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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

Ann Taylor Loft

Ann Taylor LOFT, Westport

1499 Post Road, Fairfield
100 Greyrock Place, Stamford
17 Main Street, Westport

Three years ago, if someone told me I could either A) shop at ATL, or B) kiss a Madagascar hissing cockroach, I might have paused a moment and thought, “Well, that particular type of cockroach doesn’t bite and is considered among the more docile of the cockroach family.” Yeah. I wasn’t a huge fan of ATL. Then something happened. ATL began morphing into something sort of J. Crew wannabe-ish. Not great, but interesting. Then Gary Muto (formerly of Gap) took over and – holy cow! It’s so much better!

Their silk dresses are chic, feminine, and wearable. The tops are fun with tasteful embellishments, in primarily cotton and silk. The styles flatter by cuts and colors, not by smashing cellulite with built-in girdles or shrouding “problems areas” in tents of poly-blend lace. Plus, the prices and clearance sales are reliably fantastic.

Robin’s note: Gary Muto took over from past-ATL president Donna Noce Colaco who left a season or two before their fashion flourished. Funny enough, she is now president of Chico’s… no additional comment.

Who you’ll see shopping here: Women of all ages and backgrounds.

Their specialty: Silk dresses and embellished t-shirts.

What you should buy: Great cardigans and dresses.

What you may not know but should: ATL operates over 500 stores around the US, so its designs have to flatter a bunch of figures and make customers think they’re thinner than they really are. As a result, sizes tend to run large. 
ww.anntaylorloft.com

Fashion     Fairfield     Stamford     Westport    
Wednesday, May 04, 2011 • Permalink

Abilis

Abilis, Greenwich

50 Glenville Street, Greenwich
1150 Summer Street, Stamford
http://www.abilis.us

Remember when Rain Man wins big in Vegas by counting numbers? What man didn’t wonder, “Wow. If I had autism I could be rich.” But then they see Raymond in the fire alarm scene a few minutes later and decide it may not be so fun after all. Men (sigh).

Because autism isn’t so great. But people with autism can be great with the resources and help they need; resources Abilis has provided since 1951.

What they do: Abilis (formerly known as Greenwich ARC) “has served people of all ages with autism, Down syndrome and other developmental disabilities in the Greenwich-Stamford area. We changed our name in 2008 to reflect all that people with developmental disabilities contribute to society.” Their support programs help adults, children, and families, through residential, employment, and community network services.

How they work: “…Abilis meets the myriad needs of people with developmental disabilities - not only in childhood, but throughout their lives.

  - Abilis works in schools, civic organizations and with families in Greenwich, Stamford, Darien and throughout Fairfield County and into Westchester County in New York state.
  - Abilis provides employment services for adults and residential support to adults in more than a dozen homes owned by Abilis in Greenwich and Stamford, as well as to people living more independently in apartments and condominiums.

Many families work with us for weeks or months. For others, the journey lasts years or even a lifetime… Abilis provides people with the support and advocacy they need to build able lives and strong communities.” Services are from birth through adulthood.

Click to read the rest ... "Abilis"

Give     Greenwich     Stamford    
Wednesday, April 06, 2011 • Permalink

Southport Brewing Company

Southport Brewing Company, Southport

2600 Post Road, Southport
131 Summer Street, Stamford

When I was in Paris one summer I had dinner at a Chinese restaurant. That night, I awoke to throbbing pain and thought I was dying of cardiac arrest. Then I realized it was just my chest cavity exploding as lava hot acid conflagrated my heart. I mean, pork fried rice in the land of pâté de foie gras? I have only myself to blame.

Fast forward to the other night when I ordered a glass of wine and a wrap sandwich at a brewery. What did I think when I tried to hack my way through a piece of ligneous chicken? Bad habits die hard. Thankfully, no heartburn.

My husband, however, was wolfing down a fabulous burger and brew, loving life and unaware of my inner turmoil. I’ll never make the same mistake again, I told myself. I just hope I listened.

Robin’s note: SBC is very kid-friendly, offering crayons, masks, and great choices for picky eaters.

