Items tagged with 'holidays'

A few bits of fun local holiday history

Pease Christmas Card

The first Christmas card was printed in Albany. Really. / image courtesy of Manchester Metropolitan University

Here's are some fun of local Christmas and holiday history that might be fun to share with family and friends over the next few days...

The first Christmas card
The first Christmas card was printed in Albany in 1851. One of the cards is currently on display at the Albany Institute of History and Art as part of the Capital Region in 50 Objects exhibit.

The Albany store/printer that produced that first Christmas card was Pease's Temple of Fancy, which is also said to have been the first to use a depiction of Santa in an ad.

T'was the night before Christmas...
The poem "A Visit From Saint Nicholas" was first published in the Troy Sentinel in 1823, but there's a controversy over who actually wrote it -- Clement C. Moore or Henry Livingston, Jr. For the last couple of years, Duncan Crary and Jack Casey have produced The Trial Before Christmas -- a mock trial with real attorneys in the Rensselaer County Courthouse, to determine the true author of the poem. Missed it? Here's a video from last year.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus
Yes, that Virginia -- who wrote the letter to the New York Sun that was answered by editor Francis Pharcellus Church -- lived for quite a while in Valatie in Columbia County. There is even film of her reading the famous editorial answer to her letter to a group of area school children.

The 18th century holiday table
Many Christmas traditions trace at least some of their roots to the Dutch. And, of course, the Dutch were a major influence in Albany's history. Earlier this fall we talked with food historian Sara Evenson about what was probably on holiday tables in Albany during the 18th century, including Christmas "cookey."

Also fun: An 1823 recipe for Albany Cake -- and Peck's Arcade pastry chef Greg Kern's recreations of the cake.

Where to get a good fruitcake?

fruitcake on plate Flickr storebukkebruse CCBryon 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?

photo: Flickr user storebukkebruse (CC BY 2.0)

The Airing of Grievances 2015

festivus pole peppermint pigs

The drawing for the Peppermint Pigs is now closed!

This week many people will celebrate a holiday that brings us all together... to complain.

Yes, Festivus is near. And we will once again commemorate the day with a traditional Airing of Grievances.

So, what are your small annoyances, complaints, or frustrations?

Gather round the unadorned aluminum pole, let it rip, and let it go. You'll feel better. It's good to get it out before facing your relatives and the questions about why you're not married/don't have kids/aren't making more money and that one uncle who only gets his news from email forwards and Facebook.

But here's the deal: Grievances can not include personal attacks, nastiness, or creepiness. (You'll know it when you see it.)

To balance the bitter with the sweet, as is tradition, we will give Peppermint Pigs to two people who air their grievances in the comments. The winners will be picked randomly.

The Editors will begin the Airing after the jump. We're looking forward to hearing your grievances. (You're on your own for the Feats of Strength.)

Merry Festivus.

Important: To be eligible for the Peppermint Pig drawing, your comment must be submitted by 11:59 pm on December 22, 2015. You must include a working email address (that you check regularly) with your comment. Normal commenting guidelines apply. One entry per person, please. Winners will be notified by noon on Wednesday, December 23 and must respond by noon on Monday, December 28.

(there's more)

Last-minute local holiday eats

bottle of the 10th pin

Nine Pin + Albany Distilling = The 10th Pin. / photo via Nine Pin FB

By Deanna Fox

OH, DANG! You have a holiday party to go to, and you blanked on bringing a gift or a dish to pass, didn't you?

Don't worry, it happens, especially with the hustle of the holiday season.

Fear not: We, your dear friends in the holiday spirit, are here to set you on your merry way with a few suggestions for last-minute grab-and-go items that will have everyone thinking you've definitely got your ho-ho-ho together.

(there's more)

Christmas tree price answers gathered up

undecorated ESP Christmas tree 2015Prompted by a question from Hollie earlier this week we asked about where you got your real/live Christmas tree this year and how much it cost. A bunch of people answered in the comments -- thank you!

We figured it'd be useful to boil down all the answers for a few bits of info:

+ The average price people reported paying was $39.50. (That was for a range of tree sizes.)

+ The high price was $55 -- for an 8-foot precut tree Chris got at Calhoun's Farm Stand in Brunswick ("Great trees (all Frasier firs), super nice people."), and for a tree Spoon got at Olsen's in Slingerlands ("We go there because they have the set-up to drill a hole for our tree stand. And they are the only place I know that does.")

+ The low price was $15 for a tree from Bob's Trees in Galway. MaryElise reported they had "piles of trees" in different price ranges based on height, type, and fullness. "We found a 6' to 7' slender tree in the $15 section. It might not be everyone else's dream tree but we have a small apartment and wanted a tall slender tree. So yeah we got an awesome tree for $15."

Here are the local answers in a quick-scan table.

This wasn't a systematic survey, of course. So your mileage will no doubt vary. But the answers were pretty closely clustered. So it's probably fair to say you'll pay about $40. Bigger tends to cost more than smaller, as does pre-cut compared to cut-your-own. And look for oddball trees that might not appeal to everyone, but might work for you -- they could be a deal.

A good restaurant for Christmas dinner?

chow fun at Hong Kong BakeryNancy emails:

For several years we have enjoyed going to Karavali in Latham on Christmas Day. This year we'd like to explore somewhere else. Nothing wrong with Karavali - it's great and very busy that day.
We are looking for something in the nearby Capital Region - NOT a typical Christmas Buffet at a hotel, but an interesting, non-religious restaurant which is open on Christmas Day and provides great food and a festive atmosphere.
May I ask the readers of AOA to make suggestions, please?

We get the feeling from Nancy's email that she's very interested in heading to another ethnic restaurant, or just trying something a bit different.

Anyone have local Christmas Day dining experiences or suggestions to share with Nancy? Please share!

Capital Region holiday events 2015

Troy Victorian Stroll balloon man

It's now December and the Capital Region's bag of holiday-themed events is stuffed with tree lightings, Victorian strolls, concerts, screenings of holiday classics, and a bunch of other activities.

And here's a big list of them...

(there's more)

Holiday markets 2015

basilica farm flea photo

Basilica Farm & Flea is one of a handful of holiday markets coming up.

The unofficial official holiday shopping season starts up this week. And if you're looking for something a little bit different -- craftier, handmade, more independent, fair trade -- there are a handful of local holiday markets around the region.

And here's a list...

(there's more)

Video of "The Trial Before Christmas"

trial before christmas 2014 video screengrab

Check it out: Video from this year's staging of "The Trial Before Christmas" at the Rensselaer County Courthouse in Troy is now online.

The trial was to determine who really wrote the famous poem "A Visit From St. Nicholas," which was first published in the Troy Sentinel in 1823 -- Clement Clarke Moore or Henry Livingston, Jr. It included a real judge and attorneys, expert testimony, ghostly witnesses, Elvis, and some rather festive pants worn by E. Stewart Jones.

The event was organized by Duncan Crary and Jack Casey. The video of the trial was produced by RPI TV, and it's well done.

Paska bread from Schuyler Bakery

Schuyler Bakery Watervliet exterior

By Deanna Fox

I went to Schuyler Bakery for the snowflake rolls, but I'll be going back for the Paska bread.

When everyone's favorite Speedo'ed Santa, Jim Larson, told me that the dinner rolls (AKA snowflake rolls, for their pre-bake dusting of flour like freshly fallen snow) at Schuyler Bakery in Watervliet were one of the best things he's eaten in the Capital Region, I knew I had to check them out. What I wasn't expecting was to come home with an assortment of other delights -- like the two other varieties of dinner rolls and a quarter-dozen of the bakeshop's famed glazed donuts.

But I'm glad I did, or else I'd never know how good the Paska bread is.

(there's more)

The Airing of Grievances 2014

festivus pole peppermint pigs

The drawing is now closed! But if you'd still like to air your grievance, please do.

Once again we're celebrating Festivus with a traditional Airing of Grievances.

So, what are your small annoyances, complaints, or frustrations?

Gather round the unadorned aluminum pole, let it rip, and let it go. You'll feel better. And it's good to get it out before facing your relatives and that one uncle who gets all his news from Facebook shares and email forwards.

But here's the deal: grievances can not include personal attacks, nastiness, or creepiness. (You'll know it when you see it.)

To balance the bitter with the sweet, as is tradition, we will give Peppermint Pigs to two people who air their grievances in the comments. The winners will be picked randomly.

The Editors have begun the Airing with their grievances, after the jump. We're looking forward to hearing yours.

