By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel
Renovating a kitchen is one of the most popular makeovers that can add value to a house or apartment. It goes without saying that it is easy to spot an outdated room that has not been changed for decades. In major makeovers, appliances, cabinets and flooring need to be replaced, so choices should be studied and analyzed before you begin.
The choices are endless for cabinet color and design. Start looking through decorating magazines that specialize in kitchens. Remember white cabinets make a small kitchen appear larger and darker woods give a warm “homey” appearance. Visit scores of home design centers and bring room measurements, asking the professional to help you design a kitchen. Appointments may be necessary because each client is given time to discuss plans. With the magic of computer design programs, the representative can show you what the finished product will look like. Do make sure you have a basic idea of what type of cabinets and “extras” you want to add. A spice rack, pull-out trash drawer, wine rack, or cabinets with glass doors for displaying fine china are all extra and will boost the standard price quotes. However, a kitchen remodel is usually done once in a lifetime, so if your heart is set on certain features and it fits your budget, go for it.
October 21, 2015 | admin
Cabinet composition is another item to give some thought to. Solid wood cabinets are more expensive than particleboard. You can choose solid wood doors and do the remainder in particleboard, but you will end up with a very heavy cabinet to hang. Installation is extra and not included in cabinet rates. In some cases the installation cost can be almost half the price of the original cabinet cost.
This is a big investment and one that will bring you many years of pleasure when it is finished. If in the back of your mind the makeover is for an eventual resale, try to go neutral so potential buyers can imagine themselves in your kitchen. Out-of-the-norm colors, wild patterns or over-the-top designs will appeal to a smaller segment of the population when prospective buyers come to shop. Most new homeowners want to avoid the expense of doing a kitchen makeover, so if your choices are something they can live with, then all the better.
By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel
Have you ever been to the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk? If the answer is “No,” then it is time you visited! A fabulous line-up of programs awaits guests during October. This is the only aquarium focused on presenting sharks, seals, river otters, sea turtles, jellyfish and more than one hundred other species from Long Island Sound and its watershed. In addition to a harbor seal feeding show held three times per day, three staffed “touch tanks” allow hands-on close encounters with intertidal animals, sharks, rays, and moon jellyfish.
October 14, 2015 | admin
“Go Fish!” explores our cultural relationship with the sea through fishing and the sustainable seafood movement. “Ocean Playspace” offers fun for toddlers and a rest for big people. “Marine Lab” shows visitors how marine animals are cared for and how baby seahorses and jellies are raised. “Meerkats” features six very entertaining meerkats.
Batman and Wonder Woman fans can meet and pose with them on Saturday, October 17th. Kids are encouraged to wear their own superhero costumes. Come join the “Aqua-Scarium” on Saturday, October 31st, where kids in costume get free admission to the aquarium. The “Aqua-Scarium” itself will be ghoulishly decorated for Halloween, with the possibility that wolffish, mummichogs and sculpins could transform into were-wolffish, mummy-chogs and skull-pins. Spider Man will make a live appearance that day, too!
The aquarium’s IMAX® movie screen is Connecticut’s first and largest. The six-story-tall screen is fantastic! See Flight of the Butterflies and go on a scientific adventure to follow the incredible yearlong migration cycle of millions of monarch butterflies from Canada, across the U.S. and into Mexico. Born to be Wild and Great White Shark are two more IMAX® films on exhibit at the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk. The Humpback Whales are featured in another IMAX® movie. Swim, dive, leap and sing alongside some of the largest animals on Earth.
Humpback whales were nearly driven to extinction fifty years ago, but today are making a steady recovery. Join a team of researchers as they seek out what makes humpbacks the most acrobatic of all whales, why only the males sing, and why these intelligent fifty-foot, forty-eight-ton animals migrate more than 6,000 miles every year.
There is so much to see at the aquarium that you will want to visit there repeatedly. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk
10 N. Water Street, Norwalk, CT
(203) 852-0700, www.MaritimeAquarium.org
By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel
Fire! This is one word that will cause chills to be sent up your spine and is frightening to hear. I would like to share an incident that happened to our niece. She and her husband were on a business trip when a fire occurred at their house. We live several states away, yet are listed on their alarm system call list. They had switched cell phone providers and neglected to notify their alarm company, so we were called when the alarm showed “home entered.” The fire was caused by a lightning bolt striking their roof. A neighbor saw smoke and called the fire department, and when he entered the home the alarm was set off. Fortunately, the fire was contained and the damage was covered by their insurance company; however, a lesson was learned here.
