A recap of Hartford Fashion Week + a look forward to the #WehaWhiskey Festival!

It’s EVENTS SEASON.  All the things, all the time, all the food, all the sparkle, all the nights out, none of the chill.  Sometimes I have to take a step back and really appreciate the cool things I get to be involved in and collaborate with.  Tonight, for example, I was fortunate enough to attend the March of Dimes Signature Chef’s Auction at the gorgeous Riverview in Simsbury.  And in a couple short weeks, I’ll be back at the same location for Share Our Strength.  More to follow on both of those shortly.  But for now – let’s look forward to this Saturday and the upcoming Weha Whiskey Festival!

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Use promo code KAT for 15% off tickets at checkout!  Enjoy 200 whiskeys, courtesy of Maximum Beverage, food from the Highland Park Market, and the satisfaction of knowing you’re raising funds for Camp Courant and the Ct Children’s Medical Center

I stopped by Maximum Beverage today to sample some of the whiskeys they will be pouring at Saturday’s event, including one of my very favorites – Eagle Rare Bourbon

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Maximum has their own single barrel version.  If that doesn’t impress you, we may have nothing in common (sorry)

I hope all of my local whiskey and foodie friends will join me for this event – which I have never managed to attend before!  Very exciting and more, of course, to follow.

So, off of whiskey and on to Hartford Fashion Week.  Katrina did such a marvelous job, along with the rest of the committee (myself included) in bringing an a week’s worth of fashion and fashion related culture to Hartford.

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Here she is with the stylish and fabulous Debbie Alan Wright, owner of Project Closet, and the dashing and handsome Lorenzo Hall (of Fox CT).  A good looking crew!

For those who missed this year’s event, there were multiple nights of fashion themed fun leading up to the three runway shows at Union Station – from a cultural round table at the Hartford Public Library to a fashion themed First Thursday at the Wadsworth.  The star attraction, was, naturally, twelve local original and independent designers showcasing their very diverse looks – from streetwear to ballgowns – at Union Station.  I would strongly recommend visiting and liking the Hartford Fashion Week Facebook Page for some truly beautiful photo galleries and, of course, to stay on top of next year’s event.  But below are some of my favorite moments from the shows:

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Tribal elegance from the Hartford Denim Company

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Wearing an LBD from Therapy Boutique in New Haven and enjoying red carpet fun with my favorite, Jon Aidukonis…

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And my beautiful, tiny diva, Penelope (dressed to kill in a vintage from Venom Vintage)

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Who strutted the runway and, alas, became fashion roadkill at one point 

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Talented local artist Nina Salazar instructing the Femme God models backstage

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Another backstage moment with Saints by SJ

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De Muerte

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AER Collections

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Funkenomics (not pictured: breakdancing)

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Show finale: Saints by SJ

Plus!  Several cool afterparties.  Cuginos in Downtown Hartford provided a lovely buffet after Saturday’s show, and I failed miserably at photographing any of it because Fashion Week hanger is a real thing as either Katrina or Man Repeller will attest to.  However, Amanda, Kate and I had our own marvelous little afterparty at Treva:

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Two inky brunettes and one happy blondie

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And I enjoyed my very favorite local cocktail: the Giardino.  It’s a glorious aromatic gin libation, made special by the full rose ice cube which will slowly melt into your glass, releasing delicious botanicals.  Highly recommended!

However hectic and chaotic backstage may have been, however many flaws we may have noticed during the first go round, Hartford Fashion Week was a truly special event, and I am honored that I was able to participate in its inception – and of course, looking forward to contributing again next year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Movement for Change with Kristin Taekman and Brunch for Babies with @MarchofDimesCT

Charity suffers long, and is kind (1st Corinthians 13:4)

In other words – “charity” is just another word for “love.”  People give because they love those who need help, they love to help others, or they love to be a part of something bigger than themselves.

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Take the March of Dimes CT “Mom of the Year,” Lisa Millerick for example.  She has four children, all of who were born prematurely, and is a NICU Nurse to boot.  If that wasn’t enough, she also specializing in children portraits for Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep – which helps to give portraits of children who pass away too soon to their grieving families.

That’s a whole lotta love right there.

