Page 1

may 2008

Perfect Playhouses

The best playhouses for any budget

Find the best eco-friendly paints • Discover Bornt Family Farms • Get a sneak peek at the Vanguard Showhouse • Tour a Troy brownstone • And more!

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Publisher Mark E. Aldam Editorial Janet Reynolds, Executive Editor Design Wes Bennett, Design Director Contributing Writers William Dowd, Doty Hall, Bill Losey, Kerry Mendez, James MacNaughton, Kim Messenger, Merci Miglino, Jacqueline Nochisaki, Jennifer Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Brien, Joanne Palmisano, Deborah Renfrew, Jackie Sher, Richard Stevenson Andrea Lapietra, Copy Editing Bloggers, Laurie Freehafer & Michael Kusek

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Contributing Photographers Wes Bennett , Suzanne Kawola, Leif Zurmuhlen Amanda Vitullo, Photography Intern Sales Kathleen Hallion, Vice President, Advertising Tom Eason, Manager, Display Advertising Craig Eustace, Retail Sales Manager Charmaine Ushkow, New Business Development Manager Circulation John DeAugustine, Circulation Director Dan Denault, Home Delivery Manager

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Marketing Allison Lauenstein, Director Of Marketing Controller Tom Maginn, Resident Controller Paul Block, Executive Producer If you are interested in receiving, monthly home delivery of life@home magazine, Please Call 518.454.5454 For Advertising Information, Please Call: 518.454.5569 life@home is published by Capital Newspapers and Times Union, 645 Albany Shaker Road, Albany, NY 12212 518.454.5694. The entire contents of this magazine are copyright 2008 by Capital Newspapers. No portion may be reproduced in any means without written permission of the publisher. Capital Newspapers is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Hearst Corporation.


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content :@home: 19 LEARNING HISTORY BY COLLECTING Our need to collect is a way to connect with the past


Must-have items for your home, plus our bloggers’ favorites


This Troy brownstone’s historic roots were critical to the renovation process


Out with the old, in with the new


No matter what your budget, you can find the dream playhouse

38 VANGUARD REVEALED A sneak peek at the finished Vanguard Showhouse


The magical sculpture of Steven Kroeger


How to prep the inside of your house for a quick sale


The importance of first impressions in selling your home


Color your world with eco-friendly paint

52 CULTIVATING CONTAINERS Container gardens your friends will envy


The allure of Cornish Ware pottery Steven Rolf-Kroeger’s whimsical rendition of a light post. Photo by Leif Zurmuhlen LAH_section1_may08.indd 7



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content :life: 58 HOUSE BLEND Why getting out of your house is good for you

60 DOLLARS AND SENSE Managing debt, when you’re up to your neck in it

62 COLLECTING HIMSELF Chef Yono Purnomo on what makes him tick


The obscure pleasure of white Bordeaux

72 WHERE’S THE BEEF? Find all-natural beef (and more) at Bornt Family Farms in Troy


How to power through that plateau


Summer’s coming. Time to update your outdoor wardrobe

84 5 THINGS I CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT Phillip Morris of Proctor’s on the things he loves


The Vanguard Showhouse up close

“There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.” ~Jane Austen The modern comforts of a playhouse.

Cover photo & playhouse interior photo (pg 9) courtesy of La Petite Maison Playhouses,

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contributors life@home asks: “What do you collect?” Merci Miglino, Writer:

I have collected dishes, Santas, buttons, and vintage glassware. I like the thrill of the hunt for the most unusual or charming item!

Jacqueline Nochisaki

I’ve been collecting — or saving — any notes, cards or letters that family or close friends have given me for as long as I can remember. I’m too sentimental to get rid of any and I now have several “memory boxes” of them piled away.

Jackie Sher

I have snow globes from far off places such as Los Angeles and France, and closer ones such as Washington, D.C. I don’t know what to do with them now, but I’m sure that someday they’ll accessorize a room quite beautifully.

Leif Zurmuhlen, Photographer:

My wife Jill and I used to collect kitschy stuff from the 1940s and 1950s. One of our old apartments looked like Pee Wee Herman’s Playhouse! Our decorating palate has expanded, but we still have a fairly large collection of salt and pepper shakers. Leif & son, photo by Jill Anthony



Jennifer O’Brien, Writer:

Other than books, I don’t collect a thing. I don’t need more items to dust!

William Dowd, Writer:

I collect barware, especially cocktail shakers. They were a distinctive art form in the 1940s and ‘50s. What I have represents an amalgam of the air of sophisticated society parties, when people actually dressed up for such occasions, and hardware that helped bartenders create lasting potions such as Manhattans, Old Fashioneds, true Martinis, Sidecars and the lot.

Bill Losey, Writer: I’ve collected a very small collection of unusually shaped rocks from various vacation spots up and down the eastern seaboard. Every time I look at them or pick one up, it relaes me and reminds me of great memories from family vacations in the Outer Banks and Maine.

Deb Renfrew, Writer:

I collect old rocking chairs. I got interested many years ago when we inherited a full-sized Boston rocker and a child’s rocker with caned back and seat from my husband’s family in Vermont. Both, made in the late 1800s, had survived a flood and fire. I now have three rockers on my porch and at least one in every room.


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shopping & lots more! GO TO:

home decor 24/7

Get your design fix anytime at where our bloggers do all the snooping for you. House Things—Goodies You Won’t Mind Dusting lets you know the best websites and Internet finds, while Home Decor@518 scopes out the best local shopping options. See their favorite picks at Window Shopping, pg. 23.

things we like to collect... we’re looking for a few good collections to feature in life@home. If you’ve got an interesting collection, send a photo and short description to

get your daily green...everyday!

Did you know that if every standard light bulb were replaced with LED bulbs, power consumption worldwide would drop as much as 60%? Get daily tips on all aspects of green living at


Vanguard Showhouse

The Vanguard Showhouse is done! Get a sneak peek in our story on pg. 38 and then head to homes for a full photo show once the showcase is over.




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editor’s note

The Stuff We Collect A

s a teenager, I filled my walls with an embarrassingly high number of pictures of Mike Nesmith from the Monkees and all of the Beatles, but I didn’t have anything that I collected in an organized way. No dolls in pristine boxes or coins or stamps lined up like soldiers in carefully-crafted albums for me. My adult collections are equally haphazard and certainly not serious, at least compared to those for whom collecting is really a second (or third, depending on your collecting taste and the requisite wallet required to fulfill it) job. I can’t really remember how I got interested in Day of the Dead figurines (pictured above), but as soon as I discovered them, I was hooked. The Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos, is celebrated in Mexico on Nov. 1 and 2, All Saints Day and All Souls Day respectively. The idea is that the souls of the dead return to visit the people left behind once a year. Rather than mourn and be sad, people celebrate their return by eating, drinking and being merry. I loved that idea the moment I heard it and fell in love with the quirky skel-

etons created to celebrate the people who’ve moved on. My family has, for the most part, tolerated Mom’s Odd Collection. While there was a short-lived attempt to place the collection front and center on the mantle, the gathering of skeletons has spent most of its life in a corner bookcase in our family room. Only once did my husband put his foot down. The three-foot skeleton I affectionately call Hector only made it as far as the door before Peter said, “Not in my house.” Hector lived his days in my office, where he was a popular mascot. My collection of Polish pottery began a few years ago. Like the Day of the Dead figurines, this pottery is also indigenous and colorful, as well as a celebration of local artisans. Certainly more mainstream, this pottery is something that my family and I actively use and enjoy each day. Both these collections bring me joy. They reflect real people and real lives, which is part of the attraction of collections. It’s a way for us to connect with other lives and lifestyles. There are other reasons to collect, of course. See this month’s @home essay by Richard Stevenson or what our contributors say about their collections. And next month we’ll begin a periodic feature on someone local and their collection. Do you have a collection you’d like to have featured? If so, send me an email, I look @ forward to hearing from you. LAH_section1_may08.indd 15



4/10/08 11:37:54 AM

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furnishings | gadgets | decor pages 17 - 54

photo: wes bennett

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Learning History Through Collecting By Richard W. Stevenson


merican antiques and I go way back. Way, way back. No Norman Rockwell upbringing here, reared as I was by two divorced parents plus one gay uncle, all of whom were writers. They also shared a devotion to collecting Americana, beginning back in the mid-20th century, when “antiquing” was cheaper than going to the furniture store to buy new. “I’ll have that old blue paint off by Saturday night,” I once heard my father say to my mother before they split up. He was referring to a cherry wood dining table in the Hepplewhite style and a set of six arrowback Windsor chairs made to go with the table, each piece retaining its original blue paint. My father, like many collectors of the time, was given to stripping and refinishing furniture, so as “to see the wood.” This notion, a holdover from the early 20th century Arts & Crafts movement, is anathema now. On another occasion he disappeared into his home shop and cut six inches off the column of a walnut candle stand, so it would fit flush next to a modern couch. In the family this earned him the nickname “Chainsaw Bob.” Heeding both nature and nurture, I became a writer and a collector. Of course collecting is about toys for grownups, acquiring stuff. But for me it also became an autodidact’s course in American history, the story of our country’s material culture in particular. Via books, original documents and seminars, and by listening to and learning from scholars, dealers and fellow obsessives, I moved beyond the iconic history I learned in school and made the acquaintance of some intriguing early Americans who literally built our country.


n 18th century America the woodworker was the indispensable artisan, the go-to guy of village commerce. It was the age of wood and the multitude of products made from wood were part of every human life, from hello to goodbye. In December of 1760 Connecticut woodworker Ezra Bryan made a cradle for the Glover family and a coffin for the “widder” Bloodgood. Bryan charged eight shillings for the cradle and six shillings sixpence for the coffin. I know this because I was able to examine Bryan’s account book when a descendant found it behind a dresser. In the years from 1760 to 1780 one Cornelius Clark fashioned a handsome chair table from beautiful, durable cherry wood. The Clark family lived in the town of Schuyler, in Ulster County, and they

treasured the table for generations; its utility is enhanced by appealing cut out designs on the battens that hold the twopiece top together and fasten it to the table base. The Clark family table is featured in Remembrance of Patria, a book published by the Albany Institute of History & Art that surveys Dutch arts & culture in Colonial America. The turners, joiners and cabinetmakers that made our early furniture didn’t set out to make art. They worked in a market economy as demanding as our own, churning out useful products people would buy at affordable prices. For example, between 1734 and 1746 a Boston turner named John Underwood supplied 6,180 slat back chairs, the kind called ladderback chairs today. That’s an average of 475 chairs a year, at two shillings each, using hand tools plus muscle power to turn a lathe. Joshua Hempstead was a New England shipwright who also occasionally made furniture. Later in his life he was a merchant, a surveyor and a militia officer. From 1711 to 1758 he kept a diary, an open window into 18th century America. On the 21st of September 1727, Hempstead wrote, “ I bought Adam for £ 85”, laconic evidence that slavery was an integral part of the Colonial landscape, and that those slaves had a major hand in shaping that landscape. I’ve also looked at the career of a 19th century potter named Hervey Brooks. His account books reveal a long career of astounding variety. In addition to farming and pottery he also functioned at various times as a brick maker, blacksmith, sawyer, teamster, carpenter, merchant and entrepreneur. He found time to help his neighbor keep his accounts, and to teach singing school and take in boarders. He hired out the services of his ox, horse, wagon, self, sons and others in his debt, doing and receiving a wide range of agricultural work. On several occasions he hauled wagonloads of cheese down South to Georgia. Every week I meet somebody new from 17th, 18th or 19th century America, a person who looked at what life had proffered and said, “Whatever it takes.” The pursuit of Americana has made my life better in more ways than I could have imagined when my wife and I started to collect chairs like the one pictured here 30 years ago. I’m grateful she shares the passion and always says, “Go for it.” The spouse question is important. We know one guy who calls his wife “The General” and hurries home to check with her before he actually buys anything. Sad. Now you’ll have to excuse me. The latest Maine Antique Digest just arrived in @ the mail and I need my fix.

