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New Canaan

A Better Chance

A Better Chance

http://www.abetterchanceofwestport.org
http://www.abchouseofnc.org

My kids’ weekday morning routine is as follows: wake up at 5:45 AM, rub lotion into the carpet/watch popsicles melt on the kitchen floor/pour my organic toner in the bathtub, spend 45 minutes sprawled at the bottom of the staircase instead of getting dressed, feign illness, pick at breakfast, repeatedly voice preferred breakfast and school snack options, complain about school until school starts.

I daydream about my kids running into my room and jumping on my bed shouting, “Wake up Mommy! It’s a school day and I want to LEARN!” But… that will never happen.

However, there are kids who want to go to school. In fact, the only thing hindering their academic progress is the lack of quality public schools and the financial inability to attend private schools. A Better Chance in Westport and New Canaan has found a way to help.

What they do: “This program selects motivated students of color from educationally disadvantaged areas who demonstrate potential for academic excellence and leadership in life.” (website) Those selected live in town and attend either the award-winning Staples High School or St. Luke’s prep school. They become part of the community and the town, in turn, benefits from the diversity.

Who they are: ABC programs are run by area residents and community leaders. While each town’s program is a discreet entity, ABC is a national organization and individuals are selected from completed applications sent to its headquarters. Therefore, students come from all over the United States.

Click to read the rest ... "A Better Chance"

Give     New Canaan     Westport    
Monday, May 30, 2011 • Permalink

Tequila Mockingbird

image

6 Forest Street, New Canaan

To kill a mockingbird. Get it? One or two of their margaritas would annihilate our feathered friend or, at the very least, get him completely plastered. But he can hardly be blamed for gluttony, really, because the fresh-lime margs are SO GOOD.  Where’s the buzz on these puppies? Honestly.

Now, I’ve heard mixed reviews about the food. I will state here that our meal was wonderful and Roberto, our waiter, was excellent. When I ordered my standard “chicken burrito” he scoffed and said, “No. I get you something better. If you don’t like, I pay for it myself.” (Maybe he had better English. I was drinking margaritas and can’t quite recall.) Well, Rob-o. You win. The sautéed shrimp was outstanding. In fact, everything you recommended was outstanding. Oh – and sorry we didn’t order the $75 tequila shot. Maybe next time… when we’re on an expense account.

Robin’s note: TM is like a party-in-a-box. The festive, over-the-top decor and party vibe makes every dinner a celebration. The margaritas also contribute.

Who you’ll see eating here: Groups of couples ages 30-60 and one or two tame bachelorette parties.

Click to read the rest ... "Tequila Mockingbird"

Dining     New Canaan    
Thursday, May 26, 2011 • Permalink

New Canaan Diner

New Canaan Diner, New Canaan

18 Forest Street

A whimsical retro diner (‘50s nostalgia prints and memorabilia, pink waitress uniforms, chrome fixtures) that plays to the children with colorful bendy straws and crayons-in-a-lunchbox on every table.

Robin’s note:  No amount of bendy straws will get a child to choke down a gorgonzola omelette, so I was surprised they didn’t have kids’ menu. 

Who you’ll see eating here: Locals and families with young children.

Their specialty: Pies, baked every week by the owner.

What you should eat: Vanilla milkshake

What you may not know but should: Breakfast was fine but, based on the buzz, I suspect lunch and dinner are much better. Shout out to our waitress, though. She was fabulous, patient, and blessedly efficient.

Dining     New Canaan    
Friday, May 06, 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

J. Crew

J. Crew, Westport

126 Greenwich Avenue, Greenwich
24 Elm Street, New Canaan
145 Main Street, Westport

Hey, guys – J. Crew! Ever heard of it? Of course you have. And if you haven’t, you need to put down your paint-by-number of The Last Supper, straighten your bolo tie, and leave your house for the first time in 15 years.

Begun by two men who peddled discount women’s apparel door-to-door, J. Crew earned a solid reputation as a “classic” casual wear catalog retailer in 1983, the heyday of catalog shopping. The sharp increase in postage and paper forced them to re-think their strategy, leading to their first store opening at South Street Seaport in 1989.

Today, over 200 J. Crew boutiques dot our landscape, clogging Fairfield County closets with cashmere sweaters, ruffled blouses, and pants crawling with embroidered sea creatures.

Robin’s note: I may be cursed by the gods of capitalist consumerism for writing this: everything in this store goes on sale. Everything. But you have to follow the sales in-store and on-line to take advantage of it.

Who you’ll see shopping here: Every red-blooded women in the county under 65.

Their specialty: Cashmere and khakis.

Click to read the rest ... "J. Crew"

Fashion     Greenwich     New Canaan     Westport    
Monday, April 04, 2011 • Permalink

Wish List

Wish List, Darien

606 Post Road East, Westport
350 Greenwich Avenue, Greenwich
1101 Boston Post Road, Darien

WARNING: Sensory Overload. This store, packed with toys, clothes, candy and every cutesy gewgaw on the planet, left me with a hangover the next day. But as I waded through the morass, I found some great pieces.

Who you’ll see shopping here: Teenagers, women who want to dress like teenagers, and very patient shoppers.