When away on a vacation or business trip, inform someone of your location. My niece was new to her neighborhood and did not know any neighbors. This is one good reason to make acquaintances in your neighborhood and to exchange even casual information like names and telephone numbers with those on either side of your house. Provide the name of the hotel at which you will be staying. It was by chance that my niece mentioned the hotel name to us on a previous phone call. My niece flew home that night to check on the damage and to call the fire department to thank them for their quick response. They told her they tried to find her phone number or that of a family member by calling several numbers she had written on the refrigerator message board. However, the numbers were only those of her co-workers and consequently were of no help. Be sure to leave information detailing where you are and where you can be reached clearly posted on your refrigerator or on a large note taped over your phone. Include the hotel name, your last name and your cell number in case you are out of the hotel for an extended amount of time each day. Any first responder entering your house would then know whom to call. An emergency does not necessarily have to be a fire. Perhaps you had a gas line leak, water main break or some other emergency.
A most important tip of all, make sure your insurance is up-to-date and your premium is paid!
October 7, 2015 | admin
By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel
It’s the season for pumpkins as farm stands proudly display their glowing orange prize produce along with hay bales and corn stalks completing the picturesque autumn décor. The autumn season also heralds the opening of the Historic Hudson Valley’s annual major Halloween-themed event The Great Jack O’ Lantern Blaze, which last year drew more than 115,000 visitors. Opening October 2nd and continuing for 30 select evenings, it is the biggest Halloween extravaganza that entertains not just children but individuals of all ages. The night we went, we saw hundreds of adults there with children along for the evening tour, just like our group of five adults. It’s a fantastic, unique evening of breathtaking displays that truly puts everyone into the Halloween holiday spirit. Note: The walking tours take place in the evening hours when the extraordinary light displays can be viewed in their fullest glory! Wear comfortable shoes and dress warmly if there is a chill in the air!
September 30, 2015 | admin
What is the Blaze? A small team of artists comes together to carve more than 7,000 jack o’ lanterns, many of which are fused together in elaborate constructions such as life-size dinosaurs and eight-foot-tall working jack-in-the-boxes, all lit up throughout the wooded walkways, orchards, and gardens of historic Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y. Favorite installations such as the Undersea Aquarium and Jurassic Park are joined this year by new creations which include an immersive Pumpkin Planetarium and Circus Ghost Train featuring clowns, animals, and other colorful circus characters, all of which are constructed of jack o’ lanterns.
Creative Director Michael Natiello leads a small team of Historic Hudson Valley staff and local artists who do the carving. More than 1,000 volunteers help scoop out and light the pumpkins. Café Blazé, by Geordane’s of Irvington, will be offering culinary treats including soup, veggie chili, muffins, pumpkin cookies, and cider. Augmenting the visitor experience this year will be new music created by professional musician, radio personality, and Halloween fanatic Richard Christy.
Van Cortlandt Manor is located at 525 South Riverside Avenue, just off Route 9 in Croton-on-Hudson. Proceeds support Historic Hudson Valley, the Tarrytown-based private, non-profit educational organization that owns and operates the historic sites that host these events. Take a peek at their website to view the fantastic photos of some of the jack o’ lantern displays.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.hudsonvalley.org or by calling 914-366-6900. Rob Schweitzer, Director of Marketing and Public Relations, suggests booking early as capacity is limited. Admissions are by advance purchase timed tickets.
By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel
One of the positive things about the cooler weather coming is that I feel more ambitious, especially about converting to home decorations that reflect the season. It is time to remove the summer pastels and switch to autumn colors in the home. To me this is what makes our area’s change of seasons the most inviting. Sprucing up your home does not have to be an expensive ordeal or entail major renovations as one article I recently read explained. Many of the tips in the article were home improvements that cost under twenty dollars!
