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Welcome Enjoy this issue of Connecticut Living! Find your next home project idea inside.
Green Market 20 Backyard
Home Renovation 4 There Comes
Yard 8 Small Space, Big Flavor
Home Style 10 Furniture Fundamentals
22 25 26
Out+About 22 Cruise to
Do it Yourself 25 Water Gardens
Food 26 Mastering
12 Bring the
18 Save Water
19 To The Farmerâ€™s
Green Living And Stay
Outdoor Living 14 Water Safety 16 Butterflies are Free
Senior Living 30 On The Move?
Fit 32 Avoiding Weekend Warrior Wounds
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Connecticut Living Magazine (ISSN 23333-7389) is distributed by Red Mat Publishing. P.O. Box 2387 Milford, CT 06460. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the express written permission of the Publisher. Opinions expressed in Connecticut Living articles and advertisements are those of the authors and advertisers, respectively and should not be considered as expressions of management or official policies of Connecticut Living Magazine. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Red Mat Publishing P.O. Box 2387, Milford, CT www.redmatpublishing.com 06460. Copyright 2015. Red Mat Publishing.
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he Connecticut shoreline is one of the most beautiful places in the United States. Rocky inlets share space with family beaches; stately homes and neighborhoods coexist with lobstermen and pleasure boaters. There is truly a place for everyone along the Long Island Sound. In this issue of Connecticut Living, we celebrate shoreline living, with ideas both fun and informative to help you make the most of these last summer days- from home renovation plans to home-style backyard clam bakes, youâ€™ll find thoughtful ideas, both unique and traditional to liven up your home and lifestyle this season. We hope you enjoy this issue and share it with family and friends. Wishing you all the best for a happy and healthy, summer season.
Home Renovation been happy with the appliance or would like better features, then this may be a good time to get rid of it. How old is the appliance? An appliance more than six years old is one you may want to consider replacing. The average life expectancy of some of the major appliances are:
➻ Clothes dryer: gas; 13 years electric; 14 years ➻ Dishwasher: 9 to 11 years ➻ Freezer: 15 to 20 years ➻ Furnace: gas and electric,
There Comes A Time
How has the appliance worked in the past? If it hasn’t given you much trouble in the past, there’s a good chance it won’t in the future. In this case, you might want to have your appliance repaired as long as the replacement parts required are available. However, if you have never
s your dishwasher acting sluggish? Are your washer and dryer not quite getting the job done on the first try? If you answered yes to either of
these questions, then you have a major decision ahead of you: whether to repair or replace that old appliance. With appliances and repair costs being what they are today, the decision is not an easy one to make. Here are some questions you should take into consideration before making your decision. CONNECTICUT LIVING
➻ Range: 12 to 13 years ➻ Refrigerator: 15 to 19 years ➻ Room air conditioner: 7 years ➻ Television: 12 years ➻ Washer: 11 to 13 years
How often do you use the appliance? If you only run your air conditioner a couple of times a year, you may want to consider a less expensive alternative such as a room fan or a less expensive rebuilt model. How much will the repair cost versus what a new appliance will cost? If the cost of the repair is at
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If the cost of the repair is at least half of what a new appliance will cost you, you may want to consider replacing the appliance, especially if it is no longer under warranty. least half of what a new appliance will cost you, you may want to consider replacing the appliance, especially if it is no longer under warranty. Make sure you factor in any additional costs involved such as removal and disposal of the old appliance. Is the purchase of a new appliance feasible? Add the numbers and make sure you can afford a new appliance. Don’t overlook the money it will save you in energy costs, as most new appliance are energy-efficient. To save yourself even more money, perhaps you could trade in your
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old appliance for a discount on your new one. Finally, make sure your space can accommodate a new appliance and you won’t have to rip out a wall or doorway in order to bring in your new appliance and use it. The decision whether to repair or replace an appliance is not something most of us actively seek. Appliances do break, though, and the decision must be made. With any luck, you will make the right decision and the situation won’t happen to you again for a very long time. —Ronda Addy
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Reface Or Replace? Kitchens are often the heart of a home. They’re the place where people gather together to enjoy each other’s company. Kitchens work overtime and can take a real beating over the years, especially the cabinets. While some homeowners choose to reface their cabinets, others choose to replace them entirely. There are pros and cons to each, of course, but either way, you may be feeling its time for the heart of the home to get a muchneeded facelift. Refacing cabinets is generally the less expensive option of the two. With refacing, cabinet boxes are left in place while the exposed frames are refaced with wood or veneer and new cabinet doors and drawers are installed. For an additional cost, other accessories may be incorporated, such as pull-out shelves, new hardware, a lazy Susan, CONNECTICUT LIVING
or you are looking to create a better layout and add storage, new cabinets are your best bet. But, be prepared to shell out some money. Both options have their pros and cons. Refacing can generally be done in a week or less, whereas installing new cabinets can take weeks. New cabinets mean new
flip-out drawer fronts, a wine rack or a pull-out trash bin. Some refacers will even replace countertops, sinks, and flooring. Need a cabinet above the refrigerator? No problem. Your
If your cabinets are too tired for refacing then it is time to replace. Replacing involves removing all your old cabinets and installing new ones. refacer can custom-build one for an additional fee. Refacing works best on cabinets that are in good condition but could use some updating. If your cabinets are too tired for refacing then it is time to replace. Replacing involves removing all your old cabinets and installing new ones. This option is much more time consuming, but if your cabinets are in terrible shape, 6
everything inside and out, whereas with refaced cabinets, you get just new doors, drawers, and hardware. If your cabinets are older, that could be a plus as many cabinets built 20 or 30 years ago are of better quality than some of the cabinets on the market today. Refacing will do nothing for cabinets that are in poor condition or misaligned due to sagging floors.
