Concord News

Bypass air travel if possible

Concord Monitor Living - Sun, 09/30/2012 - 00:00
Internet tools can help you avoid ever-increasing fees

Has the recent depressing coverage about airline fees left you wondering if there are ways to circumvent the airlines altogether? Well, sure! It turns out that the internet offers some interesting alternatives as well as some truly helpful websites should you choose to travel the old-fashioned way: by car.

Virtual travel: A friend recently forwarded me a virtual travel website that promised to be so enthralling that I would "never want to get on an airplane again." Not likely, I thought, but I was curious (and brave) enough to click on it - The "ru" extension means that the website is registered in Russia, but text is provided in Russian and English. The concept is to provide spherical 360-degree video of the world's most dramatic, popular and interesting destinations around the world. Think the Matterhorn, Dubai, Istanbul, the Pyramids at Giza, the Taj Mahal, Victoria Falls, Rio de Janeiro and much, much more.

Categories: Concord News

Cute things comein small packages

Concord Monitor Living - Sun, 09/30/2012 - 00:00
In animal adoptions, runts often go first

For puppies and kittens, size really does matter. Shelters say smaller animals get adopted faster, and animal experts say the runt of a litter tends to be better protected by the mother. Pet owners-to-be tend to heap attention on them, since they're attracted to big heads on little bodies.

"Humans are drawn to animals or beings of any kind whose proportion of eyes to head is large," said Dr. Julie Meadows, a faculty veterinarian at the William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at the University of California, Davis. "It's why we all coo when we look" at babies, whether they're human or animal.

For runts destined to become family pets, their size is their greatest risk before birth but also their greatest appeal after birth.

"It's the underdog, undercat thing," said Gayle Guthrie, founder-director of Stray Love Foundation in Magnolia Springs, Ala.

Categories: Concord News

Scary sights

Concord Monitor Living - Sun, 09/30/2012 - 00:00
Many cities, theme parks, zoos succumb to the season

Too old to trick-or-treat? Busy the night of Oct. 31? That's okay, because Halloween has become a seasonal holiday, with attractions and activities for all ages from late September through early November.

Many cities now have local haunted house attractions, community zombie walks and ghost tours. Amusement parks small and large revamp for the month of October with faux graveyards, haunted trails and actors dressed like freaks. Some attractions - like Universal's Halloween Horror Nights - are so creepy they are not recommended for guests under 13.

Other entertainment venues - from Disney parks to zoos, museums, aquariums and even indoor water parks like Great Wolf Lodge resorts - host Halloween events geared to younger kids.

Categories: Concord News

Tell-Tale Poe

Concord Monitor Living - Thu, 09/27/2012 - 00:00
State library's 'Big Read' program to explore macabre literary world

Care to flirt with madness, dear reader? Do you fancy a brush with mortal terror, a tale to chill the very marrow of your bones? True! You may find such delirious horror nearly anywhere in the weeks preceding All Hallows' Eve. But for a most delicious and rare kind of fright, it may behoove you to ponder a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore.

The Big Read is back, and this year it's all about the mysterious and macabre Edgar Allan Poe. For the next month, libraries and other organizations across the state are offering all manner of creepy and creative events centered on the 19th-century author who gave birth to the detective fiction genre and left an indelible - and spine-tingling - mark on American literature.

Categories: Concord News

Andy Williams, crooner, dies at 84

Concord Monitor Living - Thu, 09/27/2012 - 00:00
Missouri 'Moon River' singer hosted TV specials

Andy Williams, whose languid crooning style and disarming presence propelled him to recording and television stardom in the 1960s, with hits including "Moon River" and the inescapable holiday jingle "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year," died Tuesday at his home in Branson, Mo. He was 84.

He died of bladder cancer, said his publicist, Paul Shefrin.

Williams's entertainment career spanned eight decades, starting when he was an 8-year-old singer performing at church socials in his native Iowa. With his radiant smile, chiseled dimples and earnest personality, he conveyed an unfailingly wholesome image throughout his career - sometimes to his dismay. All too often, he wrote in his memoir, he was perceived as a "farm boy in a tuxedo."

