Items tagged with 'Jessica Pasko'

What I miss about the Capital Region

Larkway judge Jess Pasko.JPG

We miss Jess.

By Jessica Pasko

soapbox badgeIt's been a little over four months since I packed up my belongings and my dog and drove west to California. After finishing graduate school in Chicago and applying for jobs there and all over the East Coast, I got frustrated with the rejections and decided to start applying to random places out west. I ended up landing a gig in a little surfing city that's perhaps best known for being the fictional Santa Carla in that 80s classic The Lost Boys. These days I spend my time marveling over the myriad species of succulents and palm trees that grow around me, listening to the siren song of the sea lions, and chastising myself when 45 degrees in January seems cold to me.

Santa Cruz is a small city, smaller than Albany, about an hour and a half south of San Francisco and at the tail end of the Silicon Valley. I live two blocks from the ocean and there are awesome taquerias a-plenty. Still, lately I've been feeling a little homesick. Sure, that's largely due to missing friends, family and AOA, but there's a lot I miss about living in the Capital Region.

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Back in town: Eric Ayotte

By Jessica Pasko

eric ayotteTraveling film fest impresario, musician and Troy native Eric Ayotte will be back in town this week, performing and showing films at Tuesday at the Albany Social Justice Center.

While living in the New Paltz area, Ayotte had the idea for a traveling film festival that could help foster a stronger community for DIY filmmakers like himself. That led to the creation of the Gadabout Film Festival almost a decade ago, a collection of short films that Ayotte and others brought from town to town in a bio-diesel powered van. Since then, the festival has completed several national tours and screened the works of filmmakers from all over the country and the world. It's a festival that's not competitive and is aimed more at creating connections and building communities among those producing truly independent film.

Ayotte's also a musician and he'll be showing off both talents at Tuesday's show.

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Local stocking stuffers

holiday gifts 2010 stocking stuffers

A little something.

By Jessica Pasko

The AOA elves are back to help you with your holiday shopping. We'll be bringing you fun, interesting, local gift ideas for the holiday season.

On this final day of gift ideas, I bring you the stocking stuffers. Most of these would also make great gifts for those people for whom you need just a little something.

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Holiday cards from Delaware Community School

Delaware School Card

Happy holidays, from the Delaware Community School

By Jessica Pasko

The AOA elves are back to help you with your holiday shopping. We'll be bringing you fun, interesting, local gift ideas for the holiday season.

Today on the AOA gift list -- Reindeer over Albany, birds of peace and happy polar bears, straight from the imaginations of local kids at the Delaware Community School.

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Vintage Video Games from Pastime Legends

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You can't go home again -- but you can play your old games.

By Jessica Pasko

The AOA elves are back to help you with your holiday shopping. For the next couple of weeks we'll be bringing you fun, interesting, local gift ideas for the holiday season.

On this ninth day of the gift guide, AOA brings to you: retro video games and a partridge in a pear tree.

OK, no partridge. And no tree. But the rest, yes. Absolutely.

I'm not much of a gamer myself - when I think games, I think of Scrabble or Apples to Apples. And my video game skills don't go too far past the occasional attempt at "Guitar Hero." But for the right person -- the video game freak (or is it geek?) who doesn't just want the hot new thing but appreciates a good game of Super Mario Brothers, Pastime Legends is your place.

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New York wine and cheese

Harmony House Marketplace

A one-stop shop in Cohoes.

By Jessica Pasko

The AOA elves are back to help you with your holiday shopping. For the next couple of weeks we'll be bringing you fun, interesting, local gift ideas for the holiday season.

This next suggestion just might be my favorite -- the gift of wine and cheese.

Sure, New York doesn't appear to be any closer to allowing wine to be sold in grocery stores, but that doesn't mean there's no place to go for both wine and cheese.

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Run, We Must shirts and hoodies

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Wear, you must?

By Jessica Pasko

The AOA elves are back to help you with your holiday shopping. For the next couple of weeks we'll be bringing you fun, interesting, local gift ideas for the holiday season.

This next item just might be on my own wish list.

You might know Ben Karis-Nix for his unique blend of indie rock, but the local musician also designs a clothing line called Run, We Must.

I'm all about the feel-good gifts this year. And these shirts are a way to be fashionable and eco-friendly at the same time.

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The gift of garlic

Saratoga garlic

Breath mints optional.

By Jessica Pasko

The AOA elves are back to help you with your holiday shopping. For the next couple of weeks we'll be bringing you fun, interesting, local gift ideas for the holiday season.

My love of garlic is well-documented at this point, but in my mind, you can never have enough of the spicy stuff in your life. So today in the AOA gift guide -- the gift of garlic.

Garlic aioli to be exact, from Saratoga Garlic.

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Carbon Reduction Certificates

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Ahhhh.

By Jessica Pasko

The AOA elves are back to help you with your holiday shopping. For the next couple of weeks we'll be bringing you fun, interesting, local gift ideas for the holiday season.

OK, this one is for that person in your life that has absolutely everything. You know the type. It's also good for the particularly eco-conscious person.

Carbon reduction certificates from the Adirondack Council.

Because what says love more than helping preserve clean air?

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Hudson Valley Seed Packets

Hudson Valley Seeds - Dragon Tongue

Because winter won't last forever

By Jessica Pasko

The AOA elves are back to help you with your holiday shopping. For the next couple of weeks we'll be bringing you fun, interesting, local gift ideas for the holiday season. Today Jess kicks things off with flowers and veggies from the Hudson Valley Seed Library.

These aren't your -- excuse the pun -- garden-variety Burpee packets. Think varieties like Kaleidoscope carrots, Green Zebra Tomatoes, and Dragon's Tongue Beans.

