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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

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

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

Caffeine

Caffeine, Norwalk

133 Washington Street, Norwalk

A kick-back coffee shop/tea house with intimate seating “zones” (Moroccan zone, rickety outdoor furniture zone, grandma’s sofa zone, etc.) and a fabulous cake selection.

Robin’s note: Their coffee cup sizes are “Pepped,” “Buzzed,” and “Wired.” That pretty much makes me love this place. That, and the chocolate cherry biscotti.

Who you’ll see drinking here: SoNo shoppers, art gallery owners, and people who listen to open mic poetry.

Their specialty: Select teas and local pastries.

What you should order: A good, reliable cup of coffee and Junior’s cheesecake.

What you may not know buy should: Coffee refills cost $1.

Dining     Bars + Baristas     Norwalk    
Friday, June 10, 2011 • Permalink

SCORE

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Counselors to American’s Small Businesses, Fairfield Chapter
http://www.scorenorwalk.org

It was the late ‘90s. Like most young women in the free world, I decided to start a handbag business. Because I had no clue what I was doing, the handbag venture sort of fizzled. (I did get to tour creepy manufacturing facilities in New York and Fall River, though, so that was a plus.)

In retrospect, I did two things correctly with my business: 1. Consulted a retired businessman through SCORE, who gave me very helpful advice, 2. Folded.

Given today’s economy, thousands of people are starting their own small businesses. I advise them to consult SCORE for help. (Not to be confused with Scores. Biiiig difference.)

What they do: “SCORE… was established by Congress in 1964 as a nonprofit association dedicated to entrepreneur education and formation, growth and success of small business. … SCORE volunteers use their expertise and energies to implement proven business practices in accomplishing your business objectives.” (website) Counselors offer expertise in almost every skill (IT, General Management, Marketing, PR, Strategic & Growth Planning, etc) and in almost every interest area (Photography, Retailing, Traveling, Gardening, etc.).

Who they are: “The Fairfield County Chapter has 50 volunteer professionals with a very broad mix of senior executive and small business experience. These dedicated men and women include both working and retired executives and business owners.” (website)

Click to read the rest ... "SCORE"

Give     Darien     Fairfield     Greenwich     New Canaan     Norwalk     Stamford     Weston     Westport     Wilton    
Tuesday, May 31, 2011 • Permalink

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