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4/10/08 11:38:40 AM


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4/11/08 9:27:02 AM

window shopping

Haight Street Rug from the Kathy Ireland Home Innovations collection. Made of lustrous olefin, these buttery-soft, hand carved, rugs with sculpted look are obiovusly great design solutions. Shaw Rugs are available at Gentileâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Floor Center, 1100 Central Ave., Albany. 5â&#x20AC;&#x2122;5â&#x20AC;? x 7â&#x20AC;&#x2122;8â&#x20AC;? $759.

Stressless Windsor High Back Reclining Loveseat, features Paloma Kitt Leather and Walnut trim. Each side of this loveseat reclines independantly and cradles you with adjustable lumbar and headrest support. It also boasts a patented glide function that follows your bodyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s slightest movement to provide perfect support and comfort. Endorsed by the American Chiropractic Association. Check out the whole line of Stressless recliners, sofas, loveseats, sectionals and home theater seating at European Comfort Furniture, The Crossings Clifton Park, 518-371-2900 or see them online at: $3795 LAH_section2_may08.indd 21



4/11/08 9:27:13 AM

window shopping

When that special someone wants a leather teddy for their birthday, try this softly textured, genuine leather teddy bear with moveable arms and legs & glass eyes. $79 at Cultivar (Faddegons) 1140 Troy-Schenectady Rd, Latham, NY 12110

Locally made, decorative pottery vases with vibrant splashes of color are a great way to dress up your Spring floral arrangements. Great for various decor ideas (not food safe). $25 each. Two Spruce Pottery,, 175 Jay St, Schenectady

These bright, colorful fruits & veggies make a great addition to any kitchen. The bell peppers make great salt & pepper shakers, the orange (with a spoon) holds plenty of sugar. Use the tall asparagus “vase” to hold your asparagus, celery, or a bouquet of flowers. Prices range from $12-$35 Available at Proctor’s Theater Gifts, 432 State St., # 217 Schenectady, NY




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4/11/08 9:27:35 AM

our bloggers shop Check out this month’s favorite picks from our local and national bloggers. Then head online to timesunion. com/homes to satisfy your design and decor itch 24/7. Who knows what they’ll find?

House Things goodies you won’t mind dusting by michael kusek If you asked an individual to name something that wealthy people have in their houses there would be few things named before ‘a chandelier. The hand-cut crystal chandelier in a high-ceilinged hallway or over a long dining room table is THE standard cultural design statement that says, “I’ve made it — bigtime.” Welcome another victory in design democratization courtesy of Walking-Chair design studio in Vienna — My First Chandelier. I was sold by their own description, ”A glamorous designer dress for every lonely light bulb.” Featuring 12 hand-cut Austrian crystals and your choice of finished steel or a transparent or lumi red acrylic disk, this simple, easy-to-install design rings a modern taste of belleepoch living to the lowest form of modern lighting. So, banish bare bulbs and look as if you’ve made it big! Available at walkingthings. com in your choice of steel, transparent or lumi red acrylic ring, 75 Euros.

Home Decor@518 Don’t tell me you have never bought a decorative item simply because you have to have it. “I’ll find a place to put it as soon as I get home.” And you do. And you ignore the eye-rolling of your significant other. Meet the Haiti Lady, skillfully crafted by a fair trade artisan in the lovely Hispaniola island. A little geneological research tells me she’s possibly La Sirene, the Mermaid Goddess, which is probably why I’m attracted to her, being Pisces and female myself. But here’s the best thing: sideways she’ll

by laurie freehafer

make her home above a door, hang her upright on that narrow piece of wall next to a window, or — I’ll go out on a limb — diagonally in the bathroom. Find the Haiti Lady and her fairly-traded friends at Mango Tree Imports. The store is a floor-to-ceiling color blast with wall hangings and mobiles and vases and items that have their own international visual rhythm. Haitian Lady is made of an oil drum, carved using only a hammer and a chisel. $60 @ Mango Tree Imports, 2124 Rt. 50, Ballston Spa. LAH_section2_may08.indd 23



4/11/08 9:27:42 AM

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4/11/08 9:28:06 AM

Restored Elegance the charm and luxury of michael nofal’s brownstone by janet reynolds

Once the family parlor, this bright, second floor room now serves as the living room for Michael Nofal (pictured above) in the Troy brownstone he shares with Rob Hilts. Window treatments and pillows are by Lynn Kopka of Troy. At left is a sketch of the historic home they use on their stationery.


photos by wes bennett

As the owner of Espirit Hair Salon in Troy, Michael Nofal is used to working with clients’ best features and choosing the exact right color and/or style to enhance their looks. He’s taken the same tact with the beautifully restored Troy brownstone that he’s lived in since 1983. The house’s history has been the starting point for all his renovations. Built in 1867 on spec by James King, the brownstone was likely aimed at the middle or merchant class, according to Nofal. The kitchen was originally in the basement, suggesting there was likely a cook and perhaps day help. The house also had running water, gas lighting on the second floor, and carpeting which, with LAH_section2_may08.indd 25



4/11/08 9:28:25 AM

@home with

Above the library and, at left, the formal dining room. Built-in bookcases are by David Vadney of Lansingburg. The rooms reflect Nofal’s interest in keeping the home true to its historic roots. “I try to keep it looking more like it might have looked without all the Victorian doodah.”

the perfection of the broadloom process, was a way to show the owner was wealthy enough to cover hardwood floors. In the 1950s, the house became a rooming house — the now-lovely living room was divided into three small rooms. Nofal says it was part of the red light district in Troy. Nofal has stayed true to those roots when renovating. “I try to keep it looking more like it might have looked without all the Victorian doodah,” he says. “In the more public rooms, I tried to maintain the flavor of the house.” The built-in bookcases in the the library are an example of that attention to detail. “I wanted bookcases to look like they might have been built in the house,” he says. The ceilings, with their intricate and lovingly restored medallions, are another example of Nofal’s thoughtful approach. Nofal’s collections also reflect his love of history and detail. Interspersed in the home, for instance, are various pieces of Rose Me26



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4/11/08 9:28:44 AM


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4/11/08 9:28:51 AM

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Above: the house’s original blueprint and at left, the master bedroom: Most of the furniture is from Hilts’ family. The rug is from a trip to Istanbul last year. Lamps are from Old Brick Furniture. The bathroom below features the original tub and sink.

dallion porcelain, which he has collected for years. Originally used as ballast in ships bringing goods from China, the porcelain was quickly recognized for its intricate patterns and became much coveted in European circles. Nofal displays his but also uses it, both for its intended use as dinnerware and more creatively. A footbath from the 1890s, a gift from partner Rob Hilts, now serves as an ice bucket for parties, while a fish pot is now the base for a glass tabletop that makes an unusual coffeetable in the living room. One final historic detail? The ghost, which both Nofal and Hilts have seen. A heavyset man wearing a derby, the spirit only comes to rooms with food and only after a lot of people have visited, say after a party. It’s a detail Nofal couldn’t plan but understandably loves. @ For more photos of this home, go online to: 28



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4/11/08 9:30:00 AM


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4/11/08 9:30:14 AM

A Brand New Loo out with the old and in with the new by janet reynolds



photos by wes bennett

The problem: A dated bathroom in a home that otherwise is quite stylish and contemporary. Interior designer Denise Maurer of Troy, who has done other work in this Schenectady home, decided to gut the entire space. Out went the tiny shower and small corner bath that no one used because it was uncomfortably small. In came the shower big enough for a small party replete with dueling showerheads AND two rain versions. Out went the overly-bold wallpaper and wall treatments. In came sleek, coordinating tile and marble, including oversized tiles for the floor that help make the room look bigger than it actually is. Adding vessel sinks and trapezoidshaped vanities, all united by the quartz countertop, as well as a false wall for plumbing, increased storage space and completed the streamlined, upscale look. Putting in a new window at the end of the bathroom and revising the window in the shower (not visible) were the final space-enhancing features. Final benefit? The bathroom now coordinates with the master bathroom in look and feel, making the flow between the two rooms more natural and enhancing the feeling of open space. Kitchen and Bath World in Colonie provided the shower, vanities and other bath-related items and did the entire execution. Tile and marble came from Best Tile in Albany. Maurer designed it all. Top Tip: Sometimes giving up gets you more. Yes, now the family only has a shower where once it had a shower and a bath, but what a shower it is! “Now it’s a truly functional bathroom that fits their lifestyle,” says Maurer. @ LAH_section2_may08.indd 31



4/11/08 9:30:18 AM

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perfect playhouses creating the perfect playhouse for any budget by jennifer e. oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;brien photo courtesy LaPetite Maison LAH_section2_may08.indd 33



4/11/08 9:31:19 AM

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2003 when the custom play structure she and her family had hat would summer be without playhouses and forts selected, designed, and constructed in their backyard, was where kids can hide or gaze out at fireflies? Perhaps your sum- completed. As the builder made the finishing touches, Kathmer memories include longing for your own place to curl up, leen remembers, “our children waited with friends and cousins read a book and gaze at the world below. Maybe you were on one side of our fence, hands gripping the rails and their litlucky enough to spend hours with friends in the tree fort in your tle faces pushing through, eyes wide with anticipation. Imagbackyard, harboring secret messages and keeping a watchful ine being a little kid and seeing this multi-colored fantasyland eye for pirates. Either way, playhouses, with their pint-sized beckoning to you! How would you feel?” A fantasyland fort it doors and windows, still have the power to evoke wonder and was indeed, complete with a tower with peaked roof, jail with awe in adults. They remind us of our childhood dreams, and bars on the window and escape hatch, a 9ft. bridge, climbing tower, rock wall, fire pole climbing net, swings, climbing bars, for many of us, deliver to us new dreams for our children. However, the playhouses of today go far beyond the ubiqui- slide and flagpole. When McNamee and her husband, George, finished tous plastic boxes scattered in suburban backyards. renovating their home several years ago, they If you’re reminiscing about the refrigerator box began focusing on their property. McNamee you and your siblings converted into a playFor more came across a magazine article about Barhouse, then you’ll be amazed at the many information, check out bara Butler, a California-based artist and options today. Whether you’re working these websites & businesses: builder who has been building and dewith a limitless budget or are interested signing custom play structures and in constructing a house yourself, there tree houses for over 20 years. She are plenty of possibilities that will enClassic Sheds and Gazebos was immediately drawn to the colorchant both you and your children. 1997 Central Ave, Colonie, NY ful, unique designs. Because she has a (518) 869-7474 large extended family, McNamee was The Sky’s the Limit! Go Custom! looking for a play structure that would Kathleen McNamee of Loudonville Kids Places to Place, by Jeanne Huber stimulate children’s imaginations and still remembers the summer day in Edited by Sunset Books La Petite Maison: Interested in building one yourself? La Petite Maison sells blueprint plans as well!




