Page 1

Official Parade of Homes guide inside! See page 35 May 2013

Save Money ✽ this summer

✽ this month

✽ this year!

Picture This

the best way to hang your art

Artistic Retreat

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Don’t miss the FREE Hewitt’s

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May is filled with excitement

Publisher George Hearst III Editorial Janet Reynolds, Executive Editor Brianna Snyder, Associate Editor Brittany Lenotti, Editorial Intern Design Tony Pallone, Design Director Colleen Ingerto, Emily Jahn, Designers Contributing Writers John Adamian, Steve Barnes, Caroline Barrett, Melissa Fiorenza, Laurie Lynn Fischer, Jennfier Gish, Alison Grieveson, Alistair Highet, Ann Hughes, Suzanne Kawola, Traci Neal, Wendy Page, Colleen Plimpton, Lucianna Samu, Cari Scribner Contributing Photographers Steve Barnes, Paul Barrett, Valerie DeLaCruz, Bryan Fitzgerald, Alistair Highet, Krishna Hill, Emily Jahn, Suzanne Kawola, Philip Kamrass, Colleen Plimpton, Mark Samu Sales Kurt Vantosky, Sr. Vice President, Sales & Marketing Kathleen Hallion, Vice President, Advertising Tom Eason, Manager, Display Advertising Michael-Anne Piccolo, Retail Sales Manager Jeff Kiley, Magazine Advertising Manager


Circulation Mark Vinciguerra, Director of Circulation Dan Denault, Home Delivery Manager Business Ray Koupal, Chief Financial Officer Paul Block, Executive Producer Life@Home is published monthly. If you are interested in receiving home delivery of Life@Home magazine, please call (518) 454-5768 or e-mail For advertising information, please call (518) 454-5358. Life@Home is published by Capital Newspapers and Times Union 645 Albany Shaker Rd, Albany, NY 12212 (518) 454-5694 The entire contents of this magazine are copyright 2013 by Capital Newspapers. No portion may be reproduced in any means without written permission of the publisher.


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Contents Home


In Every Issue 10 12 14 20

Talk Back On the Web Editor’s Note Window Shopping

In This Issue 24 A Do-Over Dream

A Niskayuna house is the perfect renovation lab

32 Giving it up for Green A sneak peek of this year’s Parade of Homes

35  Parade

of Homes Official Guide

78 What’s in a Window? It’s what’s on the inside that counts

82 Bringing It Home

Bring the French countryside to your home

88 Picture Perfect

Top tips for showcasing your photos and art

90 Floor It

The enduring grandeur of natural wood floors

104 For Your Garden

Gardening guru Peter Bowden on what you need to know


Official Parade of Homes guide inside! See page 35 May 2013

May 2013

19 Home Life Save Money ✽ this summer

✽ this month Life@Home | Ideas and Inspiration for Living

✽ this year!

Moving laundry outside

84 Design Defined

Super spring kitchen cleaning

86 Problem Solved Picture This

the best way to hang your art

Artistic Retreat

a design do-over in Niskayuna

Don’t miss the free Hewitt’s

gardening seminar See page 104

A staircase gets a makeover

95 10 Ways to Use ...

96 Dollars & Sense

100 Living Green

99 Refurnished Living

102 Down the Garden Path

Easy ways to save $100 this month, this summer, this year The best store-bought composters

Get more green mileage out of your appliances Super shrubs for shady spots

107 Tech Tips

Embrace the shredder


On the cover: Photo by Philip Kamrass   |  7

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Contents Life

In This Issue 112 Bringing in the Light



Adding vibrant color to your home through quilting

120 Back to Basics

Mark Bittman wants you to cook, even if you can’t boil water

Features 111 Help Me ...

... improve my landscape without spending a lot

115 Kitchen Crumbs

Tasty tidbits to brighten up your cooking

116 Dish

Cooking with Timothy Gates

118 The Vineyard

The white wines of Gascony

122 Table@Home

May means the grilling just got easier

125 My Space

Susan Scrimshaw’s favorite place

126 Photo Finish

A view from inside

112  |  9

 Talk Back

The story behind the story ...  from our contributors Read below about how our contributors learned new things while working on this month’s edition of Life@Home.

Dollars and Sense

All About Wood Flooring

Ann Hughes I am a die-hard coupon clipper, but it’s not the only way to save cash. After looking into 10 tips to save $100, I will hopefully be making fewer stops at the gas station and I will be all fueled up for a friendly round of summer thermostat wars with my husband. 78 degrees or bust!

Laurie Lynn Fischer In our neck of the woods, red oak is by far the most popular material for wood floors, I learned. I also found out that bamboo floors, trendy though they may be, take an inordinate amount of energy to manufacture.

Melissa Fiorenza Did you know toothpaste can be used to clean stains on carpet? I didn’t! Our readers continually surprise me with creative, alternate uses for common household items. See Melissa’s story on page 95.

See Laurie’s story on page 90.

Sheltering Shrubs

Brianna Snyder Green houses are the future. I know that now. And getting to see a local green house got me really excited about where we’re headed. People care a lot about climate control and a healthy planet, and seeing what can be done with modern technology and basic design principles shows me that pretty soon we’ll all be responsibly green. I can’t wait.

Colleen Plimpton An intriguing facet of my research on shrubs for shady spots is how many are natives. As more A Cookbook For Everyone land is developed and invasive species John Adamian intrude, it’s ever more important to Mark Bittman just wants people plant native trees, shrubs and flowto cook. That’s the first and most ers whenever possible. These provide important thing — to get in the food, shelter and nesting sites for wildkitchen. No matter how shaky life and promote a healthy ecosystem. your first efforts might be, it helps And they’re easy to find! to remind you of all the benefits that come from See Colleen’s story on page 102. being connected to what you eat.

See Brianna’s story on page 32.

See John’s story on page 120.

Parade of Homes

We asked ... you answered Join the conversation! lifeathomemagazine

There’s always something happening on Facebook. Click to add your two cents and enter contests.

• The best music to clean to is ... Lila: The Killers! Janice: Louis Prima!

• What’s the FIRST thing you do when you walk in the house? Tom: Close the door. Jake: Pet my dog

10  | Life@Home

Here’s what our readers said this month on Facebook. Laura: Greet our pups — Gibbs & McGee! Tracey: hug my puppy who has been waiting for me to arrive! Meris: Take off my shoes! Can you tell I’ve been in NYC for a while? Kathleen: Take off shoes. Zoraida: Kiss my excited doggie Rusty Maria: Turn the light on. Then set my purse and keys down.

Sue: Shoes come off!

• What’s one kitchen utensil you couldn’t live without? Lorraine: Corkscrew! Betsy: Tongs. I use them for so many things: grasping, clasping, turning, tossing ... Kathy: My husband!

Photo: Charlie Abad/GettyImages.

See Ann’s story on page 96.

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Find more at Explore more content — photos, stories, recipes, videos and companion blogs — all in once place.

PHOTOS Want to see more of this month’s home? Check out our photos online, and read the story on page 24.

STORIES Fluffalicious Bake Shoppe The best cupcakes (and cupcake truck!) in the Capital Region.

Embroidery Book Read and learn simple, lovely little embroidery patterns — online only!

VIDEOS Want to know how to make Chef Timothy Gates’ hummus recipe? Watch our video online and get the recipe on page 116.

LIFE@HOME ONLINE Pinterest Like our photos? Follow us on Pinterest, where we pin all our original photography and more! 12  | Life@Home

Facebook YouTube TimesUnionMagazines Want to go beyond the pictures in the magazine? Check out our behind-the-scenes videos.

Life@Home Blogs

Follow our 518 blog for great local finds and our House Things blog for gems dug up around the Web. lifeathomemagazine

Like us! Join in our conversations! Win free stuff! And stay on top of all our latest stories and news.

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 Editor’s Note

Spring Fever Dreams of what might be


p e my o h I ho w This is ns will grow! .) garde e on pg. 102 mor (Read t about you? Wha

s I write this at the tail end of March, traces of snow remain on the ground in my yard. The bushes are just recovering from months of lying underneath mounds of snow and look rather pathetic. Many have broken branches. I fear it’s going to be an expensive spring in my yard. Each spring is a time of hope for me. I’ve written before about the dreams and enthusiasm with which I enter the beginning of the plant season. In my mind the plants will be lush, the flowers will be abundant and I will have finally figured out how to plan the gardens so that the blooms continue All. Summer. Long. Reality sets in about July 4. The first crop of flowers is gone, the holes are obvious, and the plants I purchased just a month earlier are already showing signs of decline. (I have about a 40 percent kill rate in what I buy.) Clearly I need a different plan. And likely a good place to start is learning how to actually feed my gardens and plants so that more of them thrive. I tend to toss on a bunch of mulch in May and then hope for the best.

In part I take that approach because I am overwhelmed by the options. The walls of most garden centers are lined with bags proclaiming their brand is BEST! And each bag seems to cover a different plant species/potential problem/kind of soil. And so I mostly just give up. I assumed I was the only weekend gardener feeling this way until I spoke to Hewitt’s gardening expert Peter Bowden for the seminar Life@Home is sponsoring on May 4. Apparently this feeling is a common one, and he’s determined to help folks who are not master gardeners — that would be most of us — know what to buy and how to use it. Sounds like a plan. If you want to know more about the seminar, which is free, check out the story on page 104. If the outdoors and sweating in the garden aren’t your thing, May offers another option for dreams: the Parade of Homes sponsored by the Capital Region Builders & Remodelers Association. An annual event, the parade is a firsthand look at the newest ideas in design and home construction. It’s a chance to get ideas for your home renovation dreams or perhaps even to think about a new home entirely. You can learn more of the details on page 35. Here’s hoping you dream big this spring. 

Janet Reynolds

Photo by Colleen Plimpton.

Executive Editor

14  | Life@Home

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Big, beautiful windows augment and brighten a room. Photo by Philip Kamrass. Read more on page 24.   |  17



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Home Life 

Letting it All

Hang Out By Laurie Lynn Fischer



hen my son was a toddler, he treated our revolving umbrella-style clothesline as a ride. We scrapped it shortly after moving in. I hated accidentally shrinking my green wool sweater, and static cling was annoying, but I loved the feel of warm clothes, straight from our stackable Kenmore dryer. Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation used to mail us statements that gave me a cheap thrill akin to the earth-friendly kick I get glancing at my car’s mileage monitor on a downgrade. According to CHGE’s graph, we were power misers. There were three bars: your electrical usage, average usage and that of your most energy-efficient neighbors. We regularly ranked near the 98th percentile. Then one day, we hit the electrical lottery. A van pulled into our driveway. A uniformed utility man alit and told us that our household had been chosen to receive an upgraded electricity meter. This handydandy unit emitted microwaves, allowing for convenient drive-by readings instead of personal visits by those guys with the knack for showing up when you’re in your underwear. This device was also more accurate than

our older model, which apparently had been underestimating our energy gluttony for years. Suddenly, we plunged into the shame zone. Our measured kilowatt hours quintupled. Instead of using about 500 every month, our household was gobbling up closer to 2,500. I turned into my parents. When my children stood there with the refrigerator door agape, trying to make up their minds what to eat, I admonished them to close it. If they left the front door to the house open, I’d tell them they might as well toss dollar bills into the breeze. I traipsed around in everyone’s wake, turning off lights and computers. I advocated for showers instead of baths. Part of me actually enjoyed our occasional power outages. We fantasized about putting in solar panels or a windmill, but realized it would take too long before we broke even on our investment, even with government incentives. Finally, it dawned on me that we didn’t need anything as high-tech to harness the power of sun and air.


ast summer, we revived our outdoor clothesline. Our power usage fell by

500 kWh per month. Even though the price per kWh rose from .06 to .08 cents, our two-month bill plummeted from $367.14 to $254.92. For sure, hanging the laundry was less convenient. I had to carry laden baskets back and forth, but in truth, I could use the exercise. Pinning everything up took time, but I really didn’t mind; it was meditative. I also became more attuned to the patterns of nature, and even if the skies opened up before I could get the wash inside, the rain just made our laundry feel softer. The biggest bonus of line-drying is the fresh, clean smell. When winter came, I hung wet clothes indoors on a folding wooden rack. The only item I asked Mom to buy me for Christmas was a retractable clothesline for our laundry room. If our towels, garments and linens feel stiff, I allow myself the luxury of tumbling them for just 10 minutes or so, using ultra-low heat. By January of 2013, our kilowatt hours were down to 1,000, the price was down to .05 cents and our bimonthly invoice was down to $181.52. The days of feeling superior to the Joneses are over, but at least we’re keeping up with them.   |  19

 Window Shopping

Shop Smart Shop Local

Garden Statue Add an accent to your garden with this 16-inch stone owl statue in a warm hickory color. $57 at George’s Market and Nursery.

In each issue, Window Shopping highlights interesting and unique items available at area stores. This month we present backyard accessories. Photos by Krishna Hill

Birdhouse Stepping Stones These Massarelli Garden Stepping Stones come with Armed-Forces insignia, in addition to many other patterns and shapes. They’re 10 inches in diameter and cost $26.99 each at George’s Market and Nursery.

20  | Life@Home

This hat-shaped birdhouse, called “Garden Diva,” is perfect for ladies of the garden and their winged guests. $42.99. Find it at George’s Market and Nursery.

Ceramic Planter

Bird Feeder

Human-face ceramic planters add character to any garden. $59.99 at Faddegon’s Nursery.

This hummingbird feeder disguised as a mini-blossom picture frame is handmade with recycled materials. $56.95 at Back Yard Birds.

Bistro Set With two garden-style chairs and a table, this wrought-iron antique black bistro set suits any outdoor space. $399 at Faddegon’s Nursery.

Featured stores Back Yard Birds 952 Troy Schenectady Road Latham

Faddegon’s Nursery 1140 Troy Schenectady Road Latham

George’s Market and Nursery 240 Wade Road Extension Latham

Planting Table Make a design statement outside with this wood console table made from rustic fir with metal top. $129 at Faddegon’s Nursery. continued on 22  |  21

 Window Shopping continued from 21

Our Bloggers Shop



To stay in our bloggers’ design loop 24/7, go to

Are you a design and décor junkie? We’ve got your fix at And check out this month’s picks from our local and national bloggers. There’s more where these came from!

Home Décor@518 By Valerie DeLaCruz

House Things By Brianna Snyder

The Spirits That Move You | Jessica Warner fell in love with textiles while living in Tokyo six years ago. And in March of this year she launched her Web shop, Twofold, where she sells throws, cushions, scarves and other home 22  | Life@Home

accessories whose designs are inspired by Japanese textile-making traditions. This cushion, called “Crow and Possum Dreaming” is a design from a painting by the artist Paddy Stewart; it shows the dreamtime stories of a crow and a possum. Wool front, cotton back; 20 x 20 inches, feather/down insert, $125.

Want to update your kitchen without the expense of a total renovation? Give your cabinets and décor a lift and new life by simply changing your cabinet hardware. You can use all knobs or pulls or a combination of both. Be sure to measure the drilled holes for your existing ones so you can select hardware that will fit without repairing the door or drawer face’s surface. Copper is the new oil-rubbed bronze. This grouping from Top Knobs marries a creamy crackle-glazed porcelain with copper-colored metal in several sizes and styles and is available at Bellevue Builders Supply. 500 Duanesburg Rd., Schenectady.



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A Do-Over Dream A Niskayuna house is the perfect renovation lab for this interior designer By Brianna Snyder  |  Photos by Philip Kamrass story begins on 27

24  | Life@Home  |  25

26  | Life@Home


MAY IS continued from 24


he creative juices flow freely in the DeLaCruz family.