Merry Festivus.

Important: To be eligible for the Peppermint Pig drawing, your comment must be submitted by 5 pm on December 23, 2014. You must include a working email address (that you check regularly) with your comment. Normal commenting guidelines apply. One entry per person, please. Winners will be notified by noon on Wednesday and must respond by noon on Monday, December 29.

(there's more)

Local food gifts

cornelius applejack bottle

Well, it would be a very heavy -- and happy -- stocking.

By Deanna Fox

We're into the stretch run for December holidays, so we asked Deanna for a few stocking stuffer-type local food gift ideas.

Stockings are my favorite part of Christmas morning. In my family, you are not allowed to open any presents until everyone is awake and in the living room, around the tree. Stockings, however, are fair game. As soon as you wake up, you can tiptoe to the mantle, un-hook your stocking, and dump out all the goodies that are crammed deep into the toe.

Here are some local treats I'm hoping to find in my stocking this year.

(there's more)

Where to get latkes?

latkes on plate Flickr Sarah and Jason CC BY-SA 2.0Xina 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!

photo: Flickr user Sarah and Jason (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Good neighborhood holiday light displays?

holiday lights in the park 2014 snapshotPaul emails:

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!

Won't you guide my sleigh tonight?

RPI LRC Rudolph Graph

From Lighting Research Center at RPI some science to go along with the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer story:

Interestingly, LRC research on perception under headlamp illumination of different colors under inclement weather like blowing snow confirms that the red color of Rudolph's nose was a very fortunate circumstance. LRC researchers John Bullough and Mark Rea measured peoples' ability to perform a driving task while looking through a simulated nighttime snowstorm. The headlights in that study could be red, yellow, white or blue-green, meaning people had to look through visual noise illuminated by different colors while performing the driving task. Performance was best under the red light and worst for the blue-green light. Bullough's and Rea's results showed that the light reflected by blowing snow when driving at night is least distracting when the color is red and that sensitivity to conditions like their simulated snowstorm may be influenced by rod photoreceptors in drivers' eyes, which are more sensitive to "blue" light and less sensitive to "red" light. In other words, the light from Rudolph's red nose could help make rooftops more visible by making blowing snow less visible!

And to think they used to laugh and call him names.

Looking forward to the "Rudolph" setting for the headlights on some future car.

Holiday cocktail tour: part 2

liquor bottles behind Malt Room bar

By Lauren Hittinger

Since the holiday cocktail is such a central part of any festive fête, we asked five Capital Region bars to create locally-themed versions of their favorite seasonal drinks.

Last time we stopped by New World Bistro Bar, dp, and 677 Prime to try their creations.

Today we'll finish up the tour with Speakeasy 518, The Malt Room, and the tasters pick their favorites.

(there's more)

Holiday cocktail tour: part 1

cocktail at dp

By Lauren Hittinger

It's December, which means we are officially into holiday party time. I know that you're not looking forward to endless crudités and cubed cheese. Let's be honest. It's all about the holiday cocktail.

Here at All Over Albany we recognize the importance of a good festive drink. That's why we asked five local bars to create the perfect holiday cocktail. To make things even more interesting, we requested that each beverage contain at least one ingredient local to the Capital Region.

We brought along some tasters to give their opinion, roped in designated drivers, and headed off to try the five festive creations.

(there's more)

Capital Region holiday events 2014

santa playing sax troy victorian stroll

It's the season of sax-playing Santa.

December is here and the Capital Region's schedule of holiday-themed events is stuffed with tree lights, Victorian strolls, concerts, screenings of holiday classics, and a bunch of other activities.

And here's a rundown of them...

(there's more)

Holiday markets 2014

basilica farm and flea

The Basilica Farm + Flea

Many people will be out and about doing holiday shopping over the next few weeks. If you're looking for something a little bit different -- craftier, handmade, more independent, fair trade -- there are a handful of local holiday markets coming up that could be worth a stop.

And here's a rundown of them...

(there's more)

Where to buy a goose?

roast goose flickr Tim Sackton ccJustin emails:

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!

photo: Flickr user Tim Sackton (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Stuff to do on New Year's Eve

When Harry Met Sally NYE

What are you doing New Year's Eve?

A lot of people have been asking us about things to do on New Year's Eve in the Capital Region. Here's the thing about New Year's Eve -- it's one of those things that gets hyped up and can end up being very disappointing. Kind of like the prom. Or Colonial Williamsburg.

Believe it or not, we're big fans of making your own fun on NYE, but if you've got your heart set on finding a party or event, there's always a lot happening.

We've gotten the ball rolling with a few suggestions after the jump. Let us know how you're planning to ring in the New Year.

(there's more)

Where to get gingerbread cookies?

rows of gingerbread men Flickr user FlareRuthie 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!

photo: Flickr user Flare (cc)

(there's more)

The Airing of Grievances 2013

festivus pole peppermint pigs

Something sweet to go with the sour.

The drawing is now closed! But if you'd still like to share your grievance, go right ahead.

As we have in past years, we're celebrating Festivus again this year with a traditional Airing of Grievances. (You're on your own for the Feats of Strength.)

What are your small annoyances, complaints, or frustrations? Gather round the unadorned aluminum pole, let it rip, and let it go. You'll feel better.

But here's the deal: grievances can not include personal attacks, nastiness, or creepiness. (You'll know it when you see it.)

To balance the bitter with the sweet, as is tradition, we will give Peppermint Pigs to three people who air their grievances in the comments. The winners will be picked randomly.

The Editors have begun the Airing with their grievances, after the jump. We're looking forward to hearing yours.

Merry Festivus.

Important: To be eligible for the Peppermint Pig drawing, your comment must be submitted by 10 am on December 24, 2013. You must include a working email address (that you check regularly) with your comment. One entry per person, please. Winners will be notified by noon on Tuesday and must respond by 5 pm on December 26.

(there's more)

Holiday gift list: Lydia Kulbida

Lydia - Holiday.jpg

Lydia could be that woman in the car in front of you, buying you coffee.

It's not about getting -- it's about giving. Everybody knows that. So instead of asking a handful of interesting people what's on their holiday wish list this year, we asked them what they'd like to give for the holidays this year.

Our final list comes from News10 anchor Lydia Kulbida.

(there's more)

"We know not to whom we are indebted for the following description of that unwearied patron of children..."

a visit from st nick troy sentinel clipping top

Tonight at the Rensselaer County Courthouse, there will be a trial -- with real attorneys, a judge, witnesses and everything -- to determine who actually authored the now-famous poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas," Clement C. Moore or Henry Livingston Jr (as mentioned). It starts at 6 pm and it should be a good time. (The event's been getting national coverage.)

As you know, the local link for this story of "Sante Claus" and "Dunder and Blixem" is that it first appeared in the Troy Sentinel on December 23, 1823. (See plaque in downtown Troy.) Thanks to Gramercy Communications, which had the archives of the Sentinel digitized, and trial organizer Duncan Crary (who else), the page from that issue of the Sentinel is online (a big pdf).

It's interesting to read the poem in context -- it's sandwiched between an article about honey and some wedding announcements. And the intro to the story hints to the controversy that would eventually arise over the poem's authorship.

Anyway, we thought it'd be fun to post the poem as it originally appeared on the page, like a newspaper clipping. It's after the jump. Almost two centuries later it's still a fun read.

(there's more)

Holiday gift list: Jim Larson

Jim Larson 2014 holiday gifting list.jpg

It's not about getting -- it's about giving. Everybody knows that. So instead of asking a handful of interesting people what's on their holiday wish list this year, we asked them what they'd like to give for the holidays this year.

Up next: Everyone's favorite Santa Speedo sprinter, Jim Larson...

(there's more)

Holiday gift list: Nicole Lemperle Correia

Nicole Lamperle Correia.jpg

On Nicole's gift list: A trip to the Corning Tower, sledding at Capital Hills, and monkey tattoos.

It's not about getting -- it's about giving. Everybody knows that. So instead of asking a handful of interesting people what's on their holiday wish list this year, we asked them what they'd like to give for the holidays this year.

Today's list, from It's Loverly's Nicole Lemperle Correia, is filled with Capital Region traditions.

(there's more)

Holiday gift list: Alexa Bernstein

Alexa Bernstein.jpg

Alexa and St. Nick -- making your holiday dreams come true.

It's not about getting -- it's about giving. Everybody knows that. So instead of asking a handful of interesting people what's on their holiday wish list this year, we asked them what they'd like to give for the holidays this year.

