Christmas Comes Early for Some

If you’re just putting up your holiday decorations, a few area residents might snicker and think you’re slacking off. They had their halls decked weeks ago.

Christmas Comes Early - ReBath of Albany

Christmas trees are lit up on Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014, at Erin and John Catone’s house in Saratoga Springs. (Megan Farmer –

Mikayla Moulton of South Glens Falls started plucking Christmas ornaments from boxes right after Halloween. The 14-year-old, who usually leads the charge in her family to haul out the holly, admits the holiday spirit kicked in earlier than usual this year and she went with it.

“I started thinking about Christmas and being with my family and it made me happy,” Mikayla said. “I remember going into school and going to my friend, ‘Hey, you might think this is weird but I started listening to Christmas music the other day. She was like, ‘It’s OK, I did too.’”

Mikayla’s mother, Tracey, said the teen and her older brother, Liam, have always loved Christmas, but Mikayla sometimes gets so excited that by the time it finally arrives, she ends up getting sick.

On Nov. 5, Tracey posted on Facebook a photo of her daughter standing in the living room next to an artificial tree. The caption read, “Look what Mikayla has been doing after school this week!”

“I came home from work and she had the Christmas music going and had started pulling the boxes up. It was fine; it was all good,” Tracey said.

In about five days, Mikayla had the house adorned with poinsettias, candles and stockings. Bells hung on the banister and miniature trees were in each of the bedrooms.

Mikayla said she doesn’t think she’ll get tired of all ornamentation by the time Christmas is here, but putting everything back in boxes afterward won’t be much fun.

Tracey thinks she will have to take over.

“(My husband) Kevin’s pretty good about helping with the tree and the outdoor decorations, but when it’s time to put it away, I guess that falls mostly on me,” she said.

Christmas memories

This year, as in the past, Kathy Godsil-Lozo’s house in Hudson Falls looks like a winter wonderland with her stuffed snowman collection, wreaths and even sparkly lighted garland and a snowman bowl in her kitchen.

On the large tree in the living room hang several of her cherished ornaments, as well as her husband Charles’ favorite Star Trek figures. The smaller New York Giants-themed tree in the corner, however, is strictly for Charles.

The couple, together for 17 years, always worked as a team to begin decorating in mid-November and Godsil-Lozo decided to continue the tradition, although she now has to do it alone.

This was supposed to be the couple’s first Christmas as husband and wife but Charles died in August of cancer, just four days after a hastily arranged wedding was held in his hospital room.

Godsil-Lozo said it is “rough” this year without her husband but knowing he loved Christmas has inspired her to decorate the way they always did. And she plans to keep adding Giants in holiday outfits to the football tree every year.

“I believe he’s up there looking down and I wanted to do something for him,” she said. “His spirit is here.”

Decked out

Christmas Comes Early - ReBath of Albany

Erin Catone adds a new Christmas ornament to her tree on Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014, at her home in Saratoga Springs. Erin and her husband John have four Christmas trees in their home. (Megan Farmer –

For the Catones of Saratoga Springs, Thanksgiving dinner wouldn’t be the same if twinkling Christmas lights weren’t reflected on the bronzed turkey.

Erin Catone’s mother always got an early start on the holiday and Erin does, too. She believes her house is usually the first in the neighborhood to get dressed up.

“The neighbors probably think we’re crazy, but you know what? I get it. Some people think it’s too early, but I love it. It’s my house. Everyone has different opinions,” Erin said.

This year the festooning began a week after Halloween, which is early even for the Catones, but they arranged to take the same day off and their daughter came home from college to help.

They have the routine down to a science: the furniture is emptied from the first-floor rooms and John shampoos the rugs and polishes the hardwood floors. The decorating then starts in earnest and continues for two weeks.

A few days before Thanksgiving, there were candles in the windows, kissing balls outside the windows, and garland and knickknacks all around.

And you couldn’t miss the four themed Christmas trees.

Various incarnations of Mickey and Minnie Mouse appeared on the red-and-white-lit Disney tree, Mr. and Mrs. Claus donned blue-and-white baseball uniforms on the New York Yankees tree and Erin paid homage to her late mother with a memory tree that included all her ornaments and her stocking. The most majestic of the evergreens soars to the ceiling in the great room.

“It takes like 15 minutes to shut off all the lights at night,” John said.

