Connecting With Life Through NNY Rivers

Ginger Anson and Reese Anson, 8, explore an area of the Black River in Glen Park where they’d often picnic, covered in water after rain and melting snow.

[Read more…]

Navigating The Rumor and Fable of Thousand Islands Dressing

[Read more…]

“Hands, Pans, Flames and Heart”

St. Lawrence Spirits Chateau executive chef Christian Ives poses in the dining room of the restaurant.

[Read more…]

At the Heart of Winters in NNY

A snowshoer jogs through the woods near the end of the Stone Wall 5K snowshoe race.

[Read more…]

Rain, Sleet or Snow: Embracing the unpredictable


It’s an autumn day and the tables are set, the party tent is adorn with birch tree branches welcoming the guests to begin in celebration. But there is one guest who wasn’t invited; Mother Nature.

     The landscape and scenery in northern New York is the perfect stage for spring, summer and fall weddings but there is always one element that cannot be controlled and that is the weather.


     On October 22, family and friends gathered together at Lucky Star Ranch in Chaumont to celebrate the love and marriage of Elizabeth Wiley and Michael Netto. Guests arrived to the unique country venue, a 2,000-acre wildlife management facility with whitetail deer, red deer and pere david deer which includes a 100-acre private lake on the property. Staff at Lucky Star prepared the tent next to a pool area, where there is an outdoor bar, two fireplaces and several sitting areas with a lake view. The stage was set, but Mother Nature was ensuring the day would never be forgotten.

     “The Farmer’s Almanac said dry, warm fall. So, I said let’s do it!” said Elizabeth Netto, bride and Cape Vincent native who knew exactly what could happen planning a wedding late in the fall. “People thought we were crazy planning a wedding in only six months, but I didn’t want to wait any longer and I’m happy we did it so quickly.”

     The couple first met at Ives Hill Country Club, very briefly, in 2014. Mrs. Netto was talking with Michael’s parents and soon realized that the two had mutual friends.

     “I thought it was weird we had never met before,” Mrs. Netto recalled. “He found me on Facebook, and we went to Goodfello’s on our first date, and the rest is history.”

     After beginning their relationship in June 2014, Michael proposed in April of 2016 and soon after the couple was married in October- a quick engagement but a wedding they will never forget.

     Both Elizabeth and Michael come from large families, Elizabeth’s from Cape Vincent and Michael’s from Watertown. The couple knew they wanted to have an outdoor wedding, specifically at Lucky Star Ranch which was the only venue they visited.

     “The Wiley’s and Netto’s were wonderful to work with right from the very start, not just Mike and Elizabeth, but both extended families,” said Jenna Kraeger, events and marketing coordinator at Lucky Star Ranch. “We knew from the very beginning that October 22 was late in the season for an outdoor wedding. Mike and Elizabeth were optimistic from the get-go that no matter what the weather, they were going to have a great day.” 

     Leading up to the wedding both families prepared DIY decorations, food stations and goodies for their guests. From the Thursday prior to the wedding to the day of the event, the families decorated in their rain boots not forgetting a single detail from the birch trees that dressed the tent poles to the hot chocolate bar and endless dessert table.

     “It takes a very special bride to be able to dance in their rain boots with a tied up, mud-lined wedding dress in nearly freezing temperatures,” Ms. Kraeger said.

     And that’s exactly what the bride and the guests did. The weather that day was a chilly 42 degrees with northwest winds at approximately 15 mph and it was raining. The wedding party, which stayed at Lucky Star Ranch the night prior, began to get ready at the on-site cabins and remained in high spirits, as northern New Yorkers tend to do knowing that Mother Nature is always unpredictable.

     It poured Thursday and into Friday, but Lucky Star Ranch had prepared the tent ensuring the tables and arrangements would remain dry. Mrs. Netto began to get nervous about the conditions early in the day, but according to Mr. Netto kept a positive attitude the entire time, realizing that there was nothing that could be done about it and that they were going to enjoy their special day no matter what the conditions.

     “We weren’t fazed,” he said. “And Elizabeth didn’t complain once. Weather didn’t play a factor in it for us, it was going to be a great day.”

    The rain caused the entrance of the tent to be muddy but still nothing the wedding party couldn’t handle. “Luckily, the guys put their heads together and built a bridge type entrance to the dance floor and everything worked out,” Mrs. Netto said.

     The couple placed calls to their guests prior to the ceremony encouraging them to not wear their best dress shoes, but instead to bring their rain boots and warm jackets.



     The Netto-Wiley wedding was nothing short of a spectacularly planned country wedding, with attention to details from the custom laser cut wooden coasters featuring the date and families’ names, to the embroidered blankets and gloves that would ensure the comfort of their guests.

     “It all came together better than I had expected. Things were last minute, as they would be planning a wedding in six months, and we turned to Pinterest. We called family members for tree branches and all the little signs throughout the grounds were done by a local friend,” Mrs. Netto said.

     Another thoughtfully planned custom addition to the weddings décor was a hot chocolate bar, ensuring guests were warm and toasty throughout the day. The bride’s mother came up with the idea, gathering supplies and the grandmother’s old cabinet to use as the table for the hot chocolate bar.

     “My mom was all about the hot chocolate bar,” Mrs. Netto said. “I wasn’t convinced, saying it was a wedding and that it wouldn’t fit, but with the weather being cold and rainy it was one of the biggest hits among guests.”

     The grandmother’s cabinet added yet another personal touch to the wedding and lent perfectly to the set up by allowing space for the custom embroidered blankets for their guests.

     While much of the wedding was DIY, Mrs. Netto said it was the thoughtfulness of Lucky Star Ranch’s staff that eased their minds leading up to the event.

     “We offer on-site accommodations for the weekend of the wedding,” said Ms. Kraeger. “We have two lodges overlooking our private lake that are great to accommodate the wedding party or guests of the bride and groom’s choice. The Boar’s Head Lodge is complete with three bedrooms and accompanying bathrooms. We also have a room in the main Lodge to host smaller gatherings including the rehearsal dinner.”

     With the cold weather nipping outside the tent Lucky Star Ranch worked diligently to keep guests not only cozy during their stay at the lodge, but also provided outdoor heaters, maintained the fire place throughout the evening and kept the hot water filled for the hot chocolate bar.

     “Unfortunately weather is one thing we cannot control,” Ms. Kraeger said. “all you can do is hope for the best and prepare for the worst, which is exactly what we did.”


     It’s no secret that while you’re planning a wedding the photography is a major component to long-lasting memories and moments shared by guests and family members, captured and kept by the bride and groom to treasure their big day.

     Many people, when they first start planning their wedding, research pricing and packages, but for Mr. and Mrs. Netto they knew who they had in mind from the start, Mary Madison Studios from Cape Vincent.

     The local photography pair knew the Wiley family which added a level of calm to the couple. David Bonnie and Kathleen Trottier are experienced photographers and knew that the weather may play a  big factor in the photography that day.

     “It was fun for this one. It wasn’t the nicest day, it was rainy so we did a lot of prep work for this one,” Ms. Trottier said. “We prefer a much more candid approach, we don’t do a lot of planning – we usually show up shoot and capture the event as it’s happening.”

     So the photographers turned to Pintrest according to Ms. Trottier. They looked up their favorite photographers and made plans to brave the elements and how to use Mother Nature’s uncertainty to their advantage.

     “The willingness of our clients to get outside and brave the elements was astonishing, really,” Mr. Bonnie said. “A lot of times people will shun away from adverse weather like that, but the foliage blowing at the same time as the rain was a contrast to what we usually do. You wish for great weather but this was a bit different.” 

     As the bridesmaids began to get ready Ms. Trottier focused on shooting the intimate moments shared by the women as they prepared Mrs. Netto for her walk down the aisle and Mr. Bonnie focused on the men.

     As the ceremony reached its conclusion it was time for family photos, and with two large families there was one specific shot that Mrs. Netto wanted to make sure they got, her grandparents at the family farm house in Cape Vincent.

     “We talked with the photographers and decided that no matter what the weather we wanted to be at the family farm and I am so happy we did. It was cold, it was rainy but we went up there and the photos came out perfect,” Mrs. Netto said. “Having my grandparents be able to be in the photos was very special to me.”

     And it is those photos that distinctly showcased the couples day, embracing the unpredictable autumn weather and beaming with love through the entire event. The images captured Mrs. Netto’s mud covered dress, while the women were in rain boots and winter coats.

     Mr. and Mrs. Netto’s day could have been ruined by the unforeseen weather conditions, they could have spent the day under the tent staying warm, but instead as any Northern New York native couple would, they seized the day and wouldn’t have had it any other way.

     “Keep an open mind,” Mrs. Netto said. “If rain is going to ruin your day don’t plan an outdoor wedding because chances are it will rain.”

Holiday fashion across the decades

Decmeber 1945

Decmeber 1945

Northern New York women dressing for the holidays in the 1940s focused heavily on accessories. At the annual Christmas Teas held by the College Women’s Club of Jefferson County, the women in these photos showed off popular fashion trends of the decade. These women finished off their looks with festive hats, broaches, and belts to celebrate the season.

[Read more…]

Unchain your holiday season: Give the gifts of community craft, north country artisans



As the holidays draw near, finding the perfect gift can be a stressful and daunting task. But it doesn’t have to be. Thinking outside of the box stores and looking locally can ease this stress and even produce a custom gift for each person on your holiday shopping list.

Buying locally not only allows for you to find the perfectly customized gift for your loved ones it also supports your area small businesses, keeping Northern New York communities bustling with business and economic growth.

“Every purchase made locally results in funds going back into our economy,” said Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber executive director Kylie Peck. “The more we shop locally the more effect we have on those that are supporting local programs, non-profits and causes that mean the most to us”

Throughout Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence Counties, many small businesses thrive due to support from local residents.

While shops along the St. Lawrence River depend on tourism during the summer months, they still remain open during the off-season; for small businesses in development it is about their passion for the products which they strive to share with their neighbors and friends.

“Of course it is very gratifying when people use and buy my products,” said Laura Cerow, owner and creator of St. Larry’s organic oils, lotions and potions, “Then they share with me how much they love them. But the most rewarding part is when someone finds relief of some kind from a product, that they had not been able to find elsewhere.  I also formulate for individual needs and I really enjoy that aspect as well.”

It is that personal relationship with local business owners that makes shopping locally a benefit to the consumer.

“We always encourage people to shop locally when they can. We are so fortunate in the greater Watertown area to be surrounded by quaint towns that offer unique shopping experiences. During the holiday season, the chamber acts as a neighborhood champion for the Small Business Saturday movement. For many year’s we have assisted with increasing awareness of this great program,” Mrs. Peck said.

Not only does shopping for the holidays within your local communities benefit the economy, but it helps the consumer save money as well. By shopping locally, you are saving on the cost of shipping and handling. Many online shops claim to provide free shipping during the holidays, but you are paying a higher price for that retail item.

Shopping during the holidays also should be a fun experience shared with friends and family. While browsing the internet from the comfort of home can be relaxing, having personal experiences and laughs while finding the perfect holiday gift can be exciting and create lasting memories.

Remember, your family and friends are one of a kind. Shopping locally means you can choose unique and one-of-a-kind gifts that are as special as the recipient.

NNY Living encourages you to focus your holiday shopping at many of the region’s small businesses this holiday season by following our non-chain holiday shopping guide below Holly’s Holiday Pick.

Holly’s holiday pick

gift-box-image-1With the holidays just around the corner it’s easy to forget to care for your personal health and wellness. Becoming overwhelmed with the hustle and bustle of shopping, hosting guests and family and preparing the big holiday meal can leave one feeling drained.

But you don’t have to let your personal well-being fall to the wayside by simply taking a few minutes to eat well and treat your body right. Three small business owners along the St. Lawrence River want to ensure that you do just that. Laura Cerow, owner of St. Larry’s, Monica Behan, owner of Modicum Skin Care, and Liz Price-Kellogg along with Kristen Taylor, creators of LIVE YUM, have developed the “Gratitude Goddess Holiday Gift Box” to assist with wellness during the holiday season.

Each gift box includes gratitude-inspiring products handcrafted along the St. Lawrence River from the local businesswomen.


A signed copy of “For the Love of Food and Yoga: A Celebration of Mindful Eating and Being,” by Liz Price-Kellogg and  Kristen Taylor. Plus, three new LIVE Yum recipes.


Two organic essential oils from St. Larry’s, helmed by the St. Lawrence River’s remarkable Laura Cerow, that may be used in recipes from the For the Love of Food and Yoga inspirational cookbook.


A travel size of the coveted Essential Serum from Murray Isle’s Monica Behan, owner of Modicum Skin Care! A 2015 Beauty Nominee for Martha Stewart’s American Made Awards, Modicum Skin Care nutrient system combats a multitude of skin care issues from aging to acne.

Call 523-0627 to purchase your holiday “Gratitude Goddess Holiday Gift Box” or to learn more. Each gift box is $50 to $65 value and includes sales tax. LIVE YUM will also mail your gift box to any mailing address with an enclosed LIVE YUM gift card (add $10 — flat rate for shipping). Give the gift of the river, health, wellness and gratitude this holiday season.


Jefferson County

Editor’s note: The following list of non-chain stores is not intended as an all-inclusive shopping directory.

Country Designs

320 Dodge Ave., Sackets Harbor


St. Lawrence Pottery

41468 state Route 12, Clayton


The Lake Ontario Gift Shop

12279 state Route 12E, Chaumont

(315) 300-4014

The Natural Basket

44144 state Route 3, Natural Bridge


Agape Shoppe

136 Court St., Watertown


The 1000 Islands Cruet

226 James St., Clayton


1000 Islands River Rat Cheese

242 James St., Clayton

686-2480 or 1- (800) 752-1341

Treasure Island Jewelers

40 James St., Alexandria Bay


Karla’s Christmas Shoppe

500 Riverside Drive, Clayton


Captain Spicer’s Gallery

40467 state Route 12, Clayton


Freighters of Clayton

534 Riverside Drive, Clayton


St. Larry’s

38234 Windward Cliffs, Clayton


Live Yum

Liz Price-Kellogg and

Kristen Taylor, Clayton

775-7115 or 523-0627


Clayton / 1000 Islands

St. Lawrence County

Phil and Jackie’s

69 Main St., Massena

Nature’s Storehouse

21 Main St., Canton


Seasons Specialty Gifts

27 W. Orvis St., Massena


Misty Hollow

22 Market St., Potsdam


St. Lawrence County Arts Council

41 Elm St., Room 231, Potsdam

(Downtown Snell Hall, 2nd Floor)


Brick & Mortar Music

15 Market St., Potsdam


Adirondack Fragrance & Flavor Farm

1551 Highway 72, Potsdam


Argent’s Jewelry and Coin Shop

32 Market St., Potsdam


Canton-Potsdam Gift Shop

50 Leroy St., Canton


Em Bears

P.O. Box 402, Hannawa Falls


Traditional Arts in Upstate New York (TAUNY) store

53 E. Main St., Canton



Maple Run Emporiums Inc.

49 Market St., Potsdam


Lewis County

Nolts Country Store

7189 state Route 812, Lowville


Marguerite’s Cranberry Emporium

7614 N. State St., Lowville


Cozy Country Corner

7608 North State St., Lowville


Bonaparte Candle & Gifts

7790 State Route 3, Harrisville


The Blue Bird Country Store

8311 state Route 26, Lowville


Amish Connection

9882 state Route 12, Copenhagen


Croghan Candy Kitchen

9740 state Route 812, Croghan


Holiday 2015 Cover Story: Keeping holiday traditions bright

Light displays, performances top north country’s seasonal offerings

This festive pirate ship won best display in 2012. The sixth annual Lights on the River is set for Dec. 12 to 22 at the Lisbon Beach Camping Grounds, Ogdensburg.

This festive pirate ship won best display in 2012. The sixth annual Lights on the River is set for Dec. 12 to 22 at the Lisbon Beach Camping Grounds, Ogdensburg.

By Norah Machia, NNY Living

Many traditions are celebrated by north country residents to mark the holidays, and this year is no exception. These events are often made possible by organizations or businesses whose members volunteer their time to help people commemorate the season. Some events are free, others have an admission charge, and many benefit the community as well. [Read more…]

Winter 2015 Cover Story: Snowmobiling

Powder play

Text by Lorna Oppedisano | Photos by Lauren Harrienger

Loading the player…

For many, snowmobile culture is a way of life to beat the blues during long north country winters.

The dead of winter has the north country in its grips. Everything on the ground is some shade of gray or white. Any sign of life, save the occasional far-off bird call, has left the area. A bright, glaring sun shines down from the clear blue sky, a meek attempt at melting the heaps of snow, feet high in areas. But it’s no use. The burning ball in the sky is not a match for the crisp, almost biting, freezing winter air. It’ll be months before Northern New York breathes a gasp of warm, balmy air.

The conditions are perfect.

A machine roars to life in the distance. And then another. And another. Before long, a fleet of iron sleds races into view, caravanning across the gleaming paths carved into the snow, moving at speeds rivaling those of cars on a nearby county road. Perched atop the machines, the riders lean into the twists and turns of the trail. Each traveler is decked out from head to toe in layers of impenetrable snow gear. The sleds race in single file, and then, as suddenly as they appeared, they’re gone around the next bend, on to their destination.

Welcome to snowmobile season.


[Read more…]

Winter 2015 Feature: An adventure for a non-thrill-seeker

Writer, Lorna Oppedisano

Writer, Lorna Oppedisano

Thrills are not my forte. Adrenaline usually just makes me dizzy. I bit the bullet once and tried a rollercoaster; I can safely say that I never want to be upside-down again in my life. I’m a legs-planted-firmly-on-the-ground type of woman.

A little more than a month ago, my editor mentioned the idea of ‘beat the winter blues’ as the cover story topic. Would I write it? Of course. Would I investigate the culture of snowmobiling? Definitely. Would I get on the back of a snowmobile for the first-hand, in-depth perspective? Gulp… sure. [Read more…]