Today's list comes from fashion and DIY blogger Miss Rosie O., aka, Alexa Bernstein.

(there's more)

Holiday gift list: Chuck Miller

chuck miller holiday lights

Chuck is looking forward to going back with a vintage holiday.

It's not about getting -- it's about giving. Everybody knows that. So instead of asking a handful of interesting people what's on their holiday wish list this year, we asked them what they'd like to give for the holidays this year.

Today's list, from Chuck Miller, is a nostalgic look at toys from Christmas past that still make great presents in the present.

(there's more)

Holiday gift list: Jessica Belflower

Jessica Bellflower Holiday gift photo.jpg

It's not about getting -- it's about giving. Everybody knows that. So instead of asking a handful of interesting people what's on their holiday wish list this year, we asked them what they'd like to give for the holidays this year.

Today's gift list comes from Jessica Belflower -- and it includes a lot of time spent with the people she loves.

(there's more)

Holiday gift list: Schuyler Bull

Schuyler Bull .jpg

Schuyler wants to give you a megaplex.

It's not about getting -- it's about giving. Everybody knows that. So instead of asking a handful of interesting people what's on their holiday wish list this year, we asked them what they'd like to give for the holidays this year.

Today's list, from Schuyler Bull, even includes something for you.

(there's more)

Eat This: stocking stuffers

eat this stocking stuffers stroopwafel mug

How else would you keep a drink warm?

By Jeff Janssens

It's the season for giving and receiving, for eating and imbibing. And sometimes it's best when all those elements of the season are combined.

Even though a tin caramel corn or box of chocolates can be a much-appreciated gift this time of year, I'd like to offer a few alternative suggestions -- including local versions of some classics -- for you to stuff the stockings of loved ones with this year.

And if you don't have any stockings? I like to think these are all items that can be enjoyed, no matter the occasion.

(there's more)

Holiday gift list: Kaitlin Resler

Kaitlin Resler Holiday Wish List photo.jpg

"I've recently discovered that adults love a good pair of socks like nothing else."

It's not about getting -- it's about giving. Everybody knows that. So instead of asking a handful of interesting people what's on their holiday wish list this year, we asked them what they'd like to give for the holidays this year.

First up: The always fashionable Kaitlin Resler shares a few items from her shopping list this year -- including pendants, whiskey... and socks.

(there's more)

Santa Speedo Sprint 2013 photos

santa speedo sprint 2013 key

The Santa Speedo Sprint dashed down Lark Street again Saturday,

It was a fun time, as usual -- a big crowd of sprinters, some great costumes, and plenty of people lining the street to cheer on the runners. And the Albany Society for the Advance of Philanthropy raised $19,000 for the Albany Damien Center.

The sprint is one of our favorite holiday events. There are so many smiles. This year was no different. AND THERE WAS A GOAT.

A ton of photos are after the jump.

(there's more)

A Visit from St. Nicholas -- on trial

visit from st nick trial flyerThe classic poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas" appeared in the Troy Sentinel in 1823. That much, people agree on. There's a plaque and everything.

As for the poem's author... that's a matter of long-running dispute. So, how to settle this situation? How about a trial.

On December 18 there will be a mock trial of the case in an actual court room at the Rensselaer County Courthouse with an actual (retired) judge and actual attorneys. It's organized by Duncan Crary, because of course it is. Here's more about the trial via Paul Grondahl.

Heading up the argument for Clement C. Moore, who has traditionally been credited with the poem: E. Stewart Jones.

Heading up argument for Henry Livingston, Jr, who claims to have written the poem 15 years before it was published: Jack Casey.

Hearing the case: Retired state Supreme Court Justice Bud Malone.

Among the expert witnesses to be called: Rensselaer County historian Kathryn Sheehan.

The trial is at 6 pm on December 18 at the county court house. It's open to the public. There will be a reception at the Rensselaer County Historical Society afterward.

The arguments: Here's a quick overview of the two competing claims from Mental Floss.

Capital Region holiday events 2013

Troy_Victorian_Stroll_2012 balloon man

The Troy Victorian Stroll is Sunday, December 8.

This date for this year's Thanksgiving was the latest possible, so "the holiday season" is a bit compressed this year. That means lots of events all packed into the calendar for December.

After the jump, we've pulled together a bunch of the annual local celebrations, lightings, streetwalks, concerts, and other holiday merriment.

(there's more)

For the holiday dinner table: a handful of local conversation topics

Rockwell Thanksgiving.jpg

Because you can only talk about how "moist" the bird is for so long...

Some of you will spend Thanksgiving in a Norman Rockwell-esque tableau, basking in the warmth of family and friends, and taking advantage of the holiday to enjoy each other's company, reminiscing about holidays past, and catching up on what's new in each other's lives.

For others, though, no matter how much you may love your family, holiday get togethers can sometimes be an exercise in awkward silence, discussions of the moistness of the bird, whether you "made good time" on the road. Worse yet, they can devolve into holiday hits such as: "Why aren't you married yet?" "When am I going to get grandchildren?" and "Now, is that a real job, dear?"

So this year, we've pulled together a handful of local holiday conversation starters/savers with the hope they can help you avoid religion, politics, marriage, grandchildren, and other festive holiday land mines.

Got others you rely on? It's the season for sharing.

(there's more)

Where to buy a real Christmas tree?

Thumbnail image for blue spruce branch needlesHeather emails:

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...)

Printed in Albany: The first Christmas card and the first Santa ad

Thumbnail image for Temple of Fancy post card.jpg

The Temple of Fancy.

Somebody would have done it eventually. We're pretty sure about that. But it happened to be Richard H. Pease who did it first. The owner of the Pease's Temple of Fancy, a famed 19th century Albany variety store and printing operation, appears to be the first person to put have used the image of Santa Claus in advertising.

He's also the person who printed the first Christmas card in the US -- right here in Albany.

(there's more)

New Year's Eve parties?

Thumbnail image for champagne glass closeupKate emails:

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.

photo: Flickr user _FXR (cc)

The Airing of Grievances 2012

festivus pole peppermint pigs

bitter | sweet

The drawing's now closed. Winner's have been emailed! And the grievances are now closed.

As we have in past years, we're celebrating Festivus early this year -- complain, if you must -- with a traditional Airing of Grievances. (You're on your own for the Feats of Strength.)

So, gather round the unadorned aluminum pole, let it rip, and let it go. You'll feel better.

But here's the deal: grievances can not include personal attacks, nastiness, or creepiness. (You'll know it when you see it.)

To balance the bitter with the sweet, we are again giving Peppermint Pigs to three people who air their grievances in the comments. The winners will be picked randomly.

The Editors have already aired their grievances after the jump. We're looking forward to hearing yours.

Merry Festivus.

Important: To be eligible for the Peppermint Pig drawing, your comment must be submitted by 11:59 pm on December 18, 2012. You must include a working email address (that you check regularly) with your comment. One entry per person, please. Winners will be notified by noon on Wednesday and must respond by 10 am on December 20.

(there's more)

Holiday wish list: Albany Jane

TOP2011 final judges overhead

The holiday season is a time for making wish lists, and shopping lists. In an effort to help you with both, we're asking a handful of people what's on their local holiday wish list this year.

Today, the final wish list. It's from AOA pizza judge, blogger, and lover of tasty things Albany Jane.

(there's more)

Holiday wish list: Casey Normile

Casey Holiday Wish List 2012.jpg

On Casey's list: pumpkin ale, crack granola, and extended hours.

The holiday season is a time for making wish lists, and shopping lists. In an effort to help you with both, we're asking a handful of people what's on their local holiday wish list this year.

Today's wish comes from hiker, beer aficionado and AOA contributor Casey Normile.

(there's more)

Holiday wish list: Bill Pettit

Bill Petit - wish list photo.jpg

Bill's list is a trip through Lark Street history.

The holiday season is a time for making wish lists, and shopping lists. In an effort to help you with both, we're asking a handful of people what's on their local holiday wish list this year.

Today's list comes from temporary Center Square resident Bill Pettit.

(there's more)

Holiday wish list: Laura Glazer

Laura Glazer Holiday Wish List 2012.jpg

Laura's wishing for music, stamps and a red radio.

The holiday season is a time for making wish lists, and shopping lists. In an effort to help you with both, we're asking a handful of people what's on their local holiday wish list this year.

Today's wish list comes from artist and Hello Pretty City host Laura Glazer.