By New Year’s Day, John will have had his fill of illumination and will be ready to store everything in the basement. Erin plans to keep the Yankees tree out for the rest of the year, though, and substitute Christmas bulbs with ornaments for the other holidays of the year.

“It’s so pretty,” Erin said.

This story was originally published on Post Star.

‘Buddy Bench’ helps kids find a friend, prevent bullying

Buddy Bench at school in Colonie - ReBath of AlbanyStudents at Blue Creek Elementary School, in Colonie, don’t feel left out on the playground anymore.

This year, the school installed a “buddy bench.” If children feel lonely, they can sit down and a playmate will soon arrive.

“Some of the teachers helped us to remember if you see anyone on the bench, ask them to go over and play because it’s nice,” said Julia Repko, a third grader.

“I saw somebody sitting on the bench and I asked them to cover over and play,” added her classmate, Marisa Mullen.

Buddy Bench at school in Coloniw - ReBath of Albany

Blue Creek Elementary School students, Julia Repko, left, Marisa Mullen, Kyle Hume and Hannah Bouchard, right, gather around the “buddy bench” Tuesday afternoon, Dec. 2, 2014, at Blue Creek Elementary School in Latham, N.Y. The “buddy bench” is a safe harbor where students can sit to indicate to others that they are feeling left out or bullied. Other children can then go sit with them or invite them to join in play, or teachers can ask what’s wrong. (Skip Dickstein/Times Union)

The bench is decorated with a rainbow, flower and dove. Look closely and you’ll see the painting is made of thumbprints. Every child, staff member and teacher put their fingerprint on the bench, as did the district’s superintendent and associate superintendent.

“I am amazed at how many children have gone over and used the bench,” said Kathy Berger, a third-grade teacher who chairs the School Success program with counselor Eileen Satterlee. The bench is visible from her class, so she frequently sees it in use.

“We are teaching our children that they are members of the community at Blue Creek,” Satterlee said. “We look for large ways and small ways to infuse character education at our schools.”

The bench isn’t the only thing new this year. The playground is new too, dedicated in memory of Vincenzo Rizzo, a fifth grader who died in 2013 of an infection. It’s also next to a garden created in memory of a teacher, Jean Bassett, who died of breast cancer.

The idea for the bench did not originate with Blue Creek. It’s been adopted by schools across the nation, and Skano Elementary School in Clifton Park has had one for about a decade.

“Every year at the beginning of the year, we reteach the kids. We tell them what the buddy bench is for,” said Skano school counselor Jaclyn Franchini. “Kids make use of it all the time. You definitely hear them talking about it.”

Stephen Birchak, professor of counseling at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, said such efforts are effective. Capital Region schools in recent years have placed great emphasis on anti-bullying efforts, from honoring random acts of kindness in Cohoes to bringing in World Wrestling Entertainment stars to Schenectady.

“The idea of the buddy bench is one of the many ideas I’ve seen around the Capital District,” Birchak said. “They actually do work. Peer mediation works when the students are trained properly. It gives kids opportunities to reach out to others. I don’t think we can ever get too much of it.”

The author of the book “How to Build a Child’s Character by Tapping into Your Own,” Birchak also liked the idea that Blue Creek stresses the positive nature of the bench rather than just condemning bullying.

“We spend so much time on corrective behavior we become numb to it,” he said.

At Blue Creek, the hope is children will learn to keep looking out for others in need as they get older, Satterlee said.

Third-grader Annabelle Vasquez said she felt lonely one day at recess.

“I was sitting on the buddy bench because I had no one to play with,” she said.

Her classmate Jenna Grinnell saw her and invited her to join her on the playground.

Another third grader, Christian Francis, said he invited a boy on the bench to play tag.

“The buddy bench is a good place for people to make new friends,” he said.

This story was originally published on The Times Union.

Lake George project to extend walkable tourist destination

Hoping to extend the village’s tourist-friendly walkability, the town of Lake George plans a major renovation of its Route 9 entryway that will add sidewalks, bike lanes and traffic-slowing measures.

The two-year project will be done outside the peak summer season between Memorial Day and Labor Day. When it’s over, the town hopes to extend the popular shopping and recreation area by nearly another mile to the Route 9N entrance to Lake George off the Northway.