LAH_section2_may08.indd 34

photo and digital composite: wes bennett

4/11/08 9:31:39 AM

photo courtesy LaPetite Maison Above: La Petite Maison playhome. Opposite page: Victorian Playhouses (prices range from $1,290 to $1,690) available at Classic Sheds and Gazebos, 1997 Central Ave, Colonie.

appeal to different age groups. The family participated in the planning process, which involved looking through brochures and deciding what features appealed to them, receiving a coloring book image of their design, and ultimately selecting their colors. Once their $25,000 custom design was finalized, the structure was erected on their property over a three-day period. “Barbara didn’t just fulfill their fantasy. She fulfilled my husband’s and mine, as well. We became Superdad and Supermom!” says McNamee. Perhaps your child already has a swing set and you’re interested in dropping some serious cash on a very serious playhouse. Look no further than La Petite Maison, a company specializing in custom-built play and dog houses. Michelle Pollak, president of the design side of the company, works closely with business partner Al Mowrer, the builder, to make clients’ visions and dreams a reality. “We don’t really do basic,” says Pollak, adding that if a client wanted a replica of the Taj Mahal and had the budget, they’d make it happen. As with any custom-built home, standard features include running water and electricity, even recessed lighting. However, most buyers opt for upgrades that can include media rooms, wifi, security cameras, central

air conditioning, and custom interior design. Because all of the homes are custom designed and built onsite, Pollak says that the prices range anywhere from a “standard” at $8-$9,000 up to $75,000. The price is determined by the square feet and the complexity of the design. For example, leaded glass windows must be done by hand, adding to the labor and cost. Many clients choose to have smaller versions of the main house recreated. Go Pre-Fab(ulous). It’s a scorcher and your child is calmly sipping cool lemonade on the front porch, their front porch that is. For families who want to upgrade from a common, plastic playhouse, but don’t want to take out a second mortgage, a prebuilt Victorian style playhouse is a great option. At Classic Sheds and Gazebos in Colonie, Thomas Ensslin sells these houses in three sizes. They range in price from $1,000 to $1,600, including delivery and installation. For an additional charge, all the houses can also have a front porch added, complete with flowerboxes and railings. While customers do not get to design the entire house, they can select the paint and shingle colors. Ensslin says that some customers do opt to have the entire LAH_section2_may08.indd 35



4/11/08 9:32:45 AM


Above: All the neighborhood kids will want to gather on the bridge of this custom playscape, similar to the one installed by the McNamee family of Loudonville. Below: Keith and Gail Dupont’s children enjoy their (tree-friendly) tree house, built of Trex synthetic decking lumber.

photos courtesy keith dupont

interior finished as well. According to Ensslin, many of his customers are grandparents, who find that there is just no substitute for the solid structure, which has a treated, wood floor. An added bonus in this climate is that in the colder months, many families use the house as a storage area for summer furniture and toys. Ensslin, who is also a dealer for Creative Playthings, which sells high end play structures, finds that when he comes to deliver a playhouse, “The kids get very excited.” Be Ambitious — Do it Yourself! Never underestimate the power of suggestion. After moving into their new home, Keith and Gail Dupont, of East Greenbush, gave their two children a choice of a swing set or tree house. For Christmas 2006, Dad received a book about tree houses. After completing his deck that spring, Dupont set to work building the two-story dream tree house his kids had sketched out. The project involved hard work, as well as a few environmental lessons. “The hardest part was finding the right tree. We have a great 100-year-old oak tree in the back of our house,” Dupont says. “We had started to clear the trees from around it to make sure it had room to grow and we could see it. My children wanted 36


to ensure that that tree wasn’t hurt in any way so we had to do some research on techniques to minimize any harm to the tree. For example, the main beam supporting the tree house slides along when the branches blow in the wind so as not to constrict the tree moving. The bolts and nails are spaced far enough apart so the tree’s circulation is not affected.” Dupont primarily used leftover materials from the deck project, and since he worked with Trex materials, to minimize splinters and eliminate maintenance, he estimates that the material cost was $2,000. Using pressure treated materials would likely bring the price closer to $1,000. Working exclusively on weekends, the project took Dupont and his children about six weeks. Along with the environmental lesson, Dupont has enjoyed not only watching his children play and have snowball fights, but also witnessing how they have grown from the experience. “The best part for me was being able to spend time with the kids dreaming up ideas for the tree house and being able to be a bit of a kid myself throughout the construction,” he says. “My children also had the opportunity to see the project from conception to completion, making their ideas a reality. Since, my daughter has talked about how she will design and build her own deck when she buys her first house.” @


LAH_section2_may08.indd 36

4/11/08 9:33:05 AM

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4/11/08 9:33:09 AM


TheVanguard Showhouse a sneak peek at albanyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hottest designer showcase by janet reynolds




photos by wes bennett


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4/11/08 9:33:14 AM


fter months of scraping, painting and banging nails, the Vanguard Showhouse at 6 Manning Boulevard, Albany, is ready for the Big Reveal! A fundraiser for the Albany Symphony Orchestra, the house is open from April 29-May 18. Hours are Tues. & Fri., 10:30-3:30; Wed. & Thurs., 10:30-7; Sat., 10:30-5; Sun., noon-5. Admission is $18. For more information check out Head to on May 19 for more photos.

Pictured on this page is the sitting room. The dust and darkness of the original house has been replaced by colors that celebrate and make more vibrant the wood and general structure of the Arts and Crafts house. Michel Patterson of Hudson River Fine Interior designed this room. Her intent, she says, was to play off of the natural feel and simple forms inherent in the Arts and Crafts movement. “I wanted back-to-basics and an earthy feel,” she says of her overall vision. The traditional bookcases act as a backdrop for the lively hues she’s chosen. (The wall color is called Frog Pad by the way.) Simple Asian accents finish out the look, which incorporates elements of the outdoors from the wall color to the live plants and zebra chairs.

continued on page 41 LAH_section2_may08.indd 39



4/11/08 9:33:30 AM

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renovate continued from page 39 Below: The music/living room. Designed by Mary Korzinski and Patti Connors, the duo behind Custom Design Associates, this room is influenced by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, a Scottish designer favored by new Showhouse homeowners Robert Alper and Denise Mitchell. Korzinski and Connors played off Mackintosh’s love of geometry and repetitive motifs, in particular the Glasgow rose, to create a room of simplicity and warmth. Window treatments were designed and created by Connors. Korzinksi painted all the artwork, including the ceiling.

Above: A guest bedroom. The fabric in the window treatment was the inspiration for this room designed by Terry Kral of Window Wear Etc. and Jeanie Masullo of Jeanie Masullo Interiors. “That was the jumping off point,” says Masullo. The bay window was an obvious focal point as well. “We wanted the room to be warm and inviting for guests.”

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4/11/08 9:34:20 AM


Whimsical Welding the magical works of sculptor steven rolf kroeger by jennifer e. oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;brien




photos by lef zurmuhlen


LAH_section2_may08.indd 42

4/11/08 9:35:06 AM

Steven Rolf Kroeger looks out from inside “the toaster”, a Volkswagen van he converted into a childhood vision of a kitchen appliance.


tanding in front of the bright blue garage doors outside Albany artist Steven Rolf Kroeger’s studio, you’d be hard-pressed to envision the treasure trove inside. From the basement, which serves as a scrap parts warehouse and is neatly organized into piles including bikes, bowling balls and telescopes, to the studio itself, which is filled with nuts, bolts, paint, books and the ever-important red “ejection seat” button on the wall, there is something to look at in every corner. Once inside, you can’t help but notice the large, vintage VW van painted metallic silver. As with nearly everything in the studio, the van is really a piece of art, says Kroeger, a quiet man of 37 with deep-set blue eyes. When he was about five, Kroeger’s neighbors had a VW van and he remembers being struck by how much it looked like a giant toaster. After the artist flips a switch, a large red squiggly “grill”, much like the one you would see in a toaster, illuminates the inside of the van. To get the best “inside the toaster” perspective, sit in the driver’s side and look back. Comedy and puns are not lost on Kroeger. Years ago he began drawing noodles to illustrate “a simple pun between the art nude and elbow macaroni.” After working with a live model in a figure painting class, Kroeger revisited this idea, which he had previously reserved for decorating bathroom walls. In his artist’s statement, Kroeger explains, “This tradition sparked questions within me concerning the role of especially the female nude throughout art history. I thought often of the social and psychological associations with nudity beyond those of art history.” Hence, the birth of The Noods, small sculptures shaped like elbow macaroni that are headless and painted a perky yellow. In 2004, Kroeger did a series of Nood sculptures including “Pole Dancer”, featuring a curved Nood coyly hanging onto a pole with one hand, and “Shy Venus,” a recreation of Botticelli’s famous “Birth of Venus” piece. Kroeger’s Venus emerges from a white shell and demurely covers herself with both hands. Though Kroeger’s Venus lacks a head, and long flowing locks, her emerging position from the shell and her bashful stance clearly and comically mimic Botticelli’s original. It’s classic art a la Ronzoni. continued on page 44 LAH_section2_may08.indd 43



4/11/08 9:36:05 AM

artisan continued from page 43

Along with his sense of humor and whimsy, much of Kroeger’s work is also punctuated by environmental and political themes. Illustrating this point is “Global Gobbler,” a nearly 4-foot high sculpture consisting of huge, rusted out jaws and human-looking teeth. The original installation contained a large, inflatable earth ball inside the jaws. Kroeger says the sculpture emerged in response to the abuse at Abu Ghraib prison. “I was making it more like a jail cell to begin with and at some point it became teeth,” representing Kroeger’s belief that greed led us into the war and that it affects us globally and individually.

LAH_section2_may08.indd 44


or someone who never planned on becoming an artist, Kroeger clearly has much to say through his work. “It was always there,” he says. “I had no interest, really through high school in pursuing art.” Still, looking back now he recalls being drawn as a child to Sunday morning comics by Charles Schulz, his older sister’s album covers, and animated cartoons, as well as being exposed to public art and art museums, particularly in Chicago, where he frequently visited family. Kroeger’s turning point came when he “…reach[ed] a point where the working life wasn’t working for me.” At the time, Kroeger was working with disabled adults and trying to do art on the side, but often felt that he wasn’t accomplishing enough with his work. The general dissatisfaction he felt led him back to school; his graduate work brought him to the University at Albany about three years ago. An active member of the local arts scene, demonstrated by the First Night Albany stickers dotting the walls of his office, Kroeger still works “regular jobs” doing building maintenance work at Honest Weight Food Coop and periodically doing installation work for the Tang Museum at Skidmore College. “My life sustains my art, which is nice,” he says. “It doesn’t do much more than that, but to get the recognition for it is a start.” An example of Kroeger’s recent recognition is the piece he is currently working on for “Night Fire,” a special anniversary celebration that will kickoff the city’s 60th Tulip Festival on Friday, May 8, at 8 pm. After an open call, the city accepted Kroeger’s

4/11/08 9:36:25 AM

proposal to construct a 15-foot high steel tulip that will then be wrapped in an eco-friendly burnable structure created by artist Torrance Fish. The entire sculpture will be ignited and set afloat on Washington Park Lake, thereby slowly revealing the tulip inside. Kroeger is also at work creating six unique lily pads, each hosting its own flame, that will also float in the water. The long, slender tulip in progress is stored right next to the VW van in the studio’s garage. On a cold morning, Kroeger’s breath is visible when talking about this latest project. The steel rod pipe structure is together; Kroeger is now going thorough the process of “sheeting”, applying a thin metal skin to the petals. The final step will be to apply paint to the tulip. To make the process a little less cumbersome, the tulip, which is hollow, is now in two pieces. Because Kroeger works by himself with large and often heavy materials, there is a practicality to his work as well. He doesn’t want to create anything that can’t fit through a door. With that in mind, Kroeger mentions that someday he would like “The Toaster”, which is roadready, to become part of a series of three structures, but funding and a large space to house the project is needed. In the future, Kroeger would eventually like to sustain himself entirely through his artwork

LAH_section2_may08.indd 45

and be able to maintain a better equipped studio. In the past, before moving to Albany, he sold some of his sculptures that now sit in people’s gardens and did a few commissioned pieces for friends. “I guess in a way I don’t really look ahead. I would like my work to be in important collections…I’m hoping just that the work I am doing now is working towards that.” But that is all in the future, after his tulip has bloomed. @ Visit the artist’s website at For more information about “Night Fire,” visit or

At right, one of Kroeger’s “Nood” sculptures. Above and at left, pieces from Kroeger’s “Global Gobbler.”