September 23, 2015 | admin
A fresh coat of paint always makes a room feel new and inviting, especially if you pick a different color. Be daring and add a splash of color to your rooms, coming away from boring beige and “earth tone” colors. Then take a look at the exterior of your home, including the color of your front door or shutters. Some homeowners like a bright red front door, but other accent colors are equally eye appealing. Don’t forget to look at the house numbers on your mailbox or house. Are they illegible or worn? For safety and home location identification, they should be clear to read. Window treatments can add a lot of interest to your home, especially in the kitchen where most of us spend much of our time. Café curtains can be purchased for less than ten dollars a pair at your discount store and can liven up any eating area instantly. The same is true for bedrooms or guest rooms. If you sew, buying fabric works out to be even less expensive than buying ready-made curtains.
At our house, a favorite fix-up is changing cabinet handles and doorknobs in the house that have become worn looking over years of use. My husband changed all the kitchen cabinet handles to shiny new ones and waxed the cabinets. They look as good as when he first installed them twenty years ago! If your budget does not include buying new handles, consider painting them. While you are looking around the house for inexpensive upgrades, check out your electric plate covers and wall outlets. Home building centers offer designs to complement any room and fit into any budget. You may save money by painting an electric plate cover if it is sturdy and in good condition, rather than replacing it.
Happy sprucing up!
By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel
As adults, we spend a lot of time making sure our phones, files, computers and other personal information is protected and not hacked by those looking to scam us. However, how many of us even think about the safety of our children’s or grandchildren’s identities? Now with school having just started, there might be several occasions where a child’s information is required. Accordingly, there are things to consider when giving out details about our children.
September 16, 2015 | admin
At first perhaps, one might think, “What good is it to steal a child’s identity?” The answer is simple. Children have clean credit records, and it is easier for a criminal to create a new account using the child’s Social Security number, address, and other details to make up a false identity for someone else. After all, how often would a parent think of checking their child’s credit report? If a child’s identity was stolen and used illegally by someone else, it might take years for the parent to discover what happened. By then, it would become a tangled web for the parent to straighten out on behalf of the young child.
Giving Out Info
Many families have several children involved in sports or school-based activities. If the child is enrolled in a sports program for a certain age group, the organization may require proof that the child is the right age. This came about when several sports clubs enrolled older children that were better athletes than children a bit younger, affording the team a better percentage of wins. Thus, proof of all players’ ages became more stringent. A sports club or team might ask to see a copy of the child’s birth certificate or even ask for the child’s Social Security number. Be cautious about giving the Social out and ask why the team needs it. Hopefully, your child’s records are kept safe by the organization once they have them. Ask what happens to the child’s records when they leave school or move on from that sport. Request the records be shredded or the files returned.
It goes without saying — never carry your own or your child’s Social Security card with you. Years ago it was the norm to do so, until identity theft became a problem. Keep the cards home in a secure spot, such as a safe deposit box.
By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel
Last week I had a wonderful time visiting my mother’s Senior Nutrition Center in her hometown. It is much more than a place to have lunch. It is where people her age gather, friendships develop, and it’s a way to pass the afternoon. The center offers a hot lunch every weekday, and after eating the seniors are welcome to stay for various games. One table may be playing dominos, another cards, and the next a board game. On certain days bingo is held, which is a favorite for some guests who may not stay after lunch on other days.
Two attendees are volunteers that collect the nominal three-dollar lunch fee – my mom is one of those ladies. She has been doing this for almost twenty years. Although she just turned 90 a few months ago, you would hardly think she is a day over 80! Many of the other seniors that attend are over 90. They neither look nor act like it! I truly believe their being involved and active keeps them from showing their age.
The reason I attended last week with my mom was because she called to invite me as her “plus one” to the celebration planned for Friday. As is the custom with her particular senior center, each year in August they hold a special event luncheon. The day is set aside to honor and recognize any senior at the center who turned 90 years of age, as well as all those that are over 90. The town supervisor came to acknowledge this event and presented fifteen over-90-year- olds with a personalized proclamation. It was such an enjoyable afternoon that I wanted to share it with my readers. More than fifty people came that day. Since I have been to her center before, I knew many of the attendees, who are also friends that go to mom’s church. At our table the conversation was lively. We talked about recipes, “the old days,” people’s pets, the Yankees’ current season, gardening and other topics. It felt the same as if I were with my peers.
September 9, 2015 | admin
The Senior Center is a place to be with others that typically share your age and interests, and it is clear that the benefits are immeasurable. Don’t miss out on a similar experience if you have not yet joined one in your town!