Lake George plans to expand walkways - ReBath of Albany

The town’s Route 9 Gateway design on a concept plan at the Lake George Town Hall Wednesday Nov. 19, 2014, in Lake George, NY. Photo credit: John Carl D’Annibale / Times Union

The work, estimated to cost $9.7 million, will go out to bid this winter in time for a May groundbreaking.

The work will put sidewalks and bike lanes along the entire stretch. Pedestrians will be able to press a button near the Barnsider restaurant to stop traffic to cross Route 9 to the popular Pirate’s Cove miniature golf course.

“It’s not pedestrian-friendly. There are no signalized intersections. The pedestrians walk in the breakdown lanes and quite frankly in the stormwater gutters,” said Keith Oborne, the town’s director of planning and zoning. “The plan is to have a complete-streets approach along this corridor.”

Michael Consuelo, executive director of the Lake George Chamber of Commerce, said the work should attract new businesses and cause others to renovate.

“It’s going to make a wonderful impact on our community,” he said. “The sense of arrival will be that much enhanced.”

The chamber’s offices are located along that corridor, he said.

“We see an awful lot of people walking by currently, and it’s not a desirable walk,” he said.

The Holiday Inn there also is located in the area without sidewalks.

“It was a nice surprise,” said the hotel’s general manager, Michael Spilman. “It’s a big boost to this part of town, just having walkability for families. To have families be able to walk down safely from this location is a huge plus.”

He noted the area has several restaurants, the miniature golf course and a bowling alley that will benefit from people with children being able to stroll along a sidewalk to get there. “There are a lot of people who spend their evenings on that section,” he said. “It’s a big deal for us.”

Vehicles coming off the Northway often take a while to slow their speeds. The renovations will put a median on Route 9 right after motorists take a left from the Route 9N entrance. The speed limit will be dropped from 45 to 40.

The changes are aimed to expand the business district and to increase the area’s appeal to eco-tourists, Oborne said. The bike lanes will help people connect to the nearby Warren County Bike Trail.

“There is a branding aspect to it,” Oborne said. “A transformational gateway approach is what we’re looking for.”

The project will require the taking of some land on the west side of Route 9. Other businesses that built into the right of way also will be affected.

But in planning the project, Oborne said, the town was highly sensitive to not hurting the tourist season. Instead, construction will occur in the spring and fall of 2015 and 2016.

“That’s a justifiable concern so we have to work around that,” he said.

Pottersville Model Railroad Builders Win Auction, Must Raise Money to Pay the Tab

You could forgive Clarke Dunham if the events of the last few months have him feeling as if he were a character in a Frank Capra movie — special dispensation, naturally, accorded to anyone who calls Pottersville home.

Railroad parade in Pottersville - ReBath of Albany

The Dunham’s railroad attraction in Pottersville.

Faced with financial difficulties, he and his wife, Barbara, were about to lose Tthe Station, a model railroad that attracted millions during the holidays to the former Citigroup building, in Midtown Manhattan, during its 17-year run there.

Since 2011, the Station has been part of Railroads on Parade, a small roadside attraction the Dunhams run just north of Lake George. But when the business failed to turn a profit, a financial backer, John Couri, of Ridgefield, Conn., forced the Dunhams to sell the train exhibits at auction.

The Dunhams thought the four railroad displays would be split up and dispersed to individual buyers.

“We were prepared to kiss it all goodbye,” Mr. Dunham said.

The auction took place on Veterans Day. The Dunhams placed modest bids of $25,000 each for two of the railroad sets, far less than they were expected.

To the Dunhams’ surprise, their bids went unchallenged. With no other bids, the Dunhams negotiated to pay $75,000 for all four railroad displays, keeping them together and resurrecting hopes that they could one day return to New York City.

“The fact that we’re suddenly back in the game, we’re elated,” Mr. Dunham said. “The whole thing is kind of Capra-esque.”

There is still the matter of settling the tab before a Dec. 20 deadline. For that, the Dunhams have help: Lucius J. Riccio, a former New York City transportation commissioner in the Dinkins administration, said he planned to start a campaign on Kickstarter. To Mr. Dunham, 77, a Broadway set designer who has been nominated for two Tony Awards, the Station is an art form that also captures both New York City and railroading history.

“Clarke’s train station was a masterpiece,” said Mr. Riccio, an engineer, Columbia University adjunct professor and former Metropolitan Transportation Authority board member. “I just loved looking at the exhibit with all its wonderful details and intricate train movements. I guess I’m naturally attracted to transportation-related things of any size. I have a childlike interest in the model railroads he displayed.”

