Time to Say Thanks to Our Favorite Businesses and Contractors of 2018

Sunday, December 30, 2018
Here we are at the end of another calendar year!  It always amazes me how quickly these years pass, but one of my favorite parts of closing the book on the year is taking a moment to share with you my favorite businesses and contractors.  Each year I like to give a nod and a big thanks to all the folks who helped keep things running smoothly, helped make the Welter home prettier, contributed in making life easier, more organized and less work.  I hope that in doing so, you might find someone you could use in your life too.  Good help is hard to find and when I do, I like to make sure they know how much we appreciate it.  My list this year is long; I don't want to leave anyone out, so sit back and take notes as I share my 2018 Favorite Contractors and Businesses.

Miron's For Floors - After 23 years of hating our bathroom floor (those dastardly 1" x 1" tiles with discolored grout) Miron's laid beautiful Mannington Vinyl over our tile (after skim coating first) and brought our bathroom from the 1960's into the new millennium.  Dick Miron and cousin Dave made the whole process easy and enjoyable from start to finish.  No surprise here.....as Miron's has been serving the Capital Region for 70 years.  They are located on Remsen Street in Cohoes NY.  For more information: http://www.mironsforfloors.com/

Green Gardener LLC - Maia van Holsteijn, a Bachelor of Science Graduate of Iowa State Horticulture Program, provides a variety of outdoor services including spring clean-up, weeding, mowing, bulb planting, landscape design, pruning, vegetable garden design and planting, indoor plant repotting, and general yard maintenance. I enlisted Maia for a number of gardening jobs this summer beginning with dividing and transplanting a bunch of perennials, revamping a forgotten garden, weeding and some fertilizing.  Maia worked tirelessly and efficiently, regardless of the heat and humidity, and always got to me in a timely fashion.  I can't say how nice it was to be able to enjoy my gardens without having to do the work!  I highly recommend you give Maia a call at 712-240-6242 or you can email her at info@GoGreenGardener.com.  Be sure to check out her website: https://gogreengardener.com/ for more about her and her services.

Kulak's Nursery - This spring we tackled a long-overdue project of re-establishing the landscaping in the front of our house.  You may have seen the blog post about it (https://www.lifeasiseeitphotography.net/2018/05/one-yard-several-gardens-and-two.html)  Well, Pam at Kulak's was instrumental in helping us select a group of new plants and shrubs to fill a rather large area.  Not only did she have a great eye and good ear for listening to my likes and preferences in plants, Kulak's had a large variety of healthy specimens which all thrived in their new home.  I would highly recommend them for all your gardening needs.  http://www.kulaksnursery.com/  You can see the before and after of that product in the blog post (link above).

Petrecki & Son's - You'll probably recognize this name from all of my previous Best Business lists - because Mark Petrecki is one of my favorite contractors.  Mark has done a laundry list of jobs for me including a very massive and beautiful retaining wall, a sidewalk, basement window replacement, and water-sealed a leak in our foundation.  This year he expanded from his hardscape work and moved towards some soft scaping.  Mark was the lead (and only man) in our landscape project removing a couple dozen astilbes and several fern, along with some Rose of Sharon.  He then amended the soil, laid edging, planted all the new nursery plants, laid stone under the drip edge and mulch over the new plants.  Then this fall when I wanted to put up a simple little background fence, Mark made time in his schedule to build a masterpiece for me.  That's what Mark does....he takes your vague vision and combines it with your need and he weaves his magic with muscle to create something far more beautiful that you could have dreamed.  Just look at this fence.....all built one piece of lumber at a time, from scratch, from Mark's design. 
Mark is a perfectionist, a disciplined hard worker and one of the best men you'll ever meet.  All of that just makes him that much harder to schedule.  So line him up now!  You can find him at https://www.facebook.com/petreckiandson/  518-858-6810.