Categories: Concord News

September staples

Concord Monitor Living - Wed, 09/26/2012 - 00:00
There are certain things I make each year when grapes and turnips come into season Embed multimedia (photos, galleries, audio, map):  Home Plate: Cornish Pasties

We're in the middle of harvest season on our farm, which means a frenzy of picking and blanching and freezing and canning and fermenting and drying. We're so busy it's hard to remember that we need to stop every now and then to actually enjoy our fruits and vegetables now, straight out of the garden, when they're as good as they will ever be.

That's why traditions are a good thing. It wouldn't be September without putting aside some of the Concord grape harvest - most of which will become frozen juice or jelly - for a fresh Concord grape pie. Because Concord grapes contain seeds, making a pie from them is a long, messy process, though one that is great fun for small children who like to help in the kitchen.

Categories: Concord News

Sandler film scarily unfunny

Concord Monitor Living - Wed, 09/26/2012 - 00:00
'Hotel Transylvania' underdeveloped

Despite the proven talents of first-time feature director Genndy Tartakovsky (Dexter's Laboratory), writers Peter Baynham (Arthur Christma) and SNL vet Robert Smigel, and a voice cast headed by Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg, the Hotel Transylvania falls flat virtually from the get-go, serving up half-hearted sight gags that have a habit of landing with an ominous thud.

Being given a public airing at the Toronto International Film Festival ahead of its Friday opening, the film could initially benefit from a monster marketing push from Sony, but it's unlikely the "No Vacancy" sign will be lit for long.

Assuming an unsteady Transylvanian accent, which, like his bat wings, tends to flit in and out of the picture, Sandler's overprotective daddy Dracula is having trouble shielding his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) from outside elements on the eve of her 118th birthday.

Categories: Concord News

Actors find sibling bond in comedy

Concord Monitor Living - Wed, 09/26/2012 - 00:00
Brother, sister show based on real life

In no time, Nat Faxon and Dakota Johnson were tight.

That's good, since they star as brother and sister on their new Fox comedy, Ben and Kate.

Ben is a free spirit, a good-cheer gadfly blowing in and out of town without notice. Younger sister Kate is uptight, a bit shell-shocked by life, and no wonder: She's a single mother struggling to raise her little girl on a shoestring.

What will happen when, after Ben's latest drop-in, he decides to stick around, re-establish ties with Kate, play surrogate dad to her daughter, and maybe even grow up a little himself?

To judge from the Ben and Kate pilot (which aired yeterday), the result is funny, frenetic and - bottom line - familial.

"It was very natural," said Nat, thinking back to last spring when the pilot was shot. "It felt like Dakota and I had known each other a long time, rather than a few days."

Categories: Concord News

Weeknight dinner

Concord Monitor Living - Wed, 09/26/2012 - 00:00

This is a good weeknight solution for busy parents and for those who appreciate minimal kitchen prep. You'll need a 7-cup (or larger) rice cooker, and you'll use regular liquid and dry measuring cups for this recipe, not the measuring cup that comes with most rice cookers.

Rice-Cooker Mac and Cheese

8 ounces dried shaped pasta, such as cavatappi, fusilli or mini-farfalle

2 cups homemade or no-salt-added chicken or vegetable broth

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 to 2 cups broccoli florets, carrot coins, cubed butternut squash or frozen peas

1 cup whole milk

1½ cups two- or three-cheese blend, such as cheddar, mozzarella and Monterey Jack

Categories: Concord News

Garlic gardening

Concord Monitor Living - Tue, 09/25/2012 - 00:00
Embed multimedia (photos, galleries, audio, map):  Garlic for LiveWell Garlic for LiveWell Garlic for LiveWell Garlic for LiveWell

If you'd like to grow your own garlic, now is the time to scout local farmers markets for the biggest, healthiest, best-tasting heads of garlic you can find. Do be sure to ask the seller if they've had any insect or disease trouble with their garlic crop before buying so you don't contaminate your own garden.

Wait until about two weeks after the first hard frost to plant your garlic. The idea is to time it just right, so that the cloves send out roots but don't sprout above the soil before winter sets in.

Prepare a sunny spot that hasn't contained any alliums for the last three years. Garlic likes lots of nitrogen, so be sure to put down some high quality compost where you will be planting. I have friends who also swear by kelp meal, so I usually sprinkle that around, too, and it seems to help produce big, healthy bulbs. Just follow the instructions on the kelp meal bag.