To determine the best option for you, consult with some reputable contractors. A professional can discern whether your cabinets are in good enough condition to reface and advise you as to the best route to take. If you are looking for more counter space, for example, new cabinets may be the way to go. Budget is always a factor. How much do you have to spend? Generally, it costs twice as much to replace cabinets as it does to reface them. Should you purchase stock cabinets or install them yourself, however, you may be able to save enough to afford new cabinets. Look around and do your homework. The right cabinets, new or updated, can enhance the feel of any kitchen. Review the options carefully and make the right choice for you. Reface or replace, you’re sure to end up with a kitchen your friends and family will enjoy sharing time together in. —Tresa Erickson
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Small Space, Big Flavor
rowing your own food doesn’t require a farm or even a yard. All you need are some pots or planting containers and some potting soil. First, if you live in an apartment or other rented space, make sure that your landlord will be ok with growing plants. Next, make sure you can provide your plants with proper sunlight on a daily basis. Most vegetables need about 6 hours of sun per day, most herbs require less. Let’s talk about herbs for a minute. If your green thumb is just ripening, herbs may be the way to go. You get the pleasure of eating what you grow and they require less skill than vegetables. Basil is a good herb to grow. This herb is easy, plus it tastes and smells great. Growing basil is
A good rule of thumb is to stick your finger in the pot and if the soil is dry an inch down it’s time to water. You want to lightly water your herbs and vegetables, not soak them.
a good way to test your watering skills. It’s relatively hardy and will bounce back if you don’t water it enough. Other tasty herbs to grow include chives, cilantro, dill, mint, and thyme. You can also give your cat a treat by growing catnip. Do you want to go beyond herbs? You may want to start with leafy greens. These include lettuce, spinach, and the ever-so-popular, kale. If you are feeling really brave, you can plant small tomatoes, peppers, or even green beans. No matter what you choose to plant, if you are just starting out, plant seedlings. Visit your
local farmer’s market and buy what are call toddler herbs and vegetables. They will grow faster than seeds and have a lower degree of difficulty. Once you earn your wings or greens as it may be, you can plant from seed. Just remember, start slow and give yourself a chance to succeed. Once you’ve decided what to grow and where to grow it, you’ll need pots and potting soil. Although, pots are not the only container used for planting. The key is to make sure you have enough depth and room for your plants to grow. Don’t plant a bunch of seedlings in one pot or container. If you do put a couple of plants together, make sure they are separated by several inches. Also when planting seedlings together, make sure they have similar sun and water 8
requirements. As for the potting soil, make sure it is formulated for containers and not gardens. If you have questions, ask someone at your local garden store, or a gardener in your neighborhood. Two rules about watering: Don’t over water and make sure you have enough drainage. A good rule of thumb is to stick your finger in the pot and if the soil is dry an inch down it’s time to water. You want to lightly water your herbs and vegetables, not soak them. Make sure you use a watering can with an open spout, or a water bottle with a few holes poked in the cap. Much of your experience will be trial and error. Once you are successful and begin to eat what you have grown, you’ll be hooked. Have fun and enjoy the fruits, or vegetables of your labor. — Craig W. Armstrong
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ew flooring, paint, linens and accessories will do wonders to freshen up a tired space. Although, if you are short on time and money, you might want a simpler fix— rearranging the furniture, the first step of furniture fundamentals. It’s simple and easy – move around some pieces, swap out an old dining set, and voila, you have a new look in no time. Of course, not any old arrangement will do. Here is a 7-step process to ensure you create a perfect set-up for any room in your house. STEP 1: CONSIDER THE PURPOSE OF THE ROOM.
If you are creating a conversation space, don’t center everything on the TV. Instead, allow an area for TV viewing and an area for conversation. If you’re looking to create a study space, relocate distractions like TVs and phones, set up a table or desk, and add a comfy chair for reading. STEP 2: PAY ATTENTION TO SCALE. Too
tall or too small of a piece can throw off the feel of the room. Arrange pieces so they complement each other in scale, such as using larger side tables, sofas, chairs, etc. Don’t place Aunt CONNECTICUT LIVING
Millie’s small, ornate footstool in front of a large, overstuffed chair and expect it to work. The chair will dwarf it. Place it elsewhere, perhaps in front of that Victorian set or the built-in fireplace you insisted on buying six years ago.
a path to walk around and make a room feel more spacious. STEP 4: LIGHT UP THE ROOM.
Don’t rely on one overhead light to do all of the work. Mix it up with various floor and table lamps, pendants, and sconces spread around the room to give each area its own light. Light up dark corners with fluorescent lamps and highlight artwork with sconces to make every wall and corner pop. Hang a pendant above the dining table and set up a lamp behind the sofa. Give the room more ambiance with various lighting sources. STEP 5: CONSIDER DRAPES.
