News + Views

Norwalk Aquarium Celebrates an Anniversary!

Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat







By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel



This summer, the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk will be celebrating their 30th anniversary! On July 21, the exact day they opened, it will be a special day full of bonus fun. Plus admission prices that weekend will be the same as they were in 1988! The Aquarium is the perfect place to visit this summer when you are looking for fun, exciting and educational outings with children or friends and family. There will be the opening of the Stuffed Animal CARE-ium where young guests can give veterinary care to plush animals. It will also be the return of the Albino Alligator, full cruise schedules, such as sunset and fireworks cruises, summer camp programs and fabulous IMAX movies. The camp sessions are for children 5-15 and run from 1-3 week sessions.

The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk is the only aquarium focused on the Long Island Sound and presents sharks, seals, river otters, sea turtles, jellyfish and nearly 300 species from Long Island Sound and its watershed. Also, harbor seal training demonstrations are held three times daily. Three staffed touch tanks allow hands-on close encounters with intertidal animals, sharks and rays, and moon jellyfish. The Aquarium’s IMAX movie screen is Connecticut’s first and still largest. And come aboard the Aquarium’s unique hybrid-electric research vessel, the R/V Spirit of the Sound, for exciting hands-on animal encounters out on the Sound. When you are there, you must see the Sea Turtle Nursery, a new permanent exhibit that follows baby loggerhead sea turtles through their first year of life. Later they will be released into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of North Carolina.

Our family’s favorite has to be the IMAX movies that make the viewers feel as if they are in the center of the action. Repeat visits will have guests returning to see Backyard Wilderness, which was filmed in Westchester County and will feature a menagerie of wildlife right outside our homes, including deer, coyotes, wood ducks, frogs, salamanders, raccoons, hummingbirds and more. Another IMAX features Pandas, filmed entirely in China. If a visit to the Aquarium is perfectly timed, there would still be time for one of the Marine Life Encounter Cruises that depart throughout the day. There are also cruises to historic lighthouses on the Long Island Sound. A visit to the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk has something for every age and if you haven’t been there yet, be sure to make it this summer!

The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk is located at 10 North Water Street, Norwalk, CT

(203) 852-0700





June 20, 2018 |

5 Tips for Healthy Summer Hydration


To Your Health









(Family Features) Summer provides countless opportunities to get outside for hiking, biking and running around with friends and family. However, having fun in the sun also requires proper hydration.

While staying hydrated may seem easy, healthy hydration is not always a given. For example, the water coming out of your faucet can travel through miles of aging pipes before it reaches your home, potentially picking up unwanted contaminants such as lead, pesticides and industrial pollutants along the way.

These tips can assist in achieving healthy hydration throughout the summer months:

Drink Plenty of Water. It may seem simple, but consuming an appropriate amount of water can be especially important when temperatures reach sweltering levels. Since the human body is 60 percent water, it’s a vital step for your health to make sure you’re getting enough of it, which is why Healthline recommends 6-8 glasses (8 ounces each) of water per day.

Make Sure It’s Pure. In addition to drinking the right amount of water, it’s also important to drink the right kind of water. Consider installing an in-home filtered water solution like the PUR Advanced Faucet Filtration system. It’s certified to reduce more than 70 contaminants, including 99 percent of lead – more than any other brand, according to NSF. Filtered water can be used to refill water bottles and ice cube trays, prepare infant formula, cook and make beverages like coffee, tea and even smoothies.

“Staying hydrated is especially important during the hot, summer months,” said Deb Mudway, PUR marketing vice president. “Our lead-reducing faucet filtration systems make it easy to enjoy cleaner, better-tasting water at home or on-the-go.

Take It To-Go. Keeping a bottle of water with you when you’re out and about is a convenient way to stay hydrated. Rather than disposable plastic water bottles, consider using a refillable, BPA-free bottle, which is a more environmentally friendly choice and typically more affordable.

Add a Little Flavor. Quench your thirst and add some refreshing flavor and nutrients to your water by infusing it with strawberries, kiwi, orange, mint or melon slices.

Eat Water-Rich Foods. An overlooked option for maintaining proper hydration is eating fruits and vegetables such as watermelon, cucumbers and celery that naturally contain water. For the freshest results, wash your fruits and vegetables with filtered water prior to eating them.


