Saturday, December 27, 2008

Mountain Valley Shuttle

Last week a free shuttle began operating from the town of Ausable Forks to Lake Placid.  I was pretty excited to learn about this shuttle because less than half a mile from my house I could pick it up at the Village Green in Jay.  I'm a huge fan of a public bus.  In fact, while living in England I preferred the bus over the Tube or train because it usually leads to great people watching.

I had scoped out the schedule and it seemed like the time table catered more towards the Whiteface crowd rather than the nine to fivers going to and from Lake Placid.  However, I figured it would be a good option for me when the roads are bad and it would save me and my little car from sliding around in Wilmington Notch.

Driving back from my parents in Potsdam on Christmas night, my brake lines went and we had semi brake failure for the next 60 miles.  Merry Christmas to us!  While I was getting upset and thinking about spending more money on my car, I remembered that I would be able to use the shuttle service in the morning to get me to work.  How convenient!  

I walked up to the Village Green to wait for the Mountain Valley Shuttle.  It was about -2 that morning and I was all alone.  I wasn't really sure where the shuttle was going to stop so I waited at the corner, but then decided it was a little hooker-like to be standing there.  I'm sure I didn't look like a prostitute with my puffy down jacket and knit hat on at 7 am, but I ended up moving away from the corner.  There are a couple benches in the park, but they were snow covered and I thought I'd get even colder sitting on a stone bench.  
Just like any kid waiting for the school bus, I started kicking the snow and ice on the sidewalk to pass the time.  

As scheduled, the shuttle came at 7:20 am and I got ready to board. 

Pretending to be an urbanite I came armed with a book and ipod.  In trying to look the part, I put my ipod on only to discover the battery was too low for me to listen to my music.  I sat back, relaxed and enjoyed the ride.
 After stopping at Whiteface, I became a little annoyed that I had to go to work and everyone else was off with their friends and families preparing for a fun day skiing or snowboarding.  This is one of the reasons why I have a love hate relationship with the holidays.  

At any rate, we arrived in Lake Placid and the driver made his way from hotel to hotel picking up more passengers along the way to take them to Whiteface for all the fun.  I made the mistake of staying on the bus for all the hotel stops when I could have gotten off at the Crowne Plaza and walked down the hill, but I only had to wait 10 more minutes for the Olympic Center stop.  Considering my luck lately, it seemed like a good idea for me to stay on the shuttle because I probably would have fallen on the icy sidewalk and broken my arm on my way down Olympic hill.

My car is fixed now and I drove to work this morning in half the time it takes me to ride the shuttle.  Even though it takes considerably longer and the times aren't the best for my work schedule, I will take the shuttle again because 1) I'm cheap and it's free, 2) I'm a greenie, and 3) I'm a big wimpy winter driver!

I hope to see some of you on my next ride and I might even save you a seat!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Gargoyles

The Gargoyles have been busy decorating and preparing for Christmas and I must say the driveway that they guard looks pretty nice at night.  

Gargoyle Righty has the Christmas tree all lit up, I'm assuming it is for Santa to find them so he can drop off some gifts.

Gargoyle Lefty has a stocking out and is ready for Santa to bring him lots of toys and goodies. 

I hope the Gargoyles get everything that's on their list.  Merry Christmas Gargoyle Fans!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Egg Nog Taste Test

Last night my friends Jen and Amy came over for a little holiday get together.  Knowing that Amy's daughter Ruby was going to be here, I figured it would be a good time to conduct an eggnog tasting because it would test the taste buds of a 5 year old with a few 30 somethings. Before the taste test began, I was pretty confident that Stewart's was going to win over Price Chopper.  
For those of you not familiar, Stewart's is mainly an upstate NY shop where you can get gas and also a few groceries.  It's not your typical gas mart because you can also get a scoop of ice cream there. I have found in the past that their dairy products are quite good.  Around the holidays I usually get the light eggnog that they carry and really enjoy it.  However, I didn't see a light brand of Price Chopper eggnog and for the sake of things starting off even I purchased the regular eggnog for our test.

Since I was already partial to the Stewarts brand, Amy was the administrator to the test and she poured one brand in a clear glass and the other in a red mug.  
It was unanimous, we all thought the red mug was way better than the glass.  Before Amy revealed to us who the winner was, here are some of our comments on the Red mug:  Jen thought, "it's sweeter, much smoother in consistency."  While I thought it was well balanced in the flavoring and at the same time Amy and I said, "it coats the mug!"  Amy mentioned, "It's so thick, this is real egg nog."  Amy and Jen both thought it was leggy.  As for Ruby, our almost 5 year old said, "I just liked the red.  It tasted better."  Although, I have to say she is named after the color red and perhaps she was partial to the red vessel she was drinking out of.

As for the clear glass, Jen thoughtfully said, "This has an eggy consistency, I felt as though I was swallowing strands of egg white.  This one seems to be missing some spices."  I tasted something artificial, the eggnog was thin and watery and I couldn't even finish it.  Ruby said, "It seems bad.  I don't like it."  Amy also "found no reason to finish it."  Amy thought it was boring and "it was like skim milk water and tasted like partially hydrogenated oil."

So, after commenting on our eggnog, Amy revealed to us that the red mug was indeed the Stewart's brand!  Ruby exclaimed, "Price Chopper lost!"

I knew from the first sip that it was Stewart's.  Now I would be interested to do a taste test on Stewart's regular eggnog vs. light eggnog to see who the winner would be.  I am also told they sell a cinnamon flavored eggnog.  That might be interesting too.  For those of you that live along the Ausable, you can stop at Stewart's in either Keene or Lake Placid to pick up your very own eggnog during this holiday season.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Lights Driving Tour

Tonight I picked my friend Lisa up for a Christmas lights driving tour of Jay and Ausable Forks. There were many houses with impressive lights, but two stuck out over all the others.  

The first was a house on John Fountain Road here in Jay.  I can see this house from my house through the trees and over the covered bridge. Lisa thought that it looked like it's own little Christmas village from this distance.  We decided that we had to do a drive by to get a closer look.   
When talking to Jay about his Christmas lights on Thanksgiving Day, I think he mentioned that this was his brother's house.  I might be wrong, but if so the ability to put on a Christmas light show must be genetic!  This house had a nativity scene, snowmen with candy canes, and Santa with his reindeer.  
Hands down, my favorite thing on their lawn was the cute little gingerbread house.
This house does a good job, but a house in Ausable Forks tops it.  

The house in Ausable not only concentrates on the lawn ornaments, but does quite the job on the porch too.  
I couldn't possibly just do a drive by of this house, I had to get out of the car!  Lisa informed me that there was a Santa on the porch with a motion sensor that when activated, starts to sing and dance!  I paced up and down the sidewalk to try to get him to sing, but he must have been tired because it took him a couple minutes.  It was well worth the wait though. Santa was shaking his hips back and forth and indeed sang some Christmas songs to me.
A man walking his dog passed by and the dog was either scared of Santa or he just wanted him to stop singing because the little dog just wouldn't stop barking.  

Their lawn appeared to be a blow up decoration park.  There must be about 10 different blow ups, some that I have labeled as "Santa with hot air balloon", "Santa running into Christmas tree"and also "Reindeer pulling Santa out of Chimney."
I'm sorry these pictures came out so blurry, but in my defense many of them moved!  Here is a close up of "Reindeer pulling Santa out of Chimney."  On second thought maybe it should be called "Reindeer shoving Santa back down the Chimney."

Secretly I wish that someday I would have a house where people would drive by slowly to admire my lights or decorations. But, I know that my husband would probably be mortified if I came home from Sam's Club with a blow up Christmas decoration of any kind and he would probably think that I was off my rocker.  So, I'll just have to admire everyone else's decorations.

Don't get me wrong I do love my Christmas tree that sits in the window with it's pretty white lights, but when I drove Lisa by my house...she didn't even ooooh or aaaaah.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

First Christmas Tree

I know I don't usually blog about things here at my home unless it is something significant like the bear scat in our mud room, but I thought our first Christmas tree at our first home deserved some attention.  

After returning from vacation Monday night, I was ready to get into the Christmas spirit and so off we went to get our first tree when I got off of work yesterday.  I would like to share with my friends and family some of my favorite ornaments that I have gathered over the years.

I'll start with fuzzy wuzzy bear that I made at about 8 years old, maybe in the basement of the Potsdam Museum.  I'm pretty sure my parents are happy that he no longer hangs on their tree.
 Another lovely ornament that is hanging proudly on our tree this year is an ornament I made as a Girl Scout brownie.  
I'm thinking my family is also happy that this juice can top no longer hangs on their tree. 
 Some of the best ornaments on the tree are those that my grandparents had made for me over the years.  My Grandpa Wallace had given me a wooden mail box with my name on it when I was two, there was a bird house my Grandma made and also this gingerbread house I received when I was only one.  
I always hang an ornament in memory of Priscilla Zipay that she had given me when I was a little girl.  
We hang the two ornaments that we got at Chris and Amy's wedding and think of them living not so close to us anymore near Lake Tahoe.  
One of my new favorite ornaments is from the wonderful (almost) 5 year old Ruby. 
 I wish all of you a happy holiday with lots of wonderful things to remember.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Gargoyles with Garland

Happy Holidays from the Gargoyles!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Christmas Decorations

For a couple weeks, my husband came home every night and asked me if I had seen the house with all the great Christmas lights.  Now that it is dark out at 4:30 pm I have been staying to Rt. 86 and kept missing this house on 9N that he kept referring to.

Well, after Thanksgiving dinner, my family took a walk around Jay to check out the Christmas decorations in town.  Although the sun was still setting when we got to the house with the all the lights, the owner saw us walking by and immediately turned everything on for us.  This house has it all, lights on the house, Mr. and Mrs. Snowman, Santa and his sleigh with reindeers, a manger, etc.  Very impressive!  
This picture doesn't capture the greatness that one can see when it is dark out and I apologize, but I think you'll just have to do a drive by for yourselves.  The owner of the house definitely deserves some recognition and I feel he is "blog worthy" himself.  

Just before we started walking back home, he came out of his house to say hello.  Turns out the man in Jay with the great Christmas decorations has the name Jay!  He was really nice and came out to fix the blow up decorations of the Santa and Snowman he had on the lawn just for us.  He let me take his picture for the blog because I wanted people to see his great sweatshirt too!  
I am so glad we walked by and I got to meet Jay and his son, Nick.  That's right, after good old St. Nick!  Happy Holidays!

Note: Since taking pictures for this blog, I have noticed that Jay has added a blow up Snow Globe (my favorite).  

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Movies at the Post Office

This morning I had gone to the post office in Upper Jay to send out some holiday cards and noticed that Mark, the Postmaster, was going to be showing some festive film shorts at 3:30 pm.  I had a few errands to run, but thought that I could be back to the post office to catch the movie and had called my friend Emilie to join me.
The Postmaster does such a great job here, he has turned the lobby into a mini theatre with a movie projector, theatre seats and a curtained movie screen. 
He really tries to take the stress away for people during the holidays.  He mentions that while you are there enjoying the movie, you can take advantage of the fine services of the US Postal Service, like buying your holiday stamps or using the packaging products he has on hand. Although I had already purchased my stamps that morning, it would have been a great time to bring my holiday cards, address them and put the stamps on, all while watching the Holiday animations and movie short he played for us.  Did I say it was free?  

What could be better you say?  Well, try the complimentary movie candy he has on hand. 
 Or even the freshly popped popcorn he makes for you.  He even has glasses of apple juice to wash down the popcorn with.  What more could a couple of ladies ask for?  I said to Emilie, "We might be poor, but we sure are rich."
You can see here that Emilie and I were very happy to be here on a Tuesday afternoon amidst the Holiday chaos.  The only other movie guests was a mother and her two small children.  We all sat back and got ready to enjoy the show.  I loved being there, it was so cozy and festive.  
He played a range of cartoons over 45 minutes from old Technicolor Disney holiday cartoons like "Once Upon a Time" to a couple of black and white shorts.  My personal favorite being, "Festival of Fun Days, Holiday Land."  Emilie and I thought it was very Alice In Wonderland like, with a little boy dreaming of all things holiday related, until his mother woke him up telling him it was time for school.  During the movie Emilie mentioned, "This is great, we should come back on Thursday", but of course all good things have to come to an end and I'll be at work.

Mark is happy to have a special showing for you and your family if you are not able to make it during scheduled show times.  The last regular showing will be December 23.  In addition to this year's feature, he does have other Holiday movies that he can show upon request.  

Things like this make me so happy that I live in such a unique area and that there are great people out there like Mark the Postmaster in little Upper Jay.   What can I say, It's a wonderful life!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Gambling Problem

Something strange has happened to me recently, I have been really interested in gambling. There is a football pool at work that I have been making "picks" for.  This is pretty funny to most people that know me because I know nothing about football.  I generally look at the records for each team for the season and go with the better ranked team.  If it is going to be a close one, I go with the team with a more northern latitude than the other.  For instance, if the San Diego Chargers were playing against the Philadelphia Eagles, I'd go with the Eagles.  Hands down.

At any rate, last night at the Stars on Ice show I overheard the camera crew betting on how many re-skates they were going to have to re-tape.  It was $5 to play.  Just like the football pool at work I gave my bet, but didn't put any money in.  I said there would be eight re-skates. 

I had volunteered as an usher so I could watch the show for free.  Luckily I know the right people and for the last two years have been placed on ice level seating the VIP's.  For the first time watching Stars on Ice, I was more interested in how many times the skaters fell or flubbed their program.  From the first act there was going to be possibly four re-skates and so going into the second act, I thought my chances of reaching eight was pretty good.  
Unfortunately the second act came and went with only one re-skate.  The main camera guy was going to be the winner with a pick of five.  He's been doing this for years though.  I know what you must be thinking, "This person is seriously demented and needs to immediately check themselves into Gamblers Anonymous." But like I said people that know me also find my "gambling problem" funny because they all know I'd make a pathetic gambler, I'm way too frugal.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Riverside Thrift Shop

I had a couple boxes of things I needed to bring to Riverside Thrift Shop in Wilmington and figured I'd also scope out any Thanksgiving decorations they may have had.   I was looking for a festive table cloth or something harvesty for the Thanksgiving I am hosting tomorrow.  

One of the first things I contemplated was a pillow.  
After taking the pillow down, I decided it was definitely more chicken like than turkey and so I put the bird back so she could nest amongst the other pillows.

Going into another room of the thrift shop I came across some shelves with linens.  I was thinking here I could find something, but the only thing I came across that had some Thanksgiving dinner potential were these place mats.  
Unfortunately, the place mats you see there on the middle shelf were made of an icky vinyl and there were only three.  I needed at least four.

Something else that caught my eye was this basket of plastic fruit. 
I was seriously contemplating crafting up some sort of cornucopia and using the fruit as a centerpiece.  With more thought, I decided against the plastic fruit because I probably wouldn't have used the pineapple in the cornucopia and couldn't imagine breaking up this family of fruit on Thanksgiving.  

I had scoured the thrift shop and wasn't able to come up with anything for Thanksgiving.  There was a little creamer with leaves and an acorn on it, but I already have a couple creamers.  I think I even brought one to them today.

My brain must be programmed to think (just like American advertisers want it to be) that as soon as Thanksgiving thoughts are done, you should be on to Christmas.  That is exactly what happened to me, even here at Riverside Thrift Shop.  Here, they have an entire room upstairs dedicated to Christmas.  
The one item I wanted was in the hand of another woman!  It was a Christmas tree skirt.  If I had only checked out the Christmas room before the rest of the Thrift Shop, it could have been mine.  They did have three other tree skirts on the shelf, but not like the one I coveted from the woman's hands.  She even said to her friend, "I think this is the smallest tree skirt I have ever seen."  I thought, "That's right, put it down.  You need a much larger one."  But, my silent thoughts never reached her and before I knew it, she was headed downstairs ready to pay for it.

Well, I did leave with one item for $1.  I can't tell you because it's going to be a gift to someone that reads this blog.  I didn't come away with any Thanksgiving items, but I did wait until the day before.  All in all, I think this trip was successful.  

You too can drop off your unwanted items or shop here every Wednesday or Saturday from 9-2.

Monday, November 24, 2008

I'll miss you Top 40!

I have a confession to make...I love top 40 music.  I might lose some "cool" friends with this confession, but I can't help it, my sister got me into it.  People that drive with me for any amount of distance seem to be annoyed that I don't have a cd player in my car, XM radio, or even a tape player.  I know most of you are thinking, "How could someone live with only a regular radio?" My love of top 40 hits from the 80's, 90's, and today generally leaves me very satisfied.  There are of course the exceptions, Meatloaf, Phil Collins, Celine Dion, etc. and when I hear their voices I turn to North Country Public Radio. One of the best things about the weekend drive to and from work is listening to STAR 92.9 based out of Mt. Mansfield, Vermont.  On the weekend they have the "flash back - feel good weekend."  It sure does play some feel good music, like Fleetwood Mac, Lionel Richie, and Annie Lennox.

I find it amazing that I can listen to this radio station all the way from Jay to Lake Placid, but cannot get Lake Placid's top 40 station 93.3.   I love STAR 92.9 and am feeling very sad that starting today, they will be playing all Christmas music.  I will be without my top 40 music for over a month!  I am sure I will be listening to some seasonal music, but will probably spend more time with NPR for the next month and might even plug my ipod in.

Until regular 92.9 returns, here's one song that always gets me dancing in the car driving along the Ausable and that would be from Mr. Michael Jackson:

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Smells of Stars on Ice

A few of my readers have mentioned that I write about food a lot and some even find themselves feeling very hungry when they look at my pictures and read my descriptions of items such as wings, root beer floats, muffins, etc.

Well, I am starting to think there might be a bit of the blogging karma going on.  The Stars on Ice skaters are in Lake Placid and have been practicing at the Olympic Center.    Here's the problem, I sit in the room directly next to their dining area where I get whiffs of bacon and fresh coffee in the morning.  Pure torture!  
I couldn't hear any voices behind the door that separated me from the bacon.  So, I decided to make a run for it through the secret door to find my friend in the kitchen to steal myself a scrap of  bacon.  As soon as I opened the door and peered inside, I was greeted with a smiling Sasha Cohen stretching with her leg above her head.   I kid you not.  

I went back to my desk behind the door with a grumbling belly thinking, Sasha Cohen probably doesn't even eat bacon!  

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Autumn Gargoyles

I decided to go the longer way to work today to check out the gargoyles.  I could see from a distance that there was something bright and shiny on them.  I thought it was so nice to see the gargoyles wearing their bright autumn wreaths because the drive has become a blur of brown and gray.  The gargoyles always make my day a little brighter, even though they're always sticking their tongues out at me.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Driving home tonight through Wilmington with the snow coming down, I really thought I had skipped a month and that Christmas was only a week away.   The town of Wilmington has all their Christmas decorations up. The reindeer are flying over the road and the telephone poles are decorated with gigantic candy canes, snowflakes, and all of Santa's friends.  

A few friends and coworkers think this is way too early (the town put them up about 2 weeks ago).  Normally I would agree, but just a couple miles up the road is Santa's Workshop. Knowing that Santa works year round preparing for Christmas Day, I wondered if maybe Wilmington, being so close to Santa's Workshop at the North Pole and all, should keep their decorations up year round?  Just a thought.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Tonight was a very special evening for me and my lady coworker friends ranging in ages 22 - 85 years old.  A bunch of us that live along the Ausable met at Steinhof's in Wilmington for Wing Night.  Every Thursday the sign goes up advertising their 25 cent wings.  I am ashamed to say that I had not been to Steinhof's before.  Nancy, Becky and I arrived on the early side and took a seat at the bar and ordered a drink while we waited for the rest of the group.  The bartender was quite friendly and made us feel comfortable being there, even though we were the only ladies.   Once the rest of our group joined us, we went to the dining room and quickly made our food selections.  Five out of six ordered wings, that's what we were there to sample after all.  On wing night it is eat in only with a minimum of 10 wings per order with a choice of mild, medium, hot, or sweet & tangy.  I had asked Becky earlier what kind of wings she ordered and she said, "I don't like wings.  I'll get a cheeseburger."  Wondering what she doesn't like about wings, she said: "they're veiny."  

So, the Sportsman's Cheeseburger it was for her.  
A few of us sampled her fries and all thought they were homemade.  The fries were delicious, seasoned with just the right amount of salt.  

Onto the wing report...three ordered the mild wings, I ordered the medium, and one ordered the sweet & tangy.  Marie thought her mild wings were, "Very good, nice and moist.  They're just the way I like them."  
Cristina who also had the mild said, "They're just right, not too hot. Those ones are really good too."  She was referring to Lisa's sweet & tangy wings.  
I had tried one of Lisa's wings because I wanted to know what the sweet & tangy was all about. Lisa described them as, "a little like barbecue with a seasoned tang."  I too really enjoyed my wings and thought they were just the right crispness on the outside.  Nancy summed it up best, "They're fingerlicious good."

All of us agreed that we wish our server had brought us some more napkins from the start. But we thought that maybe Steinhof's is trying to go green and only hands out extra napkins if customers ask for them.  Sure enough when we asked, our server brought them right away.

Overall we had a great evening, good food and lots of laughs.  What more could a bunch of ladies ask for?  I will definitely be back!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Animal Heads

About a month ago I had gone to Dartbrook Rustic Goods in Keene.  This is the home store and workshop to the Adirondack rustic furniture maker George Jacques.  Knowing that his furniture sells for quite a bit of money, I knew I would only be browsing.  However, Dartbrook also carries home accents such as baskets, rugs, prints, and of course animal racks.  I am not really a fan of decorating my home with dead animal heads, I think it's a feng shui/dead spirit kind of thing for me.  At Dartbrook there is a wide selection of racks that you can purchase.  Here is the simple deer rack:Or you could have the great Moose Rack:  For some reason I wasn't bothered by the deer or moose, maybe because it is pretty common to see them smiling at you at restaurants in the area.  I was a little taken back by the raccoon though.  Look at the cute little furry face on this guy.  I think this would be a little creepy having the little guy on my living room wall watching tv with me.  

I was pleased to see that Dartbrook has a rack for those of you that would like to have one in your home, but not able to commit to the dead animal head, there is a cardboard deer rack:  
Personally, that was my favorite.  And for those of you that aren't willing to hang one of these in your home unless you proudly killed it yourself, Happy Hunting Season!

Disclosure: No animals were hurt or killed while posting this blog.