Valerie DeLaCruz is an interior designer, author of Life@ Home’s Home Decor@518 blog, photographer and singer-songwriter (she’s put out a number of country records and still receives royalties on her songs). Her daughter, Alex, works as an abstract painter in Brooklyn. Art and photography from both women hang on the walls, lending the home a distinct sense of its occupants’ personalities. Alex’s self-portrait is a livingroom highlight, and Valerie’s pastoral photographs of the family’s second home in Georgia accent many rooms. When Valerie and her husband, Joe, moved into this

Niskayuna house in 1987, Valerie says they weren’t sure this would be their home forever. A few years after moving in, she began looking around at other houses. “But the more I thought about all the upset” of finding a new house to move into and work on sealed the decision, she says, that “we really did love our location. I thought, If we’re going to live here, let’s make it the way we want it.” (The decision to stay put and renovate was aided by the fact that the airport is minutes away; both Valerie and her husband, who’s in sales, are frequent travelers.) “It’s very very convenient to live

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here. It’s like a sophisticated cottage,” she says. “This house has become for me an interior design lab,” Valerie says. The biggest renovations were done downstairs, with the help of contractor Neil Pedersen in Galway: a wall that once divided the living room and kitchen came down and two columns were installed as “a visual break,” Valerie says. They replaced the windows in the kitchen, changed the shape of the windows in the front room from rounded arcs to the more geometrically-consistent rectangular shapes Valerie associates with a more classic style. 28  | Life@Home


alerie is an economical designer, but feels it’s important to remember that it’s often worth it to spend a little more on the longer-lasting features of a home. She looked at many options for her fireplace but eventually splurged on the stone she really loved, which she got from Adam Ross Cut Stone in Albany. “Over 15 to 20 years that cost is going to seem like nothing,” she says. “I tell people to go for it. Don’t just try to scrimp because these are big things that are going to be in your home for a long time.” But, she adds, she is a huge fan of economical

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shopping: J.C. Penney (“It’s the best-kept secret for window treatments,” she says), Homegoods, and Macy’s are just a few of her favorites. The recently-renovated kitchen features all-new counters (from Hudson Valley Mosaic Tile in Albany) and a “picture shell” backsplash, which is made up of tiny bits of crushed stone and shells. The shells and stones echo other colors in the family room, where blues, greens and creams evoke the palette of oceans and water. And linked to the aquatic family room is the more rustic-looking living room, done in stone, wood and deep browns, conjuring the look and feel of the Adirondacks.

As an interior designer, Valerie sees new ideas all the time. “I’m constantly seeing new and better things,” she says. “But it’s like the shoemaker’s son. You get to your own stuff last.” However, she says, this house has become the perfect place to experiment. And her office on the first floor, with a big picture window overlooking a little koi pond, is the perfect place for her to work. As for the house, Valerie says they’ll just keep working on it. “I’ll just keep renovating and renovating it,” she says, laughing. 



For more photos, go to lifeathome.




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Giving it up for Green This year’s Parade of Homes includes an exemplary energy-efficient home


iz Kormos makes her living in accessible-home-development consulting, so when the opportunity arose to design a green home with her husband, she was eager for the challenge. When she began, she had two major goals: making the house highly energy-efficient and making it accessible. “I’m a strong advocate of building homes that are accessible for the residents,” Kormos says, “so someone who is handicapped can visit and get into and around the house and things like that.” Enlisting the help of John Blouch of Ethos Homes, LLC, Kormos and her husband, Sander Bonbell, who are in their early 60s, have only recently finished their new house in Ballston Spa. The home was built in the spirit of the “passive house” movement, which, Kormos says, was initially a European concept and moved to the States in the ’70s, when we started seeing

32  | Life@Home

super-insulated and solar homes. “‘Passive House’ is a term that can mean different things to different people,” Blouch says in an e-mail. “A house designed using passive principles is one designed and located in a way that will get the maximum benefit from the natural features on the site. This can mean capturing the heat of the sun in the winter while blocking winter winds and it can mean shading in the summer to prevent overheating and capturing natural breezes to cool the house. This is the greenest building approach of all since it only requires some thought and attention to the design process and does not cost anything to incorporate.” Blouch says that “passive house” can also be a more technical term for a house that meets certain specific conditions, such as low heating requirements, low air leakage and low overall energy usage. “This movement is very active and growing right

now,” Blouch says. Kormos was also excited to enter into a solar-panel lease program with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), a demonstration project that will allow Kormos to install a leased electric panel on the roof and also receive a newly-instated tax credit. Previously, homeowners only got the credit if they purchased solar panels. Last year the program expanded to offer credits to those who lease the equipment, too, which, Kormos says, made great economical sense for her. Because it’s leased, NYSERDA will maintain the equipment and replace any damaged or worn parts. “It’s a real win-win situation. We are very pleased,” Kormos says. “And [the program is] something people not even building new homes should be aware of.” Other features of the Kormoses’ new green home, according to Blouch, include:

Illustration background by PBNJ Productions/Gettyimages.

By Brianna Snyder  |  Illustration by Emily Jahn

Going to the Parade!

super insulation using cellulose insulation, which is recycled material and uses very little energy to process and manufacture; attic space completely sealed off from the house to minimize air leakage; high-performance triple-pane windows from Intus (“the insulation levels of these windows is similar to that of a conventional 2x4 wall insulated with fiberglass,” Blouch says); south-facing orientation to maximize sunlight; Apex siding, which is a fiberglass siding that is made from sand and doesn’t require caulk or paint; an energyrecovery ventilator to provide fresh air to the house that is preheated by older air; low-emissions wood stove; locally-sourced hardwood flooring; water-efficient plumb-

ing fixtures; custom cabinetry and tilework; and landscaping designed to minimize the amount of lawn to be maintained, among others. “My personal green building philosophy is that the top priorities are a healthy/safe home that is as energy-efficient as possible,” Blouch says. That means progressive thinking, too. Truly energy-efficient homes should last “a long, long time,” he says, and so part of the challenge of green design is anticipating what insulation might look like in 50 years and how it looks now. But it’s worth the investment, he says. “Energyefficiency is great because the homeowner benefits, as does the environment.” 


This year, the 13th-annual Parade of Homes, presented by the Capital Region Builders and Remodelers Association, has added a green home to its lineup. Executive Officer Pam Krison says the energyefficient addition, which is part of 11 homes in total on view, should make the popular event even more enticing. Krison says the CRBRA was interested in highlighting green building and that the green home on display “represents not just green [building] but sustainability. [The homeowner] has really done her research,” she says. The parade will be held June 1-2 and 8-9. Participating builders include: Art Herman Builders, Beacon Homes, Bella Home Builders, Ethos Homes, Pigliavento Builders, Saratoga Builders, Stewart Construction, The Michaels Group, Tralongo Builders, VanVeghten Construction and Witt Construction. All are “signature-style homes,” Krison says. “The price ranges this year start at $200,000 and go well over a million,” and can be found in Saratoga Springs all the way through to Guilderland. “There’s a Craftsmanstyle home, a resort-living-style [home], villas, cottage-style and many variations of custom homes with a combination of architecture,” she says. The mission of the Parade of Homes is “to keep educating the public on trends, design and technology in home building,” Krison says, “and of course homes have many different sizes and shapes and locations, and we’re delighted year after year that the parade represents that.” Tickets are $15 and valid for all four days. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the American Cancer Society. Tickets can be purchased at any branch of TrustCo Bank, or by calling (518) 690-0766. (Tickets can also be bought at the homes in the parade. Check crbra. com for more information.)  |  33





Hot Topics In Women’s Health

Honorary emcee Hughes Ann Hughe


THURSDAY, MAY 9, 2013 | 5–7 PM The Desmond, 660 Albany Shaker Road, Albany

With all the changes in screening guidelines, it’s hard to know what tests you should expect when visiting your doctor. Although most women no longer need annual Pap tests, they still need yearly well-woman exams with their OB/GYN for other important screenings, evaluations and immunizations.

Kevin C. Kiley, MD, FACOG

Join Albany Med’s specialists as they discuss the latest guidelines and what to expect when you visit the doctor as you enter your 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond.

5-6 PM Networking/Informational Session: Get up-to-date health information by visiting a variety of Albany Medical Center’s informational booths.


Associate Professor and Chair Obstetrics and Gynecology Albany Medical Center

Anna Varlamov, MD

Instructor Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Albany Medical Center

Light refreshments served.

Seating is limited. Register at


Girlfriends’ Spa Getaway at Cranwell (Must be present to win)

Questions, call 518-454-5583

(value $700)

paradeofhomes June 1, 2, 8 & 9

Official Guide 2013  |  35

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40 42 44

Welcome & Special Message Schedule, Ticket Information & Sponsors Parade of Homes Map

Parade Entries


47 49 51 53 55 57 59 61 63 67 71 75

Art Herman Builders, Inc. Beacon Homes, LLC Bella Home Builders, Inc. Ethos Homes, LLC Masullo Brothers Builders, Inc. Pigliavento Builders Saratoga Builders, LLC The Michaels Group Tralongo Builders, Inc. VanVeghten Construction, LLC Witt Construction, Inc. Saratoga Springs Witt Construction, Inc. Wynantskill

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to the 2013 Spring Parade of Homes

You are invited to the Spring Parade of Homes being held the first two weekends in June. This popular event, presented by the Capital Region Builders & Remodelers Association, consists of twelve spectacular new homes designed and built by some of the region’s finest home builders, architects, interior designers, carpenters and other craftsman. You will find the latest trends and technology in home building as well as cultivate ideas for your new home and remodel project as you tour these homes valued from $200,000 to over $1,000,000. CRBRA is proud to be making a generous donation to the local chapter of the American Cancer Society from ticket proceeds. Please join me in thanking the dedicated American Cancer Society volunteers that will greet you at each Parade Home and encourage you to cast your ballot as you will be judging each home you visit. The winners will be announced on June 15. Enjoy viewing these exquisitely designed and decorated homes for all lifestyles.

Special Gratitude and Appreciation for the experienced, committed and hard-working 2013 Parade of Homes Committee: Ed Gilligan, Chairperson-Curtis Lumber Takla Awad, Trustco Bank Jim Amsler, BCI Construction Jim Carpenter, Curtis Lumber Bob Glasser, Curtis Lumber Eric Loreno, Adirondack Audio & Video Dave Jenkins, Empire Building Products Win Peck, LOGIX Geff Redick, Redbud Development Ken Sherman, HIG Barbara Vincent, Security Supply Frank Tralongo, Tralongo Builders Staff: Pam Krison, Executive Officer DeeDee Enides, Director of Membership

Ed Gilligan

Ben Cangeleri

Chairperson Parade of Homes

2013 CRBRA President

Special Message from the American Cancer Society

Relay For Life is the signature event of the American Cancer Society. Relay For Life brings together over 3.5 million people in over 5,200 communities and 20 counties to celebrate survivors and caregivers, remember loved ones lost and to fight back against a disease that has taken too much. The money raised through Relay For Life events enables us to help people stay well, get well, find cures and fight back! Your American Cancer Society celebrates its 100th birthday in 2013 and we are proud to partner for a fifth year with Parade of Homes throughout the Greater Capital Region. The generosity of the Capital Region Builders & Remodelers Association helps us serve those in our communities who have been touched by cancer, and for that we are extremely grateful. 40  | Life@Home

Stop by and say hello to one of our dedicated volunteers at one of the many homes on Parade. Thank you to everyone for participating in the Parade of Homes, and for joining us as we strive to Finish The Fight in the next 100 years! For more information visit or Diana S. Martin Regional Vice President, American Cancer Society

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Schedule & Ticket Information Parade of Homes 

June 1, 2, 8 & 9

11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. daily Tickets: $15 (valid all four days) Tickets can be purchased:

Map & Directions:

• online at

• See Map on Page 00.

• at over 30 Trustco Bank locations in Saratoga County and around the Capital Region. To find the branch nearest to you, go to

• Individual directions to each home from the Northway I-87 are listed on each Parade Home.

• Curtis Lumber, 885 Route 67 in Ballston Spa and 1657 Columbia County, Schodack • At the first home you visit during the Parade of Homes. See map on Page 00 or use the map on the CRBRA/Parade of Homes website.

• Plan your own tour from house to house by using the interactive Google map on Click the Parade of Homes logo and find the map. Tips: At most of the homes, you will be asked to remove your shoes or put dirt-free booties over your shoes. So we recommend, you wear shoes that are easy to remove or plan on wearing the booties. No photography, food or beverages allowed in the houses.

Sponsors Platinum


42  | Life@Home


Silver Sponsors

Bronze Sponsors

Awards Reception

Andersen Windows & Doors Balzer + Tuck Architecture Boise Cascade Capitol District Supply Reeb Millwork

Certainteed Gypsum Products Realty USA Busch Products, Inc. Parksite

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VanVeghten Construction Ethos Homes Ballston Spa

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Tralongo Builders 90 890

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Pigliavento Builders Latham


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Masullo Brothers Builders


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90 Delmar

44  | Life@Home


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About this builder Art Herman Builders has been providing custom homes for families in the Averill Park and surrounding areas for over 50 years. Art Herman Jr. continues the tradition of building custom homes with attention to detail and a perfectionism that demonstrates a desire for consistent quality.

Art Herman Builders, Inc.


8 Magnolia Drive, Woodland Hills, Averill Park 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, 2361 sq.ft. $460,000 base price

Woodland Hills is a new development consisting of a total of 25 lots, with drilled wells and public sewers. Located at the center of Averill Park, yet secluded in a canopy of nature and tall pines, it offers a peaceful and beautiful setting for easy country living. All

lots are 1 acre or over and if you prefer larger lots, there are 10 acre, 9 acre and 3.7 acre lots available. Woodland Hills is nicely located across from a park, next to Averill Park High School and within a 2 minute walk to Crystal Lake.

Directions: 1-90 East to exit 8, straight onto Route 43 to West Sand Lake, continue straight on Rt 43 at light, turn left onto Gettle Road at Averill Park High School, left on Magnolia Drive to first house on the right.

• • • • • • • • • • •

Heavily Treed 1+ Acre Lots Hardwood Floors Tiled Bathrooms Granite Countertops Great Room w/Floor to Ceiling Windows Three Car Garage Full Basement w/9’ Ceilings Trex Deck Radiant Heat Fieldstone Facade Hand-Built Stone Wall Border  |  47



TJI joists were recognized in an annual national survey of builders as the #1 most used brand 14 years in a row. Which says a lot about the trust builders have in our products and the support we provide. Find out what other builders have known for years. Visit or call 1.888.453.8358 Weyerhaeuser, Trus Joist and TJI are registered trademarks of Weyerhaeuser NR. © 2013 Weyerhaeuser NR Company. All rights reserved.


B U I L D I N G S U P P O R T™

About this builder At Beacon Homes, building relationships with our customers is as important as building homes. We understand that a new home is more than just bricks and mortar – it is the essence of who you are. Our team of expert craftsmen have over 25 years of homebuilding experience, delivering quality homes that shine for each client.

Beacon Homes, LLC


162 Upper Newtown Road, Swatling Falls, Mechanicville 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, 2632 sq.ft. $374,900 base price

Beacon Homes introduces The Sinclair – an open concept, spacious home in our scenic Swatling Falls community in Halfmoon. With sweeping views of the rolling landscape, the homes in Swatling Falls combine a robust list of standard features with superior craftsmanship at an

affordable price point – redefining what it means to provide value and exceed expectations in the building industry. The family-friendly community is highlighted by a town park with active waterfall and nature trail.

Directions: Take I-87 to exit 9. Turn right onto Rte 146 East toward Mechanicville. Continue until the traffic light at the t-intersection (in front of New Country Toyota). Take left (Rte 146). Take right onto Upper Newtown Rd for 1 mile. Take right onto Alexandra Ct, Swatling Falls.

• • • • • • • • • • • •

Granite Countertops Central Vacuum System Home Security System TJI Quiet Floor System Full Ceramic Tile Master Shower Anderson Windows Irrigation System Town Park With Waterfall Hydroseeded Lawn Hardwood Throughout Wood Deck Or Concrete Patio Shenendehowa School District  |  49

Live the Best of Both Worlds Whether you are looking for a traditional neighborhood or an urban living experience, you will ďŹ nd the best of both worlds at The Elms at Saratoga!


To tour our model or for more information 518-366-2495 Š RANDALL PERRY PHOTOGRAPHY

Robert Marini Builders 2008 CRBRA Parade of Homes Award-winning Kitchen

> Our experienced professional staff has specialized in working with builders and remodelers for over 30 years.

> Advanced computer-aided design capability allows customers to visualize their cabinetry project before construction.

> BKI offers a wide variety of cabinets Saratoga Builders LLC 2008 Saratoga Showcase of Homes Award-winning Kitchen

to fit every budget.

> BKI stocks four lines of cabinetry at competitive prices for immediate delivery or pick up.

1220 Central Avenue, Albany NY 12205 518-438-0323 fax 518-438-3207

About this builder Dave DePaulo, owner of the award winning Bella Home Builders, Inc., has an artistic approach to building homes for clients with various budgets and needs. Bella, Dave’s creative vision, gives him the ability to meet specific requirements and lifestyles of clients with exceptional results.

Bella Home Builders, Inc.


715 Waldens Pond Road, Prescott Woods, Guilderland 4 bedrooms, 3.5 baths, 3900 sq.ft. $699,000 base price

Our Model Home is located in the prestigious Prescott Woods. With the beautiful blend of genuine Granite, Hardie board and Cedar shakes, the home invites you to come in. The large trim and the elegant corbels, mahogany porch and solid mahogany front door finish off

the exterior of this exquisite home. Once inside you are surrounded by custom woodwork, Granite countertops and Hardwood and Tiled floors. The Master suite is spacious and a custom shower and Kohler state of the art soaking tub await you.

