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Children’s Connection

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One Park Street, Norwalk

In my mind, the holiday season is one of the most significant times in a child’s life. Whether it’s remembering my own childhood (hearing a symphony of shattering glass ornaments when the cat knocked over the Christmas tree, singeing our eyelashes as we throw armfuls of wrapping paper and plastic covers into the fireplace inferno), or experiencing it far more cautiously through my own children.

It’s almost impossible, and tragic, to imagine a child not having joyful memories of December, especially in Fairfield County. But it happens. It happens every year, all year, all around us. There are children who suffer neglect and abuse in every conceivable way and they need our help. 

Children’s Connection, part of the Human Service Council, reaches out to these children and their families, trying to make their lives and their holidays a little bit merrier.

Who they are: “The Children’s Connection, one of seven fully accredited child advocacy centers in Connecticut, is a member of the National Children’s Alliance. Organized in 1974, the Children’s Connection grew out of the community’s desire to improve the existing system’s response to child abuse.”

Abuses include neglect, sexual, and physical abuse.

What they do: “The formation of the Children’s Connection’s premise is that in order to effectively serve abused children and their families, various private and public organizations must share knowledge, resources and skills. This collaboration ensures that the needs of all children and families served are being met and works towards providing permanent solutions to the serious community problem of child abuse.”

Their goals are to decrease incidence of abuse, support families and children in crisis, and to increase awareness of abuse services.

Click to read the rest ... "Children’s Connection"

Give     Norwalk    
Tuesday, November 30, 2010 • Permalink

kate spade

kate spade, Westport

103 Main Street, Westport
271 Greenwich Avenue, Greenwich

I write a lot about my screaming children, so I want to set the record straight. They don’t scream all of the time. Often, they’re delightful, charming, and brilliant. However, not on the day we visited the Westport opening of kate spade (ks).

Imagine a sybaritic octopus just released from a week of solitary confinement and an agile, relentless snapping turtle.

Now, imagine the two of them exploding into a gloriously festive store accompanied by a haggard woman wearing sweatpants and clogs. Yeah. We weren’t impressing anyone.

But I had to go despite these obstacles. Because ks was opening in Westport and Westport needs ks! With so many boutiques dissolving into oblivion, downtown needs a little poof of happy, a small reminder that life can be sparkly and fun and girly. Sure, it’ll knock you back a few coin, but it’s worth it to stand out in a crowd of black Banana Republic dresses and J. Crew necklaces.

kate sold her company to Liz Claiborne in 2006 and the new co-president, Deborah Lloyd, is focusing on clothing. Fortunately, she’s not raiding Liz’s closet.

Click to read the rest ... "kate spade"

Fashion     Greenwich     Westport    
Thursday, November 25, 2010 • Permalink

DWR

DWR, New Canaan

A Consignment Boutique
33 East Avenue, New Canaan

Eight years ago, in Palm Beach, I stumbled across a vintage clothing store on Worth Avenue. They had just received two vintage c. 1955 Lilly Pulitzer dresses. Now, said another way (for the sake of clarity), they had just received two used dresses. We’re not talking couture or seminal contemporary fashion. The price, upon inquiry: $450. Each.

Horrified, I raised my eyebrows and smiled as if to say, “Wow, what a deal!”, pretended my attention was diverted by a $3,000 secondhand Pucci, and quietly left the store.

Well, folks, I’m vindicated: DWR has two of the same style vintage Lilly dresses for $98 each. Plus, as with all of their apparel, the dresses are discounted every 30 day period they remain unsold. It may not be enough to cripple Worth Avenue, but when the indulgent clotheshorse who bought the dresses eight years ago finds out, she’ll feel pretty silly. Assuming she remembers.

DWR (Done With Retail) is a year-old consignment boutique begun by Denise and Nicole, two disenchanted retail excecutives in New Canaan, and their store reflects a typical resident’s closet: Lilly, Rebecca Taylor, Trina Turk and the like, alongside J.‘s McLaughlin and Crew, and a smattering of high-end designers. The prices are reasonable: most pieces are under $100 with Lilly dresses averaging $65.The occasional Chanel bag drifts through, as do Hermes scarves, Dolce & Gabana blouses, and everything else in which you’d expect the New Canaan housewife (or her daughter) to be cavorting about town.

Robin’s note: DWR consigns a small collection of Tiffany jewelry, including an Elsa Peretti 18K pendant on a silk cord for $345 (minus 20% for being in the store for over 30 days), currently retailing for $825. Black suede Manolo Blahniks sell for $100, and I bought a pair of Lilly pants for my daughter for $14.

Click to read the rest ... "DWR"

Consignment     Fashion     New Canaan    
Monday, November 22, 2010 • Permalink

Westport Playhouse

25 Powers Court,  Westport

Historically, Westport is an artists’ community. It’s where Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Marlo Thomas and, yes, the Michael Bolton found domestic bliss. Countless cartoonists, actors, writers, and fashion executives still call this seaside enclave home. You can strike up a playdate conversation with the creative director of Barneys (rather, his wife), trip over the barbell of a TV actress at the gym, and follow a Weinstein brother, in a healthy and respectful manner, through Barnes & Noble.

Art begets art, and one of the reason such creative powerhouses are attracted to this town is the Westport Playhouse, where talent is harnessed and entertained, producing New York-caliber performances.

Who they are: Started in 1930 in a tannery, the playhouse stage was built to the exact specs of a Broadway stage to facilitate the moving of productions to the Great White Way. It hosted and nurtured such luminaries as Eugene O’Neil, Jessica Tandy, Jane Fonda, and Steven Sondheim.

