Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Today's Green Tip~Watch that AC Thermostat!

With natural gas and heating oil prices being what they were the past few winters, it has gradually dawned on many homeowners and renters alike to mind their thermostats carefully through the cold months. Now, that same kind of vigilance is more important than ever when it comes to moderating your warm weather climate control as well.

That's because cooling accounts for nearly half the energy used by the average home during the summer, according to the EPA. The high power loads of air conditioners put considerable pressure on already stressed power grids, and have been blamed for numerous blackouts and rolling brownouts. The generation of the required electricity is a major contributor of greenhouse gases.

As in winter, it really pays to install a programmable thermostat (approximately $150 a year, according to the EPA). Besides improving efficiency, a programmable model provides hassle-free convenience and accuracy, and doesn't contain mercury like the old manual thermostats. Learn about Energy Star models here.

Even though the thought of an arctic blast might sound appealing in the dog days of summer, it isn't wise to set your thermostat too low, for your pocketbook or the environment. Aim for 78 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Also make sure your air conditioning system, including ductwork, is properly maintained and cleaned.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

White Flower Farm Open House

This Weekend, White Flower Farm will be hosting it's annual open house:

Mark your calendars for our Open House day, when we welcome old friends and new for iced tea and cucumbers sandwiches on the lawn by our house. The display gardens should be close to peak and the Begonia House full of renowned Blackmore & Langdon varieties will be hitting its stride. The date this year is Saturday, June 26 and we'll start serving around 2:30. Once again, our children have agreed to judge the best garden hat. The wearer will receive a White Flower Farm gift certificate for $100, a post on our Facebook page, and a year's worth of bragging rights

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Music Mountain Season Opens Today


This weekend at Music Mountain!

Music Mountain launches its 2010 Summer Jazz and Big Band Series Twilight Concerts on June 19 with jazz pianist Alan Simon whose playing The New York Times has described as "clean, energetic, and fraught with periodic surprises... Mr. Simon holds it all together, weaving and soloing with sensitivity and taste."

Pianist and composer Alan Simon is known in the jazz world as a “musician’s musician”; a skilled, inventive player with an impressive command of both the traditional and modern jazz idioms.

Simon has shared the stage with jazz legends Lionel Hampton, Dizzy Gillespie and Buddy Tate. He has also backed up Slide Hampton, Frank Foster, Slam Stewart, George Coleman, Toots Thieleman, Anita O'Day, Panama Francis, Mel Lewis, Major Holley, Howard McGhee, Lee Konitz, and Al Grey. [read more]

The Jazz and Big Band Series Twilight Concerts are on Saturdays through Labor Day and feature an outdoors dance floor, and new this year is the sale of beer and wine during the concerts. Join Music Mountain on Saturday nights this summer as you dance the night away to such favorites as Swingtime Big Band, Big Easy Rhythm, Joyce Lyons and her New York All-Stars, The Galvanized Jazz Band, and Jive by Five.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Go Green~ Vacation Locally!

From CT Green Scene

Every year, Memorial Day weekend comes and goes and it leaves me with a glimpse of an ideal summer: Gorgeous weather, great food, and time spent with family and friends. All of this also leaves me wondering, “So how long until Labor Day weekend?”

Why wait until then? Instead of taking that far away, exotic vacation, find a more local route. Consider it a twist on the typical vacation ideology. A staycation in Connecticut has plenty to offer families, friends, or a quick getaway for two.

Try a local state park. There are about 40 of them located around the state and about a dozen of them provide camping areas with cabins. Camping is very inexpensive compared to staying in a hotel and usually runs anywhere in between $12 to $33 a night for in-state residents. One of the most popular state parks is Hammonesset Beach State Park. Located in Madison not far from I-95, it offers over two miles of shoreline for swimming, fishing, boating, with a boardwalk along the beach.

If you enjoy time spent in the sun and sand, why not take a little trip to Westport’s Sherwood Island State Park? As the first Connecticut state park established, this park offers another wide sandy beach to use for swimming and fishing. The facility also includes a nature center offering weekly activities.