End of I87 (Northway), Turn Right, west on US-20/Western Ave. for approx 1.7 miles, Turn left onto Van Wie Ter. (Van Wie Ter. is between Witte Rd. and Clark Pky.), Van Wie becomes Brandon Ter., Turn Left onto Waldens Pond Road.

• Custom Designed Gourmet Kitchen • Spacious Master Bedroom & Bathroom • Large Custom Trim Throughout • Hardie Board Siding • Granite Stone Gas Fireplace • Mahogany Front Porch • Cinderella Hand Crafted Bed • Energy Efficient • Solid Mahogany Front Door • Incredible Entertainment Room • 9’ First Floor & Basement • 3 ½” Solid Cedar Garage Doors

First Floor

Second Floor  |  51


NEW CONSTRUCTION: We are referred by many of the area’s finest home builders.

From a simple TV delivery to a complete Home Theater Installation, Multi-room Stereo Sound to Lighting Control, Home Automation and Structured Wiring.

EXISTING CONSTRUCTION: Professionally installed with minimal interruption of your life. FREE local on-site evaluation.

Proudly serving Upstate New York since 1956.

3125 Carman Road, Rotterdam Just off Thruway Exit 25 or I-890 Exit 9B

355-1020 ·

Call for a free, no-obligation appointment Albany. . . . . . . . .518.437.0014 Schenectady. . . .518.346.6769 Your parents want to stay in the place they call home. We can help.

Serving The Capital District

Whether you are looking for someone to. help an aging parent a few hours a week, or need more comprehensive assistance, Home Instead can help. Services Include: • Companionship • Meal Preparation • Shopping and Errands

• Light Housekeeping • Medication Reminders • Incidental Transportation

Each Home Instead Senior Care ® franchise office is independently owned and operated.©2013 Home Instead, Inc.

About this builder Ethos Homes is an awardwinning home builder that focuses on energy efficiency, sustainability and the maximum comfort and value for our customers through logical, integrated designs, an open mind, and attention to detail. We specialize in extremely efficient custom building, but we never forget that good design and personalized touches turn a house into a home.

Ethos Homes, LLC


89 Hyde Boulevard, Ballston Spa 2 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, 2700 sq.ft. $390,000 base price

“The Forever House” began as a compact floorplan tailored to the owners’ lifestyle, faced to the sun, and super insulated. We installed a ventilation system for superior air quality, an innovative heating system that combines heat

from the sun with a hot water heater, and solar electric panels. The interior was finished with beautiful features like custom built-ins, extensive tile work, tray ceilings, and a special wooden ceiling feature in the main living space.

Directions: From I87 take Exit 12 west on Rt 67. Continue on 67 west for 1.5 miles. Take a right on Eastline Rd. and follow it 2 miles to its end. Turn left on East High St. After going 0.7 miles and passing under the railroad tracks, turn right on Hyde Blvd. The house is on the right.

• Spacious Open Floorplan • Graceful Universal Design Principles • Super-Insulated Walls & Attic • Triple Pane Windows • Superior Indoor Air Quality • Annual Heating Under $150 • Passive Solar Design • Solar Electric/Hot Water • Innovative Hybrid Heating System • Custom Cabinetry & Built-Ins • Deep Porch & Screen Room • Hardwood & Tile Throughout

First Floor

Second Floor  |  53

At Capitol, we’ve expanded our cabinet lines and completely remodeled our Saratoga showroom to show off the beautiful new lines. Come see our designers to take your vision and make it into reality!

For All Your Home Needs, Come to Capitol for Kitchens, Bath, Plumbing, & Heating Needs!

Scan with Your Mobile Device to find out more!

Find Us On Facebook

Since 1915 Trusted 693 So. Pearl St. • Albany • 462-6731 •





5 Star Certified Lifetime Warrantees Siding Trim Accessories

Energy Star Tax Credit Lifetime Warrantees Anderson Harvey KasKel

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EPA certified Lead Safe Work Practices. Highest rating on Angie’s List and the BBB.

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Top Notch Carpenters Licensed Master Plumber Licensed Master Electrician

The Capital District’s oldest and largest full service remodeler.




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Sign a new contract between 4/1/13 and 6/8/13. Take 10% off, up to $500, with this coupon. BENNETT CONTRACTING 693 South Pearl St. • Albany • 462-6731 Not valid with other offers or prior services. Offer expires 6/8/13.

About this builder For 60 years and three generations the Masullo Family had been building Quality homes for families throughout the Capital District. Twenty West in Guilderland is the latest offering of extraordinary single family homes in a well planned community featuring meandering road with views of the Helderbergs.

Masullo Brothers Builders, Inc.


106 Twenty West Drive, Twenty West, Altamont 4 bedrooms, 3.5 baths, 3526 sq.ft. $529,900 base price

Exquisitely designed, The Worthington features a warm family room with a stone Fireplace and built-in cabinetry. This home also features a Chefs Kitchen and Butlers Pantry. The dramatic double wrought iron staircase leads you to the second floor were you

will find a luxurious Master suite with Fireplace and Custom Master bath, with tile Shower, Jacuzzi and granite counters, a guest bedroom with spectacular on suite bath and second floor laundry room are also found in this spectacular Home.

Directions: Take I-87 south to the end. Turn right onto Western Ave (US Highway 20) heading west; drive approximately 5 miles, Twenty West Drive is on your left just west of Carmen Road (Rt 146), directly across from the Guilderland Town Hall.

• Hardwood Flooring • 3 Car Garage • ENERGY STAR® Home • 1st Floor Office • Butlers Pantry • Two Fireplaces • Andersen Low E Windows • Custom Tile • Granite Counters • Custom Paint • Wrought Iron Rails • Stone Accents • Elegant Master Suite  |  55

From Our Family toYours, A Quality Builder for Life!

PINE RIDGE Duanesburg


Do you enjoy the out doors??? This Awesome 13 lot CUL-DE-SAC offers 1/2 acre to 9 acre treed lots. Starting at $234,900 & up!

Welcome to Park Ridge Estates a 29 lot sub-division in East Greenbush Schools District.


Estate size lots... ranging from 2-22 acres. Upscale Single family homes site starting in the mid $300’s.

(except holiday weekends) or by appointment.

Alani Realty Group

Renee Jablonski 518-339-9037

Alani Realty Group

Stuart Nippes 518-858-6534

Builder currently offering $10k in additional free upgrades!!!

Maria Martin Alani Realty Group 518-857-6966

Coming Soon...

NORTH HAMPTON: Lakeside Condominiums Upscale condominiums on the great Sacandaga Lake with over 3000 sq. ft. of luxury living, includes 2 boat slips. Priced in the low $300’s.

Maria Martin Alani Realty Group 518-857-6966


Condominiums in Brunswick (Rensselaer County)

NATHANIEL CROSSING Condominiums in Delmar

Pigliavento Builders 518-356-4550

Contact Maria Martin 518-857-6966 for more details.

About this builder Pigliavento Builders has been a family owned business since 1983 by Michael and Ed Pigliavento. Experience the superior one-on-one contact with the builder and our highly qualified staff. Awarded the Craftsman Award in 2007, the Pigliavento’s are dedicated in making a quality built home for you to enjoy years to come.

Pigliavento Builders


9/101 Paddock Circle, Helderberg Meadows, Rotterdam 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1336 sq.ft. $184,900 base price

Spacious and Stunning design unlike any other condominium you will see out there in this price range!! Private and Serene Entrance to 68 maintenance free homes.

Conveniently located on the county line to Guilderland and Rotterdam and minutes away from Orchard Creek Golf Course, Thatcher Park, Rotterdam & Crossgates Mall and more.

Directions: I-87 to Thruway (I-90W) to exit 25 to I-890 to Curry Rd. exit, take right onto Curry Rd. to left on Helderberg Ave. to right on Steeple Way (Helderberg Meadows), take left on Paddock Circle (Staple Gate).

• • • • • • • • • • •

Open Floor Plan 2 & 3 Bedroom Units Pantry Tray Ceiling Upstairs Units Lots Of Private Storage One Floor Living Master Suite Attached 1 Car Garage Private Patio/Decks Low HOA’s Fees Shalmont Schools

Unit 1

Unit 4

Lower Level

Unit 2

Unit 3

Upper Level  |  57

Photo courtesy of Terrace Homebuilders

Visit our showroom or call us for a COMPLIMENTARY estimate on your next custom closet or shower door project! T: 51 8 . 3 4 6 . 5 6 4 7 11 5 F r e e ma n s B r i d g e R d S c o t i a , N Y 1 2 3 02

Step into style everyday. p re c i s i o n g l a s s i n c . c o m

OPEN HOUSE New Construction



Upper Newtown Road, Halfmoon

8 Magnolia Dr., Averill Park

Colonials and ranches starting in the low $300’s

Models starting at $399K

Open House: Saturdays & Sundays 12-3

Open House: Sundays 12-3

Searching for the perfect home?

Want to sell your home fast?


For more information call 518-786-7007

Visit: Your home sold, Guaranteed!

About this builder Dan Barber and Sam Palazzole, the principals of Saratoga Builders, LLC, with 30 years of building experience and 40 years of business experience, are uniquely qualified to satisfy their customer’s needs and desires while staying on time and on budget.

Saratoga Builders, LLC


5 Corinne Court, Schuyler Pointe, Saratoga Springs 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1750 sq.ft. $329,400 base price The home is located at Schuyler Pointe just a few miles east of exits 14 and 15 of I-87 (The Northway) and downtown Saratoga Springs. It is also next to the new, 29 acre, Schuyler Park, which was built on land donated by Saratoga Builders.

• • • • • • • • • • • •

The neighborhood is a mix of both young and old homeowners; many with children, working and retired; all who share a common love of the neighborhood! The homes at Schuyler Pointe are in the highly rated Schuylerville School District.

Nine Foot Ceilings Hardwood Floors Ceramic Tile Floors Wall To Wall Carpeting Granite Counter Tops Stove, Refrigerator, Dishwasher, Microwave Schrock Cabinets Tile Backsplash Kohler Plumbing Pella Windows R21/Walls and R38/Ceiling Installation Highest ENERGY STAR® Rating

Directions: Take I-87 to exit 14. At end of exit turn left onto 9P South. Take first left onto Gilbert Road and drive to end. Turn right onto Route 29 East, drive about four miles. Turn left onto Loudon Road. Turn left onto Ashleigh Lane, then left onto Corinne Court.  |  59










Award-winning homes... as individual as you are.



& PA R A D E


“We’re Building Trust.” – PETER BELMONTE, JR.

Our homes start as low as the mid-three hundred thousand dollars and extend into the million dollar plus range. We recognize that a home represents a very important investment and always strive for the highest quality of excellence. Location, Location, Location! Beautiful new communities are right around the corner. We build beautiful custom homes, conveniently in town, on our expansive homesites, or on your own lot. Belmonte has fabulous locations convenient to the Capital District and Saratoga. Visit our award-winning Model Home at Arlington Heights for more information. • 518-371-1000.

* Membership in the HOA is mandatory for all properties in the Arlington Heights and Floral Estates communities. Homeowners will be subject total HOA covenants and design guidelines and will be required to pay HOA dues. For complete details see your sales representative.

• 22 ColorMax® Colors • 6 Premium Stain Finishes • Unlimited Custom Colors • 50-year Limited Transferable Warranty • 15-Year Paint Warranty • 2-year SureStart Warranty RESIDENTIAL/COMMERCIAL ROOFING • SIDING • WINDOWS • DOORS • STONE VENEER • DECKING

99 RAILROAD AVE • ALBANY, NY 12205 • (866) 320-3743 • Fax: (518) 454-0088

About this builder A Tradition of Excellence ... this continues to be the theme for the Michaels Group, a leading new home builder in the capital region for nearly 60 years. With three generations dedicated to building high quality homes incorporating individual lifestyles so as to have lasting value.

The Michaels Group


3 Whitney Drive, Sheldon Hills, Halfmoon 3 bedrooms, 3 baths, 2297 sq.ft. $278,900 base price The Barrington featured in The Enclave at Sheldon Hills is part of the newest collection, The Villas. Located in the heart of Halfmoon this resort style neighborhood is unlike any of its kind. With panoramic views, endless walking trails, State-of-the-Art Fitness

• • • • • • • • • • • •

Custom Kitchen Granite Counters Hardwood Floors Tiled Baths First Floor Master Suite Custom Private Master Bath Built In Niche Dramatic Open Design Pella Windows Full Finished Lower Level Maintenance-Free Single Family Living ENERGY STAR® Certified

Center, a Heated Outdoor Pool, tennis courts, driving nets, putting greens and an Adirondack Style Club House complete with bar and billiard room, homeowners enjoy all the benefits of a private residence, yet a playground awaits them at their front door.

Directions: From the Northway/I-87 to Exit 9 East. Take 146 East to the end. At the end (New Country Toyota) take a left. Proceed 1 mile to a Right onto Covington (Entrance to Sheldon Hills – across from Stewarts). Bear left and turn Left onto Whitney Drive to #3 on the right.  |  61

A Winning Design Designer, Kimberly Bonafede

Winner Best Kitchen Design 2012 Parade of Homes

Park Building Supplies, Inc. is designing the kitchen and baths again this year in a Tralongo Builders home. The open floor plan of this home, constructed by Tralongo Builders, allowed for the opportunity to design a larger than normal island.This didn’t come, however, without its own set of challenges.The space, as roomy and open as it is, still called for definition. In the design we needed to define the kitchen space as being separate from the great room without “chopping up” the open flow of the floor plan.This oversize, U-shape island allowed us to reach this goal.This large expanse creates a place for multi- function; function in the daily tasks of food-prep, cooking, clean-up and storage, and function for the life-styles of homeowners’ Jen and Jerry who love to entertain. The “party friendly” nature of this space was proven by the success of our Chef’s on Parade event. Jen and Jerry graciously opened their doors to allow us to host this event, in their newly occupied home. Repeatedly the feedback on the event was that “it felt like a casual dinner party” and “ it felt like a cocktail party where all who attended were the guests of honor.”

Upon entering the foyer of 5 Carriage Hill, one mustn’t forget to look up. Once done you are involuntarily frozen in place, stricken with awe at the sight of this hand, painted ceiling.This charming Old World scene of passion and love was an artistic creation by Anita Medina.

“Custom has new meaning.We are thrilled with everything the Tralongo’s did to make our dream home a reality.The quality is exceptional; they really did bend over backward to exceed our expectations.” _ Jen and Jerry Pittz

The Old World charm, from the hand painted, foyer ceiling is carried over into this elegant, spa-style bathroom. It is complete with hand-painted, marbleized columns, ornamental carvings, an oversize, walk-in shower (for two) and imported marble tile throughout.This romantic bath is the perfect spot to settle in for a long soak... with a glass of wine, of course!

Special thanks to: Tralongo Builders,The Tralongo Family, Sterling Homes, Jen and Jerry Pittz

Park Building Supplies, Inc.

707 Kings Rd., Schenectady, NY 12304 518-372-8347

About this builder Tralongo Builders combines “old world” charm with today’s trends. This 3rd generation company has been exceeding the expectations of homeowners in the Capital Region since 1956, providing architectural originality and utmost quality geared to today’s family lifestyles. The Tralongos work directly with their master craftsmen to create a home that reflects each individual dream.

Tralongo Builders, Inc.


10 Bridgewater Court, Vischer’s Landing, Clifton Park 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, 2760 sq.ft. $479,900 base price

The beautiful park-like setting for just 20 homes, with serene pond and protected green space, is the ideal location for your dream home and our custom Craftsman plan featured in this year’s Parade. The rustic exterior and interior design details are inspired by the natural environment and remind

us to value the organic, unpretentious, and understated elements around us. From the wide wrap-around porch with tapered columns on stone piers with accent railing, to the spacious rear deck, this home summons you to experience the outdoors.

Directions: I-87 to exit 8A. West on Grooms Rd. Right at Vischer Ferry Rd. Right into Vischer’s Landing at Bridgewater Ct.

• Craftsman Style • Inviting Open Floor Plan • Wrap-Around Porch with Tapered Columns on Stone Piers • Rustic Interior Detailing • Custom Stone Fireplace • State of the Art Appliances • Kitchen: Multi-function Work Space • Spa-like Master Retreat • 2nd Floor Laundry • Park Setting with Pond View First Floor

Second Floor  |  63


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621 Columbia St. Ext., Cohoes, NY 12047 518-783-1234 • 800-444-6313 Company ID NMLS #309847 Licensed Mortgage Banker – NYS Department of Financial Services

About this builder Established in 2003, VanVeghten Construction handcrafts each home we build to the highest standard. With a commitment to quality, attention to detail, efficiency, and value, our building process has allowed us to earn an outstanding reputation as well as the trust of our clients. We invite you to experience the quality of a VanVeghten built home.