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I'll see you later

albany b sign

By Jessica Pasko

This is hard to say, but I'm taking off. It's been a good ride but it's time for me to try something new in life and unfortunately, that also means taking a break from Albany in the form of graduate school in the Midwest.

Like so many of us, I never intended to come back here. The lure of immediate post-graduate employment in the form of a job with the Associated Press brought me back, and ended up pushing my dreams of moving to San Francisco to the side. So I stayed... longer than I ever anticipated, and I've enjoyed myself more than I would ever have expected.

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Peebles Island

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The view from Peebles Island -- New York's smallest state park.

By Jessica Pasko

A recent Saturday spent exploring Cohoes led me to nearby Waterford, a quaint little place on the edge of Saratoga County that to me seems almost quintessentially upstate New York.

I don't know how I've managed to live here so long without having ever made a trip to Peebles Island in Waterford, right outside Cohoes. It's beautiful. One hundred and 91 acres of land at the confluence of the Hudson and Mohawk rivers.

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The Pig Pit BBQ

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Hmmm... do we smell a BBQ smackdown?

By Jessica Pasko

While driving around Cohoes , I couldn't help but giggle at this "Pig Pit vs. Dinosaurs: Bring it on!" sign. Clearly I had to check that out.

So, my look at Cohoes continues with, The Pig Pit.

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Harmony House Marketplace & the Wine Seller

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They love NY wines.

By Jessica Pasko

Okay, okay, I'll admit it - I don't think of New York when it comes to choosing a wine. And I'm definitely not alone in that thinking.

The folks at Harmony House Marketplace's The Wine Seller are hoping to change that.

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Remsen Street in Cohoes

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Remsen Street in Cohoes

By Jessica Pasko

Lately I've been into taking little sojourns to areas locally that I've never really thought to explore. This weekend I headed to Cohoes in hopes of checking out the views of the falls from Falls View Park . Unfortunately, the lower sections were closed off, making for something of a boring trip.

While deciding where to go instead, I took a stroll down Remsen Street.

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Olde Polish Deli in Watervliet

olde polish deli deli case

You know they have kielbasa.

By Jessica Pasko

On a recent trip through Watervliet (okay, okay, actually I was lost), I stumbled upon The Olde Polish Deli. And well, finding a cool little ethnic shop I've never been to is one of the best ways to get lost, in my humble opinion.

After my first trip, I was enthralled.

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Box lunch: bento boxes at Sushi Tei

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Lunch in a box

By Jessica Pasko

Something about a bento box, the traditional Japanese lunch box, just makes lunch seem a little more fun.

I can't entirely explain it, but being served a meal that's divided up into little individual sections holds incredible appeal. It seems tidy, precise, organized. And it's fun to look at. Of course, eating it is the most fun part...

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Delish Deli: lunch from... a gas station?

Delish Deli sign

You won't believe what you'll find in here!

By Jessica Pasko

Gourmet grub from a gas station?

Sounds like a Top Chef quickfire challenge, doesn't it? When users started praising the Delish Deli at the Mobil station in Delmar on Yelp, other users were quick to dismiss.

Really, who goes to a gas station for lunch? I mean, unless your concept of a meal consists of Twinkies and those rancid-looking hot dogs in glass cases? I don't.

Well... I didn't.

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Scooter Pie at Midnight's rock n' roll burlesque

By Jessica Pasko

scooterpie.jpgClad in fishnets, wigs and pasties, Scooter Pie is bringing her own brand of rock n' roll burlesque to Albany -- and audiences seem to be digging it.

When Scooter, aka Kiley Oram, first started doing burlesque in New York City, she was pretty naive. At her first show at the Boudoir Bar in Carroll Gardens, the other performers were surprised that she hadn't known to bring pasties. The Schenectady native and Notre-Dame/Bishop Gibbons alumna says it hadn't occurred to her that she'd have to take her bra off!

She learned fast.

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The teas at One of A Kind Teahouse

One of a kind teahouse outside

The One of a Kind Teahouse -- in the Chinatown building on Central Ave.

By Jessica Pasko

I'm a sucker for a good bubble tea.

Something about that sweet milky concoction of tea and flavoring with the tapioca pearls swimming in it is just oh-so-appealing.

I've been getting my fix at the Good Leaf Tea Co. or the Hong Kong Bakery on Central Avenue, but now that I've discovered the One of A Kind Teahouse, well, my bubble tea heart has been stolen.

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Timothy's World Market in Schenectady

Timothy's sign

Timothy's -- your one stop shop for goat and cricket bats.

By Jessica Pasko

Back when I compiled the AOA Ethnic Market Compendium a commenter pointed out that I'd missed some great Guyanese markets in Schenectady.

Schenectady has a pretty big Guyanese population, one that former Mayor Albert Jurczynski worked to help develop . The city now has a chapter of the Guyanese American Association and a whole bunch of Guyanese markets.

I took a drive out to the Electric City yesterday to check some of them out for myself. This was both a good idea and a bad idea.

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Men's roller derby coming to the Capital Region?

By Jessica Pasko

men's derby.jpgWe've already got two women's roller derby teams in the Capital Region, so why not a men's team?

That's what George Dunckley, aka Museknückle wants to know.

The current Albany All Stars Roller Derby referee is looking to get a guys team going locally. Among other things, he's looking for a few good men.

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Help set the Guinness record for dodgeball

dodgeball rush by Brian Kraus

Ready. Set. Dodgeball.

By Jessica Pasko

Albany could soon lay claim to a new record: the world's longest dodgeball game.

The folks of Albany Dodgeball, which is made up largely of members of the Albany Society for Advancement of Philanthropy, are trying to set a new Guinness World Record -- but they need a little help.

Here's the deal...