“But really, what kid of any age wouldn’t love it? Did you see the excitement displayed by the kids who saw it? Clarke’s exhibit was a tremendous addition to New York.”

Railroad Parade in Pottersville - ReBath of Albany

Barbara and Clarke Dunham in September at Railroads on Parade in Pottersville. Credit Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times

The Station was displayed in Manhattan from 1987 to 1990 and from 1996 to 2008, when Citigroup withdrew its sponsorship.

Mr. Dunham said his preference is for Railroads on Parade to remain intact at its current location, run as a nonprofit entity, and to have the Station brought to New York each year as a seasonal show.

“It only takes a day to put everything in a truck and move it,” he said.

But Mr. Dunham realizes that the first priority is to raise enough money to finalize the sale. In Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life,” the main character, George Bailey, lived in fictional Bedford Falls, which, under a scenario presented by a guardian angel, would have become sinister Pottersville had George taken a different path in life.

In the end, of course, all ended well: George’s friends came forward with enough money to save the day, if not the town. The Dunhams would welcome a similar Hollywood-type ending, but they recognize that it may not come easily.

“The only problem with reality is that when you wake up from the dream, the hard work is always still ahead,” Mr. Dunham said. “So, you just go ahead and do it.”

This story was originally published in the New York Times.

Shmaltz Brewing Co. in Clifton Park toasts new partnership

Nearly 17 months after opening a production plant in the woods of Saratoga County, the Shmaltz Brewing Company is branching out to offer its “chosen beer” at Capital Region retail establishments.

Shmaltz Brewing Co. in Clifton Park - ReBath of Albany

Jeremy Cowan, left, owner of Shmaltz Brewing Company and Jeff Vukelic, president of Saratoga Eagle, pose for a photograph inside the brewery on Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014, in Clifton Park, N.Y. (Paul Buckowski / Times Union)

Under a new partnership, Saratoga Springs distributor Saratoga Eagle Sales &Service started delivering Shmaltz’s craft beers to stores, bars and restaurants across the area. The arrangement vastly increases the beer producer’s reach into its home market, while giving customers greater access to its flavors, which are brewed in huge vats off the Northway’s Exit 10.

“This is a big deal for us,” Jeremy Cowan, owner of Shmaltz Brewing Co., said Thursday. “The beer culture around here has come so far, so quickly.”

Previously, Shmaltz’s “He’brew – The Chosen Beer” was distributed by Craft Beer Guild Distributing of New York, located near New Paltz, and available only in “boutique” bars. Last month, Cowan switched to Saratoga Eagle. It’s now available at more than 100 upstate locations. The Saratoga-based distributor is delivering Shmaltz brands to retail businesses in 12 counties, including the Capital Region.

“You’re going to get quality beer that may not have been available before,” said Jeff Vukelic, president of Saratoga Eagle. The goal is to reach more beer drinkers in neighborhood pubs, family restaurants and corner grocery stores. Four locations in Clifton Park’s shopping district off the Northway’s Exit 9 already carry Shmaltz products, including the chain restaurant Buffalo Wild Wings, which started ordering it about two weeks ago.

“It was one brewery that guests kept mentioning,” said John Vilca, manager at Buffalo Wild Wings, which offers 24 beers on tap, including two from Shmaltz. Shmaltz’s Hop Manna, an India Pale Ale that contains 6.5 percent alcohol, is one of the restaurant’s fastest selling brews, Vilca said.

Cowan and Vukelic say their partnership reflects a shift in the beer market. Establishments that three years ago considered craft beer a “weird” option are now jumping at the chance to sell it, Cowan said. Vukelic founded Saratoga Eagle in 2005 as a distributor of Anheuser-Busch Co. products, but in recent years has expanded into moving craft beers. It also delivers beer made by Davidson Brothers Brewing Co. in Glens Falls, Common Roots Brewing Co. in South Glens Falls, Paradox Brewery in Schroon Lake, and soon, Druthers Brewing Co. in Saratoga Springs.

“Everybody wants local now — local beef, local produce and local beer,” Vukelic said. The beer distribution company has 200 employees and operates out of the Grande Industrial Park.