Find more ways to ensure cleaner water consumption for proper summer hydration at


June 20, 2018 |

5 Tips to Meal Prep Like a Pro


In Good Taste









(Family Features) Dinner can be a daunting task for any family with multiple mouths to feed. Factor in complex schedules and individual tastes, and a family meal can become a stressful thought for home cooks.

However, with proper meal planning and preparation, those stressful evenings can become a thing of the past. Consider these steps to becoming a better meal prepper:

Start Slow

If you’re new to meal prepping, don’t bog yourself down trying to come up with ideas and ingredients multiple days in advance. Start by planning just one or two days ahead then consider lengthening your prep phases as you get more comfortable.

Shop Smart

Avoid overbuying by heading to the grocery store with a plan in mind or, even better, a specific list. While perusing the aisles, look for the Produce for Kids logo next to healthy, family-friendly items to help make nutritionally sound choices.

Go with What You Know

Rather than teaching yourself to meal prep while trying to learn new recipes at the same time, stick to the basics. Create dishes you’ve made in the past while you get into the habit of meal prepping.

Make It a Family Event

Recruit some help from your kids by enlisting them with some easier kitchen tasks. It can be a learning and bonding experience to make recipes like Easy One-Dish Chicken and Veggie Bake or Sweet Potato and Black Bean Quesadilla.

Plan for In-Season Produce

Certain fruits and veggies are stocked (and taste better) at certain times of year. Be sure to create shopping lists with these timeframes in mind.

To find family meal tips and more than 400 registered dietitian- and family-approved recipes, visit

Easy One-Dish Chicken and Veggie Bake

Recipe courtesy of Produce for Kids

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 50 minutes

Servings: 4

1          pound chicken breast, cut in fourths

12        small red potatoes, quartered

12        ounces green beans

1          tablespoon olive oil

3          cloves garlic, minced

1          tablespoon herbs de Provence

1/4       teaspoon salt

1/8       teaspoon pepper

Heat oven to 350 F.

Place chicken, potatoes and green beans in rows in 13-by-9-inch baking dish with chicken in middle. Drizzle with olive oil and season with garlic, herbs de Provence, salt and pepper.

Bake 50 minutes, or until chicken reaches internal temperature of 165 F and potatoes are tender.

Nutritional information per serving: 554 calories; 8 g fat; 65 mg cholesterol; 87 g carbohydrates; 11 g fiber; 37 g protein; 9 g sugar; 82 mg calcium; 5 mg iron; 282 mg sodium.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Quesadilla

Recipe courtesy of Produce for Kids

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Servings: 4

1          large sweet potato

1          can low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed

1/4       cup chopped cilantro

1          tablespoon low-sodium taco seasoning

8          whole-wheat tortillas

1          cup low-fat shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Use fork to prick sweet potato. Microwave 5 minutes on high. Let cool slightly.

Cut potato in half lengthwise and scoop flesh into large bowl. Mash until smooth.

Combine beans, cilantro and seasoning with sweet potato; mix well.

Heat skillet over medium heat. Spread sweet potato mixture evenly on one side of tortilla, sprinkle with cheese and place second tortilla on top. Cook 3-4 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Flip and cook 2-3 minutes more.

Repeat with remaining tortillas and mixture. Cut each into quarters.

Nutritional information per serving: 293 calories; 9.34 g total fat; 34.82 g carbohydrates; 10.39 g fiber; 17.04 g protein; 2.33 g total sugars; 237 mg calcium; 2.65 mg iron; 146 mg sodium.

June 20, 2018 |

Grass-Cutting Contemplations…


ROI by Frank J. Rich







by Frank J. Rich



Contemplations may be the issue of the contemplative, those given to time alone and solitary activity. For these the imagination grows with available time. Most have their place—the shower, a comfortable chair, the “hours after the hours,” walks to nowhere, the littoral gazing across the sea. For others, it may be the opportunity in a singular chore or enchantment that works to separate us from the rest of everything for those moments of reflection, imagining, and the forecasts that raise the spirit. They are the times when plans form, or the anxiety that attends them wafts away as perspective grows; even routines—cooking, cleaning house, washing the car, or painting a fence—that ask only our time and little thought to achieve it.

Not unlike so many that find their way to a place untouched by others, in stolen moments, I am at peace riding a mower. The practice is an imperative for any with property to mend and care for, listening for the cadence that makes measured turns and speeds second nature, until contemplations take the wheel. The activity is at once mindless and mindful, its near-naked cousin able to occupy time, space, and matter simultaneously. Einstein and Rosenthal made math of the artifice, while the rest have simply fallen into its gravitational sleep without thinking.