Looking for more of a rustic and woodsy state park experience? Visit Salt Rock State Park in Baltic. What was once farmland is now a149-acre wooded park. In addition to fishing and camping, there is an outdoor swimming pool for registered campers. If you don’t feel like camping or spending your entire vacation completely immersed in the outdoors, check out some of the other state parks and state forests for great day hikes and scenic views.

If you’re traveling as a family, keeping the kids entertained while allowing them to explore and learn can prove to be a bit challenging. Check out the Mystic Seaport. The authentic early American experience has always been a favorite spot for family vacationers. So much to do and see in one area! With the price of admission, take a stroll past their re-created 19th century village, a collection of tall ships and historic vessels that are available for tours and exploration, and preservation shipyard where you can see how antique vessels are being restored. Admission also includes the entire exhibit, galleries, and the attractions and events scheduled for that day. There are plenty of places to eat within the Seaport as well as the surrounding area. And if you’re not ready to leave just yet, you can extend your stay at the many hotels and bed and breakfasts nearby for an overnight stay.

Just a stone’s throw from Mystic, New London is also another great coastal get away. The town is centered where the Connecticut Thames River and the Long Island Sound meet providing visitors with picturesque scenery. Don’t miss the U.S. Coast Guard Academy which offers self-guided and cadet led tours. When available, you can experience viewings of the daily cadet drills and tours of the tall ship Eagle.

For those who love history, New London has the Shaw Perkins mansion, which was the home to the state’s Naval Office during the Revolutionary War, the Hempstead Houses, and the Nathan Hale Schoolhouse. While in New London, you might also want to check out the Connecticut College Arboretum featuring native trees to North America, a wildflower garden, outdoor theatre, and a greenhouse.

When planning your next getaway take these things into consideration and realize that by vacationing locally, you’ll be saving yourself some guilt by reducing your greenhouse gas emissions or the overall amount of money spent on your travel expenses. And who knows? Maybe you’ll even learn a thing or two about your home state.

For more information on any of the fun things to do in Connecticut, check out ct.gov/dep or CTVisit.com.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Master Floral Designer

Master Floral Designer to present flower arranging demonstration. The Litchfield Garden Club is pleased to present Chris Giftos, Master Floral Designer, in "A Bouquet of Memories From The Met" on Thursday, June 17 at 2:00 p.m. at The Litchfield Inn, Litchfield, CT.

Mr. Giftos will create several floral arrangements while regaling his audience with anecdotes from his days at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Chris Giftos is a Master Floral Designer, the former Manager of Special Events at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and an Honorary Member of the Garden Club of America.

When Jackie Onassis had dinner parties, Chris Giftos was her floral designer. When the Costume Institute had a benefit attended by Princess Diana, Chris Giftos was the event director. When Lila Acheson Wallace, cofounder of Reader's Digest, endowed the Met with enough money to have fresh, huge, glorious floral arrangements every week in the Great Hall, Chris Giftos was the talented designer who created them.

For 33 years, Chris Giftos created floral arrangements and cultural and fund-raising events befitting the "crown jewel" of American museums. As the Metropolitan's events planner, he was responsible for everything, beginning with the theme, the music, the menu, the seating, and, of course the gorgeous floral arrangements. For every event, he was the maestro, responsible for the flawless execution of fabulous evenings for the glitterati, the literati and the "who's who" of the world. Along the way, he appeared on the Martha Stewart show and the Oprah Winfrey show. He has traveled throughout the United States and the world giving lectures on floral arrangements.

Presentation and Refreshments: $40 per person.

Prime Sponsor Seating: $75 per person.

Reservations: Joan Burgess (860) 567-2270 or joangyorburgess@gmail.com

The Litchfield Inn is located on Rt. 202 in Litchfield, CT.

The Litchfield Garden Club is a member of the Garden Club of America and the National Garden Clubs, Inc.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Property of The Week

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Stephen Drezen, owner/broker  860.491.2000


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

New Uses for Egg Shells

We eat a lot of eggs which means we're left with a lot of egg shells. Usually they go right into the compost pile but recently we decided to take a look into other uses for them. Here's what we've gathered up:

1.Finely crushed, they help keep your drain clear.

2.Eggshells in the garden have many uses. Moderately crushed shells placed around your plants discourage cats from using your garden as a potty and they also keep slugs away. Mixed into the soil that surrounds tomato or pepper plants, they're an excellent fertilizer.

