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July 30, 2014
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Travel down any number of country roads throughout the Catskills and one can discover architecture that exemplifies what life was like during the heyday, when the region was known as a playground for those seeking respite from the workaday world of city life. Boarding houses, hotels, bungalows and inns were scattered across Sullivan County, and among them, The Old North Branch Inn stood proud.

From flea market find to art gallery; Dee Rivera thrives on the art of repurposing

Finding inspiration in items other people get rid of, mixed media artist Dee Rivera creates unique objects d’art that might best be described as three-dimensional collages. Her work is all about putting together parts of found trinkets and everyday items—pieces of jewelry, a handle from an old drawer, a candle holder, an old cheese board, vintage buttons, broken watches, wooden and tin boxes. “I’m always looking for things that have an interesting texture, or shape, or color,” she said of her flea market excursions.  Read more

Creating inspiring spaces in our homes

Having a place to call home is meaningful to most of us. As a poetic ideal, it’s a welcoming environment where we can slip into baggy pants at the end of the day and leave the mad world behind to “just be” without pretense. It’s a place where we can rest, recover and recharge ourselves, as well as our smart phones.  Read more

The green, green grass of home; Sowing, growing & eating asparagus

After enduring a punishing winter, there is nothing more welcome than the first signs of spring poking up from the impossibly barren earth. Out in nature, knotweed, ferns and nettles are among the first things to appear. In my garden, it is the incipient tender green of sorrel, rhubarb and angelica. This year, I hope to be adding asparagus to that list, because we planted a patch last spring.  Read more

Diggin’ the seeds

In some years, the weather is warm enough in March that the fence around my garden can be inspected and repaired in anticipation of the upcoming gardening season. But this year, with snow still piled high, the garden gate has not even been opened yet, so garden activities thus far have been limited to starting seeds indoors.

The biggest challenge with starting seeds indoors is getting enough light to the seedlings once they emerge. A bright sunny window will sometimes do, but most windows aren’t sunny enough for a long enough time, and space in front of them is limited.  Read more

Reuse, recycle, restore it!

“Is it Monday yet? Can I please go back to work?” asks Judy Shaffer, emphasizing the word “please.”

For the past 18 years, Judy has worked side by side with Mark and Andee Weller, owners of Sterling Upholstery Co., Inc.(www.sterlingupholsteryco.com/), located at 50 Neville Rd. in Moscow, PA.  Read more

Spring clean your closet

Spring is the season of renewal and birth. It is a time when we get a fresh start in our lives, and the ever-popular phrase “spring cleaning” enters our vernacular (and hopefully our activity). If you’re anything like me, you often throw things into your closet without really paying any attention; it’s the ideal throw-stuff-in-and-shut-the-door kind of space. You might find yourself looking at your closet and shaking your head or averting your eyes from the horror. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, it’s time to tackle that project and spring clean your closet.  Read more

Love and lilacs; Living history revealed in the Skinner House

When Gina and Tom Kaufmann share how they met, they evoke a scene from the movie “When Harry Met Sally.” They grew up 20 minutes apart on Long Island, vacationed 20 minutes apart in the Upper Delaware River Valley region and even closer on Long Island, but only first met when they went horseback riding together in their mid-to-late teens. Then, there’s the house. They were dating about a year when they first entered the Skinner House, visiting family friends. Gina recalls thinking it would be romantic to live there one day.  Read more

Alpaca: The new-age Golden Fleece

The Catskills and Upper Delaware River Valley are known for many things: hiking, river rafting, apple picking and the beauty and serenity that a visit to our region provides. Each season has something different to offer to visitors and residents alike, but since the 1970s, a warm and fuzzy attraction has caught on—alpacas. The gentle creatures have been domesticated for thousands of years and the Moche people of northern Peru often used alpaca images in their art. Too small to be used as pack animals, they have been bred exclusively for their fiber and meat, but it’s their fleece that has made the alpaca highly prized throughout the world. Today, alpaca can be found all across the United States, including right here at home, where their incredibly soft hair is made into scarves, hats, gloves and socks, along with stylish high-end garments that are sought after by folks from all walks of life.  Read more

Ten steps to a safe heating fire

Madonna Badger wasn’t awakened by her three daughters’ squeals of delight on Christmas morning 2011. Instead she awoke to smoke in a dark and silent house. Quickly the house was engulfed in flames, and all efforts to save her family failed. Ashes from the fire that had warmed her Connecticut house on Christmas Eve had been carelessly disposed of, and in the night, the embers caught fire. In addition, no smoke alarm sounded a warning. The resulting inferno robbed Badger of her children, her parents and her home.  Read more

