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Wakeman Town Farm

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134 Cross Highway, Westport
http://www.wakemantownfarm.org

When we first moved to Fairfield County I thought it’d be fun to grow our own Halloween pumpkin in our little garden next to the fence. I planted one or two seeds and watched its first baby leaves peep out and, eventually, take over the entire patch. In no time, it had clambered up the fence, crawled into the neighbor’s garden, and was poised to take over their entire yard before I hacked it down with an axe. The next day it had become bigger and stronger and was clearly preparing itself for world domination. 

Long story short, I’m now the proud farmer of chives, weeds, and an unsettling crop of pale leafy carrots.

Now, I could go to Wakeman “organic demonstration homestead” and learn how to grow vegetables in an environmentally responsible way. Which I easily can, because they offer all sorts of ways to educate people on how not to destroy plants. But they also offer children’s camps and classes, so I’ll save the thrill of nurturing organic zucchini for my kids. Plus, there are a bunch of snuggly farm animals for them to care for and cuddle, including one very fluffy white chicken.

Click to read the rest ... "Wakeman Town Farm"

Entertainment     Events + Places     Home + Garden     Give     Westport    
Wednesday, April 09, 2014 • Permalink

The Beehive

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1561 Post Road, Fairfield

The only problem with The Beehive is that it’s perfect. The store is airy and inviting, the gifts are lovely (and useful!) with a sense of humor, and the owners Sarah and Chris are manifestations of a J. Crew catalog. Even their rescue dog is purebred - not the wacky amalgams* most of us adopt.

None of this is a problem per se but, typically, gift stores carry a few items at which we can roll our eyes or buy as joke presents. That’s not happening here.

Tasteful items range from Allegra Hicks throw pillows to Jonathan Adler salt and pepper shakers, Loren Hope necklaces to charming stationary. The children’s gifts are deliciously whimsical, though geared more toward a hip mom than an actual toddler. But who cares. Better to keep the mom happy if she’s dealing with toddlers.

Robin’s note: Ironically, I’m not a huge fan of blogs. Especially those on store sites which I find to be a bit pandering. But their blog is (surprise!) really good. I found myself wanting most of their suggested gift items.

Price points are kept low for “guilt-free” shopping - for those of you who’ve ever felt guilty about it. And once you’ve purchased gifts for yourself and all the party-throwers in your life, you can wrap them in gorgeous paper and ribbons, also for sale. So your OCD friends will love it, too.

Click to read the rest ... "The Beehive"

Entertainment     Home + Garden     Fairfield    
Monday, March 24, 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

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

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

BAM

BAM, Norwalk

21 Lois Street, Norwalk

There are good real estate markets and there are bad real estate markets, but there will always be bad taste. Everyone has a “they sponge-painted their yard furniture and put it in the dining room next to the litter box” story, but who has actually purchased a home containing such atrocities? Exactly. Which is why savvy brokers enlist interior designer Barbara A. McEntee to “stage” (fully furnish and decorate) empty or visually offensive homes for maximum show-ability and quick sale.

But here’s the kicker: after the house is sold, all of the fabulous furniture, accessories, lamps and linens are homeless. So BAM was born: a warren-like warehouse in Norwalk where you can buy all of this stuff at 30-99% off regular prices. It’s like a glamorous, sheltered garage sale that changes weekly. If you enjoy the hunt, and you don’t bring children that like to push large paintings to see if they fall off the wall, you can find some amazing treasures.

Robin’s note: The women working in the store are lovely and patient: when my kids unburdened a chandelier of its light bulbs, Jane, a designer at BAM, chuckled and asked me if they’d like some candy instead.

Who you’ll see shopping here: Primarily moms from Westport.

Their specialty: Lamps, coffee tables, and sofas.

What you should buy: A new Carver’s Guild mirror with tags for $895, normally retails for $1,175.

What you may not know but should: Upon my departure, they loaded me up with free home design magazines.
Located next to “Sugar & Olives” (see “Sugar & Olives”)

Consignment     Home + Garden     Norwalk    
Friday, June 17, 2011 • Permalink

Leonards

Leonards, Westport

1945 Post Road East, Westport

We all know there are far fewer American antiques than European. After all, our country is only a few hundred years in the making and we stopped sweating over fine furniture the moment Frank Lowell’s import business tanked and he pirated the Brit’s designs for textile machines. Or something to that effect.

Fast forward to Leonards, the finest American antique store in New England, possibly in the known universe. Recently they moved across the street and got rid of the silly sled by the front door which, I think, made it look more like Santa’s eerie workshop instead of a fabulous repository of beautiful furniture.

They specialize in heirloom quality antique and reproduction four poster beds. In fact, if you flip through any magazine article showcasing a four poster bed, chances are good it’s from Leonard’s.