The March of Dimes CT will host its annual Brunch for Babies on June 6th, at the Riverview in Simsbury.  I’ll be honored to attend and meet Lisa, as well as acclaimed author Elin Hildebrand.  If you would like to join and support a great cause, you can purchase tickets here.

I was fortunate enough to attend another great charity event several weeks ago the DeFilippo “Movement for Change,” raising funds to help families of those impacted by spinal chord injuries and celebrating their many achievements.

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Lot of beautiful families and equally beautiful stories.  All photos by Elisa E- you can find her website and more of her work here

The event featured a great host – Kristin Taekman of the Real Housewives of New York.  I’ll proudly admit that I’m a RHONY fan (ok, maybe “proud” is not the best word)… and Kristin is my favorite on the show.  It’s always nice to discover that someone is as nice and down to earth in person as they appear on television.  Plus – she has a very chic blog – check it out here!

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With Kristin and Carolyn Paine on the red carpet.  Not pictured but also present – my friend Diane Taha of Style Context

Carolyn also choreographed and performed and original piece symbolizing the strength and fragility of those impacted by spinal chord injuries

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Simply gorgeous

Just as gorgeous – the four tiered fashion show featuring the work of designer Karo Swim Wear

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Sexy and fierce

A sweet collection of Spring pieces curated from the vintage collections of my good friend Laree Salmon of Vintage Chic by Design

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Polka dots for days

The ethereal work of well known local designer, Nigel Ramsay

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Stunning and flowing

And to finalize the show, a final collection of vibrant floral hues, “Always Bloomin” – to celebrate the energy and vibrancy of those who thrive in the face of adversary

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A pretty way to finish the show

I’m blessed to be involved with so many local causes for good.  Please consider researching them more and supporting all the amazing local artists who give their time and talents to help them raise the funds they need to do good work.

Savor CT, Penelope’s Birthday, and some fun upcoming happenings!

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Greetings friends!  Penelope’s second ballet performance is fast approaching.  We are going to see Gwendolyn and the Graceful Pig on May 2nd, with the Ballet Theater Company.  It will be ever so exciting to explore a dance interpretation of the story of a “pig like no other,” with performances at 1 pm and 7 pm (we are going to the earlier one, naturally)  Tickets are available here.  More to follow on this – and also on the March of Dimes Walk for Babies, which will be my first 5k of the year, and my first ever 5k with a stroller, as Penelope will be joining me for that too!  Hurrah.  Fun times ahead, beautiful May weather, and April hasn’t been so bad either.  Some of the highlights of this month:

Savor CT at the Connecticut Convention Center

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Pictured: Emily Cahill perusing the wine selection with an expert eye

This wonderful event featured top chefs from the region, as well as celebrity chef Robert Irvine out walking the floor (I didn’t speak with him personally but those who did assured me that he is an awfully nice gentleman).  Some of the local favorites present included:

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A “Turducken” pate from On20, courtesy of the very talented Jeff Lizotte!  Side note – I”ll also be at On20 this Friday for Happy Hour and writing up a full recap of the experience here too – very excited as I’ve never been to their happy hour before, just dinner and small plates at events.

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Pictured: a Swiss Chard Dumpling – also from On20 – my favorite bite from the entire evening!  Although that had stiff competition from the offerings of Scott Miller, Head Catering Manager of the Max Restaurant Group.  He produced a very wonderful lamb tartar

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Pictured here, with his signature edible florals which add both a bitter tang and a lovely visual element to his dishes.

Also delicious on the casual front, mini sliders from both Plan B Burger Bar:

 

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And Bear’s BBQ!

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Millwrights was present with the entire crew:

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Heeey Tyler

And there were countless more – too many to sample all of them unfortunately.  We attended the event on Friday night, and it would actually make sense to go Friday and Saturday in order to fully enjoy the entire experience.  And I haven’t even started on the wine yet!

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So much wine.

We sampled many Italian and French blends – mainly because that’s what I gravitate towards.  And by “we” I mean myself and my lovely friend Amanda, all decked out for a Mom’s Night Out without the babies!

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yaaaas.