All Star Plumbing - All you have to do is look at Nate's Facebook page, or Angie's List and you'll see I'm not alone in my rave review of All Star Plumbing.  We hired Nate this year to fix our toilet - the toilet that has been a headache for 23 years.  We'd hoped our new floor would solve our problem (a toilet that rocked on too high a flange) but the floor only worsened the situation.  Nate came to the rescue, cut the flange, replaced the parts and finally, we have a solid-seated toilet.  Nate also replaced our temperamental shower ball valve that refused to let us adjust the temperature by increments with a beautiful new hotel style handle and new faucet.  It's amazing how such a little fix can make an everyday task so much more pleasant.  Everyday I marvel at how much I can love a piece of plumbing.  Nate also snaked our drains and replaced a hose faucet.  Besides being a master plumber, Nate takes incredible care to respect your home.  Each time he enters the house he puts on booties, carries in (and out) his own towels and garbage and is punctual and polite.  I can't say enough about how much we love him.  For all your plumbing needs, All Star Plumbing is your company.  https://www.facebook.com/Allstarplumbing518/   518-312-9399

KT Electric - We found KT Electric (Ken Tibbitts) a few years ago on Angie's List.  Ken installed a whole-house surge protector and later came to replace a breaker switch in our breaker box.  Recently we called Ken for a number of jobs, from simple fixes to some more (much more) complex ones.  Ken's associates disconnected our lamppost timer which was hard-wired in the floor joists of the ceiling of the basement and installed a sensor on the lamppost.  He also replaced our double outlet in the bathroom with a six-outlet box to accommodate important things like water piks, make up mirrors, electric toothbrushes, night lights, etc...   He also rewired our bathroom fan so that we could use the light without the fan on.  Alleluia!!!  Oh it's the little things in life.   He also replaced a couple of our dimmer switches.  These were all luxury jobs.....jobs that didn't interfere with the normal running of anything yet the fixes made such a difference in our day-to-day life.  With nearly 30 years of experience, you'll want to call Ken for your next electrical need.....no job is too small.  http://www.ktelectric.org/   518-393-8308

Mayfair Jewelers - You might not expect to find a jeweler on my list, and frankly neither would I since I'm not much for jewelry.  But....this year I decided it was time to update some heirloom pieces into everyday items I could enjoy.  On the recommendation of our best friends, we headed to Mayfair in Glenville.  Cindy took a look at the pieces we had to work with, listened to the story behind them and she and Chris, our designer, went to work to make old things new again.  One of the things I had were two old wedding rings that were the division of one wedding ring of my great grandmother.  My two uncles had given them to my aunts for their wedding bands.  I had no idea of how to use them, maybe melt them and design something?  Well, when Chris noticed both were inscribed with initials and wedding dates, he knew he wanted to preserve them.  So he created a beautiful pendant which preserved the integrity of the original pieces and incorporated two diamonds from a ring of my Dad's. Cindy also helped me pick out components for another necklace and resized a couple other pieces for me.  I was so happy with how personal the service, how respectful they were of my heirlooms and how much effort was put into preserving my pieces as close to their original integrity as possible.  I highly recommend Mayfair Jewelers for all your jewelry needs.  They are located in Glenville and Latham.    https://www.facebook.com/MayfairJewelersLatham/

Daigle's Automotive - Located on Vischer Ferry Road in Rexford NY, Daigle's is an old-fashioned, friendly, personal and top-notch garage where you can get honest, fair-priced auto repairs.  At Daigle's you won't get stuck paying for a bogus diagnosis.  What you'll get is an honest diagnosis, a clear explanation of the repair needed, and the ability to walk away if you choose.  But you won't walk away because you'll be confident that you're receiving an honest diagnosis and a repair at a fair price, each and every time.  At Daigle's you'll receive the fastest and fairest service around .....whether you're a man or a woman, you'll be treated with friendly, polite service and women....you won't be afraid to get taken advantage of.  There's a reason why Daigle's has been in business since 1983!  They're that good.  For your next auto repair, call Daigle's at 518-383-2689.