3.To remove stains from a tea pot, thermos or water bottle, fill it with a mixture of crushed egg shells and a little bit of water, shake vigorously and let sit overnight. You can also use the same technique in your kitchen or bathroom sink.

4.Crushed eggshells added to a greasy pan helps remove stuck or baked on food.

5.Don't toss the water that the shells have been sitting in. Use it to water your plants.

6.Use a half shell for starting seedlings. It not only makes a great container but the calcium carbonate in the shell provides the growing plant with some extra nutrition. Crack the shell to remove it when your plants are big enough to be moved to your garden.

7.Mix crushed eggshells with your coffee grounds for smooth coffee. The calcium in the eggshell helps to reduce the acidity of coffee and will also help any loose grounds sink to the bottom of the cup.

8.Dry them out by placing in a low oven for a half hour. Crush them finely and add them to your dog's food for a boost of calcium.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Berkshire Word Fest

From Rural Intelligence:

A host of well-known and beloved writers who reside in our neck of the woods—such as Roy Blount, Jr., Susan Orlean, Ruth Reichl, Dani Shapiro and Simon Winchester—have signed up to participate in the first annual Berkshire WordFest (July 23 - 25), which will take place at The Mount, the Edith Wharton estate in Lenox. Tickets go on sale June 2 for the festival, which includes readings, Q&As, parties, poetry readings, and panel discussion such as “Old Money, New Money” with Kurt Andersen , Tad Friend, Katy Lederer, Martha McPhee, and moderated by Winchester .“A literary festival has been on our radar for some time,” says The Mount’s executive director Susan Wissler. “Now that The Mount is gathering momentum and expanding its mission to become a center for the written word, we felt this was the right year to make Berkshire WordFest a reality. We believe it’s a unique and important addition to the Berkshires’ world-class cultural calendar”

Once again, words will prevail at The Mount. For the past thirty years, actors, directors, gardeners and decorators have lovingly put their stamp on Edith Wharton’s 1902 estate and gardens in Lenox. But the literary community is taking it back. Now that the Mount has stabilized its finances, removed the velvet ropes and eliminated the hauteur, the board of trustees has committed to making The Mount not only a well-preserved historic landmark but also a dynamic center for contemporary writers. The first Berkshire WordFest (July 23 -25) is proof of the board’s seriousness, and they have lined up a roster of writers who are familiar to anyone who reads The New York Times Book Review such as Kurt Andersen, Tad Friend, Laura Miller, Francine Prose and Katie Roiphe.
“The theme of the weekend is ‘Channeling Edith Wharton,’ but it’s not a conference on Wharton,” explains 2010 WordFest director Audrey Manring. “It’s not going to be heavy and academic. The authors will discuss themes from Wharton’s books, and there will be at least one writer on each panel who has a deep knowledge of her work.”

The idea, of course, is to put The Mount on today’s literary map so that it becomes to the written word what Jacob’s Pillow is to dance and Tanglewood is to music. “A literary festival has been on our radar for some time,” says executive director Susan Wissler. “We felt this was the right year to make WordFest a reality. We believe it’s a unique and important addition to the Berkshires world-class cultural calendar, and we hope it brings attention to our region as a national literary destination.”

Though it’s being branded as the Berkshire WordFest, many big name writers from neighboring counties in our region are participating: Ruth Reichl (above, who has a house in Columbia County) will be interviewed by WAMC’s Joe Donahue; Susan Orlean (left, who lives in Columbia County) will be interviewed by Susan Arbetter (late of WAMC’s Round Table); Dani Shapiro (who lives in Litchfield County) will participate on a panel called “Well-Behaved Women”. The Berkshires will be well-represented: Roy Blount Jr. (Mill River) will be interviewed by Donahue; John Hockenberry (Egremont) will be have a conversation with Elizabeth Samet about “Writers in Wartime”; Jim Shephard (Williams College) will be interviewed by Donahue; Simon Winchester (Sandisfield) will moderate “Old Money, New Money,” a panel discussion with Kurt Andersen, Tad Friend, Katy Lederer, and Martha McPhee, “We’re delighted to be bringing together some of the country’s most acclaimed writers for a weekend of talks, interviews, readings,” says Manring. “The concentration of talent makes this an exciting opportunity for all those who love words and ideas.”