STEP 3: ALLOW SPACE TO MOVE. Crammed
furniture pushed up against the walls can make a room feel much smaller. First, you’ll need to remove any pieces you don’t need and pull some pieces toward the center of the room. This will add a sense of space to your room. Moving the sofa a few feet from the wall will create 10
When hung appropriately, drapes can add drama to a room and help to complete the setting. Want to create the illusion of a higher ceiling? Hang the drapes from ceiling to floor and let them absorb the edges of the windows. Want to create the illusion of larger windows? Hang the drapes beyond the casement ends of the windows. For a bigger effect, try long pane glass windows. STEP 6: DON’T BUCK TRADITION. While
it is fine to mix things up a bit, you don’t want to
go overboard and create too unique of a look. Take your dining room table, for example. If you have a chandelier in the center of the room, it would be appropriate to place the table underneath. If the original table placement looks out of place, try relocating the hanging light above. Or if you’re feeling artsy, switch out the chandelier for skylights to add length between the ceiling and the floor. STEP 7: HANG ARTWORK WITH CARE. Use
your photos and prints to ground furniture. Hang a print above your sofa, but be careful it is not too high; remember, you want all pieces to complement each other. The point of the artwork is to draw the eye to the arrangement not away from it. To ensure accurate placement, tape up some templates before hanging your artwork. This will save you from filling up the holes from failed attempts. These are just some fundamentals to follow when rearranging furniture. You are the best judge, of your home, and keep in mind that it may take several rounds of placements before you come up with the ideal arrangement. — Tresa Erickson
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Bring the Beach Inside One of the best parts about Connecticut is our shoreline. Spending time at the beach gives us a relaxed, mellow feel, one that we don’t necessarily want to disappear when we get back home from our excursions. If you’re looking to tie the outside and inside together, there are quite a few things you can do to give your home that beachy, coastal vibe. It doesn’t take an interior design degree to get the atmosphere you’re looking for; you just need to know what you like. Light, soothing colors on the walls can give a home a bright, airy feel, and provide a good start on the road
take away from that relaxed, airy feel that is such a part of the “life at the beach” vibe. Light colored furniture works best, and pieces with the distressed look of aged teak can add to the coastal charm, as do pieces made from wicker or natural fibers such as banana leaf. It’s a good idea to stay away from the wall-to-wall carpeting for your beach-themed home; instead go with wood or tile floors with area rugs. For the rugs, keep them light in color, (think sand or sea grass) and opt for ones woven from natural fibers such as jute or even cotton. To get as much light as possible and keep an open feel to the home,
Some of the most popular pieces you’ll see these days are starfish, blue or green vases filled with dried reeds, lanterns with light-colored candles, and of course, seashells. to that coastal feel. Warm grays, gray-greens, and blue-gray colors can make a room feel breezy and open; pale pastel peach, yellow, and lavender are reminiscent sunsets; and of course the neutral off-whites, tans, and beiges bring the color of the sand itself into the home. Many people keep to this latter palette but add a bold but complimentary accent wall to keep things interesting. As for the trim, nothing beats bright white paint to accent the colors of the walls very nicely. For a coastal-themed room or home, choose furniture that is cozy but not too big. Large pieces of furniture can overpower a room and CONNECTICUT LIVING
window treatments should be light in color and not too heavy; dense fabrics will add weight to the room. Instead think of sheers blowing in the breeze. Another popular trend is using white plantation-type shutters on the inside of the windows or even sliding glass doors, giving that home a true relaxed and informal Caribbean vibe. Picking out or making accessories for your room or home can be the most fun; there are so many shops around Connecticut to browse so you can find just the right pieces. Keep the accessories simple, uncluttered, and related to the beach. Some of the most popular pieces you’ll see these days are starfish, blue or green vases 12
filled with dried reeds, lanterns with light-colored candles, and of course, seashells. For the DIYer who enjoys beachcombing, there are endless craft ideas for creating your own unique accessories. One favorite is taking a shadowbox, lining it with white or very light colored fabric, and gluing shells you have collected on the inside, layering smaller shells over larger ones in a pattern that is pleasing. The shadowbox frame can be distressed to look like it has lain on the beach with those shells for a while. When hung on the wall it can tie together nicely with any distressed furniture in the room.
Some other simple crafts that can bring a room together are putting a length of natural fiber rope in a clear glass vase, or coiling the same type of rope on a table or mantle, perhaps using it as a mat for a lamp or vase. You can fill a glass jar or vase with sea glass you’ve found, or even take that sea glass and glue it to a white board, then frame it and hang it on the wall. Whether you’re living in the woods or on the shore, want to decorate the whole house or just a room in a coastal theme, there are just so many ways you can bring the beach inside and never lose the relaxed feeling! —Shaileen Kelly Landsberg
Steve Perrone, a twenty-six year veteran of the Auxiliary and its Assistant District Staff Officer for Public Education, recognizes the inherent dangers of being on the water. “The Long Island Sound is home to all of us,” he says. “Recreational boating, while enjoyable, is a very dangerous
iving near the water can be fun and exciting. As a coastal community, water safety should be a priority for all residents. For those who
“Recreational boating, while enjoyable, is a very dangerous sport and one that is often not fully understood. Things can happen, and when they do, they can happen quickly.”
