Have Kids, Will Grocery Shop

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I enjoy shopping with my kids. Well, “enjoy” is a strong term. It’s more that I loathe grocery shopping to the point I’d prefer the distraction of misbehavior to the tedium of an uninterrupted search for expiration dates.

For the first five minutes.

After that, things get dicey. So I select a store that’s small enough I can’t “lose” my kids for more than a few awkward minutes but large enough to diffuse their hysteria. Typically, I choose Trader Joe’s (TJ’s). They have plenty to keep my kids entertained (free samples, kiddie shopping baskets, find-the-dirty-monkey-and-get-a-lollipop) with the added bonus of stocking nothing the kids recognize from morning cartoon commercials.

Before my oldest could read, I could easily dissuade him from certain junk foods by claiming they contained peanuts, to which he’s allergic. Now he reads, so steering him away from the high-fat high-sugar treats around which his world revolves is challenging.

I don’t want to say, “It’s fattening” or “You don’t need the calories” because, should my kids wind up with body dysmorphia or worse, I don’t want them to be able to recall a specific moment as the snowflake that started the avalanche of their descent. Better to keep it vague so they can’t point fingers.

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Kids in Tow    
Friday, February 07, 2014 • Permalink

Brandy Melville

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375 Greenwich Avenue, Greenwich
142 Main Street, Westport
http://www.brandymelvilleusa.com

I tend to dismiss teen apparel shops for the cheesy, over-priced, slutty clothes. So I’m always flummoxed when I find myself in one of their fitting rooms trying to yank their leggings over my… well, you get the picture. And so it was with Italy-based Brandy Melville when they rolled into town.

Sure, they have the requisite barely-there tops and crotch-grazing skirts. But their sweatshirts and oversized-tops are super-comfy and flattering, their jewelry is cute and cheap, and their suede fringe backpack is pretty cool. Quality’s decent, too.

Robin’s note: Their “One Size Fits Most” policy is a tad distressing. I mean, with pants the girth of a garden hose, I assume “most” refers to the population of Somalia. Before blazing American frontier their policy was “One Size Fits All.” So when they get a toehold in the midwest it’ll probably be “One Size.”

Their specialty: Loose-fitting tops, angora sweaters, and tight bottoms.

What you should buy: Sweatshirts and over-sized tees, jewelry for teen gifts.

What you may not know but should:
  - All materials are eco-friendly.
  - Sororities are encouraged to schedule private shopping nights in any location.
  - Yes, everything is “One Size Fits Most” and has been for the past 30 years.

Fashion     Greenwich     Westport    
Tuesday, February 04, 2014 • Permalink

Terrain

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561 Post Road East, Westport
http://www.shopterrain.com

I love a crumbling old car dealership as much as the next person, but converting it into a spectacular greenhouse/café full of artisanal gewgaw and gardening supplies is, like, preferred. So thank you to Urban Outfitters’ newest eco-friendly retail venture, Terrain! Suddenly my friends have kitchens full of terrariums (!) and I have a rare strain of Czech apple tree trying to pop out fruit in my back yard. 

Robin’s note: A lot of the items may seem pricey. Because they are, there’s no getting around it. But most items are made in small batches by local artists and entrepreneurs from sustainable or reclaimed resources.

Their specialty: Terrariums, organic health and beauty products, hard-to-find plants, and gardening tools.

What you should buy: Terrariums and interesting plants.

What you may not know but should:
  - The outside walls and windows are salvaged from the Philadelphia navy yard.
  - On Saturdays you can enjoy free samples from the cafe, musicians, and artists.
  - Their website includes cafe recipes and DIY project instructions, so you can try to “make it yourself” before giving up and buying it.

Home + Garden     Westport    
Wednesday, January 29, 2014 • Permalink

Post 154

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154 Post Road, Westport


As recently as two years ago, I stood in line in the Post 154 building* in late December with three heavy boxes, two whining kids, and a migraine in a pear tree. So sipping a cosmo in roughly the same area is oddly satisfying, like yelling in a library after-hours or muttering inaudible threats to DMV workers.

