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june 2008

On Top of his Game The fabulous food and home of Chef Dale Miller

Grow your own Shakespeare Garden • Discover Saratoga Salsa & Spice • Learn the latest in grilling • Get inside an Albany 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, Jill Montag, Jacqueline Nochisaki, Joanne Palmisano, Deborah Renfrew, Arthur Rosenblatt, Jackie Sher, Andrea Lapietra, Copy Editing Bloggers, Laurie Freehafer & Michael Kusek Contributing Photographers Wes Bennett , Suzanne Kawola, Joe Putrock, Leif Zurmuhlen Amanda Vitullo, Photography Intern

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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 Marketing Allison Lauenstein, Director Of Marketing Controller Tom Maginn, Resident Controller TimesUnion.com 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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header right content :@home: FENNEL

19 DOMESTIC BLISS

Peaceful life with dogs (and cat)

21 WINDOW SHOPPING

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

24 THE TAO OF CHI At home with retired professor Ben Chi

COLUMBINE

30 PROBLEM : SOLVED transforming an empty landing

33 PLAYING AROUND This month’s DIY: Covering up ugly intercoms

34 THRILL OF THE GRILL the latest trends in (outdoor) home cooking

38 LIVING GREEN

decorating with new eco-friendly wallpapers

40 FLYING HIGH

The creative carvings of Icarus furnituremaker Jim Lewis

44 A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME Growing your own Shakespeare garden

47 GARDEN PATH

Gardening the natural way

50 TOOLING AROUND Products and pieces for your next garden project

52 A-PEELING DESIGN

How wall decals can solve design dilemmas

Fennel and Columbine illustration by Anne Ophelia Dowden for the book Shakespeare’s Flowers by Jessica Kerr

54 DESIGN CLASSICS William Morris wallpaper

timesunion.com/homes

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content :life: 58 HOUSE BLEND

Advice on taking a techno break

60 DOLLARS AND SENSE Should you buy or lease a car?

62 WATT’S UP?

The allure of Watt pottery

68 ON TOP OF HIS GAME

Chef Dale Miller takes on... the world

77 THE VINEYARD Defending Rosé

78 DANCING THE SALSA

Meet Saratoga Salsa & Spice Company

82 WHAT’S IN A PAN (OR SPOON)? Local chefs dish on their favorite utensils

84 5 THINGS I CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT Sarah Martinez on her favorite things

82 PHOTO FINISH Jim Salengo’s Watt Pig

“What is more agreeable than one’s home?” Cicero The classic design in Chef Dale Miller’s home

Cover & Page 9 photos by Suzanne Kawola.

timesunion.com/homes

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contributors

Leif Zurmuhlen, Photographer: I am a do-it-yourselfer, more out of financial necessity than because of any natural skills. I find that doing it myself leaves me with a sense of accomplishment and pride paired with a nagging feeling that a professional could have done it so much better.

Jill Montag, Writer:

No, I am definitely not a do-ityourselfer. I’d like to be, but you have to know your limits! I like to think that growing up in an apartment in New York City with not-too-handy parents has something to do with it. but I probably just wasn’t born with that gene.

Suzanne Kawola, Photographer: I am definitely not a “do-

it-myselfer!” It’s likely because my father is one. And, years of “Dad can you fix this?...Dad, can you make me that?” has actually become part of the fabric of our relationship. Sometimes, I actually think of things that need some kind of adjustment just to have an excuse to call him.

Leif & son, photo by Jill Anthony

William Dowd, Writer:

When it comes to cooking and entertaining — whether for two or for 40, I much prefer doing it myself. When it comes to mechanical or structural projects, however, my mind’s eye usually is incapable of getting in sync with my hands. This results in more of a hire-it-myself effort, using a well-worn list of handymen.

life@home asks: “Do You DIY?”

Jacqueline Nochisaki, Writer: Most of the time, I’m a do-ityourselfer because I like accomplishing things, ticking things off my to-do list. But! I must admit, with unpleasant things, like cleaning up for example, I’m more of a “Can-you-do-it-forme-please?” type.

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life@home

Richard Stevenson, Writer:

I am not, due to palpable ineptitude.

Arthur Rosenblatt, Writer:

Only in the kitchen, where I am fearless. As far as the rest of the house and garden, I am the opposite of handy. Luckily, I know it. My greatest effort goes into finding those who do the jobs so much better and successfully than I ever could.

Kerry Mendez, Writer:

I am by nature a do-it-yourselfer. I like to see the results of my sweat equity and enjoy saving money in the process. But as I age, I’ve noticed a change in my thinking. The heart is willing but the back is weak


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online

photos CONTESTS

shopping & lots more! GO TO: timesunion.com/homes

home decor 24/7

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

Editor’s Challenge Send us your best diy success and you could be featured an upcoming issue of life@home. From simply repainting a drab room with a fresh color scheme and refurbishing tired furniture to reupholstery or unique projects, the possibilities are limitless. Email your before and after photo with a brief description to jreynolds@timesunion.com, along with your full name and best way to contact you. Get inspired with this month’s project, on page 33.

More of the Bard

Inspired to read more Shakespeare and try your hand discovering his use of flowers and plants in other works? Read A Rose by Any Other Name on page 44 and then head to timesunion. com/homes for more.

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life@home

get your daily green...everyday!

Did you know that a slow leaky faucet dripping 30 drops per minute wastes 3 gallons per day, or the equivalent of 27 baths per year? Get daily tips on all aspects of green living at www.timesunion.com/homes.


     

       

    

   

      

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editor’s note

Just Do It S

ince creating life@home a few months ago, I have become an avid reader of design and decor blogs. Among my absolute favorites — besides our homegrown talent at timesunion.com/homes, Home Decor @ 518 and House Things — are designspongeonline.com, decor8.blogspot.com and apartmenttherapy.com. Check them out; you won’t be disappointed. The blogs have opened up an entire world I never knew existed and made me feel, depending on the day, either wildly enthusiastic about all the possibilities or wholly inadequate. Not only are there people living in houses and apartments much cooler than mine, who obviously know exactly what to do to make each and every room perfect, but a lot of them are also doing every damn project themselves...perfectly... with complicated tools...after days of fulltime work and caring for children. It’s enough to get a complex. My friend, Emily, is one of these people. She created a fabulous playroom for her son in three days, doing all the work herself. It includes murals and clever touches, such as former classroom laminated maps repurposed as shades and brightly-colored yardsticks from around the country made into a chair rail. The playroom also features a terrific solution to those ugly white intercoms that sometimes come with homes. Oh yes, and it didn’t cost much.

It was while oohing and aahing over her playroom that I had an epiphany. Heretofore, our DIY projects, while good, have been limited by our staff size — two — and our time (see comment about staff size). How could we ever compete with other home and lifestyle magazines that have entire DIY departments? The answer lies with all of you. Why not, I reasoned, ask the readers to send in their best DIY successes and feature them in life@home? Whether or not this was a brilliant idea is in your hands now. I suspect you’re all a clever bunch; we’re interested in everything from simple repainting and refurbishing tired furniture to reupholstery or craft projects. The possibilities are limitless. I look forward to hearing from you. Simply send me an email with at least before and after photos. Then I’ll contact you for directions and to talk further about the project. This month’s project, on page 33, provides some clever instructions on covering up those intercoms I mentioned earlier. And when you’re dropping me a line, remember we’re also looking for collectors to feature as well. I look foward to hearing from you, jreynolds@timesunion.com. Now get @ back to work!

timesunion.com/homes

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Domestic Bliss with dogs (and cat) by sarah shallcross

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efore I met my present partner, I had been a cat person. One roommate I had came with two cats of her own, both of whom dwarfed mine. I had also had a cat when I lived alone, and she came with me when I moved in with a partner. (Actually, this happened more than once.) My cats were not stand-offish. They wanted to say hello when I came home, were frequently up for a snuggle and a scratch, or a game of some sort. But it was on their terms, when they were ready. One of my cats had a rather worrying fondness for lying on top of the old-fashioned gas stove with built-in heater. As she lay there, she would twitch her tail in the gas burners. I was always afraid she’d set herself alight, but it never happened. Then several years ago I met Maureen. Maureen is a dog person, through and through. A confirmed, lifelong, dedicated, almost-obsessive dog person. Maureen had a German Shepherd, Jen-a-fur. I had a cat, Daisy. Maureen quoted the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins and talked about God with me, she let me throw Frisbees for Jen-a-fur, she looked into my eyes as we sat before the crackling fire in her living room. I fell in love with a dog person. Time passed, and we decided to live together. I moved Daisy and the rest of my worldly belongings into Maureen’s house and, lo and behold, we discovered a way to have the cat and dog live together in harmony. We just didn’t let Jen-a-fur go upstairs. Daisy had the run of the second floor, including a balcony that hung over the high-ceilinged living room, so she could see what was going on, and she didn’t have to worry about being molested by Jen. It was only a matter of time before we added to our menagerie. Maureen has seldom lived with only one dog, and within a few years of our moving in together, she got me a puppy for my birthday. Riley (because he has the proverbial life of) is half cocker spaniel, half poodle, aka a cockapoo. He is mostly white

with buff patches, cocker ears and a semi-curly coat. When I picked him out, he won me by licking my nose. He is 25 pounds of attitude. Frequently cute and winning, he can be snarly and nasty to a dog that outweighs him by several times (i.e., Dominic, the German Shepherd who came into our lives after Jen-a-fur died). When he wants something from me, he persists in letting me know until I do what he wants. Dominic, large and athletic though he is, is a big baby. He is the most recent addition to our home. He craves attention and will whine and look all hurt if I spend several minutes talking to Maureen and don’t pay any attention to him. But all is forgiven when I turn to him and rub his belly. He is always eager to play — often rather roughly — with Riley, and can’t seem to understand when Riley doesn’t feel like being dragged around by his neck. Dominic is also much more easily cowed than Riley, for all his size. But not when it comes to anything with a motor. Dominic barks at the vacuum; he barks at the delivery trucks that pull up in our driveway. And he loves especially to bark at Maureen’s ATV. Of course the ATV makes a lot of noise, which must be one of its attractions as something to bark at. It is also the occasion of wonderful runs around the perimeter of our property. We live on 12 acres in Midcoast Maine with a rough path running around the boundary. Maureen will fire up the ATV and get both dogs chasing her around that path to tire them out. There is nothing Dominic loves more than to run, so when the ATV come out, he probably doesn’t know whether to bark out of aggression at the growling monster or for joy at the chance to chase it. When the dogs return from a run like that, they are panting, often filthy, and their eyes glow. I can imagine them saying to each other, “Yeah, I’m tired too, but it’s a good kind of tired.” Meanwhile, Daisy, the Elder Statescat, now approaching her @ 19th birthday, snoozes upstairs.

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window shopping

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window shopping

Silver plated apples and pears dress up any dinner table setting as a centerpiece or use only a few here and there as accents. $5 each @ Sutton’s Furniture, Rt. 9 in Queesnbury, NY.

Homemade Candies and Chocolate bundled in a gift basket is a great all-occasion gift idea. $25.99 at Krause’s Homemade Candies, 1609 Central Ave., Albany.