4/11/08 9:36:44 AM

real estate

istock photo

StageOne tips for selling your home faster by jackie sher



Clearing out the clutter is an important first step in staging your home for a successful sale.


hat can you do to give your home an edge in a slow real estate market? Will redoing your kitchen and bathrooms or buying new carpeting really make a difference in how long that For Sale sign sits on your front lawn or is a little furniture rearranging all you need? The answer is…it depends. But one thing is patently clear: Before you start making plans for big changes, consulting with a realtor and/or home stager can make all the difference. “Should they redo the kitchen? That’s impossible to answer, because it depends on its current condition,” says Kathie Hedrick, chief operating officer with Prudential Manor Homes in Albany. “As realtors what we need to do is go in and see the property, and then go in and make the recommendations.”


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4/11/08 9:36:59 AM

Hendrick makes recommendations two ways: first, she sees what improvements will make the property more saleable, and then she suggests what will create a more â&#x20AC;&#x153;emotional appealâ&#x20AC;? for the buyer, the changes that will encourage potential buyers to envision their families in the home theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re looking at. â&#x20AC;&#x153;You donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want to see people do things to the house where they maybe wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t get a return,â&#x20AC;? says Hendrick. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The biggest value typically comes in a kitchen remodel or a bathroom remodel.â&#x20AC;? Realtor Sandy Evans of RE/MAX Premier in Delmar agrees, with once caveat. â&#x20AC;&#x153;In any home, a kitchen and a bath upgrade are a great idea â&#x20AC;&#x201D; even for people who bought at the height of the market and purchased a high-end home â&#x20AC;Ś if it adds to the quality of your life,â&#x20AC;? she says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;If youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re doing it to add value to the quality of your house, then hold on. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s really based on the individual.â&#x20AC;? She notes that if youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re going to make changes, keep them neutral. Also, follow the trends. Right now people love granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances, for example. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Most of the time, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not worth it to do a new kitchen because the time and aggravation arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t worth it,â&#x20AC;? says Miguel Burger, president of Tech Valley Real Estate in Loudonville. He reiterates the point that major changes should only be contemplated if theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re going to give the seller a return on their investment. And, all three realtors concur all these decisions depend on the overall quality and condition of the house, and location, location, location.

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ut letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s say you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have a budget for, or interest in, doing a major overhaul of your home. Fret not, because small changes can make a big difference. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s about getting rid of your stuff. Get rid of it before you put it on the market,â&#x20AC;? says Janet Besheer, associate broker at Roohan Realty in Saratoga Springs and an accredited staging professional. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Depersonalize your house and take down the 8,000 photos of your family. No one wants to know who lived there [before them].â&#x20AC;? If your realtor isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t an accredited staging professional, he or she can recommend one to you. â&#x20AC;&#x153;[Home stagers] are literally going to stage the home so that it looks perfect for selling,â&#x20AC;? says Beesher. â&#x20AC;&#x153;There is a marked difference between a house that is being staged for living and a house that is being staged for selling.â&#x20AC;? She advises home owners preparing to sell to go through their house, room by room, and de-clutter. Throw away whatever you can and anything youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re not using. Pack and put into storage what you want to save. In the kitchen, clear off the counter tops and organize the pantry. â&#x20AC;&#x153;In a dining room, we advise people to have no more than four chairs around a table,â&#x20AC;? says Besheer. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The key there is that we want to enhance the size of the room, and all of those chairs are taking up space.â&#x20AC;? Remove items from bookshelves as well. Organize closets and make them nice and neat. Besheer recommends removing excess furniture. For example, if you can live with only one dresser in your bedroom instead of two, do it. The idea is to create flow. You want people to be able to move from room to room in your home without bumping into things. You also want to make sure that everything is sparkling clean. Prospective buyers want to be able to see their faces on the granite counter tops. â&#x20AC;&#x153;You want the space to show, not your stuff,â&#x20AC;? says Besheer. @

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4/11/08 9:37:03 AM

real estate

FIRSTImpressions how curb appeal helps sell your home by deborah renfrew


he cobwebs are cleared away inside your home, the clutter is banished, and the walls fairly gleam with fresh paint. Don’t, however, post that For Sale sign just yet. Step outside and take a hard look around or, better yet, savor the view slowly driving by in your car. What you see from the curb to the house and yard is a potential buyer’s first impression of your home. “Curb appeal, that state of being clean, tidy, and in good repair, with a vital punch of sparkle and color, cannot be underestimated when selling a home,” says Deanna Rubinger, associate broker at Realty USA, Clifton Park, “Most buyers do a drive-by before making an appointment to see a house. They respond to pride of ownership and that is what they see in a well-pointed property and home front.” James McClenaghan, associate broker with Lori Schindler Realty in Brunswick, agrees. “You only get one shot at making a first impression. Judging begins the minute the buyer sees

your home from the street. The outside and physical structure of your home must be dressed for success, and can mean the difference in selling or not selling.” The outside view of your house is particularly important in this day of Internet selling. “Buyers from a distance away don’t necessarily have the time and resources to look at lots of houses,” Rubinger says. “You want to grab them by presenting the best home with the fewest problems.” She adds that while many buyers expect to make some inside modifications, they don’t want to turn their attention to outside improvements immediately. That advice rings true in McClenaghan’s experience as well, who cautions against overwhelming buyers with the potential of work to be done. That does not mean, however, you must float a loan making hefty repairs or bringing in big-gun landscapers. Whether your house is worth $100,000 or half a million, you can snug up the house and landscape just working with what you have.

Is Your Home

Dressed for


With only one chance to make a first impression, make sure your house appears inviting at first glance.

istock photo

LAH_section2_may08.indd 48

4/11/08 9:37:23 AM


irst suggestion: Clean up, trim, and paint. In a spring sales market, which McClenaghan defines as April, May and June, he says the first things you should do are mow the lawn, edge along driveways and sidewalks, and trim overgrown trees and shrubs. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t let the plant material block an incredible view of the house.â&#x20AC;? A fresh dressing of mulch in garden beds, he says, provides instant clean up. Then paint and polish the front door and wash your windows. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Make the front entrance shine.â&#x20AC;? Focus on details. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Take down those holiday decorations,â&#x20AC;? Rubinger admonishes. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This is the time to look at details. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s easy to forget about decorations from one holiday to another.â&#x20AC;? That also means removing toys, bikes, and tools from the yard. Walk around and pick up litter and broken branches; pull out dead plants still in garden beds from fall. Rake up leaves and donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t line the curb with bagged debris unless you know it will be picked up right away. Remove or trim back trees for aesthetic and safety reasons. Clean the porch and sweep walkways. While fall and winter limit outside work, that well cared for look matters all year. Present the best house. Clean out and repair gutters. Paint the garage door, an often-neglected area. Scrape and paint window trim; fix any cracked or broken windows, as well. â&#x20AC;&#x153;These are all measures that matter to a potential buyer,â&#x20AC;? recommends Rubinger. Does your house sport vinyl or aluminum siding? Wash it, says Rubinger, including the roof. A truly sprightly look comes from removing grit and grime built up throughout the year and especially after a long winter. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Rent a machine or hire out the power washing,â&#x20AC;? he says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s well worth the time and expense.â&#x20AC;? Give nature a hand. Your gardens and landscape have served you well, but from someone elseâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s slant they might truly be in need of punching up. Indeed at Hewittâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Nursery in East Greenbush, manager Rob Lemner sees more and more people coming in every year clutching pictures of gardens just begging for quick and inexpensive spruce-ups to promote the house sale. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I steer them to the smaller landscape shrubs that can be purchased in a good handful for a reasonable amount of money, â&#x20AC;? he says. Spirea and juniper, he points out, especially boast interesting foliage immediately, are easily planted, and take off quickly. Downsize the jungle. The interior of your home is not the only area that can benefit from downsizing. Troy Miller, owner of Troyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Landscape in Latham, says that of the many requests he gets for quick change in a landscape, most often the solution is to rip out or prune old and overgrown plants and shrubs. How much you then add is according to what you want to spend, but add new stuff sparingly. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Downsize. Make it manageable for yourself while youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re still there and later for the new owner,â&#x20AC;? Miller says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;No one wants to move into a jungle.â&#x20AC;? Annuals can provide instant color. Plant around a freestanding mailbox. Rubinger suggests the low-growing plant varieties since taller varieties can begin to droop. Just a few flats of annuals perked up with lots of fertilizer and water will spread before you know it. And if gardening is not among your talents, you can even go with fake flowers, Rubinger advises, although be sure to splurge on real good silk plants, not cheap plastic flowers. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Good silks can fool even the most discerning gardeners,â&#x20AC;? she says. McClenaghan tells his clients to drop in some annuals on either side of the front door or edging the walkway. And donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t overlook pots or hanging baskets to get a relatively inexpensive blast of color in the front. You can always take them with you when you move. @

LAH_section2_may08.indd 49

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4/11/08 9:37:35 AM

living green


Your World with paint that’s good for the environment by joanne palmisano

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t used to be the hardest part of painting a room was choosing the color. Now, thanks to concerns raised from the lead paint disaster, more and more people realize that what’s in their paint is almost as important as how it covers the walls. Indeed, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor air quality is three times more polluted than outdoor air. In fact, indoor air is on their list as one of the top five environmental risks to public health, along with radon and secondhand smoke! And, of course, paints are considered one of the common indoor pollutants (others include household cleaners, textiles and pesticides). That is why before you start talking color, you also might want to think about the type of paint that is right for you, your health and the planet. The problem lies in the low levels of toxic emissions released by paints for years after they are first applied. The emissions come from Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Once considered essential to paint’s performance, these compounds, which are comprised of benzene, formaldehyde, kerosene, ammonia, toluene and xylene, are known carcinogens and neurotoxins, which are carcinogenic once airborne or in contact with skin. Not to mention they’re nasty for our watersheds and landfills when disposed of. The good news is that there are increasing options for safer paints. Natural paints and ones with low or zero VOCs offer a more environmentally-friendly route and, thanks to consumer demand, are more readily available, durable and affordable. The benefits are numerous. Health, of course, is at the top of the list. Reducing toxins benefits everyone, but especially for those with allergies and sensitivities. The environment benefits

LAH_section2_may08.indd 50


as well because these new paints are not hazardous wastes, so clean up and disposal is much safer for the earth. Additionally, these paints allow easier clean-up because they’re water, not oil, based. No more toxic chemicals to clean up after, well, toxic compounds. Soap and water will do the trick easily.


asically there are three options for more environmentally-friendly paint: low-VOC, zero-VOC or natural paints. Up until 1999, regular paint was almost 1000 g/l VOCs. That’s grams per liter (g/l) or sometimes weighed in pounds per gallon (lbs/ gal). Federal regulations have now set the VOC content limit in paint at 250 grams/liter. Manufacturers have risen to the challenge and have developed high quality low-VOC and zeroVOC paints. No longer compromising in quality and durability, these eco-friendly paints, in some cases, even surpass their high-VOC counterparts. Green Seal, a non-profit organization that provides science-based environmental certification standards, sets the guidelines for the LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) program. Many paint manufacturers claim to have low-VOC paints but the Green Seal standards for low-VOC paints is 50 g/l for flat sheen and 150 g/l for non-flat sheen and for zero-VOC, the paint must have a VOC content of 5 g/l or less. So look for Green Seal approval on your paints or these VOC portions. Most paint manufacturers and stores carry an eco-friendly line. Miller Paint and Decorating in Albany carries Benjamin Moore’s low-VOC Eco-Spec paint while the Latham store carries the new AURA line by Benjamin Moore, which does not emit solvent vapors from the color blend because the colors in this line are all natural pigments. “We have been selling the