VanVeghten Construction, LLC


1 Battle Ridge Place, Battle Ridge, Stillwater 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, 3181 sq.ft. $575,000 base price

This country influenced cottage style home features a well thought out, gracious floor plan for open concept living at its best. The stone and wood details combine with the unique exterior architecture for an organic ambiance upon first arrival. These warm elements continue inside and

are featured in the vaulted great room and spacious kitchen / dining room areas which serve as the heart of the home. Tucked away on the left side for privacy, the impressive 1st floor master suite dazzles with a tray ceiling and peaceful backyard views.

Directions: I-87 exit 14, left onto Rte 9P east toward Saratoga Lake. Follow 9P for 4.8 miles, turn left onto Brown Rd. Bear right .15 miles onto Putnam Rd. Battle Ridge is .25 miles on the right.

• • • • • • • • • • • •

Expansive Open Floor Plan 1st Floor Master Suite Timber Frame Accents Garden Level Basement Attached Screen Porch Vaulted Family Room Large Attached Garage Spacious Gourmet Kitchen Well Appointed Windows 9’ Ceilings Throughout Beautifully Appointed Exterior Gorgeous Staircase and Railings First Floor

Second Floor  |  67

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Long Shadows Farm is a 165-acre secluded Country Estate. The beauty of this property combines open and wooded landscape set in alternating hills and valleys. Two residences - custom-made 6,000-ft≤ open architecture main house overlooking the main pond that can be viewed from 3 sides of the house, and an updated 1,800-ft≤ 1800’s eyebrow colonial farmhouse overlooking equestrian facility. Equestrian Facility - 10-stall metal beam barn, hay barn, 100 x 240 ft. metal beam indoor arena, 40 x 60-meter outdoor arena, round pen, automatic horse walker and pastures with enclosed horse sheds. Five mile intersecting trail system winds its way through beautiful wooded acres.

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ADAMS POINTE in Halfmoon, NY

Saratoga Lake Front 3 year old custom home, spacious open floor plan, hw floors, travertine counters, ss appliances, oversized windows w/view. Great room w/20’ ceiling. Wrap around deck. Radiant heat in lower FR, garage. Mstr suite main flr, 2 bdrms, loft & full BA on upper level. Fam rm lower level w/20’ custom bar & full BA. Lakeside gazebo and 190’ dock with deeded 80’ shoreline, shared with 2 lake neighbors. Truly a beautiful lakehouse minutes from track, Global Foundries and downtown Saratoga Springs. Buck Land and Cattle Company 2 Stonebreak Rd., Malta, NY 12020 Phone: 518-899-0065 I Fax: 518-899-0071

BIG NEWS: Owner Now Controls Own Lawn & Snow Maintenance! Small 20 home neighborhood is shaping up nicely... Ranch, 1st Floor Master Suites & Colonials from $299,976. Excellent standard features are included in base prices! Furnished model home on site. OPEN SAT. & SUN. 1-4 or by Appt. 4 Julia Circle, Halfmoon, NY 12118 Nunziato & Paige Realty, Inc. 518-428-5968 (3.5 miles to Northway) Full terms are available in an offering plan from sponsor. File no. HO-11-0006

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Stone Fabrications Since 1889

About this builder Witt Construction designs, builds and renovates homes that are fine in detail, striking in appearance, efficient in use, and enduring in value. This National Award Winning Custom Home Design/ Build firm is creating homes which are truly unique in their presence and design; a premier custom company that constructs homes from $200,000 to $1,000,000 +.

Witt Construction, Inc.


51 Granger Avenue, The Granger Cottage, Saratoga Springs 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths 3055 sq.ft.

Custom Cottage designed for a city lot. This home is designed to make use of passive solar. The sunken Entry creates warmth as you enter the home and you walk up a few steps to main living area. Large Kitchen with Pantry, window seat & wine bar. Stone fireplace

with signature John Witt built-ins. Three bedrooms upstairs and Playroom in Lower Level with additional future Bedroom Suite. The exterior is a mix of natural granite, cedar shakes, clapboard and board & batten. The mixed materials create this Saratoga cottage.

Directions: Take I87 North to Exit 14, Merge onto 9P/Union Ave toward Saratoga Springs (1.4 miles), Turn Right onto East Ave (.3 miles), Turn Right onto 5th Ave (.08 miles), Take first left on Granger (.05 miles) (If you reach Schuyler Drive you have gone too far) House #51 is on the left.

• Private Master Suite • 3055 Square Feet • French Doors Open to the South • Passive Solar • Cupola • Wide Custom Staircase • Wide Plank Flooring • Professional Thermador Appliances for the Cook • Mudroom Off Garage • Window Seat in Kitchen • Custom Window at Landing

First Floor

Second Floor  |  71

R o o fi ng

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W i ndows


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Serving the Capital Region for over 39 years, providing a wide variety of hardwood, laminate, vinyl, and carpet for new homes, remodeling projects, or one room makeovers. 867 Albany St., Schenectady, NY 12307

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About this builder Witt Construction designs, builds and renovates homes that are fine in detail, striking in appearance, efficient in use, and enduring in value. This National Award Winning Custom Home Design/ Build firm is creating homes which are truly unique in their presence and design; a premier custom company that constructs homes from $200,000 to $1,000,000 +.

Witt Construction, Inc.


38 Indian Pipe Drive, Retreat On Pond Hill, Wynantskill 4 bedrooms, 3.5 baths 4434 sq.ft.

• Situated In Pond Hill Development On Top Of A Hill With Views Overlooking The City Of Albany • Signature Custom Built-Ins Around The Fireplace • Walkout Lower Level • Gourmet Kitchen • Walk In Pantry • Casual Dining Area Opens To Kitchen • Screened Rear Porch • Craft Room • Closed Cell Spray Foam Insulation In Walls • High Efficiency Furnace • Air To Air Heat Exchanger • Pella Windows

This custom home with panoramic views of the city of Albany was designed for the dynamic needs of a modern family. The home has plenty of private areas to escape as well as an open floor plan perfect for entertaining. John Witt’s attention to detail is evident in the mixed materials on the

exterior including stone, cedar shakes, stucco and clapboard. Three levels of finished space with walkout Lower Level. Spacious Kitchen with walk-in Pantry. Large Mudroom. Private Master Suite with a separate closet for him and a grand closet for her.

Directions: Exit 7 to Rt 7E toward Troy/Cohoes, merge onto 787S, Take Exit 5 to I90E toward Boston, Take Exit 8 toward Defreestville to Rt 43, Left onto US-4N Greenbush Rd., Turn Right onto Bloomingdale Dr., turn Right onto Snyder Lake Rd., Left onto Indian Pipe Dr., House #38 is on the Left.

First Floor

Second Floor  |  75

Whitman Real Estate Presents: 65 Mohawk Trail, Slingerlands Belmonte Built home at Indian Hills ✦ 3,000 sq ft + 1,000 sq ft finished walkout basement ✦ 2 master suites ✦ 5 bedroom 3.5 bath ✦ Brand new kitchen Existing Residential Homes & New Construction appliances ✦ Granite countertops Brenda Whitman ✦ Hardwood floors Broker/Owner ✦ Lg custom deck 4 Louise Dr. with built in benches Latham, NY 12110 ✦ Oversized 2 car Cell (518) 669-4427 side load garage

Enjoy the Times Union magazine experience. Online. Flip through the virtual pages of our Times Union magazine titles, accessible from anywhere online. The same award-winning layouts. More photos. Links that take you where you want to go. All from the comfort and convenience of your own device. body. mind. spirit.

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New York homeowners can shrink their energy bills — and their home’s carbon footprint — by as much as 15 percent, or an average of $500 a year, by installing windows rated by Energy Star.

78  | Life@Home

With replacement windows, it’s what’s on the inside that counts

By Traci Neal


y the time Donna and Jim Houde could poke their fingers clear through the rotted wooden window sashes in their Baldwinsville home in 2011, they’d already tossed years’ worth of heating and air-conditioning cash, well, out the window. Replacing the windows in their early-1990s ranch was something, says Donna Houde, “we knew we desperately had to do.” But at an average cost of $300 to $1,000 per window, it wasn’t a project they undertook lightly. “It’s an expensive job and one you don’t want to have to repeat,” warns Houde, who advises homeowners to “research the manufacturers and suppliers in your area, and if you’re not happy with the product then continue your search.”

Did You Know?

Photo: Elliot, Elliot/Gettyimages.

Federal tax credits are available to homeowners installing Energy Starrated replacement windows, doors, or skylights. To find out if you qualify, visit

For the Houdes, energy efficiency and curb appeal were the motivation. Their new lowE, double-pane vinyl replacements not only looked beautiful, but Houde says she started noticing immediate savings on her energy bills. “It made a big difference as far as my heating and cooling costs,” she recalls. “I would estimate, to be fair, somewhere between $50 and $70 per

month, maybe a little more. That’s a significant amount.” But what if your windows are admittedly older but not so blatantly ready for the landfill? Experts say advances in window design and efficiency as recently as the last couple of decades make the job worth considering, especially in the Northeast, where temperatures can fluctuate from bone-chilling negative numbers in January to brutal high-double-digits in June. In fact, New York homeowners can shrink their energy bills — and their home’s carbon footprint — by as much as 15 percent, or an average of $500 a year, by installing windows rated by Energy Star, the joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy ( “Windows are like little appliances that can regulate your heat loss in winter and your heat gain in summer,” says Jerry More, sales director at Comfort Windows, a familyowned window company that sells, manufactures and installs windows in the Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, and Albany areas. “Until the 1980s, nobody sold high-efficiency glass, but a lot has changed since then.” continued on 80

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continued from 79

For decades, in fact, windows hadn’t developed much past the same wood-framed, single-pane variety still seen on most pre-1980 homes, whether in the deep South or the frigid Northeast. But in the 1980s, says More, American manufacturers began adopting energy-efficient European window technology, such as specialized coatings, double- and triple-glazing, and panes filled with a clear insulating gas, giving consum-

ers a range of options and configurations they could choose based on their climate and individual needs. With so many options, choosing the right window has become more complicated, but the National Fenestration Rating Council offers a starting point. The NFRC (, a nonprofit trade agency, provides ratings to help consumers wade through the myriad choices.

While shopping, adds More, “Do your homework about the company; check the quality of the window and how it’s made, how long the company’s been around, what kind of labor they use, and the details of the manufacturer’s warranty.” With just a little homework, you’ll be apt to enjoy the view for years to come. 

Know the lingo often has a storm window, screen or combination

Five signs your windows need attention

space between glass may be gas-filled

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1. Curtains are blowing or a lit match held near the frame wiggles or goes out



To shop for replacement windows is to learn a foreign language, a bit of chemistry and mathematics, and some new vocabulary. Here are a few key terms from the National Fenestration Rating Council (

gasses sealed in the space between two layers of glass, used to help insulate a window

Fenestration: windows, doors, and anything else that fills holes in a home’s architecture

Glazing: The transparent or semitransparent in-fill material in a glazing system. Windows are often described by the number of glazings they contain — single-glazed, or one pane of glass; double-glazed, or two panes of glass, etc.

Single hung: windows with one fixed and one movable sash Double-hung: windows with two sashes that are operable Fill: a (harmless, odorless, clear) gas or combination of

80  | Life@Home

Frame: The enclosing structure of a window, made of wood, metal, vinyl, fiberglass, and composite (combination)

TRIPLE Solar Heat Gain Coefficient: measures how much heat from the sun is blocked. The lower the SHGC, the better a window blocks solar heat gain, important during summertime, when air conditioning is running. This number should fall between 0 and 1. U-factor: a key measure, especially in cold climates, of how well a window prevents heat from escaping. The lower the U-factor, the better a window is at keeping heat inside. This number should fall between 0.15 and 1.20.

2. Window is difficult to fully open or slams shut when opened 3. Faded spots on rugs or furniture where sun comes in 4. Window rattles and shakes and/or glass repeatedly cracks or breaks 5. Windows are made of wood and/or energy bill continues to climb source: Jerry More, Comfort Windows

Want to learn more? The Efficient Windows Collaborative offers information on the benefits of efficient windows, how windows work, how to select an efficient window, and manufacturers that provide efficient products. Visit

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Bringing It Home

82  | Life@Home

Your house can look just like a home in the French countryside By Brianna Snyder  |  Photos by Dan Piassick, Scott Womack and Ryan Street


f you’re like me, pictures and stories about the Tuscan countryside or cottages in Nice stir up irrepressible feelings of yearning and envy. All that art and history and sophistication seems out of reach for the lay American. No wonder Frances Mayes, author of Under the Tuscan Sun, was able to make an entire career writing about her life as an ex-pat in Tuscany. Thank goodness for Betty Lou Phillips, whose book, The Allure of French and Italian Decor, shows us yearners how to recreate these faraway designs in our own homes. Stocked full of gorgeous photos from houses all around the U.S., the book is a kind of journey to Italy and France via the United States via your couch. Phillips answered a few questions for Life@Home in a recent e-mail exchange. Here’s what she had to say.

You’ve written many books on French/Italian design and décor. How did you become interested in the subject? Like millions of Americans, I was — and remain — struck by the flair of the French. And why not? With their self-assured approach to design and mesmerizing way of projecting a rich cultural heritage with matchless sophistication and lack of showiness, they quite rightly have captured our respect. Indeed, to this day, the land that produces the world’s choice Champagne, cheese and chocolat — not to mention haute fashion by Chanel, Hermès, Louis

Vuitton and Lanvin — shows no sign of loosening her très chic grip on the planet’s tastemakers. And the Italians? Perhaps without intending to do so, they have given us the gift of how to live. For when it comes to la dolce vita — the good life, or the sweet life as some like to say — we cannot help but be captivated by the Italian passion for building deep, satisfying relationships, extending warm, artful hospitality and spending carefree afternoons with family and cherished friends.

What are three things Americans tend to do differently from the French and Italian? Well, the French, for example, do not understand American dependence on decorators, which they view as leaving one vulnerable to uncertain results. It’s not that none would ever dream of collaborating with a design professional; only that most would never turn over control of a project even to the most capable hands. So, what if faced with myriad issues that warrant assistance? In that case, the French are likely to have a comprehensive plan, opt to be hands-on and be precise in requests — specifying styles, shapes and proportions in such detail that leaves little doubt about their wishes and suggests the confidence they have in their own good taste. And, something else: While many of us frequently push Old-World tradition to extremes, wanting everything to look pictureperfect, both the Italians and the French don’t mind if something they treasure looks a little “off.” Family furnishings merit pride of place. This is not to say that our antiques are necessarily museum-worthy, only that we long for them to be in near perfect condition. Also, Americans often strive to have their rooms come together overnight. On the hand, more than necessi-

Top left and going clockwise: A railroaded, sheer overlay that is a mix of flat and boucle yarns heightens the drama of the bedskirt’s major fabric; this iron chandelier is 19th-century French with rare rock crystal jeweled drops and an antique trunk from New Orleans serves as coffee table; this master bathroom is accessorized with Bulgarian bath amenities (gels and soaps); heavy wooden doors swing into an inner courtyard.

The Allure of French and Italian Decor, Betty Lou Phillips, Gibbs Smith, 242 pages, $50

ty must prompt the French to buy. They’re capable of waiting years until the perfect piece comes along.

How long did it take you to put this book together? How did you find these beautiful homes? Are they your clients? It took a year to produce The Allure of French and Italian Décor, but the projects included were in the works over the course of two years. The homes photographed — with one exception — are our own projects. The one that isn’t was decorated by my daughter-in-law, Marilyn Phillips, a designer in Houston. Interestingly, I have three daughters-in-law — and all three are designers.

What was your favorite discovery while researching this book? For most people, overindulgence no longer has a place among 21st-century economic worries. Far less — or certainly less lofty — is now plenty inside many stateside spaces. In a notable shift, a more conservative way of life is emerging, in keeping with the new international mood.