“Blossom” Acrylic flowers. Elegant, modern floral sculptures in heavy lucite. $375 Available locally at Antara Home, 488 Broadway, Albany

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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?

Home Decor@518 by laurie freehafer It’s easy to turn one’s nose up to another person’s home decor choices. Grandma’s revered ornate, fountain-sized candy dish may seem gaudy and pretentious to a visitor. Grandma couldn’t go wrong if she would just tell people “it’s kitsch.” Instant smile of understanding. Despite the immaturity of it all, I love kitsch. I found these collectible banks at Cheeky Tiki Monkey, a unique local gift shop with enough kitsch to rival the boutiques of SoHo. I’m not saying they’re all tasteful. I’m not implying they’re beautiful. I’m just saying that, like all good kitsch, they make me smile, and therefore they have a place in my home. Banks by ZookiDooki; $19.99 each at Cheeky Tiki Monkey, 252 Lark St., Albany.

House Things

goodies you won’t mind dusting by michael kusek Tea powered my household growing up. I watched my English mother drink exactly one teapot of Red Rose black tea every breakfast, lunch and dinner when I lived at home. Not much ritual behind it; it was very matter of fact. Very British, if you will. The Japanese, however, now they drink tea packed with ritual and steeped in reverence for the beverage. Not one to stand on ceremony, I think I’ve found something that can exist right between those two cultural approaches to tea. Brooklyn-based designer Joey Roth has created the Sorapot — a teapot lauded up and down the design blogosphere that captures both function and ritual as it brews one perfect cup. Not only will it look smashing on your counter, but its design helps choreograph your moves as you fill it with loose tea, pour in the boiling water, sit back and watch it brew. The perfect balance of both utility and ceremony. Now that’s a very modern way to enjoy tea. The Sorapot, $179, is available online at www.sorapot.com.

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@home with

the tao of chi the albany brownstone of retired professor benjamin chi

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by janet reynolds

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photos by wes bennett


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Above: A welcoming room that acts as a pass-through beween the living and dining rooms. The 19th century Chinese screen is a family heirloom — Chi’s father was Chinese — and was created using the coromandel technique, in which pieces of stone and mother of pearl are affixed to black lacquer to make elaborate designs. “It’s the miracle of the century in terms of how it fits this space ,” says Chi. It is just one of many Chinese artifacts peppering Chi’s home. The chandelier in the dining room was originally in Chi’s 19th century Selkirk home.

here is something about the 19th century that makes Benjamin Chi feel at home. It’s why he and his wife, Virginia, chose a house built in 1866 in Selkirk as their main abode for decades and it’s why he chose an 1884 brownstone in Albany as his retirement home not long after his wife unexpectedly died. “[Houses from this period] have a sense of warmth and comfort for me that contemporary houses don’t,” he says. “All my life I’ve lived in old houses. It’s what I’m used to and happiest in.” It also makes decorating a little easier during a downsizing. Sure, there was a dumpster-load of things to get rid of, but of the things that made the trip from Selkirk to Albany a few years ago, most of them were happily in place. Chi hasn’t even had to do much painting. Chi’s design style is very personal. “If I see something I like,” he says, “I just get it.” As a result, the brownstone has a cozy feel; it’s upscale without being pretentious. It’s also why Chinese artifacts are peppered throughout the apartment; it’s a way of celebrating his Chinese roots since his father was Chinese. The brownstone has a number of interesting features, including a butler pantry next to the dining room on the first floor. “It makes entertaining great,” Chi says, noting the kitchen, as was the custom in this time period, is downstairs in the basement. There is a dumbwaiter as well but having a serving kitchen — with a dishwasher! — certainly makes for less running up and down the stairs during a meal with guests. Continued on page 26


@home with continued from page 25; more photos on page 29

Above, a nod to another time: Why throw out the old if it still works? The radio from 1924 still gets one station while the phone from the 1920s is still good for taking incoming calls. Both are in Chiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s living room, featured on this page. Chi decided to open up the space in his living room by placing a table in the area where there once were doors separating the room from the entranceway. The result? A feeling of expanse in an otherwise narrow space. Below: Another view of the first floor living room, opposite the open wall to the entry hall.The fireplace is one of two working ones in the apartment. Note the Chinese vases.

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Above, the second-floor library: A light-filled room thanks to the large windows, the library’s built-in bookcase houses some of Chi’s exhaustive book collection. A new addition to the 19th century home, the bookcase was built by Karl Weidman of Schenectady. The oriel window has a little alcove where Chi has placed a desk and laptop. “You can watch people go up and down the street,” he says of the perch. Right: Wrought Iron details on the front stair rail.

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hile Chi obviously misses his wife and the home they shared, it didn’t take him long to realize a smaller, urban home had much to offer. “Only after she died did I realize how much work it was to keep up the house,” he says, noting it took him six hours alone to mow the lawn — on a tractor! And then there’s the convenience. “There are weeks when I don’t drive anywhere,” he says. @ Chi’s home is part of the Historic Albany Foundation’s annual Hidden City House and Garden Tour. About 12 houses and gardens will be open for viewing on Thursday, June 19, 5-8 pm. Tickets are available on the day of the tour at Ben and Jerry’s on Lark Street. Prepaid tickets are available at historic-albany.org.

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problem:solved

Window Dressing how to transform an empty landing by janet reynolds

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photos by wes bennett

The problem: A potentially wonderful landing space above the front door that is partially visible from the first floor and outside but a real focal point from the second floor. “The client wanted something to attract attention and bring color to that spot,” says Rosemary Getman, merchandiser at Sutton’s Furniture in Queensbury, “and they had no idea what to do with it. They had tried a few things that just didn’t work.” Getman’s goal was to get something on the back wall to frame the wall and something on the floor. “The client had

never thought of putting a rug there because you don’t walk there,” she says, “but I thought it would bring color there.” Getman made sure to tie the colors in with the rest of the client’s home and to choose items that fit with her unique style. Top Tip: Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. “A rug can be a focal point, an artistic piece rather than just a functional piece.” @

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kids @home

Playing Around ideas to keep the “fun” in functional text & photos by janet reynolds

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he problem was obvious: ugly plastic intercoms. Emily Lukasciewicz and her very handy mother, Carla Oyen, came up with a creative solution. Cover them up, according to the theme of the room they’re in. Pictured here is the cover for Lukasciewicz’s son’s playroom. Below are directions if you want to try this in your home. It’s easier than you think. Tools 1/2” drill bit 1/8” drill bit Drill Scroll saw or jigsaw Hand sander Small paint brush Painters’ tape Glue Nail filler Tape measure Miter box saw Materials Base: 1” X 2@ pine boards and 8 nails or screws Cover: 1” X 8” pine boards (or 10” or 12” depending on the project size 2-3 small hinges Artist acrylic paint 16 large crayons Construction Base: Cut and measure the board to desired

size, similar to a shadow box. Drill pilot holes to prevent splitting. Glue and nail (or screw) together. Fill screw holes with filler. Hint: Make base width the same width as your 1” X 8” boards. Drill eight 1/2” holes in top, making sure not to go through the 1” X 2”. Cover: Cut pine board 3/4” shorter than base. Using scroll saw or jigsaw, cut a predetermined hole/opening. Drill eight more 1/2” holes deep enough to hold full length crayons, being careful to drill straight down. Sand all corners and edges, rouding top front edge of base and cover. Finish: Use acrylic paint for fast drying and painter’s tape for sharp lines. Hinge preferred side. Hang or fasten to wall. Cut and insert eight crayons for desired length for base. Insert full length crayons for cover. @

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outdoor living

Thrill of the Grill hot trends in outdoor cooking by jacqueline nochisaki photos by wes bennett

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h, summertime. The livin’ is easy and the call of the outdoor grill is strong. After a day working indoors, who wants to spend warm evenings or weekends tied to a kitchen stove? The good news is that thanks to the new developments and options for gourmet cooking on today’s grills, no one needs to. Move over hamburgers and hot dogs — gourmet grilling is here to stay. “Everything tastes better on a grill cooked outside,” says Wayne Stritsman, owner of Best Fire Hearth & Patio in Albany, a wonderland of fireplaces for indoor and outdoor use, grills, patio furniture and backyard accoutrement. “Everyone wants to entertain and food is a huge part of it. And the grill is a part of that outdoor entertainment. The trend is in expanding the parameters of grilling, of entertaining.” “It’s the outdoor kitchen effect,” says Dan Oliver of Earl B. Feiden Appliance in Latham of the move toward creating an outdoor extension of the kitchen in your backyard. “[Since Sept. 11], we’ve become more of a homebody; we spend more time at home.” To that effect, elaborate performance grills of the highest grade with increasingly varied ways to prepare food, including faster and more controlled heating, and additional elements and refinements, have never been more popular. “We spend most of the indoor day in one room so we’re all together. Maybe it’s a recreation of a tight, nuclear family,” Oliver says. “Outdoor grilling brings a new element to that.” Whether it’s a cheeseburger you’re craving or a five-course meal with an outdoorsy feel and flavor, here are some of the top-selling grills that will help turn any backyard into a resort. Buyer beware: firing up these babies might mean your backyard becomes the new neighborhood gathering place. Consider yourself warned.

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Capital Infrared Searing Grill: “The only people grilling in this world are us and the Aussies,” says Dan Oliver of Earl B. Feiden Appliance. “When you grill, essentially, you’re sucking the life out of everything you’re cooking and it’ll never be replaced.” Except if you have an infrared searing zone. This new and growing technology allows for more even and intense cooking through the use of zones and a heat source that cooks from the bottom up. The typical grill isn’t hot enough to “sear and seal,” says Oliver, noting this really locks in any meat’s juices.

Big Green Egg: The Big Green Egg is perfect for the person who wants to do it all. This high-end smoker is a refined version of the ancient Japanese kamado oven that used convection techniques. Two solid ceramic domes are sealed with an airtight gasket and airflow is regulated with adjustable openings at the top and bottom of the Egg, allowing for complete heat control. With varying shaped ceramic plates that fit inside to further control air and heat movement, the Green Egg can bake, roast and slow cook as well as old-school grill. “Can you imagine having an outdoor convection oven?” says Wayne Stritsman of Best Fire Hearth & Patio. “No longer do we have to live the summer on hamburgers, hotdogs, chicken, steak. Now we can have brisket, ribs, pizza, cake — and we can incorporate all of that into our outdoor entertaining.” The Big Green Egg is also the best choice for the eco-conscious. “It doesn’t use fossil fuels or chemicals,” says Stritsman. The Egg burns natural lump charcoal harvested right here in the Capital Region. Added bonus? They ignite more easily and burn hotter than manmade briquettes. The Egg runs from small to extra-large and costs between $308 to $1,200.