Top tips for saving energy

Most, if not all, homeowners would fix a window broken by a wayward softball. What many people don’t know, though, is that there are often small air breaches in many different places of the home that, if combined, could easily be the size of a softball or bigger. As a result, much energy, and many dollars, can be lost.  Read more

The Great Pumpkin

Nature’s timing is flawless. As if on cue, the winter squash and pumpkins appear just as the onslaught of zucchini starts to ebb. And they’re here to stay, their stout curves and painterly colors a pleasure to behold throughout the winter. Every year I stock up on the many varieties grown by Alice and Neil Fitzgerald of River Brook Farm in Cochecton, NY including international heirlooms like the brilliant orange Hubbard, the voluptuous Musque de Provence and the charmingly bumpy Marina di Chioggia. These all have a dense, creamy flesh that is equally delicious roasted, fried (pumpkin tempura!) or stewed.  Read more

Honoring traditions, fabricating new; Meet the divas of quilting

Some do it for the fellowship and conversation. Some do it for the satisfaction of having something to show for all their hard work. Some do it for the art. But they all have the same goal: to make a quilt.  Read more

Something old, something new; A country house lovingly restored

There’s a reason that people are obsessed with home makeover shows. There’s nothing like a good transformation story and the big reveal. We constantly tune in to “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” and “Trading Spaces” to watch cringe-worthy spaces become homes you want to live in, all led by the skilled and snarky renovators who have become household names (Ty Pennignton, Genevieve Gorder). Not to be outdone by celebrity makeover artists, Ramona Jan of Country Home Restoration (Abrahamsville, PA) has recently completed a project to restore an 1800s farmhouse in Hortonville, NY, owned by Westchester resident Cheryl Greenberg.  Read more

Cooking real food from scratch; Avoiding ‘edible food-like substances’

I love farmers’ markets. Not a farmer myself, I nevertheless belong to an organization of farmers who practice sustainable agriculture. I support the blossoming food movement to Buy Fresh Buy Local and the local economies movement to shop locally because I believe that our global economic model is unsustainable based as it is on the unsustainable use of fossil fuel energy. I shop at farmers’ markets because they are a source of real food, which is pretty much the only food I want to eat anymore. For me, real food, grown locally is a starting point for sustainable living.  Read more

Everything is illuminated; Watts up with light bulbs?

Sustainable light bulbs bring up a lot of questions: which one to use, how sustainable are they, and what will the cost savings be? It could leave your head spinning, but worry no more. The River Reporter is here to shed some light on the world of light bulbs. The two types of sustainable light bulbs are LEDs and CFLs. Below, we break down the benefits of making the switch from incandescent bulbs (the “normal” type of bulb we all grew up with) to one of these two options.

LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes)  Read more

Tastemaker: Turning a house into a home

A conversation with interior designer Sharon Carroll by Jane Bollinger

Sharon Carroll is an interior designer.

She helps create personal living spaces that reflect the kinds of lives her clients want to enjoy in their homes. The job involves more than constructing functional spaces that meet the homeowners’ needs; Carroll also wants her clients fulfill their personal desires for finding fun activities and pleasurable pastimes to enjoy in their homes. Fun, enjoyment and pleasure are important words in Carroll’s working vocabulary.  Read more

The homestead flock

Like any new parents, we wondered what we had gotten ourselves into. Standing in the post office, the incessant, frantic peeping coming from the box, which seemed way too small to contain 50 baby chicks, suggested that our free-wheeling, home-after-dusk days were over. Like many beginning “neo-homesteaders” these days, we began our foray into livestock husbandry with that seemingly fool-proof barnyard staple—Gallus gallus domesticus—the chicken.  Read more

How to kill weeds without herbicides

At this point in the growing season just about everyone who grows a garden or tends a flower bed has a common nemesis: the common garden weed. Of course, this common weed is not just one measly pest. Instead, it is a compilation of many different plants that all want the same thing: to invade our space. There is dandelion, sow thistle, carpet weed and crabgrass to name a few of the more intrusive varieties. While we all wish that our gardens were tame and beautiful from all angles, we must realize that this is the way it works. Growing a garden means you will be growing weeds as well.  Read more

Sustainability house

Rebekah Creshkoff dreamed of a straw-bale house. A dedicated birder, she had spent her adult life in New York City riding her bike to work every day across Central Park. There, a downy woodpecker had gotten to know her well enough to eat out of her hand.

In 2010, she and her husband Lenny Friedland rented a house for the summer in Narrowsburg. They liked it so much, the next year they found themselves dreaming about building a home. Another rental on River Road in Callicoon turned those dreams into plans.  Read more