Saturday, September 22, 2018
My husband and I recently took our little assistants, ages four and eight, apple picking at an orchard near our house, and I’m happy to say that visiting an orchard is one of the most kid-friendly outdoor activities we’ve discovered. Our children loved exploring the fields. The four-year-old was especially delighted to find apples growing on trees!
“Usually, apples are in the store,” he told us about fifty times.
Apple picking was so thrilling that, between racing up and down the orchard and picking every apple they could reach, our assistants filled a massive bag in roughly the time it takes to say, “I think that’s enough apples for now, children.”
It took the promise of apple cider doughnuts to lure our children away from the rows of apple trees. Even then, we drove home with a trunk full of apples, a bag of apple cider doughnuts, and two very happy children.
If you’re planning a similar apple picking adventure, here are two delicious, kid-friendly recipes to help you use up all of those apples.
Because this recipe uses oatmeal, I consider it an acceptable breakfast.
Topping: 3/4 cups flour; 3/4 cups finely chopped pecans; 3/4 cups oats; 1/2 cup brown sugar (packed); 1/4 cup white sugar; 1/2 tsp. cinnamon; 1/2 tsp. salt; 1 stick of butter (melted)
Mix the topping ingredient together until mixture is crumbly. Set aside.
Filling: 3 pounds of apples (about 7 or 8 large apples), sliced and cut into wedges; 1/4 cup sugar; 1/4 tsp. cinnamon; 1 cup apple cider; 2 tsp. lemon juice; 2 tbs. butter
Preheat oven to 450. Toss the apples with the sugar and cinnamon.
Step One: Simmer the cup of cider in a 12-inch oven safe skillet for about five minutes. Transfer the concentrated cider to a bowl and add the lemon juice.
Step Two: Melt the butter in the now-empty skillet. Add the apples and cook, stirring frequently, until the apples soften. Stir in the apple cider/lemon juice mixture.
Step Three: Sprinkle the topping over the cooked apples. Place the skillet in the oven and bake until the apples are tender and the topping is golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Enjoy with some whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
The streusel topping on these muffins is optional, but it does make for an irresistible muffin.
Streusel Topping: 1/2 cup sugar; 1/3 cup flour; 1 tsp. cinnamon; 1/4 cup cold butter
Combine the sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Cut in the butter with your hands or a pastry blender until it forms coarse crumbs.
Preheat oven to 425.
Muffins: 1 3/4 cups flour; 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder; 1/2 tsp. salt; 1/2 tsp. cinnamon; 1/3 cup butter (melted); 2/3 cup brown sugar; 1 egg; 3/4 cup milk; 1 or 2 finely chopped apples
Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Set aside. In a smaller bowl, whisk the melted butter and brown sugar. Add the egg and the milk. Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and add the apples. Top with streusel.
Bake the muffins at 425 for 5 minutes. Keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce the temperature to 375 and bake for an additional 12-13 minutes.
Friday, September 21, 2018
I confess to being one of those folks who stop and check out curb furniture. When I bought a very, very, small house and none of the furniture I already owned would fit inside, I just left most of it behind and started all over.
If you are open to it, the universe will suddenly throw a lot of choices in your path, not just from thrift stores but free things such as curb rescues will suddenly appear everywhere. I had to make some 'rules' about what I absolutely needed and what I am allowed to drag home.
Here are my rules of thumb for curb shopping.
Keep a list of what you are actually looking for. Just because it's on the curb doesn't mean you need to take it home, unless you are rehabbing items for resale or donation to those in need. If you don't need it, leave it for someone else who may. This isn't just good karma, it is very easy to end up with a lot of collected items and no homes for them. If I pick up something for someone else, I don't even remove it from the car, I take it straight to their house as soon as I can.
Make a thorough examination on the spot. Unless there is dangerous oncoming traffic, take a good look at the piece, open it up, flip it over, check its sturdiness. Most of the time it will need some repair, otherwise it wouldn't be on the curb. But know what you are getting into before you make a commitment to it. Look for infestation or mildew - take a sniff. Watch out for water damage. Check the bottom. Standing water will make plywood and fiberboard swell and break down and hardwood will warp.
Be prepared to dispose of it properly. Which means don't drag home something that you are going to have to pay to get rid of. You may discover it's bigger than you thought, or it has unseen problems. If it is still a useable item, you can donate it. If it is not, you may have to haul it to the dump. Once I dragged a leather chair home only to discover it was the 'dog chair’.
Have a suitable place to rehab things. In good weather, you can just do it outside before you bring it into your home. Sanding and painting are projects you do not want to do in the living room. With large enough drop cloths, you can get away with it in a larger kitchen, but spray painting should not be done in living spaces.