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Ê79Ê 19ÊÊ 7Ê" Ê "7¶ Weber Summit S670: “By the time we get home [from work in the winter months], it’s dark,” says Stritsman, speaking for the hardcore grillers. “We want to be able to cook out all year round.” Those interested in serving armies of neighborhood children, making 12-course meals in the dark, or using their grill as a fallout shelter might consider the Weber Summit S670. With six burners, lighted control dials, a side burner, smoker box, sear burner and rotisserie, this is a serious grill. For about $2,200, you can be the envy of your neighborhood — perhaps your whole town — with this solid, stainless steel grill. continued on page 37

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outdoor living continued from page 35

What to Consider Before Buying 1. Will it be birds, dogs and chicken for the masses or a small family? â&#x20AC;&#x153;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d ask [a potential customer], â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;What will you cook?â&#x20AC;&#x2122; and â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Who do you grill for?â&#x20AC;&#x2122;â&#x20AC;? says Oliver. While the latest, biggest, brightest grill may be an impressive addition to your deck, make sure you realistically assess your needs and clue in store employees on how you plan to use it. â&#x20AC;&#x153;People are attracted to shiny things,â&#x20AC;? says Stritsman. Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be that guy or gal firing up your extra-large grill for a single hot dog twice a year.

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Web Q portable: For the mobile person whoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s into camping, RVing or grilling from the back of his car at various major sporting events, â&#x20AC;&#x153;The $29 portables out there are really big disappointments,â&#x20AC;? says Stritsman. But the Weber Q is a different kind of tailgater, with the high-end design and performance features of the big, stainless steel behemoths scaled down in size and put to use in a compact form. From $169 to $359, the Weber Q comes in four compact sizes, the very smallest of which boasts a 189-square-inch cooking surface.

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living green

Wall Power finding eco-friendly wall coverings by joanne palmisano

W

allpaper traces its roots to ancient China, around 200 BC, when rice paper was hung on walls. Then around 105 AD, a court official named Ts’ai Lun invented papermaking by mixing mulberry bark, hemp and scraps of cotton and linen cloth with water, mashing it into a pulp, pressing it, and drying it in the sun. Over the centuries, wallpaper has evolved, changing from rice paper to rags, to using wood with natural dyes and handcarved blocks to, finally, the invention of mechanical silkscreen cane in 1920. But it wasn’t until after World War II that plastic resin (vinyl wallpaper) appeared. That led to numerous changes in how wallpaper was manufactured and applied, making it more accessible to all. Now, wallpaper is evolving again, this time in response to consumers’ concerns about the chemicals and toxins typically used to produce it and get it on the walls. Wallpaper has four main areas of potential environmental concern — paper (which is not always paper), ink, paste and the removal process. Let’s take paper first. The four basic types are fabric-backed vinyl, paper-backed vinyl, vinyl-coated paper and plain paper. Vinyl is said to be more hardy, stain-resistant and easier to clean than plain paper. But vinyl wallpaper is also made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride), often just called vinyl for short. Greenpeace, an international environmental organization, calls vinyl the most dangerous of all plastics. According to Greenpeace, PVC is the second most commonly used plastic worldwide and it is the most harmful to the environment, earning it the nickname of the poison plastic. The Environmental Protection Agency, meanwhile, categorizes PVC as a human carcinogen. Indeed, it is considered so toxic that it is banned in parts of Europe. As a result of this and the public’s demand for more environmentally friendly alternatives, many wallpaper 38

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life@home

companies are moving back to paper and other natural textiles in the making of wallpaper. Inks, which create the patterns, can vary dramatically in their formulas. The most basic elements include pigments, solvent carries, toners and emulsifiers. If you want an alternative to these types of inks, you must find a company that uses natural pigments and water-based colors that are heat sealed instead of chemically sealed. Like paints, getting back to natural elements used in the coloring process such as china clay, limestone and other natural pigments with very low VOC elements make the wallpaper more environmentally-friendly. The pastes, as the inks, vary greatly in their formulas. The main ones use cellulose, premixed vinyl clay, pre-mixed vinyl clear, vinyl over vinyl (VOV) and wheat paste. Cellulose paste is usually treated with alkali, followed by methyl chloride, and the vinyl pastes…well, we already talked about PVC. So that leaves the wheat paste, made from flour and water. This form of paste and other natural recipes are readily available online or you can ask your installer to purchase it or make it for you. There are also forms of cellulose paste that are not chemically treated as well. Removal is another potential “dirty” job. Typically heavy-duty chemicals are suggested for removing difficult wallpaper. The good news is that other alternatives exist. Askthebuilder. com, for instance, recommends a water and vinegar solution. Steam is a great alternative to removing wallpaper as well.

A

s the demand for less toxic wallpaper has increased, so has the number of companies creating environmentally friendly, non-toxic wallpaper and accompanying products. Susan


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Bourdeau, an interior designer for Passonno Paints in Albany, says the options are increasing all the time. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We have environmentally friendly, green wallcovering books for our customers to look through and order from,â&#x20AC;? she says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Green is a big thing for the wallpaper industry, which is seeing a rise in demand over the past few years. What is great is they are creating products that the designers are asking for â&#x20AC;&#x201D; durable, earthfriendly wallcovering." Sherwin Williams stores also offer a line called EasyChange, a non-vinyl wallpaper. Options abound online as well. Woodson & Rummerfieldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s House of Design, a L.A. design firm, prints its patterns on recycled paper with vegetable-dye ink (wandrdesign.com). Out of New York City, Wolf Gordon, wolf-gordon.com, has been offering its Earthsafe line, comprised of wallcoverings made from rice paper, grass cloth or wood veneers, since 2003. The companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s newest line is called Organics and is made of recycled newspaper and eco-friendly grass (called Kenas). Modgreenpod.com features organic cotton fabric and vinylfree wallpaper. Founded by two mothers, this companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s coverings are hand silk-screened using water-based, non-toxic inks. In Los Angeles, Pottock (pottockprints.com) also features hand silk-screened wallpaper created from recycled paper. The inks are water-based and the company uses no chemicals in its waterproofing. Other popular earth-friendly wallpaper companies include Pallasâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; natural and recycled paper line. Their Dialtone line is made from discarded Japanese phone books (pallastextiles. com). DesignTex wallcoverings (designtex.com) are made from latex and wood pulp, while Charles Rupertâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s online wallpaper line, www.charlesrupert.com/eco.html, uses paper-based, formaldehyde-free wood pulp paper produced from sustainable managed forests. @

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39


artisan

Flying High the quest of icarus furniture maker jim lewis to go beyond the obvious

by jill montag

J

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photos by joe putrock

im Lewis has a relationship with wood that may go beyond what many artists have with paint or clay. “I really relate to trees,” Lewis says. “I really relate to wood. I understand something about wood that I can’t put into words, but I have a feeling for it. A lot of times I’ll look at a piece of wood and know how it will work, how it will cut, how it will bend or shape.” That makes total sense once you see his work, which ranges from a memorable tulip chair and a unique bed frame to a number of works in churches and synagogues across the Capital Region and the country. Lewis and his business partner, Marianne Briggs, founded Icarus Furniture on Fourth Street in Troy in 1977. Since then, they and their co-workers have evolved into designers and builders of custom furniture for homes, sacred spaces and the world of theater and art. Lewis has won many awards and been featured in several publications, including Architectural Digest. According to Greek mythology, Icarus was the son of Daedalus, a renowned craftsman. Icarus ignored his father’s warnings by daring to fly too close to the sun on wings of feather and wax, and fell into the sea. Lewis believes Icarus gets a bad rap, because the story doesn’t explain what would motivate somebody to do that. “It’s the quest to go beyond, to see things that people haven’t seen, to do things that people haven’t done.” That’s a philosophy Lewis lives by. Lewis says he had never made anything before he started working with wood 35 years ago. His mother was involved in crafts, and his father was quite handy on the farm near Lancaster, Pennsylvania where Lewis grew up. “When I started thinking about what I wanted to do, it seemed like I wanted to make things a lot more than I wanted to do paperwork or sit behind a desk.” Luckily, in 1972 he found a job with a man making waterbeds in the space that is now Lewis’ store. He ended up where he is today by learning from others and his own mistakes.

40

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life@home


Above: Jim Lewis, owner of Icarus in Troy. At left, Lewis’ tulip chair.

H

omeowners come to Icarus Furniture to fulfill a specific desire, to have at least one special piece of furniture in their home. They get an experience far different from walking into a typical furniture store. Lewis works directly with them to design the piece they are seeking. This process often starts with a picture of a room in a client’s house and ends with a piece of furniture that completes that room and makes a statement. “You look at a room and you can see that the circulation isn’t working right. The people aren’t exactly comfortable in a room that they’re supposed to relax in, so you make a piece that’s less formal, a little easier to be with,” he says. “Or, if it’s a room that’s more formal like a dining room, you do a piece that has stronger lines and a little more definition, and the room comes off in a different way. It’s about how pieces shape what people do in a room.” One of Lewis’ favorite projects is a reading room he designed for a retired woman who lives in Troy. She wanted a comfortable room that could hold a lot of books and some art, so she could relax and enjoy reading there. Lewis smiles as he recounts their recent conversation. “She blew me away. She said, ‘You know, that was the best money I ever spent.’” It’s that kind of statement that helps make Lewis’ work fulfilling, and keeps clients walking in the door looking for a way to enhance their home. Adds Briggs, “One of the things we’ve always prided ourselves on is that we can usually give people exactly what they want. That’s why people come to us a lot of times. They’ve looked other places, and they either don’t see the style that they want or they have specific space needs.” continued on page 42

timesunion.com/homes

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41


artisan L

ewis uses many different woods for his projects, including oak, maple, cherry, mahogany, walnut and more exotic varieties. He fondly recalls working right from the log of a tree his friend cut down so he could make a mantle out of red cedar. It amazes him how the wood often seems destined for a particular project. For example, when making an organ case out of quartersawn oak, he noticed that the grain in the oak resembled musical eighth notes. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I could never go to a distributor and say, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;I want a piece of oak that looks like eighth notes,â&#x20AC;&#x2122;â&#x20AC;? Lewis marvels. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know how I manage, but it happens. It just happens.â&#x20AC;? It must be part of that relationship with wood. Lewis is the first to tell you that he enjoys making different objects, items that can be a little surprising at times. He enjoys the fact that his work really can be described as both art

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and furniture, because the last thing he wants is to be pigeonholed. You may not think of art as comfortable. After eyeing the tulip chair for a while, I had to test it out, wondering if something so stunning would feel more like a piece of art than a chair. After I sat down, I believed Lewis when he said visitors often choose to perch there. Though a tulip chair or a reading room might not be right for you, Lewis believes that each home should have something special inside. As you might expect, he explains why with a most likely unintentional reference to trees. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Because people always care about something, and they need to care about something. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s how youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re rooted, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s how you grow. You care about things,â&#x20AC;? he says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;There should be at least one thing that youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re around that you really love because it @ teaches you to care.â&#x20AC;? You can contact Jim Lewis at icarusfurniture.com.