This gait has no equal; it is mine alone—the same, I imagine, for you. I see new ventures, alternative social solutions, a greater sense of my investment in others, the unique ways the creator has knit me, the model of construction or repair that has needed more skill than I own. Time for all things is suddenly available to me. I consider song, literature—largely my own—kitchen creations, the God of our world, how to do the impossible like bringing two parties together. All things may come into view—TV series, high school memories, mother’s words, gravity, ways to encourage new customers to local shops and craftsmen.

It’s summer, the season of growth—a warning for some to take stock, for others a time to consider the simple world around us. These are the common things—the gratification in a freshly cut, lush lawn, the character of breezes, warm, moist, even warning of storms ahead, and homegrown tomatoes. No other season can produce them, not even Amazon can cause them to appear at your doorstep. Little else is so cherished than a gift of them to neighbors yet unfolded to seasonal joys.

Kierkegaard claimed “I have walked myself into my best thoughts.” Rousseau asserted “my mind works only with my legs.” Thoreau called walking “a sort of crusade, preached by some Peter the Hermit in us,” to reclaim the holy land of deliberation and imagination. Eric Klinger, and other psychologists, suggest that this “daydreaming and fantasizing” is a “reminder mechanism” that helps to separate oneself from busyness, thus keeping “larger agenda fresher in mind.” It’s a time to let the “adaptive unconscious” take control of the wheel, when “feeling” becomes the only form of self-reliance.

Today I’ll take a swim in a nearby lake, listen for the sounds and song of it, and try to be still for the longest time busyness allows. I hope to see you there.

June 15, 2018 |

Georgia O’Keeffe Exhibit at New York Botanical Garden

Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat







By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel



When thinking about famed American artist Georgia O’Keeffe, people recall her best-known works of enlarged flowers, New York City skyscrapers and the landscapes of New Mexico where she spent the remaining years of her life. Aptly referred to as the “Mother of American Modernism,” O’Keeffe also did stunning works of the Hawaiian Islands.

In its current exhibit, which runs through October 28, 2018, The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) will feature lush floral tributes in the Garden’s Enid A. Haupt Conservatory evoking the gardens and landscapes that inspired O’Keeffe, as well as the complex story of the flora and unique ecology of Hawaii. The exhibition will also feature 20 of O’Keeffe’s depictions of Hawaii, including paintings not seen together since their 1940 New York debut. Visitors of all ages will learn about Hawaii through complementary events and programs, including a scholarly symposium, an original short film, a film series, and the Interactive Mobile Guide.


What prompted O’Keeffe to travel to Hawaii? In 1938 an ad agency asked her to create two paintings for a pineapple company that is now the Dole Food Company for use in their advertising. She was 51 at the time and critics seemed to be less enchanted with her New Mexico desert paintings. O’Keeffe spent nine weeks visiting the islands and she completed 20 paintings.

At the NYBG exhibit, there will be plantings designed by Francisca Coelho and set pieces designed by Tony award-winning scenic designer Scott Pask. The exhibition also introduces visitors to the profound importance of plants in Hawaiian culture and growing concerns about threats to native Hawaiian plants. Long borders of colorful tropical garden plants such as those Georgia O’Keeffe encountered and painted while in Hawaii include Ti plant, frangipani, bougainvillea, heliconia, hibiscus, bird-of-paradise, ginger, and many more tropical favorites.

Beyond the borders, planting beds arranged around an open sided, thatched roof pavilion inspired by a traditional Hawaiian tale, tell the story of canoe plants—the useful plants brought to the Islands more than 1,000 years ago by Polynesian settlers. Outside in the Conservatory Courtyards visitors will see a wide variety of Hawaiian plants in beautiful potted and ground-level trough displays. Pineapples and bananas, among other favorites, will be on view in the Central Courtyard, while hundreds of hibiscus, as well as gardenia and bougainvillea, will fill the Hardy Courtyard. Canoe plants and other edible and useful tropicals such as papaya and sugarcane will be on display in the Tropical Courtyard. The O’Keefe paintings will be on display in the LuEsther T. Mertz Library Art Gallery on the grounds.

The NYBG is located at Bronx River Parkway (Exit 7W) and Fordham Road.

For information about their programs, events and exhibits call 718 817-8700 or visit their website at:



June 13, 2018 |
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