Best of 2017 .... Sharing My Favorite Businesses and Contractors

Saturday, December 30, 2017
And another one bites the dust...another year, that is.  Is it just me, or does everyone feel like these years go by so fast?  2018...yikes!   Saying goodbye to another year brings a whole boatload of emotions for me, but that's another blog.  Speaking of blog...after my Christmas extravaganza, a whirlwind of epic proportions with 15 posts in November and 5 in December, I can honestly tell you that I seriously needed a break.  Thank you for your patience as I took a couple weeks away from the computer and social media.  During those weeks I strongly considered putting the blog to rest - for good, but after some much needed time away I've reconsidered that idea and decided I'd miss it too much to hang it up permanently.  Besides....I have one more end of the year post that must be done and that's my Best Business Wrap Up.

All year long one of the things I enjoy doing on the blog is showcasing businesses I discover and patronize....shops, restaurants, etc...  Back in 2016 I ended the year with a Best Of list of businesses and contractors I couldn't live without.  Today's post is another edition of that....great folks in the 518 whose services we've used and loved.  It's not easy finding quality, reputable people, but I'm lucky to have several who I'm happy to recommend.   So without further they are in no particular order:

  • Petrecki & Son's LLC - Although Mark Petrecki's truck reads Stone & Masonry Specialist, Mark's talents are pretty extensive.  We've used Mark's services for retaining walls, sidewalks, and foundation resurfacing and painting and more...too much more to list.  When the Northeast winter prevents him from his outside jobs, Mark keeps busy with tile jobs and other inside remodeling work  He's branching out in the next year to expand his services to a little soft scaping, property management and much more.  Mark is not just a perfectionist; he's honest, fair and has an eye for creating a finished product even more beautiful than the one you might have imagined.  He's also one of the nicest men you'll ever meet.  For more information on Mark and his services...
  • Kavalla Clean - We discovered Kavalla Clean last September when our daughter and son-in-law bought their home in Clifton Park.  We hired Chris Kavalla to do a general top-to-bottom cleaning, as well as carpet shampoo before move-in and boy, were we thrilled.  Chris and his team use only green cleaning products that are biodegradable and made from naturally sourced materials. Both of my girls have enlisted Chris' service again and like the first time, they were very happy with the results.  This year I reached out to Chris again for another reason.  The Floyd Warriors had a family in need.  In case you've never heard of Floyd Warriors - they're a group of amazing volunteers that help newly diagnosed cancer patients get through the early months of treatment.  One of the things the family mentioned they were in need of was a little housecleaning.  I contacted Chris hoping I could pay for his services for this family but Chris stepped up, way, way up, and provided his services pro bono!   Now that's a class act and a huge heart.  Whether you want a one-time clean, weekly cleaning or a deep clean, be sure to contact Kavalla Clean for all your cleaning needs: and
  • Hanley Movers - Like Kavalla Clean, we found Hanley Movers when our daughter needed movers to move their belongings from storage to their new home.   Tom Hanley proved his worth right from the get-go when he was able to get the moving truck backed up Laura's very steep driveway, only making a tiny rut in the grass.  Cars often shy away from driving up the driveway, but not Tom Hanley.  As if we weren't already impressed, Tom and his team made quick and careful work unloading a fully packed truck in a short time, all the while handling every piece of furniture and every box as if it were their own.  Nice guy and pleasant and efficient team.  To contact Hanley Movers: and
  • David's Tree Topping Service - For as long as we've owned our home, David's Tree Topping Service has been our company of choice for tree cutting and removal.  Over the course of 22 years, David and his crew have taken down at least 8 trees for us.  Always the best price combined with outstanding, careful removal and clean up, I know when I hire David's I'll get a job well done at a fair and reasonable price.  If you live in the Clifton Park area, give David a call at 518-371-0361.  In business since 1972, David brings a lifetime of experience to every job.
  • B.K. Custom Services - There's so much I can say about Barry!  Barry is a jack of all trades and a master at many.  His expertise is custom cabinetry but Barry can remodel a kitchen, or a bathroom, hang a door, install a floor, fix a toilet, you name it, Barry can do it and if he can't, he's not afraid to say so.  We've had Barry remodel our kitchen and bathroom and this year he replaced and hung every door in our house except for the front door.  That included 19 doors (interior doors, closet doors, and two exterior doors.  He painted them too.  Barry is also a perfectionist.  He arrives promptly each day, works continuously through the day and stays on your job until it is complete. He's trustworthy and dependable.  I don't know what I'd do without him.  Barry is located in Saratoga Springs and can be reached at 518-581-5900.
  • Brad Elliott Chiropractic - Sometimes our homes aren't the only thing that needs fixing.  I've suffered with a few bouts of sciatica this year and I know I got back on my feet each time thanks to the expert treatment I received from Brad Elliott.  Brad isn't one of those chiropractors that will keep you running endlessly.  He fixes what ails you, recommends exercises to get you back on our feet and keep you there, and encourages healthy lifestyle changes that will enable you to keep mobile.  Since my first 7 week incapacitating bout of sciatica, I've been doing monthly maintenance visits and can definitely feel the difference in my spine health.  If you're in need of a tune-up, give Brad a call at 518-383-4889.
  • Mom & Pop's Cafe - I've already told you about Mom & Pop's when I featured them in their own post earlier this year but I really need to mention them in this list. Besides being a great place for breakfast or lunch, located on Rt. 67 right next door to Curtis Lumber, you'll be hard-pressed to leave this home style cafe hungry.  Freshly made meals in very generous quantities, the only thing better than your meal at Mom & Pop's is the delicious foods from their catering service.  We got most of the food for my daughter's baby shower from them and people are still talking about it.  From wrap platters to fruit platters, appetizers to hot dishes, everything is fresh and delicious.  Whether you're looking for a yummy meal or looking to feed your next event, give Mom & Pop's a call.
  • The Food Florist - This is one I've been meaning to devote a whole post to, and will eventually, but in the meantime.   During my 7-weeks of sciatica, I could barely roll over in bed.  Cooking wasn't even on my radar.  After a few weeks of take-out, someone told me about the Food Florist and saved my (and John's) life.  The Food Florist (Trish and her team) cook fresh, wholesome meals using locally sources ingredients.  What's different about the Food Florist is that her meals are sold frozen so you can bring home casseroles and pies and cook them whenever you need them.   From chicken pot pie to lasagna, Swedish meatballs to breakfast casseroles, quiche and fruit pies.....let me tell you, it was awesome to eat fresh, delicious home cooked meals during my recovery.  Instead of sending a new mom flowers, bring her a few frozen casseroles.  Know someone convalescing?   Take them food that requires no prep, just a pre-heated oven and voila....a hot meal.  And guess can even get meals portioned for two!!!!  So whether you're looking to feed a family or just you and your sweetie....the Food Florist has you covered.  I love their blueberry french toast casserole and their blueberry crumb pie, but their chicken pot pie is always yummy too. The Food Florist is located at 3 Science Street in Ballston Spa but can also be found at local Farmer's Markets.  She also does pop-up deliveries at local businesses.  For more information: and
  • VideoView Productions - This is perhaps the business that most plucks a sentimental chord for me.  Ed Deet of Video View Productions does a most amazing job of restoring and converting old media onto dvd's.  We enlisted Ed's services this past year to convert some vhs tapes, some super 8mm tapes and some very, very old movies from the 60's.  I can't begin to tell you what it was like to be able to relive those special times, to see my grandparents alive again.  Don't send your precious media out into the it down to Ed in Waterford and let him handle your memories with his tender touch and very reasonable prices.  You'll be so glad you did.  For more information: and to read my dedicated post about VideoView Productions:
  • Chatbooks - This is a slightly different service, but still one I want to mention.  For those of you who use're probably like the rest of us who rarely print photos anymore.  Chatbooks (available at the App Store) is an amazing company that prints your Instagram photos in little brag books.  After every 60 photos you upload, for $10 they print a 6" x 6" soft cover book for you.  Each photo is dated too!  You can upgrade for a fancier book and you can also delete photos you don't want included before printing.  Now all those family photos or vacation photos will have a forever home and can be shared with all your friends and relatives!
  • Favorite Lawn Service - Davey's Tree, not the cheapest but an excellent company for both tree cutting and lawn service.  We have them fertilize our lawn and trees.  Top notch employees, knowledgeable professionals, respectful of property. and
  • Favorite Lawn Care - Saratoga Turf Care - we enlisted Doug's Smalley's services when John was incapacitated last summer and fall and were so happy with their work, we never let them go.  For mowing and spring/fall yard clean up, Saratoga Turf Care is affordable and dependable. Doug rarely takes on new customers, but if you're in the Clifton Park area, he's worth a call  518-371-0508.
  • Favorite Salon - Spa at Chelsea Park - for hair, nails, massage, lashes, and more, the Spa at Chelsea Park is a beautiful place to pamper yourself.
  • Favorite Car Repair Shop - Daigle's Automotive - We've used Daigle's in the past and this year when our regular mechanic became ill, we went back to Daigle's and were reminded what great service and fair prices they offer.  Located on Vischer Ferry Road in Rexford, you'll get honest diagnostics and great customer service at Daigle's Automotive.  518-383-2689
  • Favorite Church - Shenendehowa United Methodist Church - I visited this church for the first time almost 2 yrs ago and have been attending ever since.  If you're looking for a place where you can reconnect, a place to grow in your spiritual journey, a place to be surrounded by warm and welcoming people and be inspired and encouraged...this is the church for you.  This is a busy church with loads of opportunities to get connected for both young and old. The youth at SUMC stay connected and participating straight through their teens; in fact that was one of the first things that impressed me...the huge number of kids and teens.  You know they're doing something right when the teens keep coming.  You can even watch their services live or after- the-fact online.   If you need a little more God in your life, Pastor Lee, Brother Paul and everyone at Shen Methodist will have you feeling closer to God in no time.  For more information: and
So, that's favorite businesses of 2017.  I still love the businesses I wrote about in 2015 and you can read about them HERE.  I hope you'll stay tuned....I have some beautiful blog posts coming up, full of some of the photos you always love.  Thank you for your support.   I have so many faithful readers.  I promise to keep things positive and upbeat in the New Year and I intend to share all the beautiful things that come my way in Life As I See It.  Wishing you and yours a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year!

An Elegant Christmas Display at the Beautiful Casparus Pruyn House

Saturday, December 9, 2017
From my humble holiday home to a much more stately I bring you one of my local favorite historic estates, the Casparus Pruyn Mansion.  You're probably more accustomed to seeing the Pruyn estate gardens here on the blog, like in this post from this past summer, Summer Gardens at the Pruyn House, but trust me there's just as much beauty to be found inside the Pruyn House as there is on the grounds.

If you're interested in the Pruyn House history, please check out their website and my previous blog posts (links at the end of today's post).  This is a wonderful venue which is the site of summer concerts, family programs and weddings, and as I mentioned earlier, their glorious gardens.   Although the gardens are my favorite part of the Pruyn estate, we love visiting during the Christmas season to see the house decorated.  The mansion was decorated this year by the Blue Creek Garden Club. The theme is Sleigh Bells Ring.  What a wonderful step back to the 1800's in this beautifully maintained Federal and Greek Revival piece of architecture.

Can you just imagine living in such a beautiful setting?  If you get a chance, make time to visit the Pruyn House.  The house is open Monday-Friday, 9-4:30.  If you want to see more, use the following links:

Thanks for coming along.  I hope your Christmas season is filled with wonderful memories of Christmases past and all the makings of new memories with the people you cherish!

All Is Merry & Bright in My Annual Holiday House Tour 2017

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

When it comes to Christmas, I'm of the 'the more, the better' school of thought.  That doesn't necessarily apply to gifts, but when it comes to decorating my home I am definitely there.  Now don't get me's not that I think I'm Martha Stewart or Joanna Gaines.  I definitely am not, not even in my dreams.  It's more that I love, love, love everything that spells Christmas and I've been collecting things I love for almost 40 years.  Each year when we drag the crates out of the attic, I declare that this year I'm not putting everything out, just a few things.   Well, if you're the sentimental type like me, you understand how impossible that idea is to carry out.  Even this year when my granddaughter, Elena, and I began decorating the family room tree I told her, 'this year, let's just keep it simple and just put balls on the tree'.  Well, she agreed but as you'll see we may have not stuck to our plan.  In the end, after almost a week of agonizing where each little trinket needed to be - in the house and on the tree - things are looking very much to my liking, finally.  In my takes so long because I try to change things up a bit from year to year.  My mom has declared me a little OCD and a lot crazy.  I'm sharing my house tour with you, not because it's brag worthy, or magazine worthy, but because it's a reflection of me, your blog author and I'm hoping it shines a little ray of Christmas spirit for you all to enjoy.  I'll narrate a bit as I go and give you any stories that might seem relevant...or you can just breeze past those and just enjoy the photos.  Welcome to my holiday home!
In the foyer.....I replaced my Life As I See It eye with the mirror.  Greens in the tin pitcher from Speckled Hen.

For years I've wanted to do this....We finally dragged John's old (over 60) Radio Flyer out of the attic.  Had to remove the handle but the tree fit perfectly!  The cat is a little disappointed not to have a tree skirt to lie on...oh well!

Wreath over the mantle is new this year from Target's Magnolia Hearth & Hand collection.  Tall desk was my Mimier's (grandmother's).  I remember sitting at it as a small child before school each day sticking S & H green stamps into their redemption book.  It was mahogany then.

Have I said yet how much I am in love with this tree I splurged on from Balsam Hill last year?

One of this year's new acquisitions - enameled platter painted by the amazing Terri Littlefield.  I first saw it last year when photographing Crow Cottage and wanted it then.  Well, it was still there this year and I took that as a sign it was meant to be mine!  White vessel and greens from the Speckled Hen last year.  Deer pair from my mom - from Rite Aid!!

Anybody see who's photo bombing this shot? 
Swapped out my revolving gallery from the summer ocean pictures to enjoy some favorite winter barn scenes.  The beloved and gorgeous center barn sketch of my favorite Easton barn, a gift from Brother Paul at my church.

Love the snowy scene - purchased at Garden Bug last year.  Hummel cottages gifts from my late mother-in-law, given over the years.
Stocking I made back in 1980, gnome from Apple Barrel, greenery from Speckled Hen adorns my mother-in-laws Wheeler & Wilson sewing machine.

On to the dining room............

Folksy snowman (Terri Littlefield) and some of my white pitcher collection. Newest second from the right from the Speckled Hen.  Beautiful cabinet plucked from a curb by my late father-in-law many years ago.  It was painted turquoise! The By Grace Alone sign purchased a while back at Crow Cottage.  The wreath over the pitchers bought at the Garden Bug.

Decorating always involves a good deal of rearranging.  This window (from Second Chance Barn) which normally hangs over the divider between the living room and dining room got moved to the wall to replace another large farmhouse picture.  Love this angel's reminder, 'when in doubt, look up' which I confess I bought for someone years ago but decided to keep ;)  Funny story....the beautiful bow on the window reused from last year's kissing ball from the Garden Bug! Garland from the Speckled Hen.

And to the family room....

Wreath on window was purchased last season at Chatham Flowers!

This dish normally holds a collections of sea shells.

And the tree that was intended to be kept simple - couldn't go a year without our very sentimental collection of white mice.  This collection began in 1980 with our daughter Katie's first Christmas and continues to grow each year.

This gorgeous nativity purchased from Sam's Club about 20 years ago for $39.99.  Santas and snowmen, also from my crafting days.  Beautiful water bird painting - a Shelly Broughton piece.
Little gnome in bottom left from Apple Barrel, large Santa from Hannaford about 20 years ago ($19.95), Lantern next to my Jim Shore collection on the bottom right from the Speckled Hen as is the Merry Christmas sign (from other visits). Most of the Santas in top right photo were made by me back in my crafting days. 

So that's it....the Welter holiday extravaganza. Now you see why it took almost an entire week to complete.  I think I might qualify for the award for Most Decorations in one Small House.  Maybe there's some sort of support group for folks like me who can't get enough Christmas.  Seriously, it means so much to be able to enjoy so many years of memories reminiscing where each piece came from, or the person who added a piece to my collection.  I only hope one day when I'm gone, my girls or grandkids love it all as much as me.  Now you see why I love doing the Christmas series and why they cost me so much!! LOL.  Thanks for letting me share, not just today's post, but all my posts through the Life As I See It.  Now crank up the Christmas tunes and get in the spirit!  If you  haven't had enough, check out the blog Directory at 
to see previous year's house tours under This & That, or to catch this year's shop series under Let's Shop!
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