enjoy being literally on the water, whether as an avid boater, a beginner or an occasional passenger, knowledge of boating rules and restrictions is
sport and one that is often not fully understood. Things can happen, and when they do, they can happen quickly.” He has seen novices with the mindset, “Let’s buy a boat and go play.” Then there are the states, some nearby he notes, which require no training at all to operate a boat. For the Coast Guard Auxiliary, however,
especially important, at any age. In fact, in the State of Connecticut, participation in a boating safety course is required to legally operate a boat with a motor, or a sailboat 19 1⁄2 feet in length or longer, with a few exceptions. There are many classes available from the Coast Guard and private agencies. CONNECTICUT LIVING
knowledge of boating safety is so important that the organization began offering courses well before the State of Connecticut started its certification program some twelve years ago. About Boating Safety class satisfies Connecticut’s boating licensing requirements. The eight hour course, given on one Saturday, includes classroom training with videos, slides, and discussion on topics such as the different types and uses of recreational boats, safe boat operation, boating law, equipment, basic navigation, potential problems such as hypothermia, capsizing and other emergencies, and more. The class concludes with a written test. Greg Gordon, the Public Affairs Officer for the Flotilla, has seen children as young as 12 years old take the course and says family participation is encouraged. While not required for a boating license, Officer Gordon also recommends the Flotilla’s Charts, Navigation, and GPS class which explores paper and digital charts as well as GPS. “People tend to heavily rely on GPS today, but what happens if the GPS
goes down?” he explains. In his opinion, knowledge of traditional chart reading is an important skill for anyone who will be navigating the open sea. This course discusses the pros and cons of relying on electronic navigation devices as well as using various other navigational tools. Another recreational vessel
Outdoor Living growing in popularity is the Jet Ski® or Sea Doo®. Generically known as “Personal Watercraft,” they are fun to operate, less expensive than a boat and easier to transport and store. They are also subject to many of the same laws as motor boats and sail boats. In Connecticut, a Certificate of Personal Watercraft Operation (CPWO) is necessary to operate these vessels and, if under the age of 16, onboard supervision of a person who is at least 18 years of age and in possession of a CPWO is required. Most About Boating Safety courses satisfy the Connecticut licensing requirements for both boats and Personal Watercraft. The increase of kayaks and
paddleboards on open waters creates the need for an additional level of boating safety. Operation Paddle Smart, designed to generate greater awareness between boaters and paddlers, to promote the importance of the proper use of a life jacket and to educate all on
Spectacular one of a kind property directly on one of Milford’s finest beaches. Exquisitely remodeled this home has it all. Meticulously landscaped. Waterfront patio, 2 car garage and plenty of off street parking. $1,599,000.
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the dangers of hypothermia, is another endeavor supported by the Flotilla. The program affixes to the vessel an orange, waterproof label which contains the owner’s contact information. As Officer Gordon explains, if an empty kayak or canoe is found on a body
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of water without identification, it is assumed someone has fallen out of the vessel and a search must be conducted. This is expensive and time consuming. In addition it can place the personnel searching at risk, especially if weather conditions are bad. With summer in full swing and the allure of the ocean right in our own backyard, we all bear the responsibility of following the rules of water safety. Put safety first and educate yourself on the rules of the waterways. And just because you may already have your safe boating certificate doesn’t mean you can’t take the course again. Reviewing and updating your prior knowledge can be a good thing! —Susan Glennon
Direct Waterfront home on beautiful sandy beach. Home with first floor with open floor plan, kitchen and bath. Lovely open wrap around porch. Upper level bedrooms with enclosed wrap around porch. Just in time to enjoy the summer. Views galore. 599,900.
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Butterflies are Free A sure sign of summer is the first glimpse of fluttering in your garden. Butterflies fascinate us with their dazzling colors and delicate wings. The metamorphosis from caterpillar to winged wonder is a curious transformation, and indicative of warm summer days. The butterfly has been winging its way around our planet for tens of millions of years. Currently, there are between 15,000 and 20,000 species riding the winds across the globe. Man’s fascination continues to grow and many gardeners plant in earnest of attracting these remarkable creatures. Providing an attractive habitat for butterflies will encourage visits to your garden. What do they need? The Beardsley Zoo is a tremendous resource and has a butterfly garden next to their Victorian era greenhouse. Butterflies like sunny places, protected from the wind. They enjoy drinking from a damp, muddy spot or very CONNECTICUT LIVING
shallow pool. In order to keep warm, butterflies like to bask in the sun, preferably on a large, flat stone you can set out for them. And of course, butterflies love flowers! Flowers provide the insects with nectar, their main source of nourishment. When it comes to flower preferences, butterflies seem most attracted to purple, yellow and orange colored flowers and the more flowers, the better. Providing a nectar source (flowers) will certainly attract attention. Nectar was long thought back in ancient civilizations to have fallen directly from heaven; the wine of the gods. Butterflies sip the nectar to nourish themselves. Their eggs are laid under the leaves of their favorite host plant. Their young develop, chomping on the plant to develop and grow up to become such extraordinary jewels of the winds. There are quite a variety of flowers that will attract butterflies. Maria Macri, 16
