This month we talked with a bunch of people about holiday gifts, both giving and getting . And one of the questions was about favorite charities.
A lot people make donations this time of year. So we've gathered all those charities mentioned into one easy-scan list.
If you're still looking for a place to support this year, you might find it on this list...
Troy woodworker Jim Lewis has a spiritual and emotional connection to his work.
The self-taught craftsman has created furniture, liturgical pieces for churches around the United States, and sculptures over his four decade career. And he's continuing to evolve his work. Lewis recently re-introduced his 4th Street shop, Icarus Furniture, as Springwood Studios as part an effort to "go back to my roots and do things a little simpler and a little sweeter."
I chatted with Lewis about simplifying life and work, learning new skills, and doing the things you're supposed to be doing...
Updated at 3:40 pm: We spoke with Crisan's owners about the changes coming to the bakery in the new year.
News from Lark Street today: Crisan, the bakery that has become part of the neighborhood fabric over the last six years, will be closing its cafe. Neighbors were notified this weekend that starting January 1 the bakery will close its storefront and focus on wholesale orders and weddings and custom cakes.
From the note: "What was once a place to socialize, to ponder, to read and to work, will be transformed into a cake decorating workspace and a private tasting room." (An image of the full note is after the jump.)
Though the cafe portion of the business is closing, owner Claudia Crisan Calabria and her husband Iggy Calabria emphasize they're not closing the bakery itself and its products will still be available.
They took a few minutes to talk with us about their decision.
Once again we're celebrating Festivus with a traditional Airing of Grievances.
So, what are your small annoyances, complaints, or frustrations?
Gather round the unadorned aluminum pole, let it rip, and let it go. You'll feel better. And it's good to get it out before facing your relatives and that one uncle who gets all his news from Facebook shares and email forwards.
But here's the deal: grievances can not include personal attacks, nastiness, or creepiness. (You'll know it when you see it.)
To balance the bitter with the sweet, as is tradition, we will give Peppermint Pigs to two people who air their grievances in the comments. The winners will be picked randomly.
The Editors have begun the Airing with their grievances, after the jump. We're looking forward to hearing yours.
Important: To be eligible for the Peppermint Pig drawing, your comment must be submitted by 5 pm on December 23, 2014. You must include a working email address (that you check regularly) with your comment. Normal commenting guidelines apply. One entry per person, please. Winners will be notified by noon on Wednesday and must respond by noon on Monday, December 29.
Cousin charged with murder in death of Kenneth White, Schenectady mayor projects property tax reduction because of casino, plans for new amenities at Thacher State Park
On Friday Tiffany VanAlstyne -- the 19-year-old cousin of Kenneth White -- was charged with second-degree murder for the death of the 5-year-old boy. Authorities allege she strangled the boy, carried him down the road, and in the words of Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple, threw his body over a guardrail "like a piece of trash." The situation surrounding White's death was originally reported as a kidnapping, but Apple says investigators responding to the case started getting indications the pieces didn't fit that story -- and a police dog found White's body about 40 yards from the home where he was staying. That home has been shut for code violations and two other small children have been placed in foster care, according to authorities. Brenda VanAlstyne -- mother of Tiffany, aunt of Kenneth -- tells News10 that they're fixing the code violations and referred to the boy's death as an "accident." [TU] [Daily Gazette] [TU] [TU] [TWCN] [News10]
Rotterdam police say they're investigating the death of a 20-month-old boy in September as a homicide after autopsy results indicate the child died of asphyxiation. RPD say the boy's mother and her partner are not cooperating with police. [TWCN] [TU]
Schenectady police say a pedestrian died after being struck by a vehicle on Albany Street near Fairview Ave Saturday evening (map). It's the fourth incident in the Capital Region in the last month in which a pedestrian has died after a crash with a vehicle. [Daily Gazette] [TU]
Here are a few things to keep in mind, look forward to, or keep busy with this week, from the weather (warm, wet), to Christmas, to Christmas films, to an oversized elf, to hoops, to museums...
