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Greenwich

Joie

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163 Greenwich Avenue, Greenwich
48 Post Road East, Westport

These stores are beautiful but, honestly, I’ve only ever seen one other person inside of them. When I walked in I half expected them to offer me a pineapple or beg for news from the outside world.

I’m not sure who is their target market, but Joie (“zhwah”) is a popular brand so someone must be buying their threads. Pretty much everything in the store is an article of clothing you already have in your closet, but made with more expensive fabric. So fabric-wise it’s fabulous, but the Guggenheim isn’t salivating for a retrospective.

The company started in 2001 in Southern California with a hip line of cargo pants in different fabrics. Super-skinny, but super cool. The cargos did well, so they began creating a “lifestyle brand” of everything BUT cargos. Hmm…

Regardless, it’s refreshing to know you don’t have to go far to buy a $249 silk tank top. It’s what separates Fairfield County from, like, almost every other county in the entire world. So let’s all take a moment to appreciate where we live.

Robin’s note: And speaking of emaciated, their skinny jeans should be sold with a free “Flopsy Ate My Dinner” t-shirt.  An injudicious sales person informed a friend of mine that the jeans “wouldn’t fit her body shape,” which, while possibly true, still makes one’s trigger finger twitch. To be fair, the saleswoman (girl?) in Westport was kind and helpful when I was in the store, and courteously helped a borderline-sociopathic woman with the return of a sale item.

Click to read the rest ... "Joie"

Fashion     Greenwich     Westport    
Friday, August 29, 2014 • Permalink

Little League Challenger

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Darien, http://www.dybs.org
Norwalk, http://www.leaguelineup.com
Stamford, http://www.leaguelineup.com
Wilton, http://www.wiltonlittleleague.org
Fairfield, http://www.eteamz.com
Greenwich, http://www.littleleague.org

I was never very good at sports. I loved them, though, and signed up for every thing: basketball, softball, field hockey, lacrosse… back when we signed up for sports and were spared the disgrace of try outs. It was common knowledge I’d be useless with a ball but, shoot, I could yell and cheer louder than anyone else on the team. So I did, and instead of runs, baskets, goals, and things that actually won games, I made them very noisy. And I did get a few Spirit Awards…

When I read about the Challenger Division, a team of mentally and physically challenged children playing baseball with the help of volunteers, I was touched. Here is an opportunity, I thought, to reward spirit and teamwork as the end result of a game: a laudable, often overlooked goal, and I bet I’m not the first cheerleader to agree.

What they are: “…a program that enables mentally and physically-challenged youth to enjoy the full benefits of Little League participation in an athletic environment structured to their abilities.
“The philosophy is to give all children the chance to play baseball in a setting that is fun and supportive. A big part of this, for the players, is to experience the sense of belonging that comes with being a part of a team, as well as the spirit of friendly competition through games with other Challenger teams from neighboring towns. In Challenger baseball, scores don’t count - everybody is a winner. It’s all about acceptance, self-esteem, positive learning experiences and team spirit.”

Click to read the rest ... "Little League Challenger"

Give     Darien     Fairfield     Greenwich     Norwalk     Stamford     Wilton    
Wednesday, May 07, 2014 • Permalink

Graze

Graze

http://www.grazedelivered.com

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Graze(Click to enlarge)

So this goat farmer walks into my house…

That could be the beginning of a great joke or a bad porn flick. But it’s neither. It’s actually true. He comes to my home on Monday mornings and delivers fresh milk, eggs, chef-prepared meals, and other organic treats directly from artisanal farms in Vermont. And the price? No more than what you’d pay at Whole Foods.

Graze, the brainchild of Christy Colasurdo, a Westport mom and former New York magazine editor along with husband, Doug, and Vermont friends Julianna and Steve (a former CFO of Heineken Americas. Yes, male readers: beer) allows Fairfield County-ers to enjoy delicious farm-to-table foods to which they would otherwise have little or no access (farmers aren’t necessarily great marketers and, to be fair, vice-versa).

Chef Neil whips up a weekly menu of prepared foods, including a soup, adult dinner, kids dinner, grain salad, vegetarian alternative, tea bread, cheese, and much more. His meals and soups are beautifully prepared from local ingredients (Misty Knoll chicken, grass-fed angus beef, freshly picked vegetables) and are surprisingly, and refreshingly, well-seasoned (whoever decided that organic meals must be low-sodium should be locked into a room of hungry pre-schoolers. And their moms.)

Christy tells me, “We have taken great pains to make sure every ingredient we use and every product we sell is not only delicious and nutritious and wholesome, but also sustainably and humanely produced. (We) work with small farmers who know and love their animals and treat them with respect.