Hoard hardware like a crazy person. Any time you see something actually in the trash or before you put something out for collection, strip it of hinges, handles, knobs, casters and gliders from the bottoms of the feet. Usually just a change of hardware and a coat of paint can transform a piece and give it another career.
Keep a basic collection of paints, primers and finishes at hand. You may not want to invest a lot of time and effort into renewing a piece, if you have to buy materials. But if you have stuff already purchased then it's an easy decision. It will also help keep you from putting a piece aside for rehabilitation “when I get around to it.”
Be prepared to undo other people's repairs. This may sometimes be worse than starting with a damaged item. Usually it's a brush coat of latex that needs to be sanded, or a sloppy glue repair. This item probably started in the house and worked its way down to the basement and then probably out to the garage before getting all the way out to the curb.
I am always looking for solid wood juvenile furniture, which is smaller than full sized and usually repairable.
I just adopted another small curb item. It is just a 20th century, hardwood department store bureau. But age and moisture had caused the plywood back to break down. For me that was an easy fix, as nearly anything can be used for the back, I just happened to have a bundle of cheap pine wainscoting, which I cut to fit and used a plastic mallet to assemble. I didn't even have to glue but I may throw a brad or two around the edges.
My personal aesthetic is to paint all my mismatched pieces with White Gloss paint. This helps unify them in my cluttered tiny house and makes them easy to wipe down and touch up when needed.
For this project I sanded down someone else’s paint job, and since it was meant to be painted, there was no reason to strip it. Pieces originally sold painted, look terrible when you strip them, as the wood grains never match.
Two cans of Rustoleum paint with primer should cover most things up on a large bureau. I keep an assortment in my work space. I generally lay on one light spray coat, a second thicker coat, then a light sand with 1200 grit before a final gloss coat or two. Sometimes, if the piece isn't that bad you can get away with just washing the paint job it already has. The new paint job dried pretty quick, letting me move it into place on the same day. The top is smooth and white, but I have cats, so I threw a piece of oak salvaged from a sewing machine on top to protect it. The temporary handles are making my teeth grate; I prefer vintage bin pulls, which I also paint with white enamel and then bake for hardness.
With minimal investment, curb found furniture can give you pieces to use until you find something you really love. No one needs to know you got it off a curb unless you tell them. Me? I tell everybody. With a house as small as mine, sometimes you must make do. I put this bookcase on top of this half size dresser to create a make shift hutch, which works perfectly for my purposes. I have only seen one vintage half sized hutch...and that one is now in my kitchen. Overall, I am pretty happy with the pieces I have collected for this new tiny house - and anything that didn't work out, I put on my own curb for someone else.
Stephanie Ryan, owner of The Ice Cream Dug Out, presents a check for $340 to Linda Brooks, Director of the Windham Parks and Recreation Department after a fund raiser for the Be the Influence Coalition. Be the Influence donated the funds to go toward the new Skate Park planned in Windham.
The Gorham/Westbrook/Windham TRIAD is made up of law enforcement, local businesses and seniors. Their mission is to reduce victimization of seniors through education and communication as well as improve their quality of life. Two individuals involved in the TRIAD are board secretary, Buffy Houp, and Chief Kevin Schofield of the Windham Police Department.
|A field trip to the Military Museum in South Portland|
Each month, a meeting is held featuring an educational speaker discussing different topics. One such topic is fraud awareness. Chief Schofield said this has been an issue that local law enforcement sees often, and he states that this is one of the various scams in which to promote awareness.
One program offered through the TRIAD is ‘Sand for Seniors’ to prepare for the winter months. Sand buckets are delivered by police offers to seniors for use on their porches and driveways.
“’Sand for Seniors’ is another way [police officers] can integrate ourselves into the community and meet people one-on-one. This is a year-round relationship we can provide to our seniors,” remarks Chief Schofield.
Another program that Chief Schofield, Houp and TRIAD members are trying to create is the ‘Rise and Shine’ program. This effort checks in on seniors who may not have a lot of local support; placing a call each day to a particular senior to see how they are doing and if they need anything makes a big difference.
While the TRIAD does provide a lot of education and important information, one of the more important aspects of being a TRIAD member is socialization and meeting community members.
“Everyone has a voice in the TRIAD. Being a part of the program means being part of the community. We do different events, like pancake breakfasts and field trips. The TRIAD is always looking to do more. The social aspect is just as important as the educational aspect; just come to a meeting,” commented Houp.