You’ll also find gorgeous dining room sets, chests, coffee tables, and side tables. Don’t look for bargains, but every piece is worth the price.

Robin’s note: Now that the economy is tanking, Leonard’s is trying to accommodate the new fiscally conservative among us by offering more, and greater, discounts during the year.

Who you’ll see shopping here: Women ages 35-70. Sometimes men, but not often.

Their specialty: Four poster beds: any bed can be re-sized to your measurements and some components may be re-designed to your liking.

What you should buy: Four poster bed, antique or reproduction, and chests of drawers.

What you may not know but should:
  - All antiques are expertly restored and in excellent condition.
  - If you purchase an antique, you can return it at any time for a store credit equal to 75% of its original cost, minus necessary restoration charges. If you own a piece for more than 5 years, they’ll offer a store credit of 100% of cost.
http://www.leonardsdirect.com

Home + Garden     Westport    
Friday, May 20, 2011 • Permalink

Pimlico

Pimlico, New Canaan

7 Elm Street, New Canaan

I entered this store with my son on a drippingly hot day, more with the intent of drying the sweat off of our bodies than buying something (a detail I decided not to discuss with the friendly owner, Jill). It’s a small shop with excellent air conditioning, the blues and silvers of the fabrics and furniture lending to the cooling effect.

However, it takes self-restraint to not buy something because everything looks so… fabulous. The glamorous mirrored furniture and tastefully embellished fabrics glimmer and glow with just the right amount of understatement. Co-owners Jill and Melissa update the collection/presentation often so there’s always something new to see and covet.

Robin’s note: Most of the pieces are tough to find on the web or elsewhere which, I think, helps justify profligacy.

Their specialty: Mirrored furniture (new and antique) and chic throw pillows.

What you should buy: Mirrors, unique accessories, and gorgeous chandeliers.

What you may not know but should: The customer service is superlative: they’re happy to answer any questions, are unfailingly polite to shoppers and browsers, and are wonderfully accepting of young children who lick mirrors.
http://www.pimlicohome.com

Home + Garden     New Canaan    
Tuesday, April 19, 2011 • Permalink

Bungalow

Bungalow, Westport

4 Sconset Square, Westport
(203) 227-4406

A full-to-the-point-of-popping antique/home décor boutique that channels the Palm Beach socialite who entertains Hollywood royalty when she’s not traveling around the world collecting antiques for her second home.

Robin’s note: A “friend” of the owner once confided to me, “I remember when she first opened Bungalow. Back then you could still walk around.” So be warned: your child will delight in his/her easy access to breakable items.

Their specialty: Exotic antiques.

What you should buy: Antique sconces or fabulous wall mirrors.

What you may not know but should:
  1. They never have sales. Ever. Which is why it’s so full.
  2. They carry a small collection of lovely jewelry, including JL Rocks.

Home + Garden     Westport    
Wednesday, March 02, 2011 • Permalink

Glen Leroux Antiques

Glen Leroux Antiques, Westport

56 Riverside Avenue, Westport

Curiously and solitarily perched on a stretch of street devoid of comparable establishments, GLA is a tidy, beautiful shop specializing in mid-century modern American and French antiques.

Every gorgeous piece, from furniture to jewelry, is meticulously organized and surprisingly dust-free (a detail readily apparent to mothers and gay men). His jewelry collection lavishly fills two glass cases: one full of real (Tiffany, Cartier), one full of costume. The costume baubles, especially, are exquisite.

All of his furniture are designer pieces, including Jens Risom and Herman Miller, as are his chandeliers (with one glittery exception).

Glen, the proprietor, is a charming, delightful man, eager to talk antiques, answer questions, and measure chandeliers. Most inventory moves quickly, as he shows around the country 12 times a year. However, don’t get all excited about super deals and discounts unless, of course, you consider an $8,000 chandelier an exciting offer. If you do, you’ve come to the right place: he’s happy to negotiate.

I spent half my time physically restraining my 3-year old daughter (and her lollipop) from climbing on shelves and furniture and, though he kept one terrified eye on her, he plastered a smile on his face and pretended to be charmed with her antics. I know I’m an annoying customer – any mom with young kids is (even if your kids wear designer clothing and sing to strangers, ladies) – so I appreciated his patience.

Robin’s note: Glen is not a “designer” per se, but has offered his decorative eye to special clients, even procuring and selling rugs at trade discounts.

His specialty: Furniture and object d’art.

What you should buy: Jewelry and elegant chandeliers.

What you may not know buy should: Well, there is one deal: his Lalique collection includes a mix of old and contemporary pieces. He sells the new pieces “at least half off regular price.” So if you’re in the market…

Home + Garden     Westport    
Monday, February 07, 2011 • Permalink

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