Click to read the rest ... "Graze"

Dining     Darien     Fairfield     Greenwich     New Canaan     Norwalk     Stamford     Weston     Westport    
Wednesday, April 09, 2014 • Permalink

Little Black Dog Rescue

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http://www.littleblackdogrescue.org

We adopted a dog last summer - Addison, rescued from Puerto Rico. He’s a hybrid of, oh, 5 or 6 indeterminate breeds and it’s no exaggeration to say he’s the most amazing dog in the entire history of the world. So I was researching Playa Lucia, aka Dead Dog Beach, from where he hails. And I feel like someone just punched me in the stomach. Warning - the next paragraph is graphic.

Dead Dog Beach is a dumping ground for satos, or stray dogs. Up to 300 dogs at a time “live” there, abused and neglected, foraging for food, starving to death, and much worse. Not infrequently, men with guns or cross-bows use these dogs for target practice or hack them up with machetes. Others are poisoned or run over for by ATVs “for fun.” Those that don’t die from torture, starvation, or sickness are euthanized and tossed into the trash with hundreds of other dead dogs and puppies.

While this depravity is most pronounced in Puerto Rico, dogs are horribly mistreated and abused all over the United States.

To think this easily could have been our Addison’s fate is hideous.

Anecdotally, black dogs have the most difficulty finding adoptive homes. Reasons for this are conjecture, but theorires for “Black Dog Syndrome” include the Hollywood typecasting of black dogs in “evil” dog roles and that they don’t photograph well for promotional materials.

Amy Scarella, founder of Little Black Dog Rescue, has devoted herself to finding homes for these dark and deserving pups. She works with shelters in Puerto Rico, Georgia, and South Carolina to bring dogs to her home and foster families in Connecticut before matching them with the right families. All dogs are spayed/neutered, vaccinated, and deemed healthy before they’re placed.

Robin’s Note: Adopt a dog this Sunday! On March 23, Doggone Smart, 15 Cross St, Norwalk, is hosting Little Black Dog Rescue and a posse of their cutest pooches, all eager for adoption. Please swing by between 12-3. http://www.doggonesmart.com


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Click to read the rest ... "Little Black Dog Rescue"

Give     Darien     Fairfield     Greenwich     New Canaan     Norwalk     Stamford     Weston     Westport     Wilton    
Friday, March 21, 2014 • Permalink

Fresh Air Fund

Fresh Air Fund

http://www.freshairfund.org

Last year my husband and I decided to host a 6 year old boy, Eddie*, from the Fresh Air Fund. For two weeks that summer I became the mother of 4 instead of 3. It was a living hell. Imagine a playdate that lasts 334 1/2 hours too long, riddled with late-night bouts of homesickness.

However, I liked Eddie. So, despite all reasons to the contrary, we invited him back this year. When my husband picked him up in New York, he exclaimed, “I can’t wait to see Miss Robin!” (Yes, I’m still waiting for my own kids to share such delight in seeing me.) He ran into my arms as though his whole year culminated in being with us once again. This time, we loved being together: the arguing mitigated dramatically, as did his homesickness. Eddie swam every day with us, went to the playground, went to parties, played baseball, and was genuinely and visibly thrilled with every thing we accepted as part of our normal summer routine. As difficult as the past visit had been, through it we had learned how to interact and succeed as a “family.”

Toward the end of his visit he popped his head out of the swimming pool and I saw he was drooling. He laughed and wiped his face and exclaimed, “I slobbered on the tire swing yesterday, too! I slobber when I’m having fun.” With that, he popped back into the water. I never thought I’d be so happy to see someone slobbering in my pool. That must be why God created chlorine.

The day before we drove him back to the city, he said, “Miss Robin, wouldn’t it be fun if I could stay here all summer?” Well, maybe. But I can’t wait to see him again next summer.

Click to read the rest ... "Fresh Air Fund"

Give     Darien     Fairfield     Greenwich     New Canaan     Norwalk     Stamford     Weston     Westport     Wilton    
Monday, March 10, 2014 • Permalink

Have Kids, Will Discipline

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I prefer the term “discipline” to “punish.” It seems more humane, as though my goal is to tease good behavior from my bunch of miscreants rather than to exact vengeance upon them. Semantics aside, once they hit the four-year mark the gloves come off.

Once (maybe twice) I swore at my collective of tiny people. I know parents shouldn’t swear at their kids but, in my defense, they totally deserved it. Unintended consequence: instead of improving their behavior they learned several new phrases to share with friends. So I kind of get how cursing is frowned upon.

Incentives like star charts don’t work for us. Last time I did it, two of my kids were too young to read well so they had no clue what I wrote. I drew pictures of “Make Your Bed” and “Brush Your Teeth,” etc. But that led to a lengthy and joyless critique of my skill as an artist.

Then they meandered upstairs and played with toys while I screamed at them to brush their teeth. Thirty minutes later they wandered downstairs and demanded a star. Instead of acting on my borderline-illegal impulse, I gritted my teeth and applied a star each to their empty boxes. I mean, why not? I knew, correctly, it’d be the last star they ever earned.