(there's more)

Holiday wish list: Duncan Crary

DuncanTugboat.jpg

On Duncan's list: Wooden shoes, Volcano juice and pig snouts

The holiday season is a time for making wish lists, and shopping lists. In an effort to help you with both, we're asking a handful of people what's on their local holiday wish list this year.

Today's list comes from author, podcaster and self-described Troy supremacist Duncan Crary.

(there's more)

Holiday wish list: Laura McCarthy

Laura McCarthy Holiday wish list.jpg

The holiday season is a time for making wish lists, and shopping lists. In an effort to help you with both, we're asking a handful of people what's on their local holiday wish list this year.

Today's list comes from Laura McCarthy.

(there's more)

Holiday wish list: Jim Larson

santa_speedo_sprint_2011_6856.JPG

What do you get for a Santa with a closet full of Speedos?

The holiday season is a time for making wish lists, and shopping lists. In an effort to help you with both, we're asking a handful of people what's on their local holiday wish list this year.

Today's list comes from the Capital Region's favorite Speedo-clad Santa, the Albany Society for the Advancement of Philanthropy's Jim Larson.

(there's more)

Favorite local holiday traditions?

empire state plaza ice skating 2012Colleen 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.

Holiday wish list: Mamatoga Jenny

Holiday Gift list Mamatoga Jenny.jpg

On Jenny's list: horsey stuff, portraits, family brunches, and fleece lined tights.

The holiday season is a time for making wish lists, and shopping lists. In an effort to help you with both, we're asking a handful of people what's on their local holiday wish list this year.

Today's list comes from Mamatoga's Jenny Witte...

(there's more)

Holiday wish list: Deanna Fox

Holiday gift list Deanna Fox.jpg

The holiday season is a time for making wish lists, and shopping lists. In an effort to help you with both, we're asking a handful of folks what's on their local holiday wish list this year.

Today's list comes from Deanna Fox, owner of Local Flavor and writer for Silly Goose Farm, the TU's Eat Local and From Scratch Club.

(there's more)

Holiday wish list: Tim Dawkins

Holiday gift list Tim Dawkins.jpg

What's on Tim's list might be on your list, too.

The holiday season is a time for making wish lists, and shopping lists. In an effort to help you with both, we're asking a handful of people what's on their local holiday wish list this year.

Today's list comes from educator, photographer, storyteller and AOA contributor Tim Dawkins.

(there's more)

Troy Victorian Stroll 2012 photos

Troy Victorian Stroll balloon man

And the balloon man was there again.

It was fun walking around the Victorian Stroll in Troy Sunday. Lots of strollers (both types), people in Victoriana, street performers, decorated windows.

One of the good things about the stroll is the way it highlights downtown Troy's assets -- the walkable, compact grid; the beautiful architecture; the interesting shop spaces.

Here are a bunch of photos from the afternoon...

(there's more)

A good Christmas tree lot, and spray-free trees?

blue spruce branch needlesTwo 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?

Please share!

Holiday wish list: Kate Welshofer

Holiday wish list photo Kate Welshofer

Reindeer are untrustworthy.

The holiday season is a time for making wish lists and shopping lists. In an effort to help you with both, we're asking a handful of people what's on their local holiday wish list this year.

Today's list comes from YNN anchor Kate Welshofer, with a little help from her favorite anchor cat, Brian Williams.

(there's more)

Where to cut your own Christmas tree 2012

Christmas tree farm 2.jpg

O, Christmas tree...

Thanksgiving? Check. Holiday shopping started? Check. Time for the tree.

Like picking your own apples, cutting your own tree can make the experience of bringing home a holiday tree more fun. After the jump we've updated our list of cut-your-own Christmas tree places, with addresses, maps, prices and details on the types and sizes of trees you can expect to find.

If we're missing your favorite cut-your -own spot, please share.

(there's more)

Poll: half say retail stores shouldn't open on Thanksgiving

Thumbnail image for christmas tree ornamentA bunch of bits from the Siena poll's annual holiday survey of people in New York State:

+ 67 percent of respondents said they're excited about the holiday season -- 33 percent said they're not.

+ "Of the following, during this time of the year, which greeting is the one you yourself most often use, is it..."
Merry Christmas: 55 percent
Happy Holidays: 38 percent
Seasons' Greetings: 5 percent

+ 75 percent of people say they planned to put up a Christmas tree. On the ever contentious real vs artificial topic: real 39 percent | artificial 60 percent.

+ "[W]hat do you, personally, enjoy most about the holiday season?" Spending time with family and friends: 76 percent.

+ "[W]hat do you, personally, enjoy the least about the holiday season?" The commercialization of the holiday: 41 percent.

+ "Will you be shopping on the Friday after Thanksgiving this year?" Yes: 23 percent | No: 69 percent.

+ "Do you think retailers should or should not be open to shoppers on Thanksgiving night?" Yes: 38 percent | No: 54 percent. The younger the person, the more likely they were to say yes (55 percent of 18-34 year olds).

(there's more)

Capital Region holiday events 2012

tree lighting fireworks 2009

The ESP always lights its tree with a bang. / photo: Sebastien Barre

Updated

It doesn't seem like Thanksgiving should be here yet -- but it is. And with it comes the start of all the holiday whatnot. After the jump, we've pulled together a bunch of the annual local celebrations, lightings, streetwalks, concerts, and other merriment.

(there's more)

Where to see the fireworks 2012

By Casey Normile

Happy birthday America!

The 4th of July isn't here until Wednesday, but the fireworks are starting already.

If you're feeling patriotic, or you just want to oooh and ahh at pretty lights in the sky, you'll find a listing of local displays after the jump.

(there's more)

Local Valentine's Day gifts

Thumbnail image for candy hearts closeupWith 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?

Local holiday wish list: the Editors -- and Otto

otto christmas tree

The holidays can be overwhelming. Sometimes you need a nap.

In holiday seasons past AOA has made lists of local gifts we thought people might like to get. This year, we're going right to the source. Instead of making our list, we've asked a few people directly: What's on your holiday wish list?

The last list comes from each of the Editors. And Otto.

(there's more)

Yes, Virginia of Valatie, there is a Santa Claus

virginia o'hanlon as a childIn 1897, New York Sun editor Francis Pharcellus Church wrote a beautiful, now-famous editorial in answer to a letter from an 8-year-old girl named Virginia O'Hanlon.

As the story goes, O'Hanlon had asked her father, a Manhattan doctor, if Santa Claus was real. Thankfully, her dad passed the buck, suggesting little Virginia put the question to the editor of the Sun. Church took the ball and ran with it. His editorial takes the concept of Santa from the idea of getting to the idea of giving -- making it about the kindnesses we can all do for one another.

So if the whole thing took place in Manhattan, why are we writing about it? Well, we were looking for the letter this weekend and stumbled upon something that surprised us: it turns out the grown up Virgina lived in Valatie. And there's video to prove it.

(there's more)

The Airing of Grievances 2011

festivus pole peppermint pigs

Bitter | Sweet

The Peppermint Pig drawing is now closed. But please feel free to continue airing your grievances.

We're celebrating Festivus early this year with a traditional Airing of Grievances.

So, gather round the unadorned aluminum pole and let it rip. You'll feel better. But here's the deal: grievances can not include personal attacks, nastiness or creepiness.

To balance the bitter with the sweet, we'll be giving Peppermint Pigs to three people who air the grievances in the comments. The winners will be picked randomly.

The Editors have already aired their grievances after the jump. We're looking forward to hearing yours. Merry Festivus.

Important: To be eligible for the Peppermint Pig drawing, your comment must be submitted by noon on December 21, 2011. You must include a working email address (that you check regularly -- seriously, we want to send you the pig) with your comment. One entry per person. Winners will be notified by 5 pm that day and must respond by noon on December 22.

(there's more)

Local holiday wish list: Sarah LaDuke

Sarah LaDuke.jpg

Sarah would like movie tickets, beer and an opportunity to watch humans box step.

In holiday seasons past AOA has made lists of local gifts we thought people might like to get. This year, we're going right to the source. Instead of making our list, we've asked a few people directly: What's on your holiday wish list?

Today's tasty and entertaining list comes from Sarah LaDuke...

(there's more)

Local holiday wish list: Ethan Georgi

Ethan Georgi - Holiday wish list

On Ethan's local wish list: beer, peanut butter, bike gear and bridge repair.

In holiday seasons past AOA has made lists of local gifts we thought people might like to get. This year, we're going right to the source. Instead of making our list, we've asked a few people directly: What's on your holiday wish list?

Today's list comes from Life After Programming's Ethan Georgi.

