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Westport

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

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    

Homes With Hope

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http://www.hwhct.org

The “joke” in Westport is that the town has the only homeless shelter in the country that’s four doors down from a Tiffany. I bet the executives at Tiffany get a good chuckle over that one.

Homes With Hope offers housing, over 30,000 meals a year, Masters-level counseling, and an opportunity for independence to homeless and mentally challenged people and their families. A lot of Tiffany customers volunteer at HwH, and the success stories are worth their weight in gold.

Robin’s Note: Currently, there are 86 people sleeping every night in close proximity to the jewelers. 30 of these people are children. Also, the HwH board appoints two high school student members, a junior and a senior, who volunteer for 2 years.

Who they are: “Homes with Hope provides facilities and supportive services in a structured environment that enable homeless people in the communities we serve to achieve an independent and self-sufficient life.”—ihawestport.com

Click to read the rest ... "Homes With Hope"

Give     Westport    
Wednesday, April 02, 2014 • Permalink

South Moon Under

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14 Post Road East, Westport
http://www.southmoonunder.com

Born from a surf shack in 1968, South Moon Under honors it roots by selling swimsuits year ‘round. Which is fabulous for those of you itching for a mid-winter bikini spree. Personally, I try to avoid that kind of reality (and many others, including my birthday, dirty toilets, and the tower of mail and overdue library books on my kitchen counter.)

If you don’t want a bikini but you want to show skin, they’ve got you covered. Tiny cut-offs, pleather crop tops, patterned halters. If the sight of your pasty thighs in short-shorts sends you screaming for a maxi-dress, you’re in luck: they’ve got those, too. Colorful ones. So you can cover up. Sort of.

There are all sorts of fun, relaxed clothing appropriate for a privileged teenager or working twenty-something on vacation. If you don’t like what you see, wait a week. New clothing and different designers will keep you and your budget in a constant state of wonder.

Robin’s note: The entire bottom floor is a sale room! It’s kind of empty now, but it won’t be for long. Retailers tend to overestimate the number of rayon-blend dresses and novelty sweaters it takes to saturate our market.

Who you’ll see shopping here: Moms of teens, shopping for themselves or for their teen daughter.

Their specialty: Swimsuits, sundresses, bold jewelry, and colorful tops.

Click to read the rest ... "South Moon Under"

Fashion     Westport    
Monday, March 31, 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

Project Return

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124 Compo Road North, Westport

Ah, springtime. The weather warms, the crocuses pop, and tin birds that seemed to have sprung from a Blue Meanies and Yo Gabba Gabba cross-mating experiment lurk on random roadways. Yes, they appear (most) every March to herald the Annual Project Return Birdhouse Auction. And the cause makes those freaky creatures worth tolerating.

Who they are: Since 1986, Project Return has housed troubled adolescent girls. “Girls who are victims of physical, sexual and emotional abuse as well as those who suffer from eating disorders, depression, homelessness and other traumas make Project Return their temporary home.”

What they do: “7 girls at a time live in this family-like atmosphere. In the process of mending broken spirits, our teens regain a sense of their own power to change their lives for the better.” (website) Girls receive the education and attention they need to empower themselves and mend their lives. They receive counseling, drug screening, educational and hospital services, DBT skills training, 12-step area meetings for addiction, special education if needed, cultural enrichment, and much more.

Click to read the rest ... "Project Return"

Give     Fairfield     Westport    
Wednesday, March 19, 2014 • Permalink

The Little Barn

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1050 Post Road East, Westport

Opened by Kevin McHugh, co-owner of Spotted Horse and Grey Goose, I imagine the conversation he had with his Little Barn partner, Scott Beck, went something like:

McHugh: “I’ve had heaps of success naming eateries after farm animals.”

Beck: “But the only ones left are Pig, Cow… maybe a Housecat, a Rat.”

McHugh: “Right. Which one makes you hungriest?”

Beck: “Not… none.”

McHugh: “Hmm…”

Thus, The Little Barn was born.

The Barn, made from reclaimed almost everything, has a collection of perfectly worn license plates and a neon “Liquor Store” sign. These touches evoke a cozy “Aw, shucks” roadhouse environment, belied by the high-end bar with a parade of designer cocktails and wonderful gastro-pub fares. Which, of course, is irresistible to those of us who enjoy fraternizing redneck-style without actually involving rednecks.

The basic kids (“Half Pints”) menu appeals to, like, kids.

Robin’s note: The cocktails, concocted from fresh juice and top tier liquors are good, if inconsistent. The margaritas are sweet. Very sweet. I kept looking over my shoulder, expecting to be attacked by a flock of hummingbirds.

Their Specialty: Chicken Pot Pie

What You Should Eat: Excellent burgers and kale salad, Fish ‘n’ Chips, and pulled pork.

What You May Not Know But Should:
  - The chefs are flexible and happy to monkey around with your entrée. So if you want chowder on your chicken wings or bacon on your baby backs, just ask.
  - No entrée is over $20
  - The location used to Dairy Queen, then a lousy diner, then Swanky Franks. Some people remain wistful about these restaurants.
  - Beck and McHugh are proud Staples grads.
  - No reservations accepted.

Dining     Bars + Baristas     Westport    
Thursday, March 13, 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

Spotted Horse Tavern

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26 Church Lane, Westport

Spotted Horse Tavern - with a lively bar, delicious food, and consistent service - has won over the hearts of foodies and divorcées alike. Painstakingly re-constructed from a dilapidated (“historic”) home, the tavern-chic interior compliments the upscale American comfort food and moderate prices. There’s no kiddie menu, but the entrees are palatable for picky nippers and the generous pours from the bar help increase tolerance levels among adults dining with them.

So come for the cozy meals and big cocktails, then migrate to the bar to watch men dust off their pick-up lines for women in short skirts.

Robin’s note: It’s not, technically, a cougar bar: older women are not trawling for wide-eyed innocents here. Our experiences indicate it’s more of a manther bar, even though I cringe at perpetuating the term “manther.” (Pumale? Catamant?) But an occasional lonely-heart one-liner doesn’t detract from the fun.

Their specialty: Lobster & Avocado BLT, Maine mussels, “Under a Brick” Grilled Half Chicken

What you should eat: Lobster BLT, Atlantic Salmon

What you may not know but should:
  - Parking is a teensy problem, but drivers who illegally park in the neighboring pre-school lot seem to have created an unsustainable solution
  - The Spotted Horse is owned by the same people who own The Grey Goose in Southport and The Little Goose in Fairfield
  - Food is organic and locally-sourced
  - Live music on Thursday nights

Dining     Bars + Baristas     Westport    
Thursday, March 06, 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

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