owner of Rivercrest Farm in Milford grows countless varieties of flowers and has some hints for gardeners. “Everyone should plant asceplias (butterfly weed) in their yards, to support the Monarch butterflies who are having a hard time due to habitat loss. And don’t use any pesticides, as it defeats the purpose of attracting butterflies to your yard with flowers if you then poison them. Perennials they like include asters, monarda, butterfly bush (of course), coreopsis, dianthus, lavender, mints,
coneflower, salvia, shasta daisies, and yarrow. Good annuals include alyssum, marigolds, nasturtiums, snapdragons, and zinnias.” Your edible garden will encourage visits as well. “Parsley and dill attract black swallowtails who will lay their eggs and you will be feeding their nice stripey caterpillars. Plant enough so that you don’t mind sharing with them.” said Maria “Cabbages, broccoli, and kale attract white cabbage butterflies, who are an invasive species from Europe, and their little green caterpillars are very destructive. Don’t feel bad about squishing them.” Another idea is to install a butterfly house. Similar to a bird house, it has thin slits which allow butterflies in and keeps the birds out. You can buy them online or build one yourself. Aside from their charm they offer a refuge from the wind and encourage your fluttery friends to stay awhile. Creating a butterfly habitat is a terrific way to encourage the growth of their species. It is also a great way to introduce children to nature. The fleeting warmth of summer mimics the life of the butterfly. Enjoy it while it’s here, relax in your garden and take in all the colors nature provides.— Susan Carroll-Dwyer
FLOWERS THAT ATTRACT BUTTERFLIES ANNUALS
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Lobularia maritima Cosmos bipinnatus Verbena tenuisecta Zinnia elegans Aster sp Asclepias tuberosa Rudbeckia fulgida Coreopsis lanceolata Eupatorium purpureum Monarda didyma Phlox pannuculata Sedum spectabile Achillea filipendulina Echinop exaltatus Mentha sp. Liatrus sp.
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Save Water And Stay Green
n many places in the United States, water is scarcer than just about any other commodity. We use water every day for showering, cleaning, laundry, cooking and a host of other activities. It’s really unthinkable to stop using water, but we can be smarter about the way we use it. Here are some ways you can keep green and save water. Stop Leaks
Opt for the Natural
Leaks are one of the common problems in your home water system. You can generate a significant amount of water loss with just a small leak, but they are really easy to fix. Toilets can leak from the tank into the bowl, and these faulty parts should be replaced as soon as possible. Most parts can be found at your local hardware store and require little work or additional tools. Simple fixes for small leaks can save both water and money.
Keeping a green lawn is a sign of success for many. You can save a lot of water each summer, particularly in arid regions, by letting your lawn simply brown out each summer. You can also work to re-landscape your yard with drought-resistant
Go Low-Flow With the recent move to sustainability, there are now low-flow devices for just about everything in your home. Shower heads are often the biggest culprits. You can drastically reduce the amount of water in your shower, but there are also low-flow devices for kitchen and bathroom sinks. If you are installing a new toilet, look into a low-flow model as well. Of course, taking shorter showers is also a great way to save water. A five-minute shower is usually enough for most people each day. A timer on the shower, or just a kitchen timer in the bathroom, can make you more aware of how much time you spend in the shower. CONNECTICUT LIVING
plants that will still be attractive with much less water use. If you haven’t heard of xeriscaping, the use of water-conserving techniques in arid lands, then it might be time to start doing some research. If you can’t go that far, then be sure to water your lawn in the morning
and evening, which prevents evaporation. Watering in short bursts, 10-15 minutes, will give all of the water time to soak in, so you won’t be watching your water flow down into the street.
Harvest Your Rainwater Rainwater catchment systems are becoming more and more popular. Instead of rainwater rolling into the public sewer system, you can store it in large barrels for future use. Then, as the season dries out, you can use this harvested water for your lawn, yard, or garden, saving you money and reusing a resource that would have otherwise gone to waste. —Sam Erickson
To The Farmer’s Market For some people, summer would not be summer without fresh produce to munch on. You can find seasonal produce at most grocery stores, but if you want to eat local, support area farmers and keep Mother Earth happy, shopping at the farmer’s market is the best way to go. Here are some tips to ensure you make the most of your experience. ➻ DO SOME RESEARCH Find out what grows in your area at what time and know what to expect at the market. You’ll find asparagus in the spring, sweet corn in the summer and pumpkins in the fall. Whatever you find will be the freshest and tastiest available, brought to you directly from the field. The produce will be left in the fields until fully ripened and then brought to market. While you’re at the market, ask around and find out what’s coming. That way, you can start planning meals ahead. ➻ MAKE A LIST Think about what you plan to cook for the week and make a list of the produce you need. This will help you stay focused while shopping and ensure you get what you came for. It will also ensure little of what you bring home goes to waste.
➻ GO AT THE RIGHT TIME For the best selection, go to the farmer’s market early. There will be more to choose from first thing in the morning. For the best deals, go late in the day. Vendors may not want to carry home what is left and may drop prices for a quick sale.
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➻ COME PREPARED Bring cash and a sturdy bag. Some vendors will not accept credit cards and may not have a much change on hand. Paying with small bills and change will make for a lot less hassle. Some vendors will not bag produce either. They will leave that to you, and you will want to have a sturdy bag that can withstand the weight of everything you bring home. Backpacks are ideal, as are carts that you can wheel around and place bags of produce into.
