This question comes from Greg, but we'll block quote it in standard Ask AOA format:
I was in line at the supermarket this past weekend when the guy in front of me got upset with the cashier and flipped out. The details involved a pack of cigarettes, a Coinstar voucher, and a roll of the quarters. From my view, it seemed like the kind of thing that would usually prompt, at most, mild irritation in someone.
The cashier appeared to be from south Asia -- she had an accent -- and I got the impression she was relatively new on the job. As things escalated, I was basically trying to divert my attention -- oh, look, magazines -- until I heard the guy say "THIS IS AMERICAN CURRENCY" while holding up the roll of quarters. And there was something about the tone that wasn't just frustration -- it was condescending and hostile.
Now I'm staring straight at the guy, and I think other people up front are doing the same thing. The manager comes over and I give her a lot of credit -- she firmly tells the guy not to talk to the cashier like that and she completes whatever transaction he was trying to accomplish. He's still upset, though, and huffs as he walks away.
I'm up next and the cashier is visibly flustered. I commiserate with her, and tell her if she needs to take a minute, it's totally understandable. She shakes it off and checks out my stuff. We joke a little bit. Her composure was admirable.
So, here's a question I had after all that: What should a bystander do in that situation?
Even though this guy was being completely inappropriate, my instinct was to not get involved out of concern that would escalate the situation. And though there was a moment early on where the direction of the encounter was unclear, the manager quickly had it handled after she came over.
I guess I wonder if we all have some responsibility in those situations to make sure we're not making it seem like it's OK to act like that. Is silence a form of tacit acceptance? Is there a good way to communicate a healthy social norm about the way people should be treated?
These sorts of situations are hard, and the right thing to do might vary depending on the details. But if you have thoughts to share, we'd like to hear them.
You've been very helpful in the past to others so I'm hoping you help me out. I'm wondering if you could ask readers for sober activities around the capital region. I recently stopped drinking and it wasn't until then that realized just how much recreation/socialization revolves around alcohol. I'm very open minded and willing to try anything, but I'm looking for something a little more outside the box than hiking Thacher Park. I appreciate the help. I'm sober, not dead!
Sometimes it does feel a bit like "just add booze" is the recipe for many events.
So, it sounds like Emily's willing to try some new things. Got a suggestion? Great, please share!
Ak reached out with this question:
I need some help with childcare. I am a full time graduate student and I am having terrible luck with daycare. Everyone is on a waiting list. and it seems the ones with openings are not up to par. Please help!!!!!!!!!!!
I'm located in the Troy area. But I am a full time student in Albany. So anywhere in those regions. My son is 5 months old and I have been in multiple waitlist since I was pregnant. Including Samaritan, ualbany kids and Albany med. ...
Im definitely worked about who can care for my child especially this being my first child. I've been relying on family but am looking for something more consistent and stable. It would be great if you could post this. Thanks so much!
We've had daycare questions in the past, including one a little more than a year ago and there are some thoughtful suggestions there.
The thing that struck us about Ak's question is that if you're a new parent -- or new to the area -- it might be difficult to get a handle on how the daycare scene here works. Like any complicated (formal or informal) system, even if you're willing to put the time in to search and research sometimes you're still left with the question: Which (literal or figurative) line should I be standing in right now?
So... If you have a a suggestion for Ak about a specific daycare, great. But we're also hoping some parents with young children might be able to share some advice about the best way to navigate the daycare scene here. A few sentences on that could be a big help.
Jeff asks via Twitter:
Seeking recs on dog behavior training; mainly to correct fear of children. Jody crushed the 2012 topic but retired & moved.
I'm open to individual training/classes, but most offerings seem to be general training & behavior. Specifically need work w/ kids/strangers
Jeff's reference to "the 2012 topic" was a question back then about puppy classes. (Props to Jeff to searching first before asking.)
Training can make a huge difference for a dog -- and the dog's people. It can help everyone be happier and calmer. It really is worth the effort.
So, got a suggestion for Jeff and his dog? Please share! And a sentence or two about why you're recommending a trainer or class can be a big help.
Could anyone offer advice at finding mental health support groups? Or where various AA groups meet?
We're hoping that maybe there are some local orgs that serve as central hubs for this sort of information.
Have a suggestion for K? Please share. And a sentence or two explaining your suggestion can be a big help.
I am looking for a local nursery that sells beautiful Spring/Easter plants, such as lillies, hyacinths, tulips, etc.With the first day of spring (almost) behind us, and the holiday approaching, I am hoping your readers can provide some good suggestions!
These sorts of plants seem to pop up in all sorts of stores around this time of year, often packaged for easy giving. But, as Kristin mentions, we suspect you're going to find the best selection and quality at a local nursery or a shop that regularly deals in flowers.
Got a favorite spot for buying these types of plants? Please share!
I live in Albany in a craftsman style home circa 1911, and would like to add some historic Albany photos as decor in my home. I've heard there are free archives of photos that can be obtained somewhere online? Any ideas where/how I could find some photos?
There's been a boom in online collections of historical photos over the past decade, with sites such as New York Heritage working with local organizations to digitize and post thousands of images.
The thing is that often the rights issues around these images are a little murky. Some collections -- such as the New York Public Library -- make it explicit which images are in the public domain. Others allow them to used for educational purposes, but require written permission for other uses. Others leave things kind of vague. (Some works are in the public domain because of when they were published.)
It's also worth mentioning that there are places to sell local historical photos -- example: At The Warehouse/Silver Fox Salvage in Albany usually has a large of selection.
So, all that said, got an idea or suggestion for Dave? (Or maybe even idea for how local orgs could make it easy for people buy copies of historical photos in their collections?) Please share!
I'm helping to plan a company picnic for my office (approximately 200 people) and we're trying to think of new ideas for where to hold it. Last year we did it at the track which was fun but we are trying to think of something different so we aren't doing the same thing every year. In past year's we have done it at Lanthier's grove.
Our office is in Albany and we're open to anything in the Capital Region. I'm hoping maybe your readers can help us come up with some good suggestions!
On follow-up with J., her company would like to find a place that could cater the picnic, but they could arrange to have food brought in if they find a place they like without it. And they'd like to spend less than $40 per person. Also: "Doesn't necessarily have to be something where the entire family (kids) can go."
Got a suggestion for J. and her company? Please share! And a sentence or two about why're suggesting a place can be helpful.
Hi there! Do you know if anyone has ever compiled a list of women-owned businesses around the Albany area? Looking for people to support today (and every day!), and it occurred to me that it'd be great to have a list to reference!
We got a similar question this week from Melissa via Twitter.
This a wide-angle question and could include many types of businesses. Got some favorite local women-owned business? We'd love to hear about them.
Are you the owner of such a business? Please don't hesitate to mention it.
Any chance you can ask your readers for suggestions on a good physical therapist for the lower back? I have been to a few different places around town over the years and seem to always get stuck with folks fresh out of school with little experience.
In addition to physical therapy, we're curious if there are other things -- like maybe specific yoga or other exercise classes in the area -- that people have have found helpful for back problems. (Of course, you'd always want to check with your doctor ahead of time to make sure any sort of other exercise wouldn't make the problem worse.)
So, got a a suggestion for Jennifer? Please share! And a sentence or two about why you're recommending a specific therapist or program can be very helpful.
AH writes that her family is looking ahead to a move to Albany:
So I'd love to hear any suggestions of progressive, warm, and vibrant Jewish congregations/communities. Having a good religious school and/or activities for young families would be a bonus. We lean Conservative, but can be flexible on the denomination.
AH's question was prompted in part by the earlier question this week about progressive churches and the helpful responses it garnered.
So, got a suggestion for AH and her family? Please share! And a sentence or two about why you're recommending a specific congregration can be very helpful.
Hi I recently moved to Albany and I am looking for a good church hopefully one that is progressive, friendly and diverse.
We've had similar questions in the past, but it's been years since the last one and things change.
So, got a suggestion for M.? Please share! And sentence or two about why you're recommending a specific church can be very helpful.
My wife and I are looking to start the process of getting pregnant, but we'd like to make sure that our OBGYN is someone who is open to same sex couples and knowledgeable about that process. If anyone has suggestions for doctors in and around the Albany/Troy area that they have had positive experiences with, we'd appreciate it!
An important question! With so many questions we get here about doctors, one of the central issues is often people wanting to find a doctor who takes the time to listen and answer questions. So if you have a physician to recommend, it'd be helpful to hear about the aspect of the experience.
Got a suggestion for C. and her wife? Please share!
My partner and I are expecting a baby in early May and we're exploring all of the different diapering options out there. We haven't settled on anything yet but we're hoping to find out more information about cloth diapering services. Do readers in the area use a service? Are there any in the area? Web searches have only yielded places that have closed in recent years.
This topic of cloth diaper services came up many years ago, but as Laura mentions, it looks like the services mentioned then are all no longer operating.
So, got a suggestion for Laura and her partner? Please share! And a sentence or two about you're recommending a service (or strategy) can be very helpful.
A friend of mine, who is a salaried employee for a local small business, is running into some pretty serious difficulties with her boss that she feels could be infringing on her rights (forced unpaid overtime, threats to slash salary, verbal abuse, etc). Do any of your readers have any experience dealing with this kind of thing or know of anywhere she might be able to turn to learn more about her rights as a worker and find an acceptable solution?
This sounds like a stressful situation, even more so if you don't know where to start in figuring out how to address it.
So, have a suggestion for resources, strategies -- maybe even an attorney -- for Anonymous and their friend? Please share. And including sentence or two about why you're recommending a resource or person can be a big help.
Could you help me find a place where adults can swim in the winter? I live in Colonie and I know about the Ciccotti Center, but it's way out of my price range.
Sometimes it's hard to get exercise during the winter because of the weather, but it's worth the effort -- you'll feel better for it, about yourself and about winter.
So, got a suggestion for Brooks? Please share! And sentence or two about why you're recommending a place can be a big help.
I. emails (emphasis added):
In response to our current political climate, and in honor of the people fighting to protect our rights, I'd like to begin financially supporting organizations that are making an actual difference in peoples daily lives. National organizations are easy to find, but I'm hoping for some recommendations of local groups helping people in our community.
I'm particularly interested in groups that work with women and children - providing assistance to domestic violence victims, healthcare for children, diapers for parents who can't afford them, feminine hygiene products for homeless women, etc.
We get the feeling there are a lot of people like I. right now who are looking for ways to do something that makes a difference. And as we've mentioned before, focusing some of your energy on local issues and causes can be a way to do that.
So, know of a good local charity or org or cause for I. and others to support right now? Please share. And sentence or two about why to support that charity is appreciated.
I'm writing to ask for any recommendations for fencing companies. I know there are a number of options in the Albany area but I'd like to get a recommendation from someone who's had good experience with a company. The AOA community has been great with other topics so I thought I'd give this a shot too. Thanks!
As Erica mentions, there do seem to be at least of handful of companies out there that install fencing. So if you have suggestions, great.
To extend Erica's a question a little bit... We're also curious if there are companies that specialize in various types of fencing, whether it's wood or metal. Or if there are companies that tend do a lot of work on styles of fencing that go beyond the typical stockade style or chain link.
So, got a suggestion for Erica? Please share! And as with any question like this, a sentence or two about why you're recommending a company can be a big help.
Hey gang, you've never steered me wrong before, and I'm looking for some gluten free restaurants, or some places that offer gluten free menus. I have been eating paleo for a while now, and have started dating a girl who has celiacs (I swear, we're not annoying about it!!), and am looking for some good places for dinner or desserts.
As Fred mentions in his email, we've touched on this topic a bunch of years ago. And the topic of restaurants with good gluten-free options came up again last year.
But we figured it could be good to focus on spots with good gluten-free desserts -- whether they're restaurants or some sort of other outlet. Because what's life without dessert? (It's also interesting from a culinary perspective because of the creativity the challenge prompts in chefs, much like vegan food.)
So, got a suggestion for good spots in the area for getting gluten-free desserts? Please share! And sentence or two about why you're recommending a place can be helpful.
Hey AOA! After the most recent election, I'm looking to be more politically and socially active in the community. Know of any local activist groups I can join?
We've heard something similar from a lot of people recently, that they're interested in actively getting involved with some sort of cause, campaign, or effort. So, we'll expand Alyssa's question a little bit to include not just activist groups, but also non-profits pushing for change that have volunteer opportunities.
Got a suggestion for Alyssa, if not a specific group then maybe a cause to focus on? Please share!
Earlier on AOA: It's time to dig in.
I'm relatively new to town, having moved here over the summer. So I'm still learning my way around and getting to know the best local spots, activities and products. I'm a big fan of buying local in general and when I lived in Ann Arbor, I loved buying local coffee and treats as gifts for visiting friends or for Christmas.
I'd love to ask the All Over Albany community - what are your go-to local gifts and where can I find them?
Got ideas for local-themed or -sourced gifts for newcomers such as Kara? What's your go-to local gift spot? Please share!
I am looking for someone who repairs stained glass windows and don't know where to begin. I got name of one vendor, but they mainly work on large windows, such as those in churches.
We have a 1930 home with small stained glass windows. They are starting to come apart. It looks like a previous owner attempted some home repair on them. I don't know if the windows are salvageable, especially withe the bad repair job, but I really want to try to repair them rather than replace them with cheesy contemporary windows.
Do your readers have any recommendations?
There are a bunch of older homes around this area with small stained glass windows. In the city of Albany, at least, you can often find the windows on either side of the fireplace. So, there's gotta be someone who can repair these sorts of windows.
Got a suggestion for Susan? Please share! And a sentence or two about why you're recommending a person or service can a be a big help.
I'm trying to have my windows cleaned (outside), but they are difficult to reach, neither my friends or myself are comfortable climbing up there.
I searched on AOA, but it doesn't seem this question was ever asked (?). If you think this would be of interest to somebody else, and if it's not too specific for AOA, I'd love to hear from people.
S. is right -- we haven't had this question before. And we're a little surprised it hasn't come up before. Given all the old homes in this area (with old windows), there are probably quite a few people for whom cleaning the outside of their upper-floor windows isn't an easy thing.
So, got a suggestion for S. -- either a company or an idea of how to solve the problem? Please share! And as with any question likes this, a sentence or two about why you're recommending a company can be very helpful.
I recently acquired some great second hand jeans, but the legs are too long. Is there anywhere in the Capital Region that can alter blue jeans? Or for that matter, does anyone repair blue jeans around here?
We've had tailor/seamstress questions in the past -- but it's been a bunch of years since the last one.
Got a suggestion for D.? Please share! And a sentence or two about why you're recommending a place can be helpful.
I was wondering if your readers could weigh-in with the places they think are the best neighborhoods for trick-or-treating. Our family had a lot of fun exploring a new neighborhood last year and were hoping to do the same this year.
On a tangent from Sean's question: Candy and costumes get most of the attention for Halloween, but one of the great -- yet probably under appreciated -- things about the holiday is the way neighborhoods become, at least for one night, explicitly open and friendly to people we might not know. There's something heartening about that.
Anyway... got a suggestion for Sean and his family? Please share! A sentence or two about why you're recommending a neighborhood is helpful.
We are wondering if you can help us with recommendations from your readers about kitchen designers locally. We have an old brownstone with a very oddly configured kitchen, and want to do some upgrades. We need help maximizing the space and achieving the look we want. Would your readers have any insight on a kitchen designer creative enough to do this?
We're not looking for the typical overbuilt Chef's Kitchen, but rather a modern take on a smaller space.
We had a similar question a few years back. But we're interested in the small space/odd space part of D.'s question. There are so many older homes in this area with kitchens that are, by modern standards, small or cramped or just lacking certain amenities that people often look for now. So we'd love to hear how people adapt and update these spaces.
Got a suggestion for D.? Either a designer to recommend or resource to check out or even an experience to share? Do tell, please! And a sentence or two about why you're recommending a place or designer can be a big help.
I'm looking for some good used bookstores in the area - particularly ones that have a good selection of children's books.
It looks like this question was asked once before but it was 4+ years ago and it seems that a few of those places have closed since then. :(
We're especially interested in the the part of Val's question about children's books -- we're curious if there's some place that specializes in used books for kids.
Got a suggestion for Val? Please share! And a sentence or two about why you're suggesting a place can be a big help.
I have been living in Albany for nearly five years and still have yet to find a good primary care/family practice/internal medicine physician. I have gone to two different practices and still have yet to find a doctor who doesn't treat you like a filler in between appointments and whose office staff is not outright rude and hostile.
I have found that the PAs, nurses, and office staff in the office are as important as the doctor, especially since they are often tasked with important things such as prescription refills, something my current doctor's office has repeatedly made mistakes on.
We've had this question come up before, but we looked through the archive and it's been years since the last similar question about this type of doctor. And things change.
Also: It's worth highlighting Nate's point about the importance of the other health care providers and staff in a practice beyond the doctors. They can make a big difference.
So, got a doctor or practice to suggest to Nate? Please share! And just a reminder that a sentence or two about why you're recommending a practice or doctor (good listener, on-time appointments, and so on) can be a big help.
Jen asks via Twitter (and a series of tweets):
I swear I ask once a year at least, but I can't seem to get my ish together finding a hair stylist I like. Suggestions? Cc: @alloveralbany
Not too concerned about $ bc I only get my hair cut 3-4x/yr. Just want somewhere convenient (location + hrs), high quality, & not sales-y.
My last stylist was great but her hrs are limited & no longer work w my schedule. Went to John Paul last & it was fine but very sterile.
Albany area, I would say within a 10-20 min drive from Center Square. Guilderland, Loudonville, Colonie, Delmar, EG.
Similar questions have been popped up in the past, but we checked the archive today and it's been (at least) a few years. And things changed, shops close, stylists move.
So, got a suggestion for Jen? Please share! And a sentence or two about why you're recommending a person or shop can be a big help.
I've had the pleasure of visiting a handful of different apple orchards already this season and have noticed that the taste / quality of the cider has varied significantly thus far.
Now I know there's been a lot of documentation done on the region's different cider donut offerings, but I haven't seen much of anything done on the cider itself. I was wondering if some of your readers could weigh-in with where their favorite local apple cider comes from.
Bonus points if anyone has knowledge on how much the flavor changes from month-to-month or year-to-year based on what kinds of apples go into the mix.
Sean's question makes us want to go out a buy a bunch of ciders from local orchards and have a taste comparison. (Hmm...)
We've heard that the flavor of an orchard's cider can change over the course of the apple season as the different varieties of apples are harvested and added to the mix. But we can't say we've had a "Hey, wow, this cider is so much more (something) than it was last month" experience. Maybe you have.
So, got thoughts on your favorite local cider? Or any insight on how the flavor of cider changes over the course of the season? Please share!
I'm trying to find some golf lessons in the Capitol Region, but haven't had much luck as far as suggestions. I know that every course has a pro who will (usually) give lessons, but I'd like to hear some recommendations. I'm not looking to become the next Tiger Woods here, just want to get myself playing at a level where I'm not embarrassing myself. I'm possibly looking for a place with indoor facilities, so I can brush up over the winter. And, I know this isn't a cheap sport, but I'd also like to avoid a huge price tag, if possible.
As Fred noted in his message, we had a similar questions a few years back about finding golf lessons for kids. As he wrote, "hoping that you would have some insight for us big kids."
We've been kind of curious about these indoors places, too, if only because they might be something to do during the winter that gets you up and moving.
So, got a suggestion for Fred? Please share!
We're thinking of renting out a home we own in Latham and wanted to know if anyone had recommendations for property management companies who could handle finding tenants and administering the property. Thanks in advance!
We've known a few people who have rented out homes for a year because of temprory work moves or something similar, and there were a lot of details to nail down. So maybe a property managment company can make it easier. Or maybe you have other ideas to suggest.
Have a suggestion for Miriam? Please share! And sentence or two about why you're recommending of company can be a big help.
I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease a few months ago, and was wondering if you can solicit recommendations from your readers on area restaurants that are good for someone who has to follow a gluten free diet. I know you did this in 2011, but I'm hoping there are more places to add to the list at this point!
I have been to the New World Bistro Bar and El Loco so far and had great experiences at both. I'm especially interested in places that understand Celiac Disease and how to avoid cross contamination- that is really important but isn't always obvious from seeing a menu or website that has gluten free items listed (and may not be a concern for people who are following a gf diet for reasons other than Celiac). Thank you!!
As Kara mentions, this question has come up before -- and we even turned the suggestions into a map/listing. But that was five years ago, and things change. (Looking at that old listing, some of those places are no longer in business.)
So, got suggestions for Kara? Please share! And a sentence or two about why you're suggesting a place can be very helpful.
I'm looking for a good divorce and child custody attorney/advocate in the Albany, NY area. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated. I don't expect this to be a full blown-out court battle. My soon to be ex-husband and I are trying to handle this as amicably as we can for the sake of our children. Mediation is not an option at this point, due to assets which need to be reviewed and divided. I was previously referred to Sommers and Sommers. Has anyone had any previous dealings with them? There aren't many online reviews, but they seem to have many years worth of experience. Opinions and suggestions are welcomed and appreciated. Thank you in advance for your help!
We had a question about divorce attorneys many years ago. But things change, and K's also looking for someone to help with the child custody issues.
Have a suggestion for an attorney? Please share. And a sentence or two about why you're recommending an attorney or firm can be a big help.
Can you ask your readers if they have any recommendations for a home inspector? Specifically, one that will have experience with old homes (really old homes -1800s old).
We had a home inspector question a few years back, and some of those suggestions might still be helpful. But things change.
And we're also curious if there's a local home inspector or service that specializes in checking out homes that date back to the 19th century (of which there are a not-small number in this area). Because we suspect there could be issues specific to homes of that age.
So, got a suggestion for Christina? Please share! And a sentence or two about why you're recommending a person or service can be very helpful.
I just moved back to the area from the South and I really need a new bank, the one I had before I despised. I had a co-op in the South and loved it, but the one I came from doesn't seem to have any equivalents in the area. So what is the best bank/credit union in the area?
I really hate paying ATM fees, like ever, and I travel a lot so a large ATM network is key. Also a decent online banking system. And while I'm wishing and hoping maybe no foreign transaction fees...
Sometimes when you want ubiquity - like ATMs everywhere -- you have to sacrifice something else, like personal touch. We're curious to hear if people think that's the case in this situation.
So... got a suggestion for Megan? Please share! And a sentence or two about why you're recommending a specific bank or credit union can be a big help.
Are any of your readers familiar with the youth soccer programs in the Capital District? We live in Albany and are looking for a way to introduce our current and future kids to organized soccer. We would love some help figuring out the options and getting some input on which ones people prefer.
Sean's question touches on something we've wondered about: Where are kids playing soccer in the city of Albany? Are there kids playing soccer in the city of Albany? We've seen a bunch of baseball diamonds and Little League games and some football games. But we can't remember passing a kids soccer game. That's always seemed weird, because in most places around the country soccer is a big youth sport. (And given that Albany has an increasing immigrant and refugee population -- including many people who come from soccer cultures -- it seems like there'd be even more kids who'd want to play.)
So, digression over... Got a suggestion or thought for Sean? Please share! And a sentence or two explaining your suggestion is always helfpul.
I'm looking for a tile contractor to do a small kitchen (16x16') and bathroom in Troy. I have the tile picked out, but need an installer. Looking for someone who is responsive, has some availability this month, and reasonably priced. I'd also be interested in working with someone that would let me participate in the work and learn for myself how to do it.
We had a similar tile question a few years back. But Jessica's interest in finding someone who'd let her work alongside and learn is a a different angle. And it makes us wonder if maybe the right candidate won't be a traditional contractor.
Got a suggestion for Jessica? Please share! And a sentence or two about why you're recommending a person or business can be a big help.
We've lived in our house 10 years, and are in need of some help. We are a family now, with all the 'stuff' that comes with that, and just cannot figure out how to make a more grown up house that uses space well and files away all the paperwork of elementary school. Are there local decorators/organizers folks can recommend? Is that a real thing?!
We're always amazed by how people who have eye for design can rearrange a space to make it work better or just feel better.
Got a suggestion for Melissa? Please share! And a sentence or two about why you're recommending a person or service or idea is always helpful.
Sean emails with a question that's a little bit different -- his family has young children and they're thinking about where to settle. They are, in some sense, free agents looking for the right school district. From his email:
It's one thing to look at graduation statistics, crime statistics, etc and focus on the "bad" for reasons why you wouldn't want to live somewhere and have your kid go to those schools, or even using those stats to justify why your school is better ("my team is better than your team b/c yours sucks"). You also hear all kinds of anecdotes and stereotypes about various school districts, yet those only seem to encapsulate the best-of-the-best or the very worst of the students that pass through.
I'd be most interested in hearing people lobby for what they think is the best school system and associated community, and why. For example:
+ I think Albany schools are the best b/c kids get to experience (socially) what the real world is like. They will academically succeed or fail in any school district more or less the same, but here they are enriched to a degree that you can't get anywhere else in the region. Or...
+ I think Voorheesville schools are the best b/c the school system is small enough that everyone gets to participate in whatever they want - clubs, sports, music. Whether you're destined to become a PRO or are just trying something out, you will have a place on the team / in the group. Or...
+ I think Shen schools are the best because kids are put in a competitive environment where they truly have to earn their accolades, whether athletically or cognitively. The cream will rise to the top, but everyone will benefit from the competition.
In short, we get the feeling Sean is looking for reasons to actively pick a school district rather than reasons to not pick another district.
Of course, this is a complicated question. And the right situation for one family might not be the right situation for another. But if you have some thoughts to offer, please share! Even if you don't have a specific district suggestion, some thoughts on how to think about the decision could also be helpful.
We have a bathroom renovation coming up and I found an antique clawfoot tub to use in the bathroom. It needs a little TLC - can anyone recommend someone who specializes in re-glazing and restoration? Bonus points if they have experience with antiques!
The first idea that came to mind when we say Courtney's question was that a call to Historic Albany parts warehouse might be a good place to start -- they might have some suggestions.
But if you have a specific service or contractor to suggest, even better. Got someone in mind? Please share!
We have a few "honey-do" items around our house that need more than a amateur touch, but not a full blown "Bob Villa" contractor with a camera crew. Items such as grout work/repair, installing a grounded outlet, painting trim and a bilco door, some repairing of concrete work... I need someone I can trust, who is reasonable, but not a fly by night operative. Suggestions?
We get the impression it's hard to find someone to do these sorts of in-between level jobs -- maybe a little more complicated than a Saturday DYI project, but not big enough for a big contracting company.
So, got a suggestion for M? Please share! And a sentence or two about why're suggestion a person or company can be very helpful.
I'm looking to have my stoop replaced, and I was wondering if I could summon the AOA crowd to find a good contractor.
There are a bunch of neighborhoods in the Capital Region where the buildings have stoops. And while it's a feature that no doubt lasts decades (or should), at some point things do crumble. So presumably there are contractors with expertise in rebuilding them.
Also: We wonder if there are contractors that specialize in building/replacing stoops in historic districts?
Got a suggestion for S? Please share! And a sentence or two about why you're recommending a contractor can be very helpful.
photo: Casey Normile
After the Bethlehem School District [cut] Chinese instruction, we've been having weekly after-school lessons at our home for a small group of students who wanted to continue. Unfortunately, our teacher has a new job and a new baby, so she isn't able to continue: does anyone know of a good, English-fluent teacher of Chinese who might be interested in conducting such weekly sessions? Thanks!
Even if you don't have a specific person or org in mind, maybe you have some ideas for how Ewan can go about finding someone.
Got a suggestion? Please share!
I was wondering if any of your readers have any advice for fun things to do with kids in the Lake Placid region. My family and I are heading up there in a couple of weeks and would love some extra input.
There are a bunch of things to see or do around that area, and we're guessing a fair number of them will work with kids.
So, got a suggestion for Sean and his family? Please share!
Earlier on AOA: The Wild Center (2011)
photo: Bennett V Campbell
My girlfriend and I are starting to become Martini fanatics. We have a ratio we like but have yet to find the perfect olives. We are hoping someone knows a place to get great olives that have good flavor and a decent firmness. Bonus points if they're stuffed with a quality cheese (blue or Gorgonzola).
Thanks for the help!
A lot of supermarkets have olive bars now. But Omar's question makes us curious if there's some place -- maybe it is a supermarket, maybe a smaller market, maybe someplace completely different -- that is the place to buy olives around here. Because of quality or selection or whatever.
Got a suggestion? Please share! And a sentence or two about why they place is worth checking out is alway helpful.
