What’s hot, what’s not in 2014

Michelle Graham

Michelle Graham

American College of Sports Medicine releases Top 10 list [Read more...]

The power and eloquence of our everyday speech

Varick Chittenden

Varick Chittenden

I’m open to the bounty of the woods. I still get excited when I find a hollow log or a dead lilac root deep in the ground and imagine what it might be. To me, it’s a gift of nature. I always say the find makes the fashion. I may not know how or when I’ll use it, but I like to store it, keep it in sight and, someday, make it into something functional for somebody. Even if it’s just for amusement, that’s useful, too.

— Barry Gregson, Schroon Lake,
Adirondack rustic furniture builder [Read more...]

Break the silence: Seek out options to treat depression

Katie Stokes

Katie Stokes

I’ve suffered from Seasonal Affective Disorder every winter since I moved to Northern New York. Because I figured out pretty quickly that I can’t just hibernate and cry all winter, I actively seek out methods to curb my depression well before it gets to the point of crisis. [Read more...]

Move over, June Cleaver, Ward has found his place in the kitchen

English muffin bread with Earl Grey tea jelly. Amanda Morrison / NNY Living

English muffin bread with Earl Grey tea jelly. Amanda Morrison / NNY Living

English muffin bread an easy-to-follow recipe for anyone [Read more...]

Vive la France!

Napoleon leads the 44th Annual French Festival Parade down Broadway in Cape Vincent in July 2012. The French left a legacy of culture and language that is celebrated in Cape Vincent with the annual French Festival every July. Amanda Morrison / NNY Living

Napoleon leads the 44th Annual French Festival Parade down Broadway in Cape Vincent in July 2012. The French left a legacy of culture and language that is celebrated in Cape Vincent with the annual French Festival every July. Amanda Morrison / NNY Living

French left legacy of culture, food in Northern New York [Read more...]

NNY Folklore: Back when winter was really winter in the north country

Photo courtesy Town and Village of Canton Historian's Office. A man walks on a Main Street sidewalk, Canton, beside banks of snow so high that he might well not be able to see the traffic alongside. Scenes like this one were typical not so long ago.

Photo courtesy Town and Village of Canton Historian’s Office. A man walks on a Main Street sidewalk, Canton, beside banks of snow so high that he might well not be able to see the traffic alongside. Scenes like this one were typical not so long ago.

Sometime recently I realized that I am from the last generation of rural north country residents who may have attended school — at least their first few years of school — in a one-room schoolhouse. Actually, my little St. Lawrence County hamlet of Hopkinton was pretty advanced. We went to a two-room schoolhouse, with the first three grades downstairs and grades four through six upstairs. It wasn’t until my sixth grade year that the new elementary school was finished and we had a classroom of our own. In the 1940s and 50s, multiple small schools in rural towns combined forces, built large buildings for grades kindergarten through 12 with all kinds of extra features, and nearly everyone rode The Yellow Peril — the school bus — each day. That fact inevitably inspired a predictable observation from our elders: “You young ones have it really lucky these days. When I was your age, we had to walk to school, rain or shine. A mile and a half. Each way!” Isn’t nostalgia great? Things from the past always look better (or bigger or stronger or harder or worse, even) than the present and, certainly, the future. [Read more...]

Five Things Friday – December 6

5thingsfriday logoRED1) Holiday festivities will light up Watertown’s Public Square tonight, starting at 5:30 p.m. with a performance by the Jefferson Singers from JCC on the north side of the square. The annual holiday parade starts at 5:45 p.m. and has more than 40 entries this year. The route starts in the J.B. Wise Parking Lot, enters Public Square at Mill Street and ends in the Court Street parking lot. An official countdown to turn on the holiday music and light display starts at 6:30 p.m. and Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus will greet children in the Public Square gazebo until 7:30 p.m.

2) Another event to get you into the holiday spirit is “Santa Central” at the Clayton Opera House on Saturday from 3 p.m. until the start of the Clayton Holiday Parade at 6 p.m. The event includes a bouncy house, a holiday craft station, a write-a-letter-to-Santa table and several holiday film shorts. There will also be hot cocoa, coffee, tea or water, and baked goods. Admission is free. Other Christmas-themed activities Saturday in Clayton include a craft show and basket raffle at the Knights of Columbus Hall from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., a holiday food fair at St. Mary’s Parish Center (515 James St.) from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., the annual Dickens Christmas Festival at Hawn Memorial Library from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and a holiday social and trunk show at the TI Arts Center. The TI Winery will also host Kris Kringle Market, a German-style indoor Christmas market featuring local crafters, food, wine tastings, winery tours and Santa’s workshop, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. A full schedule of Christmas activities in Clayton can be found here.

3) Isaac James, a classical pianist who grew up in the Watertown area and now lives in Vermont, will make his debut solo piano recital in his hometown area tonight at 7 p.m. at Jefferson Community College’s Sturtz Theater. Mr. James, who made his Carnegie Hall debut a year ago, will perform works by Brahms, Chopin, Debussy, Schumann, Scriabin, Rachmaninoff and others on a Yamaha 9-foot concert grand piano. The concert will also feature a special guest artist. Mr. James, who competed in the prestigious annual 1000 Islands International Piano Competition in Cape Vincent, has studied with instructors from the Julliard School of Music and Mannes College of Music in NYC and performed widely on the East Coast. The concert is free.

4) Traditional Arts in Upstate New York, 53 Main St., Canton, is hosting a Holiday Open House on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event includes the opening of the Sugar & Spice Gingerbread exhibit of gingerbread houses, a Holiday Showcase featuring artist and folk store wares, and a performance by Vocal Skies Sacred Harp singing group at 11:30 a.m. The group will also perform its slate of 18th and 19th century Christmas hymns at 3:30 p.m. at Pickens Hall in Huevelton. Vocal Skies is a Canton-based ensemble that sings in the sacred harp tradition. A variety of other holiday-themed events are also happening in Canton on Saturday: A book, bake and craft sale at the Canton Free Library from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; the Holly Berry Bazaar at the St. Mary’s School gymnasium sponsored by the E. J. Noble Guild, which raises money for the hospital by selling lunch, Christmas gifts and decorations; a visit by Santa at the Brewer Bookstore, 92 Park St. from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; and a holiday open house from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Silas Wright House, 3 E. Main St.

5) This weekend is the annual Festival of Trees and Sugarplum Ball at the Dulles State Office Building in Watertown. The Gala Dinner takes place tonight, followed by the Sugarplum Ball on Saturday. Public viewings of decorated large and small trees will be today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tickets to the gala are $70 each, and tickets to the Sugarplum Ball are $70 per parent-child couple, and $35 for each additional child. To reserve tickets to either event, call 785-5745 or visit www.samaritanhealth.com.

Also going on: The fifth annual charity Christmas masquerade ball at Bonnie Castle Resort in Alexandria Bay is tonight from 8 p.m. to midnight. The event benefits local families in need during the Christmas season and includes hors d’oeuvres, a silent auction, a cash bar and music by Nik Lite of Nik and the Nice Guys. Tickets are $40 and masks will be available starting at $5. Visit www.TIYLO.org for more information.

Ten Things Black Friday – November 29

FTF BF REALHappy Thanksgiving! Whether you plan to brave the crowds on Black Friday or stay inside the comfort of your home in a post-turkey coma, there are several great events this weekend to take advantage of if you have some time off and need to get out of the house.

1) If you’re feeling particularly brave, consider taking a “dip” into the St. Lawrence River during Saturday’s Pluck & Plunge festival in Cape Vincent to benefit a community Christmas party for the needy and the Cape Vincent Volunteer Fire Department. You can pick up sponsor sheets at Breakers Restaurant, 194 E. Broadway, or call the restaurant at 501-5050. Participants who raise the most money will have their choice of a pair of diamond earrings or a new television as a prize. There will also be a prize for the best-dressed “plunger.” The event starts at noon at the restaurant and onlookers will walk down to the river at 1 p.m. Following the “plunge,” the restaurant will host a variety of festivities, including karaoke and a horseshoe tournament. Actor Frank Shattuck, who appeared on “Boardwalk Empire” and “Law and Order: Criminal Intent,” will join the day’s events and be available for autographs and photo opportunities. The dinner for the needy will take place Dec. 23.

2) The New York State Zoo at Thompson Park is hosting Black (Bear) Friday, during which you can enjoy bear-themed activities and stories inside the discovery center from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; chat with the bear’s keeper, Melanie, at the bear exhibit from 12:30 to 3 p.m. to learn more about caring for the bear; and shop for discounted souvenirs in the gift shop. The program is free with zoo admission. Winter Wonderland Weekends also kick off this weekend at the zoo and run every weekend through Dec. 29. The event, which takes place Friday, Saturday and Sunday of each weekend from 5:30 to 8 p.m., lets you stroll the zoo and enjoy its holiday light decorations. Hot chocolate, coffee and other refreshments will be available at the Wildside Cafe. Tickets to that event are $3 for adults and $2 for children ages 3 to 12. Zoo members are free.

3) If you’re looking to take a day trip from the north country, the Wild Center in Tupper Lake is hosting Black & White Day Friday. The event includes a trunk show of local Adirondack artisans showcasing local photographers and painters, jewelry makers, knitters, leather goods and unique items from The Wild Supply Co., which can be gift wrapped for free. There will also be live music by Rustic Riders, crafts for children, seasonal treats and special activities surrounding the center’s pair of skunks, Night and Day. Admission is just $5 for adults and free for children ages 14 and younger. A full list of vendors at the event can be found here.

4) Another great indoor activity closer to home is a performance by hard rock and heavy metal band Halestorm on Saturday in McVean Gymnasium at Jefferson Community College at 7 p.m. Halestorm won its first Grammy Award in February in the Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance category for its song “Love Bites (So Do I)” from its 2012 album “The Strange Case Of…” The Pennsylvania-based band also released two other albums in 2012, “Hello It’s Mz Hyde” and “ReAniMate.” The band is composed of siblings Arejay and Lzzy Hale, Joe Hottinger and Josh Smith. Local band Lake Effect Mud will open the concert. Tickets are $35 for the general public and $20 for JCC students; call 786-2431 or visit www.sunyjefferson.edu.

5) The American Maple Museum on Main Street in Croghan is hosting a “Maple Friday” event on Friday and Saturday during which you can purchase maple-themed gifts and stocking stuffers, including sweatshirts and t-shirts, maple jewelry, candles, crafts and various other items on sale. The museum will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission to the museum is $10 for families with two adults and two or more children; $4 for adults; $1 for children ages 5 to 14; and free for children ages five and younger.

6) In Motion School of Dance will present the eighth annual performance of the holiday classic The Nutcracker on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Dulles State Office Building in Watertown. Tickets are $12 for the general public and $6 for children. On Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the State Office Building, there will be a Holiday Craft Fair & Market to benefit the Watertown Urban Mission, featuring local vendors and crafters selling baked goods, farm goods, crafts, woodworking products, toys, home decorations and more. Admission is $2.

7) Also in Watertown, Immaculate Heart Central schools will be staging a Polar Express holiday show featuring Rhonda’s FooteWorks dancers and Stage Notes singers on Saturday at 2 and 7 p.m. at the high school, 1316 Ives St. The 2 p.m. show will be signed for the hearing impaired. The event benefits Daimon and Seeley Tuttle, 3 years and 8 months old, who suffer from Persistent Fetal Vascular Syndrome, and will also include a silent auction. Tickets are $6 for the general public and $5 for military personnel. Suggested attire is holiday pajamas. For advance tickets or to donate, email rfwdance@gmail.com.

8) If you’re interested in moving right into the spirit of the next holiday, there will be a holiday of lights kickoff in Canton on Friday at 6 p.m., including Santa, a tree lighting, caroling, sleigh wagon rides, holiday lights and hot chocolate and cookies at Canton Presbyterian Church.

9) The professional fire performance company Fire Magick will perform on Saturday at 4 p.m. at Arts on the Square, 52 Public Square, to raise money for a trip to India to perform at TechFest 2014. Monetary donations will be accepted and artwork or jewelry will be auctioned as well. Arts on the Square will also be participating in Small Business Saturday through an arts sale from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, during which you can pop balloons for chances to win 5, 10 or 15 percent off art. Visit the Arts Council’s Facebook page for more information. Find a list of all businesses participating in Small Business Saturday and other deals here.

10) Another shopping venue is the “All I Want for Christmas…” holiday craft fair at the Clayton Municipal Building on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event features face painting, activities for children, raffles and gift baskets, and benefits volunteer fireman Randy Bourcy, who is in need of a kidney transplant. Contact Kim Sherman at 777-1495 for more information.

Five Things Friday – November 22

5thingsfriday logoGREEN1) It may be pre-Thanksgiving, but the holiday shopping season appears to be more or less in full swing. There are a variety of excellent fairs this weekend that will offer you the chance to get started, or at least to get a glimpse of what’s out there.

In Sackets Harbor, there will be an arts and crafts member holiday sale featuring a variety of handcrafted gifts and art on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Arts Association of Northern New York, 119 W. Main St. Admission is free.

North Country Crafters is sponsoring A Handmade Christmas holiday craft show on Saturday at the Bruce M. Wright Memorial Conference Center, 1291 Faichney Drive, in Watertown. Admission is free, but donations of non-perishable food items will be accepted for the Watertown Urban Mission.

Redwood Fire Department Ladies’ Auxiliary will also sponsor a craft fair on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Redwood Fire Department, 43676 Stine Road. The event includes crafts, holiday items, raffles and door prizes.

The Zion Episcopal Church Women of Pierrepont Manor will also be sponsoring its annual Christmas bazaar at Mannsville-Manor Fire Hall on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Lunch will be available.

2) Chinese acrobats will descend on Jefferson Community College’s Sturtz Theater tonight at 7 p.m. as part of the college’s Cultural Arts Series. The high-energy acrobatic performance will also include narration of Chinese cultures and customs and will be accompanied by an interpreter. Admission is free. Call the JCC Student Activities office at 786-2431 for more information.

3) Don’t miss Watertown High School’s production of Anything Goes, which opened last night. Performances tonight continue tonight and Saturday at 7 p.m. at the high school, 1335 Washington St. The school’s renowned Select Choir, led by school music director Russell J. Faunce, is staging the production of the Cole Porter classic. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students and senior citizens.

4) Sample some of the best of north country restaurants at A Sample of Dining Out on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Bruce M. Wright Conference Center, 1291 Faichney Drive. Various participating restaurants in the Dining Out program sponsored by the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired of Jefferson County. The event also includes wine tastings, face painting and door prizes. Admission is free and samples tickets are available at the door: 12 tickets for a donation of $12 or pre-sale 12 tickets for $1 at the association office, 321 Prospect St. The event benefits the Association for the Blind & Visually Impaired.

5) Coyote Moon Vineyards in Clayton will be sponsoring a Ladies’ Day Out on Sunday from 12 to 5 p.m. Vendors at the event include ThirtyOne, Origami Owl Specialty Teas, Holidays Under Glass by Barb, Tastefully Simple, Mini Massages by Erica, Gold Canyon Candles and Wood & Co. The event also includes raffles and special guest chef Christian Ives’ food demonstrations.

Also going on: While it isn’t happening this weekend, this was worthy of an exception. A new event that will be running throughout the winter in the north country is Splatter, which is essentially a giant wine and painting party. The gathering will be held on Monday, Nov. 25 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Paddock Club in Watertown. For $37 (for the general public), you get one martini, all materials and personalized painting instruction. Grab a friend or just your adventurous spirit for a relaxing evening that will allow you to unwind, meet some new people and get back in touch with the creative side you may have been out of touch with since fourth grade or so. You can register for the event online here or at any YMCA location or at Arts on the Square, 52 Public Square.

Five Things Friday – November 15

5thingsfriday logoRED1) Get a jump on your holiday shopping at Jefferson County Historical Society’s 21st annual Holiday Victorian Faire from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. today and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Historical Society museum, 228 Washington St. The event includes a wine and cheese reception tonight from 4 to 7 p.m., vendors selling handmade jewelry, crafts, paintings, antiques and photographs, homemade baked goods, hot mulled cider and other lunch items. Admission to the event is $5 for adults; $4 for historical society members or members of the military; and free for children 17 and younger. Call the museum at 782-3491 for more information.

2) A great opportunity to sample some culinary delights at a reasonable price is South Jeff Taste of the Town from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday at the Adams Fire Hall, 4 N. Main St. Food will be prepared by some of Six Town’s best chefs. The event, which also includes live music, raffles and wine samplings, is sponsored by the South Jeff Chamber of Commerce and hosted by the Adams Revitalization Committee. Admission is $15 and benefits the Adams Volunteer Fire Department and the South Jeff Rescue Squad. Visit www.southjeffchamber.org for more information.

3) A Touch of Grace, 440 Coffeen St., will host its inaugural fall fashion show to benefit the local Children’s Miracle Network affiliate on Sunday at 1 p.m. About 40 models will showcase a variety of holiday and formal fashions, many of which could be worn during this winter’s parent-child dance, the Sugar Plum Ball. The store will show off short and long gowns for girls and young women. There is no admission charge, but a donation will be requested at the door. There will also be a 50-50 raffle and various prizes, including gift certificates to Corleone Limousine, Cabana Bay Tanning and A Touch of Grace, as well as entertainment by Patrick Fleming, also known as DJ Shamrock. Two gowns will be given away. Visit www.atouchofgrace.net to view a selection of gowns in the show.

4) Holy Family Church will host a cross-denominational concert to benefit the Watertown Urban Mission on Friday at 7 p.m. at the church, 129 Winthrop St. The concert will feature Agape Ringers, Noah Landers, Joanna Capone, Faith Fellowship Worship Team, Ed Kemp, Patty Lemieux, Stage Notes ensemble and New Life Christian Church Lift Band. There will be a free will offering. For more information, call 782-8440.

5) Another great option for getting a jump on holiday shopping is Canton’s annual Holiday Rummage Sale, which takes place today from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. today and 7:30 a.m. to noon Saturday. The Friday and Saturday sale will include clothing, home goods, toys, housewares, books, holiday apparel and decorations donated by community members. Money raised at the sale benefits the Morley Library Association. After 10 a.m. Saturday, shoppers will be able to fill a bag for $1.

Also going on: Flower Memorial Library in Watertown will host International Games Day on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. in the community room. All ages are invited to play video, board and card games. The event will also be held at Morley Library in Canton from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. The event is free and no registration is required.