Categories: Concord News

Texting habit must stop

Concord Monitor Living - Sun, 09/23/2012 - 00:00
Baggage Check

Q: My wife texts and drives. All the time. With our kids in the car. She justifies it by saying she's careful and it's how she multitasks. And she gets defensive when I bring it up and turns the tables on me.

A: You might have imperfections, but unless they involve regularly putting your children and hundreds of strangers in danger, they pale in comparison to this. Yes, texting is tempting and common, but texting can kill. Tell her you're serious about making a plan for her to stop. Then work with her. If she's not willing to change, then you treat this like you would a substance-abuse situation where a loved one is a danger to herself and others.

Categories: Concord News

A baby shower to remember

Concord Monitor Living - Sun, 09/23/2012 - 00:00

If you're throwing a baby shower for a relative or friend, creating a suitably festive atmosphere is part of the fun.

Some people go all out by hiring an event planner, while others go more simply, taking the do-it-yourself route.

Whether you're nurturing an elaborate party plan or just want a little inspiration to get started, the internet opens the nursery door to a wide range of ideas from baby shower experts. Here are a few with their favorites:

Maureen Anders and Adria Ruff, who run the Anders/Ruff event planning company in Charlotte, N.C., recently went with a color scheme of aqua, mint, lemon and lime for a gender-neutral shower. Mint and orange, gray and yellow, and aqua and coral are also on trend, Anders says, and even black and yellow - for a "baby to bee" theme.

Categories: Concord News

Running for her life

Concord Monitor Living - Sun, 09/23/2012 - 00:00
In search of a new chapter, Vicki McCloskey took up triathlons at 60 Embed multimedia (photos, galleries, audio, map):  Vicki McCloskey Concord Christian versus Portsmouth Christian boy's soccer Concord Christian versus Portsmouth Christian boy's soccer

The weeks since school started have been busy ones for Vicki McCloskey. For the child psychologist who works part time at the Henniker Community School and part time in private practice, back-to-school time means lots of phone calls about stressed out, anxious and overwhelmed kids.

Back to school means new schedules, new routines and commitments, less free time and, often, a lot less sleep.

And for McCloskey, 63, scheduling all those new appointments around her renewed school hours means rescheduling her training for the upcoming World International Triathlon in New Zealand. The race will include a 1.5-kilometer swim, a 25-mile bike ride and a 10-kilometer run.

In her life and her career, both as a triathlete and a school psychologist, McCloskey has learned a lot about stress. She put together a list of her top 10 tips for success, whether in third grade or an Olympic-length race.

Categories: Concord News

Wright mecca

Concord Monitor Living - Sun, 09/23/2012 - 00:00
Illinois Mother lode of architect's work situated in small town

Ernest Hemingway was born in Oak Park, but Frank Lloyd Wright lives there.

Wright died in 1959, two years before Hemingway, but the famous architect's legacy is so strong in this village west of Chicago that he seems to be part of the present. Home to more than two dozen Wright structures, including a church, two stables and a fountain, Oak Park boasts the largest collection of Wright-designed sites in the world.

Wright lived in Oak Park for the first 20 years of his career, between 1889 and 1909, developing Prairie style architecture in a studio. In contrast, Hemingway couldn't wait to leave, reportedly disparaging it as a place of "wide lawns and narrow minds." (The future novelist left at age 18 to become a reporter for the Kansas City Star.)

Categories: Concord News

10 tips for dealing with stressful situations

Concord Monitor Living - Sun, 09/23/2012 - 00:00

Dr. Vicki McCloskey, triathlete and school psychologist at the Henniker Community School, shares these 10 tips on how to prepare for and handle a stressful situation, whether it's jumping into a cold body of water for a 1.5-kilometer race or tackling a new chapter of vocabulary.

1. Sleep. During sleep, the brain organizes what it has taken in during the day so that we can readily access it from memory.

2. Feeling safe and secure at home. "Feeling loved and appreciated helps children feel good and focus on learning rather than worrying about issues at home. Even if there is economic stress, parents need to keep a positive attitude when children are within ear shot," McCloskey said.

