Tag Archives: Recommendations

An extra hour, a yoga retreat and your favorite breakfast

E5C504E6-72A5-4AD2-90EE-14230974B2E6When I get busy the first thing to get eliminated from my calendar is yoga. I almost wrote “yoga practice,” but quickly decided that phrase would be overstating my commitment to yoga. I mean, I always feel better after I take a class, but making it to a class, even just weekly, is often a challenge for me. I do my best, you know? Anyway, the recent time change gave me only an additional hour, but I was able to parlay that into a full day of various classes and activities thanks to an offering from my favorite studio, The Hot Yoga Spot.

The day began with a really beautiful drive, orchestrated by WAZE, out to the hill town, Berne. The actual location for the retreat was Switzkill Farm, a property I learned was previously a pheasant farm and a Tibetan Buddhist retreat, but is now community owned. The house, situated atop a hill with glorious views, is the kind of dwelling that makes me fantasize about packing up and leaving the city for more rural digs – beautiful, a bit sprawling and absolutely ripe for cosmetic upgrades.

We convened in what must be the living room, adorned on three sides with windows and a large fireplace anchoring the space. I think there were perhaps 30 or so participants and our mats got arranged in rows facing the front of the room and, beyond, the Helderberg Mountains. Prior to beginning our practice, we were invited to introduce ourselves and share our favorite breakfast – a tough choice for me because I basically like everything breakfast – pancakes, French toast, eggs and omelets, cereal, fruit and yogurt, oatmeal, bagels and pastry…there are no bad breakfast choices in my world! I don’t know – it’s generally the first chance in a new day to provide nourishment to your physical self, isn’t it? I just can’t imagine not eating breakfast. How about you?

We settled on our mats and began what would be a 90-minute yoga class. The instructor was new to me and she gave us a great class with plenty of ab work. Next up was a breathing workshop, which isn’t necessarily my cup of tea, but there were some cool methods demonstrated and I have to admit to adding one particular technique to my toolkit for middle of the night insomnia episodes. Lunch followed and, despite the limitations of my pre-colonoscopy diet, I was able to enjoy my wrap with hummus and cheese, and especially the gluten-free cookies.

We headed outdoors for a walk through the woods which was a perfect digestif. The trails we were on were beautiful and I can see how the Dalai Lama found the property so appealing. It was lovely. By this point in the day, I had almost hit the end of my self-indulgence limit but I’m really glad I decided to participate in the 30-minute Barre inspired class. It brought me to exactly where I wanted to be – satiated without being exhausted. I cut out before the meditation and flow classes but was completely satisfied with my day and the excellent value I received for my $75 fee.

I’ve not been to Kripalu or any other facility specifically for yoga, but this event definitely leaves me open to exploring other retreats in the future. Would you have one to recommend?

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

Rickie Lee Jones at the Cohoes Music Hall

Yes, RLJ at the Cohoes Music Hall. I was on the Cape when the tickets went on sale and immediately snatched up six, knowing that it wouldn’t be hard to share them with likeminded friends. You know, people who would also be blown away by the fact that RLJ was playing in a 475 seat venue in our area, even if it is a place that always feels like a firetrap to me.

I’ve seen RLJ a couple of times before and I’m familiar with her reputation for being ah…a bit difficult eccentric. The last time I saw her was maybe 7 or 8 years ago at the Bardavon in Poughkeepsie. It was a beautiful venue, but what has stayed with me since that particular show was something Rickie did to one of her percussionists. As I recall, he wasn’t a regular in her band at that time, but was filling in for an absent member. At one point, apparently, he wasn’t playing the little handheld instrument the way she wanted him to. She walked over to him, took the shaker out of his hand and stared him in the eyes as she demonstrated how she wanted it played. It was awkward.

Wednesday night, though, she seemed very pleased with her two band mates, a percussionist and a guitarist. Actually, in general, Rickie seemed to be in a good place, sharing stories and soaking in the love the audience (less than capacity) freely showered upon her. She explained that she preferred to play for small audiences of adorers rather than larger groups who might not really be present for the music. Recalling a story Aloysius had once told me about Rickie leaving the outdoor stage at a show he attended and inviting true fans to follow her to a different, more intimate venue, I took her at her word.

The show was magnificent. Her voice sounded incredible and she retains a control over her instrument which is remarkable. Her setlist was amply stocked with old favorites and more than once she brought me to tears, an experience I don’t have very often at a musical performance. There’s just a raw quality to her work that penetrated that particular evening. I was mesmerized – and not just by the fact that seemed to be wearing the same red velvet Frye boots I scored last month. It was easily my favorite performance of hers ever and I swear it’s going to be one of those shows that becomes legend.

My only criticism goes to the venue’s employees. There was way too much noise being made in the balcony where we were seated as the bar staff broke down their service bar. Buckets of ice being dumped and bottles clanging did not add to the event. What did add to the night, though, was a really good meal pre-show at The Hollow. I thoroughly enjoyed my chicken sandwich and sweet potato fries and look forward to eating there again in a couple of weeks pre-show for the Modern English concert. Maybe I’ll see you there.

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Filed under art, concerts, Dinner, Eating, Events, favorites, friends, Local, Music, Recommendations, Restaurants, upstate New York

How to spend 24 hours in the Adirondacks

Just in time for your weekend!

• Drive north late in the afternoon just as the sun begins to commit to its trip to the west.
• Settle in with a bowl of chili and more cheese and crackers than you typically consume in one sitting. Rationalize that it’s the mountain air.
• Gather around a bonfire with friends and a big bottle of rioja.
• Stare at the sky filled with magical stars.
• Walk in the deep dark to your accommodations for the night – a hilltop yurt.  CDD230E6-BB97-4242-9155-D47B5F54FAE0
• Snuggle with someone you love.
• Wake in the early morning, step outside and breathe.
• Take in the view and marvel at the beauty that meets your eyes in every direction. E67CFFCF-3FF2-418F-B634-D38079160BBE
• Meet your friends for a trail run.
• Eat a bountiful brunch in a quaint town and appreciate all the gifts you’re fortunate enough to have received.

 

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Filed under beauty, Brunch, Exercise, friends, Recommendations, road trips, running, upstate New York

Friday night at S & S Farm Brewery

F0E15BAC-3120-4965-BA64-9C6AEE710813Back in the day when I owned a restaurant, we had a collection of draft beverages of which I was pretty proud. We worked with local brewers and brought in small production brews that our guests really enjoyed. One of my favorite breweries, S & S Farm Brewery in Nassau, consistently produces some great beer and I always enjoyed working directly with family members when I needed a delivery.

I’ve heard that they throw a good party and for a long time now, I’ve wanted to get out to the farm to check out one of their events. Friday night, I finally got it together and wrangled two of my three sons into the car and headed east at about 5:45, having been warned that it gets crowded. Not an exaggeration, we would come to learn.

The ride out was stunning. I have a lot of really great memories that involve driving Route 20, but I’d not driven on Jefferson Hill Road before and it was so very pretty. The foliage and the old homes definitely had me considering if city life was as superior as I always think it is…

Upon arrival we were directed towards a parking area which was a short walk from the tasting room, tables, band and food. I had been warned that these Friday night things are popular, but I was stunned by the size of the crowd. There were probably 500 people there! Everyone we talked to was super nice and we got to spend some time chatting with a few folks as we waited in line to place our Burger21 order. Of course, being a practical person, I had thrown $20 to my kids and suggested they get soup or hot dogs from the second food truck since there wasn’t a line for the more simple fare being sold, while I grabbed a beer inside. With all of us placated, we committed to the approximately 40 minute wait for our excellent burgers and baskets of fries.

The food, my Brown Chicken Brown Ale and the setting were perfect. It’s been a particularly beautiful October and last night’s star filled sky was exceptional. I can’t imagine there was a better place to spend a couple of hours last night than exactly where I was. Let’s go again!

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Filed under beer, Boys, favorites, Local, Recommendations, road trips, upstate New York

Telling the truth – in Albany

We are living in scary times, friends. I don’t know about you, but I feel anxious about the state of our country and the relationships we have internationally. It seems like a long time since I’ve woken up without having to wonder what kind of outrageous statement or action with which Donald Trump has greeted the new day. It simply doesn’t always feel good to be an American in 2017.

Last Friday, though, was a bright spot in an otherwise dark time thanks to the New York State Writers Institute. Their schedule this fall is fantastic and the symposium they hosted over the weekend was absolutely tremendous. Although I was able to attend only two sessions of the event, I walked away with a glimmer of hope and a new sense of pride in my city. Bravo, Paul Grondahl and the NYSWI.

A few observations about the panels I attended:

  • The participants* were smart.
  • The audience was interested and mostly respectful.
  • Page Hall was packed.
  • The time went remarkably fast.
  • It was affirming, inspiring and reassuring.

Check out the rest of their schedule of events. There’s something there for everyone – and it’s free.

*Participants included moderator, Bob Schieffer, Douglas Brinkley, Franklin Foer, Amy and David Goodman, Maria Hinojas, Harry Rosenfeld and Tim Wu.

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Filed under Albany, Education, Events, Local, News, Observations, Recommendations, upstate New York

Crafts and craft cider

There’s something about Columbus Day weekend that makes me want to take a road trip. I don’t need to go far or stay away from home for long, but I just need to scratch my itch and get out town. As is often the case, the options for the holiday weekend were numerous and making a decision was a challenge. I’m inclined to fill up my dance card, so to speak, and it took some effort to select two events to attend. Plan in hand, I hit the road late Sunday morning and headed south. First stop – Kingston’s Hutton Brickyards.

Field + Supply, “a modern makers craft fair” is not the kind of event I generally attend. I’m not particularly crafty and don’t like crowds, particularly when they’re fawning over darling and precious handiworks. But, I got the sense that this was different and it was in a perfect in between spot to meet Hudson Valley friends. I’m so glad I went!

The venue is pretty cool, situated right on the river with covered spaces providing shelter on a damp day. Parking was free and well organized. We paid our $15 entry fee, adding an extra $5 to score a cloth bag, and wandered in, immediately impressed by the set up. There were plenty of people around, all of whom were remarkably attractive, but it never felt crowded. The various vendors craftspeople offered an array of handmade, small production items including jewelry, clothing, furniture, leather goods, fragrance/cosmetics and food.

IMG_3041

IMG_3037We availed ourselves of a number of items and I couldn’t be happier with my cool leather/wool plaid shoulder bag, an organic hair product designed to smooth and shape hair, incense and a bodacious jar of honey. It feels good to purchase from producers. Next stop…Samascott Orchards in Kinderhook.

This was the third time, I think, that I have attended Cider Sunday sponsored by Nine-Pin. The cider and food are always solid, it’s the weather that’s the wild card for this event each year. By the time I arrived after 3:00, it was warm, humid but not raining. No complaints on the weather, or anything else for that matter. I chatted with some folks I know, sipped an Original cider, ate some DeFazio’s and enjoyed the music. It was the perfect pit stop with a purpose.

Another good Sunday spent exploring the Hudson Valley. We are so lucky here, people! PS. If you feel the way I do about craft fairs, let me recommend one that’s coming up – The Half Moon Market is docking again in Washington Park’s Lake House. It makes for the perfect fall afternoon in Center Square.

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Filed under Events, favorites, friends, Local, Recommendations, road trips, sunday, upstate New York

A half dozen halves

Good friends

I recently ran my 6th half marathon – a claim I never imagined writing, much less accomplishing. The race, Rosendale Runs organized by the Shawagunk Runners group, was essentially a rail trail course, with a couple of miles at the beginning on the road. It was my first time running this race and I really liked the course. There was basically only one hill, and it was very early on, making for a mellow 13+ miles.

Saturday races can be challenging from a practical point of view, especially when they’re out of town. This one worked out pretty well since I crashed at a friend’s place Friday and woke up in close proximity to the course, which was in Rosendale just north of New Paltz. It was a damp, cool morning and I was really glad I had tossed a hat in my bag because I definitely needed it.

What can you say about a half marathon? It was scenic, the runners and organizers were all pleasant and I felt pretty strong running the distance. There was a trestle bridge that offered beautiful views and the path we ran on was soft and wide making for ideal conditions other than in the muddy spots.

Good swag!

I’ve gotten a tad blasé about 1/2s, and have accepted the reality that I’m probably never going to break any speed records. Instead, I run them to push myself a bit and to gain a new experience. I was happy to share this one with a couple of friends and I’ll be checking to see if it fits in my schedule next year again. Maybe I’ll even run it a little faster.

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