Monday, August 13, 2012


Are you ever somewhere new or maybe right in your own backyard and wondering where to find the best foods? By now you should know that I am always looking for the best foods and restaurants. If you are like me you should download the "Foodspotting" app for your smartphone. This appealing app will help you find whatever you're craving wherever you are, in addition to giving you photos that will keep you constantly hungry. If you don't know what you are in the mood for scroll through photos of local places and the dishes available. Maybe it will even lead you to try something new, which you should always do! It's an interactive app that allows you to snap pictures of your favorite dishes or something new and amazing that you tried and just have to share with the world. Download it today. You won't be sorry!

Goings On!

Kickball Game #6

It was a close match on August 2nd between Union Inn Freaks and My Couch Pulls Out But I Don't! Unfortunately, it was the UI Freaks that pulled out this game and let the "Couch" stay in for a 5-4 win. Check out Stacey (not Stacey's mom) above getting ready to kick that ball where the sun doesn't shine!

Find My iPhone App

Okay, I don't have an iPhone, but I am now very familiar with the App as a result of a little weekend bridal shopping with my friend, Val. Our power hours of shopping quickly came to an end when Val's iPhone came up missing after a trip to Macy's. As I now think about the manpower enlisted to find this phone it is comical even though I'm sure Val thought it was anything but comical at the time. Let me put things in perspective for you! The ingenious find my iPhone app said the phone was in Macy's! (Okay, it didn't say it was in Macy's but it was obvious from the GPS tracking signal it was in Macy's). I think this is pretty cool. Unfortunately, before we could access the app we had to get somewhere with Internet access. The logical thought was Verizon, Val's service provider. The sales associate looked at her like she had three heads when she asked him if there was anyway he could help her track or shut down her phone. Next step, the Apple Store. Great-it's in Macy's. Do you think this is where the story ends? Funny! We've got a lot more man power yet to be involved in this missing phone mystery. We go to Macy's retrace our steps and it's nowhere to be found. We ask the cashier, the lost and found, the makeup counters. It's MIA and no one has seen it. Next stop the "pleasant" Crossgates customer service representatives which were representing nothing more than nastiness. Maybe it's on the move (the App will tell you this) so we go to Sprint and the sales associate is so nice he walks with us and his iPhone in search of the phone. Still no luck so he leaves us to try the Guilderland Police. Yes, the police were involved (plus, both their iPhones and the office computer), plus the Macy's Security woman (the hero of the day), plus some little old man presumably waiting for his little old lady. Where was the phone found? In the apron of the MAC cosmetics chick! She was holding it so no one stole it. She apparently had "held it" for close to two hours without thinking that maybe she should turn into the lost of found.

There a couple takeaways from this experience: 1)Download the "Find my iPhone (or Android) App" and 2)The Guilderland Police (at the least the two that helped us) are awesome.


Monday, July 30, 2012

Wine Time!

I spent Saturday with some of my best gal pals doing one of our favorite tasting on the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail! We traveled the only way there is to travel, with J & J Limousine so that we could all fully and safely engage in our day of fun. They hooked us up with an Escalade and a fun driver. We started off our morning at Swedish Hill Winery where I had to get their 2010 Riesling. Next we were off to Knapp Winery where crazy Jamie hit the strong stuff, i.e. Grappa. Grappa is not for novices. It can be anywhere from 70 to 120 proof. As far as I am concerned it is like drinking lighter fluid. I don't know what lighter fluid tastes like but I am confident it doesn't taste good. My favorite place was Bellwether Hard Cider. As much as I enjoy a nice glass of wine, I prefer a good hard cider. Bellwether offered lots of great choices, but I was sold on the Cherry Street. As I am writing the blog, I am beginning to realize why by the end of the day I was feeling under the weather. As the day went on we tasted at five more wineries-Buttonwood Grove (you can feed goats and cows here), Goose Watch, Hosmer, Lucas Vineyards and Montezuma. Check out the pic below if you are looking for some cool shades. Just to tally it up for you and my gal pals, that is eight wineries and approximately 40 tastings. Plus, we stopped at a bowling alley and had a beer. Thankfully, we had lots of delicious snacks to keep our bellies full and ward off or at least decrease the effects of the alcohol. The finger sandwiches my friend's boyfriend made us were super good. He even made us a variety-Italian with fresh mozzarella, Turkey with pesto, and Cucumber! We were drinking wine so of course we included cheese and crackers, and pepperoni for good measure. I made Red Velvet Brownie Cupcakes for dessert.