3. Physical activity and play. When they play, children practice important skills and use their creativity to develop new ones. When they are physically active, children are healthier and manage stress better.

Categories: Concord News

Don't expect too many surprises at Emmys

Concord Monitor Living - Sun, 09/23/2012 - 00:00
TV Column

Every year the Emmy Awards leave us wondering what numbskull thought a three-hour trophy show in which the same TV programs win the same derbies they won last year, interspersed with speeches by Hollywood B-listers showering praise on their agents, lawyers and personal trainers, made for riveting television.

Is it any wonder that such a large swath of the American public reacts to the prospect of watching the annual broadcast like people being pushed toward dangerous machinery in which they would rather not become entangled?

At first glance, tonight's Emmycast (ABC, 8 p.m.) looks particularly treacherous.

Who among us is looking forward to a 10th-consecutive variety series win for The Daily Show, a fifth-consecutive drama series win for Mad Men and the annual Jeff Probst Reality Show Host Award?

But this year is going to be - different!

Categories: Concord News

Rules rule the airlines' bottom line

Concord Monitor Living - Sun, 09/23/2012 - 00:00
Know what fees you'll incur before you're at the terminal

Rules, rules, rules! Remember when traveling by air used to be fairly predictable? You bought a ticket, picked a seat, showed up with a bag, checked the bag, then got on the plane, all for one price. Those days are long gone. But if you think you understand all the rule changes and accompanying fee hikes, think again. The landscape is changing weekly, if not daily, and it pays to know before you go.

Fees: It's called "un-bundling": the airline practice of separating out each aspect of flying and charging the passenger a fee for adding the aspect or amenity back in. Luggage fees were among the original headliners here and continue to be an ever-changing (upward, of course) factor in figuring out how much you'll have to pay to fly. Then there's food and drink, communicating with an actual airline ticket representative and printing boarding passes.

Categories: Concord News

Flowers that light up the shade

Concord Monitor Living - Sun, 09/23/2012 - 00:00

I first saw cardinal flowers growing in a drainage ditch along a farm field. Their intense red took my breath away, in part because of their surroundings.

This was no well-tended, perennial flower border, where colorful flowers would be expected. Growing along that ditch, those cardinal flowers were "mere" wildings. What's more, they were blooming in deep shade, a place usually lit, if at all, by white flowers.

The beauty of those cardinal flowers was not in their profusion of blooms but in the purity of their color. The red blossoms lined up along spikes a few feet high, their petals splaying out like small, cut paper fans.

Categories: Concord News

For the best results, rotate crops each year

Concord Monitor Living - Sun, 09/23/2012 - 00:00

Without looking at the calendar I know that fall has arrived when I finally put The Zucchini Cookbook away for the year. Now I am making as much pesto as possible and putting up tomato sauce for winter in an effort to hold on to a tiny bit of summer's goodness for as long as I can. Pickling is done - the cukes have given up the ghost and the plants need to be pulled and composted. As we clean up the garden, I make a last ditch effort to record where we planted things this year. I am not very diligent about it but keeping a garden journal is indispensable when spring planting time rolls around. Vegetable crops need to be rotated every year to avoid depleting the same nutrients from the soil and to discourage insects and disease from gaining a foothold. It is a good practice not to plant the same family of crops - like nightshades, cucurbits, legumes and brassicas - in the same spot for four years. I could never remember that far back if I didn't write it down!

Categories: Concord News

A second life for your bridesmaid dress

Concord Monitor Living - Sun, 09/23/2012 - 00:00

The money has been spent, the hems secured, the photos taken and the happy couple hitched. But what can you do once your bridesmaid dress has had its fun?

Craft It

DIY projects can give an old dress new life. Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Samantha Baldwin, who writes the craft and lifestyle blog Bromeliad, turned a bridesmaid-style dress into a decorative pillow and a Moroccan-style pouf. She says she's "not a very good seamstress" but was able to manipulate the hem of the skirt into the ruffle portion of her pillow, which required minimal sewing.

Donate It

The Washington bridal store Hitched gives bridesmaids the option to donate their dresses, shoes and unused makeup to "Princess for a Night," a dress drive created by a Virginia teacher that provides free prom gear to high-schoolers.

There are similar organizations across the nation.

Restyle It

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