Cowan founded Shmaltz Brewing Co. in San Francisco in 1996. Last July, he opened the 20,000-square-foot brewing facility with a tasting room in Clifton Park. Shmaltz produced 15,000 barrels of beer last year. It intends to increase that next year to up to 30,000 or 35,000 barrels, Cowan said. He said 10,000 barrels of beer equals about 130,000 cases.

He’brew now sells across 37 states through 40 wholesalers and nearly 5,000 retailers. Shmaltz recently more than tripled its full-time staff in Clifton Park to 15 workers. “It has been an adventure,” Cowan said.

This story was originally published in the Times Union.

DIY Friday: Easy to make Thanksgiving Decor

DIY Friday Tips from ReBath of AlbanyWith Thanksgiving just weeks away, I’m sure you have many things on your mind to prepare for the big family dinner. You probably know who is coming and what size turkey you will need. You probably know who is bring what dessert and who will sit at the ‘kids’ table. Those things come up every year around this time and therefore are easily on your to do list.

But what about your Thanksgiving decor? Does your home look festive? Why not create a few things to give the day a more special feel.

Of course there are thousands of DIY Thanksgiving decor ideas out there. We did a little research and found a video that incorporated a few great projects.

The video below shows a fabulous idea for an easy Thanksgiving table center piece. you can get many of the items to make this craft at the dollar store.

If you have kids or kids that come to visit on Thanksgiving, the Thanksgiving day tree shown in this video is a great activity for the day. Kids can write the things they are thankful for on the leaves.

This video has some great ideas to add Thanksgiving decor to your home easily and for little money! Take a look.

Hope you got some festive ideas! If you try any of these, feel free to share a photo of your project on our Facebook page.

Guilderland Mom Runs Marathon to Teach Daughters About Goals

Bridgette Chorbajian, a stay-at-home mom from Guilderland, has cheered her husband Gil through six marathons. But this past Sunday, it was her turn, as she ran the TCS New York City Marathon. As Chorbajian crossed the finish line in an impressive 4:40:18 in bone-chilling weather, her husband and two daughters cheered her with handmade signs, pompoms, and cowbells.

Guilderland mom runs marathon to teach her daughters about goals - ReBath of Albany

Bridgette Chorbajian at the finish of the New York City Marathon Nov. 2

This New York City race was Chorbajian’s second marathon; the first was 15 years ago in Buffalo.

This time, her inspiration was to show her two young daughters what is possible when you put your mind to a goal.

To train for the Big Apple marathon, Chorbajian, 48, joined the Fleet Feet distance running group in Colonie, training with a “great running community” on Sundays and doing speed workouts on Thursday evenings.

She and her husband often run a 10-mile loop around neighborhoods bordering their home on Baneberry Drive; she also runs with a close friend, Sarah Tanner. “If I had a 20-mile run, she’d try to do 10 of them with me, just to keep me going.” One of her daughters, Emily, age 10, rides her bike alongside her in the last four miles to keep her motivated. Her ideal running conditions are a 50-degree day with minimal sun. On Sunday, temperatures in the 40s and whipping winds made running conditions difficult for the 50,000 runners.

While Chorbajian runs to relieve stress and to stay fit, her push to run another marathon was to set an example for her two daughters, aged 9 and 10, who just started cross-country at Pine Bush Elementary School.

“It’s a great thing to show our kids that you can do something healthy for yourself,” she says. “They’re used to cheering my husband on, so they think it’s pretty cool.”

Deciding to enter the lottery for the NYC Marathon was nervewracking. “I think when I found out that I got the lottery, I was completely shocked and completely nervous,” says Chorbajian. “But to be honest, it was the encouragement of my husband that motivated me. He said, ‘You’ve got this. I know you can do it. You have the determination. You’re very strong.’ ”

Chorbajian ran the Big Apple race with her husband’s youngest sister, Andrea. Although Andrea trained in New York and Bridgette in Guilderland, they run at almost the exact same pace, and stuck together for all 26.2 miles through the five boroughs.

Her other motivation while running? Howard Stern. “I started listening to his interviews with different singers and movie stars, because I just got so sick of my music,” she says. “He definitely passes the time when you’ve got hours to run.”

Her goal was to finish the race between 4:10 and 4:20, taking it slow and enjoying the skyline, the sites and the cheering crowds, 10 deep at some points. While her final finishing time was about 20 minutes more than she hoped, she still enjoyed every minute.

“Despite the extremely high winds, the New York City marathon is an amazing experience. The crowds and cheering never stopped for 26.2 miles. I would highly recommend it to any runner.”

