Tag Archives: ideas

Help me see the light – decisions about solar energy

I grew up in a home where “Put a sweater on” and “Turn off that light” were common phrases. One of the reasons I no longer have a traditional cable box is due to the amount of energy I heard they consume and I unplug appliances such as my coffee maker when I’m not using them. How many clocks does one house really need?

Encouraged by my oldest son, I’ve been thinking about solar energy recently. My house has a lot of roof space and faces southeast, pretty ideal conditions for sucking energy from the sun rather than National Grid, it seems. Any hesitation I’ve had about pursuing solar panels has come from my lack of information about how they work and a general sense of being overwhelmed about all the options – lease, buy, finance, etc.

A couple of weeks ago, I took a step in the direction of solar energy and had a salesman visit me and talk about leasing solar panels. I was a little taken aback about the 20 year commitment (what if I sell my house?), but moved beyond that by considering that I essentially had already agreed to purchase all my energy from National Grid forever since they were the only game in town.

Price per kw isn’t a huge thing in my decision as long as I’m not paying more than I already am per unit. I don’t necessarily feel that I should pay less, believing that the environmental benefit is a sufficient compensation. I also don’t want to be paying two companies on a regular basis, so I need to produce sufficient energy for my household’s needs. This is being determined by a site visit, currently scheduled.

I’m wondering if any of you have pursued alternative energy and might be able to share your thoughts and knowledge. How did you make your decision? How much did it cost out-of-pocket? Are your bills lower? Any wisdom you can contribute would be welcome.


Filed under Albany, house, Local, Recommendations

What I want to be when I grow up

As I get close to wrapping up my 20th year as a librarian, I’ve been thinking about the future. I’ve always just assumed that I would  invest thirty years in my chosen (and mostly beloved) career, but the last few years have been challenging with ridiculous teacher evaluations handed down by Governor Cuomo State Ed and tight school budgets causing the elimination of positions. It’s been a little disheartening, to be honest, and I think I just might need to have a new plan…

In a little more than five years I will be 55 years old and should have 25 years into the NYS Teacher’s Retirement System. That seems like a substantial amount of time to devote to a profession and I think that may be the perfect threshold to my relationship with teaching. Maybe 30 years isn’t really in the cards for me…

Writing those words caused my stomach to buzz with nerves…and excitement. Walking away from my steady paycheck will be a leap of faith that gets my heart beating a little fast. Mt first response to letting go of financial security is to think about all the reasons why I shouldn’t retire “early.” You know things like the fact that my youngest child will only be 16 years-old with college still to come and my house won’t be quite paid off and I’ll be paying increased out-of-pocket cost related to maintaining the excellent health insurance I presently have. And, really, who knows what the future holds in terms of income from Lark + Lily. Do you think I may actually see some income from this labor of love project?

But, something changed this week, almost as if a coin flipped to the other side and I began considering all the ways my life might improve should I retire in another 5 or 6 years. Instead of focusing on what I may not have available in terms of financial flexibility, I started thinking about the freedom that retirement will offer me. I’ll be able to spend more time with my youngest child. Travel plans can be made based upon when I want to get away rather than dates that are dictated by a school calendar. I’ll have opportunities to pursue other interests – maybe writing, photography or perhaps a position that involves promoting or supporting one of the organizations about which I feel so strongly. I’m feeling recommitted to my teaching job (after summer vacation) and curious to learn what the future may hold in store for me.  I think I’ve got a plan.

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Filed under aging, family, ideas, musings, Uncategorized

The best intentions

While my focus these days is on looking forward, I want to take a moment to reflect upon my success in achieving some intentions I stated months ago when 10 weeks of summer loomed on the horizon. So, let’s see…how did I do?

Well, 4 of the items I didn’t even come close to. I don’t know where the time went, but I never got down to Nine-Pin, nor to a Soul Kitchen dinner. I do hope to feature Nine-Pin at Lark + Lily, though, and now that there’s been a schedule change and the boys are at my house Mondays, maybe we can all go to dinner together. Let’s call it a work in progress.

The Catskills day hike is still a possibility. I’m sure it will be lovely in the fall and I could probably redefine that slightly into a trail run with my iPhone, right? I didn’t have dinner at 15 Church, but I did have a lovely glass of wine paired with some tasty tuna tacos on their gorgeous patio. It’s a start. Another A for effort situation would be my attendance at the summer trail run series. I didn’t quite make it to half of them (5 of 14), but I did do a Monday evening group run, bringing me up nearly to my goal of 50%. I can live with that.

Paddle boarding, a small party on the deck and destination Hudson all were achieved. I’m working my way through The Sopranos and made it through season one of Girls, so I’m catching up with the rest of the universe culturally, I suppose. There was an excellent, albeit scorching hot, getaway with the girls to the city and I most definitely enjoyed this last summer of having all three of my children around. Success!

The backyard became my middle son’s opus and he did a remarkable job cutting down overgrown weeds and vines and filled bags and bags with the evidence of his labor. We now have a clean slate to work with – next summer. It s a similar situation inside my house in the spare room. I’ve eliminated some items and can now repurpose the room as a true guest room/office, but it really still lacks an identity or any style.