What are a couple of quick, easy tips for people wanting to emulate some of these styles? In the fickle world of design, where ideals come and go: Quality does matter. The past must be present. Interiors merit furnishings with presence. Harmony is more important than conformity. Elegance must mingle with ease. Balance is key to creating a feeling of well-being. Collections make settings more interesting. Unique details awe and inspire.   |  83

 Design Defined

Super Spring

Kitchen Cleaning By Lucianna Samu  |  Photo by Mark Samu


his mother’s day, I’ve invited my children to come cook the family dinner in my kitchen. For my part, I’ve promised not to interfere. The vision, then, is of me, seated and reading while enjoying a large glass of Bordeaux while the kids prepare a world-class culinary delight. The alternative vision, which to my mind is probably closer to reality, is of scorched pots, chipped cabinets, and more than few new imperfections left behind on my marble counters. Some (my husband) might say I’m territorial about my kitchen. This is correct. Others (my children) accuse me of downright fanaticism in there. Also correct. The pleasures of watching my young son effortlessly tool around my kitchen is second only to the off-handed observations he’s delivered when permitted a night of baking under my watchful eye: “This kitchen is insane.” After years of kitchen designing, I can make any kitchen as dreamy to cook in as my own. A well-considered floor plan, a

84  | Life@Home

few tweaks to conventional ergonomics, a good mix of materials and the very best sink a budget will allow and, in the words of a favorite world-class chef, “BAM!,” it’s kitchen utopia. But unlike my own kitchen, where I can stand guard over the placement of wet dish towels and rusty drawer slides, the kitchens I design for clients require me to pay special attention to the single most important thing that makes a kitchen truly extraordinary: It must be easy to keep clean. Recently, I’ve found an ally in my obsessive need to design kitchens that can be easily kept clean — Dr. Oz! While I haven’t heard Dr. Oz advise the total and complete top-to-bottom cleaning of a kitchen twice a year, I believe he would sanction my well-founded professional opinion on the matter. For starters, there’s a lot of highly functional and sensitive equipment in a modern kitchen, and, just as your car needs regular service, your kitchen appliances will keep running soundly if you take the time to keep them in good order.


hen I suggest you clean everything, I’m talking everything. I take the knobs off cabinets, and while they soak I clean the drawers to remove that little bit of grease a good wipe down never quite gets. New bulbs go in the lighting fixtures, and grease-laden light fixtures — globes and all — get a vinegar-and-water soak. Emptying every single cabinet, the entire pantry, checking food labels, throwing stuff away, and relining clean and dry drawers may sound extreme, but I promise, this is how to make your kitchen not only last but safe to cook in. So pull out the trash cabinets entirely, wash the cabinet boxes thoroughly and spray all those high-performance drawer slides with silicone to keep them from getting rusty. Use your trash cans to soak the oven racks and the grates from the range, which should be left in an overnight soak of hot water and Soilax cleaner to remove all the grease left behind by an everyday once-over. I suggest rearranging the grates atop a range now and then so they will all



When I suggest you clean everything, I’m talking everything.” reflect an average amount of wear. Since you won’t remember where they belong unless you label them, this is as good a time for that as any. Cleaning out the refrigerator every time you food shop is a good practice, but when is the last time you checked the gaskets for mildew, vacuumed the dust off the compressor, threw away all the ice in the icemaker and cleaned the bucket, or plopped every shelf and drawer in a super hot soapy water bath? This is not a project for the kitchen sink. I use the bathtub, and while the entire refrigerator is left to soak, I check the expiration dates for all the food I plan to put back inside, freezer included. Dr. Oz would like that! In addition to the refrigerator, the dishwasher is an appliance few of us ever think needs cleaning. While empty, take the racks out, get a flashlight and poke around in there. The gaskets can pick up food, the underside of the door is certainly covered in gunk if you’ve never done this before, and the bottom of a dishwasher (where there’s a small screen) should be completely disassembled and cleaned. If you’re in the habit of putting the most greaseladen thing in every kitchen — the ventilation baffles — in your dishwasher, it may be even uglier in the dishwasher than you imagined.

Even if you think I’m obsessive and you’re reading this thinking there’s just no way, please clean the ventilation system in your kitchen and don’t feel too bad about what you find there when you do. Although most high-performance range hoods have removable baffles that can be sent off to the dishwasher, use that flashlight again to look hard at what’s going on up there. This nasty little job may warrant more than a biannual appointment. To get the ventilation super clean, place newspapers all over the range to catch the grease and protect your backsplash with plastic. Then, with your solvent of choice, clean the grease from the underside and the inside. (The blades are sharp, so be careful). Keep in mind grease fires are a reality, and ventilation hoods are where grease is sure to be found. For some models, you’ll unfortunately need a screw driver. Get it over with, and get it clean. I’ve scheduled my bi-annual complete and total spring kitchen cleaning for after Mother’s Day. I figure some cabinets may need a touch-up, and I’ll probably need to get the power buffer going on the marble counters. I figure I’ll be more relaxed on Mother’s Day, too, knowing the big clean is on my May calendar. Maybe I should get the kids to do it? No way. 

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“Make sure you use products and paints that are easy to clean after family use,” McCormick says. “The stairs are definitely a high-traffic area and you want to keep it low-maintenance.” She adds that you can bring samples of your wood, paint color, etc., to your local paint dealer, where they can custom-match “pretty much any finish you are searching for.”

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A staircase gets a do-over By Brianna Snyder  |  Photos by Rebecca LeFevre

PROBLEM This Tannersville house had been used as a summer retreat until Paula McCormick of PMY Interiors in Latham was hired to update its decor to suit year-round living. “After putting in a new kitchen, new lighting, new flooring, changing paint colors, etc., we were still dealing with an older staircase that dated the home,” McCormick writes in an e-mail. “A new staircase was cost-prohibitive and definitely not in the budget.”

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pottery glassware SOLVED McCormick hired Rebecca LeFevre, a decorative artist, “to fill and sand the stairs and then paint the risers and spindles a very nice, durable ivory color one shade lighter than the new crown molding,” McCormick says. LeFevre also painted the stair treads the same color as the newly-installed bamboo flooring, a dark coffee brown, McCormick says. “Several coats of paint and many coats of polyurethane ... resulted in a gorgeous ‘like new’ staircase,” which matched the rest of the home’s new, more contemporary decor. The work also made the home’s entryway brighter and more inviting. 

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Top tips for showcasing your photos and art

By Brianna Snyder  |  Illustrations by Emily Jahn

ure, you can take your favorite photos and art and place them on the wall in a row. But why settle for the tried-and-true (also potentially mundane) when with a little thought you can make a statement with your art? Why not make a frame cluster? The question, of course, is how and where to start. Not to worry. We asked a few area designers to give us feedback on a set of clusters we put together. Here’s what they had to say:


“Hang your center piece first, followed by the others. Examples 2 and 6 show how important this can be, especially if your cluster has many frames.” — Betsy Mattice “When installing in a stairway it is best to mount the art on the diagonal following the rise of the stairs. With some minor corrections, this is actually a well-proportioned grouping.” — Denise Maurer


3  TIP! “Take

your items and put them where you think they should go. Trace them with a pencil; maybe put some paper on the wall first. Let’s not ruin the paint.” — Maria Bortugno

“The scale of the art should be scaled to the structure/furniture it is over ... in this case, the fireplace. Rule of thumb, scale to about two/ thirds of the fireplace (7' fireplace, use 5' art; 6', use 4'). It should be mounted lower as it is too close to the ceiling.” — Denise Maurer

88  | Life@Home

“This is perfect. The pieces are scaled for the furniture and placed in a geometric shape. The bottom art is all on the same plane as it should be. The oval on the right balances the large piece on the left.” — Denise Maurer

Photos: Stair rail, ©; all others by GettyImages: fireplace, David Sacks; couch and floor lamp, Elena Elisseeva; fainting couch, Andersen Ross.

Picture Perfect S

4 “While example 4 is symmetrically arranged, I would find the large center frame to pack more of a punch if left by itself and at the same time be more relaxing, in a sense, to the eye. This does not apply to example 1, in which the large frame is essentially standing alone. The frames resting on the mantel in front of it are a great way to create layering and visual interest.” — Betsy Mattice

 TIP! “The frames can contain a

mixture of styles and textures but keeping them all in the same color family will create a unified mosaic.” — Betsy Mattice


“[This] has good balance and scale and factors in surrounding objects for mounting.” — Denise Maurer


 TIP! “Positioning is so much easier on a flat surface. Outline your pictures with markers when you are happy with the layout. Here’s the magic ... mark where your hangers need to go. Tape to wall. Nail right through the paper then remove. Easy hanging!” — Mary Korzinski

Our Experts Mary Korzinski, Custom Design Associates, Albany · “This is way too busy. The pieces do not fit into a geometric shape and should be mounted on a diagonal following the rise of the stairs. This is the one time when the bottom of prints should not be level because of the angle.” — Denise Maurer

Maria Bortugno, B Designs, Latham · Betsy Mattice, Elizabeth Rae Interiors, Delmar · Denise Maurer, Denise Maurer Interiors, Troy ·  |  89

Floor It O

The enduring grandeur of natural wood floors

ld growth hemlocks used to stand on the land where our farmhouse was built in the early 1800s. Now we stand on them. Upstairs are 16-inch-wide planks. We suspect the kitchen floor was originally the barn’s second story. Wherever we tread, we can read the tale of the tree in gorgeous detail. The reasons to opt for wood floors are myriad, say aficionados. “I like the solid feel,” says Bill Beach of Beach Flooring in Scotia. “I like the natural inconsistencies, the character.”

90  | Life@Home

Larry Thompson of Thompson Wood Flooring in Schuylerville cites cleanliness as one of its allures. “People like the fact that when their kids are on the floor, it’s clean,” he says. “If you’ve ever ripped up an old carpet, the amount of dirt and dust mites is disgusting. If you have pets, fleas will actually breed in your carpet. People with asthma and allergies cannot have carpet.” And then there’s its enduring style. “It just doesn’t seem to ever go out of style,” says Teresa McClain of Brewer Wood Flooring in Wynantskill. “People put in tile and then they

Photo: Dan Gair/Blind Dog Photo, Inc.

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Do it yourself If you’re handy, you can probably handle a basic wood floor, but it will likely take much longer and look less perfect than having it done professionally, says Bill Beach, of Beach Flooring in Scotia. Make sure to use a respirator, eye and ear protection, he says. Here’s his how-to explanation: 1. The plywood sub-floor should be firm, solid, level, and covered by a vapor barrier of 15-pound felt paper or rosin paper. 2. Rack the wood, laying it out in sections of four or five linear feet at a time. Most wood comes in

92  | Life@Home

says. “It’s trendy right now,” he says. “The downside is it’s not so green. They use high temperature and pressure to make flooring out of it. That takes a lot of energy.” Some builders like high-contrast hickory, while pine is a traditional choice, especially for children’s rooms, says McClain. “People like to put pine floors in older homes and farmhouses,” she says. “They like the rustic look. Pine is knottier and it’s a softer wood. You can dent it. After time, people like the worn look.” While wood flooring works just about anywhere in the home, one place, Thompson says, should be avoided: the cellar. “I am a true believer in a real authentic hardwood floor, but if you’re going below grade in a basement, you’re probably going to want to use a floating floor. It’s a synthetic wood that simulates the look of hardwood, but wears like Formica. It’s very durable. It doesn’t react as much to moisture.”


hen considering wood flooring, paying attention to how it is milled, which affects its structural integrity, is also important, McCain says. For radiant heating, for instance, the most stable wood is

random lengths, which are laid end to end lengthwise. When you hit a wall, saw off the excess, and start the next row. 3. Nail down each section and repeat the process. Beach, who is righthanded, starts at the wall and moves back, working from left to right. 4. If you’re installing raw wood or refinishing, smooth it using a belt sander. Beware: Paint on an existing floor may gunk up the sandpaper and contain toxic lead. 5. Edge, progressing from 36- to 60- to 80-grit sandpaper. Handscrape where the sanding machine can’t reach.

quarter-sawn wood, she says. Otherwise, most floorboards today are flat-sawn, she says. The standard thickness is three-quarters of an inch. Planks should be kiln dried, with 6 percent moisture content before installation, says McClain. It’s better to install and finish raw wood than to buy pre-finished flooring, Thompson believes. “Every pre-finished board has a micro bevel on the sides, like a v-groove,” Thompson says. “It becomes an awful dirt collector. It’s very unsightly. The raw wood sits nice and tight together. You don’t have that gap.” If you want to boost the resale value of your house, Thompson says the natural look trumps dark stain. “The lighter you keep the floor, the larger the rooms appear to be,” he says. “The darker the floor, the smaller and more closed in they appear.” And keep in mind the width of the wood. The most common strip flooring is 2 and a quarter inches wide, says Beach. The wider the plank, the more it moves, he says. “Humidity will affect it much more,” he says. “You’re going to get more cupping and larger gapping between the boards as it contracts and expands.” 

6. Vacuum. 7. Tack, using a sticky rag to collect anything the vacuum missed. 8. Seal. Water-based finish is harder, longer-lasting and less

toxic. Due to stricter off-gassing requirements, oil-based polyurethane recipes have changed, raising the chance of third-coat blisters that “look like a skin disease,” Beach says.

Photo: Edward Shaw/GettyImages.

don’t like it because it’s very cold on their feet or if they drop something, it chips the tile, so they want to chisel that up and put in wood.” If you’re interested in going the woodfloor route, our experts suggest keeping a few points in mind. The type of wood is obviously at the top. Just as certain colors dominate in different parts of the country, so, too, are some woods more popular in one area over another. In the Northeast, red oak rules, says Thompson. “Out of 28 years that I’ve been doing hardwood floors, 95 to 97 percent is red oak,” he says. “It’s a pretty, dimensionally stable product. It’s abundant, it’s affordable, and it works well with the climate changes.” Brazilian cherry gives a rich, contemporary feel, he says. “It’s a very dense, heavy material,” he says. “It’s more upscale. It’s extremely dimensionally stable.” For antique wood, he suggests Carlisle Flooring. “They specialize in old-growth wood and reclaimed wood,” he says. “Much of it was sunk in Lake Champlain.” Although technically a grass, bamboo is another increasingly popular choice, Beach

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10 Ways To Use ... Toothpaste By Melissa Fiorenza


hen it’s not keeping your pearly whites clean and your breath minty fresh, your tube of toothpaste can actually help with quite a few other around-the-house and on-your-body tasks. Leave it to our Facebookers to pump out some great ideas, mixed in with our own favorites below. Turns out, toothpaste can ...


Polish silver


Nix carpet stains

“Rub some into your rings (finger or toe!) before stepping into the shower. Then rinse for restored sparked!” says Alicia. It especially makes a diamond sparkle nicely, too, adds Linda.

As long as the stain isn’t too stubborn, you may be able to skip the last-minute run for carpet cleaner and just use your Colgate instead. Squeeze it directly onto the stained carpet spot; then brush, rinse and repeat. (You may want to test it on a discreet spot first.)


Whiten nails


Ease a bug bite

Photo:: Paul Burns/Gettiyimages.

Marie says, “I use it on my fingernails when I grow them long ... makes the natural white tips whiter.”

It’s that time again. Scratching away at a pesky itch? If you’re out of the good stuff, add a touch of toothpaste on your skin to cool down the bite.


Deodorize hands

From “After handling garlic or onions, apply a half-dollar–size amount to wet palms, rub together, and rinse.” We tested it out: much more effective than just a scented hand soap.


Be a harmless placeholder on walls


Soothe a burn


Clean up shoes


Clear up your skin

“I use it to mark distance between hooks when hanging art,” says Denise. (We’re guessing the trick here is just a dot you can easily wipe away.)

Whoops, got a minor burn? Similar to #4, toothpaste on the affected area right after the burn appears can help with the sting. Just don’t apply it to open wounds.

Scuffed-up leather shoes or mildly dirty sneakers can benefit greatly from a smearing of toothpaste. Scrub with a brush and wipe it dry.

This one came from Elaine Ramundo & Associates Insurance Agency on Facebook: “Use it to clean and extract your pores!”


Act like spackling paste

This is pretty genius. Ever need just a tiny bit of spackling paste? Stephanie uses toothpaste “to fill holes in the wall before painting.” 

Want to join in the 10 Ways fun? Stay tuned to our Facebook page for upcoming questions:

Did you know? You’ve probably heard about toothpaste’s zit-zapping abilities; our research found dermatologists aren’t fans. What it’s really doing is drying out your skin, which could cause irritation. (source: Listverse)  |  95

 Dollars & Sense

It Adds Up


By Ann Hughes

ou know that feeling you get when you reach into a pocket and find money you didn’t know was there? Simple changes to your lifestyle can leave you happily surprised every time you balance your checkbook. We looked around, asked around, and came up with 10 money-savings ideas that are too good (and easy) to pass up.

dialing the thermostat up in the summer is as important as turning it down in the winter, according to Central Hudson Gas and Electric Corporation spokesman John Maserjian. “If the thermostat was initially set for 70 degrees and re-adjusted to 78 degrees, the savings could be about $200 per year for a home with central AC or three medium-sized window units.”



• Pack a lunch three times a week, instead of eating out The average American household spends more than $2,000 a year on food away from home, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Ordering lunch can cost you between $5 to $15 a day, so bringing food from home three days a week can likely save you $100 by the end of the month. Cutting back on the fancy coffee drinks will save you even more.