Their specialty: Tight pants, loose tops, and stretchy fabric apparel.

What you should buy: Vince sweaters and white blouses, great affordable tunics and party dresses during in spring/summer.

What you may not know but should: The Greenwich store carries a special line of JL Rock designer jewelry, including gold-plated snake bracelets, chunky gold-plated rings, and signature white gold and diamond earrings. Word is, the Wish List owners and JL Rock are tight, so the prices are better than what you’d find at other stores.
http://www.shopwishlist.com

Fashion     Darien     New Canaan     Westport    
Monday, March 14, 2011 • Permalink

True Blue

137 Elm Street, New Canaan

This lovely boutique carries affordable lesser-known labels.

Robin’s note: They carry a verrryyy similar knock-off of the heart attack-inducing $381 tee from Scoop NYC for $83.

Who’ll you’ll see shopping here: Teens to 40+ women disinclined to spend $450 on an everyday sweater.

Their specialty: Silky tops and tunics.

What you should buy: Cozy sweaters around $100-200 and necklaces made from vintage pieces.

What you may not know but should: It’s one of the few one-of-a-kind boutiques we should support before the space becomes a bank or an Ann Taylor LOFT.
http://www.truebluect.com

Fashion     New Canaan    
Friday, March 04, 2011 • Permalink

Reid’s Country Kitchen

Reid's Country Kitchen, New Canaan

17 Elm Street

The food is fine, the service is nice, the atmosphere is predictably diner-ish. But, holy cow, it’s the cleanest, tidiest diner I’ve ever patronized. Packets of hot chocolate stand like pudgy, determined toy soldiers and neat containers of butter tower steadfastly over their syrup counterparts. The only mess I saw was the one my toddler son left after enthusiastically destroying a blueberry muffin and dropping a full cup of milk on the carpeting (the kind waitress promptly poured him a fresh cup and told us not to worry). 

The diner is set back from the maddening Elm Street crowd and not readily detectable to first-time shoppers. But long-time residents seem to know and depend on it as a source of basic fare and drinkable, fresh coffee. Prices are decent, but before you question the cost of a scrambled egg with multi-grain toast, remember what town you’re eating it in.

They switched the channel of the flat screen TV to Cartoon Network when they saw my son sitting at the counter. A nice touch, and it captivated him long enough for me to drink my coffee and pilfer his blueberry muffin crumbs.

Robin’s note: We went early on July 6, as the heat was climbing from “This must be what hell feels like” to “I wish I were in hell so I could cool off.” So customers were few. However, the waitress and cook knew exactly what the regulars ordered and fetched it for them the moment they slid their sweaty bodies onto a seat.

Click to read the rest ... "Reid’s Country Kitchen"

Dining     New Canaan    
Friday, February 25, 2011 • Permalink

Fairfield Community Foundation

FCF Logo

http://www.fccfoundation.org

As many of you know, at least those who scroll beyond “Bars” and “Look Good,” this site includes write-ups of local charities and foundations. Why? Three reasons: 1) it’s amazing how many wonderful opportunities exist for giving, 2) it’s alarming how few of the 2,243+ organizations we’re actually aware, and 3) researching them independently is as tedious as cleaning Vaseline off your carpet with toilet paper and baby shampoo.

The FCF understands this and was created to make giving a lot of easier.

What they do: The FCF helps you “select those [organizations] that match your charitable passions and provide well-run programs that achieve results…. [and] help local nonprofits operate at peak efficiency so they get the most good out of every dollar. You can also join other like-minded donors to engage in collective giving.”

Who they are: FCF’s leadership is composed of local community and business leaders.

Where your money goes: To ensure money is used most effectively, grants focus on 6 areas –
  - Education and Youth Development
  - Economic Opportunity (including affordable housing, workforce development, and immigrant success)
  - Health and Human Services
  - Arts and Culture/Arts Education
  - The Environment/Environmental Education
  - Nonprofit Capacity Building

Click to read the rest ... "Fairfield Community Foundation"

Give     Darien     Fairfield     Greenwich     New Canaan     Norwalk     Stamford     Weston     Westport     Wilton    
Thursday, February 17, 2011 • Permalink

Harvest Supper

Harvest Supper, New Canaan

15 Elm Street, New Canaan

I now believe in love at first sight. I walked in, noticed the hostess’ white-embroidered black linen sheath dress with white bead necklace, and was smitten with this bistro. It only got better: the service was beautifully orchestrated, the wine selection impressive, the menu scrumptious, and the atmosphere lovely.

It was late on a Tuesday and my husband and I decided to split a few things instead of gorging ourselves and going straight home to bed. Among the wonderful dishes we selected were the kobe beef burger: a pain to split, I’m sure. But split it, they did. And when I sent mine back for more cooking (no fault of their own: I ordered poorly), they did so promptly and graciously.

But back to the hostess. I had the uncanny feeling I’d seen her before. When I went to the restroom I noticed a New York magazine clipping of a gorgeous couple in an embrace above an article about NYC’s restaurant power couple: Jack and Grace Lamb. I’d seen the photo and article before and realized – it was she of the great dress! In New Canaan!

Click to read the rest ... "Harvest Supper"

Dining     New Canaan    
Thursday, February 10, 2011 • Permalink

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