This story was originally published in the Times Union.

Clifton Park’s Talia Denis performed National Anthem at Madison Square Garden

Clifton Park resident Talia Denis has a budding musical career that got even bigger this past weekend when she performed the National Anthem at the start of Sunday’s New York Rangers game.

Talia Denis performs at Madison Square Garden - ReBath of Albany

Talia Denis, from Clifton Park, performed the National Anthem at the Ranger’s game this past Sunday. Photo credit: official Talia Denis Instagram.

The teen  learned all the correct lyrics and rehearsed the difficult melody in preparation for her performance at 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 19 at Madison Square Garden to kick off the Rangers vs. San Jose Sharks game. The game was televised, giving many of her hometown fans the opportunity to see her.

Talia Denis, 13 has been composing, singing, and recording since she put out her first demonstration single at age eight. That effort led to her recording her first real record in 2011 with New York City producers Zak Soulman and Michael Visceglia. From that effort her talent began to get recognized by a wider audience and the increased recognition led directly to the offer to perform before Sunday’s Rangers’ game.

“It all came about as the result of Talia’s growing popularity,” said her father and manager Stan Denis. “We were contacted late last week by Madison Square Garden. They asked if Talia would sing for both the Rangers and the Knicks. I think the offer has a lot to do with her approaching a million views on You Tube. It’s the momentum.”

The performance before the Knicks game has yet to be finalized.

Stan Denis said his daughter will perform the song live, a cappella, wearing a Rangers jersey. The performance will be compensated and the entire family also will enjoy food, beverages, and tickets to the game.

“They’re expecting 25,000 people at the game plus the TV audience,” Stan Denis said. “It’s a big deal. Rangers fans are real fanatics. It’ll definitely be the largest audience that has ever seen Talia perform.”

Denis said he and his daughter checked out the song’s official lyrics and he had Talia sing it for him several times before he accepted the offer.

“She’s been asked to sing the National Anthem many times in the past and we’ve always refused,” he said. “But you can’t turn this down. Madison Square Garden is the Holy Grail. It’s a world renowned venue.”

Denis said the offer proves to him that Talia’s musical skills are seen as having value by others and also lets he and his wife Kimberly know that the work they’ve done in recent years with their daughter’s musical talent is working.

“Singing the National Anthem is not something Talia normally does,” Denis said. “She’s a pop rock singer. The offer shows me she’s on the national map. Singing the National Anthem at Madison Square Garden is an honor most people will never get. When they ask you, you have to say yes.”

Denis said his daughter understands there will be a big echo in the hall and that there will be a vocal delay. She is already preparing and looking forward to the afternoon rehearsal. And she is learning all the words.

“I didn’t want her to be one of those foolish Americans who didn’t know the words,” Stan Denis said. “This is big. It’ll be on TV. You know someone out there will hear it if you miss a word or make a mistake and I didn’t want that to happen.”

In 2014 Talia Denis released her latest full length album, “So Alive”.

Information for this post came from The Saratogian.

DIY Friday: Halloween Mummy Candles

Halloween is just weeks away and I’m sure many of your kids are very excited to dress up and go trick or treating. Many of you may be looking for fun Halloween crafts to do with your kids to satisfy their Halloween excitement.

I found this video on how to make this adorable mummy candle on Youtube and I thought what an easy project to do with young children.

For this project you will need:

  • Mason jars or canning jars
  • An old white pillow case
  • a hot glue gun
  • some googly eyes
  • scissors

First you will want to glue your googly eyes right to the jar using your hot glue gun. Then cut your pillow case into strips. They don’t have to be perfect because you are going to overlap them. Put a little glue on the jar and begin wrapping the fabric around the jar. You will want to add some glue in a few other spots to make sure it sticks.

Tip: Don’t wrap the fabric too thick because you want the candle light to shine through.

Check out the helpful step-by-step video here:

Hope you enjoy this craft and have a Happy Halloween!



Celebrating 75 Years of Marriage for Guilderland’s Couple

Joseph and Sarah Hrachian have been married for 75 years, and they have the mighty old pipe organ at the former St. Peter Armenian Apostolic Church on Fifth Avenue in Troy to thank for bringing them together.

You could say it was a match made in heaven, or at least the celestial upper register of ecclesiastical music.

