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Road Trip Essentials

Kelly McCombs - Friday, July 15, 2016


With summer comes the urge to get out and explore! Whether you hop in the car to head to the beach, the mountains, somewhere close by or somewhere a few hours away, you should always make sure you have a few essentials with you, because you never know what unexpected things will happen! We have come up with a list of some important things to make any road trip fun and successful.


One of the most important things to bring along with you are maps of the area where you will be traveling. I know almost all of us have smart phones now, but some areas will have spotty cell phone service and you’ll need an additional way to find where you are going. I usually keep a New York State map in my car at all times anyway, but make sure to pack any others that you may need.


An essential thing that I constantly have to remind myself to bring is a cell phone charger. No matter the length of your road trip, your phone will inevitably die. You’ll be using it for GPS, music, to take pictures along with numerous other things like social media. All of these things will drain your battery’s life, and nobody likes a dead cell phone! I’ve gotten into the habit of keeping an extra charger in my car’s center console so that it is always there and I don’t forget it!


One of the things that will be draining that cell phone battery is playing music. It is essential to have a good road trip playlist! I keep a variety on my phone depending on my mood. It is smart to have standalone playlists instead of just a music streaming app, because if you are in an area with questionable cell phone service, you will still want some music to play!


I usually keep a small cooler filled with ice and water and various other soft drinks in my back seat, within easy reaching distance of the front seat. This saves me time and money because then I don’t have to stop at rest stops or gas stations to buy beverages. I also usually make a few peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, slip them into a plastic baggie and put them on top of the ice in the cooler for a little snack along the way. Part of the fun of road tripping is stopping along the way at random little eateries and restaurants to sample the local cuisine, but this doesn’t mean that we can’t bring snacks along!


I also tend to keep a little pouch filled with first aid essentials in my purse or the backseat when I go on road trips. It will hold everything from hand sanitizer to headache medicine to chewing gum, along with normal first aid kit products like band aids and triple antibiotic ointment. You never know when you will need one of these things on the road in the middle of nowhere with no gas station in sight.


The finally thing that we think you should bring along with you is a spare blanket and pillow. These come in handy for your passenger during the long drive or you, if you have the unfortunate opportunity to get stuck somewhere. Sleeping in the car is never a fun thing, but if worse comes to worst, at least you’ll be prepared!


We hope these travel essentials will be useful along your road trip. The main thing to always remember is have fun and make memories! 


Summer Cocktail Recipes

Kelly McCombs - Friday, July 08, 2016


                                                                                         Photo Credit: www.foodandwine.com


Given the intense heat and humidity in NY the last week or so, I thought it was a good time to bring you some summer cocktail recipes. These are some of the most satisfying and refreshing drinks around, which make them perfect for your next summer get-together!



We’ll start off with a cocktail that contains one of my favorite fruits, watermelon. The Watermelon-Tequila Cocktail is perfect for those summer months when watermelon is in season and can be found pretty much everywhere. Paired with tequila, this drink is super easy to make and will certainly hit the spot!



Since everything is better frozen, especially during the heat of summer, why not try Fruity Wine Slushies? You’ll need a blender for this recipe, but the combination of pinot grigio with frozen peaches and strawberries is enough to make your mouth water. It’s a delicious and quick way to cool down, too!



One of the classic staples of any summertime get-together is the Strawberry Daquiri. Most people have had one or at least know what it is, so this recipe is sure to be a crowd pleaser. These are also easy to make in large quantities to pass around at your next BBQ!



A twist on the classic Mimosa is the Peach Melba Mimosa. You’ll also need a blender for this one to puree some frozen raspberries and peaches, but it will be worth it! This fresh and light cocktail is one that you could even have for brunch!



One of my favorite things to drink during the summer is lemonade. This recipe for Strawberry-Basil Bourbon Lemonade kicks it up a few notches! The addition of bourbon and the combination of basil with strawberries make this “grown-up” lemonade the perfect summertime beverage after a long hot day.



If you’re looking for a fizzy drink, why not try the Citrus Fizz? Another easy recipe, this one can even be made with our Saratoga Sparkling Water! I always find citrus to be so refreshing when it’s a hot day outside, and this one packs a punch with both orange and lime juices.