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➻ SHOP LIKE A PRO Walk through the market once before you make any purchases. This will allow you to see what is available and where the best goods are. It will also give you the chance to add items you want to try to your list. Inspect produce carefully and choose the best. Don’t be fooled by deals. There is no point in bringing home a bunch of overripe zucchini unless you plan to turn them into bread or muffins right away. Farmer’s markets have a lot to offer, from fresh produce and flowers to homemade foods and crafts. Enjoy, but plan ahead for your trip to ensure you get the most for your meals. —Tresa Erickson 19
f you think you’ve heard clucking off in the distance there is no need to have your ears checked. Chickens are making a comeback and small coops have begun to crop up in backyards around Connecticut. The increased desire to serve fresh eggs and chickens have fueled the popularity of small family flocks. In the early 1900’s the average household kept a small flock of hens to produce eggs and poultry for families. Prior to World War I, small household coops were common. Large scale egg production didn’t yet exist but as the war progressed, demand for eggs to feed the troops increased. The invention of the incubator allowed huge poultry farms to develop and the backyard flock CONNECTICUT LIVING
flew by the wayside as larger farms flooded markets with poultry products. Chickens are surprisingly easy to care for and inexpensive to maintain. Fresh eggs taste far better than those from a store and contain more nutrients. Chickens that spend time free ranging provide yards with chemical free bug control, plus they prefer to eat the weeds rather than the 20
grass. Chicken manure is thought to be one of the best fertilizers for gardens; great nutrients for vegetables and flowers. Most breeds are friendly and have a great deal of personality. If you have a small flock (under 20 birds) roosters are not allowed in most towns. They crow at sunrise and create a nuisance. It is best to order chicks from
a hatchery. They offer a great variety of breeds and you can order hens specifically. You can order them online and your chicks will be delivered to your doorstep in a box with detailed instructions on their care. Chicks must be kept warm in a brooder, which can be as simple as a cardboard box or small animal cage. Pine shavings can be used for litter and a 100 watt lightbulb in the corner is usually sufficient to keep
Once your chicks are feathered it’s time to place them in the coop. The rule of thumb is to have 2 to 3 square feet per chicken inside the coop and 4 to 5 square feet per chicken in an outside run. them between 90 and 100 degrees. The temperature decreases 5 degrees per week until they are feathered (around 5-8 weeks depending on the breed.) Handling chicks regularly helps to socialize them. Once your chicks are feathered it’s time to place them in the coop. The rule of thumb is to have 2 to 3 square feet per
chicken inside the coop and 4 to 5 square feet per chicken in an outside run. Runs should be enclosed with wire fencing to ward off predators. Coops can be purchased or easily built from plans available online. Start out with 2 or 3 hens. Too many in a small space is no good either; they can have
vicious rivalries, pulling feathers out of whichever chicken is the weakest. The words “hen-pecked” and “pecking order” don’t come out of nowhere. Raising chickens is cost effective; chicken feed is truly inexpensive. They love eating treats of vegetables that may be a little too wilted for you to
eat. The variety of breeds and interesting personalities make them a unique animal to keep and is an enjoyable pastime. Feeding the chickens and collecting eggs everyday can be rewarding and fun for the entire family. Check with your town to find out any ordinances regarding raising poultry. —Susan Carroll-Dwyer
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Cruise to the Islands
ust beyond the Quinnipiac River Bridge, in the town of Branford reside a cluster of islands known as the Thimbles. Actually an archipelago, they dot the sound in and around Stony Creek Harbor. The islands are geologically unique. Consisting of pink granite, they are far more stable than say Charles Island. They were formed during the last ice age, and have been a favorite of humans and wildlife ever since.
It is said they were named after the native thimbleberry – though no confirmation can be found for that claim. They were discovered by Adrian Block in 1614 and were soon a favorite of seafaring folk. The shelter they provide is prized and the deep water offers a haven for larger vessels. Much like Charles Island, and every other island in the Sound, it is rumored that Captain William Kidd buried his treasure there. Sadly during the Revolutionary War most of the trees were cut so the British would not be able to lay in wait for colonials running supplies up and down the coast. There are hundreds of islands, some inhabited, some not. Only six or so islands have power cables running from shore. The rest of the domiciles rely on generators or solar power to run their electricity. You don’t need your own vessel to explore these extraordinary lands, there are two charter services that can tour you through. They are entertaining, educational, and relaxing. The Volsunga IV is piloted by Captain Bob. “I’ve been working the Volsunga since 1984.” Says Captain Bob. “I grew up in town, and as a kid we were always playing on boats. I fell in love with the water. When I got my captain’s license, the business was up for sale and I jumped at the opportunity to work on the water. Volsunga is a word from Nordic Mythology loosely translated it means song of the north.” “It’s a truly unique occupation and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I enjoy being outside in the elements.” Captain Bob comments. “I like to keep it fun and interesting.