Towards the end of the evening, we ventured over to the Rose Lounge.  Next year, i would certainly do this first, as it turned out to be only a single ty;e of Rose – Chandon to be precise

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It was utterly delightful, however with just one type, I would have preferred to start out with a glass or two before moving into the sampling.  I was picturing more of a champagne tasting with small pours – ah well – no complaints either way.

We capped out the night with a visit to the 90 Plus Cellars table, to sip some Rose and get ready for the awesome Rose Cruise this summer!

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The glasses are a requirement.

So, that was fun, but Penelope’s 2nd birthday was even better – for obvious reasons.

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Obvious, adorable reasons

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birthday princess spread

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Nora Cupcakes graciously allowed us to host her princess party in their back room, and we enjoyed Bear’s BBQ, many, many cupcakes, and many, many adorable children.  I can’t believe my little girl is two years old already!  Such a beautiful, perfect princess.  Mommy is so proud.

 

Let’s Play with our Food with @HSOTweets (plus – Big Red and Aids CT Oscars Night)

Hello friends!  Such a long hiatus from blogging for me.  A body at rest tends to stay at rest, a body in motion tends to stay in motion, and a body going through drastic changes tends to… not get much blogging accomplished.  So – finally – back at it with three fantastic events: two past and one upcoming this Saturday!

So let’s start with Playing with Food, one of my favorite yearly shows from the Hartford Symphony.  The brainchild of Head Conductor, Carolyn Kuan, this is the third inception of Playing with Food – this year featuring the handsome and charming Fabio Viviani of Top Chef fame onstage with Carolyn to discuss the dishes of the Vivo, M & M Bistro, and the CT Convention Center!

I was fortunate enough to attend the press preview for Vivo to witness Carolyn’s creative process in action:

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Somedays my job is cooler than other days (the Marriott where Vivo resides, as well as the Hartford Symphony, are both advertising clients of mine)

Carolyn Kuan uses the opportunity of tasting the dishes to begin building connections to musical notes.  A french bouillabaisse might call up a light French horn, for example, or bone marrow might be reminiscent of a “big fat tuba” (direct quote)

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Also, delicious bone marrow.  Pictured: Chef Bill Reardon’s braised Veal Osso Bucco with chanterelles, Risotto Milanese, and Tomato Espuma.

After the tasting, Carolyn creates connections to classical pieces of music, and they are performed live at the concert, after a chat with the chefs, in order to complete the connection between the sight, smell, and taste of the food and the sound of the music!

The show will be this Saturday, March 21st, at 730 pm, at the Bushnell Mortenson Hall.  You can buy tickets here.

So, that will be pretty awesome.  Also noteworthy this past month: the Aids CT Oscars NightThis yearly event raises money for the Aids Foundation and is a great chance to get dolled up and experience some live red carpet action.  It’s nice to watch at home in your PJs sure, but who doesn’t like a little glamor in their life?

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All dolled up with some good friends

I wore an awesome, sequined criss cross dress from Venom Vintage, who can provide cutting edge period pieces for any red carpet event:

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The braids?  I’m not sure where the braids came from.  Lazy Girl hair day I guess

Spotlight Theaters on Front Street was the gracious host of the event for the second year in a row.  It works well as they have a full bar in the theater, plus all the movie seating to watch the Oscars live on a big screen!  Very fun idea.

Last, but certainly not least – Big Red celebrated its 10th anniversary in existence with the Greater Hartford Arts Council

Housed at the Society Room, Big Red features wine sampling and food pairings from local vinters and chefs, making for an excellent evening of food, wine, conversation, and most importantly – raising money to support arts and culture in Hartford!

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With our new Publisher, Rick Daniels, Mary Lou Stoneburner, our VP of Advertising and Michael Guinan, Ad Director for Hartford Magazine

One of the major, major highlights for the evening for me was the enormous paella brought by J Restaurant:

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Wow.  I could curl up and take a nap in that paella pan – it’s that big

The paella paired nicely with a Sottobosco Rosso blend, a deep Italian red with just a hint of sweetness (I personally prefer pairing paella with red wine vs white – I feel it has enough meaty characteristics to go both ways)

Also on hand for drinks – a pleasing Ginger & Thyme Prosecco cocktail from Vito’s

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Executive Chef, Rob Maffucci, was also onsite serving his signature truffled chocolate pasta dish

Also noteworthy on the food scapes – Bear’s Smokehouse,

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Literal bears yaaas

Nora Cupcakes, naturally

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The very best!