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Road Trip: North Adams & MASS MoCA

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The trip to MASS MoCA is part of the art

By Jessica Pasko

One of the good things about living in the Capital Region is that there are a wealth of cool places within a short distance.

Such as MASS MoCA and North Adams.

After the jump -- the virtual road trip.

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The Grand Street Vacant Lot Project

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What would you put here?

By Jessica Pasko

What would you do with a vacant lot? The folks of Grand Street Community Arts want to know.

They've got big plans to turn some of the empty lots in Albany's South End into areas of urban beautification. Through the Vacant Lot Project, organizers will be working with community organizations and individuals to come up with new ways to revitalize the spaces.

And they're looking for input.

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Rewriting the bible in Columbia County

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Phillip Patterson beneath the willows. (photo by Laura Glazer)

By Jessica Pasko

Phillip Patterson is hand-writing the Bible.

Yes, the entire bible. The 1611 King James bible, to precise. The Columbia County resident hopes to complete it by next year, the book's 500th birthday.

Intrigued?

Laura Glazer was. Yes, that Laura Glazer. The host of Hello Pretty City.

What's all this about?

A mix of things, really.

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The Puppet People of Schenectady

puppet people composite

Michelle, Mark and a few of their friends.

By Jessica Pasko,

Schenectady's Michelle Smith-Carrigan and Mark Carrigan advertise themselves as "your puppet professionals."

Seriously, how much fun must they have at parties?

"So what do you do for a living?"

"Well, actually, I'm a puppet professional..."

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The kimchi (and other stuff) at Kim's

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Kimchi and more.

By Jessica Pasko

I love almost anything that's pickled or fermented, and I especially love spicy food. So I was pretty psyched to discover the store-made kim chi at Kim's Asian Market.

If you've never had it, Kim chi is basically a mix of pickled, fermented vegetables that's pretty commonplace in Korean cuisine. It's got a funky, slight pungent taste to it with a varying level of heat.

So how was it?

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Marketplace Gallery re-opening

Recovery

Art from The Market Gallery's "Recovery" show, just about a year ago

By Jessica Pasko

The Marketplace Gallery , located in a loft down by the Port of Albany, held several awesome art shows last spring and summer. The expansive space, run by Samson Contompasis and his brothers Alex and Max, was a great addition to the Albany arts scene, until an electrical fire back in August shut it down.

Now, after months of rebuilding, the Contompasis brothers are re-opening their gallery and they've got some promising plans for the place.


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The ethnic market map

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This way to the tiramisu...

By Jessica Pasko

The Capital Region has a great number of wonderful little specialty markets that I just can't resist. From Greek to Italian, to Indian and Russian, and everything in between.

While this is by no means fully comprehensive, AOA's put together a Capital Region Ethnic Market Map of some of our favorites -- a sort of ethnic market compendium.

Know of other places we should check out? Please share!

Pellegrino's Italian/Greek market

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Pellegrino's Italian, American & Greek (oh, yeah!) market.

By Jessica Pasko

I'm always trying to find the perfect thing to bring to dinner and cocktail parties. Lately it's been the grape leaves from Nora's

This week I stumbled upon a new place to look -- the Greek selection at Pellegrino's.

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Troy co-op slated to open this summer

Troy Food Coop sketch

A sketch of what the Troy Food Cooperative could look like by this summer.

By Jessica Pasko

So, you know that proposed Troy food co-op there's been so much buzz about?

Well if everything goes according to plan, it looks like you'll be able to shop there by this summer.

Here's the scoop.

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Curling in the Capital Region

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Sweep! Sweep! Sweep!

By Jessica Pasko

The Winter Olympics are coming, and you know what that means. It's curling season! You know brooms and ice and -- well, actually, that's about all I knew about curling. And while Stephen Colbert's curling attempts looked amusing, I figured that probably wasn't the best representation.

So I checked in with the Albany Curling Club for a closer look.

Yes. Albany has a curling club.

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Signs of the times

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The South End Tavern in Troy

By Jessica Pasko

Ever notice how many cool old retro signs are hanging around the Capital Region?

I can't help it -- I find something about about all that kitsch rather charming. The other day I got thinking about some of my favorites and made a list.

Some of my favorites (with pictures of course) can be found after the jump.

What did I miss?

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It's glassware! It's an instrument! It's both!

ed stander

Stand back -- he's a professional.

By Jessica Pasko

Ed Stander plays the glasses. That is, he plays wine glasses and brandy snifters as a musical instrument. Really.

The Delmar resident internationally renowned for it -- he's played the glasses all over the world (including the Great Wall of China). You might have also seen him performing at this year's First Night celebration in Saratoga.

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Siena's vampire explainer

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Bela Lugosi in the 1931 film Dracula

By Jessica Pasko

A while ago I heard a rumor that Siena College had its very own vampire expert.

Yes, a vampire expert.

Obviously I needed to look into that. So I picked up some garlic and a stake and went to check it out.

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Jessica Pasko Appreciation Day

jessica pasko

The one and only.

Today is Jessica Pasko Appreciation Day on AOA.

Jessica is a big part of AOA's success. She's always finding interesting stuff to post about, whether it's a person with an odd talent or a little-known ethnic market or an unusual museum.

She's also always willing to help out, picking up a pizza for the TOP or sending along an event for Stuff To Do This Weekend.

And did we mention she's a fun, cool person?

Jess, you're the best. Thank you.

Grape leaves at Nora's Grocery

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Stuffed grape leaves at Nora's Grocery

By Jessica Pasko

Not long ago a friend told me the stuffed grape leaves at Nora's Grocery in Watervliet were the best they ever had. Now, I love grape leaves (or dolmades, as they're also known), so I knew I needed to give these a shot.