It’s always a treat to watch people’s reactions to the area. We give a live narrated tour. Pretty much all local knowledge and I like to include history and the old time stories.” The Volsunga IV is a forty foot vessel and it holds 48 passengers and is generally busy all season. The tour lasts forty five minutes. Check out their website at www. thimbleislands.com for tour schedules. They also offer private charters at night for 30 people. The second charter service that tours the islands is the Seamist. Captain Mike has been showing off the Thimbles since 1978. The Sea Mist is a forty four foot boat that
Said Captain Mike “In early March and April we offer seal tours. The islands are a natural stop for seals during their migration along the coast. During the tours we always find seals.” They also offer a water taxi service that services the seasonal island residents. The Volsunga VI and the Sea Mist both offer an amazing tour of the islands. A fantastic way to enjoy a cruise close to home. —Susan Carroll-Dwyer
can hold 48 passengers. “We offer tours May through October. The tours last around 45 minutes and
we offer libations at the Sea Bar on board. Private charters are available and, it’s a great venue for a party.”
For more information on Thimble cruises check out their websites: www.thimbleislandcruise.com www.thimbleislands.com
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Water Gardens Water gardens may seem like the latest craze, but ancient texts describe pools surrounded by fruit trees and decorative plants as far back as 3,000 B.C., Egyptians, Persians, Moors, Romans, Japanese, and Chinese cultures all valued water gardens as places of renewal and refreshment in which to socialize and relieve stress. Originally, only kings could enjoy such luxury, but today anyone can create a private paradise with their own water garden. Water gardens can be created to
any size, shape, and budget. A yard is not even necessary. All you need is a small porch or living room table to create a lush getaway with a bubbling bowl or other water-like object. A little work and you’ll have your own instant oasis in the comfort of your home.If you have a yard, the water garden is only bound by your imagination. Flowers and herbs in conjunction with water gardens attract wildlife—hummingbirds, dragonflies, and birds— which will be beneficial for your floral arrangements. Do a little research online, get some ideas, and see what will work for you.
Nearly anything that can hold water can become a personal sanctuary. Pond forms are available for those with the outdoor space, and pond liners can create expansive features with koi fish and aquatic plants. Any further accessories like pumps and supplies can be found at local garden shops.
Each water garden can be as different as its maker. Each one created with thought, care, and imagination. Transforming your yard, or tabletop into a tranquil space takes a little work and money, but the payoff is peaceful and priceless. — Ginger Knudsen
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Mastering the Backyard Clam Bake
A step-by-step guide to earning a black belt in BBQ
here are summertime milestones that each of us must pass before we can fully partake in the joys of summer. Rights of passage if you will. In the old days if a child wanted a toasted marshmallow, he or she scrounged the adjacent area for a proper toasting stick (obviously this was before the days of specialty grocery stores selling perfectly symmetrical, hand-whittled beech wood artisanal marshmallow toasting skewers). Finding a good stick on the ground was a simple job fit for a child and if you passed this stage you were on your way to toasting your own marshmallow. Once you could toast a marshmallow without igniting it, blackening it, or dropping it into the hot coals, you moved up in the stages of mastering summer: swimming, sandcastle building, firefly catching, Frisbee throwing, whiffle ball playing, flotation inflating, cannonballing, diving, fishing, and near the top rung, fireworks and demolitions experimentation. If by chance you made it through this stage with all your digits more or less intact, then you were truly ready for the next big step: barbecue grilling. You start off slow, learning how to make a fire and keep the coals CONNECTICUT LIVING
Steven Seagals. Itâ€™s a harsh reality but even Johnny the leg-sweeping Cobra Kai bully from The Karate Kid knows you cannot achieve your black belt in summer mastery until you roast a whole pig and pull off a clambake.
burning. Once proficient, you throw on a hot dog. When the wiener stage is achieved, youâ€™re ready for the meat test. Sadly, cooking a good hamburger or steak on a grill is a stage many people simply never master. Their path toward summer dominance dies at this level. They stall out, left only with the shameful remains of a brown belt and a poorly cooked hamburger. But the truly bold move onward and upward, cooking steaks, grilling chicken, and smoking ribs. But to be truly great you must conquer the two remaining stages, those that separate the Bruce Lees from the 26
I achieved my Roasted Pig Black Belt a few years ago, but only recently pulled off the five-finger death punch of all barbecuing when I kicked up a perfect clambake in a
Weber Kettle. I am now a master of summer and you can be too if you follow my instructions. Trust me, once you have cooked this feast and impressed your friends, neighbors, and family members you can sit in a lotus position with the smile of enlightenment, confidant that you are a true master of the grill, a true master of the clambake, and a true master of summertime. No one will dare challenge you, lest they want a flying tiger roundhouse kick to the grill. And the next time they come to your house, before the first sip of Pinot Grigio, before the first cheese and cracker canape, do not forget to remind them, to bow before their master.
STEP-BY-STEP A classic New England clambake sounds great in theory; you go to the beach, dig a hole and cook your stuff. Simple…or maybe not. First, you have to lug all the ingredients to the beach. That’s a lot of work, and unless you own beachfront property, it can be difficult to find a location for your clambake. Many places don’t allow fires on the beach. Worse yet, if they do allow fires, you have to get permits and fill out paperwork. If you’re like me, the idea of attaining and filling out permits just to chomp on a lobster is about as un-American as it gets. (It’s a well-known fact that black belt summer masters do not do paperwork. Nothing throws off a Kung Fu cooking master’s chi more than waiting in line to beg a clerk to pretty please let me dig a hole in the sand. Summer masters do not grovel). So if you still want to have a clambake but your sensei has specifically forbidden you from filling out paperwork, the solution is to cook all those classic New England clam bake ingredients inside the old summer workhorse known as the Weber Kettle barbeque grill. Just like a blue blazer and good pocketknife, no one should be without a Weber. You can have the fanciest stainless steel, rotisserie, griddle, waffle-making gas grill in town, but you’re nothing but a yellow-belt unless you have a Weber somewhere in the back of your garage. So you’ve got your Weber or another deep charcoal grill with a lid. Perfect. Here then is your step-by-step guide to mastering 27
GATHER YOUR INGREDIENTS You will need: 1 - 20 lb. bag of Kingsford original charcoal briquettes 1 - 20 lb. bag of lump charcoal (I use Cowboy Hardwood brand) 1 - 40 lb. bag of polished beach pebbles (I got mine at Home Depot) 10 lbs. or more of seaweed* 4 – 1 lb. lobsters or two 2 lb. lobsters 1 dozen little neck clams 1 dozen blue mussels
Crab legs Chorizo or other smoked sausage 4 lemons, quartered Shucked corn 1 large onion cut into eighths 1 dozen new potatoes 1 dozen peeled garlic cloves Herbs: rosemary, thyme, sage Butter Nut crackers for lobster claws Salt, pepper, Old Bay seasoning 3 eggs
*Note: This is very important. You cannot recreate a proper clambake without briny, sea-smelling, wet seaweed. You can get it from any good fish market, but call ahead and make sure they have it. If not they can order you some. If none is available or it is out of season, you can rehydrate dried seaweed you can order online (try www.vitaminseaseaweed.com).
the backyard clam bake. Once you have gathered up the substantial list of ingredients it’s time to get to work. It will take you a few hours to do this correctly so plan accordingly.
(I use a charcoal chimney to start my fires, but lighter fluid is a fun, eyebrow-singing option). Once the coals are white hot it’s time for the next step. Pour the bag of rocks on top of the coals and spread them out with a shovel until they are evenly distributed and cover the charcoal. During this step if you have a charcoal chimney you can fill it with more charcoal briquettes and light it off to the side. Wait until the STEP 2: ADD PEBBLES.
STEP 1: LIGHT THE GRILL. Take
out the grate of the BBQ and put it aside, it will not be needed. Make sure the air vents on the underside of the kettle are halfway open. Spread out enough charcoal briquettes to cover the entire bottom of the grill and light it up.
rocks begin to heat up. Some may fracture slightly, so don’t lean in too much.
STEP 6: ADD THE SEAWEED.
Once the charcoal is all white and burning down it’s time to add the seaweed. Place a healthy amount of seaweed over the lump charcoal until it’s completely covered. You want the layer to be a good 4-5 inches deep. It is at this stage where the beach comes directly into your backyard: the briny smell emanating off the seaweed is so amazing you could be on a ranch in Kansas and swear you’re on the beach in Cape Cod.
STEP 3: ADD MORE
After the rocks are heated, cover them with a new layer of charcoal briquettes (those ones you’ve had on the side). Wait until this charcoal is burning thoroughly. BRIQUETTES.
STEP 4: ADD A LAYER OF LUMP CHARCOAL. This
might seem redundant, but the idea is to get the rocks super-hot, at least 400 degrees. The lump charcoal burns hotter and faster and will ensure the rocks are hot enough after the seaweed is added.
STEP 7: LAYER YOUR FOOD.
coming. So make sure to soak it for 10 minutes in a bucket if it has started to dry out.
STEP 5: WET YOUR SEAWEED.
You’re going to want to have very moist seaweed to keep the steam
Put your corn, potatoes, and sausage onto the seaweed. Onto that, add the mussels, clams, crab legs, and lobsters. Toss the garlic,
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onion, herbs, and a few lemon wedges onto the pile and sprinkle with some salt, pepper, and Old Bay seasoning. STEP 8: COVER YOUR FOOD WITH ANOTHER MOUND OF
Cover all the food thoroughly to ensure a good even steaming. Once covered with seaweed, place your eggs on top of the seaweed. These are quite literally, your egg timers. When all of the eggs are hard boiled, your food will be ready to eat. Put the lid on the BBQ and open the vents a crack to let some steam to escape.
If it’s fully cooked you can start to peel off the seaweed to check on your lobsters, clams, and mussels. If your mussels and clams are open and your lobsters are bright red, your food is done.
STEP 9: CHECK YOUR TIME.
After 45 minutes check one egg.
Use long tongs, peel away the top layer of seaweed, and put it aside. Use your tongs to put all of your food on plates. STEP 10: PLATE IT UP.
STEP 11: BUTTER, CRACK, AND CHOW. Melt
some butter, crack some claws, and dig in to your authentic-tasting (and smelling) New England Clam bake. —Gerry McGuire
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Avoiding Weekend Warrior Wounds
hatever the motivation, some people overexhert themselves with physical and sports related activity and end up injured. These people are sometimes referred to as Weekend Warriors. These folks spend the week working and try to squeeze in a lot of physical activity during the two days of the weekend. By doing this many people sustain injuries such as strains, sprains, and sometimes even fractures. So if you are a weekend warrior, what can you do to stay healthy? As with any physical activity, make sure you are healthy enough for the activity. This means seeing your doctor for a check up and approval. Let’s assume you have
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