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in the garden

A Rose by Any Other Name…

tips on creating your own shakespeare garden by deborah renfrew images courtesy of anne ophelia dowden

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ans of William Shakespeare know that the garden was a favorite spot of his for action and that he frequently used flowers and herbs as metaphors in many of his plays, poems and sonnets. In King Richard II, for instance, the gardener metaphorically comments on the affairs of state: “Go, bind thou up yon dangling apricocks,/Which like unruly children, make their sire/Stoop with oppression of their prodigal weight:/Give some supportance to the bending twigs.—/Go thou, and, like an executioner/ Cut off the heads of too-fast-growing sprays.” From Juliet’s familiar declaration, “That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” to the more obscure lines of Sonnet 94, “For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds; Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds,” Shakespeare dots the landscape of his plays, sonnets, and poems with more than 150 plants. And though many of those grow only in the climate of merry old England, plenty of his cultivars can flourish here in our Northeast planting zones. Just as Shakespeare drew much of his inspiration from the gardens and plants of Elizabethan England, his words can still inspire your garden today. The grieving but clever Ophelia from Hamlet, for instance, can offer a plan for a wonderful mixed garden, according to Cathy Gifford, a master gardener with the Cornell Co-

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operative Extension of Voorheeseville and a lecturer on Shakespeare gardens. In this passage Ophelia, who knew her floriography, cleverly rebukes the king and queen, whom she blames for the death of her father, by speaking metaphorically. She tells them: There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray love, remember:and there is pansies, that’s for thoughts. There’s fennel for you, and columbines: there’s rue for you; and here’s some for me: we may call it herb-grace o’ Sundays; O you must wear your rue with a difference. There’s a daisy: I would give you some violets, but they withered all when my father died: the day he made a good end. Mixing these perennials and herbs — pansies, columbines, daisies, violets, rosemary, fennel and rue — in a casual, cottage-style garden can have wonderful results without too much work, according to Gifford. Set in the back of the garden, the columbine will grow up to 40 inches tall and bloom from late spring to mid-summer. The perennials can be found locally, although you might have to go to a specialized herb grower for the fennel and rue, both of which are used in cooking. In the absence of rue, try the flower rue anemone. A lost art today, the use of flowers to send messages probably dates back to prehistoric times, according to Gifford. Shakespeare often used flowers and plants as metaphors, and the rose, noted in some of the sonnets here, was among his favorites. He mentions the rose, the national


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emblem of England, at least 70 times in his plays and sonnets, according to the book Shakespeare’s Flowers. In Sonnet 54, for instance, he writes: O, how much more doth beauty beauteous seem By that sweet ornament which truth doth give The rose looks fair, but fairer we it deem For that sweet odor which doth in it live. Or this, from Sonnet 99: The lily I condemned for thy hand; And buds of marjoram had stoln thy hair: The roses fearfully on thorns did stand, One blushing shame, another white despair; Just as Shakespeare planned his use of the rose, so, too, should you contemplate varieties as you think of the “message” of your garden. Cull and record the quotes to keep in a notebook or post decoratively in the garden. The many varieties — musk, damask, Lancaster — also lend themselves to the formal Elizabethan knot garden where gardeners can create an intertwined knot of trimmed boxwood and lavender in a rectangular shape surrounding the roses, according to Gifford.

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t is widely thought that Shakespeare himself was a gardener, notes Gifford, though perhaps not in the sense that we go at it today. “However beautiful and artfully arranged, ancient gardens were made for practical uses and not for the strictly

visual pleasure we derive today,” she says. “Plants were a food source, herbs had medicinal or cooking uses, and flowers were vital for scenting homes and clothing.” Under that scenario, perhaps the impudent Perdita in The Winter’s Tale can be your garden muse. “Here’s flowers for you: Hot lavender, mints, savory, marjoram,” says she. Try Gifford’s plan for a decorative kitchen garden, usually planted in the backyard outside the kitchen, of herbs and vegetables bordered by such flowers as marigolds and violets. Shakespeare’s choices are all available locally and great to cook with. And who can resist that gossamer-like perfume of the lavender clinging in thin air? For authentic hardscapes from the period, put together some wattle. These simply designed structures of sturdy branches and twigs bound by twine can be made into plant supports, trellises, even small fences. In Shakespeare’s time, wattle fences kept the livestock out of the garden, says Gifford. Include a bust of the author, along with a sundial or birdbath, and, if you are really ambitious, a thatch-roofed shed. For more inspiration, you might consider a trip to the Shakespeare gardens in the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens and Central Park. More information and a complete list of Shakespeare gardens are also available at gardennet.com. In the meantime, the Bard offers this one last bit of important advice, from Henry VI: Now ‘tis the spring, and weeds are shallow-rooted; Suffer them now and they’ll overgrow the garden. @ Images are from the book Shakespeare’s Flowers, Johnson Books, Boulder, CO. To view other Shakespearean works featuring flowers, go to timesunion.com/homes. timesunion.com/homes

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down the garden path

Go Natural! tips on gardening the natural way by kerry a. mendez

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t’s time to strip the garage of those toxic chemicals you’ve been using for weeding and fertilizing. Roll up your sleeves, slip on some plastic gloves, take a deep breath (put on a face mask first), and play Mr. Clean. You’ll feel better, your kids and pets will be healthier, and the Earth will be a safer place to live. But what are the organic alternatives, you suspiciously ask? Plenty! A Weed in Time Saves Nine Let’s start with tackling enemy number one: weeds. We dread them in our lawns and flowerbeds. Sadly, the old-fashioned way of hand pulling is too slow, laborious, and dare I say, boring, for today’s quick fix generation. We need faster, if not more entertaining, options. How about a weed dragon? This nifty hand-held machine is a flame-thrower attached to a propane tank. You scorch weeds in the lawn, flowerbed, driveway, and walkway with “flare.” This method works best (and makes the fire department happiest) if done after rain. You actually steam the weeds to death versus burning them. If propane tanks make you uncomfortable, try an old-fashioned teakettle. Simply boil water and pour it on the “bad guys.” I applied this method with glee on Bishops Weed, that plant from the hot place. The plants shriveled up nicely, although it did take two applications for total submission. Burnout II is also a great weed terminator. Spray this clove oil and vinegar mixture on leaves and wave bye-bye. Another option, corn gluten, is a byproduct of milling corn. It’s a pre-emergent weed killer and destroys seeds as they germinate but ignores plants already above ground. It can be spread on lawns or gardens. Corn gluten is also high in nitrogen so it doubles as a fertilizer. You can actually eat corn gluten, although it’s not tasty. What a contrast to harsh lawn chemicals flagged with large caution signs! Mulching gardens with two to three inches of nutrient-rich material such as compost or aged manure reduces pesky weeds while also providing a steady release of nutrients, conserving moisture, and deterring foraging,

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four-legged guests. Wildlife, including deer, especially tend to sidestep beds mulched with cow or horse manure. Milorganite works even better. It contains treated human sewage. It works like a charm, even though it doesn’t smell like one. Friendly Fertilizers There has been an explosion in organic fertilizer options. Good choices include products made by Bradfield Organics (www.bradfieldorganics.com), TerraCycle (www.terracycle. net), Coast of Maine Organic Products (www.coastofmaine. com), and Gardener’s Supply Company (www.gardeners.com). These companies are committed to offering exceptional products for lush lawns and gardens that produce results not at the environment’s expense. Talk about a passion for minimizing one’s carbon footprint on our earth: TerraCycle manufactures fertilizer from waste and packages it in recycled soda bottles. Millions of worms are fed premium organic waste and the “end” result is nutrient-rich poop that is then liquefied or granulized. Worms aren’t the only producers of black gold. Aged cow, horse, sheep, pig, rabbit, chicken, and alpaca manures are also terrific dispensers. Finished composted manures should have an earthy smell, not one that makes your nose crinkle. For years I’ve mulched my gardens with composted cow manure and the results are spectacular. Last fall I spread a couple inches of screened horse manure over the entire lawn and raked it in. You could almost hear the blades of grass smacking their lips. Old-fashioned compost tea, made from finished compost steeped in water, is another great way to fertilize lawns and gardens. You can make this yourself by simply scooping a shovel of compost into some cheesecloth or burlap and then letting it steep in a large tub of water for several days. Stir it a few times daily to oxygenate the water. When the brew is earthy brown, remove the

timesunion.com/homes

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down the garden path

bag straining it as you would a tea bag. The finished tea is ready to be served. Just make sure you don’t mistake it for sun tea. This method works best for small areas. For larger lawns and gardens, contact a company to do this for you with efficient sprayers. More and more businesses are offering this service including SafeLawns & Landscapes, a new company with total organic lawn care solutions. For more information about SafeLawns & Landscaping and franchises near you, visit www.safelawns.net. Working with organic fertilizers requires a reboot of how we typically think about fertilizers. Allow me to use the turtle and the hare children’s story as a teaching tool. The turtle is the organic contestant that steadily runs the course while the hare takes off, burning all his energy up front, and is the loser in the long run. Most chemical fertilizers are fast-release and short-

term. Probably the best-known product in this category is MiracleGro. Miracle-Gro recommends “blue watering” your plants every two weeks. Huh? I refuse to create plant junkies that require routine chemical hits to perform well, nor will I become the drug runner administering the goods. In contrast, most organic fertilizers are slow-release, requiring microorganisms to gradually break them down, improving not only the soil’s fertility, but even more so, its structure. An added benefit is that many of these organic fertilizers are recycled materials themselves, such as horse and cow manures, compost, leaf mold, fish emulsion, and seaweed. With the above organic approaches, you, your children and pets will be able to tip toe through the tulips and lawn without a second thought. @

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outdoor living

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Tooling Around the Garden cool products to make your garden great by wes bennett & amanda vitullo

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Ripple Cone style pottery planter (or upside down as a plant stand) in lime green and other colors will brighten up any patio or porch. Lg. $99, Md. $74, Sm. $36. Faddegon’s Nursery, 1140 Troy-Schenectady Rd., Latham.

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Glazed cereamic Birdbath water fountain, from Border Concepts will make the birds in your yard happy. Your choice of cobalt blue or moss green. $219. Faddegon’s Nursery, 1140 Troy-Schenectady Rd., Latham.

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Border edging gives a finishing touch to any garden. Bamboo: 8” x 48”, $9.99ea. Pine Shingle Style, 14.99/roll. Hewitt’s Garden Center, 1969 Western Ave, Albany.

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A great renewable resource, bamboo makes a nice decorative privacy fencing. 3’ x 48” sections are $29.99. Hewitt’s Garden Center, 1969 Western Ave, Albany.

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Radius Garden Pro Tools. Bright green, ergonomic grips & shiny stainless steel blades give you a sharp new edge in gardening. Above: border fork & garden edger. Right page: transplant shovel. $36.99. Hewitt’s Garden Center, 1969 Western Ave, Albany.

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Wood barrel tubs, in light sage green, are great for container gardening, as well as adding texture, focal points and height to landscaping projects 23” x 15” tall. $19.99. Hewitt’s Garden Center, 1969 Western Ave, Albany.


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Enjoy breakfast & morning coffee out on the patio with this mosaic tile design bistro table & chairs set by Mandego $339.

Faddegon’s Nursery, 1140 Troy-Schenectady Rd., Latham.

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Brighten up your garden with these colorful watering cans in various durable, enamel colors. $39. Neon green “foxgloves” (lycra & supplex) are also a big hit with many gardeners. $19.99 Faddegon’s Nursery, 1140 Troy-Schenectady Rd., Latham.

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Lush plants are great accents in any garden or patio. English Ivy, 12’ container, $16.99. Large fern, 15” container, $19.99 Hewitt’s Garden Center, 1969 Western Ave, Albany.

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Faddegon’s Nursery, 1140 TroySchenectady Rd., Latham.

Faddegon’s Nursery, 1140 Troy-Schenectady Rd., Latham.