Last week I went out in search of Nora's Grocery to try them for myself.

Was it worth the trip?

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'E ko logic: "green" clothing from Troy

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Racks full of great shirts that used to be other stuff

By Jessica Pasko

Old sweaters and t-shirts become one-of-a-kind high-fashion items at Ekologic in Troy.

The company's been making their green-friendly sweaters, mittens and more since before "green" was trendy and they're definitely worth checking out.

Ask Brad Pitt and Catherine Keener. They're among the celebs who have been spotted wearing 'e ko logic designs.

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Drops of Jupiter

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Designs by Drops of Jupiter

By Jessica Pasko

Martin Dodge used to design floral arrangements for the likes of Heidi Klum, Ashlee Simpson and other West Coast celebs.

Now he's designing high-end arrangements on the East Coast at his new shop on Sheridan Avenue in Albany.

But don't look for the standard roses and baby's breath. Dodge's take on flowers is something else entirely.

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Xs to Os Vegan Bakery in Troy

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Xs to Os Vegan Bakery

By Jessica Pasko

It's getting better and better to be a vegan in the Capital District.

Not only is there now a vegan catering company, there's also a new vegan bakery in Troy.

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Rrrawsome

junot sprout stalk

Jess' dog Junot, enjoying a Brussels sprout stalk snack

By Jessica Pasko

Okay, you've probaly heard of the raw food diet for people. So it's probably no surprise that the idea has spread to dog food, too. After all, their wild ancestors certainly weren't dabbling with meat grinders or industrial ovens.

Lisa Rosamino of Ballston Lake has been feeding her dogs a raw diet for over a decade now, and she runs a business -- called Rrrawsome -- that sells raw dog food ingredients locally.

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Skin Poison

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There are some things you just want to be sure of.

By Jessica Pasko

Okay, so you'd really like a big dragon tattoo but you can't figure out exactly where it would look best.

Wouldn't it be great if there was someplace you could get a sort of virtual tattoo -- something that would let you visualize the tat on your bod before getting the real thing.

Turns out, there is. It's also kind of a MySpace for Capital Region tattoo lovers.

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Casey Dwyer's wool headbands

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Fashion, meet function.

By Jessica Pasko

I saw these the other day and can't help but lust over them.

Glens Falls resident Casey Dwyer's wool headbands just seem like the perfect way to add a little warmth to a cold day and still look cool. They're made out of three layers of wool felt in hand-printed floral and leaf designs in a bevy of colors.

Dwyer works on her designs out of a studio in the Troy Shirt Factory , which despite it's name is actually in Glens Falls and is home to several local businesses and artisans. But she's selling her wares in boutiques and craft fairs from Brooklyn to Portland.

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Sweet Peas in Delmar

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Sweet Peas in Delmar. Cool stuff, but no peas.

By Jessica Pasko

No, Sweet Peas is not a farm stand.

It's a place to go if you're looking for a cool antique dresser or a pair of locally made earrings.

They don't sound like things you'd shop for in the same store, but this new-ish shop in Delmar may be the place to find both.

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Food for Thought: vegan catering

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No animals were harmed in the making of this fudge.

By Jessica Pasko

Vegans have been able to get their pizza fix at Albany's Little Anthony's for the past five years. But if you had a large group to feed in the Capital District, and you wanted to go vegan with more than pizza, well...that was a little tougher.

Now Little Anthony's owner Pat Battuello owner is expanding his vegan repertoire. Battuello has joined forces with local vegan blogger Nicole Arciello Berhaupt and the two are working to start an all-vegan catering service called Food For Thought.

So if you ever need a tray of vegan baked ziti (with "ricotta" made from tofu and cashews) to feed a large group, well, now you're in luck.

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Pumpkin pie ice cream from Adirondack Creamery

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It's like pumpkin pie -- but, you know, without the crust.

By Jessica Pasko

I'm kind of a sucker for fall flavors, be it apple, sweet potato or pumpkin.

So when I spotted this pumpkin pie ice cream from Adirondack Creamery the other day, I felt obligated to try it.

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The ghost of Eva Tanguay

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Cohoes Music Hall. Eva's haunt?

By Jessica Pasko

So apparently one of the most famous Vaudeville stars still hangs out at the Cohoes Music Hall.

The thing is, she's been dead since 1947.

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Wende's Happy Hula Hoops

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Wende's happy hoops.

By Jessica Pasko

Ever hula hoop? Yes, hula hoop.

Of course you have.

Most of us had a hoop of our own when we were kids. Well, apparently it's kind of a thing again -- for fun and for fitness.

You can still find some of the standard, garden variety hoops in the toy stores next to the boxes of colorful rubber balls, but Wende Smith would rather make her own. And hers have sparkly pink and purple butterflies and other cool stuff.

Wende is a Saratoga County mom and the owner of a little company called Happy Hoops.

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Seth and his sauerkraut

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Sausage recommended, but not required.

By Jessica Pasko

So about a year ago, some friends turned me on to Hawthorne Valley's lacto-fermented sauerkraut and now, no other kraut can compare.

It's crispy, it's tangy, it's almost, well, effervescent. It's eat-straight-from-the-jar-good. No sausage required. It will give your Oktoberfest that certain je ne sais quoi. ]

And it's the brain child of a guy called Sauerkraut Seth.

No, really. That's what they call him.

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The Everything Film Show

madison theater marquee

A recent show about independent theaters featured Madison owner Jay Pregent.

By Jessica Pasko

Albany-based filmmaker Jeff Burns loved listening to film podcasts, but couldn't find exactly what he was looking for. So he created one of his own.

With friend and fellow filmmaker Jay Ruzicka, Burns started "The Everything Film Show" in April. Since then, the show has featured interviews with directors, producers and other people in the film business -- both national and local.