We hope you have enjoyed a few of these delicious and refreshing beverages , and as always, please drink responsibly!

Celebrate July 4th!

Kelly McCombs - Saturday, July 02, 2016



With the 4th of July holiday fast approaching, we thought we would make a list of some local fireworks shows to help make your holiday extra special! Here are a few in our local area:


Saratoga Lake Fireworks Display

When: Sunday, July 3rd

Where: Saratoga Lake in two locations, at The Water’s Edge and at Brown’s Beach



Saratoga’s All-American Celebration

When: Sunday, July 3rd and Monday, July 4th

Where: Downtown Saratoga Springs

*Saratoga’s All-American Celebration is two days jam packed with events for the whole family. Everything from a historic city tour, a classic car show, a parade for the kids…all the way to the culmination of the celebration with fireworks in Congress Park on July 4th. This is my favorite 4th of July event and one that I go to every year.



July 4th Celebration in Clifton Park

When: Monday, July 4th

Where: Clifton Commons, Clifton Park

*This celebration ends with a wonderful fireworks display, but you don’t want to miss all of the other fun things you can do earlier in the day. There are amusement park rides, food vendors, a parade, and even a craft show. Something for everyone!



Lake George 4th of July Fireworks

When: Monday, July 4th

Where: Shepard’s Park in Lake George



New York State’s 4th of July Celebration

When: Monday, July 4th

Where: Empire State Plaza, Albany

*This is one of the largest fireworks displays in the area and one that comes highly recommended. More than 30,000 people attend this event every year, so be prepared for large crowds. Due to the high volume of people, parking might be a little harder than usual, so make sure you show up early. The evening starts at 3pm, with live bands that play all the way up until it is time for the fireworks display!


We hope you enjoy Independence Day with your friends and family!

What To Do This Weekend?

Kelly McCombs - Friday, June 24, 2016

This week, we thought we would feature two local festivals taking place this weekend. It is officially summer and what better way to spend your weekends than out in the gorgeous weather experiencing new things and making memories?




First up is the Adirondack Wine and Food Festival. 2016 is the second year for this fun event and it is one you will not want to miss. It is even bigger than last year, with over 60 NY State craft beverage producers and food vendors. You will be introduced to numerous wineries, breweries, distilleries, local food vendors, craft vendors and food trucks. Tickets are $25 in advance and $35 at the door. You will receive a free wine glass with the purchase of your ticket, which you can use to sample all of the delicious craft beverages. This is the perfect opportunity to try before you buy and perhaps find something new that you might like. The event is being held at the Charles R. Wood Festival Commons in Lake George, NY on Saturday, June 25th from 11am-6pm and Sunday, June 26th from 11am-5pm. A plus to this event is that a portion of all ticket proceeds goes directly to the SUNY Adirondack Foundation, which provides financial support to the college and its students in the form of scholarships and staff development grants. If you're a wino or just like to try new things, this is the event for you!




                                              Photo: Saratoga Performing Arts Center www.spac.org




If you are a fan of music, you have to go to the Freihofer's Saratoga Jazz Festival. This event is one of the most celebrated and longest running jazz events in the world. It is also the most popular jazz festival in the local area and one of the most looked forward to events in Saratoga for the summer! This event is sure to be a good time and is being held at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center on Saturday, June 25th and Sunday, June 26th. Gates open at noon but the line starts to form long before that time, so make sure you get there early! If you go, you can look forward to performances by 20 world-class jazz artists, including Smokey Robinson! Performances will be held on two stages, with the larger acts performing on the main SPAC stage and the new, up-and-coming acts performing in the Gazebo. A plus to this event is that coolers are allowed in the venue, so you can bring all of the food and drink that you want. Ticket pricing is included in the link above.



We hope that you take advantage of the beautiful weather this weekend and get to go to one of these events! Stay tuned to the blog next week for some travel essentials!

