Category Archives: Uncategorized

Ode to my (p)leather jacket

Look closely at the shoulders...

Look closely at the shoulders…

Five years ago I bought a super cool motorcycle style jacket. It was beautifully broken in with a patina that mimicked years of wear and I found that it went with everything from jeans and boots to velvet and heels. It was probably the best article of clothing I ever bought at Marshall’s and it only set me back about $40.

I originally bought it to complete an outfit for a fall wedding. As sometimes happens, my ensemble for that occasion began from the bottom up with a pair of open toe booties with which I had been obsessed. I think I ultimately wore them a half dozen times before consigning them, they weren’t really for me. But that jacket? I wore it all the time. It went to at least 5 different countries in Europe as well as NOLA, NYC and Boston. That jacket got around.

It looks better on than it does on a hanger.

It looks better on than it does on a hanger.

A couple of weeks ago, as the weather started to cool, I reached for my trusty moto jacket and was dismayed to see that the (p)leather had started to peel. I put it on anyway. Knowing that my jacket was living on borrowed time, I started looking for a replacement. The days of my actually visiting Marshall’s and elbowing my way through the racks are on a hiatus with my current schedule, so I was limited to online shopping and, while I’m sure I could have found another quality (p)leather jacket, I decided to step up my game and open my wallet for a genuine leather coat.

I really love my new coat, but the only way I’ll ever love it more than I loved that Marshall’s moto jacket is if it lasts 6 times longer.  Seems only reasonable since it cost 6 times more, right? Do you have a favorite bargain item of clothing?

Leave a comment

Filed under Fashion, favorites, musings, Random, Uncategorized

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?

Leave a comment

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

W(h)ine List

How I've been feeling.

How I had been feeling.

There have been a few moments in the past week or two when I’ve felt reasonably competent when it comes to keeping all of the necessary balls in the air when it involves Lark + Lily. I’ve moved forward from the preliminary weeks of being a business owner when I felt nearly overwhelmed by the responsibilities I had taken on. It seemed as if nearly every hour of the day was consumed by school followed by errands, meetings and tasks related to the restaurant, capped by evenings on premise. It was mentally, and on a lesser scale, physically exhausting.

I was struggling with balance – and you know how I thrive on cultivating balance. Eating, sleeping and running were becoming distant memories and I wondered when I would achieve some control over my life again. Well, I’m happy to report that I feel as if I’ve moved on from the daily-putting-out-fires stage of entrepreneurship to a more even state of composure. I’m breathing (and sleeping and eating) better.

The Lilly guys and I are creating a new normal with shared dinners each of the nights they spend at my house, even if one of those meals is takeout and another is leftovers. I’m pretty much getting my miles in each week which really helps with my energy level and mental well-being and I’m eating more consistently. It’s all working and I’m beginning to feel as if my life is merely pleasantly full rather than completely drowned by demands. It’s even starting to get kind of fun.

This week I added 8 new labels to my wine list, bringing my total selection to almost 70 labels. I’ve also tweaked some of the wines by the glass and spirits we offer. The list is growing to reflect my palate, while also representing varietals that guests expect to be present on a wine bar’s menu, things which I don’t necessarily gravitate to like Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. A couple of my favorite recent picks are a lovely Alsatian Riesling from Rolly Gossman and a bold Zinfandel, Valravn from Sonoma County. Maybe you’ll stop in sometime soon for a taste.

Leave a comment

Filed under Boys, family, Lark Street, Restaurants, stress, Uncategorized, Wine

The leaves fell, I didn’t

imageMany months ago, I stated my intentions to run After the Leaves Have Fallen, my first half marathon. Now I know there are some people who don’t follow through on intentions, but, that’s not my way. I said it, I meant it and I was committed to doing it, despite the fact that I recently bought a wine bar and was now working 60+ hours week, a situation which really impeded my ability to run (or sleep) with any frequency.

Last Sunday, at the reasonable hour of 11:00 a.m., I found myself at the starting line in Minnewaska State Park, along with presumably 349 other runners. Yes, it’s a small race with only 350 entrants accepted. My personal preference is for small races and this one certainly met that criteria. I also don’t like spending a lot on entry fees, and, again this race was on point with a more than reasonable $15 price, which included a really cool pint glass.