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Flux at St. Joseph's

st. joes

Gothic.

By Jessica Pasko

Remember that Papergirl project? It's part of a bigger art event called Flux that's being held this weekend.

Flux promises three nights (and two days) of art, music and food (served up by the Albany Pump Station). But the real star of the show will be the venue itself, St. Joseph's Cathedral in Albany's Ten Broeck neighborhood. It's a beautiful, fascinating building that you shouldn't miss the opportunity to check out.

Really -- you need to see this building.

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Cardona's gets cheesier

cardonas cheese

Cheesy.

By Jessica Pasko

As if I didn't already have enough reasons to be completely in love with Cardona's Market, now it has an expanding cheese selection.

In the past few months, it's gone from just a little corner to a full-on cheese section. It's so delicious seeming, in fact, that it actually managed to get my head out of the olive bar -- which says a lot for an olive lover like me.

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Worms under the kitchen sink

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He's not very photogenic-- but he's helpful.

By Jessica Pasko

Leah Walsh has worms.

Lots of them, in fact.

And they're living under her kitchen sink.

The Albany resident, whose blog Our Yellow House documents DIY crafts, cooking, gardening and raising her two girls in the mansion neighborhood, got the worms awhile back to help her compost food waste and garbage.

So how's that working out for her?

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Learn to be a blacksmith. No, really.

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Blacksmiths at Normanskill Farm

By Jessica Pasko

Blacksmiths may seem like a bit of an archaic concept, kind of like outhouses and the horse and buggy. But in some circles the art of blacksmithing is still alive and well.

Locally there's a group of blacksmiths that run a forge at the Normanskill Preserve, and they're hoping you'll come check them out and maybe even try it yourself.

Apparently it's not just for horseshoes anymore.

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My birthday at Local 111

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The makings of a happy birthday.

By Jessica Pasko

You only get one birthday a year -- so you want to celebrate someplace really special, right? If you're looking for someplace with really good food and ambiance -- and you don't mind a pretty drive toward the Catskills, then I have the perfect place for you.

This year marks the second birthday dinner I've had at Local 111 in Philmont, near Hudson, and once again I can't stop raving.

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Diving Discovery -- in Colonie?

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For your inner Cousteau

By Jessica Pasko

For years I've been driving past something called Diving Discovery Scuba Center on Central Avenue, but I've never really given it more than a passing glance. Sure I've wondered, "Scuba gear? In Colonie?" But that was about as far as it went.

But you never know when you'll want to go diving for sunken shipwrecks and stuff -- so the other day I decided to venture in and check it out.

It turns out this place is for divers and wannabees.

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India Bazaar

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For all your jackfruit chip needs.

By Jessica Pasko

This week my continuing tour of the area's ethnic markets has brought me to India Bazaar in Colonie. Think curries and chutneys galore. Think at least a dozen of varieties of naan bread. Think fun snacks. Think "gripe water."

Seriously, the selection here is pretty impressive.

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Patrick Boegel's got hops

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Beer doesn't grow on trees.

By Jessica Pasko

Plenty of people brew their own beer, but Patrick Boegel takes home brewing a step further.

The Delmar home brewer has been crafting his own beers for about ten years -- but last year he decided to start growing his own hops.

Hops are one of the main component of beer -- and they're a really important part of how the beer tastes, but most home brewers just buy them.

So why did Patrick Boegel start growing his own? To get him through the great world hops crisis of 2007.

Obviously.

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Breakfast at The Buttery

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The Buttery. Simple is good.

By Jessica Pasko

When it comes to breakfast, sometimes you just want simplicity: a place to drink coffee and read the paper with no fuss. No goat cheese omelets. No frittatas. No frilly french toast.

Don't get me wrong. I love a good fancy brunch complete with bloody Mary or mimosa. But some mornings I just want the kind of down home style breakfast they used to serve at Woolworth's lunch counters. You know-- in the pre-Starbucks days.

That's what you get at Buttery Restaurant, near Albany's Commerce Plaza.


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The Grafton Peace Pagoda

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The Grafton Peace Pagoda

By Jessica Pasko

A peace pagoda sounds like something you'd have to trek to Nepal to find, right? Uh-uh. There's a gorgeous one right in Rensselaer County, in the quiet little town of Grafton.

The Grafton Peace Pagoda is a lovely spot that's home to a famed Buddhist nun .

Here's the scoop.

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Al-Baraki's garlic paste by the pint

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Take that, vampires!

By Jessica Pasko

The garlic paste at Al-Baraki is -- well -- it's amazing. How can the simple combination of garlic, lemon juice, salt and organic soy oil be so good? How do they do it?

I could eat this stuff by the pint. Which is why I was so happy when I noticed they sell it in pint size tubs in the deli section at Honest Weight Co-op!

I may never have fresh breath again.

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Dnipro Eastern European Grocery

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When you've got to have borscht, and you've got to have it now.

By Jessica Pasko

A recent thread on Table Hopping turned me on to the existence of Dnipro, an Eastern European grocery store and deli.

Now really, how could I not check that out?

So a took a ride to Cohoes and found everything from instant borscht to Czar Nicholas tea.

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CSI Albany

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Because you never know when you'll need crime scene tape.

By Jessica Pasko

So if you're looking for, say, SWAT team clothing or forensic evidence receptacles, look no further. Apparently you can satisfy all your CSI needs right here in the Capital Region.

Really.

It turns out that one of the biggest vendors of crime scene products and other law enforcement supplies has been right here in good old Albany for 82 years.

And, as it happens, the sales staff at National Law Enforcement Supply looks a little like they just stepped out of the cast of CSI.