No girl's day or night is complete without games. We played the game of Quelf, which is best described as an unpredictable game that gives Random a new name. It involves hilarious trivia, performing ridiculous stunts, and obeying silly rules. A sense of humor is definitely required for this game.

Obeying a silly rule!
I had to wear it the whole game. I
couldn't take it anymore.

Performing a silly stunt!

Today's tip: You can turn any cake or brownie recipe into individual servings by making them as cupcakes, just be sure to check the cooking times as they may vary from the original recipe. Package the cupcakes in a plastic tumbler and tie them up with a bow or ribbon to instantly make your treat that much more special for the recipient. Plus, it is a lot easier to transport when packaged in that manner.

My future's so bright I gotta wear shades!

Good times and great friends! From L-R: Cindy Padula-Lamphere,
Domenica Padula, Jamie Burns and me.

Friday, July 27, 2012

We won!

You heard it hear first...Union Inn Freaks finally have a win under their belts. Better yet,  the win in game #5 was against the undefeated youngsters that make up the Cool Runnings team. Plus, no one suffered any injuries during the game despite the rain. The score was 9-6 and our girls even got some of the runs for a change. I sat this game out due to last weeks double quad pull and ankle issues from the mud run. I hope our win with me on the sidelines is not a sign I should stay there because I am looking forward to playing next week. 

Never be afraid to play or dance in the rain! Have a safe and happy weekend. It sounds like there is going to be alot of rain to play or dance in tomorrow.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I gotta have...

Almost all of us have had the opportunity to live somewhere outside of the Capital Region or wherever it is we call home even if only for a short period of time. I, for one, have lived in a number of different towns or cities over the years. When I go back to visit those places I call home or former homes, there are always certain places I want to make sure I grab a meal or a snack at if for no other reason than nostalgia. Having recently had a friend visit from out of town who used to live here but headed south a couple of years ago we spent most of his short visit grabbing meals and snacks at all those places he misses since moving to North Carolina.

The first place we hit up for lunch was Jumpin' Jacks in Scotia. Jumpin' Jacks has been serving up Jack burgers, fries, ice cream and much more for sixty years! In 2012 they were voted #1 Kid Friendly Restaurant, #2 Best Burgers in the Area (tied), #2 Best Fries in the Area, and #3 Best Outdoor Dining in the Area. They are truly a local legend. They were devastated by Hurricane Irene but came back this Spring stronger than ever. Click on the link above for more information, menu and photos of this awesome spot for outdoor eating.


Jack Burger-basically a double cheeseburger with coleslaw!

Next up, an ice cream cone at Jim's Tastee Freez in Delmar! I know Guptill's is all the rave for so many of you around here, but Jim's got what I want in ice cream! It's soft serve with the option for dips, sprinkles, sundaes, blizzards, etc. It is some creamy and delicious stuff. Tastee Freez was born in 1950! Talk about nostalgia. You know businesses that survive that long are doing something, probably multiple things, right! Like Jumpin' Jacks you can also grab lunch at this outdoor eatery! They have everything from corn dogs to chicken or fish sandwiches. My personal fave is vanilla with a cherry dip!

As far as dinner-I have already blogged about it and neither I nor you need to go there again, i.e. Orchids Jamaican American Restaurant!

Moving on to breakfast the next day at Union Cafe. Again I already blogged about this great place earlier in the month! Check my past blog entries for more details on this sweet spot for breakfast! By the way, I tried the pancakes for the first time and they were fluffy and buttery perfection!

We spent most of our day driving up Route 7 into Bennington, Vermont. This is always a fun, no stress day trip! There are tons of cute shops along the way where you can pick up gifts for others or something for yourself.

No lunch today, but we did have a delicious snack! If you have never had a fresh mozzarella cheese ball, you have not fully lived life. Those cheese balls at the grocery store, delicious as they may be, are not fresh mozzarella cheese balls. To get the truly fresh stuff, head to Loudonville's Genoa Importing sub shop. If I am in the area of Genoa's you can be sure they are going to make a few dollars off me just in mozzarella cheese ball purchases. Genoa Importing is a great destination for all sorts of fresh and homemade Italian specialities. This is one of my favorite Italian Deli's in the Capital Region. (I'm also a fan of Perecca's in Schenectady.) At Genoa Importing you can get homemade breads, sauces, pastas, salads, subs, and of course Italian desserts. Don't forget to pick up a couple pieces of Italian Baci (mean's "kisses" in Italian) candy at the checkout counter. Each piece of Baci candy comes with a romantic love note! They truly are sweet!

Last, but certainly not least, was dinner at Ichiban Japanese & Chines Restaurant on Central Avenue in Albany.  There is also a location on Western Avenue. Another Best of the Capital Region winner for several years! No questions asked this is my favorite place for Chinese food. I have three favorites at Ichiban-Kung Pao Lo Mein, General Tso's Chicken, and Crispy Shredded Beef in Spicy Sauce. Most people have sampled Lo Mein and General Tso's Chicken so I am going to give you all the details on my other favorite. Crispy Shredded Beef in Spicy Sauce is shredded pieces of flank steak coated in carrots, scallions, bean sprouts and celery batter fried to crispy and tossed in a spicy sauce. There is a sweet side that balances the spicy to avoid overpowering you and despite being tossed in a sauce it retains its crispiness. Love is not a strong enough word for how I feel about this meal!

Crispy Shredded Beef in Spicy Sauce
If you were to move out of the Capital Region, what restaurant and/or foods would you have to have when you came back to visit? There may be a gift in store for someone who leaves me a comment about a restaurant or a food I have never tried in the Capital Region! For friends from the North Country, what is it that you have to when you go back home and Jreck Subs doesn't count in this comment request! For my fellow Le Moyne Alumnae, and friends and family out in the Syracuse area, what is your restaurant or food of choice in Central New York? I'll be there this weekend so maybe I can give it a shot!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

My Favorite Things!

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens (or dogs). Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens (or scarves). Brown paper packages (or any color packages) tied up with strings (or ribbons). These are a few of my favorite things. Who doesn't love that song, "My Favorite Things", from "The Sound of Music"? As my friends know I have countless favorite things and get my friends together around Christmas so we can all share some of our favorite things from makeup, movies, music and games to wine, beer and food with each other. Unfortunately, the holidays and my favorite girls night of the year is still several months away from today, but one of my favorite things is more fitting for barbecue season. Lucky you, I am going to share with you my favorite meal made by the world's best mom, which I get to claim as my own. My favorite meal consists of country style barbecue ribs. For those of you unfamiliar with county style barbecue ribs they are ribs that have a lot more meat on them than the typical spareribs. I love them slathered up with my mom's semi-homemade BBQ sauce. Sandra Lee has nothing on my mom, Toni Helmer. (Click here for her website where you can find the goodies that make her everyone's favorite too!) Mom's BBQ sauce is store bought BBQ sauce with the addition of beer (it's only natural to involve beer in BBQ'g), and honey. Next up, is the linguine salad. This is not your ordinary pasta salad. It has the standard ingredients: tomato, onion, cucumber, and Italian dressing, but there is also a secret ingredient. Unfortunately, the secret ingredient is only for my followers. If you want to know how to step up your pasta salad and want to be the hero of the next BBQ I guess you should follow me. The last, but certainly not least, component are the salt potatoes. Again, the salt potatoes are basic, but like Paula, my mom knows everything is made better with butter and lots of it, and like any good Italian woman, my mom loads those salt potatoes with garlic (another favorite thing of mine). After you mix the butter, garlic and salt potatoes together, smash them up a bit. I hope you enjoy my favorite meal. Don't forget to invite me to your BBQ.

We all have those foods that make us think of those we love. This is the meal that does that for me. When I make this meal for myself, it always makes me think of my mom. It also usually involves me calling her to see if I am making the ribs the right way. No matter how many times I make these foods myself they are never as good as when my mom makes them for me. Maybe, her really special ingredient is love! I'm glad she's shared that with me all these years. I'm a lucky girl for sure.

Leave me a comment about your favorite meal that a loved one prepares especially for you!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Eat Dirt...or Mud!

I'm really letting that six year old in me get out this summer. I've been playing kickball and this weekend I played in the mud.  My friends, sister and I participated in the Canton Pee Wee Mud Run. To say it was fun would be an understatement. We ran through the fields and the woods, crawled through mud pits and tunnels, over hay bales and walls, and slid down an awesome super sized water slide over the 4.7 mile course. It was made even more challenging given the uneven ground and my lack of coordination and balance, bad ankles and recent injury, but my sister and I stuck together (as family should) and got it done.  The rest of our team, "One Tough Mudder", got it done as well, but much quicker than me and my sister. I can assure that this will only be the first of many more mud runs for me. I even think I could get my friends to join me again.

Team "One Tough Mudder" looking nice in clean
before the race.
Dirty Girls!
Me and my sister, Amanda
They used to be white t-shirts.

Step out of your comfort zone. Lace up those old sneakers. Challenge yourself and get out there and sign up for a mud run or another activity today. For those of you eager to try a mud run, click here for information on the Run the Ridge event taking place at Maple Ski Ridge in Schenectady this Saturday, July 28th.