A few times a summer we get water in our garage, and then our house, during heavy rains. After watching what happens (it's kind of hard to explain) we're now pretty sure we need a new driveway with new grading and maybe some additional drainage work. Maybe also an actual drain. Maybe some foundation work. We don't know for sure. Previous homeowners took some steps to address the problem and it seemed to help a bit, but we want to fix the problem for good.
We don't know exactly what sort of contractor we need. So we're hoping people might have suggestions. Both for type of contractor, and also for specific companies. Thank you.
As always with these sorts of questions, a sentence or two about why you're recommending a contractor can be a big help.
Got a suggestion for Anon? Please share!
I found this post from a few years ago regarding a search for local pediatricians and was wondering if you could repost. We're expecting our first child in July and we're on the hunt for a reputable pediatrician.
FYI - We live in Averill Park.
That earlier question is from 2011, so it's been a bunch of years and things change. Also: We're guessing Nate and his family are probably looking for a good practice somewhere in Rensselaer County or eastern Albany County.
So, got a suggestion for Nate? Please share! And as with most questions -- but especially with doctors -- a sentence or two about why you're recommending a practice (easy scheduling, good listeners, etc.) can be a big help.
Every year or family gets together for brunch on Mother's Day (6-8 adults and 3 children).
This year I'm trying to come up with a unique place that works for kids, but is more than a feeding frenzy around 50 chaffing dishes and 5 year olds in matching khakis lobbing marshmallows and old fruit into a chocolate fountain. Any ideas?
You know, some place should just go all in on the five year olds throwing marshmallows at a chocolate fountain concept. That could be a winner.
In all seriousness, the only thing we'll add for this topic is that if you're thinking about going out for brunch on Mother's Day, MAKE A RESERVATION NOW. Many places fill up. You have about two weeks to go. Do not wait.
Got a suggestion for Jamie and her family? Please share! And, as usual, a sentence or two about why you're suggesting a place can be helpful.
photo: Lauren Hittinger Hodgson
I was wondering if any of your readers could recommend some good camping spots for parents with young kids (6 months + 3 years, currently). We're pretty flexible on most of the details (amenities, driving distance, etc), but would prefer to be near water.
We had an Ask AOA question a bunch of years ago about camping spots -- but that was question specifically mentioned not camping with kids. And, of course, things change.
So, got suggestion for Sean and his family? Please share! And as always, a sentence or two about why you're suggesting a place can be a big help.
photo: Casey Normile
A Friend writes:
Friends of ours recently had a baby and we'd like to get them something that would make life a little easier for them. Whether that's a local meal delivery service, or some sort of membership, or something. We're hoping people at AOA have some ideas!
The meal delivery question came up last year, and if you have more to say about that topic, we'd love to hear it.
We're also curious if there's maybe something unexpected that non-parents wouldn't necessarily think of -- sometimes you don't know until you're there. ("There" being parenthood.)
So, got a suggestion? Please share!
I know plenty of places where I can donate clothes that are still wearable, but what can I do with the ripped, stained, ratty stuff? I know its possible to recycle textiles, but I don't know where or by whom. Any ideas? Please and thank you!
This is one of those questions that never occurred to us before, but we have heard of stuff being made from, say, old jeans. So we're curious to see if there's a place that does this.
Got a suggestion for Erin? Please share!
My husband and I are planning to be out of town for an extended period this summer, and we are looking for a company to take care of yard maintenance at our home in the Niskayuna/Schenectady area while we're gone. We'll need mowing, weeding, and watering. Can the AOA readers give us any recommendations?
This question comes up now and then, and the handful of answers usually ranges from small companies that are just one or two people to some of the larger services that employ crews of people.
So, if you have a suggestion of a specific service for Sarah, great. Please share!
We're also curious to hear if people have any thoughts or suggestions on what sorts of questions to ask or points to consider when hiring a yard service -- what the fee includes, how often/when the grass will get cut, that sort of stuff. As always, a sentence or two about why you're recommending a service can make a suggestion even more helpful.
(Also, an aside: After reading about organic lawn care last year, we raised the mower and started cutting the grass longer. The grass seemed to both stay greener and be better at crowding out the non-grass. Totally sticking with that method this year.)
We are getting our dining room painted (finally saying goodbye to terrible green) and would love to find a large vintage mirror to go over the mantle. The ceilings are about 14 feet high so the mirror should ideally be six feet or more. I've seen some reproductions online that have potential but I would prefer a mirror with a past. I keep looking on craigslist but with no luck. I would be out scouting salvage yard, antique shops etc. but for the fact that we work and have two little kids. I am hoping someone has a great mirror who needs a new owner? Or at least knows where to look? We only have about $500 to spend.
There are a handful of places (or more) around the region that collect and sell these sorts of vintage or reclaimed furniture/decor/architectural pieces. The first two that spring to mind are Silver Fox Salvage and the Historic Albany Parts Warehouse, both in Albany.
We're guessing you have more suggestions -- if not for a specific place to look, then maybe some advice about how to go about finding a piece like this, or even a DIY solution.
So, got something in mind? Please share! As always, a sentence or two about why you're recommending a place can be a big help.
Wondering if you guys could do another post on CSA's this year...? I know you did one in 2009, I remember every time I search for updates and that comes up. And the Times Union did something in 2013. But this seems like a growing thing, and (I hope) there have been some new ones and some changes to old ones?
CSA stands for "community supported agriculture" (people also refer to them as farm shares). The way they basically work: People the farm upfront at the start of the growing season and then they get a batch of farm produce at some interval (usually weekly) throughout the season.
This is currently prime time for CSA signs-ups, and many of them fill up.
As those links above indicate, there are a bunch of CSA options in the Capital Region. So... have one you'd recommend? Any advice on picking one that's a good fit for a household? Tips on working through all that produce each week? Thoughts on sharing a share with another household?
If you have suggestions for any of those questions, please share! And as always, a sentence or two about why're suggesting something can be a big help.
I was hoping to get some recommendations from AOA readers on a reasonably priced kennel for our sweet 9 year old golden. He's a big boy, at about 100 lbs, but super mellow and easy going. ...
We'd like to find a place that's not going to cage him all day. Some place where he can socialize with other dogs and have a little vacation, just like us!
A similar question came two years ago, but things change. And C mentions that one of the places they're interested in -- Camp Bow Wow ("makes me laugh just to type it!") -- appears to have opened since then.
The part of C's question that caught our eye was the bit about finding a place that will allow dogs to get out and socialize and maybe roam around during the day.
So, got a suggestion? Please share! And a sentence or two about why you're recommending a certain place can be a big help.
I'm wondering if the amazing AOA readers could recommend a holistic medicine doctor in the area. I've been working with a number of "real doctors" and haven't found them terribly helpful so I think it's time to look for some outside solutions.
Specifically I'm looking for assistance with autoimmune/thyroid issues (Hashimoto's) and some sudden food intolerances... if anyone has been treated holistically for similar issues that would be very much appreciated!
Here's a quick primer on holistic medicine.
We'd widen Anon's question just a little bit to include doctors who might not necessarily identify as "holistic" per se, but do maybe take extra time to learn about different aspects of a person's life and possibly include a wider range of treatment options.
So, got a suggestion for Anonymous? Please share. And as always, a line or two about why you're recommending that doctor -- good listener, smooth-running practice office, whatever -- is always helpful.
Can anyone tell me where I can get speed ice skates sharpened? They're not done the same way as hockey or figure skates, and I haven't found anyone who'll sharpen mine. Thanks for any help, suggestions.
We've had a skate sharpening question a bunch of years ago, and we're guessing some of those places still offer the service. But we're wondering if there's like the place to get skates sharpened (or maybe there are a few of these places) -- and if that place might be able to help Jean.
Got a suggestion? Please share! And a sentence or two about why you're recommending a place is always appreciated.
Earlier on AOA: Capital Region Ice Skating
Several of my friends are looking for a referral for a house cleaner or house cleaning service that is fantastic in all senses of that word -- quality of clean, attention to detail, availability, price, and trustworthiness
I am asking you, and your dear readers, to assist in finding a "crackerjack cadre of cleaners" for the area, that I would be proud to recommend. Please help.
This question comes up every few years, and things change, so we figured the time might be right for a new set of suggestions.
We're also curious if people have thoughts or advice on what sorts of questions or details to ask about when hiring a cleaning service.
Go a suggestion for J? Please share. And as always, a sentence or two about why're recommending or suggesting a service can be a big help.
Over the last few months I've been having some major issues with anxiety and panic attacks. I've talked to my doctor about it and he suggested that I talk to a psychiatrist about things, and I think it's a good idea. The problem is, I don't know of any good ones in the area and the ratings I found on Google aren't helpful.
Would you mind asking the AOA community for some recommendations for a good psychiatrist in the Albany area? Preferably for someone who doesn't push pills unless it's a last resort.
I'm closer to the Schenectady area but don't mind driving for someone who is really good.
We have heard anecdotally that getting in to see a mental health professional -- whether they're a psychiatrist or psychologist or therapist of some sort -- can sometimes be difficult in this area because the demand for services exceeds the supply of providers. So if anyone has strategies or experiences about sorting through options, it'd be great to hear about those, too.
Got a suggestion for Anonymous? Please share. And as always, a sentence or two about why you're suggesting that provider can be a big a help.
I just really want an occasion to put on a glitzy dress and dance the night away. Are there any balls in the Capital region open to the community?
There are definitely events like this from time to time, many of them connected to charitable causes. For example, SPAC's annual winter ball is coming up in February. But we're wondering if there tends to be a season for these sorts of events.
So, got a suggestion for M.? Or maybe a make-your-own-fun and dress up idea? Please share.
I've got my favorites, but I'm wondering if you could poll the readers as to where is their favorite spot for coffee and reading, drawing, daydreaming and/or relaxing. Always nice to find new spots to sip and sketch. It's even nicer when the spots are locally owned, although I do find myself at various Starbucks quite a bit (they're consistent, lots of big tables for workspace and I have a ton of gift cards after the holidays.)
As you've probably seen us mention before, we don't have an office for AOA, so we end up working in these sorts of places a lot. And it's kind of funny how particular you can become about what's the "good" place -- is it quiet, are the tables big enough, how's the music, are the drinks and food any good.
So, got a favorite spot to suggest to G? Please share! And a sentence or two about why you're recommending that place is always appreciated.
Wondering if you can help me find some local resources for adult language classes. I took German throughout high school and college and was pretty good at one point, but have lost quite a bit of knowledge over the last 10 years. I'm interested in anything ranging from formal classes to conversation groups that might help me pick up where I left off. I'd also be interested in language exchange classes, ie I could help someone with their English if they could help me with my German.
So, got a suggestion for a good place for adults to take foreign language classes -- or just get conversational experience speaking another language? Please share!
Is there a good drop-in place for exercise classes with evening and weekend hours near downtown Albany? Similarly, are there any baby and me type classes that do drop-ins and working-lady schedules?
Must get fit. Have no time. Or motivation.
A lot of people struggle to fit exercise in to their schedules. Add a kid to the mix, and it gets even harder.
So, have a place in/near Albany to suggest to Jenna? Or maybe some strategies for making the schedule work? Please share!
My wife and I are expecting in July and we're looking for a reputable child care place in the Albany area.
As Nate noted in his email, this question came up three years ago -- but things change. It'd be great to get some updated recommendations.
So, got a suggestion for Nate and his wife? Please share! And including a sentence or two about why you're recommending a certain place is much appreciated.
I'm helping to plan a bridal shower for this August for about 40 people, and we'd like to find a venue that has both indoor and outdoor space. Preferable some place that provides food, but willing to consider all options. And since most of the guests will be from out of town, it would be great to find a place that feels "Albany." (But anywhere in the Capital Region works!)
There are a lot of places that host events like this, but the desire to find a place that's unique to this area or representative somehow is a fun twist.
So, got suggestions for Maureen? Please share! And as always, a sentence or two about why you're recommending the place is much appreciated.
A Neighbor writes:
I help my elderly neighbors with their computer from time to time. But their Windows machine is now so slow, probably because of malware and accumulated stuff, that it's almost impossible to use. They probably need to have computer wiped clean and have Windows reinstalled.
Can anyone suggest a local service that can do this? They don't need anything fancy -- there isn't really any data they need to save off the machine. It just needs to a clean re-install. And about how much might they expect to pay for this?
This seems like a pretty straightforward question. And we're guessing a lot of people have encountered similar situations with computers.
So, got a local service to suggest? Or maybe some other course of action? Please share. And a few sentences or about why you're suggesting a specific company are always appreciated.
Bryon asks via the Facebook:
Any suggestions on where to find a good local fruitcake?
Yep, we hear the joke already: A good fruitcake is no fruitcake. But apparently good version of the Christmas staple are actually pretty good.
We'll also expand Bryon's question a bit to include other traditional Christmas cake-ish things, like stollen.
So, got a suggestion for a good local place to snag a fruitcake? Please share! And a sentence or two about why you're recommending the place/product is always appreciated.
Earlier on AOA: Bakeries that sell yule logs/Bûche de Noël for Christmas?
Do you guys know of any restaurants in the area that have dining tables set up in the kitchen, to see the kitchen in action? Like a chefs table type of setup?
The first place that popped into our mind was the bar along the open kitchen at Peck's Arcade in Troy. But we're guessing there are at least a few other spots around the Capital Region.
Got a suggestion for David? Please share!
Judie reached out to us this week with a question about where to go for karaoke.
New-ish to the area and looking for fun bars that do karaoke - a request for a friend's upcoming birthday. I couldn't find anything on your site, but know your readers would know the scoop. We promise no Free Bird or American Pie.
OK, since Judie promised no "Free Bird," maybe we can help her out. We'll start it off. Circus Cafe in Saratoga has karaoke on Saturday nights.
Where else can Judie and company sing out?
We got a question from Hollie this week via the Facebook about where to get a real/live Christmas tree and how much one typically costs. (Hollie was specifically interested in the Troy/Rensselaer area.)
This seemed like a good opportunity for a quick, informal tree survey. So...
If you've bought a real/live Christmas tree this year, where'd you get it -- and how much did it cost?
Please drop your answer in the comments. If we get enough answers, maybe we can get some sort of picture of Christmas tree prices.
This question is from Greg. But we'll blockquote (because tradition):
I need a to get a new winter hat. My old hat -- which has served faithfully through many winters -- is finally wearing out. Also: It's, umm, really not good looking. (It's started to elicit the "You're really going to keep wearing that?" look from my wife.)
Ideally, I like to find something that will cover my ears. And something that won't get soaked in wet snow is another plus. I'm willing to trade dorkiness for warmth. But getting something that a least nods slightly toward having any sense of style wouldn't hurt.
So, ideas on what sort of hat I should get and/or where to get it?
Got a suggestion for Greg -- event a type of hat, if not a specific hat? Please share!
I just acquired an older car with rips in the driver's seat. Is there anywhere local that can redo the seats and save me the expense and trouble of finding/buying good used ones?
Considering how many cars there are, we figure there's usually a place/way for fix almost everything on them. (Whether it's cost effective is another question...) So we're curious to hear people's thoughts on the best way to go about this.
Got a suggestion for Mike? Please share! And if you're recommending a specific repair place, bonus points for a sentence or two about why you're mentioning that place.
We got an email this week that you might consider a philosophical Ask AOA question. It's a little bit longer -- the whole thing is after the jump -- but here's the key part from Anonymous (who asked us to not use her/his real name):
As an on-again-off-again resident of the Capital Region (and Upstate NY in general) - now permanently here - I can't help but feel that this is one of the most negative places in the country. Every single day I hear people complaining about anything and everything... the weather is terrible (too hot! too cold! oh my God - it's raining! it might snow this winter! oh the humanity!!!), the taxes are too high, the government is corrupt, blah blah blah blah. It's coworkers. It's on the radio. It's on local TV. It's on blogs. It's everywhere. Yes - there are those that actually think for half a second about all the great things in this area, but it's oh-so-much easier to just moan about how everything is terrible. ...
My question: why are so many people so intent on knocking down the Capital Region, Upstate and NY in general instead of trying to build it up and improve it? Is it the unique political landscape (NYC vs. Upstate)? Is it from generation after generation passing along the legend of the terribleness of NY? Is it because Upstaters don't get out enough to see what other places are like - and how life is good here? Is it really just taxes? Or, are people here just predisposed to being pessimistic?
As Anon explains in the full question, she/he acknowledges there are problems here, but also that there are a lot of good things, too.
We've thought about this a bit, as well. It's not really fair to generalize that "people" are one way or another some place. But for whatever reason, it does feel at times that sentiment here tends toward the pessimistic more often than not.
So, any thoughts for Anonymous? Ideas for how things could be different? Please share.
Can anyone recommend a good, reasonably priced place for a little boy to get his haircut? I don't want a buzzcut (I get why this is the default for lots of kids - it's easy, but I don't like the look), I want a real, preferably scissor-done cut for my three year old. I've not been impressed by what I've seen of Snip-Its - the cuts or the price. I've been doing his cuts myself since he first needed them, but I'd like him to get a good haircut for once, as mine aren't great. Any suggestions?
(Snip-Its is a chain that specializes in kids haircuts. We admit we had to look that up.)
So, got a suggestion for Becky and her son? Please share! And bonus points for a sentence or two about why're recommending that person or shop.
We're doing some light renovation of a space in our house, taking out an old drop ceiling, and we're looking for an electrician to help with a few things. The biggest thing I think is moving some of lights that had been in the ceiling. Some of the wires will also probably have to be moved.
Does anyone have recommendations for an electrician for a small project like this?
We've had a similar question in the past, but it was years ago and things change.
So, know of a good electrician for C's project? Please share. And bonus points for a sentence or two about why you're recommending that person or company.
Eric asks via the Facebook:
Can anyone point me to a good sewing machine repair shop? I don't mean new machines (most of which can't be fixed when they break) I mean old machines that are worth the effort.
It seems like every year it gets harder to find a place to repair small appliances like this, in part because the cost to replace and the cost to repair are often about the same now. Lake Electronics used to be the place for this sort of stuff, but it's no longer in operation.
Maybe there's a place for that specializes in sewing machines. Got a suggestion for Eric? Please share!
It looks like there's a leak in our home's roof, probably around where the vent for the plumbing sticks out of the roof. I have a feeling it's not a big or complicated repair, but I'm also not so confident about climbing out on the roof myself to fix it. So I was hoping people might have suggestions for good contractors for roof repair.
We looked through past questions and we've had one about slate roofers, and one about
So, got a suggestion for Anonymous? Please share! And, as always, bonus points for sentence or two about why you're suggesting that company.
Janae asks via Twitter:
I want to break some habits and find a new Albany workday lunch spot. (quick, not sit-down) Any recommendations?
The "quick" part of Janae's question complicates things a little bit. But a lot of places offer order-ahead for lunch, so you can just stop in, pick up, and go.
We're guessing you have a few suggestions. But we'll start with one of our own: Crave recently opened at Western and Quail -- we've been twice already, and we're looking forward to going again. Some of the more unusual burgers are fun -- both the turkey reuben and kung pao shrimp burgers we've tried have been packed with interesting flavors.
OK, your turn. Got a suggestion for Janae? Please share!
I'm wondering if we can pose a question to AOA readers, is there anywhere in the Capital Region that sells freshly made tortillas?
A variant of this question came up years ago, with only a few suggestions beyond "make 'em yourself." And, of course, things change.
A lot of big cities around the United States now have a factory (or multiple factories) that produce tortillas and distribute them locally. As far we know, the Capital Region does not currently have a such place. But we can hope -- because good tortillas are a great thing.
So, got a suggestion for Christine? Please share!
I was wondering if AOA could help/recommend some great fall B&Bs, Inns, boutique spas that I can take my significant other for a long weekend this fall without the kids. I'm thinking closer to the hudson valley near the CIA or finger lakes as we've never been? Any recommendations?
Earlier this year Lauren wrote a bit about wine touring in both the Finger Lakes and Hudson Valley, and some of the suggestions might be helpful. We're especially curious about people's suggestions for the Finger Lakes and out west generally -- it feels like that region doesn't get a lot of attention here, but it's really not that far.
So, got a suggestion for Amelia? Please share! And bonus points for a sentence or two about why you're suggesting that place.
I just moved to Schenectady, and I'm wondering if anyone has good recommendations for brunch spots (especially those with bars) for Saturday/Sunday mornings.
I've tried Union Cafe, which has fantastic service, darn good pancakes, and tasty Greek eats. Eating on the patio in the sun is nice (although the view leaves something to be desired), and there is no alcohol served (i.e., cravings for a bloody mary or mimosa go un-quenched).
Any tips from the AOA community would be greatly appreciated.
Lindsay mentions that she's been following Lauren's brunch mini-tour. But that hasn't made it to Schenectady, yet. So if you have suggestions for Lindsay, they can also double has possible spots for Lauren to check out.
So, got a good place in mind? Please share. And, as always, a sentence or two about why you're suggesting that place is like an extra kick of horseradish in the Bloody Mary.
I've got some friends coming into town and we thought it would be a blast to head up to Lake George and rent a boat for the day. There seems to be a ton of places out there that rent so I was wondering if any of your readers have done this before and could perhaps recommend something to us. We'll have 7 adults and are not tied to any particular location on the lake.
If you have a place to suggest -- or even thoughts on what to look for -- we'll be awarding non-redeemable bonus points for suggestions that include a sentence or two about why that's a good place.
Got advice for Sean? Please share!
Earlier on AOA: Where to go paddleboarding?
We're expecting a baby soon and were looking for a meal delivery service in the Capital District. Not necessarily to lose weight, but something that's somewhat healthy, delivered cold, but that can be warmed up for meals, so we don't have to worry about meals every night once the baby's here. I've only seen services in other larger metropolitan areas, but not in ours. Any ideas/suggestions?
We are, of course, interested in hearing about local suggestions. But we've also noticed recently there are some web-based companies that offer shipments of meals or pre-prepped meal ingredients. So maybe that's a related option. (We really have no idea -- we have not seen those services in action.) Or maybe you can think of a different angle -- like, say, small-scale catering -- that could work.
So, got a suggestion for Dana and family? Please share!
The Artist Formerly Known as AOA Jess emails:
It's been a shocking 20 months since I was last home in Albany.
That feels like a lifetime. Fortunately, I'm going to be back in town Saturday and I can't wait.
I've only got a week and I have lots of friends and family to see, but I'm seeking suggestions nonetheless. Obviously there are my perennial favorites (Troy Farmer's Market, Wine Bar on Lark, spicy green beans at New World Bistro, etc.) but I'd love recommendations.
What new places have opened up since I was home last that are "can't miss" spots? Albany-Troy area preferred as I probably won't have time to get to Saratoga on this time.
Thanks in advance!
Re-visiting a place a once a year, once every few years, can be interesting perspective -- it's still familiar, but the things that have changed are more noticeable.
So, got suggestions for new stuff that Jess should be sure to check out? Please share!
I've been having some pretty serious pain in my left wrist anytime I put weight on it (think push-up position). A lot of arm-chair internet sleuthing has me concerned enough that I want to have it properly examined. I'm not terribly confident that my primary care doctor will necessarily get to the bottom of it based on a prior encounter with an unidentified running injury. With that in mind, I was hoping someone out there might be able to recommend a doctor or facility that they've had very positive experience with in the past.
We suspect the sort of doctor Sean is headed for is an orthopedist. So... have a good doctor to suggest to Sean? Please share! And bonus points for a sentence or two about why you're recommending that doctor.
We have just finished the process of adoption our first dog - who we pick up this weekend. Its been quite a while since either of us have had one and we are wondering about some things;
Good places to walk the dog (on a leash) - rural, urban, paved, out there, doesn't matter. Weve seen people with their dogs at LIsha Kill and Peebles Island and plan on taking her there with us
Good pet stores?
Good dog parks?
Any 'lesser known' etiquette or general things we should be aware of - or things people find annoying about dog owners? Were hoping for something a little more than 'pick up after your dog'
Social things - like yappy hours
Or anything else, really?
Any thoughts or suggestions are appreciated
That's a lot! But there's a lot that goes into being a good dog owner. If you have thoughts on any of this stuff for Greg, please share.
As you know, AOA's goodwill ambassador is AOA Greg's household dog/neighborhood celebrity Otto. Here are a few responses based on our experience with Otto...
I am looking for a reliable lawn care service/individual in the area around Colonie Center. Basic mowing and fall cleanup. Can anyone suggest someone? Thank you for your help.
It sounds like C. isn't looking for stuff like fertilizing or weed control -- just mowing, basically. It seems like there are a bunch of services out there that do this -- both companies and single-person operations.
So, got a suggestion for C.? Please share! And we very much appreciate it when you include a sentence or two about why you're suggesting that company or person.
I have a 2007 SUV with ~80,000 mi and some of the exhaust system is starting to crack open. This includes a crack in the pipe that connects the main engine exhaust to the catalytic convertor. It's a time bomb that I need to deal with soon, preferably yesterday. I had it in for other service at the dealer and they estimated a repair at $1000. Now here's the tricky thing: they said the catalytic was fine, but that they couldn't save it there. The service manager off-the-record mentioned that a good 3rd party exhaust place might be able to save the catalytic and re-use it, which would cut the cost of the work in half.
So... where can I find such an exhaust system expert???
The winters here -- and the all the muck and salt -- are hard on car exhaust systems. And we can say from firsthand experience (alas), the fix is often expensive.
So, have a shop where Martin might be able get this fixed right -- and at a fair price? Please share! And bonus points for a sentence or two about why you're recommending that shop.
Earlier on AOA: Capital Region Recommended Mechanics (this hasn't been updated in a long time)
I'm looking for a contractor and/or plumber who can remove a bathtub and replace it with a walk-in shower, grab bars and other safety features for a senior citizen.
Sometimes the first step is just figuring out what sort of contractor you're looking for. So, in this case, we're curious if this a job that can be handled solely by a plumber, or if it's a job that would require someone more along the lines of a general construction/remodeling contractor.
Got a suggestion for M? Please share! And bonus points for a sentence or two about why you're recommending that person or company.
Sparklers and ground fireworks were legalized between June 1st and July 4th (and the week between Christmas and New Year's) in a bunch of counties in NY ... the only place I've found them for sale is out in Herkimer county, but they're legal in some local counties as well (Saratoga county, for example) ... web searches come up with nothing.
Any leads on where they're being sold locally?
As AR mentions, sparklers are now legal in New York State during those times of the year -- if the local county passes a law allowing them. Saratoga, Rensselaer, Schenectady, and many other counties have done so. An effort to get sparklers approved in Albany County in time for July 4 recently fell short.
We've yet to see sparklers for sale in the Capital Region -- even advertisements for them. But we're guessing there are multiple places that will be selling them.
So, got a suggestion for AR? Please share!
I wanted to ask if you could suggest any places for an engagement party? My parents have expressed interest in throwing one, but they are out of town and are asking for suggestions. Our guest list will be around 70 ppl, and I don't want them to spend a lot of money. Joe and I are [more] casual than formal, so maybe something like a BBQ at a park. Though the few places I've called charge a significant fee just for reserving a pavilion. Have you heard of any unique engagement parties, or know of any hidden gems in the area that we could contact?
Because Lisa and her fiance are looking for something casual, that probably widens the range of places. And there a bunch of parks around the region. So there have gotta be some good places.
Got a suggestion for Lisa? Please share! And bonus points for a sentence or two about why you're suggesting that place.
We're hoping to build a paver patio in our backyard, nothing too complicated or big, though it'll probably require leveling and raising a part of the yard a foot or two. So maybe it will also involve a short wall or something.
We've had some bad luck so far getting contractors to call us back or show up for appointments for an estimate. I realize this is a busy time right now, but still. If you're not going to be able make an appointment, just call to say so.
So, we were hoping people at AOA might have suggestions for good contractors for this sort of work.
As always with these sorts of questions, if you have a company or contractor to suggest, we'll be awarding non-redeemable bonus points for a sentence or two explaining why you're recommending that company.
Got a suggestion for Anonymous? Please share!
My (French) sister is 18 and she is flying to visit me for a month in August. I'm very excited to have her.
Her English is pretty good for a French kid her age. I would love to involve her in local activities -- she wants to get to know the American culture badly. (And she really wants to speak as much English as possible.) I don't know what an 18 year old does in the summer around here, though.
So far I've filled a volunteering form at the Albany Public Library, they might keep her busy for a few hours a week. I feel the service industry would be a bit too brutal for her first trip here. She loves volleyball, I'm sure she could play in the park this summer, but a youth league would be even better, if such a thing exists.
Maybe this is something people reading AOA would know about (or be interested to share)?
As a young adult, -S's sister will no doubt be able to find her own way to a large extent. But -S is trying to get her visit here off to a good start.