• Make one trip to the grocery store per week Kathleen Godfrey, president of Godfrey Financial Associates, Inc., recommends buying all of your groceries for the week at one time. “That’s going to add up because you’re really going to be able to coordinate your weekly menu and coordinate your meals, and you’re going to save money on gas.”

TO SAVE $100 THIS SUMMER ... • Turn up the thermostat Yes, up. When it comes to saving money, 96  | Life@Home

• Group your errands together “If you’ve got three things to do and they’re all in the same basic vicinity, do them all at once instead of doing one at a time,” God-

frey says. “You’re going to save on gas.” • Carpool with other families to get kids where they need to be Parents joke about feeling as if they run a taxi service for their kids. Godfrey reminds us that all the back-and-forth is expensive. “If your kids play sports, get to know the other parents,” she recommends. “Set up some type of carpool arrangement. If you can save yourself one to two trips per month, that’s going to add up.” • Use the ATM wisely The average ATM fee is now $2.50 per transaction, according to If you use an ATM once a week and pay that fee each time, that’s more than $100 per year coming out of your pocket. Be sure to use the ATM associated with your bank, which will likely be fee-free. You may also want to consider withdrawing more money each time, cutting down on your number of transactions. • Automatically transfer part of your paycheck into a savings account Can you spare $10 per paycheck? Have it

Photo: iREB Images/Gettyimages.

Easy ways to save $100 this month, this summer, this year


automatically deposited into your savings account. If it doesn’t make it into your pocket, it’s as good as saved, says Godfrey. In this case, to the tune of more than $200 a year. • Don’t pay for something you’re not using Start by deciding if you use your gym or health club often enough to justify paying for a membership, and don’t stop there. “Look at all the choices you have with your cable plan. If you’re really only using a basic package, why are you paying for deluxe?” asks Godfrey. Take a look at your cell phone plan too. • If you pay PMI, make sure it’s still required Most homeowners have to

pay personal mortgage insurance, or PMI, if they aren’t able to make a down payment of 20 percent on their home. Keep track of when your payments put you over the 20 percent mark. Lenders aren’t required by law to cancel PMI until you’ve paid 22 percent. The savings could be hundreds of dollars each year. • Line-dry the laundry Maserjian says clothes dryers run an average of 20 hours per month. “If by line-drying residents are able to reduce the number of dryer loads by, say, half, the savings are $7 to $10 per month, or $84 to $120 per year.” Line-dried laundry smells better too! 

Do This Now to Start Saving Money Immediately ... For just two days, carry around an index card and keep track of your spending. “Every time money leaves your hands, whether it’s currency or plastic, write it down and then add it up,” says Kathleen Godfrey, president of Godfrey Financial Associates, Inc. “You’re going to be amazed at how much you spend every day.” Godfrey says you may spend more than you realize, because using a credit or debit card doesn’t feel as real as using cash. Unfortunately, all of those $2 and $3 charges add up at the end of the month. “When you do become aware of it, you’ll start to make changes,” she says. While you’re tracking your spending, develop a budget. Godfrey recommends pulling out your bank statements and making a list of your necessities. It may include rent or mortgage, utilities, car payment, groceries and gas. Then, look at what you’re buying with the rest of your money. Is it a need or a want? More importantly, can you afford it? Ann Hughes is a journalist who has been counting her pennies ever since she saved up for a Cabbage Patch Kid at age 9.

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Waste Not, Want Not

By Alison Grieveson

Did you know that, if you started composting today, by summertime your family could easily divert 200 pounds of waste from the landfill? And in return, your composted food scraps turn into liquid gold for your garden! Your flowers will thank you.

 Starting a compost pile is a lot easier than you think. There are some general rules to follow, such as sticking to  the ratio of two parts brown (i.e. dry materials such as leaves or dead plants) to one part green (i.e. kitchen scraps or grass; try to avoid adding weeds) for a balanced compost pile. Keep a small compost container in your kitchen for your fruit and veggies scraps, crushed egg shells, tea bags, coffee grounds and even small pieces of compostable paper products. (Make sure your container has filters to neutralize odors.) Do not add meat, bones or fatty scraps to your compost pile.

If you’re crafty, you could build your own compost box. Otherwise, I suggest making it easy on yourself and investing in a readymade composter for a no-hassle process. There are two basic models to choose from: stationery or tumbler style. I went with the tumbler style although I would suggest staying away from the hand-crank style, which can be hard to turn. 

 Stainless-steel compost crock. $45,  Compost crock filters. $5, w Achla Compost Tumbler made from recycled plastic and made in the USA. $217,

x Simply Natural compost bin. $100, y Eco Stack Composter made from recycled plastic. $100,

 x


Alison Grieveson is a graphic designer who enjoys exploring the greener side of the design and decorating industries. For more green tips, check out  |  99

 Living Green

Making the Most of It Get more green mileage out of your appliances By Cari Scribner

pring is an ideal time to take stock of your home’s major appliances, inventorying any that need replacing, and establishing better habits for using those that still function well. You can start on your ecofriendly quest by logging onto the Energy Star website,, and clicking on the “Save Energy at Home Tool.” This fun, graphically enticing app guides you on a room-byroom tour of the home to learn what you can do this spring to minimize energy usage, save money and help protect the environment. You can click on various rooms and appliances, such as the washer and dryer, or kitchen fridge, to learn more about the best model features and how to use them efficiently. Here are some Energy Star tips for shoring up energy usage in your home this spring:

LIGHTING: Lighting is one of the

Energysaving light bulbs can save money and last longer.

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simplest places to start saving energy. Replacing the bulbs in your five most frequently used lights with Energy Star-qualified lights can save $70 a year in energy costs. Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) provide high-quality light output, use less energy and last up to 10 times longer than standard incandescent light bulbs, saving money on energy bills and replacement costs.

BATHROOM VENTILATION FAN: Install a properly sized Energy Star-qualified vent fan to control moisture in the air as you shower or bathe. They’re also essential to control mold and mildew growth (be sure to run your fan for 15 minutes after showering). The right ventilation fans use 60 percent less energy on average than standard models, saving more than $60 in electricity over the life of the fan. They’re quieter and use high-performance motors and improved blade design, providing better performance and longer product life. While you’re at it, check and make sure the fan duct leads to the outdoors to prevent moisture build-up problems.

DISHWASHER: Save water by scraping dishes instead of rinsing them before loading in the dishwasher. The wash cycle and detergent take care of the rest. Rinsing dirty dishes before loading your dishwasher uses a lot of water and energy. To most efficiently use your dishwasher’s energy and water consumption, run the dishwasher only when enough dirty dishes have accumulated for a full load, and use the air-dry option if available. Replacing an old dishwasher? Newer, more energy-efficient models save energy and water. If replacing your dishwasher, consider an Energy Star model.

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REFRIGERATOR: If your current refrigerator was made before 1993, it uses twice the amount of energy used by new models. Look for the Energy Star stamp of approval when shopping for a new refrigerator. A new Energy Star-qualified refrigerator uses less energy than a 60-watt light bulb run continuously. Many homes have older refrigerators running in their garage or basement for overflow storage, and they can cost a lot to operate. You can save from $300 to $700 over the next five years by not running your second refrigerator. By unplugging your second refrigerator and properly recycling it, you can also prevent 5,500 to 20,000 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions.

WASHING MACHINE: Wash your laundry with cold water, using detergents designed for cold water use. Hot-water heating accounts for about 90 percent of the energy your machine uses to wash clothes; just 10 percent goes to electricity used by the washer motor. Switching to cold water can save the average household more than $40 annually (with an electric water heater) and more than $30 annually (with a gas water heater). To save water, try to wash full loads or, if you must wash a partial load, reduce the level of water appropriately. Washing full loads can

save more than 3,400 gallons of water each year. It’s worth investing in a new, energy-efficient clothes washer if you are due for a replacement. Energy Star-qualified clothes washers reduce energy use by about 30 percent compared to standard washers to clean clothes. They also reduce water consumption by more than 50 percent, and have a better spin cycle for less drying time.

CLOTHES DRYER: Don’t overdry your clothes. If your dryer has a moisture sensor that will automatically turn the machine off when clothes are done, use it to avoid overdrying. Dry full loads, or reduce drying time for partial loads. Try to dry loads made up of similar fabrics, so the entire load dries just as the cycle ends. A dryer operating an extra 15 minutes per load can cost up to $34 every year. Remember to clean the lint trap before every load. Dryers work by moving heated air through wet clothes, evaporating and then venting water vapor outside. Cleaning the lint trap before every load can save up to $34 each year. Check your hose connection to the outdoors, and replace if there are any signs of breakage. Likewise, make sure the exit vent leading outside has a properly operating flap, free from lint or other collected debris. 

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 Down the Garden Path Hydrangea ‘Glowing Embers’

Super Shrubs for Shady Spots Mix it up for garden glory

Story and photos by Colleen Plimpton


’m a sucker for shrubs. If they offer showy, scented flowers, so much the better, but I love ’em all. Shrubs are an easy way to keep the garden colorful and appealing with minimal exertion. But in our wooded Northeast, less than full sunlight presents a constant challenge. Take heart! No matter what type of shade your garden possesses — deep, dappled or light — shrubs exist that will fill the bill as focal point, accent or backdrop, and that will provide structure, hedging possibilities, food for wildlife and interest. Here’s a selection of my favorites, roughly in order of bloom. I’ve previously rhapsodized about hybrid witch hazels, so I won’t repeat the wonder of these substantial shrubs. Frequently in

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Clethra ‘Ruby Spice’ fragrant bloom in February, the flowers of cultivars such as Arnold Promise Jelena and Diane are welcome harbingers of eventual spring. Display these vase-shaped

beauties at the wood’s edge and protect from hungry deer. Sometimes referred to as “lily of the valley” shrub, Pieris is shunned by deer and features early-April dangling white flower clusters. More compact cultivars such as Dorothy Wyckoff and Valley Valentine offer reddish or purple flowers. The elongated green leaves need to be watched for lace bugs, however. If speckled areas appear on the leaves, get out the insecticidal soap; foliage must be sprayed top and bottom, as contact must be made to combat the critter. Intensely fragranced, six feet tall and wide, Virburnum carlesii really prefers a sunny spot but will happily grow and flower in some shade. Once you’ve inhaled

Hydrangea ‘Preziosa’

the scent of Korean spice viburnum, you’ll never want to be without the white flower clusters, borne at the branch tips. If space is limited, prune this shrub back hard after flowering. Underplant with spring blooming bulbs such as chionodoxa, tiny daffodils and winter aconite. Another viburnum with notable qualities is the Leatherleaf, which will grow to 15 feet tall and wide, and is adaptable to quite deep shade (where it will assume an open form). Its leaves often persist through winter, rendering it virtually evergreen. The slightly-scented white flowers are secondary to the worthy screening job it does, and it’s deer-resistant as well. How about bright-green stems in the dead of winter and rose-like canary-yellow flowers in early spring? Kerria gives this and more. A member of the rose family, look for cultivar Pleniflora for brilliant double blooms. When I was a girl azaleas were considered a Southern plant, but with the climate changing and the newer, hardier varieties now available, we can enjoy them in our northern homes. They will need protection year round from deer, however. A good repellent spray applied once a month in winter and once a week in warmer months will keep Bambi at bay. Slow growing, azaleas offer a blaze of color in shades of pink, red, orange, white, and purple, or try the newer Bollywood for variegated leaves and big, magenta blooms. Azaleas are shallow rooted, so

Oakleaf Hydrangea

don’t cultivate beneath them, but do apply organic mulch. Leucothoe, aka fetterbush, simply is not used enough in American gardens. This native, broadleaf evergreen offers softly draping long branches with shiny, elongated leaves, suggestive of a horticultural waterfall. Vibrantly colored Rainbow glows in the shade garden with foliage of green, cream, pink, and bronze. At maturity the shrub will reach some three to six feet in height and width. Fothergilla is another underused potentate. The combination of white, scented, bottle-brush flowers in spring, deer resistance and spectacular autumn color is enough to keep any gardener happy. Add in the lovely, crinkled leaves, a large loose habit (never invasive), and butterfly-attracting qualities and we have a true regent. Look for the classic fivefoot Mt. Airy and try Blue Shadow for a blue-hued shrub. No ornamental shrub border would be complete without several hydrangeas, but don’t place these beauties in full shade; morning sun is preferable. My favorites include old fashioned Preziosa with its small, abundant clusters of green, beige and antique rose flowers, and Glowing Embers, adorned with purple blooms that stay gloriously colorful even when dried. Both of these shrubs attain some three feet in height, and appreciate a dollop of acid fertilizer. Be sure to watch for the new Cityline series of hydrangea. These small

shrubs bear large flowers, and come in a rainbow of colors. Berlin, Paris, Vienna or Rio will add a sophisticated air to your shade garden. Clethra is known as summersweet with good reason. In the depths of August doldrums a sweet scent wafts on the breeze, and bees and butterflies buzz about the pink or white flowers; clethra has come out to play. A native, suckering shrub, clethra adores a wet site, though it’s quite adaptable to less than ideal venues. Sample Ruby Spice, a large lady at some three to six feet. If you desire a shorter summersweet look for three-foot Hummingbird, which feature white flowers. Oak leaf hydrangea is a late-season stunner whose leaves, overlaid with tints of burgundy, silver, red and green, color up just in time for Thanksgiving. The bold foliage is a sight indeed, but once it has finally shed its plumage the peeling, contorted, attention-grabbing bark takes center stage and holds the gardener’s interest all winter. Midsummer cone-shaped ivory flowers are a bonus. So don’t despair if Mother Nature has blessed you with a plethora of serene shade. Select some of these shrubs, let them strut their stuff, and stand back to enjoy your floral fling!  Garden communicator Colleen Plimpton lectures, teaches, coaches and writes about gardening. Sign up for her newsletter and view her blog at  |  103

Pulling Back the Veil on Garden Marketing Gardening guru Peter Bowden on what you really need to know about plant food and insect control By Janet Reynolds  |  Photos by Emily Jahn


he wall can be fairly intimidating. We’re referring to the wall of plant foods and pest controls lined up in fancy bags in most large nurseries. Add in the references to various formulas and no wonder many consumers do one of two things: pick one of everything because they’re too confused or turn and walk out without buying a thing. Hewitt’s gardening guru Peter Bowden wants to help change that. It’s time, he says, to get beyond the marketing hype and understand what you really need to make your garden thrive this summer. Bowden will share his expertise in a free seminar called Plant Food and Pest Control Basics. (See box for details.) He gave us a little preview over the phone. “You see those walls of nutrients and all those plant foods with pretty pictures and all the solutions for any garden problem you could possibly have — it’s daunting,” he says. “I want to help people dig through the marketing and pull the veil back.” “People often duplicate or get the wrong product,” he adds. “I will show them how to read a bag of plant or lawn food. I will explain the differences between them all.” That people are often confused by the array of products confronting is no accident, Bowden says. “Packaging is like a shell game. The fertilizer company in an effort to sell as much as possible will come up with secret formulas for each plant. I will explain the formula.” Not sure what the numbers mean on plant and lawn food packages? You will be after you hear Peter Bowden speak on May 4.

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Bowden will also help people better understand herbicides and organic controls. He’ll offer advice on the issues that work best with organic solutions and give tips on how to use herbicides safely for those times when that approach makes more sense. “There’s a lot of confusing things out there,” he says. “Even if the statement may be truthful there’s more to know about these things.” First stop for anyone serious about making their garden thrive is a soil test, Bowden says. “Because it sounds scientific, people don’t do it,” he says, noting it’s a three-step process. “Making coffee in the morning is harder than this.” But knowing your soil is critical to making the right care choices for your plants and shrubs. “You spend $30 on a shrub,” he says. “Do you really want it to sit there for 10 years without taking off?”

Knowing your yard’s soil type will also help you understand which plant formula will work best. “I want [gardeners] to use products but to use the right one,” Bowden says. “Don’t waste your time, and don’t abuse the environment.” “I’m a practical gardener,” he adds. “It’s my duty to get this information out to folks.” 

The free Hewitt’s Garden Center talk on plant food and pest-control basics will be held Saturday, May 4, at 11 a.m., at the Hewitt’s on Route 20, Guilderland. Gardening guru Peter Bowden will help make sense of plant food labels, and insect and weed control. Come get your questions answered and win great giveaways, including Hewitt’s gift cards! Although the event is free, registration is required. Go to

It’s dumbfounding looking at that wall. Four different companies are making different things. People end up buying based on what package appeals to them rather than what’s really going to work.”