DF Construction - In business since 1987, Don Frame knows his stuff.  From siding to windows and doors, Don and his team are the best.  You may remember DF Construction from one of my previous lists because they sided our house.  Don's easy going, non-pressure salesmanship is what we first fell in love with, quickly followed by his attention to detail, his qualified installers, his impeccable clean up.  This year we had Don and his guys replace the aluminum covering on our bay window which had been done by our previous window installers many, many years ago.  Don replaced the loose covering with beautiful pvc bead board and I have to say, the window never looked better.  For all your siding, window and door needs, call Don Frame at DF Construction at 518-468-1096.  Or contact him by email at donframe@bixnycap.rr.com


The Food Florist
- Now you may not think of the Food Florist as a service provider, but I beg to differ.  A couple years ago when I was bed-ridden for 7 weeks with sciatica, take out meals got pretty old pretty quick.  My wonderful hubby, who can and does do most everything, falls short when it comes to cooking so when someone told me about the Food Florist, we didn't waste time checking it out.  The Food Florist (located on Science Street in Ballston Spa and also at several local Farmer's Markets) prepares a variety of wholesome comfort foods.....chicken pot pie, Swedish meatballs, lasagna, breakfast casseroles, quiche (just to name a few)....all in portions for 2 or for a family.  She then freezes them and you, the hungry shopper, purchase them frozen to be baked at home at your convenience.  Each item is labeled with cooking instructions (so easy for even the most inexperienced cook).  Let me tell you....whether you hate to cook, whether you're too sick to cook, whether you know a new mom who doesn't have time to cook or whether you have company drop in....the Food Florist will save your day and fill your belly with freshly made food that is not highly seasoned, just tasty and wholesome.  Trish and her team also make fruit pies.  We love the blueberry and quadberry.  For a full list of her offerings, please use the links provided.  You can also find Trish at a number of pop-up sites in the area and can arrange one for your business site too.  Trish's meals make great gifts for that new mom just home from the hospital, or that shut-in who may not be up to cooking, or even just for that night you can't face the kitchen.  She saved my life and she can save yours too.  Check her out: https://www.facebook.com/foodflorist/

Staples - For your printing needs....This year I decided to convert my "Food for Thought" blog posts and family story blogs (over 40) into a word document to preserve for my grandkids.  I wanted a printed document that would remain long after I was gone and I knew that would be too cumbersome for my home printer.  I made a few phone calls and enlisted Staples to complete my project.  Easy Peasy!  I just copy and pasted my project from the blog (without formatting) into a word document, added the photos and saved. That part of the project took me about 40 hours, but the rest was a snap.  I then chose my project style on the Staples website, uploaded my file and 7 hours later had a beautiful spiral-bound, 100+ page book.  Who knew it could be so easy?  I chose to do a color print, but I will tell you the black and white version was considerably cheaper - about a 1/4 of the cost of color.  So if you've got memoirs or recipes or something you want to preserve, talk to the folks at your local Staples and have it done now!

I want to give a nod to my lawn team - Saratoga Turf Care who mows, trims and blows and keeps our property looking neat and tidy weekly.  Doug Smalley is so good he isn't able to take on new customers, but he and his men are top-notch and I don't know what we'd do without them for our spring and fall clean-ups and weekly service.   Then there's David's Tree Toppers who, for 23 years, have been our tree cutting team.  David's provides great service at a great price.  And for our lawn  and shrub fertilizing, there's Davey's Tree Service.   It takes a village and we're fortunate to have found the best in the business.  http://www.davey.com/