Summer Travel Tips

Kelly McCombs - Friday, June 17, 2016


Now that the summer weather is upon us and the kids are out of school, many of you might be planning to book a nice summer vacation. While taking time off of work and going out of town can be relaxing, sometimes things come up and unplanned events happen. This can make what was once a fun, relaxing vacation into an overwhelming one. We have compiled a list of simple travel tips to help make your vacation a smooth one!


One helpful tip that we have found to ease some stress during the travel planning process is reading traveler reviews. Sites like TravelAdvisor.com offer traveler’s reviews on everything from restaurants and hotels to tourist attractions. They can help you decide where you would like to go or what sites you would like to see on your travels. While these reviews are helpful, you should still read them with an open mind. Pay attention to how recent the post was made. Many establishments pay attention to these reviews too and are quick to change anything that might have prompted a negative review. It is also helpful to look at the reviews that contain pictures. You can sometimes learn more from the pictures than you can the actual review.


A hugely important travel tip is to purchase travel insurance. This is an absolute must for big-ticket vacations that are non-refundable. Travel insurance covers things like lost baggage, emergency medical expenses, and it will help you recover some, if not all, of the cost of your trip if it has to be canceled or shortened. Always pay attention to whether your vacation is refundable or not. For example, my family is planning on going to Disney World this year. I did not purchase travel insurance for the actual Disney vacation package because it is completely refundable. I did, however, purchase travel insurance for my flights because this is 100% non-refundable without the insurance. You can save a little bit of money here and there by knowing the facts about your trip.


When it comes to packing, it is best to try to keep it to one suitcase. This will depend on the length of your vacation, of course. Packing light may not be easy for some, but it is essential to staying organized and avoiding too many baggage fees at the airport. I typically use a large rolling suitcase for a 7 day vacation. I have also invested in a packing cube system which keeps the suitcase space organized and makes it super easy once I get to the hotel. I will usually pack one outfit per packing cube, which makes it so I don’t have to dig around my suitcase or riffle through the closet trying to find the shirt I want to wear that day. Packing cubes also help cut way down on the wrinkles that my clothes will get, which saves me time because I don’t have to pull out the iron! The less stress first thing in the morning, the better.


Another important travel tip is to keep cash in a few different places. If you keep all of your cash and credit cards in your wallet and then you lose it, what do you do? I tend to keep some extra cash in a toiletry bag or under the insert in one of my shoes. This has saved me a few times in the past and it is something I will continue to do in the future. This is especially helpful if you are traveling out of the country. Cash is king and it is often easier to exchange and use than some credit cards. Banks often offer better exchange rates than those available to individuals, so exchange with them instead.


Our final travel tip is a simple one. Don’t sweat the small stuff! Sometimes, unplanned things happen that you have no control over, but you can’t spend your entire trip angry and in a bad mood because of it. Try to look at the bright side of every situation. If you stayed organized and pre-planned your trip well, you will know what to do. Did you miss the bus? Well, there will be another one. It pays to have a sense of humor in situations like these. Just think, you are making memories! Sometimes, the unplanned and hectic situations make for the funniest stories to tell to your friends and family down the road.


Wherever you are traveling this summer, even if you’re staying local, we hope you find some of these tips useful and have a wonderful, stress-free vacation!


Summer Grill Recipes

Kelly McCombs - Friday, June 10, 2016

(Photo: Josh Bousel)

If you will be in New York City and anywhere near Madison Square Park this weekend, June 11th and 12th, the only place you need to make sure to stop by is the 14th Annual Big Apple Barbecue Block Party. This is a charity event that benefits the Madison Square Park Conservancy. In past years, more than 17 barbecue pitmasters were in attendance serving up some of the best BBQ in the country, making this one of the country’s premiere barbecue events! The event is free to attend and food is sold by the plate. This event has had over 125,000 visitors in the past, so lines can be long. However, the food is well worth the wait! In honor of the event, we thought we would share with you some of our favorite Summer BBQ and grilling recipes. We hope you enjoy the weekend!


Starting off with a bang, here are some of our favorite ribs! The Barbecued Country Ribs with Lemon are a staple in any at-home pitmaster’s menu! Using country-style pork ribs instead of spareribs is a must because they come from the loin, which means they are meatier. This combined with a tomato-based bbq sauce make these ribs one of my personal favorites.