This week was brought to you by gifts, latkes, donuts, candles, sparkly lights and a partridge in a pear tree. It was also brought to you by AOA advertisers like The Fred Astaire Dance Studios on Troy Schenectady Road in Latham. Learn to dance in 2015. Gift certificates available.
You'll find more of the advertisers that make AOA possible in the list below. Please patronize them when you can, and thank them for their support. If there's something you want to pass along to the AOA crowd, we can help get you started. It's easy and affordable. Just send us a note at email@example.com.
Ways to get where you're going
CDTA, sponsors of the AOA holiday lights in honor of Make-A-Wish Foundation. This holiday season CDTA can get you where you're going and safely back home again. It's like a one horse open sleigh, but enclosed. And with wheels. And heat. And a motor instead of a horse so you get there faster. So it's even better than a one horse open sleigh.
Keeler Mini, sponsor of AOA's Tournament of Pizza to end all Tournaments of Pizza.
Stuff to do
miSci, The Museum of Innovation and Science in Schenectady. Their annual holiday Toys and Trains exhibit runs now through January 19.
Get your tickets now for one of 14 Siena home games at the TU Center.
The Mop & Bucket Improv Company. MopCo offers a new improv show every Friday night at Proctors with music, scenes and improv games based on audience suggestions. They're also teaching classes in improv and creativity for adults and kids at MopCo World Headquarters on Union Street in Schenectady, and they are now booking holiday parties and special events.
Beverage Trail tour
Check out the wineries, breweries and distilleries along the Columbia County Beverage Trail.
The Albany Institute of History and Art, presenting the 2014 Exhibition by artists of the Mohawk-Hudson region,highlighting the work of the best visual artists in the region.
Troy Music Hall
Troy Music Hall presents an evening with Lily Tomlin, March 7 at 8pm.
Live Nation, presenting Demetri Martin at The Egg, January 29.
See a movie
Spectrum 8 Theaters--because the holiday movie season is underway.
The Secret Garden
Capital Rep, presenting The Secret Garden through December 21.
Places to live
Brian Brosen and Reggie Monroe at The Capital Team at Realty USA,created a bonafide tournament of pizza miracle, when they bought out all of the tickets to the TOP final at Shmaltz brewing and gave them away to 100 hungry readers. In addition to being pizza philanthropists, Brian and Reggie can help out with your residential and commercial real estate needs in the Capital Region. Because that's how they roll.
Food and Drink
the Albany Chef's Food and Wine Festival. Wine, spirits, craft beer and innovative chefs and restaurants, January 15-17 in Downtown Albany.
Honest Weight Food Coop. Honest Weight has all kinds of local deliciousness for your holiday table.
Farmie Market -- Farm fresh food delivered right to your door.
Nine Pin Ciderworks in Albany, sourced entirely from Capital Region apples.
Cider donuts, pies and other deliciousness
Lakeside Farms in Ballston Lake: breakfast, lunch, gift shop, cider donuts and pies for the holidays.
New World Bistro Bar, named #1 Best Restaurant, according to Times Union 'Best of the Capital Region' Readers' Poll and also listed as one of 'the 13 Best New York Restaurants, not in NYC' according to Thrillist.com.
Broadway Plaza Liquor is now open at 418 Broadway, next to Coulson's News.
+ Mingle on Delaware Ave in Albany. Be on the lookout for Fin the Fishmonger's "Fin"-tastic specials, including fresh haddock fish tacos & pan-seared whole trout. Their chef will be using local products to create new specials daily to keep the menu fresh. Try the Kimchi fries.
Capital Wine at the corner of State and Lark Streets, with a wonderful supply of wines from around the world.
Food and beer
The Central Avenue BID, shop local this holiday season.
Enjoy Troy hats, shirts and other great stocking stuffers.
Stuff to learn
UAlbany's History Department, offering an M.A. and Ph.D. in Environmental History. Explore the human connection to nature.
Historic home help
Historic Albany's architectural parts warehouse -- the Capital Region's only not-for-profit architectural parts warehouse.
April 15 has come and gone, but Staff Ciampino & Company, P.C. can still help you with your business and personal tax needs. They're also the sponsors of the All Over Albany Start Up Grant business contest.