Who you’ll see eating here: Families with young children and older couples. Childless couples and people under 35 years old are in the adjoining bar.

Their specialty: Burgers and brew.

What you should order: Black and Blue burger – blackened burger with gorgonzola.

What you may not know but should: Their 27 home-brews are made on the premises, so diners are surrounded by a working brewery.
http://www.southportbrewing.com

Dining     Fairfield     Stamford    
Friday, April 01, 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

Fund for Women and Girls

http://www.fccfoundation.org

Last August, Jennifer Aniston assured women everywhere that we don’t need men to have babies. Okay, aside from piffling matters like the biology of human reproduction and male role models, she kind of has a point. I mean, a women pulling in her kind of coin can replace a father with a fleet of nannies, a night nurse, a maid, a vegan chef, and todder wardrobe full of designer clothing.

But, sadly, the lights on Hollywood Boulevard seem to have blinded her from reality. First, she has no children and, therefore, no clue what she’s talking about. Second, most single moms do need help: that’s where a baby daddy comes in pretty handy. And if he isn’t around, and money is tight, then they need someone – and I’m not referring to a casting director or personal assistant.

That’s where the Fund for Women and Girls comes in handy.

Who they are: “Established in 1998 by women for women, the Fund for Women and Girls is a permanent Field of Interest fund of the Fairfield County Community Foundation… (and) has become the largest women’s fund in New England.”

What they do: “In 2007, the Fund published the first research study on the status of women and girls in Fairfield County… Our research confirmed what was expected… too many women are living at the poverty level because of limited education, low-paying jobs and the high cost of child care.

Since the Fund’s establishment, it has awarded $1.4 million in grants to Fairfield County nonprofits that address the unique needs of women and girls. Our investments and collaborations aim to

Click to read the rest ... "Fund for Women and Girls"

Give     Darien     Fairfield     Greenwich     New Canaan     Norwalk     Stamford     Weston     Westport     Wilton    
Wednesday, February 09, 2011 • Permalink

Brasitas

Brasitas, Norwalk

430 Main Street, Norwalk
954 East Main Street, Stamford

At first blush, its proximity to the DMV (the tedious time-suck that would make a sloth feel like he was wasting his time) and uncanny resemblance to a tanning salon made me wary of this Spanish-Latino restaurant. But once I was ensconced on a barstool sipping a margarita and munching on free snacks, I happily noted the festive surroundings, friendly service, and wonderful, authentic food.

Robin’s note: The outside looks like a tanning salon, not the inside. And while the margarita was good, it wasn’t great. I’m still searching for great. If you know of any, please e-mail me (see Contact Us).

Who you’ll see eating here: During the week, office-workers from nearby businesses, on weekends, couples 25 – 55 years old.

Their specialty: Entrana a la Parrilla, grilled skirt steak with jalapeño-cilantro chimichurri.

What you should order: Brasitas Emapnaditas, hand-rolled empanadas.

What you may not should order: They ply you with delicious (and complimentary) plantain chips and pico de gallo.
http://www.brasitas.com

Dining     Norwalk     Stamford    
Monday, January 17, 2011 • Permalink

Crumbs

Crumbs

48 West Putnam Avenue, Greenwich
89 Elm Street, New Canaan
1067 High Ridge Road, Stamford
40-44 Post Road East, Westport

Those of you who prefer your sugar plums be cellutically affixed to your inner thighs, rather than dancing in your head, already know about Crumbs.

Note: I know cellutically isn’t a word. I just don’t know why.

Crumbs is the charming cupcakery sweeping Fairfield County. And only a hardcore funsucker would sap the delight from a visit to Crumbs for one of their notoriously big and decadent confections.

There are over 50 flavors of homemade cakes, such as “Baba Booey” (chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting and chocolate cream cheese frosting or something to that effect), “Cookie Dough” (vanilla cake with fudge center, cream cheese frosting and cookies), and the all-time favorite of children who love any abnormally bright food with a cartoon on top, “Pinkalicious.” You can also enjoy the cupcake-of-the-month and seasonal specialties like Peppermint Hot Cocoa.