4/11/08 9:37:58 AM

Eco line for years to hospitals, nursing homes and schools, and now more and more residential home owners and builders are asking for it too,” says Jeff Duncan, a sales representative for the store. Other eco-friendly low-VOC lines by leading manufacturers include American Pride and SherwinWilliam’s Harmony paint. The United Postal Service in upstate New York, which has 17,000 employees, has already made the commitment to more ecological paint. The Albany USPS is switching to low-VOC and zero-VOC paints as just one part of a pollution prevention program. “The Albany USPS has made dramatic changes to eliminate VOC paints in every situation possible,” says Charles Vidich, manager of environmental programs for the USPS in the Northeast. “It is better for our environment and our working environment.” Another route are natural paints, which can be made from anything like dammar resin, linseed oil and beeswax to milk casein, shellac and raw mineral materials for color. Milk paint has been around for hundreds of years. It is a great natural paint for the old-fashioned colonial American look. Many quality cabinetmakers have been using milk paint for years, including Crown Point Cabinetry, a popular New England cabinet company that delivers throughout the U.S. Milk paint is completely biodegradable with no VOCs or EPA-exempt solvents and it is a durable paint that gives a depth not commonly found in everyday paint. Green Planet is a manufacturer of clay paints with soy-based resins. They also use mineral pigments to create their color. Borrowing color techniques the Mayan Indians used over 1,000 years ago, they have created exceptional color and durable paints. Why use natural paints? Because you know what is in them and what is going on your walls. Even with low-VOC and zero-VOC paints, some VOCs still exist and if you add color, that color is not necessarily non-VOC. So if you want to know exactly what you are using, you like the look of the natural pigment colors, and feel all natural products are important to you and your family, natural paints are a good choice. @


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Other Brands to Consider

Low VOC * Benjamin Moore Pristine EcoSpec * Cloverdale EcoLogic Zero VOC

* YOLO Colorhouse Paint * Marston & Langinger Premium Paints (European) * Devine Paints * Mythic Paint * AFM Safecoat * Devoe Wonder Pure * Sherwin Williams Harmony

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Natural Paints * * * * * * *

Green Planet Paints Old Fashioned Milk Paint Aglaia Natural Paints (European) Livos Natural Paints (European) Bioshield Healthy Living Paints Auro Paints (European) Ecos Organic Paints (European)

While you will find the bigger companies sold locally, the smaller ones are available online and will send color samples and match pots to make it easier.

LAH_section2_may08.indd 51

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down the garden path

Cultivating Containers creating container gardens your friends will envy by kerry a. mendez

istock photo


ontainer gardening has become the rage. You can transform a blah entrance into a magnificent focal point with wellappointed, lushly-planted urns or add a dash of color and fragrance to a shady retreat. Creating your own masterpiece is a fun way to express the Picasso in you and it doesn’t have to be an expensive painting. Just get your hands in the potting soil and let it fly! When I design containers, I insist they be low-maintenance like my gardens. No prima-donnas needing a lot of handholding allowed. If silk flowers looked real enough, I’d be all over them. I want to do as little deadheading, watering, and fertilizing as possible. Is that too much to ask? Not if you’re savvy about how you choose the potting soil, plants, fertilizer, and containers.


et’s start with containers. Choices range from massive, antique urns to old L.L Bean boots. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but for ease of care and functionality, consider the following points. The larger the container, the less frequently you will need to water. Plastic and glazed pots transpire water



slower than terra cotta. Hanging baskets made of coco fiber or moss look charming but they will dry out faster than plastic ones. Containers made with lightweight materials such as resin are much easier to move around than heavy ceramic pots. Of course, if you have those nifty plant caddies on wheels, you can scoot plants around with ease. Potting soil is another important element. I select a premium mix, such as Coast of Maine’s Bar Harbor Blend, that includes compost so it does not need as much watering. The other option is to mix your own potting medium. I use about 1/2 inexpensive potting soil, 1/4 loamy topsoil, and 1/4 finished compost and then mix this all together in a wheel barrel. If your container is large, to reduce the amount of potting mix needed as well as to lighten its finished weight, fill 2/3 of the space with packing peanuts, broken up styrofoam, or plastic soda bottles. Then cover your filler with a piece of landscape fabric and scoop potting soil on top of the fabric. I even use this technique for my shallower window boxes to lighten the weight on brackets. To reduce watering requirements even further, I add some water retentive polymers such as STA-Moist to the potting mix. These salt-like crystals can hold water up to 400 times their


LAH_section2_may08.indd 52

4/11/08 9:38:39 AM

density in water, slowly releasing it to thirsty roots. I found hydrating the crystals before adding them to the potting soil works best. I learned this the hard way after I used a tad too many crystals in the mix. Upon watering my newly-assembled container, the crystals swelled up, sending the entire masterpiece bubbling over the side like some alien creature. Another option for reducing the need for frequent watering is to purchase self-watering planters. These time-savers have built-in water reservoirs and can go days without watering depending on the weather. My personal favorites are the self-watering window boxes. Running around the house with a watering can, window to window, every day or two can lead to momentary insanity. And donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t even get me started on second floor window boxes! Check out Gardenerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Supply Companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s nifty containers at Reduce the need for frequent fertilizing by using a timereleased fertilizer that slowly feeds plants for three to four months. Choices include Osmocote 14-14-14, Multicote 17-17-17, Holly-Tone (4-6-4), or Plant-Tone (5-3-3). You can buy potting soil that includes a time-released fertilizer, as well as water-retentive crystals, but it is cheaper to purchase these separately and add them yourself. Rather than mixing fertilizer into the entire medium, I simply work a little in around the base of each plant when positioning it in the container. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m not only frugal with my time but my money as well.


mart matchmaking makes happy marriages. When selecting plants, be sure to match their light requirements to where

they will be sited in the container. Look for workhorse, no-fuss plants that require little deadheading, are more drought tolerant, have attractive foliage, and stand up to light frosts with courage. Super sun-loving annuals include periwinkle (vinca), wave petunias, million bells, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Profusionâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; zinnias, verbena, portulca, and blue salvia. Shade tolerant annuals include browallia, New Guinea impatiens, lobelia, torenia, and coleus. Perennials also make good fillers. One of my favorites is Geranium â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Rozanneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; that blooms June through October. Repeat blooming daylilies, creeping yellow Jenny, ornamental grasses, Coreopsis â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Moonbeamâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;, Japanese painted ferns, lamiums, and showy hosta also work well. In the fall, simply dig perennials into the ground and you will have twice the bounty the following year. Finally, when designing your container, go wild and pack in lots of plants to make a spectacular statement. This is not the time to be shy. Make sure you have a large â&#x20AC;&#x153;thrillerâ&#x20AC;? plant for vertical interest (usually positioned in the center or back), plenty of â&#x20AC;&#x153;fillersâ&#x20AC;? billowing around the â&#x20AC;&#x153;thrillerâ&#x20AC;?, and lush â&#x20AC;&#x153;spillersâ&#x20AC;? that cascade over the side of the pot. Hereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s one time when more is better. Trust your well-prepared soil and time-released fertilizer to power up to the assignment. Rarely do pots bursting with bodacious color disappoint; it is the anemic, skimpy looking ones that sadden. There are too few opportunities in life to pull out all stops and let it fly. May potting containers be one of them for you. @ Kerry Mendez is owner of Perennially Yours and can be reached at

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4/11/08 9:38:58 AM

design classics


STRIPED the allure of cornish ware pottery text by kim messenger |


photos courtesy of

ne of my earliest memories is sitting at my grandmother’s breakfast table, with the light streaming in from the garden. Great helpings of toast and orange marmalade, tea of course, and a boiled egg, served in a cheerful little egg cup with pale blue and white horizontal stripes. There were other bowls and jugs around her house with the same cheery blue and white stripes, and when I think of those bowls and jugs they conjure up a feeling of domestic simplicity, warmth, and good sense that I find reassuring. I’m talking, of course, about Cornish Ware Pottery, perhaps the most easily recognizable style of common household ware in the world. Plenty of companies have made knock-offs, and you can find a blue-and-white striped coffee cup just about any place. But the original Cornish Ware Pottery comes not from Cornwall but from the T. G. Green Company, in Church Gresley in Derbyshire. The pottery itself had been in business from the 1790s. Thomas Goldwin Green bought the pottery in 1864, and it became one of the biggest potteries in Britain in the years that followed. Remember, this was before plastic and cheap metal fabrication. Every washing bowl, cup, and plate had to be made in a pottery, and T.G. Green did very well, right up through the First World War. But then came the 1920s. Green and his family needed to find work for his potters during a downturn in business, and came 54


up with the idea of making an entire range of household products — cups and saucers and bowls — in a traditional, blue “hooped” style, which had been common in the pottery industry since the 19th century. The first Cornish Ware was introduced in 1925, and quickly caught on. It was given its name by one of the company’s salesmen, who described the blueand-white striped kitchenware as reminiscent of “the blue of the Cornish skies and the white crests of waves.”


ornish Ware continued to be successful up through the 1970s, with plates, mugs, saucers, bowls, and rolling pins all being made in the traditional fashion. Eventually, other colors were introduced, like a buttery yellow and a marmalade orange. I am particularly fond of the practice of putting the name of the item’s purpose right on the product in clear unfussy black letters — “Flour,” “Milk,” “Butter” — so you don’t get confused. It is all so orderly. Remember, too, this was all before paper plates and cheap foreign imports. Cornish Ware managed to be simple, and beautiful, while remaining comfortably within the price range of your average postman. Sadly, the company was sold out of the family in the 1980s, and though the pottery continued to function, Cornish Ware finally went out of production in July of 2007. So there are no new examples of these beautiful objects being made. But collectors are crazy for them, and even more so now that Green factory has closed its doors. Dozens of websites specialize in the sale of Cornish Ware. The photos on this page were supplied by There are also, naturally, many imitators. If you are a collector, you’ll find that the prices for these pieces vary depending on the watermark on the base, which will tell you when the piece was manufactured. I’m not a collector. I just like nice things, and if I could, I’d never have breakfast without a Cornish Ware egg cup on the table to cheer me up. @


LAH_section2_may08.indd 54

4/11/08 9:39:02 AM

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4/11/08 9:46:57 AM


family | food | wine pages 57-86

photo: suzanne kawola

LAH_section3_may08.indd 57

4/11/08 9:47:06 AM

house blend

Get Out of the House! some grandmotherly words of wisdom by merci miglino


rowing up, the perk and puffing of the old Faberware electric coffee pot meant only one thing — my grandmother had returned home from her travels! Souvenirs in hand, she would mesmerize us with her memories of the shops of NYC, the streets of San Francisco, the deserts of Arizona, or the beaches of Hawaii. Once home, she kicked off her heels, hung up her Chanel suit, peeled off her heavy gold jewelry and slipped into a housedress and a full-coverage apron suitable for cooking, cleaning and caring for her grandchildren. As a child, I wondered why anyone would stay home if they could travel the seven seas. Now I realize my grandmother loved being home because she left home from time to time to explore the world outside it. Home is never sweeter, more inviting, more welcoming than when returning from a vacation, a business trip or an extended stay with relatives. If we are NEVER home, we might think wistfully, how wonderful it would be to stay there forever! Think about this for a second; how many of us would honestly enjoy staying home all of the time if we didn’t leave it once in awhile. Not many of us. We would likely switch gears and complain about being bored. So now that the kinder and gentler spring season is here, we can heed the advice of my worldly Nana who said (when she was home, that is) GET OUT OF THE HOUSE! Once on the other side of your front door, here are some suggestions, inspired by Nana: Play Dress Up. Put on your grown-up clothes, your big life pants and take yourself to lunch. Try a new restaurant. Spend time with yourself out in the world — alone. Pretend. Be whoever you want to be. Don’t worry. The old YOU will be waiting for you when you get home. Take a Walk. Think simple stroll, not cardio workout. Dillydally, lollygag, stop-and-go, look up, look down, pick up that



penny, smell that rose, stare at that thingamajig in the street. Just don’t you’re your germy hands on your face. Go to the Movies. Out of all the Academy Award winners this year, you’ve only seen one — and it starred talking rats and penguins. Go to the movies in the middle of the day! You are Ferris Bueller… a cinematic rebel with armed with box of popcorn and jujubes. Help an Old Person Across the Street. Do some good in the world. Stop being so self-centered. Stop complaining about the world and do something about it. It’ll warm your soul. Weed the Garden. Pick up the yard. Paint the fence. Ask someone to join you and make it a party. Play Ball. Go get one of those balls out of the shed you just HAD to have — the football, volleyball, tennis ball, basketball, whatever — and bounce it, hit it, or throw it. Bang on your neighbor’s door. Get your friends out of the house for game or two. Make up your own rules if you don’t know any. Ride your Bike. Go to the store. Buy some junk food, a couple of comic books and a sugary soda. Then find the nicest lawn in the neighborhood to plop down on and enjoy — until they come home for work. Then beat a speedy retreat on your bike. Walk the dog. The fact that you don’t have a dog would not have stopped Nana. Borrow a dog, she’d have said, find a stray, use your brother or sister, cut out a picture of a dog and glue to a stick or string... Get Some Fresh Air. Broaden those horizons. Learn for yourself — as that runaway from the Midwest found out only after a day with the charming and challenging inhabitants of OZ — @ there is no place like home. Merci Miglino is a certified professional coach.