While I’ve never officially run this race before, I have spent a little time on the trails and I kind of knew it was going to be a challenging run. There are some intense hills with significant elevation, and I was feeling undernourished and fatigued, even though I did remember to bring my handheld water bottle and a stash of jelly beans. Ultimately, though, I’m kind of stubborn, so I muscled through knowing the pain, which primarily radiated from the ball of my left foot, would definitely be offset by the incredible beauty of the course – which it absolutely was. If you’ve never been down that way, be it to walk, ride, run or ski, you really need to make it a goal destination. It’s spectacular.

So, I ended up walking a little along the way, but eventually finished in about 2:25, a decent enough time. The afternoon was enhanced by the presence of my friend, James, who always seems to bolster me through arduous events with his assertion that “this isn’t an easy race.” Next year we’re doing it together.

Leave a comment

Filed under beauty, Exercise, road trips, running, sunday, Uncategorized, upstate New York

I didn’t know

IMG_4854 The first time I remember wanting to be a runner I was about 12 or 13. It seemed like such a cool thing to do – put your sneakers on and a pair of nylon, fluorescent colored shorts (it was the 80s) and just GO. I was infatuated with the idea, but, as I’ve come to learn about romantic infatuations, the reality didn’t measure up to the fantasy.

It was early fall and dark in the morning when I left my house to run down the dirt road we lived on. The air was fresh, but my gasping made my lungs feel tight not wonderfully expanded as I had imagined. The distance I attempted, perhaps a third of a mile, felt endless and I found myself walking, not running. I gave up. Obviously, running was not going to be my sport.

35 years later, I’m registered to run a trail half marathon this weekend. How did that happen?

  • I learned that sometimes small steps, be it at a walking stride or a running pace, are the way to make progress.
  • I realized that running is a challenge that I find satisfying. It feels good to push myself.
  • I’ve accepted that there are some runs that turn into walks and that that’s ok. Life isn’t a race and I am committed to enjoying the journey.
  • I have a posse of running friends who inspire and encourage me.
  • I now know that for every step which feels difficult, there are 10 steps that feel amazing. I’m no mathematical genius, but that adds up for me in a positive way.
  • Most importantly, while I didn’t initially know how hard running was going to be, I also had no idea how incredibly happy a good run would make me feel.
  • I know now. I’m a runner.

Leave a comment

Filed under aging, beauty, Exercise, friends, girlhood, musings, Observations, road trips, running, Uncategorized, upstate New York

The beautiful awkwardness of middle school


One of my responsibilities at school is morning hall duty. I generally bring a book to my post at the end of corridor, but often I don’t read more than a sentence or two because I am so captivated by the students making their way to their home rooms. They are so incredibly compelling in their not-still-children, not-quite-teenagers way that I find myself content to merely witness their passage – through both the hallway and through the critical years of their middle school experience.

Do you remember your own middle school years? If so, is it with fondness or discomfort? In my hometown, Greenwood Lake, N.Y., the configuration of the middle school was kind of unique – grades 4th-8th attended a single building with a two-storied wing for academics and a wing shared by the grades for specials and the cafeteria. I loved that school and my class of 60 students or so. It felt like a safe, comfortable space and I thrived in that environment.

Despite the level of familiar comfort I felt among my friends and with my teachers, I can still recall the sometimes painful moments of being a pre-teen. Am I the only person in the world who was too embarrassed to blow my nose in class? Or who had some unfortunate results while experimenting with hairstyles or trying on different personas?

When I see the parade of kids heading towards me in the hallway, I am utterly charmed by the wide range of physical variations – there are boys and girls far smaller than my 10 year-old as well as students who I have to crane my neck upwards in order to make eye contact. The array of fashions, from sweatpants and leggings (always black) to skinny jeans to pants of a length that my middle school peers would have dubbed “flood waters,” never fails to make me smile.

The fresh-faced girls with a tasteful dab of lip gloss and the lightest coating of mascara are perfectly matched by the boys who have discovered hair gel and their father’s cologne. These kids usually travel the halls in a pack, which maximizes their impact on the less sophisticated students who sport t-shirts featuring non-ironic cartoon characters and hair ribbons and bows. I am equally in awe of those who attempt to appear older and the ones who are adorably oblivious to the accouterments of adulthood.  They’re all beautiful.

Leave a comment

Filed under aging, girlhood, Schools, Uncategorized