Add some whimsy to your yard decor with this chillin’ frog with Ipod statue. Made of cast stone, $139.

Outdoor, multi-tiered fountain made of lightweight resin is durable & a relaxing source of waterfall sounds. $249.

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Recycled Rubber Tire Mulch is a non-toxic, “eco-option” for durable ground cover. Made from shredded car tires, it’s stripped of all steel cable & useful in playscapes, gardens and raised beds. Call for pricing. Clas-

sic Sheds & Gazebos, 1997 Central Ave. Colonie (518) 869-7474


decor

A-peeling Design temporary wall decals offer design dilemma solutions by jackie sher

A

ttention commitment-phobic decorators, decorators-on-a-budget, and decorators looking for instant gratification without too much work. We’ve got a solution for you. Welcome to the world of decals, an increasingly trendy — not to mention easy — solution to design dilemmas. Created for walls, windows, floors, tile — any hard surface, really, depending on the type of decal — they come in every shape, size and color. While some are simple designs, others are intricate pieces of artwork. You can buy letters or words to make phrases, and you can even custom order a decal to fit your precise needs. Depending on the type of decal, you simply place it on the desired surface, and voila! Instant room-redo, making wall decals one of the most versatile decorating accessories on the market. “It’s a great way to add touches of color or a splash [to a room],” says Connie Van Soest, an interior designer with Ethan Allen Home Interiors in Schenectady. Van Soest’s grandchildren like them because they can decorate their rooms without parental supervision. They can put the wall decals anywhere, and in a year (or next week or tomorrow) when they’re sick of them, they can simply peel them off without any muss or fuss. These same qualities appeal to busy adults, who don’t want to put all that effort into repainting a room or even dealing with nails and a hammer for hanging something on a wall. Decals are a great way to try out a design idea without the huge investment. Take bathrooms, for instance. People unhappy with their bathrooms but concerned about the high demolition costs of removing old tiles and replacing them can slap some decals on for a new look. “They’ve been sold across the board to new home owners (or renters) that might have a kitchen or bathroom that needs an update, but they’re not ready to invest in an entire new tile scheme,” says Beth Ferguson, one of the owners of 2Jane, an Internet supplier of decals for tile and glass surfaces. “[They] can add a little color to the room and accent the space,” says Nicole M. Skinner, owner and interior designer for Designer Interiors of Ballston in Burnt Hills. “But [home-inhabitants] also know that they can take them off if they get sick of them.” That same ease appeals renters and students in dorm rooms as well. “Renters who I’ve talked to seem to be really interested in them,” says Christina Coop, the US representative for Ferm Living, an Internet provider of wall decals (www.ferm-living.com). Skinner agrees. “With [rented] apartments it’s great because they’re temporary things [that] create a conversational piece — it’s something kind of unexpected … It’s kind of cutting edge, with a contemporary flair,” she says. 52

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Tree branch decals are a nice complement to a modern dining room with simple lines. Photo courtesy of whatisblik.com. Faux chandeliers courtesy of fermliving.com.

T

he size, shapes, and uses of decals are limited only to the imaginations of the designers and the decorators. Some wall decals can act as faux headboards or picture frames or lamps. Others can solve privacy issues. Take, for instance, the shower window that looks directly into your neighborâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s living room. Or what about the beautiful French doors in your house that donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t allow you any privacy? Certain window-decals are made to filter light and provide freedom from interference, and they look pretty, too. They come in modern and vintage designs to suit any look and taste, and, as always, theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re easy to apply. You can find a city-image to cover your entire wall at www.urbanoutfitters.com, and anything from flowers to a scene of an elephant putting out a fire with its trunk at www.whatisblik.com. At this website many of the designs are from famous artists and it features a custom design option. The website, www.wallwords.com, features all sorts of words for your walls, ranging from phrases, quotes and poetry, to your own creations. The website, www.wallslicks.com offers a variety of designs from baroque to botanical, including decals for your floor. Other online wall decal providers include www.paintlessdesign. com, and www.creativewallcovering.com. If youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re looking specifically for films for glass, www.decorativefilms. com offers a wide variety. Each Website shows you exactly how to adhere your decal, but the steps are generally simple â&#x20AC;&#x201D; compare it to applying a fake tattoo. The one downside to some decals is that they can only be used once. Skinner solves that problem by suggesting using them on room dividers. â&#x20AC;&#x153;What a way to accent a large wall space, and then take with you,â&#x20AC;? says Skinner. â&#x20AC;&#x153;With a room divider, you get a nice big scene, and then you can take it with you [if you move], or you can move it amongst rooms creating different looks.â&#x20AC;? @

    

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Other resources for wall decals: The following local stores will help you order wall decals from their online catalogues via their stores: Sherman Williams in Latham, Albieâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Carpet Craft & Wallcovering in Gloversville, Deitcherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Wallpaper & Interior Design in Cohoes, and Latham Paint Center in Latham.  Â&#x153;Ă&#x20AC; Â&#x201C;Â&#x153;Ă&#x20AC;i Â&#x2C6;Â&#x2DC;vÂ&#x153;Ă&#x20AC;Â&#x201C;>Ă&#x152;Â&#x2C6;Â&#x153;Â&#x2DC;] ÂŤÂ?i>Ă&#x192;i V>Â?Â? ­xÂŁnÂŽ Ă&#x201C;Ă&#x2021;{Â&#x2021;£äää

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design classics

The Wallpaper of

William Morris by kim messenger

T

he American novelist Henry James once described William Morris as a “poet and paper-maker.” In truth, he was so much more than this. Born in March of 1834, he would in the course of his creative life become one of the founders of the British socialist movement and was one of the so-called PreRaphaelite Brotherhood — a group of painters and artists like Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Edward Burne-Jones who wanted to turn their back on the modern age and return to hand-crafted furniture and medieval arts and crafts. He designed stained glass. He designed buildings. He founded a publishing company that created beautiful, handcrafted books. He designed typefaces, and he wrote fantasy novels and tales of chivalry that evoked the Nordic gods, with titles like the The Story of Sigurd, The Volsing and The Fall of Niblungs. And yet, Henry James hit it right on the money. Morris would probably want to be remembered for his role in transforming society and for his late fantasy novels, but the thing that we remember William Morris for these days is as a designer of wallpaper. And what wallpaper it is. The first time I saw a wall hung with a William Morris design I was floored. I felt transported into a mossy wood of shadowed lilies, as if I had just entered a bower in the depths of the forest, where at any moment, I could expect a white unicorn to appear. That is William Morris’ legacy to us. He is undisputedly the greatest designer of wallpaper ever, and if he didn’t invent wallpaper, he showed what it could do in the hands of someone with incredible good taste, a faultless and nuanced color palate, and immense confidence. His paper transports a room from a merely colorful and comfortable space to a place ripe for the flowering of the imagination. 54

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J

ust like all of us, I think, and forgive the pun here, the writing was on the wall for Morris right from the start it seems. He was born to a wellto-do family in Walthamstow, England, and was born with an income that meant he would never need to work. But the Victorians were a driven lot. In his early life he was doted upon, allowed to run freely in the estate, and his imagination was filled with the romantic stories of Sir Walter Scott, which told of knights and beautiful maidens and young men roaming the countryside in search of adventure. His father gave him a pony, and had a small suit of armor built for him, and dressed in this manner, the young William Morris rode through the forests of the Lea Valley, seeking adventure, becoming intimately acquainted with the varieties of wild flowers, the hedges, and the ivies of the countryside. In a sense, that’s what you see in the wallpaper — the poetic imagination of a child in love with nature and filled with a passionately romantic sense of adventure. He went on to be educated, well, at Marlborough School, and Exeter College Oxford, where he met the rest of the bohemian Pre-Raphaelites. He dropped out, married the beautiful if working-class Jane Burden, and joined an architecture firm. He moved from there to designing tapestries, windows and ceilings. His political interests and his many poems, novels, and translations are of interest to the historian, but his wallpaper is still going up on walls today (his designs are still being made by manufacturers). He believed, he said, that “any decoration is futile...when it does not remind you of something beyond itself,” and so Morris’ paper reminds us all of the meadows, the lush, and dense forests of our own childhoods. Beginning in 1862, and for the next 30 years or so, he designed 41 wallpapers and five ceiling papers. The original process involved intricate patterns, carved into wooden blocks that were then dipped in ink and pressed on to the paper. Then another layer of the pattern would be pressed, and so on, in a very intricate and craftsman-like fashion. The result is as he hoped: They “turn a room into a bower, a refuge,” and isn’t that what the rooms of our houses should be for us? @


         

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life

family | food | wine pages 57-86

photo: suzanne kawola


house blend

Just Say No advice on taking a techno break by merci miglino

I

’ve become a mid-life techno-addict. The only time I let go of my laptop is to answer my shiny Pearl Blackberry. I can now IM, text, blog and chat… with little or no help from my teenage tech support. What’s worse, I am nearly considering holding up a gas station to buy the new iMAC AIRBOOK. Sleek, portable and lightweight, it suggestively snuggles into in a plain brown envelope. It’s a plugged-in junkie’s dream. It can go anywhere with me without exertion or detection and, most important, ridicule from the temperance of the casual user. Apparently I am not alone in my addiction. A quick scan of search engines reveals a whole new language around technology abstinence including the clever phrases — Secular Sabbath, Communications Blackout Day, Crackberry, Techno-Addiction, and IAD or Internet Addiction Disorder. In the words of conservative public relations and media guru Armstrong Williams, people are becoming “metaphorically deaf and blind… tuning out the world around them and focusing on their own tiny existence.” This, Williams asserts, is not a way to live. “It’s rude, it’s unhealthy, and it’s counterproductive.” As fellow techno-addict Mark Bittman wondered in a recent New York Times article (which I found while surfing the Web of course!), is it possible to spend one day “free of screens, bells and beeps?” Could we turn off the computer, Bluetooth, Blackberry, cell phone, GPS, or PDA without risk of the DTs — delirium tremors — brought on by connection deprivation? Could we really observe such a routine day of rest and relief freed from the awesome burden of being in touch?

I

set out to see if such rehab was possible. I kept in mind progress — not perfection — was what I was aiming for, that any time away from the madness would be a service to my physical and mental well being. The path was not an easy one. So many false starts, delays, rationalizations, and handy “I can quit anytime, really” excuses to overcome. Never mind that access is everywhere. So I took a few pages out of the proven book of strategies that seem to work so well for other obsessions. Here are my 12 Steps to a clean and calm techno-free life… one day at a time, of course. 58

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1. Admit you have a problem. Does the mere thought of being out of touch for a day set you on edge? Would it take locking yourself in the cellar and throwing the key out the basement window to keep you from your laptop? You have a problem. 2. Cut ‘em off. Be bold. Let your colleagues, friends, family and random strangers know you are off the bandwidth and on the wagon for 24 hours. If something important happens, tell them to send the cops for you. 3. Shut it down. Pack up all your toys and tech paraphernalia and give it to someone to hold… someone who is free of the disorder. 4. Avoid dangerous places. Anywhere the blitz of electronic and print news, commercials, and other advertising and for God’s sake stay out of the cyber cafés and crackberry houses with free wifi. 5. READ. 6. Attend meetings. Gather others who have what you have. Be an inspiration. Remind them that we can do together what we cannot do alone. 7. Get a sponsor or get a buddy, someone to call any time of the day or night that will remind you of your determination and resolve to be calmer and healthier. 8. Make amends. Who or what have you neglected because of your technology overload? What can you do now with your tech-free day to re-connect with them? 9. Listen to others. 10. Spread the word. David Levy, University of Washington professor, says the fight against the pollution of our experience and our attention “is akin to the go-green movement.” Organize a technology time-out in your hometown like Jon Mattleman, director of the Needham Youth Commission, who planned “Needham Unplugged.” 11. Have a No Excuses policy for abandoning your technofree day. Stay committed no matter what is happening around you. 12. Live and Let Live. No, the world is not going to change — the days of wires and roaming charges are over. Stop whining, evangelizing and predicting the death of the written word, basic common sense or interpersonal communication. All you can do is change the world one person at a time — starting with @ you. Live by example. Merci Miglino is a certified professional coach.


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Should You Buy or Lease a Car? text by bill losey

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o buy or not to buy (lease), that is the question. The answer lies in another question: Do you want no debt, bad debt or worse debt? Bad debt is any debt you incur when buying something that will lose value. When you buy a new car and take on a car loan, the second the tires hit the pavement you are losing value and you continue to lose more value every inch you drive. So, when you take on a car loan you take on bad debt. Worse debt is debt incurred when purchasing something consumable. When leasing you are only paying for the part of the car that you use or “consume.” Assuming you don’t buy the car at the end of the lease, you have taken on worse debt because there is no value at the end of the lease for the payments you have made. Assuming no debt when purchasing a car would of course be paying cash in full. When you look at it this way it seems that buying a car in full is the only smart choice. So why do people take on bad and worse debt? If you don’t have a big pile of cash to plunk down on a new car, financing is often the only way to get a vehicle. If you do need a car, consider carefully the car you need. Does it have to be new? Does it have to be big? Does it need all those bells and whistles? If it fits your lifestyle, consider buying a used (or “new to you” as I like to say) car. If you do have some cash set aside for a car, try to find a car that is the same size as your cash. Finance as little as possible to reduce your amount of bad debt. Also, shop around for the best interest rates. No sense in paying high interest on bad debt. If you plan on keeping your car for more than two years, have a down payment and can afford higher monthly payments, financing is probably a better choice than leasing (bad debt being better than worse

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debt). If you have no pile of cash (or a very s m a l l pile), leasing might be your only option for getting a new car. The up-front costs for leasing are generally a lot lower than getting a car loan and financing. The monthly payments are lower as well because you are only paying for the depreciating value of the car. So if you are cash poor, leasing can make sense. Also, if you are the kind of person who likes to have a new car every few years, this could work for you as well. If the length of your lease equals the length of the manufacturer’s warranty, you are off the hook for major repairs. Things to watch out for in a lease are going over your number of allotted miles and terminating the lease early. Both will cost you big bucks. Remember, too, when you lease a car you can’t change anything on it (paint, new CD player, etc…) because you don’t own it. The bottom line is that up-front costs of leasing a car are less than financing a car, and both are also a lot less than buying a car out right. However, if you plan on driving your car into the ground and keeping it ‘til its dying day, the long-term cost of buying is always less than leasing or financing. Your @ best bet is find a car that fits your budget and pay cash. Bill Losey, CFP®, CSA, is author of Retire in a Weekend! The Baby Boomer’s Guide to Making Work Optional.


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watt’s up the allure of watt pottery by janet reynolds photos by wes bennett

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im Salengo got his first piece of Watt pottery when he moved into his own apartment. His grandmother had used the pottery and his mother figured he might need some dinnerware in his new apartment. Salengo, who is executive director of the Schenectady Business Improvement Corporation, liked the family connection. “I remember my grandmother having had it, so it had a certain level of nostalgia to it,” he says, noting he can remember his grandmother watering the plants with a Watt pottery pitcher. Soon he started visiting antiques shops and used furniture stores to find plates to complete his dinnerware set. It wasn’t long before he was hooked… and stopped using the pottery every day because of course it’s too valuable. “You just can’t find another one,” he says of potential breakage. Today Salengo has about 300 pieces, some of them quite valuable. Indeed, a substantive portion of the down payment on his Albany home came from the eBay sales of duplicate Watt pottery. Salengo surrounds himself with his collection. Various styles — the pottery is hand-painted with specific images, such as apples or starflowers — sit on shelving in his living room, dining room, pantry and kitchen. Others are stored and are rotated out, depending on the season. During the tulip season, for instance, the tulip pattern gets its star turn on display. continued on page 64 62

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Watt pottery was started in the 1920s in Crooksville, Ohio. Each piece was hand-painted by women, who only had seconds to complete each design using a certain number of brushstrokes per image. Most had no formal art training. There are a variety of designs, all very evocative of America, including the Pennsylvania Dutch tulip, starflower, American red bud, and the very popular apple. The company stopped making its popular pottery in the mid-1960s when a final fire â&#x20AC;&#x201D; the company had several over its tenure â&#x20AC;&#x201D; proved too much for family members to handle, and the legacy ended. continued on page 66


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o one is more surprised than Salengo about his collecting itch and his specific interest in pottery. He never collected anything as a child. But then, as he began to meet other Watt collectors â&#x20AC;&#x201D; itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s particularly popular in the Midwest since the pottery was made in Ohio â&#x20AC;&#x201D; at conventions, a collector was born. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It became a fun summertime vacation,â&#x20AC;? he says of the convention. Today he is also editor of the official Watt Collectors Association newsletter called, appropriately, Wattâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s News. And, of course, there is the hunt itself and the thrill of a deal. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m a bargain hunter,â&#x20AC;? he says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s what I live for. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s why I do this.â&#x20AC;? He tells a story about one visit to Brimfield, a wildly popular antiques fair held in Brimfield, Massachusetts, several times each summer. He had arrived early, around 6 a.m., and saw the corner of a Watt apple platter sticking out of a box that had not yet been unpacked in a booth. He immediately recognized it as a valuable apple pattern platter, worth about $350. Salengo casually asked the man what he wanted for the platter. The man turned it over, saw the Watt logo â&#x20AC;&#x201D; â&#x20AC;&#x153;I thought I was doomed,â&#x20AC;? Salengo says â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;How about $20?â&#x20AC;? Salengo, obviously, said yes. @ If you have a collection youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d like to have featured in life@home, email jreynolds@timesunion.com.


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On Top of His Game chef dale miller takes on ...the world by william m. dowd images by suzanne kawola

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ecipe for disaster: Change residences three times in six months, start a new career phase that stretches beyond the kitchen into general managership of a Lake George resort, build a relationship with a new significant other, and travel to Italy to help an 83-year-old father rekindle memories of his World War II service. Recipe for success: See above. Welcome to Dale Miller’s world, a mélange of food and finance, décor and detail. He entered the culinary world as a teenager in Amsterdam in the’70s where he took “a lot of flack” for making wedding cakes. After all, in those days how many of his classmates were involved in much beyond school, sports and “fitting in”? His persistence, which he parlayed into an education at the Culinary Institute of America (Class of 1979) in Hyde Park, has paid off with a distinguished career that has seen him reach the top of his profession’s certification ladder, gain a seat on the board of the CIA, and secure international recognition as a consistently innovative chef. 68

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In January, Miller moved from a decade-long post as executive chef of the iconic Jack’s Oyster House, Albany’s oldest restaurant, to the former mansion on Lake George that owners David and Cheryl Kenny renamed the Inn at Erlowest. His goal: to bring at least as many honors to his new spot as he did to Jack’s, which was awarded, among other honors, the Distinguished Restaurants of North America (DiRONA) plaque, Restaurants & Institutions magazine’s Ivy Award, and a spot in the Fine Dining Hall of Fame of the trade magazine Nation’s Restaurant News. Miller is the chef ranked highest in the Capital Region by the American Culinary Federation. He is one of just 70 or so people among the nation’s three million cooks who hold the designation “Certified Master Chef,’’ earned only after completing a rigorous 10-day supervised examination at the CIA facilities in Hyde Park. Miller, 48, who probably could have had a successful career as an interior decorator had not food been his main passion, marries the two endeavors in his new Clifton Park home as well as at Erlowest. The color palette of the just-


Opposite Page: Dale Miller’s stylisth home shows the same attention to detail as his food. Here, a lovely focal point. At right, Chef Dale Miller in the kitchen.

constructed two-story contemporary home, still to some degree a work in progress, is laden with food names, burnt okra and black truffle among them. They help one room blend seamlessly into the next while allowing for individuality of each space. And, he reworked the original builder’s blueprints to create several entertaining spaces, coffered ceilings and intriguing spaces to display antiques and art. The immaculate kitchen is a chef’s dream with its standalone freezer, glass-front refrigerator, farm kitchen sink, and granite-topped workspace. Throughout, the furnishings include an array of Pottery Barn contemporary plus antiques ranging from a Carrera pink-marble-topped hallway sideboard with intricate carved wood to such family heirlooms as his grandmother’s grape-themed chandelier hanging over the dining area of the open kitchen that spills into a living room/sitting area with a broad view of a forever-wild stand of

trees adjoining his property. “I like the idea of mixing period furniture,” Miller says as he works on an aromatic lunch — a sautéed shrimp and arugula appetizer followed by sliced flatiron prime beef in a rich, brown, wine reduction with a vegetable terrine, grilled asparagus and roasted fingerling potato strips. “If you think it through and do it right, it works very nicely. I won’t buy anything just to have it. It has to be just right for the space or I’ll wait as long as it takes.”

L

ike so many of the region’s most recognized chefs, Miller has long been a mainstay on the philanthropic scene. He has been a major factor in the annual Culinary Cornucopia chefs competition that helps support Living Resources, the Cor-CIA Food & Wine Classic fundraiser for the Cornell University Hotel School and the CIA, and the Feast of the Fields

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@home with a mere two months into his new residency. “That was something I know a lot of people go through, but I never want to go through it again. What tremendous confusion!” On the business front, he has the full confidence of the Kennys, who “allow me creative and design control” and virtually free rein to develop the Inn at Erlowest. While a line of condos on the lake shore are a separate division called the Sun Castle Resort that reports to the Kennys, who purchased the property in 2003, the original mansion and a new banquet and catering structure directly behind it are Miller’s to run. “The place was beautiful to begin with,” Miller says, “but there is always something you can do to enhance it. The kitchen was well equipped when I got there, but it was sterile looking. I had it painted a soft shade of green that is pleasing and tranquil and makes the staff feel better about their surroundings. Plus, there are many little touches here and there that can make the place even more wonderful than it was.” The inn is located just past the fetching garishness of Lake George Village heading toward Bolton Landing on Route 9N, the winding, tree-lined road locally known as Lake Shore Drive. It is a stately Queen Anne-style stone structure with a deck overlooking the lake, a body of water Thomas Jefferson called the most beautiful in America. It was constructed in 1898 for Brooklyn lawyer Edward Morse Shepard as a lakeside vacation retreat. Once patrons navigate down a steep, winding drive, the formerly hidden three-story edifice looms into view. It was one of a number of such residences known as the lake’s “Millionaires Row.” Ownership passed through several people until it was purchased in the 1960s by Charlie Wood, a local businessman and philanthropist who developed such amusement parks as Storytown and Ghost Town, which became today’s Six Flags-Great Escape, and with actor Paul Newman developed the nearby Double H Hole in the Woods Camp for ill children. Miller has worked up a multi-course tasting menu and refined the offerings across the board. He also plans to expand the on-premises herb garden to provide more inspiration for dishes involving local products. His recent trip to Italy, where he helped his father retrace his 1940s wartime service there, was a vacation add-on to a guest-lecturing invitation in Switzerland. It ramped up his liking for fresh and simple ingredients that can be taken to higher levels. In fact, one of his first functions as executive chef at Erlowest was an Italian-inspired wine dinner, one of many such events he hopes to host. that supports Saratoga PLAN (Preserving Land And Nature), to mention just a few. And this came while forging a reputation for his cuisine, first at his own Stone Ends restaurant in Glenmont, then at Jack’s. Not that everything has run smoothly for Miller. Stone Ends was a financial black hole that forced him into bankruptcy a decade and a half ago, but he managed to battle back from it to emerge more determined than ever to make a success of it in the culinary world. That stands in stark contrast to many of his brethren who sink beneath the pressures of the cutthroat business that, nationally, claims a 60 percent business mortality rate in the first two years of operation. On a more personal note, the end of a long relationship and the start of a new one made emotional demands at about the same time business opportunities were pressing him. Today, Miller and his significant other are meshing their formerly separate residences into one cohesive whole, which took selling off both men’s homes and then briefly living in a chain hotel while the timing of all the moves was worked out. “I feel like it’s time to pack and move again,” the fastidious Miller laments 70

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continued on page 73

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continued from page 70

B

ut Miller does more than run the Erlowest kitchen, where he still works side-by-side with the staff, including executive sous chef Michael Hinrichs, who he brought with him from Jack’s. He also is responsible for the banquet business and the 10-room inn. The lodging space is divided into king-size rooms bearing a mix of modern amenities and period furnishings, adorned with historically significant names such as Montcalm, Howe and Jogues, the first two honoring military commanders and the latter the priest, later a saint, who christened the lake Lac du Saint-Sacrement because he first viewed it on a Sunday. If this all sounds like a bit much for one person to handle, Miller concedes it probably is. “I know at some point soon I’ll have to turn over the day-today operation of the kitchen because you can’t be the handson head chef as well as the general manager and do justice to both roles on a fulltime basis,” he says. “I’ll still develop the menu, supervise the operation and train staff, but there are so many things the Kennys want to do to develop the whole property.” A major goal is Relais & Chateau status. The association, founded in France in 1954, is a collection of 475 of, as its literature puts it, “the finest charming hotels and gourmet restaurants in 55 countries. … Furthermore, Relais & Chateaux is also a family of hoteliers and grand chefs from all over the world who share a passion for and a personal commitment to ensuring their guests are privy to moments of exceptional harmony, an unforgettable celebration of the senses.” “The very site of the inn and the fact it has a history and a caché we can enhance with the support and blessing of the owners makes it a very real possibility we’ll be able to move Erlowest into the upper levels of hospitality,” Miller says. Few seriously doubt this is more than mere speculation. Miller’s record for getting things done on the homefront and in business is a strong one. Relais & Chateau, take note. @ See Recipes On Page 74


recipe Warm Charmoula Shrimp Salad

with Arugula

(Charmoula sauce can be made up to a week ahead) Serves 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.

ingredients

Ingredients for Charmoula: 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, chilled 3 cloves garlic, peeled 2 tsp. cumin seed 2 jalapenos, seeded 3 cups cilantro leaves zest and juice of 1 lemon Salt, to taste Ingredients for salad: 18 U-15 white shrimp, peeled and deveined 12 ounces arugula, washed and trimmed 15 grape tomatoes, halved Extra virgin olive oil, as needed White balsamic vinegar, as needed Salt and pepper, to taste

method

Place the first six ingredients in a blender and process into a pesto-type consistency. This can be adjusted to your liking in regard to amount of garlic, lemon, jalapeno, cilantro or cumin. Season with salt. Cover and refrigerate until needed. For the salad: In a medium sized saute pan, heat a small amount of olive oil. Carefully place shrimp in pan and cook for several minutes, turning shrimp until almost done. Toss in grape tomato halves and saute another minute. Add small amounts of olive oil if needed. Spoon in several tablespoons of Charmoula mixture to lightly glaze shrimp and tomatoes. Remove from heat and prepare salad greens. Place arugula in a salad bowl and season with a small amount of salt, pepper and a touch of the Charmoula. Drizzle with olive oil and white balsamic to taste. Toss the greens to coat evenly with dressing. Divide the greens onto six plates. Spoon 3 shrimp and 5 grape tomato halves onto each salad. Serve immediately. Any remaining Charmoula can be tightly covered and refrigerated for further use. It is great on grilled chicken, lamb, beef, salmon and seafood.

THE PERFECT WINE PAIRING by william m. dowd

The salad course can always be accompanied by a nice unoaked chardonnay such as Iron Horse or Marlborough. Miller’s selection with the terrine and a grilled, sliced flatiron beef was a 2003 Coudoulet de Beaucastel cotes du Rhone (about $34), a big, bold unfiltered blend of mourvédre, grenache, cinsault and syrah grapes. I’d also suggest a McGregor Vineyard Black Russian Red from the Finger Lakes, also a highly flavored, rich, fruity wine. It’s the only such blend made in America from two European grape varietals: Sereksiya Charni, traditionally grown in Romania but grown exclusively in the U.S. by McGregor, and Saperavi, an ancient wine grape originating in the republic of Georgia. @


Roma-style Grilled Vegetable Terrine

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with Smoked Mozzarella

Serves 6

ingredients

1 medium eggplant, peeled (about 1 lb.) 3 zucchinis (about 1 lb.) 3 yellow squash (about 1 lb.) 6 portabello mushroom caps (stem and fins removed) 3 red bell peppers (roasted, skin and seeds removed) 3 yellow bell peppers (roasted, skin and seeds removed) 1 cup balsamic vinaigrette dressing, for marinating Olive oil, as needed Salt and Pepper, to taste 1 cup basil pesto 3/4 lb. smoked mozzarella, thinly sliced

method

Cut eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash lengthwise into thin slices (1/4 inch thick). Remove stems from mushrooms and remove fins with sharp knife or spoon. Roast peppers over open flame or in very hot oven. Remove core from pepper and wash off blackened skin under cold water. Cut pepper into wide strips. Divide the marinade between all the vegetables. Let sit for an hour. Preheat grill. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and brush olive oil on vegetables if needed. Mark eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash and portabello mushrooms with grill marks, but do not cook through. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8 x 4 loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving enough plastic to wrap over the top of the finished terrine. Layer vegetables in pan alternating vegetables. Brush each layer of vegetables with pesto. Place a single layer of mozzarella in between each layer of vegetables. For example: zucchini on the bottom-brush with pesto- layer of mozzarella- yellow squash,- basil pesto- layer of mozzarella-red pepper-basil pesto-mozzarella-eggplantbasil pesto-mozzarella-portabello-basil pesto-mozzarellayellow pepper-basil pesto-mozzarella). Keep repeating until all vegetables are used. There should be about 10 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 12 layers. Place on sheet pan and bake 30 to 40 minutes until top starts to bubble. Remove from oven and cool for 30 minutes. Place in refrigerator overnight with weighted pan on top of vegetables. Peel back plastic wrap and invert pan onto plate. Slice into 3/4 inch slices and serve as is, with salad greens with balsamic dressing or as a side vegetable with a main course. @

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the vineyard

Defending Rosé by james macnaughton

T

his, and I kid you not, was my introduction to one of the true loves of my life — rosés. I was living in England. Think rain, dirty trains, cold fish and chips, and warm, fuzzy ale. I was not happy. My friend Michael appeared and said, “Let’s go visit my Uncle Harry.” Anything was better than England, and so I went. What I didn’t know was that Uncle Harry lived in a converted 17th century chateau in the Champagne district, and did very little all day except amuse himself. It was a glorious spring in France. I awoke and went down the circular staircase. A van pulled up to the door. A man jumped out, said, “Bonjour,” and deposited a case of rosé wines on the front doorstep, hopped back in his van and went to the next house. Not the milkman then, but the wine man. It can’t be stressed enough — there are people in other countries who live better lives than we do. And so I was introduced to rosé, served cold, sometimes even on ice, and drunk to waste away the spring afternoons. I have loved them ever since. In this country, rosés have had a tough time of it, thanks to White Zinfandel, which was the rage for awhile as you may recall, and is pretty close to undrinkable with its cloying sweetness. As a result, many believe that rosé wines are likely to be sweet. They rarely are (though there are some). Instead they tend to be tart, dry, with lovely berry and citrus notes and often a certain snap, like a hint of pepper or the acridness of a grape pit. They are wonderful with fish, with salads, and other summery lunchy things. The other point to stress is that rosés look great on you. They really do. No matter what you are wearing, you will look dashing, or fascinating, and certainly comfortable in your sensuality, with a glass of rosé in your hand. The color goes with everything, and suggests a certain lightness of spirit. You will not regret sporting a glass at the next party you attend — take my word for it.

S

ome might argue that the Spanish make the best rosés, but certainly the most famous region for them is the southern Rhone, around Avignon or thereabouts and further to the south, in Provence. Here, as my atlas puts it, “The vines lie baking on broad terraces of smooth,

round stones warmed by the sun.” The atlas continues, that the rosés of the region are “gently made, intriguingly perfumed, and dry enough to be the perfect foil for the garlic and olive oil that characterize the region’s cuisine.” My favorite rosé, in general, are those made in Tavel in the southern Rhone, a dry but tart and flavorful wine made with grenache. The 2006 Les Lauzeraies ($13) was right on the mark — refreshing and thirstquenching, with lemon and strawberry, hints of sage and pine, pepper, but a nice light finish. Very good. Disappointing, I’d have to say, was the 2006 Domaines Ott “Les Domaniers” from Provence ($21). This is a big winemaker in the region with three estates that make a range of wines of varying qualities. They make a rosé called “La Déese” which is very fine, orangey and delicate, with a price that has climbed by about $20 in the last eight years. This wine, by contrast, a blend of syrah, grenache and cinsault, was a little, um, boring. Dry, tart, a faint pink, a hint of tea, tomato I thought at times, but it did not do much for me. The firm’s Web site calls the label an “offshoot” of the prestigious Domaines Ott brand, which “distributes products under a quality label, that Domaines Ott cannot handle, although which it feels are worthy of representing Provence.” If you know what that is supposed to mean, write me and tell me. Finally, and to me the most satisfying of the day, was the Chateau Mourgues du Gres, 2006, ($17) Les Galets Rosés, from Nîmes. This is a lovely blend — dark, tart, with strawberry and cranberry flavors, a hint of mint, a nice complex finish, good acidity. I served it at a dinner party to some skeptics, and the potty-mouthed nurse at the end of the table said she liked it, so @ there you have it.