The Grilled Chicken Breast with Chive Herb Butter is one of our favorite chicken recipes for the grill. The use of an herb butter takes away the need to marinate the chicken beforehand, making this chicken super easy and quick to make, but still delicious and juicy. You can even make a variety of herb butters ahead of time to save some time. They will keep in the fridge for up to a month and can be used in many different dishes, not just this chicken recipe!


For a different take on the traditional steak on the grill, try Skirt Steak with Chimichurri Sauce. The steak is best grilled quickly over very high heat to sear the outside while leaving the inside a nice medium rare. Thinly sliced and paired with the tart and herbaceous chimichurri sauce, this steak is rich with flavor!


One of my favorite things about summer and grilling is corn on the cob. There is nothing I like more than slathering butter and sprinkling salt on a cob and biting into the juicy sweetness. I never thought I would like corn any other way until I found this next recipe. Grilled Corn with Bacon Butter and Cotija Cheese…yes, bacon butter. So simple, so delicious. Everyone needs to run out and get the ingredients to make this, right now!


We featured a grilled peach recipe in our last blog post, and simply cannot get enough of them! A different variation is Bacon Wrapped Grilled Peaches with Balsamic Glaze. Again with the bacon, I know, but can you blame me? This time it is featured wrapped around grilled peaches, which sounds odd, but give it a chance! The salty bacon amps up the juicy sweetness of the ripe peaches, and the balsamic glaze gives it a touch of tartness. Pretty perfect, if you ask me.


Barbecue is my all-time favorite type of food. I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I do!


Summer Salad Recipes

Kelly McCombs - Friday, June 03, 2016
(Photo courtesy of Tieghan Gerard)


There is no better way to take advantage of all of the fresh produce that the summer has to offer than with a delicious summer salad. Since it is so hard to pick just one or two varieties of fresh produce, salads give you the opportunity to throw as many as you wish into a big bowl to enjoy. The following recipes prove that summer is made for salads!


We are going to start off the list of recipes with a bang! If you love Caprese Salad and are looking for a way to switch it up a bit, you definitely need to try this Honey Grilled Watermelon Caprese Salad. Yes, you read that right…watermelon, grilled. If you thought watermelon was good before, try grilling it and then covering it with honey! Paired with ripe, juicy tomatoes, mozzarella and a balsamic glaze, this salad is to die for!


Next comes one of the easiest salads ever. The Everything but the Kitchen Sink Salad is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a salad that you can make with leftovers or whatever extra sauces and pasta’s you have in your fridge. You can really put anything in it! I’ve made this one myself before and it is a bit different each time I make it, but always delicious.


The Sesame, Tomato and Cucumber Salad is packed full of seasonal flavor and is another easy-to-make option. It is served with a salty soy sauce, but if you’d like to add a bit of texture to the tomatoes, you can sprinkle some sea salt before adding the soy sauce. The sesame seeds bring an unexpected flavor and crunch to this salad that is summer on a plate!


My personal favorite summer salad is Texas Caviar. It is a mix between a salad and a salsa and can be eaten with tortilla chips or added to a variety of dishes like chicken or salad. It can even be served as a side dish. If you are looking for a quicker option, you can use store bought salad dressing, but I like to make my own for some powerful flavor. I also add diced avocado to mine which adds a level of creaminess that is much appreciated. This salad is even better if you let it sit in the fridge overnight. The dressing will marinate all of the veggies and bump up the flavor power! I make this a few times every summer and crave it during the colder months!


For something a little more Southern, try the Grilled Peach, Onion and Bacon Salad with Buttermilk Dressing. If you think these ingredients together sound like an odd combination, you’d be right but the flavors all meld together perfectly. It makes for a nice unexpected twist on a summer salad. When choosing your onions for this salad, make sure to pick a nice juicy variety, like Vidalia onions. These bring a delicious sweetness when paired with the ripe peaches. This salad is definitely a crowd pleaser!


What better way to gather all of the delicious produce for these salads than visiting your local farmers market? They always seem to have the freshest fruits and veggies and I always make a point of going every week and stocking up! We hope you enjoy these salads and stay cool this summer!