Since I didn't do my 'favorite shops' blog post this year, I just want to take a moment to mention some of my favorite shops:
  • The Speckled Hen - where Maureen Culver will help you fill that empty table top, corner or shelf with just the perfect vignette, greenery, pitcher, etc....Not just a store, but a friendly atmosphere you'll want to visit again and again. The Speckled Hen is located on Rt. 50 in Scotia. https://www.facebook.com/thespeckledhenscotia/
  • Bluebird Home Decor - a brand new, giant remake of Nicole's space that moved from Troy to Schenectady, filled with such a large variety of beautiful home goods, gifts and paintings by her talented mom, Shelly Broughton.  Bluebird is located on the corner of State and Lafayette St. https://www.instagram.com/bluebirdhomedecor/
  • Wild Birds Unlimited - For all your birding needs, whether you're an experienced birder or just starting out, the staff at Wild Birds are knowledgeable and friendly and will help you find the perfect equipment and answer all your birding questions.  Located on Rt. 50 in Wilton just past Best Buy, opposite the Wilton Mall. https://www.facebook.com/WBUSaratoga/
And the last but certainly not least business on my list this year is the Capital District Veterinary Referral Hospital - an emergency veterinary hospital in Latham.  We were referred to them at 9:30p.m. on Christmas Eve when our 9 yr old cat Sophie had suddenly taken ill.   We were told when we phoned that there was an hour wait and as it turned out, the wait was two hours.  Who knew so many folks would have sick pets needing emergency care in the middle of a night on Christmas Eve?  As it turns out, there were many - cats, dogs, bunnies.  It made me feel a little less guilty that we were there on such a sacred night, a night that should be filled with joy and family.  The staff at the clinic didn't seem to notice it was such a special night.  All they seemed to care about was helping the animals and worried pet owners in their hour of need.  When we finally got our turn, and Dr. Robin Karfunkel talked to us about our options and it was decided Sophie would undergo a basic blood panel.  That would hopefully help us determine what was going on that wasn't evident upon examination.  Twenty minutes later, Dr. Karfunkel returned to our room, visibly sad.  She compassionately apologized that the news was not good and definitely not the news she expected to have to deliver.  Sophie was in severe kidney failure - in fact, she had only 1/8 of her kidney function left.  Dr. Karfunkel explained that we could try heroics - keeping Sophie in the hospital for 5 or so days on dialysis and medication, but there was no guarantee that would have any effect and would cost $6-8,000, or we could put Sophie to sleep tonight.   Those were some pretty drastically different options - but options that seemed easy to choose from.  Sophie deserved to die with dignity and not be put through heroics.  From that moment, each clinic employee we came in contact with was so sincerely sorry for our loss, so compassionate, so kind.  It was obvious that our loss was also their loss and they felt as sad to see us go home with an empty carrier as we were to do so.  We left there at 1:45 a.m. on Christmas morning without our beloved kitty, with moist eyes and sad hearts, but we left feeling fortunate to have found ourselves among such caring and compassionate folks who truly care about the people and animals they serve.  That compassion didn't end that evening.  Two days later, we received this in the mail..
I hope you never need an emergency vet in the middle of the night, or on a holiday or even on a regular weekday night, but if you do, take your pet to the Capital District Veterinary Referral Hospital at 222 Troy Schenectady Road in Latham.  You'll be glad you did.

Good help is hard to find.  I hope my list of favorite contractors and businesses will help you on your next project.  Thanks to all who made it to this year's list. I'm sure there may have been one or two I missed.  We feel blessed to have almost always been fortunate enough to come upon such quality folks to help us in our time of need.  In the case of this year's list....these folks are of the highest quality, integrity and just kind and decent human beings.  What more can one ask for when hiring help.....or making friends?  That is how I feel about all of the folks on this year's list....people I like and respect, people we trust to handle our needs in the most competent and fair way, people who get it right and don't stop until they do.  That's a big testimony and these folks all deserve it.  I hope you are lucky enough to have your own list of wonderful contractors who are there when you need them and that you'll be inspired to take a moment to thank them for their service.
To read previous years Best Businesses:

Taking A Pause To Enjoy Brunch With Santa at Dock Brown's Lakeside Tavern

Sunday, December 23, 2018
The holidays can be pretty hectic, with the shopping and wrapping, meal planning and entertaining.  Sometimes it's nice to just take a step back and pause for a moment, and remove yourself from the chaos to sit back and savor the holiday spirit.  That's exactly what we did today!  We got half of the family together and enjoyed brunch with the Big Guy (yes....Mr. C. himself) at Dock Brown's Lakeside Tavern.
Now I know you're already questioning the validity of my facts.  But trust me when I say we were  with the 'real' man himself, Santa Claus.  Most of you might know him as the Saratoga Santa, but in our house, this Santa is the real deal.  There were several opportunities to dine with Santa around the area, but we chose Dock Brown's for a couple reasons......1) Saratoga Lake is like home for me, 2) we love the Saratoga Santa and 3) we're familiar with the management at Dock's so we knew we'd have a great experience.  Our reservation was for noon and Santa was scheduled to arrive at 1:00.  There was no shortage of delicious food options ..... scrambled eggs, bacon, maple sausage, home fries, chicken tenders, chicken picatta, baked haddock, tossed salad and baked macaroni & cheese.  There was something wonderful for every appetite.  It was all delicious, but my favorite was the maple sausage!!  There were cookies from Bella Napoli and cheesecake for dessert and a hot chocolate bar out on the deck.
Of course the kiddos couldn't wait for Santa to arrive and Dock's had that covered with activities to pass the time.  There was a craft activity and face painting, both handled by the most patient and sweet elves!

And finally as promised, Santa arrived!

One of the things we really enjoyed was the relaxed pace and ease of access to Santa....thanks in part to the venue and thanks also to a most patient and accommodating Mr. Claus.  Santa gives every child his/her own special conversation, engages even the quietest of little ones, and makes sure to provide the cutest and most unrushed photo ops for eager moms and dads.  I couldn't help but capture a few who were ahead of us in line.

Santa's relaxed and loving demeanor is surprising and unexpected since we all know how busy he has been this past month getting ready for Christmas and making numerous appearances, some as far away as Lake Placid.  I can testify to how busy he is....even though we go back a long way, I couldn't find my way into Santa's schedule!  Silly me waiting until December to book such a celebrity in such high demand.  I'll say in all seriousness.....if you can, consider booking a private visit with the Saratoga Santa.  It is magical and an experience you will never forget.  We had him a few years ago and even I was captivated. 
 To read about that visit, use this link: A Special Visit From Santa
Mesmerized in 2014
Mesmerized in 2018

Elena at the Hot Chocolate Bar
One little elf isn't really sure she needs to have an up-close, in-person relationship with the big guy.  She's happy to just leave a note and keep her distance.
On the other hand, there is one woman in the family who can't get enough of Santa.  Considering this is the third photo I've collected of her with him, I'd say she might be a bit smitten.  Today she even told him how good he smelled!  HaHa.   That's my mama....always ready for a laugh and a hug from Santa!

In all seriousness, Dock Brown's did a fabulous job providing a beautiful venue, wonderful food and a lasting and beautiful memory at a time when the world seems to be all jumbled up and out of sorts.  And Santa....well you are just the magic we all need in our lives, no matter what our age.  Your unending love and passion for bringing smiles to the faces of little ones, your dedication to 'being' Santa Claus, and the ability you have to make even us Grandmas feel like children again is something really special.  We can't thank you enough for all you do to bring happiness to young and old alike.  Thank you Dock Brown's for a wonderful event!  Here's hoping Santa brings you a little magic this Christmas too!
For more information on Dock Brown's: https://www.facebook.com/DockBrowns/
and for Saratoga Santa: https://thesaratogasanta.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/thesaratogasanta/

The Christmas Spirit is Alive & Well ...Come In For a Tour!

Sunday, December 16, 2018
It looks a lot like Christmas here in the Welter household.  I have a little addiction (ok, a monumental one) when it comes to Christmas.  It's not about the presents, I'm pretty conservative when it comes to that.  It's the stuff around the house that I can't seem to get enough of.  I follow a number of home decor blogs and trust me when I say, my house in no way is or attempts to replicate any of those eye popping, jaw dropping, magazine-worthy homes.  I may rival them when it comes to my love of decorating, but my home does not reflect current trends, or Instagram feeds. It reflects 40 years of memories, collecting, and perhaps some year-to-year additions to those collections.  In fact, regular readers of the blog might notice I didn't do my annual Christmas series featuring my favorite shops.  Trust me....it's not because I love them less.  No, it's due to something more serious than that.  It's because I have zero discipline and self control when it comes to Christmas merchandise.  Consequently, my shop series has historically cost me a ton of cash over the years and has increased John's haul from the attic dramatically.  In full disclosure, I still visited a 'few' of those shops and proved that I ... 1) still have no will power and 2) it doesn't matter how old I get or how much stuff I've accumulated, I can't resist adding more.  I admit it, Christmas is my weakness and I think you'll see that by the end of this post.    For now, come on in and I'll show you around!
The first thing to greet you (and the biggest) is my gorgeous Christmas tree painting by one of my favorite local artists, Shelly Broughton.  Shelly is the mom of the much loved and sought out owner of the Bluebird Home Decor Shop, now in Schenectady.  I have several of Shelly's paintings, a few that you'll see on tour.  This tree painting was a gift from a very dear friend.
Most of my artificial greens (and other goodies) come from the wonderful Speckled Hen in Scotia.  Speckled Hen was one of my 'must visit' shops and as always, I came out with quite a collection of goodies.  I'll point a few of them out as I go.  If you're a regular reader, you know my home is full of Maureen's merchandise.  Head up the stairs with me to the living room.....
 Sophie relaxing as she soaks up the fireplace heat.  My three (yes, 3) new Shelly Broughton paintings to the left of the fireplace.  I am in love with her gnome Santas and that fox has been tugging at my heartstrings since Nicolle first shared them on Instagram.  I tried to resist, but hey, life is short, right?  And they rounded out that end of the wall nicely, don't you think?

No matter what the subject of photos I post...this family tree wall always catches attention.  This was a decal project from a few years ago.

 Now this handsome big guy above is the handiwork of another talented crafter, Jennifer Searles (Jena's One of A Kind Creations).  Jen makes all sorts of beautiful creations.  I 'had' to have this fella.

 Sometimes little elves stop by ...... I caught this one checking things out.

 I think my love of Christmas started long ago....maybe even during this conversation I had with the Big Guy. (circa 1956ish)
Sophie likes the view too!

The shot above was taken from my recliner.  I don't have such a bad view!  That beautiful candle, holder and candle ring....Speckled Hen.    Below we changed it up in the tv corner with a wooden crate full of Christmas books, a treasured Santa made by a dear old friend, a new Santa (a gift from a new dear friend) and one of my collector dolls all dressed up for the holidays.

Now on to the family room.......

Above my collection of mostly all homemade snowmen.  Earlier in the post was a shelf of Santas...again, almost all handmade by yours truly.
 My family room tree is my 'white mouse' (red & white) tree. My collection of white mice began in 1980 when our first daughter was gifted a couple of Hallmark ornaments that were white mice.  Since then I've gone on to collect a lot....too many to count, not just Hallmark but all kinds.

The photo above (behind the bears) features another of Shelly's paintings, a sea bird.  This year we opted to use our tiny nativity for a change....same message, just smaller scale than our huge one.
I'm not sure if it was old age catching up with me, my brain taking longer to formulate design ideas, the vast amount of 'stuff' that needed to be put out or what, but this year's arrangement took about a week and a half.  At this rate, next year I better start in October.  As much as I love all of it, I would be content with just three little elves in my arms at Christmas....

 Thanks for stopping by and indulging my addiction.  Whether you're surrounded by your own beautiful decor or opt for a more controlled display....I'm hoping that your heart is full and your blessings plentiful this Christmas and throughout the New Year.
For more information about some of my favorite sources for all things Christmas (and everyday), I've included links below.  Merry Christmas One and All!

Life As I See It Header

Never Miss A Post - Follow by Email

Sign up here to get the latest blog post delivered to your inbox.
Never miss a post again!