While the space is lovely and conveniently located, the Latino-Italian-Portuguese fusion fare – many small plates and large plates - is inconsistent. Some love it, some don’t. But the bar is large, the atmosphere is inviting, and the mood is festive.

* Westport’s old post office.

Robin’s note: The drinks, like the lines at the post office, vary with each order.

Who you’ll see eating here: Families with tween kids, couples 35-65 years old, groups of women and men.

Their specialty: Golden Corn Bisque, Duck Confit Taquitos, Portuguese Octopus

What you should order: Heirloom Tomato Salad

What you may not know but should:
  -  Happy hour lasts from 3:00-6:00 M-F, with drink and appetizer specials.
  -  On Friday nights their house band “Swirl” does just that.
  -  The outdoor terrace, cold and creepily deserted in the winter, is lovely in the summer.

Dining     Bars + Baristas     Westport    
Wednesday, January 22, 2014 • Permalink

Designer Label Consignment

Designer Label Consignment

1344 Post Road East, Westport

Despite what the past few store write-ups may lead one to believe, my goal in life is not to troll the county for vintage clothing stores. But given the economy and my penchant for high-end designer clothing I can’t afford, it seems like a pretty good idea right now.

Which leads me to this place. I’ve driven by it a million times and it was only when I had to bring my car in for repairs (in the attached strip mall) that I decided to pop in. The first thing I spotted was a cotton Pucci dress for $95 and I cried out to the manager, “I’ve never been in before but I’m so excited I’m finally here!” She… didn’t share my enthusiasm and I stood there smiling like a mentally challenged golden retriever. A gorgeous pair of embroidered Manolos for $110 and a Stella McCartney dress for $45 heightened my solitary utopia, as did the $35 Marni top, Stella shorts, and Etro silk blouse.

Seeing a Chico’s cardigan broke my heart (please people: stop abusing the hard-won “Designer” appellation!), but a nearby row of Akris suits for $175 and a St. John suit for $110 were the threads that mended the fickle little muscle of mine back together.

Robin’s note: As I strode toward the dressing rooms with my bonanza, the manager stopped me and whispered of the elderly man occupying one of the two rooms, “Wait until he leaves. He’s very sweet, but the curtains separating the rooms are sheer and he likes to peek.” THANK YOU, SALES MANAGER.

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Consignment     Fashion     Westport    
Monday, January 13, 2014 • Permalink

Have Kids, Will Eat

Eating at Bertucci's

Dining Out with Kids

Last Thursday my husband was forced to enjoy cocktails and a swishy dinner in NYC with fellow workfolk. Again. Normally he declines the dinner invitation so he can have a late dinner with his wife. Which would be so sweet if it weren’t for the fact that his wife has to make and clean up after said late dinner. So… yeah. Fun.

But this night he accepted the dinner invitation, creating a free evening for me and my three angelic offspring.

As luck would have it, all three were wearing outfits that neither embarrassed nor confused me. So I dolled myself up a bit in preparation of a nice meal at a kid-friendly restaurant like Rizutto’s or Bertucci’s.

Now, if you don’t currently have kids I should explain: dirty and snot-smeared is the new black, and taking children to dinner is the new nightclubbing. When you have kids, your old life doesn’t “change” so much as it ceases to exist. Kids become your life, and you learn to appreciate small things such as sitting on a dry toilet seat or having someone else wash your dishes.

Anyhoo, back to dinner with the kids. We settled into a booth and placed our order without incident. We all had reasonably tasteful outfits, adequate table manners, and the kids weren’t screaming fart jokes. And–-I swear I’m not lying—my oldest son shared something about his day at school!

The older couple next to us complimented me on my well-behaved children, which made me smug and generously sympathetic of parents with less tame charges.