Perfect Picnic Recipes

Kelly McCombs - Thursday, May 26, 2016
(Veggie Rainbow Salad courtesy of FoodandWine.com)

Since the weather has warmed up so quickly here in NY, we thought it was a great time to feature some delicious recipes that you can easily bring with you on a picnic. We are lucky enough to have some beautiful parks in Saratoga Springs, whether it be Congress Park downtown or the Saratoga Spa State Park. Next time you plan on going, make sure to bring these wonderful dishes along to make it an even more memorable day!


A great way to start off your picnic in the park is with a delicious Spring Salsa. This salsa is light and refreshing and can even be served over a salad or grilled chicken, if you wanted to mix it up a bit. It is also easily portable and keeps well, perfect for a picnic! Bring some tortilla chips along for some fun picnic snacking.


A great alternative to a pasta salad is Couscous Salad Cups. It has a delicious array of veggies to keep it healthy and fresh. You can put this in lettuce cups, or try bell pepper cups for a sturdier container for picnics. Also try adding some Feta cheese to the recipe. I mean, Feta makes everything even more delicious, right?


There are so many flavors and colors in this next salad, that it is a must for your next picnic. The Vegetable Rainbow Salad features a mix of pickled veggies, leafy greens, black quinoa and root vegetables. It is absolutely gorgeous to look at and tastes just as good! If you can’t find the baby vegetables or lime radishes are your local store or farmer’s market, you can substitute with similar vegetables.


Oven Fried Chicken is a great take on the traditional deep fried, battered chicken. By using the oven, you cut down on the grease (and calories!), but still keep that yummy crunch that comes with deep frying chicken. This dish would be a great addition to your picnic basket and pairs well with the previously mentioned salads! This chicken tastes just as good chilled, which makes it easy to take along.


A picnic is not complete without some kind of dessert! In order to keep it light and not too rich and heavy, we highly recommend these Easy Lemon Squares. They are super simple to make and only take a few minutes to whip up. Lemon squares can be tricky to get just right, but these, with a delicious shortbread crust filled with a tart, yet sweet lemony filling are to die for!


The perfect drink to accompany the previous dishes is this Lime Fizz. It is refreshingly fizzy and perfect for everyone! You can even make it an adult version by stirring in 2/3 cup of vodka! It’s also the perfect drink to make with our Sparkling Spring Water!


We hope you enjoy these delicious recipes out in the gorgeous weather with your loved ones. 


Delicious San Francisco Eats

Kelly McCombs - Friday, May 20, 2016

Last week, we introduced you to some must see sites on your next trip to San Francisco. While the city is famous for many of these sites, it is also known for having some of the best restaurants in the country. From pasta to sushi, vegetarian to steakhouse, we have compiled a list of our favorites! Make sure to include them along with the sites on your next trip!






For the Italian lovers out there, a dinner at A16 on Chestnut Street should be high on the list of must-do’s. They serve everything from homemade pasta to Neopolitan pizza, and they have an extensive wine list with a Wine Director to help you choose which is best paired with your meal. Their Burrata is raved about all over the city! The menu along with a sophisticated ambiance make this one of our top choices!


Tadich Grill is one of those restaurants that should be on everyone’s bucket list. Located on California Street, Tadich Grill has been serving up mouthwatering seafood dishes since 1849. This makes it not only San Francisco’s oldest restaurant, but California’s! Their signature dish is the much loved Seafood Cioppino, a hearty seafood stew with clams, prawns, scallops, bay shrimp, crab meat, mussels and white fish all simmered in a tomato based broth. It has been widely hailed as the best of its kind, anywhere! If you decide to make a stop at Tadich Grill for lunch or dinner, be aware that they do not take reservations. There are often people waiting in line for a table, but the food is well worth the wait!


If you are in the mood for a nice juicy steak, head on over to Harris' on Van Ness Avenue. Walking in to the restaurant will transport you to another time where men wore suits and hats and women wore their hair up in the “beehive” style. Plush leather booths and starched white table clothes greet you as you prepare for some of the best service in the city. Harris’ has an in-house butcher that prepares some of the best Mid-Western beef available on the West Coast. Be sure to try the Steak Diane for some of the best filet you will ever have.


While you’re in Chinatown checking out all of the wonderful shops, make a stop at Akiko's on Bush Street. They are known throughout the city as having the freshest sushi anywhere. This, along with top-notch sushi chefs who are artists at their craft, will make for an unforgettable experience. They also feature a full wine list and an impressive sake collection to complete your meal.


San Francisco is lucky enough to boast a plethora of local farmers markets and farm-to-table restaurants, which in turn makes it hard for a vegetarian to choose which one is the best! Our choice is Greens on Marina Boulevard. If you’re looking for an upscale vegetarian restaurant with a delicious variety of heathy choices, without sacrificing flavor, this is the spot! Greens has been named one of the best city restaurants many times, even over non-vegetarian choices. Now, that’s saying something!


We hope that you have enjoyed our little glimpse into the wonderful city that is San Francisco! A trip there is worthwhile for the whole family!


6 Must-See Sites in San Francisco!

Kelly McCombs - Saturday, May 14, 2016

There is something in San Francisco for everyone. Whether you love to take part in outdoorsy activities, try new foods at the many different restaurants, or just generally like to wander around the city, it is chock full of fun and interesting things! It is also fairly small in size compared to many other cities, but this does not mean it is lacking. We have listed below some must see sites for your next trip!





A trip to San Francisco would not be complete without a walk over the Golden Gate Bridge. This beautiful red bridge has become a symbol of the city and is one of the most famous bridges in the world. A pedestrian walkway crosses the stunning 1.7 mile span to make your walk easy and safe. Make sure to bring your camera along! The views of Alcatraz are some of the best in the city!


Speaking of Alcatraz, this now closed prison is one of the most visited places in the city. It sits on a huge rock in the middle of San Francisco Bay, and is reached by a ferry, which is fun in itself! Officially closed as a prison in the 1960’s, Alcatraz housed some of the most infamous criminals in history. While many tried, none of them ever successfully escaped the prison. This is definitely a must see site!


If you are interested in doing some shopping on your trip, a visit to Pier 39 at Fisherman’s Wharf is on the list. There are over 60 shops to browse with everything from touristy items to local hand crafted merchandise. If you are a lover of animals and are seeking something more unique on your trip, a visit to the sea lions on the K Dock of Pier 39 is a must! These sea lions have resided here since 1990 and their amusing antics will bring some humor to your day!


A wonderful way to add some culture to your trip is to visit Chinatown. Inside the entrance on Grant Avenue and Bush Street lies 24 blocks of a city within a city; chock full of exotic shops, delicious restaurants and food markets. San Francisco’s Chinatown is the oldest Chinatown outside of Asia and the oldest one in North America. It is best seen on foot, so wear your walking shoes and get ready for an adventure!


Taking a ride on a cable car is an exhilarating way to see the city! The cable cars in San Francisco are the last fully operational, manually operated cable cars in the world. They were listed as a National Historic Landmark in 1964 and are used as much today as they were over a 100 years ago! There are three cable lines that run throughout the city, which gives the rider a chance to see many of the sites and sounds of the city, including some of the huge hills that make the city famous.


One of the most photographed sites in the city is the Painted Ladies  at Hayes and Steiner Street. These lovely Victorian homes are a site to see, set against the backdrop of the city’s skyscrapers. For a relaxing lunch, bring a picnic and set up in the adjacent grassy spot known as Alamo Square. This location provides stunning views of the Ladies. Fun fact: the Painted Ladies were used in the opening credits of the sitcom Full House back in the 1990’s!


While San Francisco is known for having some of the steepest streets in the country, it also has one of the most crooked! Lombard Street is a one-way street that is so steep, the city decided to add 8 switchback turns in the 1920’s in order to make it safer and more aesthetically pleasing. Whether you walk or drive down it, it is certainly something very unique to San Francisco that you will not see anywhere else! 


Of course, there are hundreds of places to visit in San Francisco, but we hope this gives you a good starting point! Stay tuned to the next blog for some of the best places to eat in San Francisco!



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