And a wonderful, local, Granby based ice cream store – Grass Roots Creamery

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I tried lemongrass, so good.  They have impressive, unique flavor combos inspired by Humphry Slocombe

Overall, a very good couple of weeks for food and culture in Hartford.  There’s definitely no shortage of cool things to choose from – so get out there and enjoy it!

NOLCHA Fashion Week

This was my second season at Nolcha Fashion Week – an independent showcase for designers during New York Fashion Week.  It’s an amazing opportunity to preview indie designs from very talented up and coming fashion retailers – and the whole thing is housed in the very cool Chelsea Piers

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I like anywhere that puts the hash tag right on the wall

I headed down with my very cool friend Kat, (two Kats!  go ahead and have fun with that.  we always do).  She is a very talented photographer and graphic designer, and all the fashion photos in the latter half of this article were taken by her.  You can check out her website here:

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And of course, our road trip snap chat!  Taken by her because I was, you know, driving and stuff

Other good friends at Nolcha: Paula has been closely involved in this show for six years and was kind enough to get me passes to all three designer showcases.  Thanks Paula!  You looked fab as always

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xoxo

In addition to the fashion, there are some cool product samplings from the Nolcha sponsors.  My favorites were:

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J R Ewing Bourbon.  Oh hello.  Ever since beginning my 2014 quest to appreciate bourbon, I’ve been growing and growing as a connoisseur.  Best. Resolution.  Ever.  This particular on – named for the eponymous Dallas character yet produced in Kentucky (of course) is smooth and crisp with just a hint of a bite at the end.  Just like J R.  Hoping to find a local distributor in CT!

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Solo Gel Nails.  This one was a mixed bag for me.  As you can see by the snap chat caption – I was VERY excited to get it – more so than any of the other swag.  However, I found that several of the layers I put on bubbled a bit and one of them chipped off.  Now, it does state very clearly that this is a ONE coat system.  So I’ll have to try again and see if I have better luck.  I can be a messy child.  The color is very fab too, so I’m hoping it works better the second time around

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Pretty red

Last but certainly not least – Vegan Therapy hair products!

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Such nice ladies!  And the shampoo and conditioner were lightweight and left my hair shiny and silky smooth.  I’m not personally a vegan, but I do love that this product isn’t tested on animals and I think it’s very cool that there are good options out there for my vegan friends – and I would use this based on its quality alone.  Very nice.

Another highlight of the evening in terms of discovering new products – a serendipitous run in with a girl carrying a Leoht bag!  What’s a leoht you ask?  Well, it’s a concept bag which will be launching in the fall which sports LED lighting and two USB ports for bag charging purposes!  I need it, I will have it, that is all

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You probably need it too!  Right?  Right.

But enough with the preludes.  We were at Nolcha for one very important reason: fashion.  And fashion we had in spades.  There were three separate shows featuring a total of eight designers: Yvette Hass, Haute Athletics, Charles & Ron, Mitsou Ly, Katty Xiomara, Prieston, Ann Himsel, and Danny Nguyen Couture

 My personal highlights: dark plum and leather accents, lots of capes (hello 70s), seeing sportswear from HA on the cat walk, transparent white and fashion forward pieces from Yvette Hass, and a twist of urban cool from Ann Himsel.  But don’t take my word for it – a picture is worth a thousand words after all – so check out these pictures from Kat Mizla:

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Majorca, Taste of Hartford, the Ct Science Center and Mohegan #SunWineFest

Wooo!  A busy and foodie couple of weeks folks.  But first – two sneak preview of upcoming posts I’m very excited about…

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Love Under the Boardwalk

In partnership with the Wadsworth’s new and very noteworthy Coney Island Exhibit, my good friend Carolyn Paine is producing an original choreographed production, produced by the Wadsworth Atheneum, in partnership with her company, CONNetic Dance.  Featuring classical ballet intermixed with circus theatricals, performances will be Saturday, February 7th, at 2 pm and 8 pm, and tickets are available at the Wadsworth’s website.

Also – Penelope had a Very Special Photoshoot and she was the littlest Princess Elsa of all at Sassy Mouth Photo!

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I can’t even.  Bet you can’t either.  So cute.

So, more to come on both these things.  But first – a look back at some amazing and fun times over the past couple of weeks!

First, Hartford picked up a new Tapas restaurant: Majorca

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With some good friends, old and new at the Grand Opening, which benefited Family Life Education

Majorca specializes in tapas, small plates, and is a very welcome continuation of the space once occupied by O’Porto in the West End.

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Grilled calamari.  Charred to perfection and ever so preferable to the more prevalent, fried variety

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Oysters with a classic vinaigrette.  REALLY big oysters.

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A true Spanish classic: dates stuffed with manchego and wrapped in prosciutto.

There were also four cocktail samples to try:

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Pictured left to right: Pineapple Mule (pineapple vodka, ginger beer, fresh pineapple), Ginger Plum Martini (plum vodka, ginger liqueur, sour mix), the “Majorca” (citrus vodka, Hypnotic, and white cranberry juice) and Red Sangria (simple syrup, triple sec, fruit juice, and Sycamore Lane Cabernet)

As well as a fancy, necessary cheese plate:

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Paired with a nice rioja – always good to find a rioja present on the wine list. 

I am quite, quite happy to have this new little gem among my dining choices in Hartford, and I’m excited to go back for a full meal – hopefully soon!

Speaking of meals – Taste of Hartford is currently entering its second week.

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P and I have gone out twice to enjoy it – and I’m looking forward to going to Agave (sans P, alas) later on this week.  This last week’s experiences took us to Ted’s Montana Grill and Carbone’s, respectively.  But before Teds – we hit up the CT Science Center

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Which had a packed house due to special pricing for MLK Day

This wasn’t our frist trip to the Science Center, but it definitely was the best so far – P really enjoyed herself and is finally old enough to fully enjoy the exhibits geared towards younger kids – of which there are several!  Our favorites:

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Kinetic water experiments on the first floor

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Digging for fossils on the third floor

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And a super fun ‘eco awareness’ playhouse (also on the 3rd floor)

We followed this awesome playtime by lunch at Ted’s

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Bison burger for me, cookie for P, happiness for all

And went out again a couple days later to Carbone’s with the lovely Cathy and Rachel!

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Ladies’ night

In addition to the Taste menu, there was a very, very excellent Arancini starter

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Yummm

Paired with a nice Aperol Sunset cocktail:

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Like a margarita, but with way more bite

Followed by a lovely salad

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P ate all my pomegranate seeds for me

And a perfectly sized portion of lemony shrimp risotto:

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Which I paired with prosecco because of course I did.

For anyone who’s not familiar, Taste is a restaurant week – well weeks really – featuring prix fixe appetizer, entree, and dessert options for either $20.15 or $30.15.  It’s fun and affordable and I put quite a bit of time into organizing it, so I really appreciate that I can ‘eat’ it once it’s up and running -not all promotions offer such literal satisfaction.  In addition to several wonderful meals, I was thoroughly spoiled this weekend at Mohegan Sun and Wine Festival

I was able to stop by the Bourbon Tasting on Friday night, which was a new experience for me and also, a neat use of my 2014 resolution (which was to drink more bourbon).  I was extraordinarily negligent on the photos – however – I did enjoy several samplings: Maker’s 46 being my favorite.  It was elated to be able to drink it both neat and on the rocks and appreciate its nuances and woody palate – finally a bourbon girl!  Hurrah!  Also, who wouldn’t appreciate this dessert lineup:

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Wow yourself

And I did, at least, manage a bathroom selfie, because who doesn’t love one of those?

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In a new fav dress from Silkworm and absolutely zero chill.  Oh well.

Returning the next day for Sun Wine Fest, I managed to both: 1/ take many more pictures and 2/ really enjoy this event, which last year had been overwhelmed and under impressed.  It’s hard to do Wine Fest and not feel the immediate, pressing urge to sample all the wine.  Because there are so many to try, both high end and low, and going in with focus and direction helps:

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And also a map

Amanda and I attended together and came up with a simple plan: stick to bubbles as much as possible:

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Moet bubbles with strawberry caviar

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Ok, cheating because not carbonated, but a really excellent French rose: Whispering Angel

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Three nice varietals from Sonoma, from the Gloria Ferrer.  Where I’ll be hopefully headed at Thanksgiving.  Oh yaaas.

I also bumped into some good friends:

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Yes, I consider Mumm Napa Rose to be a good friend.  We are on BFF terms actually

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Also, the gorgeous Betsy Foster and a ‘ghost Lisa’

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Our amazing and beautiful Social Media maven, Suzie Hunter, with her new friend Oliver English

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And last, but very certainly not least – the Cupcake Goddess herself, Carrie, of Nora Cupcake

To wrap up the afternoon, we headed upstairs to the beer tasting and I found a very nice new summer beverage which I’ll absolutely be stalking down locally, one way or another:
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It’s from the Long Island sound and it’s a glorious tart combination of whiskey, vodka, and lemonade.  I loved it.

So yes, quite a lovely afternoon, all in all!  Not to mention, a great couple of weeks.  Yay.

A weekend of merry and bright

As some of you may know, it’s been a rough and bumpy road for me for the last couple of months.  I haven’t been ignoring Christmas, per se, but I certainly haven’t been plunging into it with the gusto and fervor that I normally do.  So I feel awfully lucky that last weekend, Christmas found me, in two nights and one day of gloriously fun festivities with some of my closest and dearest friends.  Oh so good.

It all started with dinner with Caitlin at the Capital Grille on Friday night:

yaaas best champagne shot

More to follow on this soon!  There was Moet & Chandon Imperial involved however.  Lots and lots of it

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Love you lady

We followed this up with more drinks and dancing – ok – watching other people dance really – at Nixs for the official Nutcracker after party for CONNetic Dance’s Nutcracker: Suite and Spicy!

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With our favorite, @Johnnie_Divine

And with Caitlin’s lovely sister, Hannah:

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Twinning in our black dresses with sheer panels yaaas.  Mine is from Lux Boutique in West Hartford!

We enjoyed prosecco and, in my case, some reeeally good coquito featuring Tanduay rum (currently in a cocktail contest – vote for it here – I promise it’s worth it). And so the night passed in a blur of glitter and fun (where there are ballerinas, there will be glitter – it’s science)

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Photo of the very talented cast, courtesy of Alex Syphers for CTNow

Saturday was the much anticipated, never imitated annual Charcutapalooza and Nick and Emily‘s house.  We had charcuterie galore:

charcuterie yaaas

Oh hey there.  Check the chicken liver mousse on the far left.  At some point in the evening I was basically just speed dipping crackers straight into that pot.  No regrets.

Emily also demonstrated her amazing baking skills with perfect macaroons:

macaroons by emily

#Ican’teven

And Nick flexed his culinary muscles over some damn good Asian style buns, barbequed pork, and slaw

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Come on man

But the highlight of the party was, by far, the three smoked pig heads provided by Jamie of Bear’s Smokehouse.  I mean, come on.  Look at these things:

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Merry Lord of the Flies!  I mean, Christmas

I managed to procure a pigs head which I will be chopping up and cooking into Congri – that’s Cuban rice and bean for those who don’t know – throughout the winter.  So very good.  Nothing like a good pig head.  Oh, and here’s a bonus shot of Penelope enjoying the festivities on Saturday night, like a Big Girl:

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That smile just melts my heart

P and I hit the town together on Sunday for the Nutcracker matinee and Ugly Sweater Party.  And yes, thanks to Venom Vintage, P had her own tiny ugly sweater to wear:

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Pictured here, post show, enjoying the show and dancing

I’ve not been in town for the Nutcracker before, and I thoroughly enjoyed Carolyn’s hip rendition of this holiday classic – and also enjoyed Penelope enjoying it too!  Plus – we met SANTA:

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Hi Santa!  We would get a picture with Santa against a step and repeat.  Very typical.

The Wadsworth hosts Carolyn’s Suite and Spicy Nutcracker annually and was also home to the Festival of the Trees, featuring uniquely designed Christmas trees which are produced and sold for charity.  Simply gorgeous and quite perfect for persuading me to discard my inner grinch and enjoy the season.  I’m very fortunate to have such an amazing group of friends – thanks to you all for what you do, you know who you are and you are appreciated.