Monday, October 31, 2016

Helpful at Halloween?

Shopping around Halloween can be very interesting in some stores. 
Sometimes, there's characters to assist you .. .

Be careful as others might be brewing trouble in the aisles . . .

At times, you might find only a skeleton crew . . .

Others have BIG smiles because it's Halloween 🎃 today !

As most of you have figured out, none of these characters were helpful at all. 
In fact, they were just hanging around the local Home Depot store in recent weeks.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Scared of Crows?

Whoops that title wasn't correct, but was just meant as a play on the word "scarecrow."

Scarecrow is typically described as a figure of a person in old clothes, set up to frighten crows or other birds away from crops. But, these figures along downtown Main Street in Nashua, NH are part of a downtown competition. 

Some are quite colorful and elaborate in their costumes. My personal favorites are shown in this collage, especially the center one.

Many downtown merchants designed the scarecrows to represent their businesses. 

Other costumes were much less elaborate.

This was the 2nd annual Downtown Scarecrow competition with over 30 entries this year. Over 1,000 folks voted for their favorites over the past three weeks.These  scarecrows will greet visitors on Main Street through Halloween.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

More Fall Walking

A previous post showed fall colors seen on our walk through Mine Falls Park, which has entrances within walking distance of our mill apartment. Since that time, we've been out walking several more times.

Few words can describe the natural beauty of fall foliage, especially now in New England. 
I hope you enjoy these colorful images as much as we did seeing them.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Cajun Shrimp in Foil

This recipe is not only super easy (my favorite kind) but also delicious and healthy as well. It's from a public broadcasting show (PBS) program featuring nutritionist Ellie Krieger. Her show, Ellie's Real Good Food, is quickly becoming one of my favorites.

The recipe shown below is to serve 8. You can adjust the ingredients, as necessary, when serving fewer folks. According to Ms. Krieger, you can also prepare the recipe, then refrigerate or freeze for later use.

Cajun Shrimp in Foil

  • 2 TBSP salt-free Cajun or Creole seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2-1/4 lb cleaned large shrimp
  • 2 fully cooked Andouille sausage links (6 ounces total), very thinly sliced
  • 2 medium zucchini (8 ounces each), sliced into [1/4]-inch thick rounds
  • 2 large red bell peppers, seeded and cut into thin strips
  • 3 C corn kernels (one 1-pound bag frozen corn)
  • 1/2 C chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/2 C chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1 C dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
  • 1/3 C olive oil

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Combine Cajun seasoning, salt, and pepper in medium bowl. Add shrimp and toss to coat.
  3. Place eight large (10 x 18-inch) pieces of heavy-duty aluminum foil on a flat surface.
  4. Divide sausage, zucchini, bell peppers, and corn among foil pieces, placing  vegetables in center of each. Top each with shrimp (about 5 or 6), sprinkle each packet with 1 tablespoon of parsley and 1 tablespoon of basil. Drizzle each with 2 tablespoons of wine and about 2 teaspoons of oil. Fold each piece of foil to form a packet, sealing tightly and leaving a little room inside for air to circulate in the packet. 
  5. Arrange packets on baking sheet. Cook about 13 minutes until shrimp is cooked through and vegetables are crisp-tender. Open packets slowly, being careful of hot steam. Transfer shrimp, vegetables, and sauce to individual bowls. (Makes 8 servings, of 1 packet each.)
My choice was to serve with a rice accompaniment and the remaining white wine. Grenville rated this recipe as a "keeper" with two forks.

Monday, October 24, 2016

View from the 5th

We are fortunate not only live on the top floor of a former mill building in Nashua, NH, but also to have windows with views of the Nashua River and downtown.

This photo is SOOCP (straight out of cell phone). It was taken last week and wasn't tweaked in any photo program. What you see here is what was there.

A day later in late afternoon, the sky was less colorful with the threat of rain. But the muted fall colors were no less beautiful. (This is also a SOOCP shot with no after-effects.)

Over the past week we have been treated to some stunning displays of fall foliage in Nashua, NH. The best part is that some of it has been visible without leaving our apartment.

Are you also enjoying fall temperatures and colors?

Friday, October 21, 2016

Friday Funnies

Every time we travel on highways, which we do quite a lot, there's always something to amaze me. (In truth, a lot of things do, as you all well know by now).

There's always folks who seem to need a BIGGER vehicle for all their "stuff."
And, if the car breaks down, the bicycles could come in handy 🙂

Enjoy your weekend, Everyone.
Get outdoors, especially if there's colorful foliage in your part of the world.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Banana Bread with Chocolate Drizzle

Looking back, this isn't the first and probably not the last banana bread recipe I will post. After all, can we ever have too much of a good thing? 

Looking back to previous posts, there were several others in 2010 to 2012. Seems I "skipped" a few years, so here's a "new" (to me), so easy and very delicious banana bread recipe that was tried after watching Ellie Krieger's PBS cooking show.

This recipe has a lot of good stuff, that's healthy too — bananas, nuts, yogurt, wheat flour, not much sugar. So what's not to like? This recipe calls for a chocolate drizzle which I didn't make. Instead, Grenville drizzled chocolate syrup on his slice(s), so that works too.

Banana Bread with Chocolate Drizzle
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/3 C walnut pieces, optional
  • 1 C whole wheat pastry flour, or regular whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 C all-purpose flour
  • ¼ C granulated sugar
  • ¼ C packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ C canola oil, or other neutral flavored oil such as “light” olive oil or grape seed oil
  • ¼ C low fat plain yogurt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 large, very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed (about 1 ½ cups)
Chocolate Drizzle:
  • 2 TBSP confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 tsp 1% low-fat milk, plus more if needed
  • ½ oz. dark chocolate (60-70 % cocoa solids) finely chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray.
  2. If adding walnuts, spread onto a baking sheet; place in oven until toasted, about 8 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl whisk together whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  4. In another bowl whisk together oil, yogurt, eggs and vanilla, then whisk in mashed banana to combine. 
  5. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir in the toasted walnuts, if using. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until a wooden skewer inserted in center comes out clean, 50-55 minutes. Cool and then transfer bread to cooking rack.
Prepare the chocolate drizzle

Place confectioner’s sugar and milk in a small saucepan over a low heat and stir until melted. Stir in chocolate and cook until just melted, about 1 minute. Drizzle chocolate over top of banana bread. Allow chocolate to cool and set, then slice and enjoy. 

A cold glass of milk is a great accompaniement.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Nashua Ride of the Undead

The first (annual) Nashua (NH) Zombie Ride rolled through downtown this past weekend. 

This local event was modeled after an event held each year in Key West, FL and was organized by the Greater Nashua local Chamber of Commerce as a fun ride. It was open to everyone and participants could either ride bikes or walk the nearly 2-mile route. A police escort was provided for safety along the city route. 

Disclaimer - None of the adult or child "victims" show in the below photos were actually hurt. The "injuries" were as "real" as the figures on a zombie-mobile included in this event.

Since the staging area was within walking distance of our place, we went to watch the pre-festivities which included facial makeovers and a quick dance instruction. 

While many riders came dressed in zombie-like attire or worn and ragged clothing, they needed some "finishing" touches. Members of a local theater group, Actors-Singers served as makeup artists. Nashua's mayor (top left) served as "Chief Zombie" for the ride.

The make-overs were quite realistic complete with fake "bloody" injuries but with our any pain. Participants were told that their "undead" looks would clean up with soap and water so they could come back to life by Saturday evening. 

In addition to their make-overs, zombie participants were given a brief dance lesson performed to Michael Jackson's "Thriller." At the end of the ride, there would be a flash mob event. (We didn't follow the riders and missed it.)  But, we did watch the "practice" session.

Although we didn't participate in this inaugural event (this year), it was all about watching folks out having fun on a weekend afternoon. 

And, we did too!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Friday Funnies

Hanging on . . .

Is what came to mind as a photo title. Do YOU have any suggestions?

Enjoy your Weekend, Everyone

(It's going to a busy fall weekend here in Nashua, NH with multiple events including an ArtWalk both days with exhibits and performances, a just-for-fun "Zombie" bike ride, and an open house at the downtown Masonic Temple.)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Fall is for Walking

Thanks to everyone who posted condolences on the sudden passing of our good friend, Marty, on the VA eastern shore. We appreciated your kindness and will share your comments with her husband, Robert, when we attend a memorial service this month.
         ❋                                  ❋                                  ❋                                                                                        

The weather was perfect for walks in Mine Falls Park this week. This 325-acre park is within the city of Nashua, NH. While not all the colors are at peak now, many are just starting to show their beauty.

Mine Falls park was purchased in 1969 with city and federal Land and Water conservation Fund (LWCF) monies. The park includes forest, wetlands, and open fields. It is bordered on the north by the Nashua River and on the south by the Millpond and canal system. 

The park provides recreational activities like walking, biking, kayaking, cross-country skiing, and snow-shoeing. It also has fields for organized sports like soccer and baseball and lacrosse.

The name "Mine Falls" derives from the 1700s, when low-quality lead was thought to be mined from the island below the falls. In the early 1800s, the potential of the Nashua River to drive the wheels of industry was recognized. Workers used shovels and mules to dig a 3-mile long canal, which provides a vertical drop of 36 feet at the mills.

The Nashua Canal Trail is part of a series of loop trails in Mine Falls Park, Nashua. A total of 6 miles of trails wind along the canal and river in this wooded park. Only 1.2 miles of trail are paved, and the rest are hard-packed dirt. 

The canal itself was dug by hand in the 1880s and is 3 miles long. The waterfall created by the canal powered local mills. 

There are several entrances to Mine Falls Park within walking distance of our mill apartment. We're very fortunate to have such natural beauty close by.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Friendship and Loss

We lost a very special friend on the VA eastern shore this weekend. Many have undoubtedly felt similar losses. Good friends are like family members, except they're the ones you got to choose. That's how we felt about Marty and her husband, Robert.

Marty, passed away Sunday night within a week of being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She called to give us the diagnosis, concerned how we would take the new that she had been given 6 weeks (or less) to live — a short time that was sadly far shorter.

After that call, we considered returning to VA, a 12-hour drive from NH. But, we had a family wedding in NYC this past weekend for which all arrangements had been made. When we told Marty that we considered cancelling those plans to visit, she insisted that we go, have a good great time and tell her all about it. Family was everything to her and always came first. She raised 7 children on her own after the death of her first husband.

Marty started painting 10 years ago after moving to the VA eastern shore from NC and soon became an accomplished artist. She exhibited in local shows and that's how we all met. (Grenville and I were also exhibitors.) Robert was always there to help out too.
Here's some of her art: Autumn Light and Inlet at Assateague.

This Burton Shores watercolor hangs in our apt. It was treasured when received, and even more special now. 

We socialized with Marty and Robert often and she didn't dwell on the fact that she was dealing with increasing health issues in recent years. Marty wanted to know what everyone else was doing. She was caring, cheerful and always positive. While our get-togethers were less often after our move, we kept in contact between trips back to VA.

If anyone could have beaten the odds, we felt it would be Marty. During our last phone chat, she told us she didn't fear death, but leaving friends and family. 

Friendship is a priceless gift. Loyal friends listen to your sad tales or share your good news. They care because they want to, not because they have to. We cherish close friends as we do our family. When they're gone, we mourn the loss of that special bond.

Our friend is gone, but not her memories; they are ALL great — Smile. She always did.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Friday Funnies

Notice anything unusual in this water fountain photo?

Here's a hint . . . look at where the water is hitting (the edge and not the bowl).

Enjoy your weekend, Everyone.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

WHAT Was I Thinking?

Apparently, not much at all late last night.

And so this short post is an apology of sorts to any fellow bloggers who may have read that earlier post, which has been deleted. Briefly, I was ranting about the week-long extensive media coverage to a TV celebrity's (very) high profile assault and robbery.

While I disagree with the news space directed toward this and other items, not excluding bickering and backstabbing in the U.S. presidential race, I realized that this blog space was not where I wanted to vent these rants. And, for the record, I empathize with anyone who has suffered such an experience or anything similar. It surely must be a life-altering incident I hope to never experience firsthand.

Therefore, I deleted that post and going forward will concentrate on the good great things going on because life is sadly way too short to complain about most things. And, as a good friend once told me, step back and ask: "How does this affect me?"

So, after that rant published, I did that and it's gone. (But I'll admit that it felt good to vent.)

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

CERTainly Worth It

No folks, I didn't forget to turn off caps when creating the post title. CERT is the shortened version of Community Emergency Response Team. 

What is CERT?
A CERT team consists of community volunteers who participate in a training program that teaches them how to assist in cases of disaster or hazards. Often, when these events occur, professional responders can become overwhelmed and unable to immediately respond to multiple situations. 

Why is it Useful?
CERT volunteers learn how to protect themselves, their families and neighborhoods in cases of emergency and also non-emergency projects, such as traffic and crowd control. The free training sessions require an investment in time. This past weekend I attended a 20-hour session here in Nashua. Thankfully, the weather outside was dreary, damp and rainy all weekend. That made being indoors Friday evening and all day Saturday and Sunday just a little more bearable.

Grenville had previously taken the CERT training and was one of the instructors for these sessions. as for myself, I and about 25 others were students who received classroom training and participated in hands-on exercises for basic disaster response skills.  Among other things we learned search and rescue techniques, how to safely extinguish small fires, turn off gas and electric utilities, and provide basic first aid.

Our final hands-on exercise was a mock disaster drill to locate, rescue and treat victims inside a building after a tornado had struck. Everyone successfully passed and at "graduation" we received a certificate of completion, and a backpack of supplies that included a helmet, goggles, wrench, flashlight, and first aid kit.

Why Participate?
It's like paying for house or auto insurance that I hope is never needed, but if an emergency does happen, now I have some additional skills. Many of us from the training signed up to become members of the CERT team here in Nashua.

Being prepared is always good. We are keeping in our thoughts those here in the U.S. and other countries threatened by winds and rains from Hurricane Matthew. 

If you want to know if a CERT program is available in your area, check the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website.