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Elderberry Mary's jam

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Jammin'

By Jessica Pasko

I don't really use much jam or jelly, so when I do, Smuckers just isn't going to cut it. Nope. I want one bursting with fruit flavor, kind of like I'd imagine someone's grandmother would make.

And don't let me see high fructose corn syrup as a main ingredient.

This is why I'm digging Elderberry Mary's jams lately.

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Casperland

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Kate Sweater and Pete Edwards of Casperland

By Jessica Pasko

Think back to your old talking toys. You know, like the Speak and Spell, or the mini Barbie Karaoke machine (what, you didn't have one of those?).

Now imagine them souped-up and turned into musical instruments. That's kind of the idea behind Casper Electronics in Troy.

Pete Edwards has been modifying and creating unique electronic instruments for about nine years using things like old circuit boards, keyboards and old toys. He's worked on projects for all sorts of musicians, including Negativland, Mike Patton (of bands like Faith No More and Mr. Bungle) and Danny Elfman. .

Recently Edwards and his partner Kate Sweater, moved their shop from Brooklyn to Troy. Hmm.

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The Burden Ironworks Museum

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The Burden Ironworks Museum

By Jessica Pasko

Today they're calling it "the new Brooklyn" (OK, some people are calling it the new Brooklyn) but industrial historian Tom Carroll is more likely to refer to Troy as the 19th Century Silicon Valley.

Before The Collar City was known for its collars, it was known for producing horseshoes, railroad ties and other iron products -- including a cast for the Centennial Liberty Bell and parts of the USS Monitor.

Carroll has collected that history at Troy's Burden Ironworks Museum -- and he can tell you everything you want to know about they city's industrial history... and then some.

Wait, don't let that scare you off. Some of it is pretty interesting stuff.

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Fork Art

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Forks you can't eat with.

By Jessica Pasko

When your parents told you not to play with your food, they probably meant the utensils too. But what if they knew you could make a living at it. Really.

At this year's Tulipfest and Art on Lark events, I spotted this very cool art made entirely of forks.

Just bent forks.

No glue, no soldering, no Matrix-like powers -- just a pair of pliers.

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The Menands Farmers' Market

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The Capital District Farmers Market in Menands

By Jessica Pasko

Farmers' markets are definitely one of my favorite things about summer and we're pretty lucky here in the Capital Region to have so many to choose from.

And while I'm trying not to discriminate or be a hater, everybody has markets that they're more partial to. High on my list is The Capital District Farmers Market in Menands.

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The National Bottle Museum

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Bottles of fun?

By Jessica Pasko

A while ago I heard a rumor that there was a bottle museum somewhere near Saratoga. And, well, that sounded just odd enough for me to want to investigate.

Turns out that not only is there a bottle museum-- it's the National Bottle Museum. Yes, we have a National Bottle Museum. OK, why not?

It occupies an unassuming storefront in an old three story building in the village of Ballston Spa and it holds over 2,000 bottles from medicine and perfume bottles to liquor and beer bottles and just about every glass vessel in between.

So is it worth a trip?

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The Closet Shop in Delmar

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Cool, higher end consignment finds

By Jessica Pasko

The Closet Shop is a little more, uh -- upscale than the thrift stores I usually prefer to frequent.

Still, a trip there this week proved that if you're willing to pay just a little bit more, there are all kinds of good things to be found.

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Whole milk yogurt from the Argyle Cheese Farmer

By Jessica Pasko

Yogurt.jpgSo last weekend at the Central Avenue Farmers' Market I made a beeline for the Argyle Cheese Farmers' stand and the promise of, well, cheese.

And I went away with -- yogurt. Home-made whole-milk yogurt.

And?

Move over Dannon.

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The Marcella Sembrich Opera Museum

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The opera isn't the only reason to visit.

By Jessica Pasko

Okay, so the words "opera museum" don't exactly scream cool.

Still, I'm going to risk my street cred and suggest a visit to the Marcella Sembrich Opera Museum .

No, you don't have to like opera to enjoy it.

So why should you go there?

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Your Veggie Mobile questions answered

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Veging at St. Sophia.

By Jessica Pasko

A few weeks ago, AOA told you that the Veggie Mobile was a finalist in an international competition. And based on the comment thread that ensued, it seemed like a lot of you were pretty curious about the whole thing.

So I caught up with Veggie Mobile Coordinator EJ Krans to get the whole scoop...

(And by the way, when he's not selling veggies, you can catch EJ playing around town with Sgt. Dunbar and the Hobo Banned and We are Jeneric.)

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Flan at Mexican Radio

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delicioso!

By Jessica Pasko

A couple of weeks ago, a "stuff to do this weekend" post prompted a discussion of the flan at Mexican Radio in Hudson.

Regular commenter B
. -- and the restaurant itself -- claim it's the best flan around. And apparently a lot of people back that opinion up.

Being just a little crazy for custards, I figured I better look into that lofty claim myself. I admit I'm usually more of a creme brulee kind of girl, but flan's kind of like creme brulee's Latin American cousin, isn't?

Uh, sure. Anyways..... bet you want to know how it is.

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Visiting Olana

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Olana

By Jessica Pasko

Every once in a while, you just have to "get out of Dodge" -- so to speak. You know, those times when you can't take a two week vacation, or even a long weekend, but you just need a quick change of scenery.

If it's a day trip you're looking for, I can't recommend Olana enough. The sprawling estate of artist Frederic Edwin Church is beautiful, and it's the perfect place to hike, picnic, sketch and take pictures.

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The Ravena Barn flea market

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Everything but the kitchen sink. And maybe that too.

By Jessica Pasko

At first glance the Ravena Barn sort of seems like the place where unwanted items go to die -- a kind of final resting place for chipped plates, old housecoats and an entire collection of appliance how-to manuals long-since parted with their corresponding equipment.

