time I’m reminded that I’m going to Greece this year, I can’t help but smile. So excited!
  • If anyone has a suggestion for a company that does basement work, please pass it my way. I’d like that project taken care of this spring.
  • I am dangerously close to renewing my Rent the Runway subscription. I’m just so enjoying it!

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Filed under aging, Albany, DelSo, Dinner, Eating, Europe, favorites, Food, Greece, house, Local, musings, Observations, Random, Recipes, Recommendations, snow, Summer, travel, Uncategorized, upstate New York, vacation, Wine

23 and me – yes, me!

As a Christmas gift to myself, I bought a 23 and Me kit. I grew up not knowing any biological family members and I was curious to see how much of the limited family lore might be confirmed – or disproven. For years I had considered my heritage to be pretty cut and dry (50% German, 50% Irish), but I had come to learn that DNA is not really that clean and simple. Yes, both of my parents had been born in the counties from which I associated them, however, that didn’t necessarily mean there hadn’t been other ethnicities mixed in with their German and Irish blood. It was time to learn for real where my people had originated.

Within days my kit, which I had ordered on Cyber Monday, arrived in the mail. I registered it online and started trying to produce enough saliva to fill the test tube to the marked line. Not an easy task for a person whose salivary glands have been damaged by radioactive iodine, folks. Approximately 40 minutes later I had what I thought was an acceptable ratio of spit to foam and capped the tube, placed it in the box and dropped it in the mail.

I received an email when the specimen was received and a couple of weeks after that, I received my results and…

Drumroll…

Apparently I’m of 100% European descent. Shocking, right?

Here’s my makeup:

  • British & Irish – 65.3%
    (Ireland, United Kingdom)
  • French & German – 20.4%
    (Germany, Switzerland)
  • Spanish & Portuguese – 0.5%
  • Broadly Northwestern European – 11.6%
  • Broadly Southern European – 1.3%
  • Broadly European – 0.9%

Despite a friend’s long held assertion that I must be Jewish, that does not seem to be the case. My love for matzoh ball soup, bagels and pickled herring remains undiminished, I assure you.

In terms of genetic makeup, there may not have been much revealed, but there were a couple of things that prompted unexpected emotions. The first was the almost immediate contact made with a woman who shares the surname of my father, the parent I never met. It’s an unusual name, outside of the county where my father was born and raised, and seeing that name, and the scientific evidence that linked she and I together, was so powerful that I couldn’t immediately even process it. Days later, I was brought to tears by this connection with someone I will likely just like my father, never know. The map that accompanied my results also confirmed my sense of community, my feeling of belonging to a family, with its concentration of relatives in Donegal, the county from which I know my father and his family originated.

I know there are controversies about services like this and about having one’s genetic information available for public consumption, but, you know me and my ridiculous drive to be transparent. I’m not all that concerned about that really. Finding out at 52 that the person you had hoped was your parent more than likely was, made 23 and me add up perfectly for this a bit long in the tooth colleen.

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Filed under aging, Europe, family, Germany, ideas, Ireland, Irish, Observations, Recommendations, relationships, Uncategorized

It’a all Greek to me

I’ve been planning vacations for long time. Usually it’s pretty simple – pick a destination, figure out which airport/airline makes the most sense and then find a place to stay. Easy. Last year I upped the ante by putting a trip involving 4 cities in 3 countries together, but that seems effortless now when compared to this year’s challenge…

I’m struggling a bit with this year’s Fabulous Lilly Boy Annual Trip. It’s feeling complicated and a little overwhelming, and so I’m coming here to ask for some help, friends.

Tell me about Greece.

Middle son and I plan to spend 10-12 days there in early summer and I tense up each time I think about the number of details involved in independently booking a trip to multiple islands. With acceptable and reliable transportation between islands, of course.

Friends have mentioned their favorite spots and some recommendations, and I appreciated that very much. What I’m hoping for now is a bit more specific. Can anyone share a suggested itinerary of islands (ideally 2, in addition to a night in Athens on either end of the trip) which includes islands which have beautiful beaches, chill atmosphere, trails to hike or run, and good food? I’m totally open to doing day trips to smaller islands, but want to minimize the amount of time I’ll need to be on a boat. I am not a good sailor.

So? What do you have? Please – be specific and share suggestions and experience. I’d appreciate it!

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Filed under Boys, Europe, family, Food, Greece, Hiking, ideas, Recommendations, running, Summer, travel, Uncategorized, vacation

Twinning with Princess Diana

There was a time in my life when holidays and birthdays often came with gifts of jewelry. Earrings were a popular choice and I was given some really beautiful ones that are special to me and probably even valuable. Like those .5 carat diamond studs of which I managed to lose one. Twice.


There was one pair in particular which quickly earned a spot in my rotation of ear accessories because they were reminiscent of Lady Di’s engagement ring. The studs with large oval sapphires (my birthstone) surrounded by small diamonds were about as close to Princess status as I was destined to achieve and I just loved them.


Except, they were
heavy and pulled my ear lobes uncomfortably. In the hopes that I would avoid losing one of these beauties, I had them modified into screw backs which ultimately only added to the discomfort because the posts were now thicker and caused some pain when I put them on and took them off.  They languished in a drawer for years, only seeing the light of day on the rare occasion when I would resign myself to suffering with them in my ears for the sake of the perfect outfit.


Recently, though, I decided I needed to have them modified to make them more wearable and I knew just where to bring them –
Byron & Gill Mercantile on Lark St. Siobhan Byron had previously created a necklace for me from a pair of ruby and diamond earrings, that single .5 carat diamond and a dangling ruby as a self-gift for my 50th and I knew she’d be able to help me wear these earrings more frequently. I left them with her and a couple of weeks later, I had myself a new pair of infinitely more comfortable to wear earrings. The price was reasonable (approx $150) for the quality of work(wo)manship and I am thrilled to be able to wear these pretty blue earrings with pride instead of pain.

If you’re looking to have a special piece created or a current item modified, I highly recommend Siobhan and Byron & Gill. Stop in and tell her I sent you.

 

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Filed under Albany, art, beauty, birthdays, Fashion, favorites, ideas, Lark Street, Local, Recommendations, Uncategorized

Where Hepburn and Tracy trysted

What a day.

Trysted. What a word! Sometimes the state of language distresses me…folks don’t respect it enough to spell it or speak it correctly and the words we’ve added to English just don’t seem to have added much really. Like “hooking up,” for instance. But, I digress. Let’s get to where Hepburn and Tracy trysted!

During my recent time in Palm Springs, I had a few touristy things I wanted to do and one of them was a tour of the heavily Mid-Century Modern (MCM) neighborhood of Old Las Palmas.  After doing some quick research, I decided that the Palm Spring Historical Society’s “Golden Era Hollywood Homes” tour sounded like exactly what I was hoping to find. $20 and a couple of days later and there I was, meeting my group by the Synagogue which had been unfortunately renovated to disguise its MCM roots. Apparently, until the 1980’s MCM was a look not very highly regarded by many. But me? I love it.

This isn’t THE gate, but it sure is pretty.

The tour covered about 2 miles at an easy pace and lasted 2.5 hours. Our guide, (Joe?), a retired actor originally from Rochester or Buffalo, NY who graduated from Geneseo, was terrific. His narration was rehearsed but didn’t sound canned and his enthusiasm was contagious. On a beautiful morning, our group of 14 or so made its way past the former homes of, among others, George Hamilton, Kirk Douglas, Dinah Shore, Liberace and Lily Tomlin. We paused outside of Leonardo DiCaprio’s, available as an AirBandB, I believe, and eventually found ourselves outside of the completely-hidden-by-a-fence-and-wooden-gate home of Hollywood legend, Spencer Tracy.

Our guide shared some of the history of the wildly romantic and tragic relationship of Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn, star-crossed lovers of the golden era of Hollywood. He, a devout and married Catholic and she, a woman of rare independence, had shared a life of sorts in Palm Springs behind the very gate of which we stood in front. The gate which slid open to permit a woman and her small, leashed dog to exit. The woman smiled and took a few steps away from us before turning around to greet us with a “Good morning.” She continued to address us saying that since it was the holidays, she’d like to invite our group inside the gates to see the property. For real.

It was such an unexpected and graciously offered treat. She showed us through the car port to the rear of the house where there was spa, including a waterfall of sorts which was decorated with three stone monkeys depicting “See no evil,” “Speak no evil,” and “Hear no evil.” It seemed perfectly appropriate for every part of the situation.

The foyer

We finished our tour with entry to the foyer of the house. The floors were 8” squares of terra-cotta tile with a thick grout line. The ceilings were gorgeous wood. Beautiful. As we entered, the view was to the pool area we had just visited as seen through tall glass windows. Sigh.

The courtesy we enjoyed made the tour nearly impossible to ever repeat and I’ll remember it for a longtime.

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Filed under beauty, California, favorites, house, Observations, Recommendations, travel, Uncategorized