LAH_section3_may08.indd 58

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dollars and sense

Managing Debt when you’re up to your neck in it text by bill losey


early twenty years ago, I got laid off from my job and prospects for future employment didn’t look good. The value of my first home had dropped by over 40 percent. I had thousands upon thousands of dollars in credit card debt and a student loan and car loan, too. I had negative cash flow, meaning I spent more than I took home. I was literally out of control and having macaroni and cheese for dinner a few nights a week was getting old. My best friends, Peter and Paul, twin brothers, were always joking about how I was robbing Peter to pay Paul. I didn’t appreciate their sense of humor at the time. If you ever juggle your bills, only make the minimum monthly payment, or are ever afraid to open your bills, you’re not alone. I’ve been there. Whatever the reasons are for where you are financially, there are steps to reduce and eliminate your debt once and for all. The first step, often the hardest, is to recognize and admit that there is a problem. And, I hate to admit it, but often the problem is you. Once you take full responsibility, you can begin to take the steps and actions to solve your financial woes. Create a Spending Plan How much money do you make? How much do you take home? How much money do you need to cover your necessary living expenses? Are you spending more or less than your take home pay? Can you ask for a raise or work overtime? What expenses can you reduce or eliminate altogether? Are you willing to get a part-time job to increase your wages? These are the questions you should be asking yourself. Be brutally honest. Put all your information down on paper, in a spreadsheet, or software program like Quicken. Review your finances daily or weekly to track your progress. Lower Your Borrowing Costs The cost of borrowing has come down in recent months. Consider taking your high interest credit card balances and consolidate them to the card or cards with the lowest rate. Take advantage of low introductory interest offers. Consider refinancing any high interest loans into new lower rate programs. 60


Just be careful to make your payments on time. Often, if your payment arrives late, a company has the right contractually to increase your interest rates. So be careful and monitor payment due dates and minimum payment requirements. Talk With Your Creditors For a company, there is nothing worse than a consumer who has borrowed money, doesn’t make payments, and won’t answer the phone. However, if you’re honest, forthright and contact your company and explain why you’re having trouble paying your bills, it could lead to a reduced payment plan. Additionally, if you authorize the company to automatically deduct their monthly payment from your bank account that indicates to the company how serious you are about paying them back. If you have the ability to make even a nominal payment and are willing to make that payment, most companies will work with you. Get Help If you feel like you’ll never be able to dig out from your mound of debt, call a credit counseling agency. Most reputable agencies have counselors trained in budgeting, credit, and debt management. A good counselor will work with you, develop a customized strategy, and help you resolve your debt problems. Many non-profit agencies can help you develop a debt management plan, or DMP. Under such a plan, you actually make monthly payments to the credit counseling agency. They then use your money to pay your creditors directly in accordance with an agreement between you, them, and the creditor. In our area, Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Albany, <http://www.credithelpny. org/>, is one such agency. They offer credit, debt, budget, and bankruptcy counseling. Additionally, they will talk with and can negotiate better terms with your creditors on your behalf. Their New York State Banking Department License also assures that your debt management program will pay off your @ debts within five years. Not too shabby. Bill Losey, CFP®, CSA, is author of Retire in a Weekend! The Baby Boomer’s Guide to Making Work Optional.


LAH_section3_may08.indd 60

4/11/08 9:48:01 AM

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4/11/08 9:48:03 AM

@home with

Collecting Himself chef yono purnomo on what makes him tick by william m. dowd |


photos by suzanne kawola

ono Purnomo is, to put it politely, a collector. He won’t even quibble with the term packrat. Especially when his business partner and wife, Donna, is within earshot. Despite his overwhelming love of automobiles, dishes, cooking utensils, wines, vintage foreign currency, golf clubs and myriad other things — including several boxes of culinary awards he can’t fit on the walls of his restaurants or home — the celebrated couple have been married 31 years. In that time they have shared raising two children; getting started, and then



thriving, in a business fraught with financial ups and downs; making a name for themselves with a style of cuisine literally and figuratively foreign to the market — and Yono’s non-stop acquisitiveness. It’s not a selfish thing, however. Widjiono “Yono” Purnomo, born into very modest financial circumstances on the Indonesian island of Java, and Donna, who hails from Amsterdam, Montgomery County, are the picture of benevolence. When there’s a local fundraising event involving food, it is a rarity not to see representation from their two restaurants -– Yono’s and


LAH_section3_may08.indd 62

4/11/08 9:48:17 AM

dp: An American Brasserie, co-located at the Hampton Inn & Suites in downtown Albany since 2006. They estimate 40 such events annually. “We don’t mind doing it,” Yono says as he busily juggles several sauté pans while preparing an Indonesian luncheon for six in the kitchen of his North Colonie home. “This country has been good to me, and this community has been good to our whole family.” Their philanthropy is not limited to this area. After touring his native country last year and seeing the lingering devastation from the 2004 tsunami that had an epicenter off the west coast of Sumatra, killing more than 225,000 people in 11 countries, he was deeply troubled. When he speaks of the horror, this man known for his big, booming laugh and broad, toothy smile, looks infinitely sad. “It is almost too much to take in,” he says quietly, “how entire families, even villages and towns, were swept away in a matter of minutes. Hundreds of thousands of people gone without warning. I couldn’t take it. I cut my visit short there and wanted to get away to try to think of at least some small way to help.” The Purnomos wound up providing seed money and ongoing efforts to create a scholarship fund for Indonesian youths unable to get trade training. The endowment will assure an ongoing supply of funds from the interest.


hrough all the years, the Purnomos have called their modest yellow Cape Cod house home. They bought it in 1980 when it was the only structure in the area. “I guess we collect neighbors, too,” Yono says with a chuckle. “There wasn’t much but mud when we moved here. Now look at it.” A typically suburban development neighborhood has grown up around the Purnomos even as they changed the house by adding an in-law apartment for Donna’s father, shifting a garage, and handling other projects. The Purnomos met when he was working on a Holland American cruise ship and she was a passenger. They exchanged glances one evening while he was tending bar. The next evening he magically was the waiter assigned to her table. A few months later, tired of being separated by the travel involved in his job — he’s visited more than 100 countries — Yono made a transoceanic phone call that changed everything. “It was the middle of the night and the phone woke me up,” Donna recalls. “It was Yono, calling — collect! — from the other side of the world, telling me we should get married. Who could refuse that?” They married in January 1977, a union that produced son Dominick, 27, and daughter Alexondra, 26. LAH_section3_may08.indd 63



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ick, as Dominick is often called, is the maitre d’ for the finedining restaurant Yono’s, holder of an elusive Times Union four-star rating, as well as sommelier and the manager of their casual dp: An American Brasserie in the same building. At age 22 he was inducted into the gastronomic organization La Confrerie de la Chaine des Rotisseurs as the youngest member in the history of the U.S. Bailliage (national chapter). Alexondra, who has been dragged into service to help out at charity and catering events, is presently a teacher in New York City, “presently” being the key word because she shares her father’s wanderlust and is contemplating teaching abroad. The marriage also has resulted in a house full of Asian-style furniture, including pieces of chinoiserie screens and fabrics, wall hangings and a huge hand-carved cabinet that required removal of double exterior glass doors to get it into the house. The kitchen, however, appears decidedly American suburban, if one doesn’t count the large overhead rack of handcrafted copper cookware and a wall full of culinary awards. Watching Yono creating some of his signature Indonesian dishes — babi kecap, a sauteed pork tenderloin in a fusion of chili paste, orange, spices and coconut cream, and bakmi goreng, a noodle stir-frywith shrimp, chicken, Chinese cabbage and sweet soy sauce — it is easy to forget he didn’t actually set out to be a chef. Yono was a front-of-the-house guy — a waiter, bartender, maitre d’ — who wound up plying his trade at the old Twenty-One, a downtown Elk Street Albany restaurant particularly popular with politicians. The Purnomos bought it in 1983 after Yono had worked there for several years and decided to stay in the area. Prior to that, he’d worked at the old Casa Verde restaurant, the Americana Inn (now The Desmond) and done some catering. But it really wasn’t until he abruptly lost

his chef at Twenty-One and had to make a fast decision that fate took over. He rounded up the staff, told them they were all in it together, and became A Chef. Along the way, the Purnomos sought advice and counsel from all parts of the industry, local and far away. Donna, who had studied education and music — and still sings professionally although not on a formal schedule — became the business manager and planner for the family operation. “One time a customer went to Yono and said, ‘I’ve been here four times now and Donna won’t ever sing. If she doesn’t sing tonight, I’m not coming back,’” Donna recalls. “Yono came back to the dessert station with that bit of info. I was the only one plating desserts. I had chef togs on, no makeup, hair in a ponytail, and glasses — not even contacts — but, by God, I went out to Yono’s dining room and sang.” Wisely splitting his menu between “continental” European dishes he’d made at Twenty-One — safe stuff for a restaurant scene not then known for welcoming fresh ideas — and Indonesian fare, Yono lured in less adventuresome souls. Many wound up being converts to his East Asian dishes. It didn’t hurt that Donna was an outstanding, if self-taught, baker, and her desserts became the stuff of legend in the market. In recent years, Yono has taken to calling his menu “French in style, Asian in influence and American in ingredients.” While Indonesian food is neither Chinese nor Indian nor Japanese, it has touches of all those as well as of Dutch and Portuguese from the East Indies’ colonial days. But, it is largely its own cuisine that springs from the diversity of plant and sea life that fill the cooking pots of such islands of myth and musicals as Java, Bali, Borneo, Sumatra and Sulawesi, all part of Indonesia’s 13,000 islands. Yono’s culinary decision really came to fruition in the late ‘70s at the first Yono’s site, on Robinson Square in Albany, opposite

LAH_section3_may08.indd 65



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@home with

the looming marble edifice that is the state Department of Motor Vehicles. Then came several years as part of an odd food project never fully realized by the folks at Armory Garage â&#x20AC;&#x201D; diner, fine dining, vegetarian, etc., spots all thrown together in a sprawling auto emporium. When that incarnation of Yonoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s closed after several years, it was time to look around again. The owners of the new Hampton hotel in downtown Albany, at Sheridan and Chapel near the Capital Repertory Theater, wanted an upscale room as well as a casual eatery. After a 15-month hiatus, the Purnomos were ready with their 2-in-1 project, opening there in May 2006. From the spare-chic 80-seat space and gleaming bar of dp into which patrons enter to the lush 60-seat, bi-level Yonoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s dining room in the rear, it is an elegant operation. It has received local, regional and national acclaim. And Yono himself has earned a wide-ranging reputation. Yono the man has cooked for both U.S. and Indonesian presidents; has been honored by and cooked at the James Beard House â&#x20AC;&#x201D; the Carnegie Hall for chefs â&#x20AC;&#x201D; in Manhattan; earned the title of Certified Executive Chef from the American Culinary Federation; won boxes full of medals in ACF-sanctioned competitions; represented the U.S. in the prestigious Hotelympia culinary competition in London and medaled there several times, and presented lectures and demonstrations in numerous countries. Yonoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the restaurant has received accolades from local press, national industry magazines such as Wine Spectator and Sante, and this year received the DiRoNA (Distinguished Restaurants of North America) â&#x20AC;&#x153;Fine Dining Award.â&#x20AC;? Nothing surprising, of course. Theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re all just part of the collection. @ See recipe on page 67

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Babi Kecap

Bakmi Goreng

Serves 6

Serves 4-6 This dish can easily be made vegetarian by omitting the chicken and shrimp. Conversely, you may add any additional meat (pork, beef, sausage, etc.) to enhance the flavor.