Berkshire Bank, providing the $1,500 prize money for this year's AOA Startup Contest. Great rates on home equity loans.
The Albany Public Libraries. Their mobile app helps you find library locations and hours, check your library card account, learn about upcoming events, download eBooks, audiobooks, music and more. You can even check ISBN bar codes on books, DVDs and CDs to see if the library owns what you need.
Here are a few highlights from the past week on AOA:
+ Daniel and the Best Dozen stopped in at Stewart's for donuts.
+ Christina asked about good sledding hills.
+ That time an Albany druggist made and sold cocaine toothache drops
+ Paul asked about good neighborhood holiday light displays.
+ Miss Pearl was back with some advice about how to respond when being called "sweetheart" at work.
+ What was up in the Neighborhood this week: Capital Hills, snowy day photos, a music venue, surveying calamari, restaurant week, The Ugly Rooster, Hot Chocolate Run, cookies and booze, cupcakes, the Myers Store, the fancy people drink, the legend of Jamario Moon, and pre-emptive record straightening.
+ Xina asked about where to get latkes.
+ Deanna suggested some local food gifts, and people shared some good ideas in the comments.
+ The state released high school graduation rates for 2014 -- we pulled together the Capital Region numbers into an easy-scan list.
And more holiday gift lists -- this year we're asking people about what they'd like to give, what they'd like to get, a charity they'd like to support, and a favorite gift from their childhood. From this week:
Here's the whole week all lined up.
Thanks to everyone who posted a comment or shared an idea or photo this week!
A while back we did a thing where wrote 10 reviews/comments in no more than 10 words each. People seemed to like it, and it was kind of fun way to concentrate some thoughts.
So, here's another batch...
Gifts and giving are on most everyone's mind this month. So we thought we'd ask a few people to share some thoughts on presents, past and present.
Today's thoughts on gifts and giving come from food writer, cooking instructor, AOA contributor and all around lovely person Deanna Fox.
Might be worth a look: NY Thruway Guide, an iPhone app that's pretty much what it sounds like. It provides access to the lineup of Thruway exits and travel plazas, along with alerts and more than 150 traffic cameras.
We tried the app out today for a few minutes and it's smooth. The listing of travel plazas (including what amenities are at each plaza) and easy access to traffic camera pics could be helpful. It also lists the parking pull-off areas between plazas, which is nice.
A few things could be better. One that stuck out to us: The listings for nearby places at each exit -- which look like they're pulled from Google -- weren't great while we sampled local stops. An example: The first restaurant listed for Exit 24 -- the 1-90/I-87 interchange -- was the Albany Pump Station, which is more than five miles away. It'd be great if the app could incorporate more sophisticated food/place listings.
NY Thruway Guide is 99 cents, and currently only available for iOS. The app's creator -- Dan Wheeler, an Albany native who now lives in New Jersey -- tells us via email that he's looking into making an Android version.
There's lots going on the the Capital Region this weekend -- both holiday and non-holiday. So if you're looking to take a break from all of the shopping and baking and wrapping and meal planning and whatever else is keeping you busy these days, after the jump you'll find a list of stuff we thought you might find interesting.
Got something else planned? Let us know about it in the comments.
And whatever you're up to, have a fantastic weekend!
Sheriff: Body of Berne 5 year old found, kidnapping story was false; state committee recommends opening police records, CDTA adding accordion busses
The body of 5-year-old Kenneth White was found by a K-9 unit near the home where he had been staying in East Berne, according to Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple. The sheriff says White was initially reported missing by a caretaker who said the boy had been taken by two masked men -- a report that Apple says was false. Apple says he expects a suspect to be charged in the case today. Update: Authorities say 19-yr-old Tiffany VanAlstyne -- White's cousin, and the person who had reported the kidnapping -- has been arrested and will face a murder charge. [WGY] [WNYT] [TWCN] [News10] [TU]
In a letter to the chancellor of the state Board of Regents and the state education commissioner, the Cuomo admin indicated (through a series of questions) it will be pushing for a slate of reforms, notably to the teacher evaluation system. NYSUT called the letter "clueless." [Cuomo admin] [TU] [NYSUT]
The state Department of Education released its annual collection of data about high school graduation rates around the state on Thursday. The statewide graduation rate for 2014 (that is, the 2010 cohort of students) was 76.4 -- up a little more than a percentage point from the year before.