Each whimsical gateau will set you back about $4.50. Sound like a lot? Maybe. But it’s nothing compared to your gym membership.

Robin’s note: I’m not going to lie and say they’re the best cupcakes I’ve ever eaten. They’re not bad, though, with an impressive frosting/cake ratio. Plus, your options are limited. The best cupcakes are the smaller “classic” cupcakes in vanilla and chocolate. Cheaper, too.

Who you’ll see eating here: Couples and moms with kids. Teenagers descend upon it after school lets out.

Their specialty: Baba Booey, Artie Lange, Red Velvet, Cookie Dough, Squiggles, Devil’s Food, and Peanut Butter Cup.

What you should order: Vanilla with chocolate frosting.

What you may not know but should:
  1. Don’t like cupcakes? (Is that humanly possible?) But if you really don’t, they carry a tasty selection of cookies and muffins.
  2. They’ll create cupcakes for weddings, birthdays, and other fabulous occasions.

http://www.crumbs.com

Dining     Greenwich     New Canaan     Stamford     Westport    
Thursday, December 30, 2010 • Permalink

Children’s Toy Drives

Toy Drive

I threw out a pile of donation solicitations the other day. Depleted, I reasoned, were my charity and finances. Then I fired up the internet and bought myself a new pair of earrings. 

And so the cycle of guilt continues.

For the price of the pair of earrings I now plan to return, you can buy several lovely Christmas gifts for children in need. Below are many wonderful organizations eager to help out those less fortunate this holiday season:

Please hurry!

They all accept unwrapped toys or gift cards.

Holiday Toy Drive, Westport
Drop off new unwrapped toys and donations in the parking lot of Athletic Shoe Factory, 1560 Post Road East, Westport, on Dec. 18 & 19 between 9 AM and 3 PM. Toys are given to underprivileged children in Fairfield County. Or drop off toys any time at the Westport Police Department, 50 Jesup Road, until Dec. 19 at 3 PM. Toy Drive is sponsored by WPD Local Union #2080 and Police Benevolent Assoc.

The Child and Family Guidance Center*, Bridgeport
(203) 394-6529
http://www.cfguidance.org
Founded in 1925 to address the emotional and psychological wellbeing of children and their families, the Center offers a wide range of outpatient mental health and substance abuse counseling services for children under the age of 18 as well as a variety of in-home supportive services to their families.

Click to read the rest ... "Children’s Toy Drives"

Give     Darien     Fairfield     Greenwich     New Canaan     Norwalk     Stamford     Weston     Westport     Wilton    
Friday, December 17, 2010 • Permalink

Lakeside Diner

Lakeside Diner, Stamford

1050 Long Ridge Road, Stamford

  Easily one of the best diners in the county, this casual, kitschy eatery has welcomed such star power as John C. Reilly and Donnie Osmond into its inexplicably mauve purlieu. Though small, it draws big crowds on weekends, with amazing pancakes roughly 12 inches in diameter, egg and omelet specials, tasty doughnuts, and surprisingly good coffee.

All tables overlook a lovely lake surrounded by foliage and a plastic alligator stapled to a tree. There were precious few small children in sight (a couple of the older eaters seemed nonplussed by the sight of our preschoolers), but they offer baby seats and boosters.

Robin’s note: Not only is Lakeside delicious, but the service is fast, fast, fast. Our order had barely stopped vibrating in my husband’s vocal chords when our breakfast arrived, fresh and blessedly accurate. Plus they offer two-egg omelets; a dainty alternative to the usual hedgehog-size egg bonanza.

Who you’ll see eating here: Couples over 55 years old and families with children over 9 years old. Lots of them.

Their specialty: Specialty pancakes and their Farmers, Garden, and Western omelets.

What you should order: Homemade pancakes, doughnuts, and two-egg omelets.

What you may not know but should:
  - They won a 2010 Best of the Gold Coast award.
  - Cash only.
  - The waitresses are all friendly and helpful… except for one. She’s not much of a people person. Forgive her for her shortcomings and don’t let it ruin your good time.

Dining     Stamford    
Tuesday, December 14, 2010 • Permalink

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