Even as it prepares for WordFest, The Mount is unveiling this weekend a new exhibition about adaptations of Wharton’s books in other media called Dramatic License: Edith Wharton on Stage and Screen. Appropriately, the guest of honor at the opening party on June 5 will be a writer: Jay Cocks, who collaborated with Martin Scorsese on the 1993 film The Age of Innocence and shared the Oscar for best adapted screenplay with him.

2010 Berkshire WordFest

To buy tickets now: Click here

July 23 - 25

Dramatic License: Edith Wharton on Stage and Screen

Opening reception June 5 at 4 p.m.

RSVP: 413.551.5113

Friday, June 11, 2010

How To Make Your Garden Tools Last Longer

Helping Your Garden Tools Last Longer

One of the best ways to live more sustainably is by keeping the things we have as long as possible. A "green" product is not just one that's made with the best materials or the best manufacturing practices; it also should be something that's well-made, so it can last as long as you need it. Garden tools are a perfect example of something that makes sense to choose based on quality. Once you've chosen something well-made, it's up to you to take good care of your tools. Here are some tips for keeping your garden tools in perfect shape.

•Wooden handles on garden tools need regular maintenance. Once a year or so, wipe the handle off and use fine sandpaper to gently smooth the wood. Clean off the dust, and rub in linseed oil, letting it soak in. Keep rubbing the oil in until the wood stops absorbing it. After about an hour, wipe off any remaining oil.

•Metal parts of tools can be cleaned off with a wire brush once a year. The wire brush removes dirt and light rust; if there's more serious rust, try soaking the tool in vinegar or using steel wool. Cutting tools should be filed to keep them sharp.

•It's a good idea to store metal tools in a bucket of coarse sand mixed with vegetable oil. (Use 3/4 quart of oil in 5 gallons of sand if you have a lot of tools. For a smaller container, try upcycling an old coffee can). The sand helps clean off dirt, and the oil prevents rust. Tools can be stored in the bucket over the winter, as well as between uses. If you don't clean your tools this way, you should rinse, dry, and oil them after each use.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Free Things To Do This Weekend

Saturday June 12th

8th Annual Mineral and Gem show at the CT Antique Machinery Assocaition Museum in Kent, 860.927.0500

37th Gallery on The Green in Litchfield 860.567.4789

Lake Waramaugg, 19th Century Summer Resort-Lecture Gunn Memorial Library 860.868.7756

Exploring Sunny Brook State Park, White Memorial Conservation Center. 860.567.0857


Angie Annie Sings the Blues: Miranda Vineyard, Goshen 860.491.9906

Electronics Collection Day This Weekend

The Electronics Collection Days have been scheduled as follows:

Saturday, June 12th: Torrington Water Pollution Control Plant - 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Saturday, October 23rd: Torrington Water Pollution Control Plant - 9 a.m. - 1 p.m

Monday, June 7, 2010

For Those of Us Without Our Own Tech Guy or Gal

From Apartment Therapy

Just like anything, home offices have their pros and cons. Pro: You can design your productive space to your own mood and taste. Con: There's no IT guy to solve those bang-your-head-against-the-wall technical problems. Luckily, there's search-able online databases full of those cryptic error codes to help you get to the root of the problem. Here's two of our favorites.

Humans and computers speak different languages. When people are upset, we use words—computers use wacky combinations of letters and numbers that nobody but a computer could understand.

OK, some really well-practiced techies can speak "error code." But the rest of us, at home setting up our Wii to network with our home PC, will have to use online error code translators like these:
ErrorGoblin is a great simple search engine that lets you "look up any Windows error code to find out what it actually means." Click. Type. Read. That's it.

•If you're a Mac, or looking for help with a video-game error code, try ErrorKey. ErrorKey can search error messages from a slew of different platforms, including Apple, Windows, Mozilla, Nintendo Wii and Playstation.

Property Of The Week

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Hardwood floors, fireplace, large kitchen, open floor plan, 2 car garage, located in the Woodridge Lake community.