Guilderland Couple Celebrate 75 years of marriage - ReBath of Albany Blog

98-year-old Joseph Hrachian and his wife, Sarah, 94, who recently celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary, sit on their couch in their home on Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014 in Guilderland, N.Y. (Lori Van Buren / Times Union) Photo: Lori Van Buren

In 1935, Adrena Hrachian, Joseph’s older sister, was the organist at the church and 15-year-old Sarah Kenosian was her assistant who turned the sheet music pages during Sunday services.

“My sister told me there was this pretty young girl working with her, but I said she was too young,” recalled Joseph Hrachian, 98.

His sister countered: “But she’s growing up, she’s beautiful, and she’s from a good family.”

Hrachian finally relented and went to meet Sarah. “My sister was right,” he recalled. “She was beautiful and utterly wonderful. I was hooked.”

And was it love at first sight for the future bride?

“I liked him because he had a car,” recalled Sarah Hrachian, 94. “Anyone who had a car in Watervliet in those days was special.”

They got married on Sept. 3, 1939. He was 23 and she was 19. Theirs was a chaste four-year courtship. He bought her a gold cross necklace for her 17th birthday.

“But our first child was born nine months and 20 minutes after the wedding,” he said with a roar of laughter.

These days, she’s hard of hearing and he has to shout across the room and often repeat his punch lines for her. He does not seem to mind.

On the couch, posing for a photographer, he needed no prodding to caress her hands and give her a loving kiss on the lips.

Times were tough in 1939 for both families — working-class Armenian immigrants who fled persecution from the Turks and settled in Watervliet — and they held a double wedding with Hrachian’s sister, Vergin, to reduce costs. The groom’s mother made all the food for the reception, including the Armenian delicacies and desserts.

But when the wedding flowers arrived and the florist demanded pay for the $25 bill before he would release the arrangements, nobody had the cash.

“I was so sad when I saw him taking the flowers away,” Sarah recalled. Just then, the best man, Ernie Kershaw, stepped forward, pulled out his wallet and paid the florist without saying a word or making the family feel ashamed.

“Ernie was a wonderful guy and my friend for life,” Hrachian said.

The Hrachians sat together in their Guilderland home recently and reflected on the remarkable longevity of their union that has produced three children, five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren and a tight-knit family that still centers around their church, St. Peter’s, which moved from Troy to Watervliet. Joseph Hrachian, whose given first name is Suren, was a longtime trustee of the church and assisted its construction.

The couple graduated from Watervliet High School, he in 1934 and she in 1938.

He is a gregarious fellow possessed of a sharp wit and deadpan humor. He owned dry cleaning businesses: Master Cleaners in Albany and Guilderland and later Executive Cleaners at Stuyvesant Plaza. His wife raised their kids and worked part time on bookkeeping for the business.

Both are in relatively good health and are still in their home, with daily visits from their children. They are considering moving into an assisted-living center early next year because their large yard is a challenge to maintain and his doctor advised him to stop chopping firewood a few years ago.

“We look great and nothing hurts,” he said. He added that his stylish cravat is less a fashion statement and more to keep the chill off a stiff neck.

“Oh, c’mon, that’s a little much,” said his wife, who uses a walker and has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

She is the great leveler to his emotions, which he wears on his dress-shirt sleeve.

He gave a speech for the 100 or so guests at their 75th wedding anniversary party on a recent Sunday, which was held at their church. His basement is filled with an archives of his speeches, which he gave at every birthday and special family function.

“He missed his calling. He should have been a minister with all his sermons,” joked their daughter, Lucille. “In all seriousness, they’ve been wonderful parents.”

“They’ve been so supportive to everyone in the family,” said their daughter, Barbara. “They held us all up and they’ve been the hub. Everyone gathers at their house for every big event.”

For more than 50 years, their mother made a large family supper each Sunday with spaghetti and meatballs and the sweet, sugary scent of katah, an Armenian coffee cake.

“After 50 years I quit and I never made spaghetti and meatballs again,” she said with a satisfied shrug.

Hrachian noted that the couple was married on the same day that Britain and France declared war on Germany in response to Hitler’s invasion of Poland.

“Our marriage was a glorious battle ever since, which she usually won,” the groom said with a laugh.

Much like life itself, his stories are full of asides and detours and digressions, anything but linear.

“I could talk and talk and talk,” he said. And one is inclined to believe him.

This story was originally published in The Times Union.