So, got a suggestion for -S's sister this summer? Please share!
My wife and I would love to get our 2 year old started with swim lessons this summer. We were hoping your readers could help us wade through the pool of options out there and recommend their favorite spots. We live in Albany, but would happily travel elsewhere for a great experience.
We're guessing there are multiple places that offer these sorts of lessons. So we'll be awarding non-redeemable bonus points for suggestions that include a line or two about why you're recommending that place.
Got a suggestion for Sean and his family? Please share!
Earlier on AOA: Ask AOA: Swim lessons for adults?
Chris emails (emphasis added):
With all the talk these past few weeks about Uber/Lyft and the state of cab transportation in the region, I have a more practical question. We live in Albany, and we have tickets for the Capital Region Brewcycle Tour in Troy. It looks great and we can't wait to check it out! We want to enjoy it AND get home safely. A DD is always the responsible default option but we're comfortable leaving a car in Troy overnight. All told, there will be 6 of us needing to get back. There would be one pick-up sometime around 12-1230 [at night] in Troy and 1 or 2 stops for drop off in Albany.
If I know when and where I need a pick up a week in advance, exactly how many people I have to transport and where we need to go, what is the best option out there? Is there a private car service that readers have used and would recommend? What was the cost? Is the state of cabs in Troy any better than Albany? Is there a good one that could accommodate 6 people?
Basically we're looking for a service that would get us home:
1- safely- not too interested in some some dude with a van who has a lot of free time
2- reliably- don't want to be stuck waiting on a street corner for someone to show up eventually
3- economically- I know a limo would work, but it seems terribly excessive and expensive for what amounts to about 25 minutes and 10 miles of driving.
With the advantage of being able to make arrangements in advance I'm hopeful we can find something reasonable. I'd be willing to leave a deposit or pay in advance to secure something.
Any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks!
Got a suggestion for Chris and friends? Please share!
My wife and I recently purchased a home in Rensselaer County, and need to address the home's heating/cooling ductwork. The system needs to be inspected/sealed (I will do the insulating myself). Can anyone suggest a good-quality business for this type of work?
We had a sort-of-related question last year, but it looks like we haven't had general question about good home heating/cooling contractors in a while.
So, got a suggestion for Dan? Please share!
In our kid-free days my wife and I liked exploring different bars + restaurants across the region. Now that we have a kid, we like exploring parks! Our kid is just old enough where he can navigate playscapes at the park by himself. Aside from the small rotation of parks we like to hit near our house in Albany, we'd love to branch out and explore some really amazing parks in the region at large. Do you have any favorites or know of any especially fun ones that you can reach within an hour featuring something a 2+ year old can climb on? If so, we'd love to hear about them!
Some of the parks around the region that Lauren highlighted last summer/fall have some fun things for kids to climb around on.
Got a specific suggestion for Sean and his family? Please share!
Starting the spring purge and wondering if anyone could suggest a place to donate jewelry? It's not fancy jewelry (or anything gold or silver that could be sold) nor is it vintage costume jewelry..just trendy inexpensive stuff that looks nice. I'd hate to just toss it out if there's some place that would accept it.
We're guessing a lot of the places that clothing for re-sale, like the thrift shops, would be interested in jewelry donations.
Got a suggestion for Rebecca? Please share!
Ginny asks via the Twitter:
Your favorite place for quality local finished compost? Building a few new beds. I need way more than I make.
As Ginny noted in a follow up, "Sadly not all compost is equal." It's not a bad idea to know where the compost is from, and what's (generally) gone into it.
So, got a suggestion for Ginny and other gardeners? Please share.
General Tso's Chicken is a huuuuuge guilty pleasure of mine. It was a staple of my college diet. Trouble is, since moving out here to Albany, I've had a heck of a time finding somewhere that can give me a decent version, let alone a GREAT version. I was wondering if any of your readers shared my guilty pleasure and could point me in the direction of their favorite spot. I live in Albany and work in Latham so anywhere near either place is fair game.
General Tso's chicken has an interesting history (or histories), as illustrated by this short profile of the dish by Fuschia Dunlop. Its roots can be traced back to the Hunan province of China, but like a lot of Chinese food in the United States it went through some interpretation and change before becoming popular here. In this specific case, the thread runs through Taiwan, New York City, Henry Kissinger (really), and back to China. (OK, culinary history tangent over.)
Aside from Ala Shanghai and Hong Kong Bakery & Bistro, we don't hear much about individual Chinese food restaurants around the Capital Region. That is undoubtedly our fault -- we're probably not listening in the right places. So, this question is a good opportunity to maybe learn a little bit more.
Got a suggestion for Sean about a good place for General Tso's chicken -- or good Chinese restaurants in general? Please share!
Easter and Passover are fast approaching and I have a question a bit different from the typical holiday happenings.
Family with small children are coming into town and I would love ideas of things to do with them beyond the typical holiday meals, religious services and Easter egg hunts. What have you got for a dad and his three year old daughter from out of town?
Passover starts April 3 this year, and Easter is April 5. Let's hope things are noticeably more spring-y by then, because it'd be great to get outside and soak up sunshine and celebrate the changing of the season.
A short trip somewhere in the area? Maybe people have some ideas for a few kid-friendly early spring destinations.
Got a suggestion for Alisa? Please share!
Jessica R W emails:
Doing an interior gutting of our new property, my husband and I found that our wood-frame house is actually a wooden exterior with an interior lining of brick! Our demo guy said he had never seen a house like this. I am looking for a mason to replace any missing bricks and repoint as needed.
"I've never seen something like this" isn't always the best news from a contractor.
The photo on the right is one that Jessica sent along of one of the bedrooms during demo.
Got a suggestion for Jessica? Please share!
Yet another old house question! Any rec's for restoring an old wooden front door? We have a lovely craftsman style front door that I'm sure would cost an arm and a leg to replace, but it definitely needs a little tlc. Seems like a job that would require expertise, but not sure where to look...
As we've said before, there a bunch of old houses around here, so someone's surely to tackled this job before.
Got a suggestion for Maisie? Please share!
Earlier on AOA: Ask AOA: Help for fixing old windows?
I was wondering if the readers might know of any good pooper scooper services in the Colonie area. The snow on the ground hasn't allowed for cleanup for at least the last month. The snow is now melting but I just broke my ankle and won't be able to get out to do it myself any time soon. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thanks!
A while back a bunch of these services popped up around the area -- Jess wrote about one of the first, the Delmar Dog Butler. Since then we haven't heard about much about them.
So, got a suggestion for Mike? Please share. And bonus points for a sentence or two about why you're recommending that service.
Was wondering if you had somebody to recommend for repairing a washer. Mine is trying to commit suicide ... (Alternatively, if you bought one recently, and would recommend a brand). Thank you.
As with any sort of question like this, we're awarding bonus points for a line or two about why you're recommending that person or company.
So, got a suggestion for -S and his washer? Please share!
Earlier on AOA: Ask AOA: Good place to shop for appliances?
I was gifted an expensive Coach bag; unfortunately, the clasp broke. I would like to get it repaired, but I have no clue how to go about finding a company that specializes in handbag repair. I wonder if anyone in the AOA community can help me out?
We get questions about repairing stuff like shoes or small household appliances and so often the answer ends up being: Yeah, unfortunately, people just don't repair stuff like that much anymore. But we're guessing there are still a few places that do this sort of work.
So, got a suggestion for Donna? Please share.
About 2 years ago, you had a post asking for suggestions for good day cares near Albany. Now, I'm pregnant, and both my husband and I work in Schenectady. If possible, I was hoping that you could ask the readers for any daycare recommendations in the Schenectady area.
That Albany question generated a lot of suggestions, and it was great to see people explain some of the reasons they were recommending the daycares mentioned.
So, got a suggestion for Lindsay and her husband for a daycare in the Schenectady area? Please share!
I was wondering if you could help me out with some suggestions on where to rent speakers and a PA system for an upcoming wedding. I basically need a PA system that will hook up to an ipod to play music at a wedding reception. I was told that Drome Sound in Schenectady would be a good start, but I'd like some other options.
Any info would be greatly appreciated.
This is pretty straightforward, so if you have suggestion, please share. And if you can think of some sort of alternative that might help out Nate, we'd love to hear about that, too.
After a dozen years, it's time for the wedding dress to go. Any reader suggestions on where I can donate my dress where it might go to do some good rather than a Halloween costume?
There seem to be donation programs for all sorts of items now, so we're guessing there's probably some org that takes wedding dresses.
So, got a suggestion for Jin -- whether a place for donations, or some other way to put the dress to good use? Please share!
Can you or your readers recommend a good person or place to get taxes prepared? Suggestions for independent CPAs or accountants outside of H&R Block and Liberty Tax are especially welcome!
Somewhat surprisingly, it looks like we haven't had this exact question before -- we had one about small business tax prep, and one about accountants. And those are both a few years old, and things change.
So, if you have a suggestion for Liz, please share! A please include a line or two about why you're recommending that person/firm.
We've recently had a discussion at work about how amazing Puerto Rican food is and how hard it is to find in the capital district. Could you ask your readers for suggestions? Personally, I've been looking for a place since I came home from a visit to the island back in 2003 with real tostones. For now we make our own, but I'd LOVE to find a place to go for dinner or even get good take out.
Obviously, if there's a restaurant primarily focused on Puerto Rican food, please mention it. But we're betting there are at least a handful of restaurants that offer some Puerto Rican dishes, like the mofongo at Casa Dominicana.
Got a suggestion for Cheryl? Please share!
Kara asks via email:
I'm getting a new couch in a few months and my old one while worn, could still be of use to someone. Are there any local charities that pick up donations of this sort?
There are definitely charities that take furniture donations. But we wonder if charities have different rules for stuff like, say, a table and chairs and upholstered things like couches.
Got a suggestion for Kara? Please share!
I'm looking for someone who is interested in teaching a small group (2-4) people about wine once a week for around a month. I have two small children and attending a wine class out in the world is difficult, so I'm hoping to find someone willing to come to my home and share their love and knowledge of wine. Perhaps a sommelier at a local restaurant or a wine shop employee would be willing to provide private classes, but any suggestions your readers can provide would be greatly appreciated.
The in-home part, especially for a small group, might be hard. But maybe someone has a suggestion about how to make that work -- or a class somewhere that's worth arranging for sitter. (Or maybe this is an opportunity for someone to launch Saturday afternoon parents wine club/play date.)
Got an idea for Lauren? Please share.
Does anyone have suggestions for a contractor that can repair lathe and plaster walls? I have part of one wall that has sustained water damage from leaky chimney flashing and another wall where some of the final smooth coat has cracked apart. I've done some research and know that some contractors suggest tearing it out to the studs and replacing it with drywall (which would also give an opportunity to put in some insulation on the outer walls).
I like the plaster walls because they're thicker and more substantial than drywall, and provide good sound dampening between rooms. The idea of just ripping them out seems counterproductive (and quite frankly, a waste) to me. However, I realize repairing them is probably a lost skill and not many people do that anymore.
Any suggestions for contractors or input otherwise would be greatly appreciated.
This area has a lot of old houses, so we're guessing there are contractors who do this sort of work. But, as with most things that aren't common, it might end up costing a lot.
So, got advice or a suggestion for Matt? Please share!
A business acquaintance of mine is looking to redesign some logos for their (2) apartment complexes and I was wondering if anyone from your community might be able to recommend someone they've used that has done good work and is local.
There are a lot of designers out there, and if you know of a local one who could be a good fit for this project, by all means please mention that person (bonus points for why you're recommending that person).
But because there are a lot of design options, it can be hard to sort through them. So, got some advice on what to look for in a good designer or design firm? We'd love to hear about that, too.
I received a lovely bracelet for Christmas, but it is a little too big. I'm looking for someone in the area who can not only shorted the bracelet, but make some nice earrings from the removed stones. Does anyone have a great jewelry artist they can recommend?
Got a suggestion for Alison? Please share! And bonus points for a sentence or two about why're recommending that place.
This question comes from us, because... brrr...
When it's really cold, the answer for clothing is almost always: more layers. But what about your hands?
Even though they make you look like your four years old, we are staunch fans of mittens because they do a better job of keeping your fingers warm. But mittens aren't good if you're trying to do much with your hands: zip things, pick up dog poop, operate a mobile or camera.
In that past we've tried a very thin pair of gloves under mittens. That was warm, but also bulky and sort of clumsy.
So... Thoughts on leveling up in the glove game? Types of hand wear, materials, styles? Are those finger gloves with the mitten flap (or whatever it's called) worth a try? How do you keep your hands warm?
Earlier on AOA: What sort of winter coat(s) should I buy? And where?
I have a 2ish-year-old PC laptop that I'd like to get a midlife cleaning-out and checkup. I want someone who knows computers better than me to clean up the hard drive, security, and startup programs and remove bloatware. The computer also probably needs a physical cleanup to get dust and whatever out of the inside -- the fan seems to run constantly.
Does anyone have a good computer tech or store they'd recommend for this kind of service, for not too much money (I'm a student)?
We've encountered many computers like this -- still very much capable of being useful, they just need to be (literally and virtually) de-gunked.
So, got a suggestion for Sandy? Please share!
I'm looking for a local demolition crew to take down old walls and some ceilings down to the studs in a turn-of-the-century house. Some walls are lathe and plaster, some are covered in paneling or dry wall.
If you have someone/a company to suggestion, great. But if you don't, maybe you have some ideas about how Jessica could go about finding someone to help with this project. (As with so many things, there has to be a better way than Craigslist.)
So, got a suggestion? Please share!
Melissa asked via Twitter:
Afraid to ask... But where can a 35 year old go dancing around here?
We had a similar question a few years back -- basically, where to go dancing if you're looking for a place that skews a bit beyond the college crowd -- and there were some good suggestions. But a bunch of the places mentioned now no longer exist, or don't exist in that form.
Soooo... got a suggestion for Melissa and others looking to shake it? Please share!
Clearly thinking ahead for the next few months, Rebecca emails:
The counterpoint to Summer Outdoor/patio dining: Wondering about any area restaurants that have fireplaces for some cozy indoor dinners on a cold night? Thanks.
There are definitely spots with fireplaces.
So, got a favorite place for cozy dining -- with fireplace or without? Please share!
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!
Have you ever done a story on good neighborhoods in the Capital District to view holiday lights? I know there is the Washington Park Lights, but I think there are specific neighborhoods that go over the top. My 10 yr old son loves to see the lights and was going to do some cruising this weekend with him.
There was an Ask AOA question about this years ago with a few suggestions. But things change. Some people get realllly into Christmas. Others fall out of it. So it seemed like a good time to pick it up back.
Got a suggestion for good holiday light display -- specific house, neighborhood, or street? Please share!
Where are the best sledding hills? I know of the public golf courses in Albany and Troy, and there's another hill (privately owned by a family southwest of Albany?) but how about something further north in the Saratoga region?
I'm itching to grab a lunch tray and feel like a little kid again!
This topic came up a handful of years ago, and there were handful of answers that pretty much all focused on Troy and Albany. In part, we suspect -- because they have some good spots, like Capital Hills in Albany and Frear Park in Troy (as Christina mentions).
Got a suggestion? Please share!
My gym is closing, Steuben Club, the only gym in a walkable neighborhood of Albany is shutting its doors this month. I'm looking for a good alternative, where I can easily get from my Center Square home, to my job at the capitol in the morning before work. Is this asking too much in Albany? What are the best gym choices for someone who lives and works downtown, and prefers to avoid strip malls?
There are plenty of gym options, so maybe there's something to fit what Alison's looking for.
Got a suggestion for her? Please share!
I'm looking to get my husband singing lessons for Christmas. I have no clue where to go though -- do you or your readers have any suggestions?
Got suggestion for Joanna (and her husband)? Please share!
First Thanksgiving in the new house and the main water shutoff in the basement started to leak. It is a slow leak at the moment and a bucket has doing the job. Wondering if any readers have had experiences in Albany with having the water shutoff at the curb box to repair the main water shutoff? I called the City and was told that I would be responsible for any repairs of the curb box shutoff if there are any issues when the water is turned off.
Old house, snow on the ground, cold temperatures . . . the price tag I'm envisioning is increasing as I write this if we run into any problems. Any experiences, thoughts, or suggestions would be greatly appreciated...
This kind of stuff can be complicated (see an earlier question about a sewer problem), expensive, and stressful.
Got advice for Shawn? Please share.
I live in Albany and have an upcoming renovation project and would love nothing more than to pay someone else to do the drywall work. In the past, my wife and I enjoyed learning + doing it the first time, grumbled our way through it the second time... and are now loathing the prospect of having to do it a third time. Would any of your readers happen to know a person or company they could recommend that might be able to spare us from this misery and gladly take our money??? Please please please!
Sometimes the lesson of a DIY project is that you shouldn't do it yourself. And there's nothing wrong with that.
So, got a suggestion or advice for Sean and his wife? Please share!
I was told at ShopRite today that I've qualified for a free turkey. I don't want it myself, but I was wondering if I should pick it up and drop it off at a food pantry or shelter. Seems like there are probably other people in my position too - how about a roundup of places to donate them, how and when etc? My receipt says to get it from ShopRite between 11/16 and 11/27.
We were just thinking it'd be great if these supermarket chains would allow you to designate your free turkey or ham or whatever to be given to charity directly.
Got an idea for T.? Please share!
Would you please ask your readers about professional processors who will scan Kodak slides and produce digital versions of the photos, either on DVDs or SD cards?
I'm not finding much with a search, beyond National Geographic's recommended processor DigMyPics, located in Arizona. I'd rather hand deliver my precious slides to someone local.
We're sure there are at least one or two local places that can do this.
So, got a suggestion or advice for Janet? Please share!
TC emails with a timely question:
Since it is getting close to winter time, I want to go to a place to get my all season tires switched over to my snow tires. However, I have noticed that in this area and in general that it is very hard to find a good, reputable place that offers a reasonable price on tire changeovers. I recall that I could get these same tires switched over at a mechanic about 5 years ago for around 40 bucks easily. These days, I am often quoted at $90-100+ (especially at chain stores) for this same exact service completed on the same car.
I would love to hear where your readers go to get their tires changed over at a reasonable price and if they can suggest any good (especially mom and pop) establishments that do a good job at changing over tires and don't charge a fortune for it.
We're also curious to hear people's thoughts about snow tires in general -- we know some people swear by them, others seem less convinced.
Got suggestion for TC, and/or thoughts on snow tires? Please share!
I'd really love to know where to get a decent whole goose for christmas dinner.
We're curious if you can just walk into a store and buy a goose -- or whether they require a pre-order.
Got a suggestion for Justin? Please share!
We just bought a 2nd property to flip for apartments, and the basement ceiling beams are covered with multiple types of mold. We were initially going to do the clean up ourselves, but my allergies can't handle it (even when using a respirator). This is something I want to bring in a professional for. Can the AOA readers recommend any good mold remediation companies? We want someone reliable and affordable.
We wonder if there's any sort of certification or licensing for companies that do this. You know, can anyone call themselves a "mold remediator?" (Here's the state Department of Health's page on mold -- it has some basic background info.)
Got a suggestion or advice for Jessica? Please share!
Chris asks via Twitter:
Hey @alloveralbany I am looking to get a second tattoo & looking for suggestions from people with positive experiences in the area...
Definitely interested to see where people have gone & if there is someone they trust!
We had a similar question a bunch of years ago. And things change. So it seemed like a good idea to open it up again.
Got a suggestion for Chris? Please share! And bonus points for a sentence or two about why you like that place.
I am looking to join a new church, and truthfully, one thing I'm really looking for is a congregation with a healthy number of members in their 20s and 30s who are active with the church and get together for fellowship activities (and fun). Can anyone recommend a church that skews a little younger or has an active group of younger congregants?
It's a bunch of years since we've had a church question, and it sounds like Liz has something specific in mind.
So, got a suggestion for Liz? Please share!
We just opened up a wall between our Kitchen and Dining room and the new view and copious amount of daylight is spectacular!!.. well, except for that ugly metal heating duct. So with that in mind, I was wondering if any of your readers could recommend someone who could help relocate that duct-work to somewhere much less visible. Thanks!
Having never done something like this, we're curious if you can just call a typical heating/cooling contractor for something like this, or whether it requires a company with a different set of skills.
Got advice for Sean? Please share!
I'm buying a victorian-style house in Troy soon and would like to have a garage built. I would like it to match the style of the neighborhood so I'm envisioning a cinder block garage, possibly with a brick facade. Can anyone recommend a good mason or whoever does this kind of work?
We had a similar questions earlier this year, but it was focused on indoor carpentry work. As we said then, there are so much old houses in this area, there have got to be companies that can building something to fit with the style.
Got a suggestion for Omar? Please share!
Have you ever sold your old gold and silver? I have dozens of single earrings and broken chains that I need to get rid of. Where did you sell it and did you feel you got a fair price?
We see ads for this kind of thing all the time, but they often have a Crazy Louie's House of Ridiculous Deals feel about them. And a few years back News10 looked at the prices quoted at a traveling gold and silver road show -- there was quite a difference between when the camera was on and off.
So, got a suggestion for CAOD? Please share!
We tied the knot recently and received our professional pictures from our photographer. We had a limited wedding budget so we weren't able to hire a very expensive photographer. Unfortunately that is now my biggest regret as we are pretty disappointed in the quality of most of the pictures : ( It appears that a majority of them weren't touched up at all and some are even downright unflattering : (
I know that with a little editing they can be salvaged so that going forward we can have a handful amazing pictures of the most important day of our lives. I know there are programs out there like Adobe Lightbox/Photoshop that could do the trick.
Could someone please recommend a local capital region photo editor? I would even be open to contacting a photo editing student that knows how to use Lightbox and wants to make some money on the side. Note: I researched a site called Fotofix online but the prices were really high so I prefer to not go to that direction.
Any help is greatly appreciated!! Thank you!
We're betting someone can help SB's photos -- but it might be within a range. At some point a photo can only be fixed so much.
So, got a suggestion for SB? Please share!
Christine asks via Twitter:
[B]est downtown troy activities for a bachelorette type event? @CapCtyBrewCycle is weather dependent!
[A]bout 14 ladies, low key, starting around 3 on a Saturday in late November. Possible dinner upstairs at @GetRuckedTroy
Got an idea for Christine and her friends? Please share!
I was wondering if your readers could weigh in with their favorite Fall Hikes. Some friends of mine are coming to town and I'd really like to "wow" them with a spectacular view. We're willing to drive up to the Adirondacks, down to the Catskills and anywhere in between!
We've touched on this topic a little bit before, but we're always up for hearing about good/fun places to hike this time of year.
Got a favorite to share with Sean and the rest of us? Please share! Bonus points for a line or two about why you like that spot.
Earlier on AOA: Quick trip: Vroman's Nose
I'm looking for a pointed pen (modern) calligraphy class. There are a few in New York City I was looking at, but would love to stay closer to home, if possible. I have a pen, nibs, ink, etc. but would love to learn more from a professional. Just doodling in a notebook isn't getting me to where I want to be.
We're going to expand Alison's question to include other types of art classes, especially ones that might be a bit more specialized (like calligraphy). It's been more than five years since we last had an art class question, and things change, so it seemed like a good idea to open it up again.
Got a suggestion for art classes generally, and/or specifically for Alison's calligraphy class question? Please share!
I'm hoping some readers can help me out here. I see a doctor at the Endocrine Group on Washington Ave in Albany (I would rather not say which one) for my hypothyroid condition and am really unhappy with his care. He's really brief with me and working with some outdated information. I hope this isn't a long-shot -- can anyone recommend a really good endocrinologist who is especially good at dealing with thyroid issues?
We get doctor questions fairly often, and it's notable how much personality/bedside manner/whatever you call it matters. It makes total sense -- the last thing you want when you're feeling sick or uncertain is to deal with someone who doesn't appear to be listening or just isn't friendly.
So, got a doctor to suggest to Becky? Please share! And if you do, please include a line or two about why you like that doctor or practice.
Pack Rat emails:
I'm currently in the process of un-stuffing my house, and some of that stuff is old china that found its way to me from various family members. I can't imagine ever using it, but I'm not sure what exactly to do with it. I looked online and it appears that at least some of the stuff has some value. But really I'd just be happy for it to go someplace where it's used and appreciated.
Any suggestion on places in the Capital Region where it could be sold or donated?
There is probably so much stuff like this in so many attics and basements.
Got a suggestion for PR? Please share!
I'm looking to rent a 7+ passenger van for 24 hours. Everything I'm looking at is too fancy - it just needs to be functional for short-distance transportation, not the newest Dodge SUV. Ideally I would like this to be a recurring rental (once or twice a month), so I'm hoping to find someone reliable. Any leads?
We're curious if there are options beyond the typical rental companies.
Got a suggestion for Eva? Please share!
Amanda asks via Twitter:
It's getting cooler & all my warm shirts have holes. What are some good area thrift stores?
After seeing Amanda's question, we went digging through the archive for stuff about thrift stores and it's been surprisingly long since we've done something. It looks like we're overdue.
So, got a suggestion for Amanda (and us)? Please share! Bonus points for a line or two about why you like that store.
We just bought a house, and discovered that there is very badly chipping lead paint on a couple of radiators in our house. Could some of your readers recommend a good lead abatement specialist to come and paint this for us? We had also considered sandblasting and powder coating them, but that is looking like a lot to organize: A plumber to uninstall and reinstall, someone to move very heavy objects, the sandblaster, plus it is getting cold and we don't want to be without heat for the next month. It just got overwhelming. We have a nine-month-old baby in the house so we want to make sure that it is done well. The house is almost all wallpaper and finished wood, so lead isn't a huge concern in the house otherwise. Thanks!
There are a lot of old houses in this area, so there are certainly people who have also encountered this issue.
Got a suggestion for Sandra? Please share!
We are thinking about doing a kitchen renovation. Got the contractor, got a "look" picked out, but kind of clueless about the actual design process. Has anyone had a good experience with a designer, either through one of those kitchen renovation one stop shops, or an independent person?
We're always a little amazed by how talented designers can look at a situation and see solutions/angles/ideas non-designers might miss. And, sure, hiring one will probably be more expensive. But when you think about how much a kitchen gets used -- and how frustrating a design flaw can be over the years -- it can be worth the extra money.
So, got a suggestion for M.? Please share!
This one comes from AOA Mary. We'll blockquote. Because tradition.
We're looking for someone to replace our roof. It's a flat, rubber roof on an historic home. Anyone have suggestions for roofing companies?
There are a lot of roofing companies out there. But we're curious if there are companies that specialize in non-shingle roofing.
Have a suggestion for Mary? Please share!
I am beginning to do research into breast reduction surgery, and am wondering whether anyone in AOAland has had this or a similarly invasive plastic surgery and has any recommendations about which local surgeons to talk to and which to stay away from.
Have a suggestion? Please share. And please include a sentence or two about why you're recommending that doctor or practice.
Kaitlin asks via Twitter:
Any ideas on what to do with books I no longer need? I've got piles, of various genres/kinds, with no home!
I could just thrift store them but those always seem inundated w/books.
We're guessing there are a lot of people like Kaitlin, looking for new homes for old books.
So, got a suggestion? Please share!
We've recently purchased a Victorian home approaching it's 150th birthday! We'd like to have the original hardwood floors refinished and restored to the beauty underneath years of use - can readers recommend someone for the job that is knowledgeable about homes built in the 1800s or specializes in restoration?
We're curious if there's a difference between refinishing 150-year-old hardwood floors and, say, 50-year-old hardwood floors (or younger). You know, are there a lot of quirks of very old floors that make them different to work on?
Got a suggestion for Courtney? Please share! And non-redeemable bonus points for a quick line or two about why you're suggesting that company or person.
This question comes from... us. But we'll block quote it for the sake of tradition:
Where's a good place to get stickers made? And is there a place that might be able to turn around an order in a few days?
We ask because of a fun, little thing we're trying to get together for the end of the week. It's sort of a last-minute thing. Details soon.
Got a suggestion for us? Please share! Thanks!
I see that you have a few old Ask AOA posts on moving companies (from 2011 and 2010) which may be helpful to me, but was wondering if you'd consider opening that topic up again?
[W]e have some friends who will be moving to Niskayuna from Brooklyn. They're packing up their stuff there and will be driving it up in a truck they've rented. What they're looking for is to hire a few movers to unload the truck for a few hours on a Sunday morning. Based on what they have to unload, and the help of a few friends already lined up, they're figuring to hire two movers for two hours.
So I'd be interested to hear referrals to reliable companies that would do something like this, or maybe trustworthy freelancers. I also would be curious to know roughly what one could/should expect to pay for such a service?
Like most things, experience can make a big difference. We're always kind of amazed to see how experienced movers can maneuver some huge, heavy piece of furniture or appliance with relative ease.
So, got a suggestion for Jason and his friends? Please share!
Hey AOA, is there anywhere to go pick your own peaches around the capital region?
For whatever reason, PYO peaches appear to be a rarity around here. Maybe because the fruit is relatively fragile and growers want to make sure their trees are picked with care. Maybe just because peaches aren't as plentiful around here as, say, apples.
That said, there are some places to score good peaches. We have had some really nice peaches from Golden Harvest in Valatie this year. And in the past we've gotten different types of good peaches from Maynard Farms, which sells at the Schenectady Greenmarket.
Know of PYO place for Julie? Or even just a good local farm or farm stand for buying peaches? Please share!
I am wondering if there is a casual eatery around where dogs are at least allowed, but I hope they are welcome. This place would ideally be anywhere at all between Albany and Gloversville. The casual [category] would necessarily include those places that only sell hot dogs and hamburgers, I guess, since we'll be eating outdoors. But I'm open.
Non-service animals are prohibited in restaurants by state regulation. But we've seen a bunch of places that (perhaps informally) allow dogs on (just off) patios. And it would seem seasonal outdoor places will have much more leeway.
Have a spot to suggest to M? Please share!
I have a very specific question that I hope you can post for your readers. I am renting an apartment that has a period sink with separate hot and cold water faucets. Although it is nice to have the antique sink and it fits with the feel of the 19th century building, warm water to wash my face would be nicer. Does anyone (maybe those who own/have renovated old brownstones) know if there is a temporary solution to this problem? I'm hoping to find a place that sells an adapter piece to bridge between the two faucets? (I've seen such a thing online, but have been unable to find any place that sells it, online or otherwise).
I'd even be interested in reaching out to a local business that would be willing to craft an adapter. Any suggestions for that? As I am renting, replacing the sink or faucets unfortunately is not an option.
This area has a bunch of older houses and apartments -- many that include old fixtures -- so Nicole can't be the first person to want to do something like this.
Got a suggestion? Please share!
My fiance and I are getting hitched in Albany this spring and looking for ideas for our honeymoon. We want to head somewhere tropical to relax and reflect on what I expect will be a manic but amazing time. Wondering if the AOA crowd-sourced think-tank has any suggestions for easy flights to tropical locales out of the Albany airport.We'd love to leave Albany in the morning and be having dinner and drinks on the beach.
Got a suggestion for Carolyn and her fiance? Please share!
Center Square Resident emails:
I am looking for suggestions about a realtor for Center Square in Albany. I am looking into possibly selling my house. There are lots of realtors, however I would like to get some suggestions from people who have had a realtor sell their house in Center Square.
CSR's question touches on a topic we've been kind of curious about: Are certain real estate agents better/worse at selling/helping to buy in specific neighborhoods? Or, to put it another way, can a real estate agent's experience with a neighborhood help you sell your house faster, or find the right house, or get a better deal there?
For a neighborhood such as Center Square -- which is is a bit unusual for the Capital Region, given the neighborhood's housing stock and density -- it seems plausible that agent experience could theoretically make a difference.
So, got a suggestion for CSR? Please share! And if you have thoughts about the specific agents/specific neighborhoods topic, we'd be interested to hear them.
Earlier on AOA: A good real estate agent for selling a house?
Ashley emails with what sounds like a tough situation involving a possibly broken sewer line, an improperly installed sump pump, and a flooded basement (yikes). Her full situation/question has a bunch of details and is after the jump, but here's a clip:
[The plumbing company] was happy to tell me they would have a technician come out to take a look and that we should focus on the "pipe being broken" and nothing else. All red flags rise. Do I trust a company that happily installed a sump pump to violate the city's code and WORSEN problems for homeowners like me that are suffering with overwhelming amounts of storm water in the city sew systems? No. Do I trust a company that happily wants to dig trenches in the front yard before diagnosing the issue? No. ...
Of course, we have a lot of research to do - were repairs ever made in 2007, gather estimates, weigh our options.
Here's where I need help. This is a big job. The city's website is a shell of a site and offers NO information on who to call or where to start. We tried calling an information number but there was no answer.
What have other residents done in this situation? Who do they recommend?
As mentioned, her whole message is post jump and includes some important details.
Ashley says she's only owned her house for about a month and this sounds like a stressful situation. So suggestions or recommendations could be a big help.
Got advice? Please share!
So it turns out today is National Tequila Day. Yep, that's a thing. And Alisa wrote with a question:
National Tequila Day is Thursday July 24. Does anyone have some good suggestions as to where to celebrate after work?
Anybody have thoughts about where to get a good Margarita, Mule or Texas Two Step -- or just some straight tequila in the Capital Region?
Photo: Kim D.
Eric asks via the Facebook:
Where in the capitol district can I find some fine wood for a restoration project? More specifically I need a few flat pieces of walnut, about a half inch thick. The craft stores don't have anything but pine, and there is nothing at Home Depot.
It seems like there have to be at least a few places to buy this kind of stuffy -- it's just a matter of knowing where to look.
So... do you know where to look? Please share!
Eric asks via the Facebook:
Are there any places in the district where you can find quality stationery, pens and ink?
One of the things about the modern world: Because almost no one writes an actual letter and paper note any more, when someone does it carries more weight. (Getting a handwritten paper letter in the mail now feels oddly thrilling and special.)
Got a suggestion for Eric? Please share!
So I've found my way into a first date with this awesome lady in Kingston, a town, city or whatever that I know nothing about. And it's tonight! Can you help with any suggestions with what I can do??
Other than the fact that Kingston was the first capital of New York State, we know pretty much nothing about the place.
So, any quick suggestions/tips/thoughts about Kingston for R? Please share!
photo: Michael Miello via Wikipedia
We're thinking about moving out of state and renting our house in the town of Bethlehem. Can any of your readers recommend a property manager who can be trusted to select good renters and generally do a good job of managing?
Just to expand a bit on the question from Chris, we're curious if people have thoughts/advice on renting out a house in general: property management company vs. no property management company, selecting tenants yourself vs. leaving that to a manager, and so on.
Got a suggestion for Chris? Please share!
CD asks via Twitter:
Can anybody recommend Albany area restaurants that use local ingredients and have a veggie friendly menu?
We checked to clarify that CD was looking for vegetarian options. Or as CD responded:
Vegetarian options from local sources. #NoBagSalads
It seems more restaurants are offering vegetarian options, though the choices aren't always engaging. That said, some spots have given it a surprising shot. 677 Prime, the fancy pants steakhouse, recently had a vegetarian tasting menu -- we tried it, and while not every course was a hit, there were some interesting dishes. (The best dish involved carrots prepared a few different ways -- it was really good.)
And that points to one of the reasons to be curious about vegetarian options, even if you're not a vegetarian: going meat free often prompts a different, more interesting take on food.
So we're curious to hear about people's vegetarian favorites. Got a suggestion for CD? Please share!
Earlier on AOA:
+ Vegan dishes worth trying -- even if you're not a vegan
+ Hungry for Shades of Green
I am thinking of going solar on my home... do you have any information on which company, or companies, offer the best deals and have proven most reliable in the Albany area?
We're very curious to hear people's thoughts and suggestions on this question. The rooftop solar industry has been booming recently thanks in large part to a steep drop in the price solar panels. And just anecdotally, we've noticed panels showing up on a bunch of local houses and businesses.
There seem to be roughly two models for getting panels on a house: buy the panels outright and have the installed -- or pay little or nothing upfront for installation, and then buy the power from the panels at a fixed rate from the installing company.
So, experiences or thoughts for Mary? Please share!
Carl asks via Twitter:
Hey @alloveralbany, know you just did an ask, but can you ask about [experience] with radon mitigators? #askingforafriend #justincase
Quick background: Radon is a radioactive gas that's released from rock and soil, and in some cases, it can get trapped by a house, especially the basement. Sometimes the levels are high enough that it's a health threat (radon exposure can cause lung cancer). Here's an EPA page with radon info.
There are test kits for radon, and you can get one for under $10 from New York State. In cases where radon might be collecting at dangerous levels in a house, modifications can be made to mitigate the problem. Here's a state Department of Health checklist for questions to ask contractors.
So, all that said, anyone have a suggestion or experience to share with Carl? Please share!
I'm looking for a good place to get fitted for and buy maternity bras (hopefully without breaking the bank.) I know you must have plenty of moms as readers... maybe they could help?
As with any question like this, a sentence or two explaining your suggestion can be a big help.
Got advice for Anonymous? Please share!
Earlier on AOA: Getting the girls the support they deserve (2008)
Dan asks via Twitter:
Can anyone personally recommend a good place to get jewelry repair done around?
We followed up with Dan and he's looking to get a gold chain repaired.
Got a suggestion? Please share! And, as always with these sorts of questions, non-redeemable bonus points for a sentence or two about why you're suggesting that place.
My friend is looking for a personal trainer in the capital region that deals with individuals with training people with medical issues like insulin resistance or other medical conditions. Anyone know of a personal trainer in the area who is holistic and understanding? Thanks.
Got suggestion for Amelia and her friend? Please share.
Matt emails (updated after the question about type of dance):
I'm looking to get dance lessons for my girlfriend as an anniversary gift. We're both total beginners. What is a good place in the capital region to purchase a package of beginner's lessons for a couple?
I'm not sure what type of dancing, but with some Youtube help, maybe something like waltz and foxtrot to begin with and move up to swing and tango.
Non-redeemable bonus points for a line or two about why the classes are good at certain place or with a certain instructor.
Got a suggestion for Matt? Please share!
I have allergies, to dust and maybe something seasonal as well. And I've managed to get by with over-the-counter medication. But in recent years, it seems like my symptoms have gotten worse. So I'm thinking about seeing an allergist in order to get tested and figure out better treatment. Any suggestion for good allergists in the area?
Got a suggestion for Anonymous? Please share. And, as with any question like this, non-redeemable bonus points for a sentence or two about why you like that doctor -- good listener, figured out a tough case, smooth-running office, or whatever.
Earlier on AOA:
+ Ask AOA: A good dermatologist?
+ Ask AOA: A good ENT doctor?
+ Ask AOA: A good sleep doctor?
+ Ask AOA: A good doctor to treat Lyme disease?
+ Ask AOA: Suggestion of a doctor for migraines?
+ Ask AOA: A good doctor, preferably female?
I'm on the committee planning this summer's retreat for my division (25-30 people) and we're trying to drum up some new ideas. For the past several years we've spent the morning at the Holiday Inn in Saratoga for a meeting, guest speaker, and team building exercises (*groan*). Then, we all head to the track to watch the races from a clubhouse area and have lunch.
We're really hoping to come up with something different this year because that plan is getting a little tired and there are some people on the team who strongly dislike the track.
Our office is in Troy and we're open to anything in the Capital Region where we can have a meeting-ish space and also do something fun.
If the AOA readers can come up with a good suggestion I'll be the office hero :)
These sorts of events are usually a bit tricky because the it's-work-but-hey-we're-supposed-to-be-having-fun aspect of them. But it doesn't sound like Emily's office is looking for anything too unusual.
So, got a suggestion that could make Emily the office hero? Please share!
Jessica sends us a message:
I'd be curious to see what people thought of renting vs buying in Albany. Which one is cheaper, maybe a poll of how many rent vs buy?
The renting vs. buying question is complicated, in large part because each person and situation is different. And while it isn't necessarily a local question, local factors do play a big role: housing prices, rents, taxes, and so on.
There are a lot of savvy people here -- so, got some advice or ways to think about this question for Jessica? Please share!
Earlier on AOA:
+ Best Capital Region small town, village, or suburb for settling down?
+ Capital Region median home prices 2013
+ A good real estate agent for selling a house?
+ A good real estate agent?
It's time we did something about the backyard. But we're not interested in some HGTV thing with all parts sourced from a Big Box DIY store. We're looking for a creative designer/contractor who will design and build a natural backyard space to include replacement of a ratty deck, a rattier wood fence, inclusion of an existing inground pool, two existing happy doggies, and most importantly, an awareness and interest in those gray areas between indoors and out and work it into our passive solar house. Can anyone recommend someone who will think outside The Box and help us realize our ideas? Cuz we're clueless.
Even on a small project there can be a big difference between what the typical person can scratch out on the back of an envelope and what a professional designer can put together. And a landscape designer might be able to lend some helpful expertise on the sort of plants and other features that will make the new backyard easier to maintain over the long run.
So, got a suggestion for Chuck? Please share!
I desperately need a new hair cut, and I was hoping your reader can help. The problem was it is hard to find a good hair stylist for an Asian hair. Would you mind asking your readers to see if they have a suggestion?
We've had a few questions before about finding a good hair stylist (linked below), but this is a new twist on the question.
Got a suggestion for V.? Please share!
Katie asks via Twitter:
I'm looking for botanical floral gardens both public and private in the capital region area. any leads?
The one that sprang to our mind immediately was the Berkshire Botanical Garden just over the border in Western Massachusetts.
Got other ideas? Maybe even places that aren't botanical gardens exactly, but do have excellent floral gardens? Please share!
I was wondering if your readers could help with this: I'm looking into catering companies for a graduation party in July and want to know which ones have provided excellent service, great food- a great value. I'll need food for 150 people- preferably BBQ style, pig roast even, tents, table and chairs. Price isn't too big an issue- but I'm not looking to drop money like its a wedding. Thanks for the help!
It sounds like Sarah realizes this isn't necessarily going to be cheap -- feeding 150 people almost never is. But we hear what she's saying about not wanting to go over the top like some people might for a wedding.
So, got a suggestion for Sarah? Please share!
With ramps and fiddleheads in season, Burnt My Fingers emails:
Could you ask your readers to recommend foraging strategies and likely spots? Also, does anyone do foraging tours that I could join in on? (Morels would also be interesting.)
Apparently there's a whole world of wild edibles out there, but it's the kind of thing where you definitely want to learn from someone who knows what their doing. And you want to really get it right, because getting it wrong could have serious consequences.
So, suggestion for foraging tours or classes? Please share!
Katie asks via Twitter:
[D]o you guys or your readers have any suggestions on area flea markets? One time or weekly/monthly ones? Thx!
We get the feeling there are a handful around this region -- especially if you're willing to drive a bit.
Got a suggestion for Katie? Please share! And non-redeemable bonus points for a sentence or two about why that market is good, or a tip for visiting it.
Terence asked via Twitter:
Any chance you could post a question to your blog for recs on local residential seamless gutter installers?
Gutters are one of those things that might seem like kind of a boring thing for your house. And, you know, they're not exactly a "wow" kind of home improvement. But they can make a difference in keeping water out of your basement or away from your foundation.
So... got a suggestion for Terence? Please share!
Baby Boomer emails:
Could you ask your readers if they could recommend a driving instructor, specifically in Albany, who could teach an older person who is very nervous when learning to drive? I took a few lessons years ago and was very stressed out. I still want to learn before I get too old.
A bunch of years ago we had a question about driving schools, but it was in reference to teens. Things change. And also, we're curious if there are any driving instructors who specialize in -- or just happen to be really good with -- adults who are taking up driving.
Got a suggestion for Baby Boomer? Please share!
I'm looking for a competent, reasonably-priced spray foam insulation contractor for my home. I need to have old cellulose insulation removed from parts of my basement, and spray foam installed throughout the basement. Thank you
Based on what we've seen on, um, HGTV and a little bit of what we've read, spray foam insulation is said to do the job very well, better than other types of insulation. It also looks like it's a whole process, with installers wearing ventilated suits and whatnot.
Got a suggestion for Anon? Please share!
I am planning on selecting and installing a custom backsplash in my kitchen this spring. Can the readers suggest a company or a contractor we should consider working with?
It's been a while since we've had a kitchen/bathroom contractor question.
So, got a company to suggest? Please share. Non-redeemable bonus points for a quick sentence about why you're suggesting that company.
(And we're guessing someone might suggest Laura try doing it herself -- which is great, but please include where/how Laura might get some help in learning how to do so.)
Do you think you could do another post on cleaning services around here? I am looking for someone to do a really good deep cleaning job on my parents' kitchen. I saw a post from 2010, with lots of good feedback about the Ecomaids, but it looks like they don't exist anymore! Even Yelp only gives you two or three options -- any help appreciated.
It's our understanding also that Ecomaids is no longer operating here.
Got a suggestion for Lauren? Please share. And as always, a quick sentence about why you're suggesting a certain company can be very helpful.
We wonder if you could ask your readers for recommendations on a good house painter for the exterior of brownstone-type row houses. Someone who can also do minor repairs on the wooden cornices. Summer painting season will be here before long and we'd like to line up the job now.
Getting the jump on this sort of stuff now is a good idea because sometimes the schedules of contractors fill up fast during the spring and summer.
So... got a suggestion for Chuck and his house? Please share!
My five year old daughter has recently taken a huge interest in golf. She insists on watching it on TV, chiding the players with vigorous, "Ah, you almost had it buddy," and, "just get the ball in the hole!" Needless to say, she is inquiring about lessons. I'm quite happy with this, and in classic horse-before-the-cart fashion, we bought some kid-sized clubs for her last year in hopes she would express a desire to chase the little white ball. Does anyone have a suggestion for children's golf lessons? Preferably a group lesson in the Albany or Schenectady area? Thanks AOA readers!
Deanna's asking about kids lessons, and if you have a place to suggest, great. But if you know a good place/person for lessons generally, we're interested in hearing about that, too -- because they might also offer kids lessons, or be able to recommend someone good.
So, have a suggestion? Please share!
When is that low, low price not the price that you can actually get?
That question was at the center of a state attorney general's office announcement today that it's reached settlements with six Albany-area car dealerships on what the AG's office say were deceptive advertising practices. From the press release: "The dealerships widely promoted sale and lease prices that were illusory because they reflected discounts or rebates that were not available to most consumers, and thus, were not the actual sale or lease price."
The link above includes the dealerships named and some of the promoted discounts the AG's office took issue with. The short story: It pays to read the fine print -- twice -- and to be skeptical.
The AG's office says the dealerships have agreed to pay fines and reform their practices. A seventh dealership is getting a notice about the AG's office intent to sue over the issue.
This situation got us thinking about the car buying process, which -- in our experience at least -- always seems a bit... opaque. Maybe that's not exactly the right word, but the process often seems less than straightforward. And there's always that sense some sort of some smoke and mirrors are involved. (You're really going to talk to your manager?)
So, given the savvy of the AOA crowd, we're curious: What's your advice for the car buying process? Tips for trying to get the best price (or, at least, not being taken advantage of)? Local dealerships you can recommend after having solid experiences there?
Earlier on AOA: A good place to buy a used car?
I was wondering if you know where to get a dress altered for a good price in the area. Thanks.
It's been a long time since we've had a question about a seamstress or tailor. We're curious if there's someone who's especially good for dress alterations.
Got a suggestion for Julie? Please share!
June asks via Twitter:
Hi guys at @alloveralbany. Looking to repair inside stairs in downtown Albany brick row house. Built c. 1890s. Any suggestions?
Contractors pls. Definitely more than I can do. Would prefer to repair rather than replace depending on cost. Tks!
We've had handyman and contractor questions before, but it's been a few years. And we're curious if maybe there's someone with specific experience doing repairs/renovations in older homes. Example: Maybe someone who would be better at restoring something that's true the house's original design, if that's what June is after.
There a bunch of century-old (or older) homes in this area, so we're guessing there are people with this sort of experience.
Got a suggestion? Please share!
Any recommendations on a local dermatologist?
We hear that, in addition to trying to find a good dermatologist, Alison is also looking for one who might do well with kids.
So, got a suggestion? Please share! As usual for these types of questions, non-redeemable bonus points for a quick explanation about why that doctor is good -- thorough, good listener, whatever.
I moved here recently for school and was wondering where I could find cheap Albany postcards for the people back home. Thanks in advance!
We'll adjust Wesley's question a bit to cover any sort of local postcard. Less expensive is better, but we're curious about finding good postcards for this area in general. (And let's hope even the good once aren't all that expensive.)
It's been a while since we've browsed a rack of Albany postcards, but we don't remember many as being kind of cool or interesting. Maybe things have changed. Or maybe this is an opportunity for someone to make some good cards.
So... got a suggestion for Wesley? Please share!
T asks via the Facebook:
I am having a City Hall wedding in August and I am looking for a nice place to have a decent meal afterward for about 20 people that won't break the bank. I would like it to be an Albany restaurant. I have researched several options and they are just too much. I would like to do something that would work out to be $20 or less per person. Can you throw this out to your readers for suggestions? Thanks.
Sometimes it seems like there's almost no ceiling on how much can be spent on a wedding. But trying to keep the cost down -- that can take some creativity and flexibility.
So... got a suggestion for T? Please share! We're especially curious if maybe there's some sort of non-traditional option that might work.
Earlier on AOA: Planning a Capital Region wedding: catering
I recently moved to Albany from Manhattan and I am looking to get involved in the area and meet new people. Do you have any suggestions on local groups, leagues, clubs, events, etc? I am open to almost anything - sports (softball, dodgeball..), classes (cooking, painting, sewing, music..), outdoor (running, fishing, hiking...), bar leagues (corn hole, darts..), art shows, wine/food events, etc. Is there a good resource that aggregates info on this (other than AOA of course)?
We suspect moving here from a really big metro area -- especially one like NYC or San Francisco or Seattle -- takes a bit of an adjustment in terms of finding the sort of stuff Brian's looking for. Sure, there's a smaller number of total options and the range is maybe not as wide. But there is plenty of stuff to do around here -- it's just that, unlike one of those big metros, you maybe have to put a bit more effort into finding them.
It sounds like Brian's looking for some specific suggestions, and if you have some, great. But we're also curious about more general strategies you might have. Maybe you can share a little bit about your own experiences finding your niche or crowd here. It could be a big help to Brian and other people who move here. Please share!
photo: Andy Kainz Photography
We are looking at starting the home search and wanted input from AOA. Where is the best small towns, villages and quaint and charming suburbs in the capital region to settle down and start a family? We are looking at staying approximately 20 minutes around Albany and want a more liberal town with low taxes. Is there such a thing?
Having a detailed wish list is a good idea, but the thing about picking a place to live is that you'll almost always end up having to make trade-offs. Want charming? That often means paying more. Want small? Maybe that means living farther out. And so on.
We've come to think that having a wish list is a good way of prioritizing what you want -- and what you're willing to compromise on. Because there will be compromises.
So... got a suggestion for Amelia? Please share! Non-redeemable bonus points for a short explanation for your suggestions. And even if you don't have a specific place in mind, suggestions on how to go about figuring out the right place can be helpful.
Our 5-disc DVD player / stereo system just stopped working one morning. It's chock full of borrowed DVDs of course...
Do your readers have a recommendation on electronics repair places?
We've had similar questions in the past, and the answer that often popped up was Lake Electronics on Central Ave -- and with good results, apparently. Unfortunately, Lake closed last year after 60 years in business.
So... anyone got a new suggestion for Martin? Please share!
Does anyone know of a shared workspace or workshop in the area?
I need the use of a table saw and don't have one and have heard that these kinds of places exist kinda like a co-op system on the west coast.
The place that immediately jumped to mind is Tech Valley Center of Gravity in Troy. But maybe there are other spots or situations -- workspaces, tool libraries, or whatever.
Got a suggestion for Kara? Please share!
Earlier on AOA: Tech Valley Center of Gravity
Do you know any fiction writers groups in the Capital Region, who meet to discuss their work and workshop?
Outside perspective can be a help when working on some sort of creative effort. And there are certainly communities of writers in this area, so we wouldn't be surprised to hear if there are groups -- ranging from the formal to the less so.
Have a suggestion for Joe? Please share!
Pau asks via Twitter:
hey guys, I need your help! Some friends from Mexico are visiting me this weekend; since I'm not local either, I've no idea what is typical here, or where should I take them?! Any suggestions from you and your readers will be welcome.
This is a fun question. Because we get the impression Pau isn't just looking for something to do with her friends, she's also looking for something that will give them a sense of this place.
So, got a suggestion or two? Please share!
Alex asks via Twitter:
Hey @alloveralbany: any Albany locals have any dog kennel recommendations for a weekend in the capital district?
We had a similar question in the past, but it was almost four years ago and things change. So new suggestion could be very helpful.
Got a place at which you feel good about placing your pup for the weekend (or longer)? Please share! Non-redeemable bonus points for a few words about why you like that place?
Val emails (emphasis added):
A couple of years ago you did an Ask AoA about real estate agents. The majority of responses were from buyers - I'd love to see Ask AoA recommendations of realtors representing sellers, preferably ones familiar with Albany.
Real estate agents are just like any other profession, and some agents have different skills or strengths compared to other agents. And we get the feeling, anecdotally, that some agents are a bit more aggressive in strategy and pricing for selling a house.
So, got an agent to suggest to Val? Please share! And non-redeemable bonus points for a quick explanation about why that agent is good for sellers.
AJW asks via Twitter:
Spas in the Capital Region? (Pref. near Albany, but I know Saratoga has more, and that's ok too.)
Here's the ? i got: "let her get a little spoiled so I thought a massage, manicured etc" as a gift from one friend to another
Or, to frame AJW's question a bit differently, if you were giving a friend a gift certificate to a spa in the Capital Region, which one would you pick?
Got a suggestion? Please share!
I'm trying to find reliably good spin classes here in the Capital Region, and I find it's hard to search for lots of this stuff. Where do AOAers go to spin?
A straightforward question, and it's a good time of year for this sort of thing -- what with ongoing icy grip of winter making exercising outside less than enjoyable.
So... got a suggestion for Caitlin? Please share!
Siobhan asks via Twitter:
518ers, any recommendations for where to buy a wedding dress in the Capital Region? Not for me, for a marriage-minded friend!
In a follow up, she mentioned that the first thing she did was check if there had already been an "Ask AOA" about this topic. So it sounds like she knows she can rely on you for good suggestions.
Non-redeemable bonus points for a short explanation of why the shop you're recommending is good -- service, price, selection, whatever.
Got a suggestion? Please share!
Andrea asks via Twitter:
(+) Inherited antique chairs from grandmother. (-) One leg broke off in transit. Recommendations for repair services welcome!
A lot stuff these days is either not well made to begin with, or just so cheap, that it doesn't end up getting repaired. But it's worth it for something like this -- even if it might be hard to find a shop.
So, got a suggestion for Andrea and her chair? Please share!
Sunny asks via Twitter:
Anyone have recommendations for a #boxing gym in the Capital Region?
We asked if Sunny was looking for boxing that was more fitness oriented, or for actual competitive boxing:
It's for serious fitness I guess--not looking for a foo-foo gym with boxing classes, but not to compete nec. either.
There seem to be a fair a number of gyms that offer some sort of boxing program, but we're guessing they include a wide range -- from the "foo-foo" (as Sunny puts it) all the way up to yep-we're-going-to-hit-someone-in-the-face programs.
So, got a suggestion for Sunny? Please share!
Earlier on AOA: A few years back we talked with pro boxer Sarah Kuhn (that's her in the pic), who had gotten into the sport because she was looking for a better way to get in shape.
I was wondering if readers of your blog had any recommendations for couples/marriage counselors. My husband and I would like to work out some major communication issues. I have trusted AOA reader recommendations for so many things, and this is one of those areas where I'd like a solid recommendation. I looked and didn't see any posts on AOA about this. Thanks so much for the help.
Know of a good therapist or counselor you can suggest to Kathy? Please share.
Janae asked on Twitter today:
Where can I get a smoothie in Albany? Recommendations?
We retweeted, and there were a bunch of suggestions. Apparently people have many opinions about smoothies!
So, with Janae's blessing, we plucked her question from the ephemeral stream of Twitter and gathered the answers here (after the jump). Smoothie seekers of the future, thank Janae.
And if you have a suggestion to add, please do!
Comment's been drawn, and the person emailed!
It's January. The holidays are over. Spring is a solid 2-3 months away. It's just... so... gray.
We're setting this up as an Ask AOA question, but it's from the Editors -- who both agreed today they could use some new ways to shake off January blah. So...
How do you shake off the winter gloom?
Maybe you have some suggestions -- things you do around this time of year, maybe local places or activities that help cheer you up. Suggestions are appreciated.
And because one of the things that cheers us up is giving stuff away, we'll give one person who offers a suggestion a $25 gift card to Crisan in Albany. We'll just a draw a person at random from the suggestions.
Important: To be in the pool for the gift card, you have to submit your suggestion by noon on Thursday, January 16. Please use an email address that you check regularly so that we can contact you. The commenter drawn at random will be contacted by noon on Friday, and must respond by noon on the following Monday, January 20.
As the legislative session is cranking up again, I was wondering if you guys have ever done something similar to your grocery shopping comparison to dry cleaning? With all of us here at the capitol mostly only in suits and tie for 6 months of the year, could be something very helpful.
We did something kind of like that a long, long time ago (and it's now very much out of date). But we hear from Will that he's most interested in price (which that thing didn't address). That's something we might be able to explore, but it will take a little while. So, in the meantime:
Which dry cleaner is is your favorite? Why?
Your suggestions could not only help out Will (and everyone else), but we might also be able to feed the suggestions into a price comparison.
So, got a suggestion? Please share!
Sean emails with a travel question:
It's no secret that Albany has a small airport, and that finding reasonably priced, direct flights to big cities can often be a bit challenging. I've just booked a cross-country flight out of NYC and was hoping your readers could help me settle on the best option for getting from here to there before lift-off (and then back again a week later).
The current options (as I see them) involve driving + paying to park our car for a week, trains (whether from Albany or Poughkeepsie) or a one-way car-rental each way. We'll have lots of suitcases and a small child in tow.
We did the math on a similar Albany-to-NYC question in the past -- and while the numbers surely aren't still the same, some of the general conclusions probably still hold true. But Sean's question is different because he's headed to one of the NYC airports (presumably JFK or LaGuardia, not Newark). And the "lots of suitcases and a small child in tow" adds a degree of difficulty.
So... thoughts for Sean on the best option for his trip? Please share!
Ruthie asked a timely holiday question via Twitter:
Would you happen to know which bakery has gingerbread cookies in the Capital District?
We retweeted Ruthie's question over the weekend, and there were a handful of responses. They're after the jump.
Got a suggestion for Ruthie? Please share!
Daniel Nester asks via the Facebook:
Is there no place to get appetizing in the Capital Region? Anyone?
"Appetizing," as a noun, is a Jewish food tradition that is most typical among American Jews, and it is particularly local to New York and New Yorkers. The word "appetizer" is derived from the Latin "appete," meaning "to desire, covet, or long for." Used as a noun, "appetizing" is most easily understood as "the foods one eats with bagels." Its primary components are a variety of smoked and cured salmon, homemade salads, and cream cheeses.
The plural of these foods is "appetizings" rather than appetizers. Here's a Gothamist article about appetizing stores from a few years back about how the stores were once very common in NYC, but have slowly disappeared -- and the ones remaining have evolved.
So, we suspect there isn't an appetizing store, exactly, in the Capital Region. But we bet you can gather many similar items if you know where to look.
Got a suggestion for Daniel and others looking to nosh? Please share!
Jona asks via Twitter:
Hey @alloveralbany! know of any local painters in the Troy area?
Brownstone = high ceilings, looking for references, available in January, insured (this is all new to us).
We had a similar question last year, but things change. And maybe there are some suggestions for Troy-area painters, or painters with particular expertise in working on spaces with high ceilings.
Got a suggestion for Jona? Please share!
I'm looking to purchase beginner DSLR photography classes (or class) for someone as a gift. Saratoga area preferred, but can stretch a little farther to Albany or Glens Falls if needed. My Google searches aren't turning up much. Help?
If you have local class to suggest, great. Also, we've heard that sometimes there are local photography groups that get together to take photos -- which sounds like a good way to learn in an informal way. If you can suggest one of those groups, that could be helpful, too.
Got suggestions for Kayla? Please share!
Kobe asks via Facebook:
Does anyone know a good place to take leather boots that are scuffed/scraped and need to be fixed up? I don't trust myself on this one.
We had a related question -- about getting boots re-soled -- a few years back. The answers there might be helpful. But we're guessing the number of places that can give a pair of boots a good fixup exceeds the number of places that could do a whole re-soling. (Or maybe not. That's why it's good to ask.)
Boot season is here. So, got a suggestion for Kobe? Please share!
Carolyn emails with a holiday travel question:
Wondering if you can do a thread on what to expect if you're flying into Albany and trying to get to downtown Albany by taxi. In the past I have had to some strange experiences. I.E. having to share cabs with strangers and then been price gouged for the pleasure.
This year I'm going to try and set a price before leaving the airport but I'm not even sure what's normal here. What is a reasonable amount to pay for a cab from the airport to Albany? Thanks and happy holidays!
Let's just put this way: We don't think Carolyn is alone in having odd Capital Region experiences. We're guessing plenty of people have their own similar stories.
So, got an answer to Carolyn's question -- or even just some local taxi negotiation strategies? Please share!
I would love to know the best place to buy a real christmas tree. It doesn't have to be cut your own but I rather buy from an independent seller then a chain. Thank for the help.
We've had a similar question before, but, it mostly ended up in a discussion about whether live/real Christmas trees were environmentally friendly. Which is a fine discussion to have, it just didn't really address the question at hand.
So if you have a suggestion for Heather, please share!
By the way: Here's last year's list of cut-your-own-tree places -- it is not updated for this year, but it's a good place to start if you want to head out into the cold with a saw. (Wait, that doesn't sound right...)
Elisabeth asks via Twitter:
Hey @alloveralbany -- can your readers recommend a good company that cleans heating / AC ducts? Thanks!
We were kind of skeptical of these services, but then we saw ducts get cleaned on one of those home renovation shows on HGTV and... there was a lot of stuff in there, which makes sense -- why wouldn't air ducts accumulate dust and dirt. (That said, it wasn't enough to prompt us to actually pick up the phone and schedule someone to do it. Oh, inertia.)
So, got a suggestion for Elisabeth? Please share!
I moved to Albany in September and am looking for some suggestions of must-do winter activities in the capital region (art, cultural events, outdoor activities, etc). Very broad ask, I know, but I don't even know what the options are!
First off: Welcome!
Second: You might be surprised by how much there is to do during the winter here, especially if you're willing to layer up and head outside.
We'll start with one suggestion: You should go ice skating at the Empire State Plaza (tentative opening date this year is November 29). Sure, it gets kind of crowded, but it's fun to be outside in a public space during the winter with a bunch of other people also having fun. And if you can swing by after work, it's a nice end to the workday -- somehow the stress of all those TPS reports starts to fade after a few turns on the ice.
That's just one suggestion. There's a bunch of other stuff. So, got a suggestion for Mik? Please share!
Ellie asks via Twitter:
Hey @alloveralbany do you know of any cheap indoor tracks for running? Free would better, or no contact if paid membership needed.
It can be hard to stay active during the winter. And while running on a treadmill can be OK, it's not the same as actually running and getting somewhere -- even if you're just running in circles.
So, got a suggestion for Ellie? Please share!
Earlier on AOA: Owning Winter: Running in the cold
I was wondering if any of your readers could offer suggestions for adult martial arts classes. I'm particularly looking for a good Tae Kwon Do school in the area, but am open to other martial art styles.
So far all of the schools I've looked in to start their adult classes at 12 or 13 years old and don't have many students over 16 or 17. I'm not opposed to training with children, I'd just like there to be some other adults in the class as well.
This is pretty straightforward. Got a suggestion for Kristin? Please share!
James asks via a comment:
Where is a good place to get eye glasses & eye tests & the whole shabang? New to the Clifton Park area & need to find a reasonable priced option.
On one hand, glasses can be very expensive. On the other, you're probably going to get a lot of use out of them and they become a core feature of your appearance. However you look at it (ha, walked right into that one), it's worth seeking out a place that has frames that you can afford and like.
So even though James is in Clifton Park, it could be worth it for him to go wherever in the immediate Capital Region -- even if that means getting his eyes checked one place, and taking the prescription for glasses somewhere else.
So... got a suggestion for James? Please share!
Earlier on AOA: Ask AOA: A good eye doctor?
Could anyone recommend a good, reasonable lawyer to prepare a simple will?
A will is one of those things most people, especially younger people, are probably like, "Me? I don't need a will."
But you might surprised, even for the non-Warren Buffets of the world -- a will can help can help smooth the way a bit for your loved ones after you die. And while there are online services that now offer to help with preparing a will, an actual attorney might be able to ask you better questions for writing a more helpful will.
So, suggestions for Kate? Bonus points for explaining why you're suggesting that attorney. And extra bonus points for mentioning roughly how it much it cost, so Kate and everyone else has a good idea of what they might expect to pay.
An Engaged Person emails:
My fiance and I are interested in making our own wedding bands. We aren't sure how to approach this though and I'm wondering if you or your readers might have some recommendations regarding how on earth we would go about doing this. Are there jewelers or metal workers in the area that do this kind of thing?
And just to clarify, I mean *make* them - not just *design* them!
Well, there are definitely at jewelers and metal workers in this area who could probably assist with the process. We guess it really just comes down to how involved EP and fiance want to be on the spectrum of actually making the rings -- with design and sourcing materials at one end, to working some of the materials, all the way up to climbing a volcano to forge the metal in lava. (OK, that far end is a little crazy -- they'd obviously take a helicopter to the top of the volcano. Who actually makes that climb anymore?)
So... got a suggestion for this Engaged Person, either for a local jewelry maker and/or how to go about finding out more about the possibilities? Please share.
Earlier on AOA: The artist as metalsmith: John De Rosier's jewelry
I'm the owner of a nice, but well-used alto saxophone that's in need of some professional TLC. Is there anyone in the area who I could entrust this to? Big bonus points for fast turnaround!
Got a suggestion for a place where Chuck's saxophone can get a tune up? Please share!
I live in Albany. Do you or your readers know any places where I can rent a wood splitter locally? Bonus points for contact info to go along with the name!
Or, if not that, maybe there's a rent-a-lumberjack service? We hear they're O-K. (Haha ... Respect the flannel.)
Got a suggestion for Sean? Please share!
Earlier on AOA: Ask AOA: Where to buy firewood?
A question from AOA Greg. Let us now self-blockquote:
It is time to bid farewell to my winter coats. My beloved 3/4 length corduroy coat is frayed and falling apart (fail wale). And my LL Bean parka -- which has protected me against many a winter, much lake effect snow, and frequent blustery dog walks -- has finally succumbed to catastrophic zipper failure and other indignities of old age. Also: it makes me look like (even more of) an enormous dork.
So I'm looking for a new coat. Or coats. I'd like to get away with just buying one. But I suspect I should probably replace both types. I need a coat for work around town, but also long walks with the dog and other winter outside activities (I don't ski).
If you have suggestions of where I should shop for a coat, great. But I'm also looking for suggestions of what type or brand of coats. Do you have a favorite winter coat type? What about brand? Should I re-submit myself to the warm, reliable dorkiness of another LL Bean model? Or is there something better? (Please say there is.)
So, got a suggestion? Please share. Greg will think warm thoughts about you this winter.
I'm writing in search of prenatal classes - yoga, dance, workout, etc - held in the evening or on the weekend. I'm in downtown Albany, but could travel to other nearby locales. Do your readers have any good ones to recommend?
It sounds Reader's looking for prenatal movement/exercise classes. But we'll expand Reader's question just a bit to also include prenatal classes on topics such as newborn care or breastfeeding.
Got a suggestion? Please share! Non-redeemable bonus points for a sentence or two about why you liked the class you're suggestion.
Earlier on AOA: Ask AOA: A good obstetrician?
Do you know of local stores/galleries from which one can buy art? I'm thinking mostly along the lines of paintings created by local artists, but anything else is great, too.
There are a lot of galleries around the Capital Region, especially if you draw the circle wide enough to include a place such as Hudson. And if you have a favorite local gallery or local artist, please share.
But we're also hoping people will have some advice for Higgs (and everyone else) about the process of buying art. Where to look? What to look for? Buy directly from an artist? Advantages/disadvantages of buying through a gallery? Maybe tips about how to figure out what you like and how to make it work in your house/office/wherever?
So, got a suggestion on any of that... please share!
Val asks via Twitter:
Ok, so thinking ahead, I don't see an Ask AOA on chimney sweeps. I'd love a name of someone in Alb who cleans & does masonry.
This may sound like one of those jobs from 1890 or something (and, you know, it was... and it wasn't also chim chim cher-ee). But it can be important for a modern chimney that still gets used. Residue builds up over time and it can be a safety issue.
So... got a suggestion for Val? Please share.
Chris asks via Twitter:
"Do you [know] where would I find continuing education programs in Albany County?"
But we're certain there are other options out there. Have a suggestion for Chris? Please share!
photo: Flickr user Kyle McCluer (cc)
Andrea asked this morning on Twitter:
I want bubble tea. Does @alloveralbany know where I can get some?
Our first thought was the Hong Kong Bakery on Wolf Road. But people on Twitter had a few other suggestions -- they're after the jump.
Got a suggestion for a local spot for bubble tea? Please share.
Emily emails with follow-up -- and a question (emphasis added):
A few weeks ago, someone asked for recommendations for a reputable home inspector who specialized in old homes (they specified farmhouses). As luck would have it, a few weeks later my husband and I found ourselves needing a reputable home inspector with experience looking at old homes.
Your readers' recommendations were unbelievably spot-on. The inspector we chose (Peter Shaming of Excelsior Home Inspections if I may be specific) was incredibly thorough, knowledgable and professional. He found things that had been missed on a previous inspection and even managed to impress the two engineer team of my husband and father-in-law which is not an easy task.
Well, with all that- one of the things he found was a small amount of old asbestos wrap around some ductwork in the basement. We would like to get it professionally removed and are looking for recommendations. Your readers gave us awesome guidance the first time, does anyone have any reputable and licensed asbestos abatement contractors they would recommend?
First off, it's great to hear those earlier answers were helpful. +1 to everyone who offered a suggestion.
Now, onto Emily's question: Have a suggestion for a good company to handle this asbestos issue? Or maybe your house also had a similar asbestos situation and you found away to address it without removal? Please share.
A asks via Twitter:
I have real, severe, serious fear of the dentist. But I have to go. Recommendations [for] who will treat me accordingly?
It's been a few years since we've had a question about dentists. And A is looking for someone who can help ease her anxiety about being in the dental chair. (Sometimes the right person and a little bedside manner can make all the difference.)
So... know of good dentist for A? Please share. Non-redeemable bonus points will be awarded for answers that include a bit of explanation about what makes that dentist/dental office good.
I am looking for an experienced web developer to help me launch an online business, someone who is highly proficient in HTML to hit the ground running on my site.
It sounds like Anonymous is maybe looking for a developer who has experience setting up an online shop or e-commerce system, so that might narrow the range a bit.
And, of course, a developer doesn't necessarily have to be local -- but it's nice to be able to meet up and talk to face-to-face. (We do get the sense Anon is looking for someone in the area.)
Have a web developer or firm to suggest? Please share.
My partner and I are wondering if you've gotten word of any hip, non 20-year-old slutty-version of Halloween costume contests and/or parties (charitable or otherwise) in the Albany area? Any help is greatly appreciated!
There's usually a Halloween party at the Washington Park Lakehouse, though we haven't seen any details about that this year (if you know what's up, please share).
Have a suggestion or idea for Christine? Please share!
Update: Details about this year's Washington Park Lakehouse Halloween party floated our way after we posted this question. The party is October 26 from 9 pm-1 am. Tickets are $25 ahead, $50 at the door -- advance tickets available at the Pearl Street Pub and the Barrel Saloon. The party is open bar (as well as 21+) and "costumes mandatory."
still from It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
Allison emails with a fun question:
I'm recently engaged and am overwhelmed with all the potential wedding venues in our area. To help narrow the choices down, I've decided on a 1920's era themed wedding (secretly hoping Hemingway crashes my party, drunk).
Can you guys help a girl out with some vintage-y and spacious venues? And if you have any other dope ideas for center pieces, signature drinks, etc. please do not hold back.
This area has no shortage of wedding venues -- and some of them even date back to the 1920s (or thereabout).
So, got a suggestion for Allison? Please share!
I like to go out jogging after work with my kid in the jogging stroller. Unfortunately, sunsets are creeping up earlier and earlier leaving me finishing my runs on trails alone and in the dark. In an effort to keep running, but to do-so more safely, I wanted pick up a bottle of mace / pepper-spray to help ward off any potential predators. Do any of your readers know where can I buy some in the area?
As it happens, New York State has a law about who can have pepper spray, where it can be bought, and how it can be used. (The state legalized its possession and use for self defense in 1996, the last state to do so. It was controversial at the time -- apparently Rudy Giuliani was a vocal opponent.) The rules are, basically:
+ Only people age 18 and older can have "self-defense sprays." A no one who's been convicted of a felony or assault.
+ It can only be sold by a licensed dealer, either a firearms dealer or pharmacy or a vendor approved by the State Police.
+ Using the spray in any way other than self defense is a crime.
So, suggestions for Sean? And if you have additional ideas about jogging safety or maybe self-defense classes, please share.
Tracy asks via Twitter:
Albany, I just want to ride the horses. ... I found one place online, not sure how updated the info is, for Renegade Farms. They offer instructions, but also have a "work to ride" program where you can volunteer time to learn about & help care for the horses in exchange for extra ride time. I like the idea behind that because it's a more immersive learning experience (plus it benefits the stable).
It sounds like Tracy is interested in more than, say, just riding horses one afternoon -- she maybe also wants to get some riding lessons and learn about caring for the animals, too.
So, got suggestion for her? Please share!
I'm looking for competent, reliable contractors to fix a moisture problem in our basement. I'm aware of two companies in our area: Adirondack Basement Solutions and Kinetic Basement Solutions.
Can you post a request on the web for readers to share their experiences with these companies, as well as any recommendations for others to contact?
There seem to be a lot of companies that advertise services to address this problem, but we get the sense that wet basements can be tricky. And sometimes fixing the problem goes beyond the basement itself -- to things like gutters.
So, got a suggestion for Anonymous? Please share.
I'm looking for some information on any local bartending programs. I know there is at least one thats been around for years in the Clifton Park area. I've heard mixed reviews on the class and even if it's necessary..ie - many people just recommend just starting at a local bar as a barback shadowing someone and working your way up. I was hoping you or the readers could shed some light on this topic.
Suggestions? Ideas? A little bit of insight? Please share.
My question is about donating hair for charity (for wigs for cancer patients). My hair has gotten quite long and I want to cut it, but would donate it if I knew where to go to donate it. Also, I'd like to talk to someone about exactly how long they need the hair to be because I might be willing to wait a while longer for the cut if my hair needs to be longer to be useful. Anybody know anything about donating hair?
As we understand it, there a few charities that collect hair for this purpose (and some criticism of at least one).
So, anyone have the scoop for chrisck? Suggestions about a local place to go to have the hair cut properly for this purpose? Please share.
My husband and I are looking for a good home inspector: someone who walks you through everything and explains things thoroughly. Specifically if anyone has experience with old farm houses, that would be preferable.
The specific "old farm house" part might be a little hard to find, but there are certainly home inspectors in this area that have plenty of experience inspecting old (and sometimes really old) houses.
So, got a suggestion for Cheryl and her husband? Please share. You'll win our respect and admiration if you're specific about what you're recommending a certain home inspector.
Erin asks via Twitter:
Can any of you recommend a good ENT specialist in the area? ... I need to see someone soon ish
As you probably know, ENT = ear, nose, and throat.
Know of a good doctor for Erin? Please share! Bonus points for being specific about why you like that doctor.
Wondering if I can rent a wheelchair somewhere for the weekend. A friend is coming to visit, and she suffered a big knee injury in a car crash, so walking a lot won't work for her. If I can wheel her around here and there, it will expand the activities we can do.
A wheelchair rental doesn't seem like something that should be too hard to find.
Got a suggestion for W? Please share.
Our house was built in 1880 and has a Corbin lock on the front door. The cast iron box that fits inside the door has some broken sections so it's no longer functional. Our locksmith says that there were many different Corbin locks and it's almost impossible to find a match in a working lock... but the alternative is to get rid of all our antique hardware and replace it with a modern lockset. So naturally I want to try finding a replacement.
We weren't familiar with Corbin locks, so we did a little poking around on Flickr -- and some of the examples that turned up are beauties. We can understand the desire to either fix or replace it with something similar, especially on a Victorian-style or other older home.
So, have a suggestion for where Otis can find someone to either fix this lock -- or, more likely, a place that might sell a similar replacement? Maybe someplace that specializes in working on older homes? Please share.
image via Wikipedia
Do you know of any fields of in-bloom sunflowers in the area? I got the idea last year to photograph my daughter in a field of sunflowers when I passed by an awesome one on Rt. 9H by Kinderhook, but I never made it down there before they died off.
We gotta admit we're posting Kristen's question because we really like sunflowers and the thought of a whole field of them makes us smile. So we'd kind of like to know, too.
Got the scoop on some sunflowers? Please share.
Sarah asks via the Facebook:
Hey, can anyone recommend a good stylist for a pixie cut? It can be so hard to find someone really good with short cuts for women...Thanks!
Our first thought when seeing Sarah's question was Christine over at Unspeakable Visions and her super cute pixie cut -- she chronicled her switch to the pixie in a fun series for the "pixie curious." That's Christine on the right.
But going short can feel like a jump. So... have a good stylist to suggest for Sarah? Please share!
Earlier on AOA: Ask AOA: A salon for very (insert color) hair?
Spencer asks via Facebook:
Are there any bakeries in the capital region making cronut knockoffs? I would love to try.
You might be wondering: What the @#$% is a cronut?
It's essentially a donut made from croissant dough. The "pastry hybrid" is said to have sprung to life from the head of Dominique Ansel, a chef in Manhattan. (It's unclear if the cronut sprang forth from Ansel's head fully grown.) And since taking shape in May, the cronut has prompted a lot of people in NYC to stand in line. The craze -- like some zombie apocalypse virus, no doubt taking advantage of air travel and our interconnected world -- has since spread to other large cities. (Though none of those are officially "cronuts," because the term was trademarked by Ansel.)
So... about finding something like that here in the Capital Region? We haven't heard of any place making them. But maybe there's something like it. Or, perhaps, some local place will see this as an opportunity. (Cider cronut, anyone?)
Have a suggestion for Spencer? Please share.
Earlier on AOA:
+ Trying the glazed donut breakfast sandwich at Dunkin' Donuts
+ Eat This: Boston cream donuts at Bella Napoli
+ Eat This: Glazed donuts at the Cookie Factory
+ A short tour of Capital Region doughnuts
Are there any local organizations that need volunteers to mentor or tutor K-12 students interested in science, technology, engineering and/or mathematics? I am interested in volunteering, but having trouble finding a reputable organization where I can have an impact. I am especially interested volunteering for an organization that encourages high school aged girls to pursue a degree in a STEM related field. And while I've got your attention, are there other organizations (any type) you would recommend volunteering for?
Sometimes having someone there to lend a hand now and then, and tell you "I did this and you can, too" can be a powerful thing.
So, got a suggestion for Elizabeth? Please share!
Sean emails (emphasis added):
I'm looking for recommendations for a weekend camp/cabin rental somewhere up in the Adirondacks. My desires are simple - on a body of water. I'm not looking for anything fancy or expensive - simpler is MUCH preferred. We like to swim, kayak, hike, have campfires, grill and just relax. My wife and I are looking to begin what we hope to become a yearly tradition for our new family. Where have you, your families or your friends gone that you might recommend?
Do you have any tips for searching for something like this, whether through realtors, any site that's specific to this kind of search, etc? Three years of NY living don't provide me with the strong base of relatives / schoolmates / neighbors who I can mine for recommendations. Any thoughts / help would be greatly appreciated!
If have a specific suggestion, by all means please share. But what we really like about Sean's question is that he's asking how to go about finding a place like this. Sometimes that's the best way to help someone.
So, suggestions for how Sean should start looking into? This summer is nearing an end, but it could help him (and others) get a jump on next summer.
illustration from Adventures in the wilderness, or, Camp-life in the Adirondacks (1869) via archive.org
Annie asks via Facebook:
I was wondering if you guys (or your readers) could recommend the best place to find deals on kitchen appliances as well as any good contractors in the area. My fiance and I just bought our first house so we'd love a good point in the right direction!
A lot of people might default to one of the big box stores -- but the Capital Region also has a handful of local appliance stores. So, there's some choice.
Have a suggestion for Annie about where to shop -- or even just suggestions about what to look for? Please share!
My sister is planning her wedding for this December and is looking for a venue for the reception that is on the smaller side, where she can entertain approximately 80 guests. She is not bound by area -- we've been looking for places in Saratoga, Troy, Albany, Schenectady, etc. I didn't know if you've posted about this topic in the past or maybe if your readers might have some suggestions.
We've had a question before about finding a place for a small wedding. That was a few years back, though, and many of those spots were outside.
Of course, there aren't any shortages of places to hold receptions. But we're curious about places that are maybe unexpected, or non-traditional. You know, the sort of place that makes you say, "That wouldn't have occurred to me, but it could be cool." (Or, this case, warm, for December.)
So, have a suggestion Joanna and her sister? Please share!
Molly asks via Twitter:
anyone know of a good sleep specialist in #albany? I've already done a sleep study, just need a doctor for check ups/treatment
Not sleeping well can really mess up your health and the way you feel. (We know people who've gotten treatment for a sleep disorder and it's made a big difference for them.)
So, know of a good sleep doctor in the area? Please share.
After being cat called on Lark Street -- again -- Colleen writes:
I had had it. I was tired of being catcalled on the street because I happened to be guilty of being a Woman While Walking. In sweats, in jeans, in a slouchy dress in 90+ degree heat, they sidle up to you, just too close for comfort and insinuate themselves into your errand. I was tired of having to keep my eyes locked forward in my own neighborhood. I was tired of fixing my face into a haughty mask any time I walked without Mike by my side. I was sick of it.
And he happened to be there. And I happened to be ready to ovary up and be a woman.
You can read what happened next.
The experience prompted Colleen to ask us via Twitter:
I'm done w/ just ignoring catcallers around Lark. How do other ladies handle the #harassment?
This is an ongoing problem. And if you're a guy, you might not realize how big a problem it is -- ask some of your lady friends, you might be surprised how often it happens.
So. What's the best way to handle these situations? Experiences, suggestions or encouragement to share with Colleen and other women? Please share.
At the risk of sounding like a crazy cat lady, I need help finding a groomer for my cat. Newborn baby + slightly neglected long haired cat = a total mess. We had a not so good experience with the vet recommended groomer. I appreciate the help!
We know there are a bunch of places for dog grooming. But cat grooming seems like it's probably harder to find. And it's our understanding that cats can sometimes be challenging when it comes to stuff like this. (Let's not even talk about trying to herd them.)
So, anyone have a suggestion for Jennifer and her cat? Please share!
Earlier on AOA: Ask AOA: Veterinarian care for cats?
Super Girl asks via Twitter:
just searched @alloveralbany for recommendations on bike repair shops in the area, but got no results. please help! have no clue where 2 go!
We checked, too, and it doesn't look like we've had this question before.
So, where should Super Girl go to get her bike fixed?
Laura asks via Facebook:
My husband was just diagnosed with Lyme disease after the ER doctor who saw him last week (when his temp reached nearly 105!!) spotted a tick bite that neither of us or his primary care physician noticed. We weren't such great fans of his PCP to begin with, but now we really want to find a better one. Not looking for infectious disease specialists, but a really good primary care or internal medicine physician who is especially Lyme literate would be a dream. ...
Anyone with Lyme have a doctor they really love?
This is an important question -- not only for Laura and her husband, but also because this region is part of zone along the East Coast where Lyme is particularly prevalent. And Lyme can be tricky to treat. (Chris Gibson is part of a group of elected officials pushing for increased federal funding for research and better testing for Lyme disease.)
Have a suggestion for Laura and her husband? Please share.
Earlier on AOA: The spread of Lyme disease
photo: CDC/Anna Perez
I just had a baby in May and have made it a goal to get my financial plans together while on maternity leave - saving up for retirement, my son's college education, figuring out how much life insurance I need, etc. I've been trying to read up online and do it on my own, but it's getting too complicated now and I need some help. I'd really like to find an intelligent and trustworthy financial planner to work with and would love to get some recommendations from people in the capital region. Thanks for your help!
We've had a similar question before, but it's been a while and maybe we can round up some new suggestions. And although EAW is looking for a financial planner, we're also curious about other resources that could help -- organizations, books, websites, whatever that's helped you get organized and move ahead with a plan.
So, got a suggestions for EAW? Please share!
Earlier on AOA: Ask AOA: Tips for tracking spending?
Christina asks via Facebook:
i'm trying to find someone who does window repairs in Schenectady. There seem to be plenty of companies willing to replace your windows - but none that I can find that do repairs. Anyone know of any awesome handyman service or window repair specialist they are willing to recommend? We have some casement windows that need repair - leaking water (in this torrential downpour rain we've been having). Thanks.
We've had a question before about fixing really old windows -- like, almost a century old. But Christina's question is a bit different. And it'd be great to help her find a way to fix rather than replace.
Have some insight? Please share!
Can anyone recommend software for tracking expenses? I've never in my life made a budget for myself because I always innately lived within my means, whether as a poor student or working stiff. Now I'm a "pensioner" on a fixed/reduced income and I think I should track my spending for a year just to (hopefully) affirm that I'm solvent. I'm looking for simple, free software, maybe something where I can customize the categories to track some of my quirkier spending habits.
This might not be a local question, per se. But we're guessing a bunch of people here have some good insights on this topic.
Got a suggestion for Chris? Please share!
Jeff, from the American Outlaws Albany Chapter -- the fan group for the US Men's National Soccer Team -- emails:
July 16th the US Men's Soccer Team has a Gold Cup game at Rentschler Field in Hartford. We have plenty of members (Albany AO chapter) planning to go and many have said they're bringing friends. Originally we were just going to carpool but some beer and prodding led to me agreeing to research transit options.
Realistically we would leave around 2 to 3pm and return soon after the game which would end at 10pm.
Freedom to have some "fun" (music/noise and adult beverages) on board is a huge plus, but value is first concern. I have heard good things about a new company recently but can't find them - I believe they ran a bus from Olde English or Barrel Saloon to SPAC for a concert?
Jeff says they're looking at a group of 20-40 (or more).
Got a transportation suggestion for the group? Please share!
I'm in the midst of exploring brand new career paths and I'm looking to work, ideally in person, with a career coach. I was wondering if there are any great career coaches, life coaches, or career consulting firms in the area that perhaps you or the AOA community could recommend.
It seems to us that this sort of thing could a few different ways. One way, the good way, would be finding a person who can help you work through figuring out what you really want to do, whether there's actually a job doing that, and how to get there. The other, less good way, would be someone who just tells you to follow your synergies while leveraging your enterprise solutions to find your cheese. Or something to that effect.
So, have a suggestion for Liz? Please share!
Jenn asks via Twitter:
Hey @alloveralbany, I'm planning a date on 6/28 (or 6/30) for my boyfriend's and my 2nd anniversary. Any ideas of something fun and unique?
My goal would be an activity we've never done before or something hands on, but open to any out of the box suggestions!
We live in Colonie, so anywhere within day-trip distance. Otherwise, anything other than dinner and a movie is great! Thanks!
We get the impression Jenn is in some competition with her manfriend to see who can come up with the best anniversary date, so obviously we want to help her win.
The specific dates make this a bit hard to pick things like classes, but we've come up with three ideas -- two easy day trips, and one class -- after the jump.
Have something in mind? Please share!
The clutch in my 2001 Corolla recently celebrated its 170k milestone and has decided that it's time to retire. I was wondering if any of your readers had a recommendation for a good transmission shop in the area. I'm located in Troy, so the closer the better, but I'll go wherever I need to for the right service with the right price.
First, Stephanie, let us congratulate you on getting your car to the 170k mark. And, second, let us offer our condolences for its clutch.Transmission repair/replacement can be an expensive job.
Got a suggestion for Stephanie? Please share.
Can you please tell me where I could find a local shop that sells Essential Oils?
But there are probably other options around the area, too.
So, have a suggestion for Kerry? Please share!
A. asks via Twitter:
Where can I find out what my check engine light is about, without paying through the nose?
This is a good thing to know because:
1) The check engine light can indicate a whole range of problems, some of them serious.
2) Sometimes the problem is a simple as the gas cap not being on tight enough. So if you can get someone to read the problem for a few bucks, you can fix the problem without spending a bunch of money.
Got a suggestion for A.? Please share!
Earlier on AOA: Capital Region Recommended Mechanics
After hearing about the 2 tornadoes that touched down this week and of course Irene, I was wondering if there were any local storm shelters available for use in a bad situation, especially an underground one for tornadoes? I live in 2nd floor apartment in a building with no basement, so if really bad storm were to come through my area I'd be in a bit of a dangerous situation.
With the storms getting worse each year (or so it would seem) I like having a plan in place even if I never need to use it!
Erin is on the right path here in being proactive about planning. With some types of storms -- like a hurricane/tropical storm -- there's usually some advance notice, often days. Other types -- like a tornado -- the notice could be just a few minutes. So knowing what to do ahead of time is important.
Here are a few guides on making a plan/emergency kit: ready.gov | New York State | Red Cross. And here are National Weather Service guides to thunderstorms, tornadoes, and lightning and how to take shelter in various types of buildings during a tornado. (In a building without a basement, it's get to the lowest floor and find a room in the middle of the building, preferably without windows.) Also: a NWS tornado FAQ.
Another resource: NY-Alert, where you can sign up for text alerts for stuff like tornado warnings.
Got local suggestions? Please share.
Earlier on AOA: Watch vs. warning
archive photo: NOAA Photo Library, NOAA Central Library; OAR/ERL/National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL)
My wife and I just had a baby and would love to dress the kid in all kinds of ridiculous outfits. However, they grow so dang fast that it just doesn't make sense to spend the cash on something new if they're only going to wear it once or twice. Do you or your readers know of any good consignment shops in the area specifically for kids clothing?
This isn't a shop exactly, but it's something Sean and his wife should definitely check out: the big Pass It On consignment sale for kids stuff, which if tradition holds, will be back in August. There are a handful of other similar sales throughout the year (see the comments on that post).
So, got a suggestion for Sean and his wife? Please share!
Yesterday's friendly almost-tornado helped loosen a hole in my home's foundation, which is now leaking. I wonder if you or the AOA community have any recommendations for people/companies that can do foundation repair work. Since it's work on the foundation, I'm more interested in the repairs being done correctly, rather than cheaply.
Whenever contractor-type questions come up here, Bennett often gets mentioned. But there are plenty of options out there, and we're curious if there are companies that specialize in fixing this sort of problem. (Basements/foundations seem like they could be hard problems to fix.)
So, got a suggestion for Jason? Please share.
A question for the AOA crowd: My husband and I are celebrating our 25th anniversary this summer, and are planning an outdoor party/picnic for early August. Saratoga State Park was our first choice location, but nothing suitable is available (our bad for waiting.) We are going to check out Grafton Lakes and Thatcher -- but what are some other options? It doesn't have to be a state park. We'd prefer within 30-45 minutes of Troy, with a pool (or swimming) and a field for other outdoor activities.
It sounds like Wendy is already focused on state parks or similar places -- and if you have a suggestion for one, great. But, as she said, it doesn't have to be one -- and we're also curious if there are maybe some alternatives. The pool might be a complicating factor.
Got a suggestion? Please share!
I'm trying to plan a bachelor party that is nutty or unexpected, but not crude. "Suggestive" is okay, but that's not my priority ... wackiness is. In the Capital Region in September. This has not been easy!
Groom is 36, a roller derby player and mild gun enthusiast ... but otherwise generally "button-down."
Got a suggestion for Matt? Please share.
Says Jona on Twitter:
it's official, I need to learn how to swim #swim. ... I know how to swim to save my life, but not compete. thanks!
There are two types of answers for a "swimming lessons for adults" question:
+ Lessons for basic swimming.
+ Lessons for people who already know how to swim a bit, but want to get better/faster for exercise or so they can compete in events like triathlons. (Sounds like what Jona's looking for.)
Either type of lesson can be hard to find if you're an adult. (Swimming lessons often seem to be geared toward kids.)
So... have a suggestion on either account? Please share!
Swimming season will be here soon.
Collins asks via Twitter:
Good Albany steak/filet recommendation? Other than Prime
The "other than Prime" part is a little like asking "What are some traditionally successful baseball teams -- other than the Yankees?" But it's good to get some suggestions beyond the places that get mentioned all the time.
And our quick take on steak: Considering steak is one of those things we don't order often, we tend to avoid filet. You know, if you're going to order a steak, order something with a lot of flavor -- a ribeye, hanger, something like that.
Got a suggestion? Please share.
Earlier on AOA: Ask AOA: The best burgers in the Capital Region? (2010)
Laura emails with a timely question:
Can anyone recommend a reliable, reasonable service for rototilling a vegetable garden plot?
If you know of a service, great. But even if you don't, maybe you have some alternate ideas that could help Laura get her garden plot in shape.
Got a suggestion? Please share!
Lucas emails with a specific outdoor dining/drinking question:
I'm looking for places in Albany where I can enjoy a beverage on a patio; however, because of the inconsistencies of the weather here, I'm looking for places in particular where the patios are covered. What places around town do you suggest?
This reminds us that we really need to update the outdoor dining map. (Like, really.) So your suggestions will help not only Lucas (and others), but also help us update the map.
Got a suggestion? Please share!
After running into a brunch predicament Sunday, Andrew emails:
Do you guys know where to get a good brunch and bloody Mary on a Sunday in Troy?
Just thinking about some of our go-to brunch spots now, we gotta admit that none of them were on the east side of the Hudson.
So, got a suggestion for Andrew? Please share!
Earlier on AOA: A boozy brunch spot? (2010)
Hi, I've only lived in the Albany area for a couple of years, so I'm not too familiar as to what screams "Albany"! But I need to know!
See, my husband (retired Army), myself and our daughter were based out of Ft. Hood TX, back in '07. While there, my husband and many others deployed. I was fortunate to have a small support group of other medic wives. Among them was a girl named Jay. Jay has a son named Max who is about the same age as my daughter (they were 3 back then). We spent 15 months supporting each other while our husbands were gone. Really she supported me, she was, and definitely is the strongest woman I've ever known.
This is why she is so strong.
It is also why I need to know what amazing Albany swag consists of?
Any suggestion would be greatly appreciated!
Here's the short story from that link: Samantha's friend's son, Max, has a brain tumor. He'd like to visit France, but as you might understand, that's difficult considering the circumstances. So friends of the family are trying to bring Max the world via mail -- postcards and other items.
So Samantha's looking for some fun and very-Albany items she could send Max.
Got a suggestion? Please share!
Our driveway is in need of some attention this spring, can you recommend a good sealcoat/paving co. in Albany?
At some point during the summer crews starting moving through neighborhoods, knocking on doors pitching driveway fixing/re-sealing. We gotta admit we're skeptical of the "hey, we just did your neighbor's driveway" pitch (maybe unfairly). So some solid suggestions could be a help to Gary and others.
Got someone you can recommend? Please share!
Andrew emails (emphasis added):
My fiancee is moving in with me this weekend and her parents will be meeting my parents for the first time. We're looking to go out to dinner somewhere nice, but noise level is a big concern. My mom is partially deaf so it's really hard for her to hear in a normal restaurant. Any suggestions?
So, this is a big dinner for Andrew and his fiancee.
Got a quiet spot to suggest? Please share!
Andrea asks via Twitter:
Thinking of a weekend in the Adirondacks for some relaxation and day hikes with the dog. Recs for trails or places to stay?
She's looking to stay overnight, but not outside. And she's also open to the Catskills.
Got a suggestion? Please share!
The Fuj asks via Twitter:
What's the best BYOB restaurant in the Capital Region?
We retweeted last night, and netted a few suggestions. They're after the jump. If you a good place in mind, please share!
(And if you have info about corkage fees, even better.)
Can you ask your readers where is a good place to find good top soil in the Troy, NY area.
You can get stuff like top soil, mulch, and gravel from a garden center or one of the big hardware stores, but you're usually going to be buying it by the bag. If you have a bigger project, often the best way is to have it delivered to your house -- it can be both cheaper and easier. The truck comes to you and dumps the dirt/mulch/gravel in a a big pile.
So, we'll extend Mike's question a little bit to include mulch, gravel, sand, rock, all that sort of stuff. Suggestions for either garden centers or delivery? Please share. Bonus points if you can provide details about price or ease of setting up delivery.
Making barely enough to pay the rent, and having no health insurance, I don't have any money to go to see a doctor about some health issues. Are there any cheap or low cost doctors or clinics for us working poor living in the Capital District? I would appreciate it if maybe somebody had some suggestion.
This is an important question. For Floyd, of course -- but there are roughly 60,000 people in the Albany metro area who don't have health insurance, according to Census Bureau estimates. And the large majority of those people are adults (often younger adults) in the workforce who don't get health coverage through their job and/or can't afford it.
Provisions of the Affordable Care Act (AKA, Obamacare) aim to address this issue by extending the eligibility of Medicaid and using a sliding scale based on income that caps insurance premiums. Those provisions don't kick in until 2014.
That doesn't help Floyd now. So we've gathered together a few resources after the jump. We're hoping that you'll also have some suggestions and ideas, because this topic is complicated -- too complicated -- and it's important.
So, have some insight? Please share.
Tom (and Josh) ask via Twitter:
Anyone know of a place to play pinball in the capital region?
Keepin' it simple.
Got a favorite spot (or just any spot)? Please share!
I am looking for a restaurant to throw a 60th birthday party for my mother this August. I would like a nicer place that can either do a sit down dinner or cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. It would need to be a private space that could accommodate between 20-40 people on preferably a Saturday night. I would appreciate any suggestions or leads you might have on a place.
We are looking for Albany/Latham area and are open to any cuisine.
Got a suggestion for Brianna? Please share.
[M]ight you know of photo booths in the capital district? I'm not looking for a rental but an honest to goodness take my quarters (or dollars) and snap my photo photo booth.
Any hints would be welcome.
I think there's on in the theater in Crossgates & maybe Colonie Mall but I'm wondering about others?
We're pretty sure we've seen them at the malls, but we can't think of other places. Have a suggestion for Jayme? Please share!
(And be sure to say hello to Nino Quincampoix.)
still from Amelie - France 3 Cinéma, Canal+
We are looking to make the most of our house and would like to fully use the finished basement. In order to do so, we need to add an egress. Has anyone had this done recently, and if so, any recommendations on who to use?
Basically, an egress is a way to get out the basement in case of a fire. It's often a code requirement, especially if there's a bedroom.
So, have you done something like this? Is this a general contractor job, or does Zach need to find someone who specializes in doors/windows/basements? Please share.
I'm interested in the best place to get corned beef and cabbage in the Capital District - preferably in or close to Schenectady would be a bonus since that's where I live.
Also - somewhere where one can eat corned beef and cabbage without having to deal with people who have been drinking green beer since the early A.M.
There are a more than a few options this time of year. So if you have a favorite, please share!
By the way: St. Patrick's Day or not, cabbage is very New York State.
Ed asks via Twitter:
Where is the best place to buy men's dress shoes in the Capital Region? Shoes are just too personal to buy online.
As with any question like this, you earn bonus points* for explaining makes a place good.
So, got a suggestion for Ed and the other dress shoe-shopping gentlemen of the Capital Region? Please share!
Sujatha emails (link added):
Looking for a good dosa maker for parties. This is a service springing up in many high-density Indian communities (esp NJ/NYC areas). Professional makers of the south indian thin-crispy potato filled pancake called dosas bring their several large griddles to your cookout and make them individually for guests. It's quite popular (esp at graduation parties, engagement/pre-wedding parties). Wondering if there is anyone w any such experience in the capital district.
I am hesitant to just walk into local Indian restaurants & inquire; I predict owners will respond enthusiastically that they can do this despite no experience with large parties or equipment (travel-friendly large griddles are required) and disaster will ensue.
Sujatha acknowledged this might be a long shot. But you never know -- all it takes is one person with an answer.
Also: A dosa party sounds like a lot of fun. We'd very much like this to be possible here.
So, got a suggestion -- even just a place to start looking or asking? Please share!
My wife is pregnant (yay!). We both love our jobs and plan on continuing to work after the baby is born. However, we don't know anyone in the area with young kids that could recommend a reputable daycare near where we work (Latham). The commute is from Albany, so anywhere between Albany and Latham would be right in our wheelhouse. Any daycare recommendations?
This question has come up before, but it was more than two years ago -- and focused on Saratoga County.
So, got a suggestion for Sean and his wife? Please share!
Does anyone know of any good Open Mic's in the Capital District?
A lot of stuff goes into a good open mic: venue, organizer, who shows up -- both performers and crowd.
So, got a suggestion for Terrence? Please share!
Over the last few years I've been getting recurring migraines. My primary care doctor gave me some basic advice (stay away from red wine, for example), but that hasn't really helped. Can anyone recommend a good neurologist, or other type of doctor, in the Albany area for migraines or headaches?
Got a suggestion for Anonymous? Please share.
Every year I search for fun awesome New Years Eve events and every year I wind up bored! Any suggestions on a fun night out for 20 somethings? Thanks!
And Mindy asks via Twitter:
Are there any good countdown-to-midnight parties going on around here for New Year's, since First Night won't have one?
Update: The Saratoga First Night fireworks are back on. [Saratogian]
As he does every year, Steve has been collecting New Year's Eve specials. And if you know of some good parties/events -- please share!
Here's the thing, though: the promise of New Year's Eve out somewhere often does not live up to the expectation. In our experience, the best times have been getting together with some friends for good food and drinks. And it's easy to put together a nice selection of stuff. A few stops at places like the Cheese Traveler, the co-op, the TJ's frozen section, Cheesecake Machismo -- and you can have quite the feast of party food. Have everyone bring a bottle of something, and you're good to go.
Jen asks via email:
I'm a fairly new transplant to the Albany area and am looking for a primary care doctor. Can your readers recommend a smart, compassionate, preferably female doctor in the Albany or Troy area?
We've had a similar question before, but it came up more than 2.5 years ago. Things change. And Jen's preference narrows the field a bit. (Also: we heard from Jen that she called a few of the doctors from that old post and they weren't taking new patients.)
So, have a suggestion for Jen? Please share! And, as always, bonus points for explaining why you like that doctor.
Eric asks via Twitter:
Any suggestions for local holiday charities with high ratio of money donated/good deeds performed? Esp. food or kid-related?
We're guessing you have suggestions for Eric. Please share! We're looking forward to them.
This is my first winter as a golfer in the northeast. I know all of the golf courses are shut down for the season, but are there any driving ranges anyone can recommend that are amicable to the elements and allow me to work on refining my game?
Got a suggestion for Lucas? Maybe one those indoor virtual golf places? Please share.
A place for indoor family photos?
Hello, maybe your readers can help me out. I'm looking for an indoor space (within a 20 min radius of Albany) to take photographs of my family. In warmer weather, we like to go to The Crossings, Pruyn House, etc. but with those places won't work!! An indoor setting, with plenty of natural light would be ideal. Thank you so much!!
There can be a few snags for taking photos in such an indoor location: the light, as Laura mentions, but also in some cases there's also the issue of permission.
So, got a suggestion for Laura? Please share!
Colleen asks via Twitter:
I just moved to Albany. Other than the park lights and skating, what are your favorite Albany holiday traditions?
So, got some local holiday traditions you'd like to suggest to Colleen? Please share! You can help her feel more at home in her new town.
This weekend is [our] anniversary and I know I don't take [my girlfriend] out enough. I'm looking for a pretty fancy schmancy place and any suggestions for a nice dessert or drinks place afterwards would be great too. I prefer places with easy parking because I hate on-street parking, but if not oh well. Just looking to make this a really special night for her.
Got some suggestions for how Anon can show his ladyfriend a good time for their anniversary? Please share!
photo: Flickr user _FXR
Two Christmas tree questions, the first from Jennifer:
For years my husband and I bought a Christmas Tree in Lincoln Park (near the corner of Delaware and Morton Avenues). The Christmas Tree sales supported the Albany Little League or Boy Scouts. Last year they were gone so I am wondering what happened to them? It was always a good operation with nice people for a good cause. Can you recommend any other local places for Christmas Trees?
And the second from Sarah:
I was wondering if anyone knows of any Christmas tree farms in the area that are pesticide-free.
Last week we posted an updated listing for places to cut your own Christmas tree this year. But for people not up for taking the saw into their own hands, any suggestions for where to buy? And, for Sarah, know of any pesticide-free trees places?
I have a house with a fireplace, but I'm not a lumberjack and we don't back-up to any forests. I wince at the sight of $5 for 3 twigs of firewood being sold at local grocery stores. Does anyone know where I could buy decent firewood in bulk and have it delivered for a reasonable price?
Sean's not a lumberjack and he's OK. So, got a suggestion for him? Please share!
I'm desperately looking for a Puppy Kindergarten class. I've been searching the "internets" and found a couple of places, but I was hoping that maybe AOA might be able to assist and ask about good, quality puppy classes? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Here's the thing about puppies: yep, they're cute and fun, but if you're doing it the right way, they're also a lot of work -- training, socializing, no-don't-eat-that!-ing. But it's worth it. Because all that effort in the beginning pays off as they get older. A trained, well-socialized puppy usually results in a well-mannered, calm adult dog.
So, got a suggestion for Zach and his pup? Please share! And a little bit of explanation/detail about your suggestion is always appreciated.
Earlier on AOA: Ask AOA: A good veterinarian for dogs?
I usually get my tires online but picking them up at the UPS facility in Latham is a pain and I'm happy to spend a few extra dollars to support local businesses. Any suggestions for good local tire shops? Selection and customer service are a plus, but evening/weekend hours are the dealbreaker since I have a 9-5 and dropoff/pickup is extremely inconvenient. Proximity to Albany proper a plus.
Got a suggestion for B? Please share! And, as always, bonus points for a little bit of explanation for why you're suggesting the place.
While we're on the subject: A lot of people are probably thinking about snow tires right now, so if you have a suggestion about where to buy them / get them put back on -- this is a good thread for it.
We built a house and need a lot of painting done and you were the first place I went to for painter recommendations. You had a post about general contractors, but nothing about painters. Could you post a request for good interior painters?
Know of a good paint to suggest to Amy? Please share! And please explain a little bit about why that person is good -- attention to detail, fair price, whatever.
When looking for events and things to do in downtown Albany, its been hard to if there are any nightclubs that are 18+ instead of 21+. being a college student and new to the region, I was wondering if you guys knew of any 18+ clubs in downtown albany?
We suspect there might not be a lot of options. But maybe you have a good suggestion for Chris -- even if it's not downtown Albany. If so, please share!
Earlier on AOA: Ask AOA: Where to shake it?
Jennifer asks via Facebook:
Can you guys recommend clothing stores in the area that aren't part of big national chains? I'm trying to shop local as much as possible these days, and that seems especially hard to do with clothes.
There are options -- places such as downtown Troy and downtown Saratoga include a handful of local clothing stores.
So, any suggestions for Jennifer about which shops to hit up? Or maybe tips about how to shop local stores for clothes?
I'd love to do a couples cooking class but don't know who might offer classes, and especially for couples? Let me know if you or your readers have any tips!
There are a lot of cooking classes around the Capital Region -- more than you can shake a whisk at. We haven't noticed any recently that were couples classes, per se -- but maybe some could work that way.
Also: places that offer cooking classes -- hey, maybe this is an idea for you.
So... got a suggestion for Anonymous? Please share!
Earlier on AOA: A sampling of cooking classes, fall 2012
Debbie asks via Twitter:
I'm new to the area and need a salon that does awesome platinum blonde. I'm nervous. Help?
Understandably nervous -- taking a hair color to one extreme or the other can go... very wrong.
So, got a suggestion for Debbie? Maybe any local salon experiences involving extreme hair color -- whether it's platinum blond or Run Lola Run red or whatever. Please share!
I am new to the Capital Region and I was looking for Women's Club Hockey in the area. ... And if not Women's Club are there intramural teams, Men's Leagues or Club, drop in games, or beer leagues?
Know some games for which Samantha can lace up her skates? Please share!
Earlier on AOA: Indoor sports leagues (2011)
I love to dance. And it seems the dance options are limited in Albany... unless I play juke boxes and dance by myself in the middle of a local dive bar (which I have done many, many times). But really, the only places I'm aware of are Waterworks/Rocks (sometimes), the Fuze Box which plays 80's music (not my thing) and the college scene on Pearl Street...
So I'm hoping that you guys can shed some light on where a, ahem, late 20 something girl could go to get her groove on with people at least close to her age?... I'll take hip hop, techno, dup step or whatever else the kids are listening to these days, I just wanna shake it!
I guess I'm thinking of something for adults. Places in NY and DC that are lounge-ish with a dance floor in the back to accommodate those that wanna get off the couch and shake it for a bit. I suppose I also mean a place where single adults can go in groups or alone and dance with other single adults. I sense I'm looking for something in Albany that may not exist. The best I can come up with is a college hole in the wall or those horrendous parties at the armory. Also for college kids as it turns out.
Got a suggestion for VA? Please share!
Katie asks via Twitter:
Any recommendations on good, honest, and reliable used car or new car dealerships in the capital region?
There are (at least) two parts to buying a car: the actual car (Is it an OK car for the price?) and the experience of buying it (Lots of pressure? Are they helpful?).
So, any suggestions for Katie -- about where to go in the Capital Region, or even just tips on what to look for?
If you have a suggestion for a specific place, please include why you like that place.
Ken asks via Twitter:
Hey AOA, are there any modern furniture stores in the capital region? I mean modern, like DWR, or MOMA design store quality.
We suspect the answer to this question is "no."
But maybe you know of something -- or, at least, a place that tends to carry stuff that's a bit more modern. (It seems like almost every furniture store in this area carries the same five couch (or whatever) designs -- many of them apparently circa 1995.) Or, failing that -- strategies for getting modern furniture from some out-of-town place.
Have a suggestion for Ken? Please share!
Earlier on AOA: Which way to IKEA?
I have three small pieces of furniture that I am looking to have refinished. I have not lived in the Capital Region that long and don't know where to start looking for some place in the local area that comes recommended. ... Perhaps your readers might be able to recommend someone they have used in the past. One of the pieces also needs to be reupholstered eventually too...so any recommendations for reupholsters would be great too!
We had a re-upholstering question about a year ago -- and there were a few suggestions then. But this is the first time someone's asked about re-finishing.
So, have a suggestion for either one (or both) of Heidi's questions? Please share! (With details about why the place is good!)
Thinking ahead, Valerie asks via Twitter:
Have you guys done a piece on snow removal services on Ask AOA? I'd love to contract someone for the winter.
I'm actually wondering if anyone does a pay-upfront service where they come as much or as little for a single, flat rate.
This is probably a good time to start getting something like this lined up. Because if you wait until it snows (which, let's face it, could be next week), it will probably be a lot harder.
So, have a snow removal service suggestion for Valerie? Please share! And please include details about the arrangement, if you can -- you know, ballpark price, flat fee, per-visit, whatever.
Mindy asks via Twitter:
Can anyone recommend a good place to get a wedding dress (and veil? and shoes?) preserved?
We've seen a handful of places advertise this service... but it's an important item, so we can see how you wouldn't want to take it just any place.
So, anyone have a suggestion for Mindy? Please share!
Looking ahead to winter, Kara emails:
Is there a place in the Capital District where one can visit a steam room? There was an unfortunate leak in my building that requires the 24/7 running of a de-humidifier. It is helpful in drying the water in the walls, but it also has resulted in early onset dry winter skin. I shudder at the idea of the long cold months ahead where this is a constant battle. I can't help but to think how great it would be to have some epidermal therapy in a steam room if there is such a place one could visit from time to time...
Got a suggestion for Kara? Please share!
Anonymous Soon-to-Be Father emails:
My wife and I just found out that she was pregnant. So recent, in fact, that it's too soon to tell our friends + family (shh!). We were hoping some of your readers could help us find a reputable doctor to catch our first baby. We're not daring enough for a home-birth and we like the idea of avoiding c-sections as much as possible.
Doula recommendations are also welcome! We're probably [not looking for] midwives, under the assumption that their services are more geared towards home-births. However, I've heard of midwives that will operate (no pun intended) out of hospitals sometimes...
In any event, we're looking to have the baby in a hospital (including or between Albany + Schenectady), have someone more knowledgeable than I in the room with us, and continue down the road toward natural child-birth (avoiding c-section) as long as possible.
Congrats! And important question! Maybe everyone can help Soon-to-Be Father and his wife sort out some of the local options.
Got a suggestion, or just a tip on how to go about finding the right provider? Please share! And please explain why you like that person, or why you chose that option.
I'm fighting the good fight here, raging against the end of summer... I'm not a country club / yacht club member locally, but I'm wondering where a recovering small boat sailor might be able to rent a Sunfish or a Laser to get an end of summer sailing fix? Bonus points given for smaller lakes.
Got a suggestion for Greg? Please share!
With growing kids -- with growing feet -- Amarit emails:
I recently learned that Junior Shoe Port is closing their Albany and Latham locations, meaning that the only Capital Region children's shoe store is in Clifton Park. For those of us in Albany, that's quite a hike to get shoes for our kids, especially since they don't all grow at the same rate or need shoes at the same time. ... I know it seems minor, but as a parent of three kids with weird feet (and not all the same kinds of weird), I need a place with knowledgable sales people who can properly fit my kid for shoes. Ordering online for them is very challenging. Since learning about this closing earlier today from an equally dismayed friend, a number of other parents have expressed their concerns as well.
The Times Union reported recently that, in addition to the Stuyvesant Plaza store closing, the Clifton Park Stride Rite is also headed for closure. So there will be even fewer options.
Got any ideas for Amarit and her kids? Please share!
New parents S and J reached out to us looking for some suggestions on finding childcare. They're having a tough time getting into their daycare programs of choice, so they're looking for a nanny. Eventually they may also be needing sitters. So...
How do you find a nanny -- or baby sitter -- in the Capital Region?
They'd welcome specific names (of course), but also suggestions about where to look.
Got a suggestion? Please share!
I'm turning 30 in a month! I want to do something special with my friends but throwing a party is too much stress and I'm not a drinker (there goes the Albany birthday tour de alcohol). Can you ask the AOA crowd for creative ways they've celebrated their special days? Thanks!
Got a suggestion for Chrissy? Please share! You only turn 30 once. (Actually, now that we think about it, we know some people who have turned 30 a few times.)
Earlier on AOA: Capital Region birthday freebies (2009)
Looking for something to read, Dianne asks via Twitter:
Best used bookstores in the capital region?
Got a suggestion? Please share!
And if you do have a place to suggest, please explain why it's worth a stop -- wide selection, interesting finds, cheap prices, good trade-in policy, whatever.
I want to paddleboard! Where can i do it in the capital region?
Here's a little more about paddleboarding -- as the name implies, it basically involves standing on something like a surfboard and paddling. We get impression it's become more popular over the last few years.
Got a suggestion for Elisabeth? Please share!
Valerie asks via Twitter:
I have a few projects I need help with. Removal/replacement of deck, shoring up a porch, basement windows, kitchen counters. Also maybe wood window restoration and an indoor painter who can deal with removing lots and lots of nightmarish wallpaper.
If anyone is or knows a good general contractor please share. PLEASE.
This is a question that comes up all the time. And it's definitely worth asking around for referrals and talking with people about their experiences. A lot of contractors do a good job, but there are definitely some out there to avoid.
So, anyone have suggestions for Valerie? Please share!
Jennifer asks via Twitter:
Help! What gift does one get for a bar mitzvah?
Sometimes the gifts for celebrations like this -- weddings, graduations, confirmations -- can vary by what part of the country you're in. For example: at a lot of weddings in the Midwest, people show up with presents (blenders, toasters, and so on). On the East Coast, the go-to gift is usually money. (And at Midwest/East Coast weddings, worlds collide! Thank goodness there's cake.)
So, what's an appropriate gift for a bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah in the Capital Region? Please share! And if money is a typical gift, please include a range. (It can be hard to guess these things.)
Do you or your readers know any place in the Capital Region to get a real old fashioned egg cream? I have a co-worker with a birthday coming up and I'd love to treat her. She grew up with Brooklyn egg creams.
For those who have yet to enjoy an egg cream, it's a drink made from chocolate syrup, milk, and seltzer water. (Yeah, it sounds a little weird, but it works. And there's no egg in it.)
We've had egg creams at Emack & Bolio's in Albany -- the "Albany Egg Cream" -- and they're pretty good there. We suspect there are other places you can get them, too.
Got an egg cream suggestion for Lissa and her friend? Please share!
photo: Jason Perlow via Wikipedia
With Euro 2012 going on now and the Olympics just around the corner, there's plenty of great soccer (football?) in our midst. All of the excitement has made me want to get outside and join up with a semi-competitive league or even just play some pick-up soccer. However, I can't seem to find ANY information about either. A reader asked a similar question back in 2009, but I'm sure a lot has changed and there's more updated info out there. Any tips? I'd prefer to play outdoors (i.e. not @ Afrim's) somewhere near Albany.
Know of an adult soccer league for Sean (or anyone) to play the beautiful game? Please share!
Perhaps while enjoying a drink on his deck, Ewan emails (link added):
We just finished a deck, which is giving huge enjoyment. What it needs to be complete, though, is a really good Adirondack chair. I'd like to find one made locally, ideally by a craftsperson; ideally from ipe but I could live with other woods (not pine or cedar!). Anyone have suggestions? Thanks!
Got a suggestion for Ewan? Please share!
Terence asks via Twitter:
Any reader suggestions for a local destination to look for (not buy) fossils? My son is dying to find a fossil this weekend.
Old quarries, road cuts, and natural cliffs are often good places to find fossils (you'll need to get permission in some cases). [State Museum]
Got a suggestion for Terence and his son? Please share!
My father is trying to throw my fiance and I an engagement party, wedding is next year so we have time, and we're looking at Oct. So with the weather being uncertain we're trying to find a venue in Troy or nearby where we might rent a room or have it catered for less than a million bucks! Was hoping you could do one of your posts where you ask people for help? Any help is greatly appreciated.
For less than a million bucks, we're guessing Will has some options.
Got a suggestion? Please share! Bonus points for a few details about why the place could work.
Ned asks via Twitter:
Do you have any idea where I could find vintage (and whimsical) cuff links in Albany? I like to hold things before buying.
Our first guess: estate sales -- or vintage shops that collect from them.
Got a suggestion for Ned? Please share!
Albany cuff links: While poking around for this post, we came across this listing for city of Albany flag cuff links on eBay (photo on the right). They're listed by seller family-crests out of the UK. The price: about US $15.37.
photo: eBay listing "Albany Flag Mens Gift Cufflinks US USA New York"
Having successfully submitted his property tax assessment grievance with your help, Sean is back for more:
My wife and I just moved, but the one item that we couldn't manage was our piano. We're not related to any football players or bodybuilders, and there are more than one flight of stairs to contend with, so none of our moving posse felt comfortable taking on this challenge. So, that leaves us searching for an alternative solution. Do you or your readers have any tips for not only getting this thing out of our former residence, but into our new one as well?
Are there still piano moving services? Or any advice for Sean (aside from lift with your legs)?
photo: Flickr user
As a new homeowner, I've been hearing rumors about a certain day / week in May where folks can go downtown and challenge their property tax amount. Would the editors or other AOA readers have any knowledge about this upcoming event, any tips for when to go (I imagine it's a zoo...) and what to come prepared with for the best possible outcome (i.e. lower taxes!)?
We're guessing the day Sean is referring to is Grievance Day, typically the fourth Tuesday of May in cities and towns in New York State (May 22 this year). You can submit the forms necessary to "grieve" the assessment of your home before that day (probably the best course). The day in question is when it's possible to make an oral argument before the board of assessment review, if you decide to do so.
OK, so let's use the city of Albany as an example. It recently posted the official notice that's it's completed its tentative assessment roll for property tax purposes. The assessment information is online -- it's as simple to look up as plugging in your address. From the city's website:
Complaint forms and a publication containing procedures for contesting an assessment are available at the Office of Assessment & Taxation Room 302 in City Hall. It is a prerequisite to review an assessment that the official complaint forms be used and that said forms be filed with the undersigned or the Board of Assessment Review on or before May 22nd, 2012.
The board of assessment review will be hearing grievances May 22 from 9 am-1 pm and 6-8 pm in city hall.
Of course, some details will vary from one municipality to another. Here's a NYS website with info on how to contest your assessment.
So... Have you ever contested an assessment? If so, got any tips or advice for Sean? Please share!
photo: Flickr user woodleywonderworks
My birthday is coming up at the end of the month and what better way to celebrate than to skydive on my birthday?! Know of any good places around here that offer skydiving at a reasonable price?
Know of a good place for Veronica to take the leap? Please share!
photo: Flickr user flawedartist
Graham asks via Twitter:
I'm looking to find a good place in the capital district to get a sports massage... maybe a slight preference to the east side of the Hudson (Troy, Greenbushes)
We were curious what separates sports massage from non-sports massage -- it appears it just means there's a specific emphasis on improving athletic performance and injury rehab.
Got a suggestion for Graham? Please share!
photo: Flickr user alaina.buzas
[A]re there any bars or restaurants around here doing anything special for the Kentucky Derby this weekend? I haven't really heard anything and can't find anything out there already.
The derby is this Saturday. We'll adjust Nick's question a bit to cover local places that are generally good for watching the Kentucky Derby -- because of atmosphere, drinks, the crowd, whatever.
Bonus question: mint juleps: Hollie asked on Twitter for a good place to get a mint julep. Daniel B said Hattie's or dp -- suggestions with which we concur. Dominick Purnomo responded: "We make our juleps with spearmint, Blanton's Bourbon, CRUSHED Ice & serve in silver julep cups." Sounds like a plan.
Got a suggestion for Nick and/or Hollie? Please share!
photo: Flickr user boboroshi
Joey asks via Twitter:
I'm searching for some good happy hour specials. So hard to find. Perhaps a post on local places w/happy hour specials?
A similar topic, Albany-specific, came up about a year and a half ago. We're curious any good happy hour spot around the Capital Region.
Got a suggestion for Joey and other thirsty people? Please share!
photo: Flickr user Dana Moos
An Indian friend of mine is getting married downstate in a month, and I've procrastinated on buying my outfit. She's asked me to wear a lehenga (lenga, lengha) - essentially a long skirt, a top, and a scarf/wrap. There are some fun and/or gorgeous looking things available online from India, but two other women in the wedding had bad experiences with that. I can sew, but I'm at the top of their size spectrum, and don't want to be stuck without enough fabric.
When this friend was in Albany last Saturday, we found www.albanyfashions.com - but there was no answer by phone, and no answer at the address, which turned out to be an apartment in a large complex.
I'm wondering if your readers might have an insight - is there anywhere in the Albany area that I can shop for an affordable (under $200) version of this outfit, before I head to NYC or Edison, NJ?
Michelle acknowledged in her email this could be a tough question. It was our first thought, too. But we're pleasantly surprised how often an answer surfaces for what seems like a difficult question.
So, anyone have a suggestion for Michelle? Please share!
I am looking for a media consultant. Someone to help our organization here in Albany with about 60 employees, with website redesign, and social media: facebook, twitter, etc. etc. We just don't l have the time to do it ourselves. Any leads on good local people?
There are a lot of people pitching this sort of service these days. We're not convinced all of them actually know what they're doing.
So, know of a local consultant or agency that would be good for a small or medium sized business? Please share.
Update: If you mention your own company or agency, please clearly state that you're affiliated with that organization.
Melissa asks via Twitter:
In serious need of good lunch take-out suggestions in Rensselaer/East Greenbush. I was spoiled working down the street from the Iron Gate [in Albany]! I'd love a place with soups and salads and interesting sandwiches.
We are reasonably certain people in East Greenbush eat lunch. So there have to be at least few spots Melissa should try.
Got a suggestion? Please share!
Laura asks via Twitter:
Any ideas on where to search for a roommate other than Craigslist? Coming up blank for 1st time.
We can understand understand not wanting to dip into the Craigslist pool (really). But it's pretty much become the place for this sort of thing.
So, other ideas for Laura? Please share!
Earlier on AOA: Short term housing rentals?
photo: Flickr user Menage a Moi
Watching the grass grow, Dave emails:
With all the nice weather I now have to mow my lawn far too early this year and my lawn mower won't start! Any recommendations for a shop that fixes a small engine in the capital region??
Upside: Dave won't have to mow the grass during this early spring until the mower's fixed. Downside: the grass will keep growing in the interim.
Got a suggestion for Dave? Please share!
Earlier on AOA: A place that fixes small appliances?
photo: Flickr user aperature_lag (Andrew Butitta)
In the market for a house, Kelly emails:
My husband and I are hoping to buy a house in Albany this summer. We are looking for recommendations for a good real estate agent, particularly one who specializes in working with first-time home buyers. I'm hoping AOA's readers can help us out. Thanks for your consideration.
There are a lot of real estate agents out there. And from our experience, some are definitely better than others.
So, know of a good agent? Please share! And if you do, please include why you like that agent.
Matthew just gets right to it on a very important topic, via Twitter:
Best tacos in Albany?
A recently as just a few years ago, there wasn't much competition. But the taco scene (if that's the word) in the Capital Region has expanded.
So, what's your favorite? (And don't be constrained just by places that are taquerias or Mexican.) Please share!
Perhaps feeling left out during last week's discussion about good lunch spots in Troy, Rebecca asked in the comments:
[B]eing that this isn't "All Over Troy" I think it's only fair and right that AOA rebuts with "good places for lunch in downtown ALBANY"!!
Our lunch time experiences in downtown Albany have included an unfortunate number of misses. But we're guessing people who work there all the time have the scoop.
So, what are the good lunch spots in downtown Albany? Please share!
On his way out, Will emails:
I am selling my house and I will soon be without a place to live. I will be leaving the capital district in 5 months or so, so until then I'm looking for a decent place with a month to month lease. Can the readers offer any suggestions?
The Capital Region doesn't appear to have a thriving sublet market -- but it seems like there should be something out there for this type of situation.
Got a suggestion for Will? Please share!
photo: Flickr user Menage a Moi
I always read the ask aoa articles and just bought a home with an in ground pool. I know nothing about pools, could you recommend someone local for service? I'm in Albany if that helps.
Or, if not a pool service, maybe a place where he can get some help learning about the stuff that needs to be taken care of.
Got a suggestion of Alex? Please share!
I am looking for a hard scape company that can terrace a hill for my parents. Any good leads on people that do that?
Any suggestions for Jim and his parents? Please share!
photo: Flickr user sleepyneko
Jay asks via Facebook:
Hey AOA. Do you guys have any tips for eating lunch in downtown Troy?
Troy has been described as "some kind of lunch time mecca" -- and with good reason. You're certainly not lacking for choices.
So, what's your favorite spot? Or maybe a tip about some place that more people should know about? Please share!
I am looking for a good venue to hold a memorial service that is not a funeral home or a church. I have already contacted the West Albany Fire House, but they are booked on the preferred day for the service. Got any advice?
With the early spring, an outdoor spot could be nice.
Have a suggestion for Jules? Please share.
photo: Flickr user bsabarnowl
I am looking for someone to repair old windows (weight and pulley, 1920s type.) I know this is a good "do it yourself"-er, but I am not at all handy. Anyone out there have a recommendation?
There are a lot of houses/apartments in this area that still have these types of windows. And, speaking from experience, when they get stuck or broken, it is frustrating.
Got a suggestion for Maisie? Please share!
A Loyal Reader emails:
I need to have a medical procedure done and can't drive myself so I want to take a cab. Every single cab company in Albany has terrible reviews. Any idea which one will show up on time? I'm going from downtown Albany to Latham.
We hope there's an answer for LR -- but we have to admit we've never heard a "I had a great cab experience" story in the Capital Region. Usually, it's just the opposite.
Got a suggestion? Please share!
photo: Flickr user Ben Fredericson (xjrlokix)
Mike emails with an unusual question:
Is there a good place in the area to have car window tint *removed*? I bought a car with tinted windows a few months ago from someone in Brooklyn. I was recently informed on the side of the Northway by a friendly State Trooper that the tint is much darker than the law allows. I never particularly liked it, anyway, but I'm not sure either a) how to remove it myself or b) where in the area is a good place to have it removed.
Suggestions on either would be appreciated.
We're guessing this is a fact that Mike would have rather not learned first hand. And we do hope he can avoid any more roadside discussions with the State Police.
So, have a suggestion for Mike? Please share!
photo: Flickr user dno1967b
Jen (@JenIsGreen) asked via Twitter:
Any albany peeps know of a nice (and affordable) place to get a pedicure?
Got a suggestion for Jen (and her toes)? Please share!
photo: Flickr user jenniferlstoddart
Kaitlin asks via Twitter:
I am in need of good auto body places in Albany. ... I just need to get my bumper repaired/replaced, rather than something mechanical, I suppose?
Got a suggestion for Kaitlin? Please share!
By the way: Here's our Capital Region Recommended Auto Mechanics list, if you haven't seen it before.
Asking for a friend, Katherine emails:
A friend of mine is in dire need of churros but we don't know where to find any. Can you please help?
Oh, sure -- a "friend" is in dire need of churros. Well, we also have a "friend" who enjoys eating churros dipped in chocolate sauce (really the only way churros should be eaten).
Got a suggestion for Katherine's friend? Please share!
photo: Flicker user Sirsnapsalot
Doug asks on Twitter:
I need the best hardwood floor installer in the 518.
We'll expand Doug's question a little bit to include hardwood floor refinishing -- often companies do both installation and refinishing.
Got a suggestion? Please share!
Just wondering if you could ask readers if they have any suggestions for tax preparers/accountants who are familiar with small businesses/sole proprietors? Thanks!
We've had a question before about accountants, but that was for personal taxes. Things can get a bit more (or a lot) more complicated when you have a small business.
Got a suggestion for Rebecca? Please share!
photo: Edinburgh City of Print (Flickr user edinburghcityofprint)
Eric asks via Facebook:
Is there any place around to take candy making lessons? I'd like to learn how to make a proper fudge, or Opera Cream.
Got a suggestion for Eric? Share, please!
Earlier on AOA: A sampling of cooking classes
photo: Flickr user Chocolate Reviews
With what sounds like quite a trip ahead of her, Wendy emails:
We are planning a family vacation later this year that will include one-way plane trips and one-way car rentals. I've started poking around on the various travel planning sites, but I'm wonder if the brilliant and resourceful readers of AOA have suggestions for either a good travel agent, or for a site that has worked especially well for them. (The trip is Albany-San Diego-Phoenix-Albany).
Having planned a trip like that a few times, lining up everything up -- and checking prices against each other -- can take a while. We're curious if a travel agent could score Wendy a deal and save her some work.
So, got a suggestion for Wendy? Please share!
photo: Flickr user irishflyguy
Looking to green her thumb, Julie emails:
Do you guys know where I can get the scoop on some vegetable gardening classes?
A few ideas that occurred to us: Capital District Community Gardens has offered classes in the past. And we've also seen classes listed from the local branches of the Cornell Cooperative Extension. But we haven't seen specific classes listed for this year, yet.
Got a suggestion for Julie? Please share!
I'm wondering if there are any locally made beauty products, specifically moisturizers and/or chapsticks, that you know of? I they exist, I'd like to give them as gifts to some people coming in from out of town.
The first thing that springs to mind is the moisturizer made by Saratoga's Menges & Curtis. But we suspect there are at least a few others.
Know of any locally-made products that can help Deirdre's guests stay moisturized? Please share!
Frustrated, Andy asks via Twitter:
So @alloveralbany as I watch my Hulu stutter and stop, I wonder if you all know how to escape TWCs Internet hegemony... :)
For a while there, it looked like Verizon FiOS might provide some competition. But the roll out of the fiber service beyond a few spots in this area seems to have slowed to a halt.
Any ideas for Andy?
Nick is heading to lunch in the Spa City and asked via Twitter
"What's the best lunch spot in Saratoga?"
There's a lot to choose from, depending on what kind of food/atmosphere you're looking for, but Nick's request immediately set off our craving for an Esperanto doughboy. Ravenous is also a good stop for crepes and pomme frites.
Got another favorite Saratoga lunch spot? Help Nick out.
Aaron (@WashUffize) asks via Twitter:
Recommendations on where near Albany to get good tortillas, preferably corn and/or "home made"?
The unfortunate fact is that most of us are accustomed to not-fresh -- or just plain bad -- tortillas. The good ones are worth seeking out.
So, got a suggestion for Aaron? Please share!
photo: Flickr user cbertel
My husband and I are getting ready to move and need some small handyperson type jobs done around the house like fixing a small hole in the detached garage roof, putting some trim on our laminate floors (a DIY project which got waylaid), and small painting projects.
Know of a good handyperson or contractor who might be able to help Gretchen and her husband? Please share!
Looking for something different this Valentine's Day, Katie asks via Twitter:
Any suggestions of nice places to go (other than the obvious Jacks, 677, Brown Derby, Yonos) in Albany for Valentines Day?
AOA: Are you looking for someplace out of the way -- or just sort of off the radar?
Off the radar I guess... don't want to fight for parking & don't want to pay $30 an entree. That possible? :)
A burger and a milkshake can be fun and/or romantic if you're with the right person.
So, suggestions for Katie? Please share!
Earlier on AOA: Local Valentine's Day gifts?
photo: Flickr user _FXR
With Valentine's Day a week away, a secret valentine asks:
What's a good local Valentine's Day gift? I'd like to stay away from the typical chocolate and flowers, but if I could find an interesting twist on those, that would be great too.
So, we get to play cupid. Our favorite romantic gift is time -- so one of the first things we thought of is a skating trip to the Empire Plaza rink -- which is fun and free. As an alternative to candy and flowers, candy apples from Sticky Fingersmight be fun. Or anything from Crisan.
How about it AOA romantics? Can you help a valentine out?
Jessica asked via Twitter:
Where can I get a good, non-grocery store birthday cake? Bakery in Renss has let me down for the last time.
But there are many places to get a birthday cake in the Capital Region. Got a favorite? Please share!
Earlier on AOA: A good local bakery for cookies?
photo: Flickr user Will Clayton
I've been tasked with planning a bridal shower for my friend. Her sister is the MOH but, she's not near the area to plan it so she's given me her ideas and now I need some help. She wants to have a tea party - think "ladies that lunch" more than "Victorian tea." We're looking for a venue that is unique/unusual with a view other than a parking lot and within 45 minutes of Albany.
I know bridal shower locations have been discussed before but, I looked through the comments and didn't see anything that fit the bill. Any ideas?
Maybe you have some ideas that will help Cassie find those ladies some lunch (and tea). If so, please share!
photo: Flickr user halahmoon
With an eye toward next month, Robert emails:
So I want to plan a nice Northeast winter weekend getaway for me a my beautiful lady. Something real romantical for Valentine's Day. Unfortunately, I've never been skiing so I don't even know where to start. I basically want to eat good, peep some beautiful scenery, bundle up in front of a warm fireplace with a bear skin rug and love my lady. Can you and your all knowing readers help me out on this one?
One of the good things about this is region is that there are a lot of small hotels/inns/bed-and-breakfasts in scenic places that are not too far: the Berkshires, Vermont, the Hudson Valley, and so on.
If you're willing to go a bit farther, there's Montreal and Quebec generally. It's like a whole different country up there.
Got a suggestion for Robert and his lady? Please share!
Elsewhere: A similar question came up recently from one of Kristi's readers.
photo: Flickr user Max Wolfe
My son loves NERF Dart Tag. He will be turning 13 in March and my wife and would love to throw him a NERF Birthday Blast Party with all his friends. We just found out that for the past few years - there has been a NERF DART Tag Championship (still wondering how people get selected for this championship tournament - cash prize is $25,000) - Wow. ...
We are looking for a local place that offers this kind of cool blow up dome with obstacles etc (featured in video) or a safe indoor place to hold a NERF Dart Tag party. We thought about asking Laser Tag facilities to accommodate us if possible (and may ultimately go in that direction) - but would love to find something a bit more soft like the inflatable dome.
That does sound like it could approach best-birthday-ever territory (for a 13-year-old). Got a suggestion for Richard? Please share!
I find some of the posts about great places to do various things incredibly helpful. For example: there was an article on the best places for trivia recently. I was hoping you could investigate places to play pool (billiards).
James didn't necessarily rack this one up as an Ask AOA question, but that seemed like the shortest path to finding him an answer.
So, got a suggestion? Please share!
I would like to know if somebody can recommend a good, clean laundromat in the Latham- Troy area where we can wash a large, white comforter?
If have a suggestion for Jeff, great, please share. And if you happen to have a favorite laundromat outside the Latham-Troy area, we'd love to hear about that, too.
photo: Flickr user AlishaV
Barbara asks via Twitter:
Where can I get some yummy crab legs? I moved here a few months ago and I am craving some good crab and seafood!
We'll modify Barbara's question a bit: If you were to recommend one restaurant in the Capital Region for seafood, which place would it be?
Got a place in mind? Please share!
photo: Flickr user Chrysaora
Earlier this week Mindy asked on Twitter:
Can anyone recommend a place to rent chairs near Albany?
We retweeted. There were a handful of helpful suggestions. So we've collected them for the next person with that question.
The suggestions after the jump. And, of course, if know of a good place, please share!
Michael asks via Twitter:
Does anyone have any reco's for a residential electrician in Albany?
Got a suggestion for Michael? Please share!
Any recommendations for a good financial adviser in the Capital Region?
Of course, you want to find someone who's good at the financial side of things (otherwise, what's the point) -- but it's also important that you feel like you can communicate effectively with that person.
So, got a suggestion for Fred? Please share! And please include why you like the financial adviser you're suggesting.
Earlier on AOA: A good accountant?
photo: Edinburgh City of Print (Flickr user edinburghcityofprint)
Now that the ESP rink is open, where can I get my figure skates sharpened?
If you can't remember the last time you had your skates sharpened -- and you've been skating on them -- it might be time.
Got a suggestion for Nancy? Please share!
Alex emails with question that a lot people seem to have around the first of the year:
Could you do one of those things where you post a question, and then people comment on what gyms they've been to? [I'm looking for a new gym to join.]
So, which gym do you go to? And what do you like/dislike about it?
photo: Flickr user eccampbell
My family and friends are having a traditional Italian "Feast of the Seven Fishes" on Christmas Eve. One fish dish must be a whole fish - I am trying to find a good source for a sea bass called branzino. I have heard nothing but negative things about Two Cousins, and wondered if there was another fish market worth visiting. Thanks.
That has not been our experience with Two Cousins -- on the contrary, they've been helpful on the few times we've dealt with them. If you have thoughts on that account, please share.
And got a suggestion about where Barry should look for a whole fish? Please share!
photo: Flickr user takaokun
Looking to help, Anonymous emails:
I know a few AOA readers are involved in charitable work, so I was wondering if you could ask ... how one could volunteer to help on Christmas night? I'm staying in the US this year for the holidays, my buddies are out of town, maybe I can make myself useful. THANKS!
We'll expand Anonymous' question to include all the time around the holidays -- not just Christmas.
And if you can think of some way to just do something nice for other people, that would be great, too. Someone once shoveled our driveway while we were away for a few days over Christmas break, and it was just about the best thing ever.
Got a suggestion for Anonymous? Please share!
photo: Flickr user Hamed Saber
Hungry for something healthy, Donna emails:
Finding fresh vegetables in downtown Troy is no big deal on a Saturday with the farmer's market, but now that the Pioneer Food Market is closed, I can't think of a single place within walking distance of RPI, other than the Sav-A-Lot on Hoosick Street. Does anyone know of an alternative?
There was a lot of drama around the Troy co-op, but it did provide an outlet for healthy food in area that otherwise doesn't have a lot of options.
Got a suggestion for Donna? Please share!
Leigh asks via Twitter:
A friend has a digital picture he wants to have professionally applied to a t-shirt. He may need more than 1 but it won't be a huge order. What's the best place in Albany to have it done?
We'll expand Leigh's question a bit to include custom t-shirts in general, not just ones with photos applied to them.
Got a suggestion for Leigh? Please share!
blank t-shirt image from Flickr user Erika Hall
Capitol to Capital asks via Twitter:
New (to us) car doesn't have satellite radio like the other. What should our presets be??
Or, to ask Cap2Cap's question a little differently: What are the preset stations on your car radio?
photo: Flickr user nedrichards
Kim asks a seasonally-appropriate question via Twitter:
Are there any bakeries in the cap region that sell yule logs/ buche de Noel for Christmas?
If you don't know Bûche de Noël from a bush, it's a traditional French Christmas dessert -- a sponge cake that's been frosted, rolled up, and then frosted and decorated to look like a yule log. [Wikipedia] [Serious Eats]
We had some vague memory that Mrs. London's in Saratoga makes Bûche de Noël (probably thanks to Ellen). So we gave them a call (581-1652 x303) -- and they do! Mrs. London's makes three types of Bûche, and each serves 10-12 people. They're $65 and must be pre-ordered and prepaid. Orders should be in at least a week before Christmas. And Mrs. London's is open until 4 pm on Christmas Eve if you want to pick up at the last moment.
Has anyone had the Bûche from Mrs. London's? We'd love to hear how it is.
And if you have a suggestion about other places for Bûche de Noël/yule logs, please share!
Brian asks via Twitter:
Help! I need a vet in Albany / Troy area! My pup needs to see the doctor. Please recommend a good veterinarian.
This question has come up before for cats, but not dogs -- which is a little surprising given how many people seem to have dogs.
Got a suggestion? Please share! And please include why you like going to that vet.
My wife and I are new to Albany, don't know anyone (losers, I know), and are looking for some good holiday and new year's stuff to do. Not so much the 'get wasted at Jillian's after paying $100 cover for a free glass of Cristalino,' but maybe something a bit more unique. Any ideas?
Or, to phrase Ben's question a little bit differently, if were talking with someone who's new to the Capital Region, what holiday traditions or stuff to do would you tell them about?
Got a suggestion for Ben and his wife? Please share!
photo: Flickr user _FXR
With holiday shopping in mind, Chrissy emails:
I'm trying to shop local and eco-friendly this year for Christmas gifts but am getting tempted by the one-stop shop appeal of the mall. Does anyone know of an area around here where there are a lot of local shops close together that sell stuff for kids and adults? I've tried Etsy but to be honest, I like to see the stuff in person especially with baby toys. All the stores I know of are pretty spread out so I thought you guys could help. Thanks!
If you're looking for a more in-person experience than Etsy, one local option is the TightKnit market in Troy on Saturdays (a little bit like Etsy in real life).
But that's just one spot -- we're sure there are a bunch of others around the Capital Region. Got a suggestion for Chrissy? Please share!
I'm going to schedule a home energy audit in the near future. I contacted NYSERDA and I was approved an audit award. Now I'm looking over the list of NYSRDA approved contractors. The Capital Region's list is long, and I don't want someone who's only goal is to pressure me into buying services and products I don't really need.
Does anyone out there have recommendation this area' listing?
Got a suggestion for Martin? Please share!
photo: Flickr user ActiveSteve
Looking beyond turkey, JB emails:
Where can I get a reasonably priced side of pork? I want to butcher one, and would prefer that it lived a humane and natural life. Also, it should be within 60 miles of Troy, because local food is better food.
The first placed that popped into our mind was Flying Pigs Farm in Washington County. By all accounts, they raise excellent heritage breed pigs under good conditions. But: they might not qualify as "reasonably priced."
So, anyone have a suggestion for JB? Please share!
photo: Flickr user MMChicago
Kate emails (link added):
Every since Rev Hall closed, I've been on the hunt to find a comparable music venue with the excellent acoustics that Rev Hall provided. Besides the Egg (which Jon McLaughlin recently told his audience that the sound was so good, he didn't want to stop playing), I've yet to find one that impresses me. Northern Lights, Red Square, and Jillians bring in the bands, but offer terrible acoustics. I fear this may turn off bands from coming to Albany, even though we have an amazing music scene and even more amazing music lovers here. I was hoping your readers had some suggestions.
I just love going to see live shows in the Capital District (all kinds of music). I follow some local bands, but I also love discovering new music too. Maybe some local musicians can share their favorite venues to play at. I hope I'm not the only one in Albany who is an acoustics snob.
Got a favorite place to see music/play music? Maybe a spot that wouldn't immediately spring to mind for people? Please share!
Christopher asked via Twitter yesterday:
hey all over albany, HSBC just screwed me. What banks in the area have the best web interfaces?
We re-tweeted, and the handful of responses are after the jump.
We're hoping you might have a few suggestions, too.
Mindy asked via Twitter over the weekend:
Where's the best place for a first-timer to get a massage (preferably not too far/hard to find from Clifton Park)?
We re-tweeted her question and got a handful of responses -- they're after the jump.
And, of course, if you have a suggestion for Mindy, please share!
MariaG asks via a comment:
Hi, I recently moved back to Albany and I love photographing sunsets...where are some good spots in the area? Thanks so much in advance.
Have a suggestion for Maria? Please share!
Mark asks via Twitter:
I've got a sidewalk that looks like this in two places. It's my front walk, not a city sidewalk. Any suggestions on who to call to repair it?
That looks like it could be a trip-and-fall waiting to happen -- especially as things get icy.
Got a suggestion for Mark? Please share.
Nick and Erin email (emphasis added):
At some point in the past 3 months, both the sushi chef and the waiter/helper at Sushi house changed, and unfortunately the sushi is just not the same (It was arguably the best sushi we had ever had). I was wondering if you guys could find out if they just moved to another restaurant in the area, or if they are no longer making sushi Albany. If not, can we get a post about the best sushi places in the capital region?
Heh. We know there are one or two people who like sushi around here.
So, what's your favorite local place?
photo: Matthew Loiacono
Abby emails from afar:
For Christmas I wanted to give [my sister, who lives in the Albany area] a family pass to somewhere cool in your area. I was thinking something the whole family would enjoy, not just an indoor playroom. Could you make New York suggestions?
Anything from Six Flags type stuff, museums that are kid friendly (but not necessarily just for kids), science museums, or anything else that's fun to do.
So, Abby's getting an early start on the season. But she's working from out of town, so give her credit for getting a jump on it.
It sounds like she's open to a lot of ideas -- not just "family" stuff (sometimes it seems like the "family" label is license to be completely boring for adults). Got a suggestion? Please share!
With all the talk about 99 percents and 1 percents, we were curious about the income distribution in the Capital Region.
So, we looked up the data. Let's go to the charts, graphs, and discussion...
(You know you want to see where you rank.)
With an eye toward the change of season, Jen asks:
How about a cheap furnace cleaner person (besides the big companies like DA Bennet) &/or who does home energy audits?
We'll tag general furnace tuneup/maintenance onto Jen's question (that reminds us, we need to get someone to do that...).
Got a suggestion? Please share!
photo: Flickr user C Jill Reed
Other than apple orchards, where are some good places to get/pick pumpkins for carving ?
Chad is particularly looking for pumpkin patches near Schenectady, but if you know of a good one in another part of the Capital Region, it may help someone else find the perfect pumpkin.
So, anyone have thoughts on where Chad can start his 2011 jack o'lantern?
photo: Flickr user YAXZONE
Now that the leaves are turning its time to think about Troy's Victorian Stroll (This year it is Sunday, December 4, noon to five pm). Do you or your readers have any tips on where to locate a Victorian style bonnet?
This might be a tough one. Our first thought was costume shops -- but we're not sure how popular the Victorian look is right now for costumes (you know, unless it's "sexy Victorian"). And a bonnet like this probably goes way beyond "vintage."
Anyone have suggestions? Please share!
photo: Sebastien B
Jen from Hounds on the Hudson emails:
I'm gearing up for another long winter outdoors and need to get my wool coat relined and boots resoled. Can anyone recommend a good dry cleaners and/or cobbler in the area?
If there's anyone who needs to make sure their coats and boots are in shape for winter, it's the people at a dog walking company.
So, anyone have suggestions for Jen? Please share!
Earlier on AOA: Suggestions for a good seamstress?
I am really interested in learning how to play the ukulele and have tried my best from online sources but it's just not enough to learn from a video. Can you ask your readers if they know of a local (Albany/Latham) person or place who teaches ukulele lessons to beginners? Thanks!
YouTube is full of uke clips. And we know there are a handful of local musicians who play the uke. It appears the ukelele's time is now (once again).
Got a suggestion for Laura? Please share!
photo: Flickr user indigodeath
I have two boys, ages 2.5 & 6. We all currently visit a very popular family practice in Slingerlands, and while we like a couple of the practitioners there, it's a hike for us to get there, we wait forever once we are there, they don't answer the phones between 11:30AM-12:30PM, etc.
We'd like to hear about some good practices or specific doctors, whether they are pediatricians, internists, and/or general practitioners. We live in Wynantskill, and our preference is within 15-20 minutes drive. Pleasant office staff, realistic scheduling, thorough doctors (NP's or PA's are also fine)...
Thank you! I really appreciate the input of AOA readers.
Showing up at the doctor's office on time and having to wait seemingly forever is frustrating. Having to do it with a sick kid? Eek.
Got a suggestion for Sara? Please share!
photo: Flickr user a.drian
Feeling crafty, Julianne emails:
Recently I've been on a DIY streak, and I realized I lack skills needed to do it myself. I was wondering if anyone knew where I could find a sewing class in the Capital Region.
Got a suggestion for Julianne? Please share!
photo: Flickr user d3b...*
Right to the point, Nina emails:
I'm thinking of trying acupuncture. Any recommendations for practitioners?
While we can't vouch for quality, there's a place in Troy that has a most appropriate url: stuckintroy.com.
Clever domain names aside, anyone have suggestions for Nina? Please share!
photo: Flickr user marniejoyce
I know you covered mice issues a while back but we have a wasp nest we can't reach with death spray and we're trying to find a good exterminator to come and destroy the little yellow jacketed ninjas who keep creeping into our house. Any suggestions?
A ninja infestation? Could be tricky.
Got a suggestion for Miriam? Please share!
photo: Flickr user DGriebeling
A question from AOA Greg:
We have a 1996 Corolla for which we're trying to find a final home. It's been a great car, but it's finally reached that point where the repairs would cost more than it's worth. (Steve at Larry's Foreign Auto advised us it was time to find a new car. Yep, his advice probably cost him work. Yet another reason why Steve is the best.)
So we're thinking there are three possibilities here:
1. Try to the sell the car on Craigslist. Maybe there's someone who'd want it. Might be tough, because it needs significant repair and it's old. Not the option we'd prefer.
2. Sell the car to a junk car service.
3. Donate the car to a charity.
Our preference is to donate the car -- sure, we'd like the money, but the sum would probably not be large. If we can help out a charity, great.
So, suggestions for local junk car services or charities looking for car donations?
Got a suggestion for Greg and Mrs. Greg? Please share!
This just in from Amber:
My hair is a hot mess. I was in very capable hands until I moved back to the area a few years ago. Since then I've had a lot (LOT) of trouble finding a decent colorist. I've endured disasters (green hair, falling out hair) and a whole lot of meh (boring loring zoring color). I have resorted to DIY thinking surely I could do better than what I've been paying to have done to me. Yeah, not so much. I'm looking for someone who is good with blondes and who can do color correction. Somebody who can give me that zing - like have it look natural but with an extra oomph. What say you, capital region? Who have you got to recommend? I'd love to hear stories of their expertise. For reference I live in Saratoga but will travel for the right colorist.
Green hair? Hair falling out? Yikes! Can anyone help Amber out?
Updated September 7 at noon
Julie emailed this morning:
I just made a donation to the American Red Cross, but was wondering if there were other ways that I can help the victims of flooding.
We've collected a few ways after the jump. We're sure there are others -- so, if you know of way to help, please share it.
One of my favorite childhood treats is a southern tradition: the pecan roll. It's a simple thing--some kind of sugary white stuff rolled in chopped pecans. For years, these could be found near the checkout at most area CVSs. But they stopped carrying them a few years ago. Anyone have any idea where one can purchase a pecan roll in the Albany area these days?
We were not familiar with this particular delicacy, so we did some checking online. From a description at the online Kimball's Candy Shoppe:
Enjoy fresh southern goodness in a sweet-and-salty classic. This nut-loving treat features a fluffy nougat center, wrapped in creamy caramel and plump, premier Georgia pecans. Like the roadside souvenirs you loved as a child, each bite is sweet, crunchy bliss!
Mmm, bliss of the sweet, crunchy variety.
For any sort of retro-type candy our first spot to check is usually the old-school candy section in the back of Saratoga Coffee Traders. After that, maybe of some of the local candy shops -- Krause's, Uncle Sam's, Saratoga Sweets -- might make them.
Got a suggestion for Nate? Please share!
photo: Flickr user revraikes
Jonathan (@MrDraper63) asks via Twitter:
Almost finished with new deck and looking for outdoor furniture with @elisdraper. Any suggestions for good local deals?
Now that we're at the end of the season, maybe Jonathan and Elisabeth can score a deal.
So... got a suggestion about where to look, which place has good selection, or where to find good prices? Please share!
With football season coming up, @ajw93 asks:
I need to find HS football (alma mater sorta far in Dutchess) good, supportive crowd that's NOT all unruly teens?
No srsly, the Titans of Remember The [Titans] fame were previous n'hood team. Also my baby sisters'school. Now I got nothin'! Help!
Yes, i know it's not the local religion, but I do so enjoy HS games esp. I'd love a poll to see if I'm alone there.
Hmm... it might be hard to find exactly what ajw93 is looking for -- the Capital Region isn't Dillon, Texas. But maybe you can recommend a spot in the bleachers.
Got a suggestion? Please share!
Jen (@albanyjen) asks via Twitter:
Perhaps @alloveralbany can help me find someone who reglazes tubs & tiles in the Cap District? or some DIY guidance?
We're guessing that companies/skilled tradespeople who do tile might also do some re-glazing (basically) -- or, at least, be able to offer a good referral.
Got a suggestion for Jen? Please share!
Going a little batty, Kim (@kimmieoftroy) asks via Twitter:
Anyone in the capital region have any recommendations for bat removal/bat-proofing?
Eek. Bats serve an important role in the ecosystem (and help humans) by eating insects. And bats in the greater Capital Region have been hit hard by White Nose Syndrome. But, still... it's probably better that they not use your house as a home office.
Got a suggestion for Kim? Please share!
photo: Flickr user GregTheBusker
Amanda (@ALLCAPSDOOM) asks via Twitter:
Hey Albanians and others in CapitalLand? Where are some good places to get shawarma?
Know of a good shawarma place? Please share!
photo: Flickr user avlxyz
JoJo (@TheyCallMeJoJo) asks via Twitter:
I'm looking to get some cushions reupholstered. Any reccomendations for places to go?
Got a suggestion for JoJo? Please share!
Riddle me this: when is it proper to say Capital Region? And when should we call it the Capital District?
We've never heard a great answer to this question. And, to extend Abby's question a bit, where does this region/district stop? Does is it include Amsterdam? Glens Falls? Catskill?
If you have some insight -- or can just make a good case -- please share!
Via Twitter, @KTdilello asks:
Any suggestions on places to stargaze (away from city lights)....
The moon will be waning over the next few weeks (good for seeing stars), and the forecast is calling for warm nights and somewhat clear skies, so there could be some good stargazing. Also: the Perseid meteor shower is coming up in August.
So, got a suggestion? Please share!
Cap2Cap asks via Twitter:
Where can I kayak and/or swim within an hour's drive? Need to rent the boat.
Got a suggestions for Cap2Cap? Please share!
photo: Flickr user dwstucke
My husband is looking for a job in Albany as a mechanical engineer. Do you or your readers have any tips or suggestions as to what companies to hit up?
If you have a tip for Bridget, great -- please share.
But we want to broaden her question a bit, too. There are a lot of nerd-type* professionals in the AOA crowd -- and more every day as people move here for various industries, both tiny and large. So... if you're an engineer/scientist/software developer/awesome nerd new to the Capital Region, how do you get plugged into the scene here? Are there good groups or orgs to join? Networking opportunities? Please share!
* AOA loves nerds. Obviously.
photo: Flickr user s58y
I recently heard about a program in Toronto called Not Far From The Tree. It seems like an awesome idea, and I was wondering if you guys had heard about anything like it here in the Albany area.
The first thing that came to our mind was the Capital District Community Gardens' Squash Hunger Program, which collects surplus produce. But we wouldn't be surprised if there are others.
Know of local program like this? Please share!
Looking to help a friend, Steph emails:
I have a friend who is headed back to school in the fall for the first time in a while. The problem is, the school requires a physical for enrollment, and said friend doesn't have health insurance. Are there any Capital District clinics that provide lower-cost physicals, or any similar resources?
Got a suggestion for Steph's friend? Please share!
photo: Flickr user a.drian
@sozepiggytails asks via the Twitter:
Say, can I get a recommendation for best yoga? Live in Albany, work in Schdy, has to be after 5pm. Gracias!
A similar question came up about a year ago, but things change.
Got a suggestion? Please share!
Earlier on AOA: Hot yoga: Feeling the burn, and loving it
photo: Flickr user enfad
Planning for the Fourth of July, CVAA emails:
I am trying to find a perfect spot to watch the 4th of July firework. It has to be kid-friendly. A place where very active toddlers can walk around and is not too crowded would be ideal. Although I won't let the kids roaming around wildly, I don't expect them to sit still while waiting for the show to start either. If your readers have any suggestion, I would really appreciate it. Just a background. We live near Siena collage but would be willing to drive 15 minutes or so. I love fireworks and really hope to find a good spot to enjoy one this year.
We bet there are at least a few spots CVAA and her kids could watch the ESP fireworks, all while having a bit of room to roam.
Got a suggestion? Please share!
photo: Sebastien B
Daniel B. emails:
Mrs. Fussy needs to be fitted for contact lenses and could probably use a new pair of glasses too. She's looking for an eye doctor, and was hoping to get some recommendations. Given the bespectacled nature of the AOA staff and readership, I thought you all would be good people to ask.
It's a well established fact that the most beautiful women wear glasses, so Mrs. Fussy is in good company.
Know of a good eye doctor? Please share!
photo: Flickr user schrierc
What I want to know is, where is the best place in the capital region to take computer classes? Specifically, where is a good college/trade-school/company in the area to learn about web design, coding, programming and graphic design? I am looking for a career change and I have really great computer skills and I want to take my knowledge to the next level and try to secure a good job. I know I could do most of the learning online, but I'm really looking for a place to go and learn from a teacher for a reasonable price.
Got a suggestion for Brett? Please share!
I'm hosting a bridal shower for about 35 women- do you have any suggestions for a location? We're looking for great food and hopefully a private room option, but that's not crucial. Thanks!
There would seem to be a lot of choices. If you've had a good experience at a similar kind of event somewhere around town, maybe you can help Deirdre narrow down the choices.
Got a suggestion? Please share!
film still: Bridesmaids
This is a question from AOA Mary:
Any thoughts on where to get really good cookies?
It's all someone asked for for his birthday and I'm not the kind of girl who can make good cookies... even if I had time, which I don't.
I can tell you cakes, cupcakes, food -- but I'm stumped for cookies.
Let's not get into a situation where Mary has to bake. Everyone will be happier.
So, if you have a suggestion -- please share!
photo: Flickr user jayneandd
Hungry for more, Chad emails:
My girlfriend and I attended an Indonesian Cuisine and Culture class at Harmony House in Cohoes last week and the food was wonderful. The only problem is that Yono's (the restaurant that the presenter/chef owns) is the only Indonesian restaurant in the area that I can find. Supposedly the food is great but it isn't exactly affordable at ~$50 a person. Do any of the AOA readers know of any more affordable restaurants that serve Indonesian dishes in the area? (not interested in Thai or Vietnamese etc.)
Got a suggestion for Chad? Please share!
I was wondering if you or your readers could help me. I've been working on a freelance project that is winding to a close. The final piece is a presentation that I need to give showing how to use the system I built for them. My problem is, I don't know where to give it. I can't do it at my office since this is a side project and doing it at my home seems too unprofessional. This would only be three or four people involved in this so I wouldn't need much space. I would, however, need Internet access.
We've touched on the the lack of co-working space in the Capital Region before. Any businesses with conference room space that TD that might rent for a few hours? (If you don't feel comfortable posting in the comments, email us and we'll connect you.)
Got a suggestion for TechyDad? Please share!
I wanted to know where I can rent bikes in the capital district region. I live in a small apartment with no balcony. Although I want to buy a bike, there is no space to keep it in my house.
Got a suggestion for Maya -- either for where to rent, or maybe how she might find space to store a bike? Please share!
Earlier on AOA: Where to buy a bike?
I would like to know AOA suggestions for activities for a teenager this summer, with a twist. I am an international student at RPI and my brother is gonna come visit me for a long month, so there are a few extra things to consider: I'm not in his legal custody, and he is not a resident/citizen, he does have a turist visa, tho. Also, I'm a student, so price may be a restriction.
We wouldn't want Camilo's brother to come here this summer and have a bad time. So, got a suggestion for them? Please share!
Wedding season is approaching, and I need to buy a slick navy suit by the end of June. I'm new to the area, and can't find a shop I'm happy with. Men's Wearhouse is my usual favorite, but I'm not pleased with the Wolf Rd edition. Don't get me started.
Also, I'm not looking to break the bank. So where to go for a nice modern look (no pleats!) for a decent price?
We hear you on the pleats. Just say no to pleats.
So, got a suggestion for Matthew? Please share!
Earlier on AOA:
+ Erik went shopping for a suit last year
+ Kaitlin tracked down a few local options for getting a custom-tailored dress shirt
photo: Flicker user O'hAodha
Does anyone know a lawn service willing to tackle the insanity that is my lawn after this week of rain (that ideally won't cost an arm and a leg)? My eco friendly reel mower is just not going to cut it after all this - pun intended.
We've seen some lawns around town that are approaching a jungle-like appearance. We wouldn't look forward trying to push any sort of regular mower through that kind of growth.
So, anyone have suggestions for Leah? Please share!
I just moved to the area for the next few years, and I am looking to buy a house. However, I do not know what the good areas are around in Albany!
I am looking for something that is equidistant from SUNY Uptown campus and downtown Albany. I would love a safe area, that is nice or up and coming. I would want to sell in a few years, so the market value would need to stay the same (or preferably!) improve. Additionally, any advice on where to begin looking for houses would be great. Can anyone help me? Please?
Have a suggestion for Stephanie? Please share!
Amy emails, hoping to help a friend:
Do you know of a good clock repair business in Albany? A good friend in Syracuse has a clock with lots of sentimental value that needs repaired, but she can't find any place in Syracuse to take it. She was hoping there is one in Albany. Thanks.
Have a suggestion for Amy and her friend? Please share!
Earlier on AOA: A good watch repair place?
photo: Flickr user Eddi 07- Free Stock
Looking to help her mom, Sara emails:
One of my favorite AOA tags is "good to know". I need to tap into the collective brains of AOA readers to find a new primary care doctor for my mom. She's in her 50's, lives east of Saratoga, and for various reasons, requires the care of medical professionals more than the average patient. It seems too obvious to say that the doc (must be an MD or DO, not a PA or NP) should not be patronizing, or in the habit of scolding their patients, but that is the problem that leads to this question in the first place!
It's hard enough navigating the medical system without having a doctor who's not a good communicator or condescending or just a wrong fit personality-wise.
Know a good doctor who might be right for Sara's mom? Please share! And if you do, please include a comment or two about why you like that doctor.
Earlier on AOA: Know of a good doctor near Albany?
photo: Flickr user a.drian
Wondering if you could help me out with a question... I'm at home full time now and as much as I'm enjoying not having a job... I'm going slowly INSANE.
I'm looking for a fun hobby to take up in the area and I'm really drawing blanks. Was thinking of taking golf lessons, guitar lessons and volunteering but I'm wondering what the AOA community would recommend.
Got a local suggestion for Jeff? Please share!
screengrab from Office Space
I'd love to find out if your readers have dealt with a tree removal service they felt did a good job for the right price. We have a half dead tree in our front lawn that's going to come down one way or another.
A few years back, we were happy with the service we got from a company out of Schenectady called TreeCo. They worked remarkably fast (while hanging from a tree, using a chain saw), cleaned up nicely, and all for what seemed like a fair price.
TreeCo doesn't appear to have a website.* Its number is 356-4177.
One thing to note: not all tree services offer stump grinding. Be sure to ask about it if you want the stump taken out, too.
We're guessing there are at least a handful of other local tree service options. Know of a good one? Please share!
* Small businesses of the Capital Region: please get a website -- even just a single page with your contact info. It will help everyone, most importantly you.
I know you all have covered movers locally before, but I'm curious if anyone has tips for cross-country movers.
Got a suggestion for Carrie? Please share!
Earlier on AOA: Local moving company suggestions?
Rue asks via Twitter:
Where are the good places to get a manicure/pedicure in Troy?
If you have a suggestion for Rue, please share! And even if it's not a suggestion in Troy, share that, too! Cuticles of the Capital Region will thank you.
photo: Flickr user Bex.Walton
Elisabeth asks via Twitter:
Anyone in the Albany area have recommendations for fence suppliers/ installers? Many thanks!
Got a suggestion for Elisabeth? Please share!
Crystal asks via Twitter:
Dear @alloveralbany, any tips on where one can find HOUSES for rent in the #518? I'm so over apartment living. xoxo, @CAPowCAPow
So, any suggestions for Crystal? Please share!
photo: Flickr user woodleywonderworks
Amanda and Danielle asked via the Twitter recently:
[D]o you know anywhere around here that has poutine?
We've spotted what's touted as poutine a few times in the Capital Region -- but it usually just ends up being fries with gravy and cheese (not a bad thing, just not poutine exactly). We've yet to come across poutine in its full cheese-curdy, Quebecois glory.
So, anyone know where Amanda and Danielle can score poutine around here? Please share!
Bonus bit: there's a Montreal website kind of like AOA called Midnight Poutine, which gives you a sense of when the poutine craving often hits. Also, the famed Montreal restaurant Au Pied de Cochon has poutine made with foie gras.
photo: Flickr user Pierre LaScott
I'm interning in Albany this summer and was wondering if you had any tips on to where to look for 1br sublets. I've been browsing craigslist for a few weeks now but really don't know of any other options.
I would like an area thats safe but I'm not too worried about how quite it is. It would be nice to be near bars and places to eat. I'm interning with the Devils hockey team (June through August) so you have an idea as to where I'll be everyday.
I've browsed craigslist but with not much luck. Do you know of any other sites to use to look for sublets?
The local Craigslist is kind of thin on sublets. And, you know, these days -- if not Craigslist, then where?
Got a suggestion for Brad? Please share!
photo: Flickr user Genista
Theresa asks via Twitter:
What is your favorite place to go for a scenic day hike around Albany?
A few places immediately came to mind: Peebles Island, the Papscanee Preserve, the Plotter Kill. But one of the great things about the Capital Region is that there are plenty of ways to get hip-deep in nature without having to drive too far.
We all have a favorite place; what's yours?
Photo: Flickr user dvs
Dan from Albany emails:
Hey, I was wondering if you guys could put up a post that could help me find camping spots in the area (adirondacks, catskills, western mass and vt) for a group of adults without kids. It seems like every place caters to families.
Got a suggestion for Dan? Please share!
photo: Flickr user Mike Burns
Stephanie, who's moving here from Ohio, asks via the Twitter:
Starting my church search! Looking for a great church in the Albany, NY area - any recommendations?
[Looking for] contemporary, community involvement, non-denominational would be cool, progressive...
Any suggestions for Stephanie? Please share!
When Akum got her hair cut yesterday, her stylist said, "Hey, I have a question for AOA. What are the downtown delis that deliver at lunchtime?"
We thought of the Mealeo service, but want to hear your suggestions. When you Must. Have. A. Sandwich. and can't escape the office, who do you call?
Image: Flikr user VirtualErn
Perhaps with stars in her eyes, E emails:
I would like to go to a great eyebrow waxer. The type that makes you look like a movie star! Do you have recommendations?
Know of a good eyebrow person -- for a star turn, or just to look a little better? Please share!
photo: Ralph F. Stitt via Wikipedia
This is a question in line with Akum's from [last] Wednesday. I recently moved to the area and am in need of a trim. I have curls that I am rather fastidious about, and have had enough bad haircuts to be rather paranoid about any ol' pair of scissors.
Any suggestions? I live in Troy and work on Central Avenue in Colonie, so bonus points for stylists in those areas. Thanks a bunch!
Got a suggestion about who can give Hannah's curls the care and attention they deserve? Please share!
photo: Flickr user quinn.anya
Irisira emails with timely question:
My boss thought it would be fun for those of us of Irish descent to share some goodies with the rest of the office on March 17. I volunteered to bring in soda bread (because I love it and wanted to see it represented), but I'm not sure where the best place to buy it is!
I figured you guys would be good to ask, especially since I'm not going to be the only one jonesing for soda bread on 3/17.
Got a suggestion for Irisira? Please share!
photo: Flickr user J Wynia
This question comes straight from AOA's own Akum.
I have long hair. Not Crystal Gayle long; it's just down to the small of my back. But it's been about two years since my last haircut. (Okay, I have a complicated relationship with my hair. And with scissors.) In short, my hair needs some attention. The AOA birthday party is coming up soon, after all. ...
So my question for the AOA community: Can you recommend a local stylist who enjoys working with long hair? I could really use some inspiration.
Image via Wikimedia Commons
I'm trying to find a store in the area that sells handmade or specialty papers/stationery, like Paper Source (various locations in major cities). Major plus if they have things made by local artists. Know of anywhere like that?
Have a suggestion for Lisa? Please share!
Have you guys ever done a post about the best drink specials in Albany? I am poor and like to drink.
So, AOA readers, spill: Where do you go to raise a glass without shelling out too much cash?
Photo: Flikr user Dana Moos
Hungry for something from home, Erin emails: