In and Around Fitchburg, Massachusetts

This blog was created to discuss some of the positive aspects of living in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, that are often overlooked by outsiders and residents alike.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

For the Dog Lovers Out There...

Happy holidays everyone! I apologize for not posting here for a bit, as I was out of the country for Thanksgiving. Time to pack up the flip-flops for awhile now! It’s good to be home though - one of the best parts about my return was going to pick up my yellow lab, Pax. We boarded him at the Worcester Animal Rescue League, which has recently added a separate kennel wing that offers incredibly reasonable boarding rates. And the staff at WARL are outstanding! I’ve had nothing but great experiences with them since I first adopted a cat there in 2000.

Another really wonderful option for boarding that’s closer to home is Manilow’s Doggie Daycare in Leominster. (We’ve boarded Pax there before but had already booked WARL for our recent trip.) Doggie Daycare is run by a fabulous woman named Barbara who is clearly a true animal lover. Boarding is a relatively new offering through the center, but we’ve actually been eagerly taking advantage of daycare services for some time now as a special treat for Pax...and for us! Anyone out there with a lab or other similarly energetic dog can appreciate what I mean. They’re a lot of fun, but sometimes it’s nice to have them come home and just fall asleep! There’s no minimum number of visits, so it doesn’t have to be a costly investment.

I had heard about doggie daycare centers over the years, but I guess I always associated them with larger cities. Finding Manilow’s only a few miles away was a nice surprise! The facility is located just off routes 2 and 190 (near Target), making for simple drop-off and pick-up on my commute. The building includes a large indoor space for inclement weather days, a training room, a room filled with crates for napping, and an extensive array of outdoor fenced-in areas. Barbara takes the time to get to know each dog personally, even keeping files detailing each dog’s friends and enemies to ensure optimal playgroup arrangements. Manilow’s also offers some other great services, including bathing and nail clipping as well as a variety of training classes. I’m very grateful that Barbara chose to open her center in our area!

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Friday, November 17, 2006

Wachusett Brewing Company

There’s nothing quite like being able to stop by a local brewery to get a growler filled with freshly-made beer. I’ve been a fan of Wachusett Brewing Company’s beer offerings for many years and occasionally made trips there for tours and tastings. The owners and staff are incredibly friendly and laid-back. The company was actually founded by some alumni of my alma mater, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), making it that much more interesting to hear details about the rather unusual path Wachusett has taken to reach its current level of statewide recognition. The bottling machinery, for example, was pieced together and tweaked by former engineers, while the beer itself benefits from the expertise of a former biology student. I just wish I’d been at WPI a few years earlier than I was so I could have participated in the initial “you help us bottle, we’ll give you free beer” arrangement that got the brewery up and running!

After moving to Fitchburg, I quickly discovered that the brewery is only a ten-minute drive from my house, on route 2A shortly after crossing from Fitchburg into Westminster. Clearly, one can only tour a brewery so many times before getting bored (and before making the staff suspicious that you’re just in it for the free samples). However, Wachusett has a lot more than that to offer us locals thanks to their “Growler Guild” program. For $19, you can buy a 64 ounce growler that can be refilled an unlimited number of times for only $6. They’ve even just expanded their growler filling times, which are now Wednesday and Saturday from noon to 5:00 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from noon to 7:00 p.m.. And for anyone out there thinking of checking out Wachusett for the first time (or the tenth, whatever), I received an email earlier this week about a big sale happening the weekend after Thanksgiving. Cheers!

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Movie Theaters

A co-worker of mine recently moved out this way from Winchester. Shortly after her move, she came to me in a panic. Her concern: “PLEASE tell me there’s a movie theater somewhere in the area!” It reminded me of my own fears when I first moved to Fitchburg, fears that were quickly assuaged when I discovered that yes, facilities such as movie theaters, shopping malls, restaurants, and grocery stores are readily available in the area. In regards to movie theaters, however, there was an added bonus - it costs a lot less to see a movie in this part of the state! Cinema World in Fitchburg charges only $5 for a matinee and $7 for an evening showing, while Entertainment Cinemas in Leominster is only $4.75 for matinees and $7.50 for evening shows. Even better is the fact that both theaters charge matinee prices for ALL Tuesday shows. It’s hard to beat catching an evening show for $4.75. The concessions also cost far less than I’m accustomed to at Metrowest-area theaters, and I rarely encounter the same degree of chaos and consistently sold-out showings. Overall, I’ve found the movie-watching experience to be a lot more enjoyable and a lot cheaper since moving to Fitchburg!

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Monday, November 06, 2006

Fitchburg Public Library

I can’t believe it took me two years, but I finally visited the Fitchburg Public Library for the first time over the weekend. I was quite impressed with the staff and the library’s offerings. I used to be one of those people who read all the time, even picking up a second major in English as an undergraduate to dilute out the often mind-numbing science classes. Yet once I reached graduate school and was faced with a never-ending stack of tedious assigned reading and academic research, reading for pleasure was quickly dismissed.

I set foot in the Fitchburg Library this weekend and was immediately transported back to the days when reading was fun. The stacks are arranged for comfortable browsing, and there was a lot more than just books to offer. The public computers seemed particularly popular, but I was most drawn to the books-on-CD section. What a great way to pass the time while commuting! I was also surprised that so many movie DVDs were rentals are much preferred over the $5 Blockbuster rental fees or the monthly Netflix charge! There were quite a few music CDs as well. In preparation for an upcoming trip to Costa Rica, I checked out a CD/book combo to teach myself some Spanish (both European and Central American Spanish versions were available).

After we left the library, my husband and I decided to spend some time wandering around the downtown area. I’ve always enjoyed the classic look driving through the area, but I gained a much better appreciation for some of the architectural details on our walk. We browsed a couple of shops, including Design at 639, which showcased a variety of furniture and artwork items. Somewhat to our surprise, there were actually quite a few other people strolling down Main Street. Overall, the downtown had a very nice look and feel to it, and I remain quite hopeful that more businesses will choose to open in the area.


Friday, November 03, 2006

Bombay Tandoor Grill

As I sit here enjoying a delicious lunch of leftovers from Bombay Tandoor Grill (200 Lunenburg Street (a/k/a route 2A), Fitchburg), it occurs to me that I have yet to post a review of this restaurant. I fear I may have come to take its presence for granted!

Those of you out there who are Indian food fanatics like myself can appreciate how hard it is to find a truly wonderful Indian restaurant. I got extremely lucky when I found Bombay Tandoor Grill within weeks of moving to Fitchburg. The staff is very friendly and attentive, with the owner and his wife ever-present. Water glasses are kept filled, which makes my husband particularly happy as he has a pet peeve about empty beverages! They pay attention to other little details too, such as providing extra rice with containers to bring home leftovers. The restaurant has a BYO policy, with corkscrews and wine glasses provided upon request. The menu is extensive and reasonably priced, and the food quality is truly outstanding. I should also mention that the menu offers full explanations of what each dish includes, and the staff is more than happy to answer questions for those not familiar with Indian food. There’s a genuine respect for vegetarians, with the owner cognizant of issues such as the need for separate cutting boards for meat and vegetables. I visit there or order take-out quite frequently and have consistently been impressed with my experiences. Some of my favorites include the basil nan, baingan pakora, palak paneer, and mango lassi, but no matter what I try, I’ve never been disappointed and always eagerly await my next visit.

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Halloween & Costume World

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, as I love the genuine, fun-spirited simplicity of kids going after candy. This year, I finally had the chance to give out full-size candy bars to trick-or-treaters, which is something I’ve always wanted to do. We’ve gotten good turnout in past years, and this year was no exception, with about 60 kids coming by. The relatively warm weather was a nice touch! My favorite costume this year was a little girl, Sophia, dressed as a giraffe. She was barely able to stand up on her own and had such a hard time grasping a candy bar - she was absolutely adorable!

On a related note, I had no idea that “The Largest Costume Store in New England” resides right here in Fitchburg! Of course, who knows if superlative claims like that are accurate (I doubt there’s an agency that keeps tabs on the exact square footage and inventory of Halloween costume stores), but I must say that Halloween Costume World is an impressive place. Not only do they have an extensive array of packaged costume options for kids and adults, but they’ve got EVERYTHING you could possibly imagine for those who are a bit more creative and put together their own costumes. It makes things a lot easier when all of the accessories can be picked up at the same time as the main costume. Fishnet stockings, shoes, temporary tattoos, fake cigars, wigs, make-up, masks, fake “bling” name it, they’ve got it, including some rather high-end items. I have yet to venture into their Haunted Mansion, although I hear that it’s unbelievably well done. Anyone out there been in?

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