The TRIAD is a perfect organization where seniors can meet people and contribute to their community, have a good time, learn more about police and fire departments, EMTs and other community and TRIAD members. It can become much more than just a monthly meeting.
Upcoming meetings to look forward to include:
Oct 12th at the Westbrook Police Department – Safe Driving with Heather
Shields of Pathways Rehabilitation Services
Nov 9th at the Windham Police Department – Safety at Home with Angela
D’Amours of The Cedars
Dec 14th at the Gorham PD – Downsizing and Decluttering with Mary Holmes of Integrated Move Management
If there is a senior citizen interested in joining the TRIAD, please contact Chief Kevin Schofield (892-2525) or Buffy Houp (229-9050)
When Aiden Day of Windham chose his Eagle Scout Project, he reached beyond the necessary requirement that it must benefit his community and added a substantial component to help the environment.
As his final requirement to the Eagle Rank, in coordination with property owner Sappi, Day completed his Eagle Scout Project to benefit the Presumpscot River in the Town of Windham. Day had spent time as a child at the popular spot and he noticed that over the years the picnic table rotted into the ground. Runoff had also eroded the down-hill path from the parking lot to the river, which caused sand to wash into the river and harm the habitat. Day designed and built a new picnic area comprising two extra-large tables of white oak to allow room for those wearing waders and added erosion control along the path to the river.
Day, of Troop 51 in Windham, recently achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest rank in Boy Scouts, which is earned by fewer than six percent of all Boy Scouts in the United States. This accomplishment represents the culmination of Day’s ten-year journey in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts.
As an Eagle Scout, Day will serve as Junior Assistant Scoutmaster to mentor younger scouts in his troop.
During the process of satisfying the requirements for the Eagle rank, over a period of four years, Day earned merit badges representing 21 different fields of interest including first-aid, communication, safety, citizenship, preparedness, camping, environment, personal fitness and personal management, along with merit badges in diverse vocational and recreational subjects such as welding and fly fishing. Day also performed community service, provided service and leadership for his troop.
During Day’s Eagle Court of Honor at Windham Hill United Church of Christ on September 16, Day’s Troop mentor, Lynn Vajda, expressed her pride in his achievement.
“Throughout his journey, Aiden’s character as an Eagle candidate was exemplary,” she said. “Aiden has been an anchor in Troop 51 and leads by example in the troop and in his private life,” Vajda continued.
The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.
The Scout Oath states, “On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”
The Scout Law states, “A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent.”
Saturday, September 15, 2018
I have loved Curtis Sittenfeld’s work from Prep to Eligible, but somehow I missed The Man of My Dreams. Or, more honestly, I wasn’t crazy about the title and I thought it would be a kind of Prince Charming fairy tale and I don’t love happily ever after. But, it turned out to be something else entirely.
Sittenfeld’s protagonist in Prep is lonely and angry; in The Man of My Dreams, Hannah Gavener is lonely and sweet, unyielding in her self-examination and self-deprecation, a little needy, kind, empathetic, a tad off-center. I felt not only like I knew her, but like I could be her.
The novel begins with Hannah, age fourteen, living with her aunt because her angry father threw the whole family out of the house. At fourteen, Hannah is obsessed with celebrities and interested in a boy with a tattoo. The novel leaps forward and Hannah-in-college struggles to make friends. In the working world, she is still painfully unsure of herself. Over and over, she muddles through social situations with pluck and determination. She gives her every failure thorough examination.
Hannah is not her sister Allison--married to a nice guy, making a nice family. She is also not her cousin Fig—wild, self-centered, gorgeous. Hannah is tentative, sweet, both too eager and too reluctant.
Sittenfeld’s writing is funny, observant, dead-on. This book made me laugh, made me sigh with frustration at Hannah’s every bad decision, and ultimately made me root for her.
Friday, September 14, 2018
If you’ve been a long-time fan of Agatha Christie, then you must stop everything you are doing andbe sure to attend the Schoolhouse Arts Center’s one of six Friday through Sunday performances of “And Then There Were None.” The first performance begins on Friday, September 28 with the last one ending on Sunday, October 7. The Friday and Saturday showings are 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Sunday performances are 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
The story begins when eight strangers arrive at Soldier Island, invited by a “Mr. Owen.” What could possibly go wrong?
|William Blore (Randy Hunt of Westbrook) threatens to throttle Phillip Lombard (Zachariah Stearn of Windham).|
Vera Claythorne, a former governess, thinks she has been hired as a secretary; Philip Lombard, an adventurer, and William Blore, an ex-detective, think they have been hired to look out for trouble over the weekend; Dr. Armstrong thinks he has been hired to look after the wife of the island’s owner. Emily Brent, General Macarthur, Tony Marston, and Judge Wargrave think they are going to visit old friends. As they compare notes over dinner they realize that none of them have actually met Mr. Owen, not even the house servants. As a storm rages outside the guests begin to disappear one by one and as their numbers dwindle they realize with horror that they were brought to the island under false pretenses according to “Mr. Owen’s” strange plan.
Tickets are $12 and $14and are available at . Be sure to purchase yours today before, much like “Mr. Owen’s” guests, disappear one by one.
|Erica Brown and the Bluegrass Connection|
Music with a Mission is proud to feature Erica Brown and the Bluegrass Connection for an evening of traditional bluegrass and French-Canadian fiddle music on Saturday September 22 at 7 p.m. at the North Windham Union Church, 723 Roosevelt Trail.
Erica Brown and The Bluegrass Connection is a five-piece band featuring some of the finest musicians in New England. Brown has been performing since the age of nine and has won numerous fiddle contests in New England as well as Canada. Brown brings a special energy and style to the Maine music scene. Her band, The Bluegrass Connection, includes Matt Shipman on guitar, Steve Roy on mandolin, Read McNamara on banjo and Ken Taylor on bass. Performance highlights include opening for Grammy Award winning country music superstar, Dwight Yoakam, as well as Grammy Award winning bluegrass performer, Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder.
“We are really excited to bring this high-caliber talent to our Music with a Mission stage,” said Dr. Richard Nickerson, Minister of Music for NWUC. “We've had strong turnouts for bluegrass concerts before, so it's a real thrill to showcase Erica Brown and her friends for an evening of truly spectacular bluegrass!"
The Music with a Mission concert series is sponsored by the North Windham Union Church, which donates a portion of the proceeds to area non-profits. Now in our sixth season, MWAM has provided almost $59,000 for mission support to the church and other community organizations. Brown has decided to support Windham Neighbors Helping Neighbors in their effort to provide fuel assistance to people in need throughout the community.
Tickets will be sold at the door and are $15 for adults and $12 for students and seniors. Tickets are also available in advance on-line at www.mwamconcerts.com and through the church office from 9am to noon Monday through Thursday. The box office opens at 6 p.m. and the doors will open at 6:30 p.m. For more information, please call 892-6142 or email MWAMconcerts@gmail.com.
Cory DiDonato is the varsity girls field hockey coach as well as an English Language Arts and Social Studies Teacher at Windham Middle School. DiDonato got her degree in Therapeutic Recreation but wasn’t sure that’s what she wanted to do forever, so she started coaching.
“Once I started working with students, there was no turning back for me,” reflected DiDonato. “I fell in love immediately and decided to go back to school to get my Master’s in Education so I could become a teacher and continue to work with kids.”
DiDonato began student teaching at Windham Primary School. She then began teaching in Gray in 2008 as a second-grade teacher. During her teaching years in Gray she and her family moved to Windham in 2009, making it their home. After a few years teaching in Gray, DiDonato taught third grade in South Portland for seven years.
She always wanted to return to the Windham school system to teach, so when there was an opening at the Middle School in 2016, she jumped at the opportunity. Teaching English Language Arts and Social Studies was a no brainer, she said, because she is an avid reader/writer and is interested in history.
In high school, DiDonato was a gymnast, played field hockey and ran track. She played field hockey in college all four years and also ran indoor track two seasons. “I am extremely competitive and when my playing days were over it was only natural to try...coaching,” she says.
In 2001, she became Bonny Eagle High School’s freshman field hockey coach, She coached there for two years until the Windham athletic director at the time offered her the opportunity to coach the varsity field hockey team in Windham.
DiDonato has also been the girls’ basketball coach at Windham Middle School, the freshman girls’ basketball coach at Gorham High School as well as the boys/girls’ outdoor track coach at Windham High School. She was also a field hockey coach at the University of Southern Maine.
Her number one goal every year is to help the girls she coaches to become confident, self-advocating, hard-working young ladies. She believes life lessons are taught through sports and she works hard to install values in her athletes.
The girls’ varsity field hockey team is looking strong this year. They are a young team but have a higher skill level than DiDonato has seen in years. They are willing to work hard for what they want, and she believes it will pay off in the long run.
DiDonato lives with her husband, son and two pets in Windham. She enjoys spending time with her family, hiking and reading. But most of all, she enjoys living in the same district in which she works.
“I love the community and to be a part of it. We moved to Windham so our son would have the chance to go through the school system. It has so much to offer all kids.”