4 packs ramen noodles 8 oz. chicken breast, sliced into bite-sized pieces (optional) 8 oz. shrimp (peeled & de-veined) (optional) 3 tablespoons olive oil 2 cups American cabbage, roughly shredded 1 cup Chinese cabbage, roughly shredded 2 stalks celery, uniformly sliced 3 stalks scallions 1 medium to large onion, thinly sliced 2 shallots, finely chopped 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 2 tablespoons kecap manis (sweet soy sauce) 1⁄4 teaspoon coriander 1⁄4 teaspoon cumin Salt, pepper to taste


Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the ramen noodles. Cook about 1 1/2 minutes, gently separating noodles and being careful not to overcook. Shock in cold water to stop cooking and then drain. Set aside. Heat oil in a sauté pan then add oil, garlic and shallots. Cook for one minute then add onions, scallions, all cabbage, celery and chicken. Cook for three minutes then add shrimp, soy sauce and coriander, cumin, salt and pepper. Toss together to combine then add parcooked noodles, combine thoroughly and cook till warmed through. Check
doneness with meat thermometer. Should be medium rare at this time.


2 1/2 pounds trimmed pork tenderloin sliced diagonally into 1 1/2 ounce pieces 2 shallots pureed 2 garlic cloves pureed 1 teaspoon coriander 1 inch fresh ginger, minced 1 tablespoon orange rind, finely grated 1/2 cup kecap manis (sweet soy sauce) * 3/4 cup coconut milk (NOT cream of coconut) * 1/2 teaspoon sambal (Indonesian chili paste) * 1 cup flour, to dredge 3 tablespoons oil Salt, pepper to taste


Dredge the pork slices in flour, shaking off excess. Heat oil in a sauté pan, then sauté pork slices for two minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove pork from pan and set aside. In the same sauté pan add shallots, garlic and ginger cooking until translucent. Add orange rind, sambal, coriander and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, stirring, for two minutes. Return the sautéed pork to the pan, add the kecap manis and continue cooking 3-5 minutes until sauce is reduced, and napes the back of a spoon. Serve with Jasmine rice and stir-fry vegetables. (*Available in Asian section of large markets or specialty food stores.)

THE PERFECT WINE PAIRING by william m. dowd

Yono offered several wines, but the one that paired best was a 2006 Reserve White, an Alsatianstyle Riesling blend from Bloomer Creek Vineyards, a Finger Lakes winery. It earned a “best in class” double-gold medal in last year’s New York Wine & Food Classic I helped judge. Fruity and pleasantly acidic, with touches of kiwi, peach

and pineapple. Retails for about $12. As an alternative, I’d suggest a true product of France’s Alsace region such as the 2005 Hugel Cuvée Les Amours Pinot Blanc for just $16. A creamy, dry white with a touch of acid and notes of honey, pear, apple and spices along with the typical mineral quality. Both are perfect with Asian or light seafood dishes. LAH_section3_may08.indd 69



4/11/08 9:51:07 AM

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the vineyard

White Bordeaux by james macnaughton


the most balanced of fine whites is now an obscure pleasure

don’t know what happened to the white wines of Bordeaux. Where did they go? Even 20 years ago you were likely to see a white Bordeaux or two on the wine list in a decent restaurant, and now they’ve all but disappeared. In the restaurant I worked in we pushed the wines in their green bottles and white labels as the preferred wine for our seafood stews and fresh oysters. At one time, it was just understood. Indeed, a century ago there were more white wine grapes than red wine grapes grown in Bordeaux, and they were highly prized. Even the more affordable table wines were the preferred accompaniment to mussels or sole in restaurants. The principal regions of origin included a spot called the Entre-Deux-Mers, a collection of winemaking towns between the Dordogne River and the Garonne, or from the Graves region, along the south bank of the Garonne, southeast of the town of Bordeaux itself. Nowadays, you just don’t see them that much anymore, and the Graves region has been split in two, so that the northerly part of it is called the Pessac-Leognan, which has only added to the confusion. “It is one of my regrets that white Graves in stately maturity is almost unknown today,” the British wine writer Hugh Johnson wrote a few years ago. I agree. So what is so great about these wines? I give you one word: balance. Probably here in America, the Chardonnay juggernaut did a lot to push white Bordeaux out of its rightful place as the premiere white wine to be served at dinner. We can get our minds around Chardonnay — a single varietal — and we know that white Burgundy is all Chardonnay, so presto, we can grasp white Burgundy. Likewise, we know that the wines of the Loire are Sauvignon Blanc, again a single varietal, and easy for us to grasp. In contrast, the white wines of Bordeaux are almost always a blend, typically of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Muscadelle. Because of the

uneven, often cloudy and wet weather in Bo reaux, you need to be able to rely on grapes that flower and ripen at different intervals and so blending has always been the Bordeaux way, even with the red that are typically a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. But I think this blend in the whites of Bordeaux is what contributes to the wines’ complexity, and as I said, balance. These wines are never too sweet and cloying, never too tart, and almost always have a pleasant, citrusy quality, with good minerals and crisp acid, as well as a full-bodied, almost resinous mouthfeel, thanks to the Semillon. The Muscadelle gives the wine a little green, melony, fresh-cut grass aroma where the Sauvignon Blanc brings the crisp minerals and fresh, youthful quality. And so these wines are almost always excellent with meals, because they stand up to foods, are refreshing and brisk, but with a certain harmonious finesse.


f you want to know where to start, look no further than Mouton Cadet, the big flagship wine of the Baron Philippe de Rothschild. There is simply no better white wine sold in the 1.5 liter bottle than this, at $15. A blend of the grapes mentioned above with lemon peel, minerals, fleshy white peach and a nice granite quality, this is a great aperitif and the quality far exceeds the pinot grigios and bulk chardonnays around on the shelf. I tried a few others from Bordeaux in the $15 range. I would highly recommend all of them. The Château Jacquet 2005 Entre-Deux-Mers was delicious and bright, with bright pink grapefruit and orange flavor and nice hints of green herbs. It costs about $12. Quite different altogether was the 2005 Château Menaut from Pessac-Leognan, made of 100 percent Sauvignon Blanc. This had a very distinct but pleasing gooseberry fruit, but was still tart and clean with a silky, lemony finish. It was as good as any New Zealand Sauvignon blanc, more restrained and subtler I thought, and not quite as flinty as a Sancerre. It cost $15. The 2005 Château Haut-Mondain ($13) had crisp, green melon, with orange notes, and a bit of almond on the nose and white flowers. A little tarter and tighter was the 2006 Château Thieuley ($15), a pale green color, a bit reminiscent of a Portuguese vinho verde with its clear, bright, spring water energy, but again, with a hint of orange and orange blossoms and a good lemony, bracing finish. I think you’ll find that once you begin experimenting with white Bordeaux, their sophistication and balance will win you over, and you’ll begin to find Chardonnay too onedimensional, New Zealand wines too eccentric, and pinot grigio too thin. @ LAH_section3_may08.indd 71



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LAH_section3_may08.indd 72

4/11/08 9:53:02 AM

l a r u t a All N

Where’s the Beef? find beef (and more) at the bornt family farms in troy by jacqueline nochisaki


Gerald Bornt and a sampling of the animals and tools of his trade. “Twelve-hour days,” he says of the farmer’s life. “You gotta love what you do. And I enjoy it.”


photos by leif zurmuhlen

erald Bornt, fourth-generation farmer and proprietor, with wife Sylvia, of the Bornt Family Farms, has a piece of advice for people interested in all-natural or organic food. “People (should) want to be more knowledgeable of where (their food) comes from,” he says. “Natural or organic is what (everyone) wants, but when you buy a piece of meat in a store, you have no idea where it comes from. Here,” he says, gesturing to the expanse of farmlands, “you can see that. You can even see it living.” Set on 160 acres just outside the city of Troy — where the world gets rural in a hurry — the farm at 275 Log Woods Road provides fresh, all-natural beef, pork and veal that is USDA inspected and hormone- and antibiotic-free. The animals, pastured for spring, summer and most of fall, are grain and grass-fed with wheat, oats, barley, corn and hay from right on the farm. During winter, they’re brought inside to the barn where they’re kept from tearing up the muddy fields for the next season’s planting, usually beginning at the end of April, early May.

“Ever heard of the 100-mile diet?” asks Bornt. “(Consumers) want to know the animal is just down the road.” People are beginning to understand the benefits of buying locally. In a projected situation, if everyone within a 50-mile radius of Bornt’s farm got their meat products from him rather than the giant warehouse food store, “(I) couldn’t keep up with the orders,” he says. “Hypothetically speaking, that many people want my product. “Before anyone thought about it, I was supplying all-natural hogs,” adds Bornt, whose farm was home to about 500 hogs up until 1998. “With proper genetics, proper environment and proper nutrition, you don’t need hormones. But at the big, big commercial facilities, (if) one (animal) gets sick…” With the questionable practices and potential horrors of agribusiness and its gigantic factory farms well played-out, Bornt acknowledges there is still a limit to what a farm can do all-naturally. His farms were edging up there — with 1400 or 1500 pigs a year rotating through — to a point that put a strain on resources. Simply put, it’s the LAH_section3_may08.indd 73



4/11/08 9:53:49 AM


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smaller farms that can afford to be all-natural in terms of resources and practices. Now, Bornt tries to keep 30 to 50 pigs, at least 15 beef cows, and, during the summer months, 30 to 50 veal calves. His 30 or 40 acres of corn, 10 acres each of oats and barley, and 30 acres of hay keep them fed and the grain portion of the business up and running


nside the barn, the pigs run around in a pack, squabbling in their own little world. The cows greet Bornt when he walks in. He holds up a clump of damp, pungent hay and tosses it to them. “This is what’s called a moist bale,” he says. “The third cutting is wrapped up with a little moisture in the bag. It ferments and they eat it like candy. These guys love it.” Hay, which is cut up to three and four times during the summer and later, is wrapped up in long tubes of white plastic to store, is an alternative to the white marshmallow puffs of single-rolled bales often associated with farms and their rolling hills. Bornt owns the equipment to do this and prepares his own hay for storage, proof that his farm is a village unto itself. In the repair shop Bornt tinkers with and fixes all the farm equipment and machinery. A sawmill provides lumber for farm projects. “It’s a hobby of mine,” says Bornt. “We made all of our own barns, cut down logs off our own property.” Perhaps most lucrative — besides the meat products — is the grain drying and storage business built in the ’90s with his father, Raymond. Grains are basically dehydrated so that they can be used in a variety of ways long after they typically would have spoiled. A little white house sits amidst it all. “I was born in that white house on farm,” says Bornt, pointing. The family’s home, where Sylvia and Gerald Bornt now live with their three children, Tressa, Joseph and Laura, is across and down the street on a hill, 74


overlooking the farm’s acreage. “We built the new house in ’89 or ’90, just me, my dad and one other friend,” says Bornt. Raymond worked the farm alongside Bornt until a car accident the week before his 70th birthday. He has since passed away. “Out of seven boys and one girl, my dad was the youngest,” says Bornt. “It was him and one uncle (who grew up to run the family farm). My father, grandfather and uncle really put the sweat equity into it. They had horses for years and later had to buy tractors. They had none of the features I have today.” The farm was established in the 1870s by Bornt’s great-greatgrandfather, Chauncey Bornt. When Chauncey died in 1900, his wife and 14-year-old son, Simeon — Bornt’s grandfather — took it over, eventually passing it to Raymond and Raymond’s brother. At the recent 176th Annual Agricultural Forum, the Bornt Family Farms were honored by the New York State Agricultural Society as one of 11 “century farms,” those in continuous family ownership and operation for more than 100 years. Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, whose office in Albany looks to Bornt’s farm for its meat products, spoke at the event. These days, Bornt knows he’s got it easy — it’s not even a full-time gig. “I only work half-days now,” Bornt says with a smirk. “Twelvehour days. You gotta love what you do. And I enjoy it. If it wasn’t for my dad, I wouldn’t have this farm,” he adds, “and he always said, if it wasn’t for me, he wouldn’t have kept it.” @ For information on the Bornt Family Farm visit the Web site, www.; or e-mail For a list of Bornt Family Farm products and prices go to homes.