In 2005, Joanne Woodward, Paul Newman and friends renovated the theatre to the tune of $30 million, making it a comfortable year-round theatre.

What they do: Today, as in 1930, the Playhouse offers apprenticeships, internships, and education to thespians, writers, and aspiring directors of all ages.

Most important, the Playhouse presents critically- acclaimed plays and musicals throughout the year for adults and children.

What you may not know but should:
  - Graduates of the intern program include Mary Rodgers (daughter of Richard), Sally Jesse Raphael, Christina Crawford (“No wire hangers!!”) and sundry offspring of successful writers.
  - The Playhouse offers many other events, such as artist talkbacks, new play readings, play-reading clubs, backstage tours, post-performance symposia, pre-performance social events and fabulous birthday parties for children.

How you can contribute: Buy tickets to the shows and donate!

http://www.westportplayhouse.com

Give     Westport    
Thursday, November 11, 2010 • Permalink

Oddz

Oddz, Westport

142 Main Street, Westport

My three favorite clothing options: jeans, flannel shirts, and sweatpants. Yeah. Not very sexy. Not very cheap, either, as designers have embraced and aggrandized farmer/slacker attire, the final fashion frontier (barring leg warmers and tea cozies.)

Regardless, I refuse to pay up for flannel. So I sauntered into Oddz, a hippie-surfer-trendy store for teenagers and women no older than 24 that resembles, and possibly is, a basement. For the most part, the clothes aren’t my style. Big surprise, seeing as though I’m at least 5 years older than their target… Anyhoo, I did love their fabulous, cozy flannel shirts and the prices are far more reasonable than those in stores that cater to 40… I mean 29 year olds.

There’s also a solid selection of sweaters, skinny pants, and tiny dresses, all reasonably priced.

Robin’s note: The jewelry – especially the “sparkly stuff” – is fabulous and cheap. I love the colorful crystal peacock earrings for $110, but I look like a freak in them.

Who you’ll see shopping here: Teens with their moms.

Their specialty: Sweaters and plaid tops in winter, mini skirts and tank tops in summer.

What you should buy: Earrings and flannel shirts.

What you may not know but should: A lot of their clothes are impossible to find anywhere else, so don’t plan on trolling the internet for cheaper prices and whatnot.

Fashion     Westport    
Tuesday, November 09, 2010 • Permalink

Family Diner

Family Diner, Norwalk

71 Main Street, Norwalk

When the profligacy of Fairfield County gets you down and you want to keep it real, head over to the Family Diner. This ‘50s diner (literally) is completely void of kitsch or artifice. It’s a time capsule of the days when people drank Diet Rite for the taste, ate Wonder Bread for its nutritional value, and fresh fruit salad didn’t exist. So park your car and fill up your tummy tank.

My kids loved it for the “good service” and because I couldn’t force feed them strawberries (read above).

Robin’s note: Avoid the counter seat near the kitchen unless you have strong abs and good balance.

Who you’ll see eating here: Folks over 60 years old, mostly by themselves.

Their specialty: Eggs, toast, and hash browns.

What you should eat: They don’t skimp on the chocolate chips, so get them in the pancakes.

What you may not know but should: If you have a view of the kitchen, take a look at the sign on the refrigerator.

Dining     Norwalk    
Monday, November 08, 2010 • Permalink

Fox’s

Fox's, Stamford

1123 High Ridge Road, Stamford

Three weeks ago, my friend and I foraged with a professional forager and a hundred other folks who spent $25 to gather free food. While everyone licked trace amounts of sap from large brown pods and snapped off twigs and leaves for brewing teas which, when consumed 4 times a day for 2 weeks, might relieve a headache, the two of us had a pleasant time chatting and marveling at our indifference to medicinal herbs.

But discount designer clothes? Now that’s worth a forage or two. And opportunity for hunting and gathering is very good at Fox’s. Although many of the clothes are the sartorial equivalent of medicinal herbs, you can find racks of Neiman Marcus cashmere, Cynthia Steffe dresses, Tahari coats, and Calvin Klein (sportswear label) at hundreds less than retail.

Robin’s note: The ebullience of the sales team exuded throughout the store and made the customers practically giddy. My, they were a happy pack of people.

Who you’ll see shopping here: Women over thirty, often with their moms.

Their specialty: Coats (Tahari, KORS, Calvin Klein Jeans), formal wear (Teri Jon), and costume jewelry.

What you should buy: Cashmere sweaters and cocktail dresses.

What you may not know but should:
  - They receive new merchandise every week day.
  - The dressing rooms are in a separate area, but they don’t have doors. So re-consider the v-string and wear a bra.
  - They have a big selection of large sizes.
http://www.foxs.com

Fashion     Stamford    
Friday, November 05, 2010 • Permalink

Athena Diner

3350 Post Road, Southport

Named after the goddess of love and beauty, this diner evokes neither. It does, however, serve a good breakfast and endless coffee in a clean, respectable environment. Which is fine, because no one goes to a diner looking for romance. And if you do, then you may want to re-think your dating strategy.

Robin’s note: They keep a stash of candy to quell screaming children. How do I know? Because they offered all of my kids lollipops within moments of our arrival. Why were they screaming? Because there are two stuffed animal machines/games in the foyer.

Who you’ll see eating here: Fathers with their children and older couples.

Their specialty: Greek specialties.

What you should order: Pancakes and cheesecake.

What you may not know but should: It’s open 24/7 and their list of daily specials is longer than most menus.
http://www.athenadiner.com

Dining     Fairfield    
Tuesday, November 02, 2010 • Permalink