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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Litchfield Hills Road Race

June 13th 2010

Quite simply, a grand Litchfield Tradtion. This year marks the 34th annual Litchfield Hills Road Race. I’m sure that it would bring a tear to Joe Concannon’s eye to know that his beloved race, the race he put together with Billy Neller and a group of his best friends from Litchfield, begins its 34th year and is still going strong. Joe wanted a vehicle to bring his out of town running friends together with his hometown friends and thus the Litchfield Hills Road Race was born.

Based on the famous race in Falmouth, Massachusetts, the Litchfield Hills Road Race course was plotted, runners were invited, volunteers were um, recruited (or shanghaied?) beer was put on ice and in 1977 the first Litchfield Hills Road Race was underway. One of the most exceptional things about this small town race is that a Bill Rodgers and an Ovidio DeRubertis can run the same course at the same time and receive equal measures of appreciation from the fans who line the streets and who have, from day one, made this race loved by those who are sweating out the seven and then some mile course.

The history of the race just unfolds from there. The race got bigger, more volunteers were needed, more planning was necessary, more Litchfield families opened up their homes to runners, and deep, long-lasting friendships were forged between people who, if not for Joe, would never have met one another.

LHRR has seen runners from all over the world, representing Ireland, New Zealand, Kenya, Great Britain, Belgium, Tanzania, Canada, Yugoslavia, Morocco and Poland, keeping pace with some of our more famous American runners, including Bill Rodgers, Joan Benoit, Dave Dunham, Randy Thomas, Patti Catalano and Vin Fleming to name a few and of course some of our infamous Litchfield runners, such as Rick Evangelisti, David Driscoll, Father Tucker, the Hound, Paula Brunetto, The Hawk, Bill Sivhra, always several McKenna’s; the list is endless.

The exciting battles that have been witnessed over the years for top finishers are legendary; the pre-race, race day and after-race parties and stories that spin off of those get-togethers are even more legendary. The buzz starts when the daffodils begin to bloom in early spring – stories are taken out of the closet, brushed off and are told and re-told, and there are whispers of John Clock sightings. . As late May rolls around, more and more runners are visible in White’s Woods, training for the big day. It’s kind of like when the swallows return to Capistrano…..

Race day brings something different for everyone. For some, it is the culmination of months (and in some cases weeks or days!) of training. For others, it is taking the time to man a water station or a mile marker or a fire truck. And for many, it is a time to pick a spot on the course and marvel at the thousand plus runners who have what it takes to get out there and give it their best. And for all, it is a glorious reunion of friendships. Litchfield Hills Road Race is known to many as the Friendship Race, a very fitting name indeed.

The Race is rich with traditions ….the firing of the cannon by the First Litchfield Artillery, the “Hill”, the barricade brigade, the infamous line from Bill Rodgers, “I had to go into ninth gear” referring to his trek up Gallows Lane, Dave Skoneiczny calling the runners to post, the Elite 11 (Those who have run every year in the race), Dodgie Doyle leading the pack of runners down Meadow Street, the Village, the bands that line the course, the flags hanging uptown that represent so many countries, the welcoming encouragement from marshals George and Roberta and their pet flamingos at the bottom of the school hill, and of course the wonderful spectators, encouraging the runners every step of the way.

In the words of Jean Evangelisti, “…the festivities, hospitalities and friendships that are the trademarks of race weekend give you something that borders on magical.” There have been so many who have kept this magic alive over the years, those dedicated to keeping the original flavor and homegrown feel of the race, carrying on the traditions of those before them.

Joe Concannon called the race, “A labor of love and a celebration of community”. His dream of bringing all his friends together in one place on one special day began it all. Thirty three years later we are still running that dream. Thank you, Joe.

Registration Information


1. Online Registration

Click here to be linked to our online registration.

2. Download printable application from the website and mail in to us.

3. Pick up registration form at various retail stores in Litchfield.

4. Day-Of

Race Day Registration if available will begin at 10:00 am and end promptly at 12:30 pm at the registration tent AS LONG AS REGISTRATION IS NOT FULL BEFOREHAND

When you get there, pick up your race packet at the registration booth on the green on race day; tent opens at 10:00.