Acorns are falling on my head

Concord Monitor Living - Sun, 10/07/2012 - 00:00

Lately when walking in the woods, I feel like I should be wearing a hard hat. Acorns are raining down, thunking on the ground, pinging on metal roofs and causing my chickens to think the sky is falling. Yet for some birds and mammals the acorns are manna from heaven. These seeds from oak trees are packed with carbohydrates, protein, fats and minerals that provide nutrition now and through the winter for a wide variety of wildlife species.

Categories: Concord News

Come for the dugong, stay for the rest

Concord Monitor Living - Sun, 10/07/2012 - 00:00
Japan Animal obsession trends toward ugly

Americans may seem obsessed with animals, with day care for dogs and TV therapists for cats, not to mention the hours we spend looking at photos of cute critters on the Internet. But it's generally the conventionally adorable ones that get our attention. On a recent trip to Japan I found ample evidence of our two countries' mutual adoration of pets and pandas. But it was a pleasure to immerse myself in a culture that shares my appreciation for more unusual creatures as well. Here are some highlights.


One of my lifelong dreams was to see a dugong. There are only a handful of these sea mammals related to manatees in captivity, none in North America. One of them is in the Toba Aquarium in Mie Prefecture, about three hours by train from Tokyo.

Categories: Concord News

Golden Age glimpses

Concord Monitor Living - Thu, 10/04/2012 - 00:00
Manchester Currier resurrects fine-art postcards Embed multimedia (photos, galleries, audio, map):  The Captain of the Infantry

The prints in the Currier Museum's new exhibition are oversize postcards from the Dutch Golden Age. The story behind them is one of art and money. Building on a printmaking tradition that stretched back at least two centuries, some of the best artists in the world set out to supply an emerging merchant class with affordable pictures. And behold, here many of them are, though no longer quite so affordable.

The exhibition, titled "Printmaking in the Age of Rembrandt," bears the name of the best-known of these artists. Art-lovers drawn to the show to see Rembrandt's work - and who wouldn't be? - will not be disappointed. But the fine art of many other printmakers is on display, and it is not to be missed.

Categories: Concord News

Tiny tales, big effects

Concord Monitor Living - Thu, 10/04/2012 - 00:00
Concord Short-film festival comes to NHTI

In 12 minutes and 50 seconds, a monster can terrorize a community. In 8 minutes and 20 seconds, a ridiculous decree can become a syllabus for terror. And in 11 minutes, a little boy can save the world.

Short films don't have the luxury of time to tell their tales, but that doesn't mean they can't pack the same plot punch as their feature-length brethren.

The Manhattan Short Film Festival is known as the World's First Global Film Festival. Through Sunday, 10 short films from 10 countries will be screened moe than 1,000 times to an audience of over 100,000 gathered in cinemas, museums, schools and universities in over 250 cities throughout six continents, according to Manhattan film officials.

In New Hampshire, the films will be shown tomorrow at 7 p.m.

Categories: Concord News


Concord Monitor Living - Wed, 10/03/2012 - 00:00
The typical celebration is easily adapted to suit a gluten-free lifestyle Embed multimedia (photos, galleries, audio, map):  Gluten-free beer battered brats and pretzels

Warm, chewy pretzels. Tangy brats. Fragrant desserts. For most German Americans, these are the flavors of fall. And, although the traditional versions of these dishes are loaded with wheat, barley and other allergens, it's possible to serve up an Oktoberfest menu that's gluten free.

Oktoberfest is an annual festival that unfolds in Munich over the course of two weeks at the end of September and the beginning of October. The tradition dates back to 1810, when a German prince celebrated his nuptials with horse racing and, of course, beer.

According to one estimate, festival goers sucked down 7 million liters of suds at the 2007 Munich Oktoberfest. Beer - albeit it gluten-free and in much smaller quantities - lends flavor to the main dish in the menu below. If you'd prefer to skip the alcohol, try braising the sausages in apple cider with an extra pinch or two of salt.

Categories: Concord News

Beef stew in a jiffy

Concord Monitor Living - Wed, 10/03/2012 - 00:00

Here's a recipe that makes a seasonal favorite - stew - weeknight friendly.


2 tablespoons olive oil

1½ pounds sirloin beef tips, cut into 1-inch chunks

3 cups cubed butternut squash (½-inch cubes)

1 cup baby carrots, halved

1 large yellow onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

28-ounces crushed tomatoes

2 cups beef broth

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

½ teaspoon dried thyme

½ teaspoon mustard powder

salt and ground black pepper

In a large saucepan over medium-high, heat the oil. Add the beef, in batches if needed to avoid crowding the pan, and cook, turning, until browned on all sides but still rare at the center, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Categories: Concord News

Man's suicide airs live on Fox

Concord Monitor Living - Tue, 10/02/2012 - 00:00

Fox News and its viewers got a lesson in the perils of live television Friday afternoon when a driver chased by the police emerged from a car and fatally shot himself in the head.

The episode was the rare instance in which a TV newscast showed an act of violence live. Most stations use delays of live broadcasts to avoid showing scenes that might be upsetting to their viewers.

Fox aired images, taken from a news helicopter, of the man running from the car, then stopping and apparently raising a gun to his head. He then collapsed.

The cable network immediately cut away from the incident outside of Phoenix and went to a commercial. Anchor Shepard Smith came back minutes later and offered a lengthy apology. "That didn't belong on TV," he said in part. "We took every precaution we knew how to take to keep that from being on TV, and I personally apologize to you that that happened. . . . I'm sorry."

Categories: Concord News

I've come a long way, baby

Concord Monitor Living - Sun, 09/30/2012 - 00:00
Shouting from the sidelines is no longer my style; I prefer to fester on the inside

I'm not a crazy sports parent. I'm not that dad climbing on the dugout, howling at the ump for justice. Don't call me the father who coaches his child's every movement from a deluxe fold-up sideline recliner despite a soccer knowledge consisting of "foot good, hand bad."

And in no way am I part of that dual-headed parenting beast, the mom-dad lacrosse combo that scolds any teammate who stands in the way of family greatness by screeching, "Pass it to Dakota!"

I'm not that guy. Well, at least not anymore.

Sure, I've said things - we've all said things, but I was only practicing "active parenting."

Screaming, "Hey kid, take that piano off your back!" or "Mr. Referee, your incompetence is outdone only by your ineptitude," or "You call that goal keeping?" was my way of letting everyone know I was paying attention. Granted, I might have chosen a more elegant way of speaking. But that's in the past.

Categories: 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
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