My biggest fail is the lack of effort on my part to help with a meal at the Ronald McDonald house. This is something I really want to participate in, but I just haven’t put any attention into it. Not to make excuses, but, my focus for the last 2 months was on an item which wasn’t even on my list – putting together a restaurant.  That’s getting closer every day.  I hope your intention is to come and enjoy a glass of wine and a bite to eat!

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Filed under Albany, Boys, house, Local, musings, Observations, running, Summer, Uncategorized

Giving Sling a shot

imageThis summer I did something I’d been threatening to do for at least a year – I turned in my DVR and bought a Roku. For those of you who may be considering doing the same thing, let me share what I’ve learned.

  • Handing in the DVR box was completely painless. I went to the Time-Warner “store” at Colonie Center and it couldn’t have been any easier. There was no hard sell, no “speak to my manager” nonsense, just a simple and stress free transaction.
  • Our next stop was Sears where, for approximately $50, we bought a Roku 1. Our television is probably 10 years old and the first generation Roku was what we needed, there are other options for new televisions.
  • Once we got home, I conceded to my teenaged son and allowed him to set the Roku up, a process which took less than 10 minutes from in the box to on the screen. Since I kept Time Warner as my internet provider, all we had to do was register the Roku and connect.
  • As the summer progressed we unanimously Agreed that we missed one thing about having cable – the clock on the DVR box. No, seriously, that was the big loss to our family room – the clock! Other than an occasional jones for HGTV or Cartoon Network, we did fine with our Amazon Prime and Netflix Streaming offerings.
  • My bill went from $140 a month (a combined amount for DVR cable box and internet) to just over $50 per month. Of course, Amazon Prime is about $100 annually and Netflix is, I believe, $7 or $8 a month, but we already were paying for these services in addition to Time Warner.
  • The U.S. Open has dominated my Labor Day weekends for a good number of years and I was kind of missing the chance to watch it on television. I did some super quick research and it turns out that Sling has a package of channels (including 3 ESPN choices, HGTV, Cartoon network and A & E) for $20 a month. That seemed worthwhile to me and I signed up for a 7-day free trial. I imagine we’ll continue the service.

How about you?  Are you still connected to cable?  How much are you paying a month for television programming?

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Filed under house, ideas, television

Fifteen ideas for Summer 2015

1. Eat and drink at Nine-Pin Cider’s Dine’n
2. Dinner at 15 Church Street.
3. Paddleboarding on Saratoga Lake
4. A day hike in the Catskills with my camera.
5. Host a party on my new and improved deck
6. Get to a Soul Cafe dinnerimage
7. Volunteer to prepare a meal at the Ronald McDonald House
8. Check out local Farmer’s Markets more often.
9. Get away for at least one night with the girls
10. Take the train to Hudson for an afternoon
11. Figure out what to do with my weedy, unappealing backyard
12. Watch one of those series that everyone talks about but, I’ve never seen.
13. Make it to at least ½ of ARE’s Summer Trail Runs.
14. Repurpose my spare bedroom into something more useful.
15. Enjoy these last couple of months of having all 3 of my boys home.


Filed under Eating, ideas, musings, road trips, running, Summer, upstate New York

Gifts of the season

So far, it’s been a particularly relaxed holiday season. I’ve been on my game – my freezer has 8 quarts of assorted homemade cookie dough ready to thaw and bake, the door has a wreath and the dining room a decorated tree. The last of the Christmas cards went in the mail 3 days ago and I’ve got 4 rolls of wrapping paper – and tape.

Holiday preparations are so well in hand that I’m adding challenges to the upcoming days. I’ve got a few recipes which I’ll be debuting over the next few days, a riff on apple fritter waffle donuts, overnight pull-apart brioche cinnamon roll bread and a killer roast for Christmas Eve. And, yes, I already ordered the beef from the butcher. How did I manage to be so on top of things? I’d have to say it was because I remembered to put a few things for myself on this year’s gift list.

Last week, I loaded two of the three boys into the car and drove to go pick out a tree. At Price Chopper. Yep, we bought our tree from the Golubs, the same folks from whom I bought the potatoes and onions for our latkes. Talk about one-stop shopping! Generally we go out to rural Rensselear County for our tree, not suburban Slinglerlands, but the week’s wet snow made the appeal of tromping through a field searching for a tree pretty minimal. I gave myself the gift of simplicity. $35.00 and car filled with pine needles later, we have, as always, the perfect tree.

Last night, I had a hankering for latkes. Even though it was Friday and I felt kind of beat, I made the effort to grate the potatoes and chop the onion and fry a batch of latkes. With each step, I considered, then accepted, what I had to do next to get this out of the norm meal on the table. As the pancakes fried, I peeled apples for a quick sauce and grilled sausages. We didn’t sit down to enjoy our dinner until after  8:00, but I felt so relaxed because I didn’t rush the process or myself. I gave myself the gift of indulging in something I was really craving – sour cream and generous glass of Riesling included.

During these often hectic holiday weeks, when so very much (festivities, shopping, food and drink) is crammed into each day, I purposefully left my calendar open. I quietly refused to commit myself or take on obligations. It has been remarkable. I’ve been available to do some fun relatively last minute things.  I’ve been writing and reading, taking long walks with Jeter and enjoying my home and boys. I gave myself the gift of time.

I hope you’re giving yourself something priceless, too.

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Filed under aging, Boys, Christmas, Cooking, family, holidays, musings, writing

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!


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