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Dining     Kids in Tow     Westport    
Monday, November 28, 2011 • Permalink

Kids in Tow!

Robinsresources.com is happy to announce a new category: Kids in Tow. We’ll fill you in on the delightfully* challenging experiences a mom or a couple may have while shopping or dining or whatnot in Fairfield County locales with, you know, children.  Enjoy!

* “delightful” when reminisced about a year or so later

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Barbara Barbara

Barbara Barbara, Southport

351 Pequot Avenue, Southport

As its name suggests, the more the merrier. And oh, gentle reader, how to impress upon you the degree to which this store is merry. There’s so much stuff packed into shelves and piled on tables you need a field guide and a degree in archaeology to shovel your way through the morass. But get through it you must, as your reward is twofold: 1) you’ll find something fabulous, 2) you’ll have a wonderful feeling of accomplishment.

Robin’s note: She has Christmas ornaments – in May! But I bought one, so she who laughs last, etc. etc.

Who you’ll see shopping here: Women 30-65 without children.

Their specialty: Everything.

What you should buy: Unique light fixtures and vases, and my daughter loved the plastic bananas…

What you may not know but should: She has a small collection of John Derian decoupage, including a rare placemat made from antique hand-written letters.

Home + Garden     Fairfield    
Friday, November 11, 2011 • Permalink

Barcelona Wine Bar & Restaurant

18 West Putnam Avenue, Greenwich
222 Summer Street, Stamford
4180 Black Rock Turnpike, Fairfield
63.65 North Main Street, South Norwalk

Well, that was skeevy.

Before I dive into details, two things:

  1.  Barcelona is a delicious and delightful wine bar/tapas joint with a fun, noisy vibe.
  2. After reading this write-up, the new (and very kind) general manager of Barcelona SoNo, who was not aware of a certain employee’s behavior, contacted me to apologize. He was very concerned and expressed intolerance of such behavior. As of this writing, I’m confident that certain Barcelona employees will never hit on a patron—or, perhaps, anyone—again.

Robin’s note: One of the managers hit on me. Not in a flattering or coy way, but in a “God, it’s getting late and I haven’t picked up a chick yet” way. So here’s the story: I and 5 of my girlfriends go for drinks at Barcelona SoNo. We meet at 9:00 and there are several tables of women having birthday parties, drinks, whatever. When I ask a manager for the location of the restroom, he holds out his arm to escort me to a set of two doors in a narrow corridor across from the large glass wine refrigerator. I half-heartedly take his arm, then slide my arm back because it’s so queer.

An hour later I’m up again to use the facilities (I drink a lot of water when I tipple) and find both bathroom doors locked.

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Dining     Bars + Baristas     Fairfield     Greenwich     Norwalk     Stamford    
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Le Pain Quotidien

382 Greenwich Avenue, Greenwich
81 Elm Street, New Canaan

“The Daily Bread” or, if pronounced incorrectly, “The Daily Rabbit,” is a delightful organic café (perfect for lunch) with a European flair that, thankfully, doesn’t extend to its service.

Robin’s note: Le Pain was my home-away-from-home in Manhattan. Wonderful coffee, delicious fare and now – a liquor license!

Who you’ll see eating here: Moms with kids at breakfast and lunch, groups of couples 30-55 years old in the evening, and French ex-pats. No kidding.

Their specialty: Artisan bread and tartines (elegant open-faced sandwiches).

What you should order: Bread and tartines.

What you may not know but should:
  1. Each table has an assortment of their delicious signature jams and chocolate/hazelnut spreads to eat with their bread.
  2. Cafés include one or two large communal tables for those of you who enjoy sitting next to strangers or “meeting new friends.”
  3. It’s an environmentally-conscience eatery, with wood flooring from defunct railway cars and efficiently bio-degradable cups and spoons.
http://www.lepainquotidien.com

Dining     Greenwich     New Canaan    
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