photo by james macnaughton


locavore

Dancing with Salsa saratoga salsa & spice co. brings a tear to your eye and a smile to your lips by janet reynolds

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photos, leif zurmuhlen

J

ohn Knotek’s love affair with all things spicy has been life-long. A tall, energetic man who gestures as he talks, he tells a story of sitting on a beach in Ogunquit, Maine, years ago, with a bag of chips and as many kinds of salsa as he and his wife, Sherry, could find. “I’ve always had a taste for things a little hotter,” he says. Today he’s parlayed that love into a fulltime job as owner of Saratoga Salsa & Spice Company, based in Saratoga Springs. The company is a merger of the former Hot Stuff of Saratoga, a hot sauce company “catering to the pepper heads of the world if you will,” says Knotek, and Saratoga Salsa Company. Now, as Saratoga Salsa & Spice Company, the storefront on Broadway, Saratoga Springs’ main street, is “a specialty food store with a little attitude.” The mainstay is salsa, which ranges from medium to hot — “the big brother to medium,” according to Knotek — to hotter than hot, which


is a salsa verde (green salsa) featuring tomatilla and serano peppers and which is, I can tell you firsthand, tasty but VERY hot. Those who fear heat can enjoy a corn salsa called Winner’s Circle and a roasted garlic salsa called Winning Ticket. (The track puns, an obvious ode to Saratoga’s summer horseracing, continue with hot sauces called Photo Finish, a habanero-based hot sauce, Giddy Up, which has more of a mustard base, and Best Bet, a milder Vidalia onion and peach hot sauce. The company also makes a honey mustard pretzel dip called Daily Double.) “I’m a big fan that salsas should be chunky,” Knotek says, as he spoons samples onto tortilla chips, adding that he spends half his life watching the food channel. “I’m a home addict cook/ barbecuer,” he says. Then, after hours of late night viewing, he heads to his kitchen to try out his ideas. After Knotek comes up with something with potential, he works with the staff at Nelson Farms, an offshoot of SUNY Morrisville, which is part of a New York State program to help smaller food businesses. The staff includes a chef and nutritionist who help him refine his kitchen concoction into something that can be mass-produced. A program at Cornell then helps him get FDA approval. The newest additions to the salsa line are autumn apple and cranberry fields, both inspired by his wife. “She kept saying to me, ‘We have to do things not just hot,’” he says, noting the market for fruit-based condiments is increasing. He suggests using the salsas to accompany a variety of grilled foods, including tilapia or perhaps pork loin. “It’s been a huge hit,” he says. Knotek is gradually expanding beyond salsas and hot sauces. He has begun introducing a few select spices, all of them natural, i.e. no radiation or preservatives, and all in keeping with his company’s zesty theme. He works with Vanns Spices of Baltimore, Maryland, for bottling and season blend. So far he counts a Bloody Mary Rimmer and Mesquite Barbecue Rub among his 60 spices and 30 seasoning rubs.

A

Above: John Knotek with his locally produced Saratoga Salsa. In addition to its own brand, Saratoga Salsa & Spice Company also carries a wide variety of salsas and hot sauces, ranging from mild to near-death experience in taste.

former software salesman, Knotek says his business has three prongs: the store retail experience, online sales, and wholesale sales. Currently Knotek is experimenting with selling some of his products at Hannaford’s and at the Saratoga Village store at Disney World in Florida. His products are also used in some New Jersey restaurants thanks to the very positive response last summer by a Bayonne, New Jersey customer who visited the store and now features Three Brothers Bloody Maré mix. That concoction won best beverage in the 2003 Zesty Food Show. Saratoga Salsa & Spice Company also features other hot sauces and timesunion.com/homes

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salsas in its storefront. A quick scan shows that people in this spicy business seem to have the same twisted sense of humor: puns, good and bad, abound on labels. Among the 500 additional products and over 300 hot sauces, for instance, visitors can find Ring of Fire Barbecue Sauce, Scorned Woman Fiery Barbecue Sauce and a habanero hot sauce called Global Warming featuring a picture of President George W. Bush on the front. Daveâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Olives in Pain, meanwhile, are â&#x20AC;&#x153;olives tortured in five kinds of chilies.â&#x20AC;? The store is unique for more than just its unusual focus and breadth. Smack in the middle is a counter with stools for people to sample the wares and participate in one of the many culinary events scheduled there. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We are raising hell in this place,â&#x20AC;? Knotek says, noting that the sample bar mid-store was a critical part of his business plan. That interactive piece is key, he says, to educating people and letting them taste before they buy. Future plans include bringing in local chefs to sample their wares too. And after that? Knotek tells another story. When it was still Hot Stuff of Saratoga, the store was featured on Al Rokerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s travelogue, a clip that still appears from time to time. Last summer a New Zealand woman who had seen that clip finally visited the store in person. â&#x20AC;&#x153;She kept saying, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;I canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t believe Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m here,â&#x20AC;&#x2122;â&#x20AC;? Knotek says, adding that as she took photos and posed with people, he had an epiphany. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The light bulb turned on,â&#x20AC;? he says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This has to be a destination. I want people to say this was the coolest place I visited in Saratoga.â&#x20AC;? @ Saratoga Salsa & Spice Company is located at 398 Broadway in Saratoga Springs. Saratogasalsaandspice.com.

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What’s in a Pan (or Spoon)? everything, according to these local chefs

Local ExChefs: (left to right) Jackie Baldwin, Exec. Chef at RPI in Troy; Laura Reynolds of Mimmy’s House a personal chef service and John Marzilli

of Salty’s Pub & Bistro in Clifton Park


chefs’ choice

by arthur s. rosenblatt

M

y good friend Malachy is an extraordinary cook. He also loves to join with good friends in the preparation of a superb meal. Mal is generous and easygoing in the kitchen but there is one place he draws the line. Only he is allowed to use one special item in his arsenal of cookware — a small stainless steel stockpot in which he can prepare a variety of treats, from a small batch of al dente pasta to a single perfectly poached egg. For him, it’s the one indispensable item in his kitchen. “In a word,” he says, “I love it.” What is it about one pot or pan that defies the generally accepted descriptions of love? Can you really love a clunky, slightly tarnished, possibly dented, pot or pan? What is it that makes it the target of such singular affection? Is it longevity of ownership? Versatility? Weight? Shape? Obviously, there is no one answer. Just talk to relatives and friends, good cooks or lesser lights in the kitchen and you’ll discover some eye-opening affairs of the heart. Take my aunts, for instance. Aunt Bessie, the oldest, swears by her five-inch high covered, two-handled aluminum pot. It’s the magic cauldron for her incredibly light stuffed peppers and the most wonderfully tender brisket and gravy. Aunt Anna, the youngest, is adamant about her copper-bottom, stainless steel, double-boiler. The insert bowl is used for mixing as much as cooking, and the roughly two-quart size is perfect for reheating almost anything, as well as for making light, delicate sauces. She even uses the base with a steamer rack to cook fresh vegetables. And then there’s Aunt Millie, unmarried frequently but nevertheless determined to keep trying. She would sooner part with her collection of wedding rings than give up the seven-inch sauté pan she uses to pan-fry a single chop or scramble a solitary egg. These domestic kitchen divas are far from alone in their diverse devotions to a favorite item of cookware. Cast your net of inquiry a little further, spread out around the local area and check with some of the great professional chefs. The results are as varied as the cuisine.

F

or starters, I spoke with John Marzilli of Salty’s Pub & Bistro in Clifton Park. Chef Marzilli would never part with a classic heavy, stainless steel-lined, copper sauce pan approximately one quart in size. “I got it about five years ago and it’s never far from me while I’m cooking right here in the restaurant,” he

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photo by wes bennett

says. “I do a lot of a la minute things in it, like a flavorful tomato-basil sauce.” That one beloved saucepan is the vehicle for any number of delicacies that emerge from his kitchen. Dominique Brialy, the executive chef at The Epicurean in Troy, is equally firm in his dependency on two longtime stalwarts that he claims he would rush to rescue in any emergency — his flame-orange 12-gauge enameled-covered pot and his knives. “It’s hard to say which comes first but I couldn’t do without either,” he says. This is easy to understand when you taste the magnificent boeuf bourguignon that emerges from that trusty orange cauldron, a dish that no doubt originated with those knives. Laura Reynolds of Scotia, who operates Mimmy’s House, a personal chef service, also has her favorite developed over the last 15 years; it’s a relationship that is certainly no mere infatuation. She is passionately attached to a deep dish 12-inch nonstick frying pan with a glass cover that is the vehicle for her delicious cinnamon bun French toast with ginger-peach compote. And if that doesn’t send your taste-buds a’twitter, remember that it’s also the source of her light and crisp coconut chicken (or sometimes shrimp) tenders.

J

ackie Baldwin, the executive chef at RPI, owns up to a totally different close personal relationship with cooking utensils. There’s no indispensable pot or pan in her life, but her heart beats faster when she talks about her love affair of 23 years with her wooden spoons. She cares for them more than anything else in her kitchen. What is it that makes them so special? “I keep adding to them, but I use one or another to do simple things like making a rich, thick sauce Bolognese,” she says. “And I can count on my wooden spoon for just the right ‘feel’ when I’m making crème anglaise. It’s almost like these spoons are an extension of my fingertips.” As I mused on how all these wonderful cooks had one tried and true love, I suddenly realized that I, too, was not out in the cold. For well over three decades I’ve been using a small, thick aluminum pan with a wooden handle designed by Julia Child for a long-gone cookware emporium in Boston called The Pot Shop. I use it exclusively for the sole purpose of its design: omelets. Wait a minute, I have cooked the odd burger in it. And one toasted cheese sandwich. And….well, considering how much and how often I use it, I guess it does qualify as “the pan I love.” @

timesunion.com/homes

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83


personal picks

five things i can’t live without

by doty hall

doty hall interviews sarah martinez, executive director of albany center galleries, to discover the five things she can’t live without.

Polyhed-rush “Sarah is surrounded with art by day and inspired to create art by night.” Trying to figure out how these polyhedrons are made will certainly give one a polyhed-ache. They are identical on each side, but the reflective one is different with every glance. Painstakingly constructed from original-design paper and wood, they are as light as air, but leave a concrete impression. Bella’s art “…and the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.” Daughter Isabella is a budding artist. The medium of choice is play-doh and the creation is a snowman with a bright magenta chapeau. (One eye is mysteriously missing, but with the right tilt of the hat, no one is the wiser) Tea for two “I love the whole experience of having tea with my husband.” Jason surprised Sarah one Christmas by hunting down all of the missing pieces of her grandmother’s china set. Delicate cups filled with steamy brew now make any day a special occasion. The sound of music “I am just a beginner.” That may be true, but this beginner plays like a natural. The beautiful dulcimer tones that come from her guitar wind in and out of the rooms creating a real peacefulness in the house. Master-peace “My mother, Kathi, is an artist in her own right.” Small wonder. Cloth pieces alone are seemingly insignificant, but quilted together with an artist’s eye become a masterpiece. This multi-colored “peace quilt” is one of Sarah’s most prized possessions.


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photo:finish

Little Pig on the Countertop. A smiling pig from Watt Pottery sits on the countertop with part of Jim Salengoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s collection. See the full story on page 62. Photo by Wes Bennett.

86

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