Why this fruitless exercise? I read that parents – especially mothers - should revel in their child’s achievements and tactfully admonish them for their misbehavior, i.e. “Sally, what a great job cutting with Mommy’s new kitchen scissors! Not sure how you got them, but next time let’s make sure Billy’s hand isn’t in the way. It’s not fun for Billy and blood is messy… it’s making mommy nauseous… a little faint. But YAY for such a clean incision!”

Obviously, the man who wrote this pearl of wisdom is too busy writing books and star charts to spend time at home raising kids. If he were, he’d know that any practice discouraged by Children’s Services is far more effective than the nebulous prospect of 15 shiny stars and a sugar-free lollipop.

And where, exactly, did moms get overlooked in all of this? We’re supposed to bury any negative feeling, any semblance of emotion other than delight, and keep looking to the rainbow while the hurricane annihilates our sanity? Nah. I try, but I lack the self-restraint. If a kid draws on my sofa with a Sharpie, my instinct isn’t to praise them for their creative use of mediums and replenish their stash of drawing paper. My gut tells me to yell and impose a lifetime ban on video games and dessert. Or worse. (Note to Children’s Services: I’m kidding. It never gets worse than that.)

Click to read the rest ... "Have Kids, Will Discipline"

Kids in Tow     Darien     Fairfield     Greenwich     New Canaan     Norwalk     Stamford     Weston     Westport     Wilton    
Monday, March 03, 2014 • Permalink

Green Demolitions

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15 East Putnam Avenue, Greenwich
19 Willard Road, Norwalk

At first blush, it seems like a typical success story: suicidal drug addict recovers, makes a wad of cash, sells used kitchens. But wait – “used kitchens”?

Who they are: Founder and President Steve Feldman is a drug addict survivor. He began selling used, overstock, and showroom kitchens and appliances in 2005 to give back to All Addicts Anonymous (AAA), the program that saved his life, through Recovery Unlimited. To date, he owns 4 Green Demolition stores in 3 states and hires 37 people, 35% of who are recovered addicts or family members of recovering addicts.

What they do: In addition to kitchen cabinets and appliances, GD sells objects for the entire house: lamps, toilets, sinks, furniture, candlesticks, etc. Pretty much any decent donated item. But mostly kitchens and appliances.

How to donate: If you wish to donate, they’ll send over a truck to pack up your old kitchen, etc. and haul it to the nearest GD store. You don’t have to pay a dime in disposal or moving costs and you get a tax deduction and you get a warm fuzzy.

The good stuff they sell: They do a brisk business with Christian Clive cabinetry and Viking stoves. Their new “Luxury Room” and “Gold Mine” boasts pewter and silver plate accessories, Tibetan rugs, “finer” furniture and that ilk. And if you want a Viking stove, don’t buy it retail: GD gets a bunch of them. But it’s hit or miss, so be prepared to come back regularly to find what you want.

Click to read the rest ... "Green Demolitions"

Home + Garden     Give     Greenwich     Norwalk    
Thursday, February 13, 2014 • Permalink

Margarita Man

Margarita Man, Fairfield

Margarita Man
Mike Beetem, 860-790-1234

Every year my husband and I celebrate Mexican Independence Day with a large party. Being American, we change their day of freedom to whatever happens to work best for us, typically a Saturday night. So “Cinquo de Mayo” cheekily becomes “Secondo de Mayo” or “Octavo de Mayo” or whenever (and however we feel like translating it.) We think this is cool but it will probably be one of those dorky things that haunt our children far into their adult lives.

So when the stress of planning a party and knowing you’ll someday destroy your children’s social development starts becoming less fun than what you envisioned, it’s time to call… Margarita Man!

Margarita Man, aka Mike Beetem, saved my party and made me so happy I forgot about the other stuff that was bothering me. I simply told him when and where and he delivered a beautiful machine – all gussied up in a grass skirt and silk flowers – the afternoon of my party. He supplied the delicious mix, I supplied the tequila and the triple sec. After giving us a quick tutorial (1. Pour it in, 2. Flip the switch) he told us he’d pick up the machine the next day (which he did, precisely when he said he would).

And the party? WOW. Nothing says “Viva la Independence!” like one too many Margarita Man margaritas!

Click to read the rest ... "Margarita Man"

Bars + Baristas     Entertainment     Darien     Fairfield     Greenwich     New Canaan     Norwalk     Stamford     Weston     Westport     Wilton    
Monday, February 10, 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

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.

Click to read the rest ... "Barcelona Wine Bar & Restaurant"

Dining     Bars + Baristas     Fairfield     Greenwich     Norwalk     Stamford    
Friday, November 11, 2011 • Permalink

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