— Peter Bowden  |  105

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Tech Tips 

Embrace the Shredder

Protecting your personal information at home

By Brianna Snyder


f you’re like me, you haven’t given much thought to just throwing away your junk mail. I don’t own a shredder. And if the junk mail in question is, say, a credit card offer with some more personal information in it? I just rip it apart and consider my responsibilities met. I hope you’re not like me. And if you are, we both need to make some big changes. Catherine Gonzales, an Albany-based CPA, has been in accounting since 1969. She’s shredded her fair share of documents. And she’s not slowing down, even if paper documents diminish as people and business begin to favor electronic recordkeeping. “I think people should shred a lot more,” Gonzales says. “If you have a paper trail, it’s only easier for somebody to get hold of that information and use it to steal an identity.” Bruce Wagner, who practices family law in Albany, says clients should hold onto their important documents (such as tax returns) for up to 10 years — maybe even forever. But anything with your name, address, birthday, and — this is the big one — your Social Security number should go through the shredder before reaching the garbage.

S.H.R.E.D.: What’s that spell? Eva Velasquez, CEO of the Albany Identity Theft Resource Center, suggests this simple mnemonic device: S.H.R.E.D., which stands for:

• Strengthen passwords • Handle personal identification information with care • Read your credit reports annually • Empty your purse or wallet • Discuss these tips with friends

Eva Velasquez, CEO of the Albany Identity Theft Resource Center, agrees. Every year, she gets calls from tens of thousands of people who say their identity has been stolen. “With all the attention we’re paying to online data breaches and that medium, we’re losing a little bit of these low-tech best practices,” she says. “And they’re still relevant.” These three experts gave us a shredder’s rundown. Here’s what they had to say.

FACT: 9,000 people contacted the Albany Identity Theft Resource Center for help in a case of identity theft in 2012.

SHRED ANYTHING WITH YOUR NAME AND ADDRESS ON IT. “Those address-label stickers that you get? I just shredded those this morning,” Gonzales says. “And I don’t think I’m paranoid. I think I’m a little bit more cautious, but that’s because I’ve seen clients who’ve had their identity stolen.” If someone has your name and address, that’s enough information to pinpoint you on the Internet. From there, it won’t be tough to nail down your birthday. And often birthdays and zip codes are enough to bypass many low-security phone systems and web logins. So just be safe and make sure all those mailers go through The Machine.

What kind of shredder should you buy? Our experts say the likelihood of an I.D. thief going into your garbage and reassembling strips of shredded information is pretty low. But it’s not impossible. For the most safety, our experts recommend a “crosshatch” shredder — the kind that turns your documents into confetti.

CLEAN OUT (AND SHRED THE DOCUMENTS FROM) YOUR PURSE AND WALLET. “You would be surprised at how many people still carry their Social Security card in their wallet,” says Velasquez. “But you learn that lesson after you lose your purse or it’s stolen.” Prevent having to go through that difficult lesson by regularly clearing your purse or wallet of stray pieces of paper with phone numbers and addresses on them, old bills or receipts and expired cards. Get rid of your old insurance cards “Medical I.D. theft is another form of identity theft that’s growing,” Velasquez says. “They steal your I.D. and use your insurance benefits.” Velasquez says this is an “insidious” crime and that the consequences can be dramatic: not only can it put you in a challenging financial situation, but it can also mess up your medical records. That can be dangerous and extremely difficult to untangle, Velasquez says. So slice and dice those insurance cards rather than giving them to the kids to play Credit Card with (as my mom used to do with us when my brother and I were younger).   |  107

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Overlooking Otsego Lake, the Fenimore presents a variety of compelling art exhibitions April through December. Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009), Mother Archie’s Church, 1945, Tempera on masonite, 25 x 48 in. (63.5 x 121.92 cm), The Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachuse�s, museum purchase 1946.3, © Andrew Wyeth




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Perfectly grilled onions for perfect spring days. Photo by Paul Barrett. Read more on page 122.   |  109

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Help me ... By Jennifer Gish


e’re deep into spring, and your neighbor’s lawn is shaping up to look like the gardens at Yaddo come June. Meanwhile, your landscape looks like the gardens at ... wait ... there’s not even a garden? Think you don’t have enough green in your wallet to handle the untamed wilds of your yard? Experts have some low-cost solutions. Clean it up: “A lot of people don’t keep up with the trimming, and at some point it gets to be too late. You can’t trim, so you have to replace,” says Bob Graves, vice president of Faddegon’s Nursery in Latham. Graves says a good rule of thumb is to trim when plants are in a period of growth but not most active growth. So not in May.

Look for a quick boost of color: Annuals are

Photo: Elena Elisseeva/GettyImages.

a quick way to add instant color. Choose a color palette you like for the sun and shade variables in your yard, and your landscape will blossom.

But think about the long-term, too: Trees and shrubbery can get expensive, but perennials are a low-cost way to add interest season after season, says Alan Decker, owner of Decker’s Landscape & Aquatics in Pattersonville. “You could buy perennials anywhere from $8 to $25,” he says. But most perennials have a short blooming season compared to annuals, so do a little planning with your local nursery

improve my landscape without spending a lot expert, figuring out how to stagger blooming periods so the landscape always has color. “You want to plant things in threes or fives, so you’re getting a little bit more of a show,” Decker says.

Feed the beast (well, it was a beast until you tamed it): “Things will look a lot better if they’re fertilized,” Graves says. “In general, if one scours the literature, the single best time is late in the fall, but most people do it in the spring and summer. That’s when they think of it.”

Check your soil: “If someone has a landscape that, for one reason or another, seems to be suffering, we find much more often now than say 20 years ago that the pH value of the soil may be off — is alkaline — and people are planting acidloving things such as rhododendrons and azaleas,” Graves says. To know whether your soil’s pH is an issue, take a sample into your local garden center or Cornell Cooperative Extension office for testing, Graves says.

Water it right: “Sprinkler systems are not used well,” Graves says. “People water too lightly, too frequently.” Roots want to be where the water is, and shallow watering leaves roots lingering in the top layer of soil. Deep roots mean the best growth, so that translates to watering longer and less frequently to really saturate the soil.

Or make water the star of the show: Whether it’s an overflowing pot with recirculating water, a bubbling rock or an old watering can that’s always sprinkling, a water feature helps your garden get a bit theatrical. “The only limit is your imagination, really, when it comes to water,” Decker says.

Freshen it up: “Re-edging beds and adding a quarter- or half-inch of mulch looks better,” Graves says.

Why mulch?: According to Cornell University, mulch reduces soil and water loss, suppresses weeds and protects against temperature extremes. One study comparing mulch to bare soil showed moisture content in mulched areas was about twice as high, summer soil temperatures dropped by 8 to 13 degrees and weeding time was reduced by two-thirds. Mulch comes in various shades, allowing you to tailor it to your home’s color scheme.

Think ahead to winter: Yes, even as you’re admiring your lawn while grilling your world-famous New York strip, you need to think about what your yard will look like when nothing is growing. “Have other bushes, boulders and things,” Decker says. “Put a rock in the landscape. Different mulch coverings can dress things up. There’s a fair amount of stuff that you can do.”  Jennifer Gish is the Times Union’s features editor.  |  111

A Stripe of a Different Color Adding vibrant color to your home through quilting

By Janet Reynolds  |  Photos by Debbie Patterson


f you’re looking to add some color and a personal touch to your home, color visionary Kaffe Fassett’s new book, Shots and Stripes, is a great place to start. Filled with breathtakingly gorgeous products, the book is meant to inspire and teach at the same time. Best of all? You don’t have to be an expert sewer or experienced quilter to make it through these patterns. The book includes templates for cutting fabric as well as instruction on basic techniques. Each pattern has clear plan along with helpful photos and drawings to make sure you can visualize what you’re creating. The book also offers plenty of shorter projects other than quilts to get your feet wet. Table runner anyone? While the book intentionally focuses on projects made with shot cottons — woven fabric in which the warp and weft are two different colors, creating a “shot” of color — you should feel free to experiment. In other words, while the patterns recommend certain Fassett fabrics, it’s not mandatory to creating these quilts. Liza Prior Lucy, the quilting brains behind this duo, laughs when asked if expert sewing skills are required to quilt. “Absolutely not. It’s easier than sewing things that have shapes like clothing,” she

112  | Life@Home

says. “Even making an apron in Home Ec is harder than these.” “I’ve done all kinds of needle arts since I was a kid,” she adds. “Quiltmaking is one of easiest and fastest. You can do square after square and do something fascinating. And at the end you have something to keep you warm or decorate your home or give as a gift.” Lucy was drawn to collaborating with Fassett because of his use of color. A fabric designer for Rowan Patchwork and Quilting as well as for Rowan Yarns, Fassett finds his color inspirations just about everywhere he looks. “What stops me in the vast world of inspiring sites is a set of colors in a pattern that suggests a quilt layout,” he writes in an e-mail from his English home. “A stack of box cars in shades of red and yellow at a loading dock, allotment gardens (in squares) cheek by jowl on an English hillside, folded fabrics on a market stall, swags of bright pennant flags — these and many more catch my eye daily.”

Kaffe Fassett Quilts Shots and Stripes, by Kaffe Fassett and Liza Prior Lucy, photographs by Debbie Patterson, Stewart, Tabori & Chang Publishing, 176 pages, $35.

Lucy, who owns an online quiltmaking fabric business, says she and Fassett alternate who does what in their creations. “Sometimes he picks out every fabric and I’m merely the seamstress,” she says. “Sometimes I pick out and ask for color assistance and everything in between that.” “Color is the whole reason I do this,” she adds. “It’s just a joy to work with beautiful colors. We think of ourselves as traditional quiltmakers. There’s nothing avant-garde here. We’re just taking it and making it more modern in color.”  If you want to find out more about Liza Lucy and Kaffe Fassett’s fabrics, go to

Not sure you want to commit to an entire quilt? Get started with a table runner or placemats.  |  113


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Tasty Tidbits By Caroline Barrett

to brighten up your cooking

Food Tip Brown rice, green beans and tofu: Does that sound like your kind of meal? If you don’t eat any meat, then you are among the 10 percent of Americans who consider themselves vegetarians.

 Cookbook of the Month The Fresh & Green Table: Delicious Ideas for Bringing Vegetables into Every Meal This book is a great addition to any cookbook shelf at the beginning of this bountiful season. Author Susie Middleton shows us how to use vegetables as a main course. Try her marinated mushroom grilled pizza or corn, zucchini, onion and basil frittata.

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Do you have a melon baller? It’s got many more uses than simply scooping out the flesh of melons. Use this handy tool for scooping out small tomatoes before stuffing them, removing the core of halved apples and pears, or making a lovely dessert bowl of tiny scoops of sorbet. For this dessert, choose two or three different sorbets, scoop five or six balls into pretty bowls, and freeze until ready to serve. Slide a cookie into each bowl and serve for an easy and beautiful dessert.

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Avocado Lusciousness  Cilantro Avocado Dressing This luscious, creamy dressing is lovely on spring greens, salads and as a dip for carrots and cucumber. Drizzle it on tacos, spread on sandwiches or hard-boiled eggs. • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil • juice of 1/2 lemon • 1 avocado • 1 small handful cilantro • sea salt and black pepper to taste Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.  |  115

 Dish

At home with

Timothy Gates

Story and photos by Steve Barnes


to Marché at the boutique hotel 74 State in Albany. But none of them fully prepared him for the eccentricities and rewards of his latest position, as head chef at the Charles F. Lucas Confectionery & Wine Bar in Troy.

orking at a truckstop really took me forward in cooking,” says Timothy Gates. After putting in six years at his father’s former Chatham restaurant, TJ’s Grill, Gates took a job at The Racing Café, a truckstop diner in Canaan. While his father had run a meticulous, Hummus orderly business, the diner was a Ingredients: rambunctious place. 4 (15-ounce) cans “It was like a pirate-ship chickpeas, drained crew,” Gates says, a collection Zest of one lemon of rogues, misfits and assorted others inclined to wild living. Juice of two lemons “We had an amazing amount of 8 to 10 cloves of garlic, minced fun,” he says, “and I learned ½ cup sesame tahini a lot.” 1 ounce toasted sesame oil In the 15 years since, he’s A dash, less than ½ ounce, worked at eight restaurants, balsamic vinegar from the kid-centric Friendly’s ½ teaspoon cumin, ground

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Open since September, the wine bar was envisioned by its owners to be a place where customers would have a nibble of cheese or charcuterie as an evening or latenight snack. Instead, diners are creating full meals out of multiple small courses from a

½ teaspoon coriander, ground ½ teaspoon black pepper, ground Pinch or two salt 1½ cups olive oil ¼ cup cilantro, chopped fine Method: In a food processor, combine all ingredients except for the cilantro and blend until smooth. Put garlic, spices, lemon juice and zest and tahini in the food processor first. Then add the chickpeas, followed by sesame oil.

Add about half of the olive oil at the start and add the rest while the hummus is blending. Sometimes you need more oil, sometimes less, depending on how thick you like your hummus. If your food processor is small, do this in two batches. When hummus reaches desired consistency and texture, put it in a mixing bowl and add the chopped cilantro. Serve with raw vegetables, pita chips, baguette toasts or crackers.

We’re here for your menu that grows by the month as Gates finds inspiration in the possibilities of tapas-style dining and small plates of light fare. Because the restaurant’s kitchen is so tiny, the chef spends his days in an upstairs apartment making hummus in five-gallon batches, plus tapenade, quinoa salad, caponata from owner Vic Christopher’s grandmother’s recipe and, sometimes, chili or chana masala. “For a job that wasn’t supposed to involve much cooking, I’m sure doing a lot of it,” Gates says.



“Nobody ever taught me how to make hummus,” he says. “I just figured it out.” He likes the flexibility of the Middle Eastern spread. It works well as a dip for raw veggies or simply slathered on pita or toast, and just about anything can be mixed in for variety: olives, spinach, artichokes, chile peppers, roasted red peppers. Hummus is also terrifically easy to make: about 15 minutes for a home-size batch. Gates says, “You just turn on the food processor and go.” 

Want to see how to make this recipe? Watch our exclusive video at or scan the QR code at the left to link directly to our Life@Home videos on YouTube.

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 The Vineyard

Cheap & Cheerful The white wines of Gascony Story and photo by Alistar Highet


o much is written about French wine that it is almost a relief to come across wines that appear beneath the contempt of wine writers, and so I give you the white wines of Cotes de Gascogne — or we would say, Gascony. This is a traditionally Basque-related area in the southwest of France, below Bordeaux and just a skip and a jump to the Pyrenees and Spain. There is a town in this area called Auch, which comes from the name of an Aquitanian tribe that lived there during the time of the Romans — the D929 and the N124 highways meet in the middle and there is a lovely cathedral. It is in the region around this town that the wine is made. What makes the region famous is that Cyrano de Bergerac is from Gascony, according to the story — it is also where the best foie gras is made and the brandy Armagnac. Which led me to a grape I bet you’ve never heard of — Ugni Blanc. Despite having no sex appeal — like, say, the pinot noir or the cabernet franc — the ugni blanc is the workhorse of the wine world. It is in fact one of the most widely planted grapes in the world and is also called Trebbiano elsewhere in the world. In France, because of its high acidity and fantastic yields, it is the grape used in the making of brandy and also industrial alcohol. In Italy, it is used to make balsamic vinegar and a number of lesser wines. Often, Trebbiano is blended into bulk “chianti” and so on, because the grapes produce so

Guillaman, Cotes de Gascogne, 2009, $9 A Ugni-Blanc, Colombard blend. A bit foxy and a bit bitter, but lemon, white peach, and good acidity — a rough, juicy, thirst quencher with character.

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much juice with so little fuss. So, basically, this is a blending grape, good for producing a lot of fruit with a minimum of fuss — good for making brandy because it retains acidity — but too acidic and flavorless to stand on its own. That may explain why the white wines of the Cotes de Gascogne that I tried were so cheap. At least two of them were blends that contained Ugni Blanc and Colombard, another high-yielding white grape used in brandy production, which has a more fruitful, apricot flavor. Colombard seems to be popping up in a number of unconventional blends and it does bring a unique florally, orangey air to these blends that can be quite engaging, although I think the key is not letting it take the upper hand. I have to say I’m quite taken with these wines, both of which cost under $10 and were simple, brisk characters. There’s nothing to savor here. These are wines that have a crackling acidity, whiff of fruit, a bit of minerality. These are wines that you have in the spring with a cheese sandwich or a bit of sausage. In fact, I highly recommend that you drink them out of regular glass — a tumbler or something like that. Somehow, I enjoyed knowing that I was drinking the thirst-quenching vin de pays of this mysterious part of the world, and doing so on a budget.  Alistair Highet is a former editor, restaurant manager, and vinedresser, and has written about wine for over 20 years.