The flea market on Rt. 9w in Ravena is lovingly and colloquially known as "the junk store,"
but I'm pretty confident you could find pretty much anything there. Anything. At. All.

If you're willing to look.

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Sherry Lynn's Gluten Free Cafe

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Gooey, gluten free goodness

By Jessica Pasko

Update: We've created a listing of Capital Region gluten-free restaurant options.
____

Let's face it - food allergies and dietary restrictions kind of, well, suck. When you're eating out, you don't really want to make an issue of it -- but at the same time, being stuck with a plain iceberg salad again can get a little tedious.

So I was pretty excited about Sherry Lynn's Gluten Free , an entire cafe and store dedicated to serving food for those of us with celiac disease or wheat allergies.

I never made it out to Sherry Lynn's old place in Brunswick -- but I'd been waiting patiently for several months for this new, larger business in Latham.

The service is a little slow, but the selection is pretty impressive. And some of the gluten free treats I tasted were yummy enough to share with wheat-eating friends. If you're -- you know-- inclined to share.

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The Shilly Shally Fire Arts Meet Up Group

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Cool.

By Jessica Pasko

So, remember a few weeks ago when I talked with fire eating hula hooper extraordinaire Dehva Colure and she mentioned a local fire artists meet up group? Mmmm-hmm.

Well, I promised more about that later -- and here it is.

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The First Prize Center

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Tobin's First Prize Center -- the sign is all that's left.

By Jessica Pasko

If you've along Everett Road in Albany, you've seen that huge old sign for the First Prize Center (it's near I-90). And you've probably wondered, "What the heck is the First Prize Center?"

Did they make trophies? Blue ribbons? Those big checks for the Publishers Clearinghouse give-away?

Here's something you probably wouldn't have guessed: hot dogs.

Yes, hot dogs.

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Rolf's Pork Store

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Yum. Weiners!

By Jessica Pasko

It's barbeque season -- but the Troy Pork Store is gone. No more locally made hot dogs and sausages -- what will you do?

Wait -- before you go into full out weiner withdrawal check out Rolf's in Albany.

This German shop has been selling over 50 kinds of handmade meats and sausages for decades.

Oh, and they've got a whole bunch of other stuff too -- from pork bellies to German romance novels.

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Fire eater Jennifer "Dehva Colure" Canton

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Hot stuff

By Jessica Pasko

A divorce, a trip to San Diego and a few YouTube videos helped 33-year-old Jennifer Canton transform herself into the fire-eating, hula hooping dynamo that is Dehva Colure.

The Tribes Hill resident (near Amsterdam) is now a photographer/social worker by day and a fire eater by night.

How it happened and more photos, after the jump.

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Frank and Giovanni's Market

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La Marqueta

By Jessica Pasko

OK, so there's this market in Albany -- it has an Italian name and sells Caribbean goods to mostly Spanish speaking shoppers.

The place is called Frank and Giovanni's Market, but it may be better known as La Marqueta. And it's stocked with all kinds of exotic and interesting foods from tubers to plantains to pigs' feet.

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The auto clinic/ car wash/ dog wash

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So it turns out it's hard to get a good picture of a dog getting a bath.

By Jessica Pasko

"Hmm... should I get the oil changed, wash the car or bathe the dog?"

Well, that's one dilemma you'll never have to struggle with again. Now you can do them all at once at the auto clinic/car wash/dog wash in Menands.

Yes, the auto clinic/car wash/dog wash.

It made sense to me, considering my dirty dog is often to blame for my dirty car. And if you've got a dog bigger than say, a Chihuahua or a pug, then you know what a pain trying to bathe them at home in the tub can be.

This week, the pooch was starting to smell a bit from all that rolling in the park so I decided to check it out.

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Pop Rocks cocktail at dp

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Mikey likes it!

By Jessica Pasko

If popular retro-themed activities like adult kickball or spelling bees in the bars just aren't doing it for you -- or if you just want a drink to compliment them -- try the pop rocks cocktail at dp.

This sweet drink is a slightly more sophisticated way to relive your childhood.

Slightly.

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Moon and River Cafe in Schenectady

By Jessica Pasko

Moon and River.jpgSo earlier in the week I dropped into the Moon and River Cafe in Schenectady to checkout the Electric City Ukulele Club and I thought, "Wow, I should write about this place."

It was my first visit to this fun, quirky little cafe but it certainly won't be my last.

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The Electric City Ukulele Club

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Electric City ukers

By Jessica Pasko

So it turns out the ukulele craze has made it to Schenectady.

What? You didn't know there was a ukulele craze?

Well, we're not sure craze is the right word, but apparently the uke has seen a resurgence in popularity. In the past several years it's moved well beyond the hula and folk to rock and even punk (yes, there's actually a punk group called Uke til You Puke.)

Search ukulele on YouTube.com and you'll find a ton of renditions of pop and rock songs done uke-style. There's even a documentary called Rock that Uke along with festivals and groups around the country dedicated to the pint-sized string instrument.

If you're a ukulele lady (or man) or you're just curious, you can jam with other uke lovers or listen in at The Electric City Ukulele Club.

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The Troy Book Makers

troy book makers

Troy Book Makers on River Street.

By Jessica Pasko

The Troy Book Maker's name sounds a little like it's run by guys who'll give you odds at Saratoga.

No, they don't make book. They make books.

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Food photographer Tomas Malave

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Tomas Malave, doing his thing.

By Jessica Pasko

Local photographer Tomas Malave says that taking his amazing pictures of food comes easily.

"The food just speaks for itself," he told me.

Hmmm. I've taken food photos and I'm thinking that if the food speaks-- it's clearly choosey about who it talks to.

No, taking delicious pictures like Malave's requires talent. Tomas Malave's talent for photographing food was nurtured right here in Albany.

Where? Bombers Burrito Bar.

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Thrift at Something Olde, Something New

penguins from Something Olde

A quirky little find from Something Olde, Something new

By Jessica Pasko

Let's face it, if you're a thrift shopper, you have to keep yourself open to possibility. Borrowing from Forest Gump's chocolate box metaphor, "you never know what you're going to get."

At Something Olde, Something New in Slingerlands, you could walk out with a unique housewarming gift --or a pair of vintage Gucci alligator heels. You just never know. And that's half the fun.


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Trashy looks at UAlbany's Ecouture

By Jessica Pasko

trash 2.jpg This Friday night at UAlbany models will be strutting down the catwalk in clothing that's just garbage.

Really. It's trash. Actual trash.

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Recovery: From Albany to Afghanistan and back

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Murals by "Recovery" artist Samson Contompasis

By Jessica Pasko

The idea for the "Recovery" art show started here in Albany and made it's way to Afghanistan and New York City. This week it's home again.

The premise of the show -- that art, like war, can greatly affect people's lives.

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Crazy dollar! 99 Cent City in Northway Mall

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You never know what you're going to find.

By Jessica Pasko

If you ever find yourself in need of a samurai sword, a pile of small Buddha figurine, a bamboo plant and a whole bunch of stuff to outfit your pad for your next Chinese New Year party, I know just the place -- 99 Cents City at the Northway Mall Plaza.

I can't lie - I'm just a little bit obsessed with this store.

Why?

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Ric Orlando's New World Bistro Bar

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It's open!!!

By Jessica Pasko

After waiting impatiently for what seems like forever, I finally got to try Ric Orlando's new restaurant in Albany, The New World Bistro Bar, next to the Spectrum Theatre.

And, well, if last night's soft opening is any indicator, it's been worth the wait.

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Wolff's Biergarten preview

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Wolff's wurst.

By Jessica Pasko

So last night I checked out a preview of Albany's new German-themed Wolff's Biergarten. The club formerly known as Noche and Jack Rabbit Slims has been given the full Bavarian makeover, turning the firehouse next to Miss Albany Diner into an authentic-seeming wursthaus.

Under the direction of Bombers impresario Matt Baumgartner, the one-time tapas lounge has given up the leather couches and ritz for antler light fixtures, rustic picnic tables and a large, paper mache tree "growing" out of the center of the room.

In fact, with the sawdust on the floor, the trays of peanuts and the wood-paneled walls, it sort of feels like being in a barn -- but in the best way possible. Imagine a place where it's Oktoberfest every day, somewhere outside of Epcott Center. Honestly, the only thing missing from the atmosphere was a few corseted tavern wenches and an oom-pah band.

How was it?

The wurst part wasn't even the best part!

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Albany's rooftop U-haul

uhaul building

Hey, how'd that get up there?

By Jessica Pasko

You've seen it from 787, from Rensselaer, from the port of Albany.

Sure, by now it may just be a part of the A-Town landscape, but when you first noticed it you thought, "How the hell did they get that thing up there?" A big moving truck? On top of a seven-story U-Haul storage building in downtown Albany?

Any guesses? I finally broke down and asked.

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Corned beef at Old World Provisions

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Pass the cabbage, please.

By Jessica Pasko

As any good Irish-American or wannabe knows, St. Paddy's Day is quickly approaching and that means it's time for corned beef and cabbage. But where to get your corned beef--that's the question.

What if I told you you could get corned beef in Albany from the place that supplies some of N.Y.C.'s most famous delis? Yes, that's what I'm telling you.

Where? Old World Provisions Pastrami and Corned Beef Outlet on S. Pearl Street. Yep, a corned beef and pastrami outlet.

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It's CSA sign-up time

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You can get these -- and a lot of other great stuff -- from a local CSA

By Jessica Pasko

OK, yes, it's only March but it's not too early to start thinking about signing up for a CSA (community supported agriculture) farm share. In fact, now's the time the slots are filling up fast.

If you're not familiar with the CSA model, here's how it works: individuals or families sign up for a farm share through one of the many participating farms in the area. Then each week during the growing season, you'll be able to pick up a "share" of fresh produce, depending on what's in season.

Some farms focus solely on vegetables, while others include fruit, baked goods, eggs and even meat, depending on what type of program you're looking for. It's a great way to get lots of wonderful healthy food and support an area farm at the same time.

But how do you know which CSAs have what, how much they cost, and where to find them? The Web site localharvest.org has a thorough listing of CSA farms searchable by zip code and provides some of the basic details of what each farm provides.

Lucky for us, there are many CSA farms in the area, so AOA's put together a mini guide to several of the local CSAs to help you decide which share program would work best for you.

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Saratoga Peanut Butter

By Jessica Pasko

saratoga peanut butter.jpgIt's tough to be a peanut butter lover these days. If you like that creamy, peanuty goodness but hate-- you know-- salmonella, then a pb&j can feel a bit like a game of Russian roulette. A very tasty game of Russian roulette.

Wait-- don't do it!

The Saratoga Peanut Butter Company is a much safer and yummier alternative.

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All Over Albany is for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. In other words, it's for you. It's kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who can help you find out what's up. Oh, and our friends call us AOA.

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The City should take a more proactive approach based on neighborhood consensus. A prescriptive design guideline with great clarity could save lots of graves for aspiring developers and other stakeholders. The City has to be clear upfront on conditions to be met such as overall allowed building volume, easy river connection, parking, pedestrian oriented ground floor usage and etc. It not seems reasonable to expect commercial developers to build something on their own initiative to both maximize ROI and please all city residents.

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