(there's more)

"Don't Steal Or Kill This Christmas"

Today is dreary. The embedded above might help. It's a song from Saratoga-based band Dryer. It's not your typical Christmas music. They have a Saratoga show coming up in February.

We posted this song last year, too. (Thanks to @WEXT for the reminder.)

Two years in a row -- that might make it a tradition.

Volunteering around Christmas?

Thumbnail image for flower in handsLooking 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

Local holiday wish list: Erik Dollman

Erik Dollman Holiday Gift photo.jpg

Erik would like a ray gun that disintegrates shawl collar cardigans, please.

In holiday seasons past AOA has made lists of local gifts we thought people might like to get. This year, we're going right to the source. Instead of making our list, we've asked a few people directly: What's on your holiday wish list?

Next up: Erik's list has some gift ideas for the man about town.

(there's more)

Local holiday wish list: Jerry Papandrea

jerry papandrea derryX christmas

On the derryX Christmas list: beer, marshmallows, sock animals and a 5 pound box of veal.

In holiday seasons past AOA has made lists of local gifts we thought people might like to get. This year, we're going right to the source. Instead of making our list, we've asked a few people directly: What's on your holiday wish list?

Today's list comes from Jerry derryX Papandrea.

(there's more)

The Time Warner Cable Yule Log: now in 3D

Time Warner Yule Log in 3D

The 3D Yule Log (minus 3D TV and 3D glasses)

This weekend, we were looking for a little festive background music while decorating the tree, when suddenly we remembered this audiovisual experience.

So we checked and sure enough, there it was -- the Time Warner Cable Holiday Yule Log channel is back, on the Free Movies on Demand Channel (1030). And this year it's available in a new dimension.

(there's more)

Local holiday wish list: Katie Beltramo

Katie Beltramo

Gift cards, penguins, fairies and a little something for Mommy.

In holiday seasons past AOA has made lists of local gifts we thought people might like to get. This year, we're going right to the source. Instead of making our list, we've asked a few people directly: What's on your holiday wish list?

Up next: Katie Beltramo from Capital District Fun and Kids Out and About...

(there's more)

Local holiday wish list: Matthew Carefully

Matthew Carefully

Matthew wants Capital Region experiences -- musical and non-musical.

In holiday seasons past AOA has made lists of local gifts we thought people might like to get. This year, we're going right to the source. Instead of making our list, we've asked a few people directly: What's on your holiday wish list?

After the jump, what to get Matthew Carefully this year...

(there's more)

Local holiday wish list: Daniel B.

Daniel B

On Daniel's wish list this year: wine, food and kidney fat.

In holiday seasons past AOA has made lists of local gifts we thought people might like to get. This year, we're going right to the source. Instead of making our list, we've asked a few people directly: What's on your holiday wish list?

Next up: Daniel B. shares his fussy little wish list.

(there's more)

Local holiday wish list: Kaitlin Resler

Kaitlin Resler Holiday Wish List

On Kaitlin's list: candy, books and pretty vintage things.

In holiday seasons past AOA has made lists of local gifts we thought people might like to get. This year, we're going right to the source. Instead of making our list, we've asked a few people directly: What's on your holiday wish list?

Next up: the very fashionable Kaitlin Resler...

(there's more)

Beaming up Santa

santa abducted by aliens holiday light display

For Santa's sake, let's hope all that stuff about probing is a myth.

Arielle sent along this holiday light display from the yard of a house on Western Ave in Guilderland.

Yep, that's Santa being abducted by aliens.

(Thanks, Arielle!)

Local holiday wish list: Unspeakable Visions Christine

Christine Hmiel

Things that would make Christine happy this holiday season: tea, movies and apple vodka.

In holiday seasons past AOA has made lists of local gifts we thought people might like to get. This year, we're going right to the source. Instead of making our list, we've asked a few people directly: what's on your holiday wish list.

Our first wish list comes from Unspeakable Visions Christine...

(there's more)

Bakeries that sell yule logs/Bûche de Noël for Christmas?

buche de noelKim 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!

photo: Andrew Pendleton via Wikipedia

Good holiday and New Year's stuff to do?

champagne flutesBen emails:

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

Victorian Stroll 2011 photos

troy victorian stroll 2011 sebastien

Festive.

Sebastien has posted a fun photoset from the Victorian Stroll in Troy on Sunday.

Here's another photoset from the stroll by Vic Christopher.

And one of Paul's photos resulted in a great joke: "Hipster Bichon enjoyed Troy before it was cool."

photo: Sebastien Barre

How to avoid the mall for holiday shopping?

tightknit market troy atriumWith 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!

photo: TightKnit

New Yorkers: charitable, like friends and artificial trees, don't believe in Santa Claus

christmas tree in shop windowA bunch of holiday bits from the Siena survey out today:

+ 67 percent of people said they are excited about the holiday season; 32 percent said they're not.

+ 34 percent of people said they're cutting back their holiday spending this year compared to last (37 percent said they were last year). Seven percent said they're increasing (compared to 4 percent last year).

+ 23 percent of people said their financial situation is better compared to last year; 30 percent said it's worse.

+ 26 percent said they plan to spend $1,000+ on gifts.

+ 19 percent of people said they shop on the day after Thanksgiving.

+ 57 percent said they planned to do at least some online shopping -- and of those people, 30 percent said it was because of crowds.

+ 59 percent said they try to buy gifts from locally-owned and operated businesses.

+ 77 percent said they would be making a charitable contribution this season; 30 percent said they'd be volunteering.

+ What people enjoy most about the holidays: 77 percent said spending time with family and friends. What people enjoy the least: 39 percent said the commercialization of the holidays. (Takeaway: your family and friends would probably rather you make time for them than buy them a gift.)

+ 63 percent said they think the holiday decorations and ads start too soon.

+ Most often used greeting: Merry Christmas (53 percent), Happy Holidays (37 percent).

+ "I hate to admit it but at this point I'm more Scrooge than Santa." Agree/disagree: 23/67.

+ Among people who put up a Christmas tree, 59 percent say they go artificial.

+ "Would you say you believe in Santa Claus or not?"" Believe: 30 percent. Do not believe: 69 percent.

Margin of error +/- 3.9.

What are you thankful for this year?

otto superhero cape

We're also thankful for Otto -- he has a way of making people smile.

Kathy's comment was picked in the drawing -- and she chose the Bethesda House in Schenectady as her charity.

Giving thanks is on our minds this week because of the holiday. So, we'd like to know:

What are you thankful for this year?

We'd love to hear your answer in the comments. It could be anyone or anything.

We'll draw one person at random from and AOA will give $100 to a charity of that person's choice. We did this last year and Elizabeth's name was drawn -- she chose Animal Lovers as her charity.

OK, we'll start: We're thankful for our friends and family, for their love and support and patience. And we're thankful for you -- AOA is an interesting place because of the people around it. We greatly appreciate all the suggestions and contributions, the thoughtful and funny comments. Thank you.

Important: To be part of the drawing, you must submit your comment (that answers the question) by 5 pm on November 23. You must include a working email address (that you check regularly). The winner will be notified by 10 am on November 28 and must respond by 10 am on November 29. The choice of charity is subject to AOA approval (for example, we're not going to give money to People Against Puppies).

Turkey time at Coldwater Creek Farm

coldwater creek farm turkeys flock

Gobble. Gobble.

By Siobhan Connally

James Kromer doesn't talk turkey.

So as he was driving 200 squawking, day-old chicks by car from a 50-year-old turkey farm in Boston to his Coldwater Creek Farm, his family's 26-acre property in southern Rensselaer County, he just cranked up the tunes.

"They just chirped the whole time. After about an hour and a half it bothered me so I turned up the radio and opened up the windows for some white noise," laughs Kromer, an accountant by day, who is marking his second year raising antibiotic-free, pasture-raised white Broad Breasted turkeys for Thanksgiving.

So, how does an accountant end up raising 200 turkeys?

(there's more)

How to get rid of a Christmas tree?

christmas tree on sidewalkShadi emails:

Now that Christmas is over and all the festivities have come to an end... I was wondering if All Over Albany had suggestions as to how to dispose or re-use the no longer needed christmas tree.

Does the city come and pick up your un-wanted tree to use for composting? Do we need to call the city to schedule a pick up? If so, who do we call? Or are there other clever ways to re-use the trees that don't require it to be thrown on the sidewalk?

Shadi isn't the only one who has this question. We've heard a few people lately wonder about it.

Well, here's the answer for the City of Albany. If you put out your Christmas tree on your regular trash day (the tree should not be wrapped in anything), DGS will pick it up and compost it.

If you're not in Albany, give your town or trash hauler a call. They should be able to answer your question right away -- it's sort of the trash question of the moment.

photo: Flickr user julio.garciah

The Airing of Grievances

festivus poleThe august holiday of Festivus is traditionally celebrated tomorrow, but we've decided to observe it today with a traditional Airing of Grievances.

So, gather round the unadorned aluminum pole and let it all out. You'll feel better. And it'll make it easier to deal with all those relatives who are about to ask you why you (are not married, don't have kids, haven't finished school, don't live closer to family, are wearing that awful sweater).

To balance the bitter the with some sweet, AOA will give Peppermint Pigs to three people randomly picked from the comments. Here's the deal, though: grievances can not include personal attacks, nastiness or creepiness.

The Editors' lists of grievances are the jump. We're looking forward to hearing yours. Happy Festivus.

Important: To be eligible for the Peppermint Pig drawing, your comment must be submitted by noon on December 23, 2010. You must include a working email address (that you check regularly) with your comment. One entry per person. Winners will be notified by 5 pm that day and must respond by noon on December 24.

(there's more)

The Time Warner Cable Yule Log

TIme Warner Yule jpg

The yule log, warm and festive, or a little disturbing --you decide

Over the weekend we were flipping channels searching for a little holiday cheer -- maybe an old Christmas movie or some Aaron Sorkin holiday episodes. But it was one of those 1057-channels-and-nothing-on-days.

Then -- deep in the bowels of the system -- on the free movies-on-demand channel (1030), past the TCM, Hallmark and Sundance Options, we found the Yule Log Channel.

We're still not sure what to think.

(there's more)

Caroling in Washington Park

washington park moses backlitIf your holidays have been missing caroling, you're in luck. A group is getting together in Albany's Washington Park tomorrow to help spread some holiday cheer:

On Wednesday December 22nd, at 6:00 we will be meeting in Washington Park in Albany, by the fountain. From there we will follow a route and spread some holiday cheer with our chorus of song. Included is a link to a google doc for the PDF of the song lyrics. Print it out, dress up warm, and come on out!
Invite everyone you know, the more the Merrier!

(Thanks, Marcie and everyone!)

Bonus random caroling fact: The term "wassailing" refers to both the 16th century practice of carolers singing for Christmas treats (figgy pudding, for example) -- and singing to apple orchards with the aim of helping the trees thrive. [Wikipedia]

A visit with St. Nick

Crossgates Mall jpg

The "Ho, ho, ho!" takes practice, apparently.

By Vincent Barr

He's an omnipresent part of the holiday season at Crossgates Mall and -- you know -- every mall. The mall Santa Claus.

Every year, millions of kids climb up on his knee and ask for what they want for Christmas, but I had some other questions.

This year, I sat down with the jolly old elf (and not just any old Santa, but a 24-year veteran St. Nick) to pick up some of the tricks of The Claus.

After the jump, one Santa's holiday tales filled with sweetness, hand sanitizer and snakes. Yes, snakes.

(there's more)

The last-minute shopper's local gift guide

Three_little_pigs.jpg

Peppermint Pigs -- a staple of Capital Region gift lists.

OK, here it is -- Christmas minus 4 days and counting. If you're not done shopping yet, you may be starting to feel a familiar holiday panic setting in.

But there's still a little time to avoid Wolf Road gridlock and still score some unique holiday gifts.

After the jump -- all in one place -- a rundown of AOA's favorite local holiday gifts from Christmases past and present. Take a quick look, then get out there and get it done!

Ready? Go!

(there's more)

Stuff to do with kids the week after Christmas

ice skaters on Buckingham Pond

Because there's only so much Wii you can play

By Katie Beltramo

Between shopping, mailing packages, and cleaning the house for guests, you probably haven't found too much time to think about what you're going to do for that stretch of time between Christmas and New Year's Eve.

Oh, sure, right now, it's shimmering on the horizon, an oasis of restfulness and serenity after the pre-holiday bustling around. You'll have a new book, maybe, and a cozy fire, and the kids will be playing that brand-new video game.

Sounds wonderful, right? Except that then, maybe six hours will pass, and you'll realize that the kids are still playing video games. And your visiting relatives are starting to get itchy. And any minute now they might start noticing all the not-so-clean parts of the house that you didn't get around to fixing up for them.

That's when it's time for a little post-holiday outing. Here are a few suggestions:

(there's more)

Caroling and midnight mass?

advent wreath angelTim emails with two questions:

Back home in LA every year I go around with a group of musicians who sing Christmas Carols in hospitals and nursing homes. I was wondering if you might point me in the right direction as to where I could do some Christmas Caroling this season.
If not that, how about a good candlelight/midnight mass? Does this stuff exist in Albany???

Anyone have suggestions for Tim? Please share!

photo: Flickr user msormann

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.

(there's more)

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.

(there's more)

Vintage Video Games from Pastime Legends

Pastime legends exterior.jpg

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.

(there's more)

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.

(there's more)

Coffee, coffee, coffee

uncommon grounds giveaway basket

Caffeine for the holidays

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.

Life is too short to drink bad coffee, at least, in my humble opinion. But hey, some people don't always think they're worth the good coffee splurge.

Which is why this next installment of the AOA holiday gift guide is near and dear to my heart -- the gift of locally roasted coffee.

(there's more)

Run, We Must shirts and hoodies

ben kn shirts composite

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.

(there's more)

Capital Region Etsy: other stuff

etsy holiday 2010 other stuff composite

Random. In a good way.

By Crystal Powell

All this week Crystal has been sharing local finds on Etsy.

None of these things are just like the others.

Except to say that they're really neat.

And they were made in the Capital Region.

And they can be found on Etsy.

So I guess they're a little bit like the others.

Anyway, to wrap up the Capital Region Etsy round-up, here are a few things from Capital Region Etsy shops that were fun and cool, but defied categorization.

(there's more)

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.

(there's more)

Capital Region Etsy: kid stuff

etsy holiday 2010 kids composite

Cute.

By Crystal Powell

All this week Crystal is sharing local finds on Etsy.

Because I refuse to set foot into the madness that is a children's store during holiday shopping season, I've spent a lot of time on Etsy trying to find a great Christmas gift for my one-year-old nephew.

Between all the people who love this kid, he probably already owns at least one of everything in those stores, so I decided my best bet for getting him something he doesn't have would be to browse the kids shops on Etsy. In the process I came across some great local finds.

(there's more)

Capital Region Etsy: clothing

etsy holiday 2010 clothing composite

A few ways to keep warm.

By Crystal Powell

All this week Crystal is sharing local finds on Etsy.

Every year when the seasons change I browse local chain stores trying to find hats or gloves similar to those my mom used to hand knit when I was a kid. Then I end up suffering through the winter with cold hands because I'm picky and can never find quite what I'm looking for.

This year I found a number of shops on Etsy who love to hand knit custom orders. So unlike that pair of gloves I saw at the mall that weren't quite the right color, I can literally get anything I want. Luckily, there are several local shops who know the pain of Upstate winters and have some unique vintage and handmade pieces.

(there's more)

Capital Region Etsy: jewelry

etsy holidays 2010 jewelry composite

Made in the CR

By Crystal Powell

If you've been to Tight Knit or some of the other local craft fairs, you may already know that the Capital Region has a really awesome and diverse handmade community. Still, you usually have to wade through dozens of different vendors selling basically the same items to find that one diamond in the rough. And even if you wanted to spend your weekends combing the craft fairs, who has that kind of time?

In an effort help you navigate our local handmade community and spare you some of the holiday craziness, I've culled out some local Etsy shops that caught my eye. AOA will be posting some of my favorites throughout the week.

We start with some pretty fabulous handmade jewelry.

(there's more)

Good neighborhood Christmas light displays?

bokeh christmas lightsJudy emails:

My kids LOVE Christmas lights. The oohs and ahhs from the backseat this time of year makes driving at night a fun adventure, but there's just one problem - we're getting used to our usual streets! Do your readers know of any local neighborhoods that really put on a show (and don't mind a little extra traffic, of course)?

We also got this question from @touchofgr3y.

The first place that springs to mind is Apple Blossom Lane in Colonie -- here's video by Christen Gowan from last year's decorations.

There have to be others. Know of one (or more)? Please share!

(And thanks to Katie at Capital District Fun for doing a little asking around on this one!)

photo: Flickr user George Deputee

Saratoga Victorian Streetwalk 2010 photos

saratoga victorian streetwalk sebastien

A good way to stay warm.

Sebastien's posted a photoset with some really nice photos from Thursday's Victorian Streetwalk in Saratoga. The set includes a lot of good closeups of people, costumes and... reindeer.

This year's streetwalk was jammed, apparently. As Drew tweeted last night:

Saratoga is to Victorian Streetwalk as studio apartment is to U2 concert.

photo: Sebastien B

Where to cut your own Christmas tree

christmas tree farm beltramo

What other family tradition can involve small children and saws?

By Katie Beltramo

Here's updated info for 2012.

You've probably bought apples at a supermarket before, but isn't picking apples at a local orchard a much more satisfying experience? Sure, it takes more time, but you're embracing the season, getting a vastly superior product and supporting local farmers.

It's the same with cutting down your own fresh tree. It kind of turns an errand into an adventure. And we're lucky enough to live a short distance from several different Christmas tree farms.

(there's more)

All sorts of annual holiday events over the next few days

tree lighting fireworks 2009

One of Sebastien's photos from last year's tree lighting at the ESP.

There are all sorts of annual holiday-related local activities coming up over the next few days. You'll have plenty of opportunities to get your annual fix of Victorian street walks, The Nutcracker, Christmas concerts and tree lighting.

Here's a quick list...

(there's more)

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.

(there's more)

A special Christmas message from DRYER

As DRYER tweeted last night: "The Capital District should know the truth about the holidays."

This song is off the reborn Saratoga band's album "Strut and Fret." It's available on iTunes -- both the single (99 cents) and the whole 31 song album ($9.99).

You'll hum this the rest of the day in your head -- whatever your feelings about Christmas.

What New Yorkers think about the holidays

christmas tree in shop windowA bunch of bits from a recent Siena poll of New Yorkers about the holidays:

+ 57 percent of people said they planned to spend the same amount this year on gifts as last year -- and 37 percent said less.

+ 64 percent of people said their gift budget this year was $600 or less. 23 percent said it was $1000 or more.

+ 26 percent of people said they were worse off this year than during last year's holidays. 17 percent said they were better off.

+ 59 percent said they try to buy holiday gifts at locally-owned and operated businesses.

+ 45 percent said they do no holiday shopping online -- 25 percent said they do half or more of their shopping online.

+ 74 percent said they normally do not shop on the day after Thanksgiving.

+ 77 percent said they'll be making a charitable donation to the needy this holiday season. 33 percent said they'll be volunteering.

+ 76 percent said the thing they enjoy most about the holidays is spending time with family and friends. 38 percent said the thing they enjoy least about the holidays is "the commercialization of the holiday."

+ 13 percent of people said they're "not at all excited" about the holidays

+ 62 percent said they agree the holiday season is "now just too long."

+ 23 percent said they agreed that "at this point I'm more Scrooge than Santa."

+ The split on the typical holiday greeting:
Merry Christmas - 53 percent | Happy Holidays - 38 percent
Merry Christmas was more popular upstate, Happy Holidays downstate

+ 74 percent say they put up a Christmas tree. Of those people, 58 percent say they use an artificial tree.

+ 30 percent of people say they believe in Santa Claus.

Happy Thanksgiving!

can cranberry

We have a lot to be thankful for this year!

Thank you to everyone who's been a part of it. We appreciate it.

Stuff to do with kids on Thanksgiving weekend

three_little_pigs.jpg

Learn the truth behind the 3 Little Pigs this weekend at Hudson Opera House.

By Katie Beltramo

Sure, Thanksgiving is great for spending time at home with family, friends, and food. But if you've got kids in the house (your own or guests or both), chances are pretty good that they'll be climbing the walls with energy to burn Friday morning.

Since I'm always on the lookout for family fun activities for my blog, Capital District Fun, the AOA editors asked me to look around for some good stuff going on this weekend.

Here are a few ideas...

(there's more)

On premature holidaying

christmas tree in shop windowMartin emails about issue that's been simmering with us, too:

I think we all agree that mmerchandisers and television ads begin celebrating Christmas too soon. I was in CVS a week before Halloween and store employees were stocking Christmas chachkas. Last night my wife suggested we dig out Christmas decorations and start decorating for the upcoming holiday, but I still I think it's too soon, and that we should wait until after Thanksgiving. We've sparked a great debate among friends. How soon is too soon to start decorating/celebrating Christmas?

Premature holidaying has been going for a long time, but we seemed to notice it a bit more this year. Maybe it was the radio stations that started playing Christmas music weeks ago. Or the (admittedly great) Christmas tree we spotted in a shop window at the beginning of November. And now there are retail stores planning to open on Thanksgiving day.

Our take: Getting out the holiday decorations and all that before Thanksgiving is too much. It's like... opening a present before Christmas. And starting it all around Halloween is downright ridiculous.

Leave early

albany airport

ALB is projected to be at or near capacity Wednesday.

Thursday is, of course, Thanksgiving. But Wednesday is The Day of Travel Frustration. A few things to keep in mind:

+ The NYS Thruway Authority says the two busiest days on the system are typically the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after. The peak travel time is noon to 8 pm. Yes, you almost certainly will have to wait at the Exit 24 tolls -- and probably any other major toll plaza.

+ ALB says the airport will be at or near capacity Wednesday -- and is urging people to arrive 90 minutes ahead of their flights' departure time in order to deal with the crush. [TU]

+ Amtrak is expecting Wednesday to be its single biggest day of the year. It says every one of its passenger trains will be in service that day.

So, leave early. Take a deep breath. You'll get there -- eventually.

Great local foods to bring to holiday gatherings

Yonder Farms pie

Did you order it yet?

One week and counting. Have you figured out what you're bringing to Thanksgiving dinner?

Whether you're hosting or visiting, it's fun to bring something local to the table, and there's actually a lot of fun stuff to choose from.

After the jump, a few of our faves (with ordering deadlines) -- good for Thanksgiving or any holiday get-together. Feel free to share some of yours.

(there's more)

Where to find the fireworks this weekend

july 4th fireworks 2009

Ooooohhh. Aaaahhhhh.

Yes, it's only Tuesday, but we're already thinking about the 4th of July weekend.

And those thoughts sent us searching for the local fireworks displays.

After the jump is a list of what we found.

If we missed one that you like to check out, let us know.

(there's more)

Great local gifts for Valentine's Day

Dolce Biscotti Cookies

Like those Necco conversation hearts -- but better.

By Kaitlin Resler

Valentine's Day is nearly here! This means candy, lots of pink and red things, frivolous and sometimes-almost-too adorable paper goods, dinner reservations, flowers and all manner of stuffed animals propped in store windows. Oh... and, you know, letting the people in your life know that you love them.

After all the fuss of the biggest winter holidays has died down, Valentine's Day is a funny little break from the every-day. It's a little bit of warmth in the otherwise totally freezing, month of February.

Lots of Capital Region shops have their share of hearts and flowers but here are four of my favorite local ways to do something special for Valentine's Day.

What are your favorites?

(there's more)

Local holiday gift guide round-up

Three_little_pigs.jpg

The Peppermint Pigs from Saratoga Sweets are still one of our favorite holiday gifts.

If you haven't finished (or -- you know -- started) your holiday shopping yet, there's a good chance you're getting a little... what's the word we're looking for? Panicky?

No worries. We've had the AOA elves out compiling a list of local holiday gifts that are fun to give and pretty easy to get.

Check out the full list after the jump. And by all means, if you have a good last-minute gift in mind that you'd like to add, pass it on.

Happy shopping.

(there's more)

Holiday gift guide: Candy!!!

Candy.jpg

Candy!

By Kaitlin Resler

If you've been waiting to find the perfect little extra gift, or you're just looking for something nice for someone you know so well, today's gift idea might be just the ticket.

Because let's face it: locally made candy might very well be the best thing since --- well, itself.

Here are a few of my favorite local candy shops and some of their most popular holiday treats:

(there's more)

Holiday gift guide: children's museum memberships

Children's Museum .jpg

Nothing says happy holidays like exploring earthworms.

Maybe you know some kids that seem to have more stuff than they know what to do with. You want to get them a gift but you don't know what they have, you don't know what they need, and you don't know what the hot new toy is.

Today's holiday gift guide suggestion is something kids can appreciate in December, or in June (and that parents won't have to clean up).

(there's more)

Holiday gift guide: local history

Local History Books.JPG

Your Capital Region history questions, answered.

Maybe it's just our inner geek, but we love knowing the back-story about the place we live.

Learning who stayed in that old hotel back in the day, what ghost haunts the music hall or the correct pronunciation of Kosciusko just kinda makes our day in a weird little way.

Today's local holiday gift guide suggestion celebrates exactly that type of local history geekdom.

(there's more)

Holiday gift guide: Rolf's

Rolf's 2.JPG

Smokey holiday goodness.

On the 4th day of the gift guide AOA gives to you:

The gift of meat.

(there's more)

Holiday gift guide: bags at The Paper Sparrow

Paper Sparrow Bags.jpg

They're our bag, baby. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

We were Victorian Strolling through Troy last weekend when we popped into The Paper Sparrow to see what new home made goodies Kate had added to her collection.

What we saw on the wall had us digging for our wallets.

(there's more)

Holiday gift guide: Albany Etsy

holiday etsy composite

A little something for everyone.

By Kaitlin Resler

Internet shopping makes the holidays infinitely easier to battle through, allowing us to avoid the frustrating lines in the mall and the dreaded parking wars.

On the other hand, how does one shop locally while remaining in the comfort of their pjs?

As it turns out, a whole bunch of our favorite local artists, crafters and other awesome gift-makers have shops set up on Etsy!

Here are three sellers who offer items I covet myself but will sacrifice as gifts for those who deserve fantastic local gifts:

(there's more)

The tree is lit -- with a bang

fireworks

For best results, take a look at it really big.

Sebastien's posted a photo set from the tree lighting Sunday at the ESP.

(This also explains why we heard fireworks last night. It kind of caught us off guard.)

photo: Sebastien B

Tuba Christmas at the ESP

tuba closeupEmails Chris today with word of a brassy event:

Tuba Christmas is a flash mob style concert where by low brass (tubas, French horns, etc.) show up someplace, practice a bunch of Christmas tunes, and then play 'em.
I've attended a bunch of these (in Baltimore, out on the Eastern part of MA) and it's awesome, but they depend on getting the word out.

Chris says the local Tuba Christmas is scheduled for this Sunday at the ESP. From (where else?) tubachristmas.com:

ALBANY - SUNDAY, DECEMBER 6 - TIME: 4:00 pm LOCATION: Empire State Plaza, concourse
REGISTRATION: 12:30 pm Massry Center for the Arts, St. Rose, room 306
REHEARSAL: 1:30 pm same as registration
PARKING: rehearsal is on site, parking for performance is being arranged
CONDUCTOR: David Wampler, Instructor of low brass, College of St. Rose
COORDINATOR: Gregory Clark 315-264-4474

photo: Flickr user celesteh

Donating locally for the holidays

flower in handsThe holiday season is a time when many people are thinking about giving back.

There are lots of wonderful organizations and worthy causes in the Capital Region, and it can be tough to know where to start. We've put together a list of a few local charities that do some very good work, with details on what they need, what not to send and how you can help.

We're sure you know of some others, so please, add your favorites to the list.

(there's more)

Bring a little local something

Yonder Farms pie

Mmmmmm....piiiiiiieee

So you're invited to Thanksgiving dinner and you're going to bring something-- because that's the way your mother brought you up.

If you want to bring something with a little local flavor, here are a few ideas. If you have some other favorites, we'd love to hear them.

(there's more)

Gifts that say Albany -- literally

By Amy Brozio-Andrews

IHEARTALBANY.jpgWhen you visit NYC, you can't throw a snow globe without hitting a Big Apple themed gift. Hats, shirts, mugs stickers, ties, postcards. But if you have friends or relatives visiting the Capital Region, have you noticed that it's nearly impossible to find the same kind of things with an Albany theme? It's the capital city, but can you find an "I heart The Egg" bumper sticker, or an "I got my tan in Albany" t-shirt? Noooooo.

Well, if you're just busting to show your A-Town pride you might find an outlet at CafePress.

(there's more)

There's always room for pie

PIE!!.jpg

A plethora of pie!!!

By Melissa Mansfield

So I stopped into Grandma's pie shop this week, and let's just say you'd never know there was a recession by the look of the dining room. They whole thing has been converted into a sort of "pie holding area," overflowing with boxes marked "from Grandma, with love."

Darcie Cegener, the manager, says by tonight they'll have sold about 5,000 pies for Christmas. The most popular ? Apple, pumpkin, and chocolate.

Five thousand pies is a drop in the bucket. Thanksgiving week they sold 12,000,

So is there one left for you? Yep, but don't dawdle. The pies are going quick, and Grandma closes her doors at 3PM today.

Santa Claus came from Troy?

Santa.jpg

Santa is a Troy boy?

By Melissa Mansfield

Quick, who are the most famous legends of Troy? Uncle Sam, Mame Faye...and Santa
Claus.

Santa Claus? Yep, the jolly old elf we know as Santa today first appeared in Troy, N.Y., 185 years ago today.

Well, sort of.

(there's more)

AOA's holiday gift guide

Three_little_pigs.jpg

These little piggies are on the AOA holiday gift guide.

OK gang, we're down to the wire on this whole holiday shopping thing. It is officially the time of year when those who haven't finished shopping (or started) might begin to panic.

No need.

We're kind of big on thoughtful gifts here at AOA, so in case you still haven't been able to think of the right gift for someone on your list, we've been compiling a list for you. If you've missed them, after the jump you'll find a list of local gifts we think would be fun to give (or get).

Got some fun favorites that aren't on the list? Help an elf out and post your suggestions.

(there's more)

Don't Bogart the Egg Nog

eggnog_cover_index.jpgJust in time for Christmas, The Rev Records has released a holiday album. The Silver Screams Don't Bogart the Eggnog is a collection of original holiday music recorded by A-Town's Bryan Hamill.

From the website:

Hamill turns his lens on the holiday season, tackling such subjects as pets,knitting, and pastries, all in his signature hodge-podgey bedroom pop style.

You can download an mp3 for 5 bucks or email one as a gift.

The Frankencake at Cheesecake Machismo

Frankencake.jpg

Mmmmm. Frankencake.

By Jessica Pasko

Why settle for one flavor of cheesecake when you could have six? Or more!

If you're headed to a holiday party this season and don't know what to bring, here's the perfect idea: A Frankencake from Cheesecake Machismo.

(there's more)

Who has the best egg nog?

egg nog tasting lineup

The nog lineup.

We got an email from Meagan last week:

Every holiday season, I find myself in an egg nog debate with a friend/coworker/stranger about who makes the best egg nog. My family and I are loyal fans of Stewart's egg nog (the premium one, not that "light" crap). I've always immediately dismissed anyone else's rebuttal. I have given a couple other egg nogs a try, and in my opinion, they were nowheres near as delish as Stewart's.

So you know what this means? Yeah, that's right: egg nog taste test!

(there's more)

The Scoop

Ever wish you had a smart, savvy friend with the inside line on what's happening around the Capital Region? You know, the kind of stuff that makes your life just a little bit better? Yeah, we do, too. That's why we created All Over Albany. Find out more.

Recently on All Over Albany

The week ahead

Here are a few things to keep in mind, look forward to, or keep busy with this week, from the weather (hot), to The Track,... (more)

This week was brought to you by

This week was brought to you by ice cream, chlorine and sunshine. And of as always, it was brought to you by AOA advertisers like... (more)

A quick recap of the week

Here are a few highlights from the past week on AOA: + County fair season has started -- here's a a big list of fairs... (more)

Tickets for Northshire Saratoga Jennifer Weiner event now on sale

Here are the updated details for the Northshire event with best-selling author Jennifer Weiner in Saratoga Springs October 16: Weiner will be appearing in conversation... (more)

A few bits about a planned new Albany Med building, new residential construction, and other projects around Albany

A new Albany Med building, new residential projects, and the demolition of a longtime Central Ave landmark -- they were all up before the Albany... (more)

Recent Comments

The Dutchess County Fair is definitely worth the drive. I may be a little biased because it's my hometown area, but I have yet to go to another fair that rivals it!

The first group of Park South redevelopment apartments are renting -- and there's a Chipotle going in there

...has 22 comments, most recently from Tess

A few bits about a planned new Albany Med building, new residential construction, and other projects around Albany

...has 1 comment, most recently from ben

New York State will soon exempt tampons from sales tax

...has 3 comments, most recently from Emily G

12 hours in Columbia County

...has 4 comments, most recently from Jennifer

Crash versus accident

...has 22 comments, most recently from Disappointed