Esperance, Cuvee D’Or, 2010, $14 This is also from Gascony, but a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Gros-Manseng — another relatively obscure grape. This has the crispness of Sauvignon Blanc with pear, white flowers, lime and apricot flavors. Very well balanced, this one you could serve in a proper glass.

Domaine L’Enclos, Cotes de Gascoigne, 2010, $10  The same blend, with more Colombard character — kiwi, ripe peach, orange, blond sherry, but good and clean with acidity and briskness, fleshy.

Back to Basics Mark Bittman wants you to cook, even if you can’t boil water By John Adamian  |  Photo by Romulo Yanes


ark Bittman is like a self-help guru for people who need a nudge getting into the kitchen. For anyone who loves food and loves the idea of cooking, Bittman has plenty of encouragement and practical tips. He wants you to cook, even if you don’t end up giving Mario Batali a run for his money. (Your own home cooking is a little like your own baby: you’re going to think it’s lovely, despite its imperfections.) And learning not to get hung up on perfection is as valuable a lesson in the kitchen as it is any other part of life. Bittman has hosted food-themed TV shows and webcasts. As a regular contributor to the New York Times Dining Section and the New York Times Magazine, Bittman showcases stripped-down and do-able versions of delicious recipes from all over the world, and now he also writes regular columns for the paper about food, health and science. He’s the author of dozens of cookbooks and books about food. In addition to his cooking instructions, he’s a sane voice advocating for more awareness about labeling of foods for things such as genetically modified organisms, for antibiotics in the raising of meat, and for information on the carbon-footprint of certain types of food production. He wants us to make our own delicious food, but he wants us to eat smart and healthy and in a way that’s sustainable. His new diet book, Vegan Before 6, which is just like what it sounds, advances the health and weight-loss benefits of basically being meat- and dairy-free for the first two meals of the day. He’s known for, along with everything else, his Minimalist column and line of books, which champion a simple and elemental approach to cooking, a no-frills,

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anyone-can-do-it approach. Bittman’s most recent cookbook, How to Cook Everything: The Basics, is the newest in his How to Cook Everything series (previous installments included the first How to Cook Everything and a vegetarian edition). With The Basics, Bittman takes his philosophy and distills it down to a potent reduction, a photo-filled book that walks beginners through everything they need to know, including what to stock your cupboards with, how to hold a knife, and how to boil water. Really. You might think that telling someone how to boil water would qualify as a joke, but Bittman doesn’t want there to be a single barrier keeping the reader and would-be cook from getting busy chopping and roasting, stirring, seasoning, tasting — and eating. As a result, How to Cook Everything: The Basics is the perfect first cookbook. It’s ideal for newlyweds or young people who might be just getting started setting up a kitchen capable of producing more than ramen and frozen pizza. It’s great for college students who are just stepping out into the world, getting their first apartment, living for the first time without the help of parents or a cafeteria to keep them nourished. But there’s more than just the practical rudiments to Bittman’s book. Something has changed in the culture at large. Food has become pop culture. People routinely blog about what they eat at restaurants, snapping smartphone shots as soon as an entree is delivered to the table. Trucks that serve tacos or cupcakes are followed like celebrities. And food TV has made entertainment out of slow-smoking barbecue, roasting a chicken or whipping up your own mayonnaise. Meanwhile America has

How to Cook Everything, The Basics: All You Need to Make Great Food — With 1,000 Photos, by Mark Bittman, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 496 pages, $35 steadily become obsessed with small-scale local manufacturing. Cooking dinner for you and your family may be the most local and most small-scale manufacturing there is. Bittman wants readers to understand the goodness behind all of this.


side from participating in the swelling trend of home-cooking, a million other reasons exist to get good — or at least competent — at cooking in your kitchen. As Bittman writes, “cooking is rewarding,” “cooking is satisfying,” “cooking saves money,” “cooking produces truly nutritious food,” “cooking is time well spent” and “cooking leads to family meals.” The book has 1,000 photos. Big, closeup color photos. The kind that practically show you how to cook something without even reading the recipes. And that was on purpose. Bittman spoke about his book with Life@Home recently. “When How to Cook Everything came out 12 years ago, many people said ‘We can’t learn how to cook without pictures.’ Basics has fewer recipes than the others, but it was a much, much bigger project.” As with any endeavor that involves stripping something down to its basics, Bittman says trying to figure out what to leave out was one of the hardest parts. But there’s a lot

that got left in, including recipes for hummus, rosemary-roasted potatoes, burgers, glazed carrots, paella with chicken and sausage, braised beef with red wine, oven-seared lamb chops, salads, seared scallops, and a whole lot more. Each recipe tends to have three, four or five pictures with it, showing cooking process from start to finish. Bittman makes the compelling case that getting into the kitchen and cooking should be an everyday thing, not something you save for special occasions. It’s a bit like going to the gym, or getting exercise. You just do it, and you improve. You might not become an Olympian athlete, but the joy of the effort is pay-off enough. “On an emotional level,” he writes, “cooking can

Curried Chickpea Salad Time: 45 minutes, mostly unattended Makes: 6 to 8 servings Ingredients 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, or more to taste 11/2 teaspoons curry powder, or more to taste 2 scallions, chopped Salt and freshly ground black pepper 1/4 cup coconut milk, or more to taste

become relaxing, comforting, and downright pleasurable, as you pause from an otherwise hectic day and give yourself a chance to focus on something basic and essential and meaningful.” All that would just be nice talk if the recipes weren’t good and helpful, though. And Bittman’s advice on pan-roasting chicken, or on steaming fish, or curried chick peas, can serve to spotlight the deep flavor or good and simple ingredients. “The simpler you make stuff, the happier people are,” says Bittman. Since we live in an age of product promotion and gadget proliferation, it’s easy to feel as if we can’t get started cooking until our kitchen is outfitted with all kinds of

expensive and fancy gizmos, but Bittman is a great voice of sober restraint when it comes to stocking your kitchen, too. You only need a few knives and pots and pans, he says. Don’t bother with dried parsley or dried basil — “they’re worthless,” he writes. The idea is that, just like you don’t need a bunch of futuristic and expensive workout equipment to start getting exercise, or you don’t need a top-of-the-line guitar to start making music, you don’t need an industrial kitchen to start cooking dinner for you and your family. “What really matters is that people try. And that’s a huge thing,” says Bittman. “You can cook better or you can cook worse, but what’s important is that you cook.” 

A wildly popular salad with Indian flavors that keeps well in the fridge to enjoy anytime. 4 cups cooked or drained canned chickpeas 1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped 1/2 cup fresh or thawed frozen peas 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Stir in the coconut milk. Add the chickpeas, bell pepper, and peas to the bowl and toss gently until everything is coated with dressing, adding more coconut milk 1 tablespoon at a time if the salad seems dry.

Method  Combine the lime juice, curry powder, scallions, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper in a large bowl.

 Let the salad sit for at least 30 minutes, stirring once or twice to distribute the dressing. (Or refrigerate for up to 5 days.) When you’re ready

to eat, stir in the cilantro. Taste and adjust the seasoning and moisture, adding more lime juice, coconut milk, or curry powder if you like. Serve cold or at room temperature. Tips  This salad is good with canned beans but superior with cooked dried chickpeas, which have a more intense flavor. You can also control the texture so the chickpeas are as firm or tender as you like them. Variations  Curried Chickpea Salad with Rice or Grains: Add up to 1 cup cooked rice or other grain in Step 2.

 Curried Chickpea Salad with Greens: Toss the chickpeas with 1 to 2 cups lettuce, arugula, or spinach just before serving.

 Southwestern Black Bean Salad: Some easy switches yield a totally different result: Substitute chili powder for the curry powder, olive oil for the coconut milk, black beans for the chickpeas, and corn kernels for the peas.  |  121

 Table@Home

Burgers: A Grilling Love Story May means the grilling just got easier By Caroline Barrett  |  Photos by Paul Barrett


ay brings the long-awaited, much-anticipated arrival of grilling season. It’s the beginning of the season where, if it’s not going to be grilled, then we’re not going to be eating it. I should say that May is the arrival of my grilling season; my husband grills all year. Our grill sits close to the back door, and in all kinds of weather — rain, freezing cold or wind — I hand him the long metal spatula and the plate of fish or steak or onions. Then, he bravely steps out to cook our dinner. But in May, when the weather is fine and the sun is visible in the sky, I’ll take the plate out myself. Agnes, our reliable black lab, follows faithfully, hoping that perhaps one hot dog or morsel of salmon will fall off the grill. We count on our grill year-round for the incomparable flavor and texture it gives our food. Chicken and fish, cooked just so, come off slightly smoky. Steaks have a crisp outside and silky cool centers. Veggies, especially red peppers, are a grill favorite. Our relationship with the grill reads like a good love story. It’s passionate, tumultuous, and filled with heartbreak and joy.

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he first scene is set in our little house in Colorado, where we lived pre-children. Our grill sat on a little patio near the back door. We often had to shovel through thick, deep snow to get to it. The snows often persisted through May, so my grilling season in that place didn’t start till nearly June. But Paul? He shoveled, then grilled. Then shoveled again. It was always worth it. Back on the East Coast, and now with a family in tow, we always travel with our trusty grill. The house we rent at Cape Cod has a grill, but Paul prefers his own. So every year we tie that on top of our car, along with the boogie boards and the bicycles. There is nothing quite like a juicy, fresh piece of halibut, caught that morning and cooked over the hot coals. We don’t fuss with the fresh fish from the Cape. A shake of salt and a pat of butter is all that’s needed. When camping with friends in the Adirondacks, we pack up our tents, sleeping bags and, yup, the Weber grill. We keep the coals going for hot dogs at lunchtime, quesadillas for snacks and burgers for dinner. In the evening, before we shoo them off to bed, kids wrap pieces of dough around sticks and cook it over the grill. When the bread is piping hot and cooked through, they unwrap the bread, stuff the center with chocolate and gobble it down. It’s just the thing to eat before crawling into a toasty warm sleeping bag. There was a near-miss once, on Paul’s 30th birthday. I planned an evening party for him, with a dinner in our backyard. I set a long table under twinkly lights, set up tiki torches and cooked all day long. I planned to grill pieces of marinated steak and slice them thinly to serve as an appetizer. We put the steaks on, and then each thinking the other was going to watch it, went about our party preparations. I came in a half hour later, fresh-cut flowers in hand, and asked my husband where the steaks were. He said, “I don’t know; you were watching them.” I threw down the flowers and we both

raced to the yard. Thick smoke billowed out from the sides of the grill. I watched as Paul waved the smoke away and pulled the burned pieces of meat off the grates. Plan B, I thought. I need a plan B. We carried in the charred steaks, still trailing smoke, and set them on the counter. As I frantically pulled apart my cabinets, looking for my plan B, Paul cut into one of the thick steaks. “This is crazy, you know,” Paul said, “but these steaks look pretty good.” I peeked over his shoulder, afraid to see. But he was right. The outside was charred and we did end up cutting off a few pieces. But the inside was perfect. The meat was juicy and the right shade of pink. The salt and pepper marinade had formed a crust and somehow protected the inside. The steaks were saved. It was a birthday miracle, plain and simple. The heartbreak came on a warm summer afternoon. Elliot was just about a year old. We were hustling about the house and yard, taking care of summer’s chores and playing with Lucy and Zoe. Elliot was sitting on the floor in the kitchen, banging pots with wooden spoons. The air was warm and all was good. The grill was on. Paul was cleaning the deck. The girls picked herbs for our salad. I washed lettuce and carried plates outside. And then, while we were not looking, our sweet little

baby crawled out to the deck, used the grill to pull himself up, and put his hand on the smoking hot side. Oh, how he howled. We all cried. His entire hand was burned. The peace of the afternoon was shattered with his sobs. With tears streaming down my cheeks, I strapped him into his car seat and we headed to the emergency room. We saw doctors and we saw specialists and, eventually, his hand healed perfectly with no permanent damage. We were happy to close that very unhappy chapter in our history.


ne item we love to grill all year long is burgers. We love to eat big, juicy cheeseburgers with mushrooms and onions. But it just isn’t the same in a pan. We only want burgers with a crisp outside and a smoky, juicy center. So on cold February nights, when the sky is inky black and Agnes doesn’t even want to catch a stray bit of meat, I send out Paul. In May, though, it’s a different story. The back door is open. The breezes blow the sweet smell of our onions around, making our mouths water. Agnes and I sit watch over the grill, cooking our onions just so and making sure the burgers stay good and juicy. I like to buy the locally-raised grass-fed beef. We know the farmers at the markets. continued on 124  |  123

continued from 123

We trust them. It’s good to know that they treat their animals well. One farmer we know likes to say, “Our cows have a wonderful life, and one really bad day.” Grass-fed beef is different than the ground beef at the grocery. It’s leaner and much more flavorful. When I buy the ground beef for burgers, I like to add in a little fat with olive oil and butter, and the sweet flavor of shallots. With the herbs and grilled onions and cheese, each bite just gets better and better. This recipe works, any time of year. It doesn’t matter the weather or the month. There is something sweet and special about knowing that part of our grilling story really is a love story. It’s a marriage between me and Paul, and I know that he will be there for me when I need him, with his boots and coat. He’ll take the plate and step out into the cold night, just to cook our cheeseburgers. It may seem as if he’s just a regular guy, cooking a plate of burgers for his family. Really, though, he’s the hero in our story, bringing love, in the form of a really good burger. 

ingredients thoroughly. Then shape the burgers into four patties. Make them slightly thicker in the center.

 Drizzle the onion with olive

Grass-fed beef burgers serves 4 1 pound grass-fed beef 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened 1 teaspoon olive oil 1 teaspoon sea salt cracked black pepper 1 small shallot, minced 1 teaspoon each tarragon, thyme, rosemary, chopped fine 1 large onion, cut into ½” thick slices

olive oil cheddar cheese, sliced into ¼” pieces, enough for each burger 4 squishy, soft buns method  Light a grill to medium heat. In a glass bowl, combine the beef with the butter, oil, salt, pepper, shallot and herbs. Use your fingers to combine the

Get involved! Do you want to get involved with a nonprofit but aren’t sure where to start?

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Tuesday, June 25 · 5:30 - 7 p.m. The Desmond, 660 Albany-Shaker Rd., Albany

Meet area nonprofits and learn how you can volunteer, mentor or be a board member To be a featured nonprofit at this event, call Charmaine Ushkow at 518-454-5792 for information.

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oil, sprinkle with salt and place on the grill, over an area that is not too hot. Cook for about 10 minutes total, carefully flipping halfway through. Start the burgers, cook for 2 minutes, flip and add cheese, and cook for another 3-4 minutes. This should produce a burger that’s cooked medium.

 Serve on the buns with a few slices of onion on each. Note: Watch these burgers carefully while cooking. The meat is very lean, and can be dry if over cooked.

“Crafting the Ask” Mona Golub will speak on what today’s business donors want, expect and need from nonprofit partners. Mona Golub

VP Public Relations and Consumer & Marketing Services for Price Chopper Mona oversees media and community relations, marketing, customer communications, and the philanthropic endeavors of Price Chopper’s Golub Foundation. Mona has also conducted business from the nonprofit side, having founded and served as Producing Artistic Director of Second Wind Productions and she is currently serving on multiple boards throughout the year.

Questions? Call 518-454-5583.

Capital Region Women@Work is a bimonthly magazine designed to help women navigate the world of work. Women@Work Connect events are held regularly at various locations in the Capital Region.

My Space 


e all have favorite spots, places where we feel most comfortable or at home. Sometimes it’s a favorite chair or nook in a room; other times it’s outside the house. Wherever it is, it is where we are most at home. Story and photo by Suzanne Kawola

WHO: Dr. Susan Scrimshaw President, The Sage Colleges FAVORITE SPACE: Her office at Sage. Susan Scrimshaw’s office is filled with “mother and child” sculptures and works of art. “I’ve surrounded myself visually with reminders of maternal and child health, and of mothers and children,” Scrimshaw says, noting that much of her career before coming to Sage centered on women’s and children’s health. Having studied with noted anthropologist Margaret Mead and receiving the award bearing her name, Scrimshaw says Mead was her mentor. The office also has many works of art by her artist daughter. Centerstage is a drawing of her daughter and her infant granddaughter. “She drew that for me and I have it where I can look at it every day,” Scrimshaw says. WHY: “The focus of my work is around the people. This office is where that all either takes place or emanates from.” And, she adds, “for a woman to put images of mothers and children in her office could be seen as kind of soft and not professional. I deliberately thought about it. This is my work. This is my life’s work. And, these inspire me. It’s important to be yourself.”   |  125

 Photo Finish

A view of the pond just outside Valerie DeLaCruz’s office. Read the story on page 24. Photo by Valerie DeLaCruz.

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Life@Home May 2013  

Life@Home magazine is packed with inspiration to help you make your house a home.