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your health

Dieting for

SUCCESS by amy paturel




iet long enough, and you’re bound to reach a phase where weight loss levels off and the scale is stuck on the same three digits for weeks or more. In fact, researchers from Drexel University find that dieters tend to reach plateaus at week three, week ten and after six months. But plateaus aren’t just physical — they can be psychological, too. Here’s a guide to identifying the type of plateau you’ve hit and how to nudge the scale back to its downward trend:

1500 Calories a Day and Holding…

Symptom: You’re eating the same number of calories, but you’ve stopped losing weight. Underlying Cause: As you become leaner, you burn fewer calories during workouts (and when you’re resting, too). “And then there’s that darn reproductive function that makes us extremely talented at maintaining our weight,” says Jenna Bell-Wilson, PhD, RD, board certified specialist in Sports Dietetics in Columbus, Ohio. Why the reproductive hoarding? To safeguard a baby should an egg become fertilized. The Fix: Eat five to six small meals every three to four hours, depending on your calorie needs. Don’t reduce the number of calories you’re eating, but rather, spread calories throughout the day to keep your metabolism running strong. “If you’re losing weight by decreasing calories, you’re going to reach a point where you can’t cut back more without sabotaging nutrients,” says Bell-Wilson. (That’s why it’s important to eat low-cal, nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables.) What’s more, when your body is deprived of energy it can go into starvation mode, slowing your metabolism and making weight loss even more difficult.

Goodie Gridlock

Symptom: Constant cravings make it hard for you to pass up old favorites — yet you know those little nibbles of foods you love may explain why you’re at a standstill. Underlying Cause: You’re bored with your diet. The Fix: Shake up your food choices. Load up on different fruits and vegetables, try some new ways with whole grains or

lean protein, and experiment with seasonings. Look to other cultures for inspiration — try hummus with raw vegetables, for example, or Vietnamese spring rolls with rice paper. And when it comes to satisfying your sweet tooth, stick with one or two staples. Studies show decreasing the variety of high-fat foods you eat can lower your total calories and boost your weight loss. Having a plethora of high-fat options to choose from encourages you to keep eating so you can experience the different sensory qualities of each food. Remember the old adage, less is more!

Fitness Fatigue

Symptom: The workout that used to leave you huffing, puffing, and sore for days barely makes you break a sweat. Underlying Cause: Your body has become more efficient and requires less energy to do the same activity. “When you get accustomed to your exercise program, it stops stressing your body,” says Bell-Wilson. And when you stop stressing your body, you stop seeing results. The Fix: Add weights, says Christine Gerbstadt, MD, RD, National Spokesperson for the American Dietetics Association. Strength training at least twice a week increases your lean body tissue, metabolic rate and fat burning potential. In fact, a study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that women who trained with weights twice a week for 12 weeks reduced their body fat by more than 2.5 percent and increased lean muscle mass 2 kg — even without restricting calories. Increasing the duration and intensity of your workouts is also a good idea. So instead of logging in your regular 30 minutes on the treadmill at a steady 4.5 mph pace, try the treadmill’s interval training program, or hit the road and take advantage

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your health of changes in the terrain. Run in the sand or up hills and use landmarks to signify a sprint or a slow down. And squeeze in extra calorie burning whenever you get the chance, advises Gerbstadt. Getting up to change the television channel, instead of relying on the remote control; pacing while you’re on the phone; and doing squats while you wait for your food to nuke. Mental Gymnastics Symptom: You want to throw in the towel. Underlying Cause: The numbers on the scale stop going down or (gasp!) start to creep up and you feel like you’ll never reach your goal weight. The Fix: “It’s important for people to understand that plateaus are a natural phenomenon and they will occur,” says Gerbstadt. Instead of wallowing into a pit of despair, arm yourself with a list of strategies to help you break through it. Experts recommend implementing small behavioral changes – taking a walk around the block after dinner or reduc-

ing the amount of dressing on your salad by a teaspoon or two. And challenge yourself to run farther, lift more weights or experiment with a new activity. “Consider recording your exercise activities in a log to help you stay motivated,” advises Bell-Wilson. Then visualize yourself at your goal weight. Studies show that dieters who have a positive attitude about their chances for success are more likely to take the weight off and maintain the loss. Other ideas: Wear a favorite outfit (one you KNOW you look great in and that will elicit compliments), look at photos of yourself at goal weight (if you were there before), donate clothes that are now too big, meditate, call a friend or weight loss counselor, ask a friend for a compliment, make a small positive change (drink an extra glass of water each day, add more fiber to your diet, try a new vegetable or fruit or substitute a lower calorie version for the full-fat, full-sugar treat). @

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4/11/08 9:56:24 AM

outdoor life

Outdoor Gear Goes Green by roddy scheer


ynthetic stand-bys such as polyester and nylon have been “go-to" materials for decades in outdoor adventuring and foulweather gear, thanks to their moisture-wicking, quick drying and warmth retention properties. But they're quickly being surpassed by a new fabrics crafted from organic plant-based materials. Soybeans have moved beyond the wok and into outdoor clothing, with industry insiders dubbing soy fabric the "vegetable cashmere" due to its soft texture. Ex-Officio's Tofutech Tee Shirt, for instance, retains warmth and resists wrinkles like many of its competitors, but it is made of entirely soy-based, fully biodegradable fabric. “Soy is a renewable resource that offers many benefits similar to natural and synthetic fibers without the necessity of adding chemical treatments,” says Monica Smith, ExOfficio’s director of product development.

Another forward-thinking, all-natural fabric is Cocona, which is derived from coconut husks discarded from the food service industry. Cocona helps traditional fabrics resist moisture, control odor and shield ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Some 40 outdoor clothing manufacturers, including GoLite, Marmot, Sierra Designs and Royal Robbins, are incorporating Cocona into their 2007 product lines. Not to be outdone is Patagonia, a company many consider to be the granddaddy of sustainable outdoor gear. The California-based company sources all of the cotton in its shirts, pants, outerwear and underwear from 100 percent organic producers. In 1993, Patagonia crafted its signature polyester fleece outerwear from recycled soda bottles — saving some 86 million Coke and Pepsi cast-offs from the trash heap. Today, the company is reducing energy and resource use by melting down customers’ discards, which become new jackets and sweaters. This year Patagonia launched a new line of footwear

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outdoor life made from organic cotton, latex made from the milk of Hevea trees, hemp, recycled rubber soles and laces made from vegetable waste. Oregon-based outdoor clothing manufacturer and retailer Nau was launched last year with strong green production values. Every item in the company’s diverse line of outdoor-oriented clothing uses one of three types of sustainable fabrics: recycled polyester from soda bottles, cotton from certified organic producers or the renewable corn-based plastic-alternative polylactic acid (PLA). The company’s four retail outlets were designed from the ground up to make use of reclaimed timber, energy-efficient lighting and an innovative “ship-toyou” program that cuts down on the need for costly in-store storage space and energy use. Shoemaker Timberland’s new line of Greenscapes sneakers is crafted from vegetable-tanned leather and hand-sewn to avoid toxic adhesives. The laces are made from recycled polyester and the outsoles from recycled rubber. According to Betsy Blaisdell, the company’s manager of environmental stewardship, “Our broad, overarching goal is to measure our impact and to be transparent and accountable to our stakeholders.” Timberland includes a “Green Index” with new shoes that details the products’ environmental footprint. It is working with the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) to take this index industry-wide.

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long with Timberland, Seattle-based Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) is one of the founding members of OIA’s new Eco-Working Group, composed of representatives from 75 different companies. REI recently announced its own “eco-sensitive” label to demarcate its own sustainable products. The company’s designers released a new line with clothing made from organic cotton, bamboo, hemp, organic wool, recycled polyester and PLA. “We are moving from a grassroots approach to a formalized commitment to environmental performance in our products,” says Lee Fromson, the company’s vice president of gear and apparel. “Many of our customers recognize that their purchase decisions have a direct impact on the natural world.” OIA considers such efforts key to its mission of working to raise the standards of the industry and supporting future innovation. “One of the big strides many of our companies have taken is considering the entire lifecycle of their products,” says Ann Oben-chain, OIA vice president of member services. “Instead of just using recycled materials, they’re thinking about the end of the product’s life.” With so many technologically advanced and environmentally friendly options to choose from, outdoorsy types may need to restock their wardrobes. After wearing out their old clothes, of course. @

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4/11/08 9:57:25 AM

personal picks

five things i can’t live without

by doty hall

doty hall interviews philip morris, chief executive director of Proctor’s, on 5 things he can’t live without... (or at least likes). “What can’t I live without? NOTHING, they are just things!” That is how our conversation started. But slowly the free spirit came around.

Philip’s “Technicolor Dream Coat”: He soon discovered he was wearing the first of his five things — an amazing “technicolor dream coat” that his wife, Kathleen, had made for him of the richest tapestries and velvets. The patchwork hues suit this man of many colors to a tee. Bluthner Grand Piano: “I have been singing since I was 12,” says Morris. This Bluthner Grand is a family treasure that has moved with the Morris tribe more than once. Everyone in the family tickles the ivories except for Kathleen, who prefers to sit back and enjoy the impromptu concerts that often fill the three-story home with music. Iron skillet/Carbon knife: “Don’t write that it’s just a knife, or that it’s a stainless steel knife; it is a carbon knife,” says the man who does not value things. Every good thing that comes from this kitchen originates in this skillet — pasta sauces, eggs and the creamiest risottos, chopped, stirred and simmered by the man of the house. If a man’s home is his castle, this man’s skillet creations are his feast. Sculpture: “Joe’s a great guy; he has been with me for a long time.” “Joe” is a wooden sculpture six feet tall that looks as if he was caught in the act and is waiting for just the right time to let loose. He has a warm, soft patina, a gentle demeanor and greets visitors at the door. He makes his presence known but is also content to be still and contemplate — not all that different from the man with whom he lives. @

LAH_section3_may08.indd 84

4/11/08 9:57:36 AM

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“There is hope in honest error... none, in the icy perfections of the mere stylist.” — Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Glasgow, 1901. One wall from this year’s Vanguard Showhouse, open to the public April 29-May 18. For details go to For more photos go to May 19. Photos by Wes Bennett.




LAH_section3_may08.indd 86

4/11/08 9:58:34 AM

“ENERGY STAR product use less energy, save money on electric bills, and help protect the environment.”


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life@home magazine  

The Times Union's first-ever glossy monthly magazine, life@home, will focus on the practical and be a celebration of the home and home life....

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