As we do every year, we've pulled out the stats from Capital Region school districts.
Sorted stats (including notes and qualifications) after the jump.
Gifts and giving are on most everyone's mind this month. So we thought we'd ask a few people to share some thoughts on presents, past and present.
Historical object gawking: We came across this photo of a 19th century stove in the Albany Institute collection. It was made by a Troy company -- Johnson, Geer & Cox -- based on a design by Troy resident Ezra Ripley, probably around 1844. At the time it was advertised as as a "cheap and beautiful article for offices and parlors."
It's a gorgeous object -- as a stove, or even as art. The Google Cultural Institute viewer allows some very close closeups of the details.
From the Albany Institute description:
Cast-iron stovemaking reached its highest level of artistic achievement and technological advances between 1840 and 1870. Stove designers borrowed from architectural and cabinetmakers's design books, bringing Greek, Roman, Gothic, Egyptian, and Rococo revival motifs, along with patriotic symbols and lavish floral designs, in stoves. The technical design of this column parlor stove included a small rectangular firebox to which were connected four vertical flues (or columns). All were connected at the top by a horizontal pipe or second chamber. The increased surface area and greater air circulation of this design enhanced the amount of radiated heat.
Troy and Albany were prominent centers of the stovemaking industry during the 19th century, with hundreds of stove manufacturers trying to stake out a spot in the marketplace over the century.
Sometimes it's easy to romanticize the past and look past its negatives. Sure, there were gorgeous parlor stoves -- but they were often manufactured by people working in terrible conditions. And there are so many things -- in terms of people's rights, technology, and so on -- that are so much better now compared to then (even if there's still room to improve). But objects like this stove were made with a certain flair.
The Crisp Cannoli in East Greenbush -- you know, the bakery that makes croissant donuts, including an apple cider version -- is closing its storefront on Columbia Turnpike, citing increased costs for ingredients and utilities, as well as a lack of walk-in customers to the store. The last day is December 24. But the bakery's wholesale and mobile catering business will continue. [via Table Hopping]
We're into the stretch run for December holidays, so we asked Deanna for a few stocking stuffer-type local food gift ideas.
Stockings are my favorite part of Christmas morning. In my family, you are not allowed to open any presents until everyone is awake and in the living room, around the tree. Stockings, however, are fair game. As soon as you wake up, you can tiptoe to the mantle, un-hook your stocking, and dump out all the goodies that are crammed deep into the toe.
Here are some local treats I'm hoping to find in my stocking this year.
Xina emails with a seasonal question:
Where can I get some excellent latkes in the Capital region? I have had no luck making good ones on my own, but I would love to eat some. :)
We get the sense that latkes tend to fall into the category of "foods people usually make and eat at home" -- in part because it's a holiday thing for a lot of people. But there's gotta be a place in the Capital Region that Xina get score some good not-made-at-home latkes. Or maybe you can share some advice on how she can make good ones at home.
Got a suggestion? Please share!
Reactions to casino & fracking decisions, Feds seeking money from Saratoga drug bust, tickets to visit Cuomo
Some reaction to the casino decision:
Schenectady is celebrating its win in the casino competition.[TWCN]
Rensselaer Mayor Dan Dwyer on losing the proposal for a Hard Rock Casino: "I don't have $40 or $50 million. We're in trouble. Our system is collapsing like a lot of cities are. I was hoping to really use that money for development,"[TWCN]
The developers for the planned Rivers Casino in Schenectady say the prep work that went into making the site shovel ready was a main reason they project won its casino bid. [Gazette]
Opponents of the proposed East Greenbush casino are celebrating the casino decision. [TU]
Glenville officials say they will need infrastructure improvements to prepare for the effects of a Schenectady casino. [Gazette]
Union College is concerned about having a casino so nearby. [Gazette]
And you can always try searching for it: