All of your Holiday Contests are in our base @Hartforddotcom

Hello Friends!  It’s the most wonderful, nutty, suite and spicy, bedazzled-with-reindeer-applique, time of the year!  So do yourself a solid and get out and enjoy some theater and cocktails and ugly sweater goodness.  And if you play your cards right – you can do so for FREE!

Hartford.com is hosting the annual (awesome) Ugly Sweater Christmas Stroll on December 13!  Enjoy Onyx cocktails at several Hartford hot spots, as well as a glorious Ugly Sweater.  Just post a picture of yourself in an ugly sweater on their Facebook or Twitter page to enter.  Here’s a glorious photoshop they did for me yesterday, as my sweater was too basic to really be considered ‘ugly’

yaaaas

THANKS LADIES

CONNetic Dance is bringing their Suite and Spicy, totally awesome, uber hipster, Nutcracker to the Wadsworth for the 5th year in a row.  And oh what fun – they are also giving a pair of tickets away!  Just post a picture of yourself with a Nutcracker to their Facebook page by the end of today (Thursday) with the hashtags: #spicynutcrackerselfie #conneticdance.  There will be a sweet (and spicy!  haha!  puns) afterparty on Friday night at Nixs also.  I’ll be attending… hope to see you all there!

nutcracker selfie contest

Good luck everyone!

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Funk Night at the Half Door and Open Studios with BALLOONS

Last weekend was very Hartfordy in all the right ways.  I met up with Emily, Nick, and Jon on Friday night for a very pleasant and mellow evening of good cheese, friendship, and funky music at the Half Door in Hartford

go snarknado go

It’s a mini #snarknado.  All my pictures from this event are dark because my camera’s flash is terrible!  Time for a camera perhaps?

For $35, we were treated to two drink tickets – good for funky beers, naturally – as well as all the funky cheese and grilled cheese we could eat.  Which turned out to be (surprise) a considerable amount of cheese:

funky cheese

I’m not proud of the things I did to the cheese plate.  But they happened and we move on

I first sampled a saison beer:

beer and pork belly

Paired with delectable pork belly.  Such win

nick caito pork

Nick Caito delicately liberates mutliple pork belly pieces from the tray for our table

We also sampled beer flights, in which I unknowingly ordered sample sizes of beers far outside of my comfort range:

beer flight

The Blueberry Nightmare was aptly named, let’s just put it at that.  Pretty photo by Emily who is a better photographer than I am.

I have it on good authority from a leading area Beer Snob that sour, mashy, decarbonated beers are about to become the next trendy “thing.”  Which needs I really need to develop my palate, as I was unable to appreciate the more ‘exotic’ samples in the flight.  Well, it’s not like they didn’t warn us – funk night, funky music, funky beer, funky cheese.  Speaking of funky music, the band was amazing:

funk band

And you had better believe people were dancing

But the crowning pinnacle of Funk Night, for me, was the grilled cheese bar.  Because the gods are kind, we sat in a booth perfectly positioned for multiple trips to said bar to load up on tasty, fresh grilled cheese on sourdough bread:

grilled cheese station

Thank you, oh Grilled Cheese Master

Not surprisingly, I rolled myself home quite early, extraordinarily full of beer, cheese, and happiness.  Which was fortuitous as the next day I volunteered for Open Studio Hartford!  Open Studio is a quite wonderful annual event featuring hundreds of local artists exhibiting their wares across multiple venues in Hartford.  I was selected for balloon duty – a noble honor indeed.

balloooon duty

I’m not saying I’m a little kid.  I just really like balloons.  Who doesn’t?

This fun volunteer activity involved tethering balloons to various locales in Hartford so that passers by would know they were of the Open Studio tour.  I had adorable help on Pratt Street in the form of Kerri Provost and Penelope:

balloons on the street

Who was, naturally, also very into the balloons

We stopped by Hartford Prints and I discovered their new Dinner Party line, which means now I have to throw a dinner party as an excuse to buy all the things:

set the perfect table

Look at the pretty, pretty paper ware

And also previewed the super cool Dada exhibit, which will be the site of a Welcome to Bohemia party tomorrow night!  I’m pretty stoked for this party, as Dada/Surrealism is my favorite art movement, and I also wrote my thesis in part on Dada:

dada storefront

Nothing says “Liberal Arts Major” quite like writing a thesis on absurdity

So yes, that promises to be a cool party tomorrow night – not to mention my first ever Welcome to Bohemia event, which is pretty awesome. We finished balloon tying and did a quick, and too brief tour, of Artspace.  I would have loved to stay longer,, but 20 month olds operate on very strict timelines, if you know what I mean:

art space

But look at the cool art

So we did a brief tour before making our way to a favorite lunch spot: Tangiers.  I had most delicious falafel and Penelope demonstrated her artistic talent drawing with her bean soup (I think she even ate some of it)

p and kerri

P was more interested in Auntie Kerri’s cookies.  Smart girl.

So that was quite the fun and Hartfordy weekend, and this upcoming one promises to be more of the same – the Mouth tonight at the Mark Twain House, One Big Event on Saturday and then, of course, the Dada party.  Have a great weekend everyone – and if you’re lucky enough to live in a city with plenty of artsy happenings and parties, get out and go to one, because they’re wicked fun.

Artini, Halloween, and Some Cool Cats @RealArtWays … Oh My

I love Halloween.  It’s my second favorite holiday (because Christmas – and even that I go back and forth about).  And I love that this year I had the perfect excuse to dress up in a classy, fabulous way the night before for ARTini – the Greater Hartford Arts Council‘s signature martini fundraiser.  Not that there’s anything wrong, whatsoever with going out the night of in a cute little costume (I guess??) but for me, Halloween is all about Penelope and her trick or treating (more to follow on that).  So it truly was the best of both worlds that Carolyn, Emily, and I (plus friends) all congregated to drink cocktails and support the arts:

snarknado gang

“The gang” aka #snarknado

Photo courtesy of Alex Syphers for CTnow

The Greater Hartford Arts Council’s choice of venue for this year’s event was impeccable: the Gershon Fox Ballroom at Marquee Events is very art deco:

art deco interior

So sparkly

Also adding to the theme: a curated art show and Trashion Fashion models

trashion model

So cool

But the main focus of the event was, of course, the martini samples. A full list is as follows:

Capital Grille – The Stoli Doli

Cheesecake Factory – Strawberry Martini

City Steam – Maple Mudslide

Hooker Brewery – Beer & Stout

Hotel California Tequila – Pancha’s Last Stand

Max Downtown – The Mayflower

Onyx Moonshine – Thanksgiving in a Cup

Vito’s by the Park – Kettle Corn Pear and Salted Caramel

I only captured a few pictures of the drinks – as I was busy drinking them:

cheers ladies

So thanks again to Alex Sypher for this amazing picture of the Stoli Dolis.  If you haven’t tried this frothy pineapple delicacy – which is simply vodka marinated with pineapples – then get to the Capital Grille STAT.  It’s their signature cocktail.

A couple more highlights:

maple mudslide

Maple Mudslides from City Steam.  Only one of my very favorite cocktails – plus maple flavor.  Oh goodness.  And I must get these candles from the Hodgepodge

Hands down, my favorite cocktail of the evening was served up by Max Downtown:

mayflower

The Mayflower, served up by their Master Mixologist, Brian Mitchell.  In impeccable bar attire, naturally

Any night that ends with eating delicious Whitney Ave pizza of couple of flappers is a good night in my book:

late night pizza with flappers

Such win

I stayed the night at Carolyn’s so that we could get up bright and early the next day to attend the Metro Hartford Alliance Rising Stars breakfast:

hartford stage

 

At the iconic Hartford Stage Company, no less

And then of course, after work, it was onto the evening’s festivities and I would imagine the reason most of you are reading this: Penelope’s Halloween festivities!

bee and pumpkin

Is bumblebee.  Bzzzz bzzz bzz

Our next door neighbor has a little boy just a couple months older from P, so naturally they went out together in a wagon:

wagon rides

And naturally he was a crocodile

walking to the door

Cuteness level: 1000%

After the tiny trick or treating, a couple friends came over for dinner:

amanda and matt

Hello lovely friends!

We enjoyed a really nice bottle of pinot noir, which was a gift from one of our partners at the Courant (to each employee!) in honor of our 250th:

sparrow hawk pinot noir

yum

As well as a pitcher of delicious Onyx Moonshine and honeycrisp apple cider:
onyx and vogue

Hands down, one of the best fall libations you can make, and so simple too!  I mean, two ingredients simple

We had a full spread of food:

plate of food

On owl plates, naturally.  See, some people have to bust things like this out just for Halloween, but I use owl plates year round.  Perhaps THAT’S why I enjoy the holiday so much

table decor halloween

I also pretended to be Martha Stewart.  Badly.  Those are “pumpkin bags.”  Crafting is not really my “thing.” Ah well.

The rest of the weekend was equally lovely, topped off with a visit to the first ever cat installation over at Real Art Ways:

art installation cats raw

“Cats in Residence”

Penelope is a crazy cat lady in training – girl loves her some kitty cat.

with kitty

And the kitties were all very nice and gentle with her

As well as ‘cat art’ on the walls, all the cats in the installation are from the local cat rescue shelter CT Cat Connection and available for adoption.  The installation is in place through December, so you have plenty of time to go to Real Art Ways and bond with the kitties – perhaps take one home to a forever home?

kitty t

I wore my Big Bang Theory t shirt and made an elegant speech on Penelope’s behalf to her father as to why we should adopt a kitty.  I was overruled, alas.  By Penelope’s father.  At least we can visit the kitties often at the exhibit and with our many friends who have cats!

I hope everyone’s Halloween weekend was equally fantastic.  Now on to Thanksgiving, Christmas and the rest of the Holiday Season!  Fun times ahead!

 

Happy Halloween! Let’s drink #REDRUM @NIXSHartford

Happy Halloween friends!  As a huge Halloween and horror story fan, I recommend Nixs Hartford this holiday for all your festivity related needs (as long as they are alchohol and party related – that’s what they do best after all).

Rich Clemens has been featured here before, and is an amazing mixologist, came up with a #redrum cocktail which is both delicious and an amazing reference to The Shining –

brady twins

Cue creepy Brady Twins, hello ladies

It’s a delicious libation, and it involves hand carbonation:

ze carbonation process

Hey, thanks Anthony!

And then it’s served in a VERY crowd friendly glass bottle, oh yaaas

red rum oh yeah

Soo into it

The ingredients are as follows:

hallo my beauty

Pyrat Rum, Sloe Gin, Coconut Water, Amaretto, lime juice, pineapple juice

Oh yeah, and it’s only $6.  So there’s that.  Nixs has a whole slew of Halloween activities planned – a Pyrat (rum) party tonight, with $500 in prizes (for sexiest costume and best pirate costume).  Tomorrow, there will be a “Dia de los Muertos” party with an additional $500 in prizes (wow yourself)

And last, but certainly not least, Sunday will bring a “Day of the Drag,” hosted by the one and only Amanda Lepore and Maritat Bonita, music by International DJ Producer, Scotty Thompson, and an additonal $500 in prizes!

 

Old School Glamour for the @HartfordCourant #250Gala and Old School Vintage for the Posh Sale @TheWadsworth

Sometimes, a night comes along which is 250 years in the making.  Starting in 1776 with the first printing of the Connecticut Courant – a paper which supercedes the United States in age, and which printed the Declaration of Independence.  Today, October 29th, is actually the official anniversary – so Happy Birthday to this publication!  A paper which boasted its first female Publisher withing three lifecycles of ownership and continues that tradition with Nancy Meyer to this day.  I’m talking of my place of work, the Hartford Courant, and the black tie gala at the equally magical Bushnell which took place last Friday eve.

bushnell stars in the sky

Shining stars and a red carpet.  Such dreamy things

The event was the official celebration of 250 years of continuous operation for the Hartford Courant, which is admittedly a pretty big deal.

There were publishers old and new present:
nancy in the media

Including the lovely Nancy Meyer.  Pictured with a gorgeous set of coworkers!

Ballerinas dressed by the ladies of Trashion Fashion in newspaper gowns:

trashion ballerina

Prepping with Amy in the dressing room!

bsllerinas dressing room

So pretty – and Nina Salazar’s tights are fab too

bustier selfie

And heck yeah, a newspaper bustier designed just for me!

Blo of West Hartford styled all the models’ hair – as well as my own:

blo poster

Just fab as always, thanks!

And the ladies were onsite to assist guests with newspaper accessories – also designed by the Trashion Team:

ballerina headband

Here is Penelope modeling her very own newspaper headband, because of course she needed one too

There was a cocktail hour featuring delicious Onyx Moonshine cocktails – a fitting libation for a historical event!

gorgeous onyx bar

Such a pretty bar set up!

onyx moments

Sharing #onyxmoments with the lovely Rachael Forker

Cartoonist Bob Englehart was on hand sketching caricatures of guests:

bob cartoonist

Cool guy

And at the seated dinner, some very fortunate guests dined on the stage

tables on the stage at the bushnell

Photo courtesy of Alex Syphers for CTNow

We ate in a nearby atrium, which features my favorite Chihuly glass sculpture:
chihully glass

Love it – the fact that it’s red and just fit in with the decor was a happy coincidence.  And I didn’t capture a picture (the horror!) but the feast provided by the Max Catering Group was simply delightful – Head Chef Scott Miller pulled off a spectacular spread, and on his birthday no less!  Thanks Scott.

After dinner, there were speeches galore:
dannel malloy

Including remarks from Dannel Malloy, fetchingly dressed in a Vineyard Vines tie specifically designed for the Courant!

your moments in history

So preppy and awesome

And at the end of the evening, a dance floor arose on the Bushnell stage – which was probably the coolest part of the entire evening:
stage

Wow yourself

Seeing Michael was out of town, I lucked out on a very special dance partner – Amanda Reese (married to Josh Reese, CEO of Camp Courant)

selfies with Amanda

Girl can twirl

Speaking of Camp Courant – the entire gala was a fundraiser for Camp Courant, and over $90,000 was raised for the charity. Hurrah!  Here’s to history.

Speaking of history… the next morning Penelope and I headed over to the Design Source of CT together for a very special preview of the Posh Sale.   I attended a posh sale several years back and wrote about it here (actually – I wrote about it for http://www.ct.com before it rebranded and I have no idea why the article is on the Sun Sentinel now except that it’s our sister company – huh).  I thoroughly enjoyed the first one I attended and I am really looking forward to this upcoming incarnation, November 7-9th.  It’s also a charity event, to benefit the Wadsworth Atheneum’s Textile Society, and that means, well, vintage clothes galore:

vintage cabbage patch doll

Also: vintage cabbage patch dolls

christmas ham

Posing in an oversized hat for the “papparazzi” aka fellow bloggers Carolyn and Kerri (left to right)

shoe heaven

Shoes of every style and stripe imaginable – male and female!

zalo shoes

More shoes

dobbs hat yah

Don Draper hats, very hot

vintage lilly

Vintage Lilly Pulitzer.  No one else is allowed to buy this

vintage baby coat and hat

Teeny vintage baby coats (too small for P, alas)

j crew rack

A whole rack of J Crew (glorious)

coat and blazer

Sturdy and classically tailored wool suits

argyle coat that Diane stole jk

Soft, buttery houndstooth coats

throwback jumpsuit

Cool throwback jumpsuits.  Not my size but if it was, I would definitely swap out the buttons and wear this. 

Truly something for every fashionista (or fashion guy) of any shape, size, or persuasion can be had at this sale.  Plus, you’re shopping for a good cause so it’s basically charity work.  Hurrah!  Mark your calendars – I hope to see you there xo

 

 

 

@marchofdimesct Signature Chefs Auction at the Riverview in Simsbury

Man oh man.  Black coffee and blogging at 6 am?  This is the LIFE.  In other news, I don’t recognize the productive morning person I am becoming.  But, faced with a super busy week (husband out of town traveling, our black tie 250th gala tonight, hair appointment at Blo for said gala during my lunch break) I am fitting things in where I can, as one does as a mommy, a blogger, and a working professional.  And that includes setting my alarm an hour and a half early in order to recap the amazing time Leeanne and I enjoyed at the Riverview in Simsbury last week, for the March of Dimes Signature Chefs Gala!  If you missed this one, there will be another in Fairfield on November 5th too – right around the corner.

a recipe for healthy babies

A recipe for healthy babies!  Awwww

Let’s back up for just a minute and look at what the March of Dimes accomplishes.  They are the premiere charity dedicated to eradicating, whenever possible, premature delivery (which leads, naturally to health complications for mamas and their babies) as well as for providing the best possible care for preemies?  What a good cause, is my point.  I was honored to get an email requesting I attend the event as a blogger, and I did receive a free ticket (plus a guest – ie/ the lovely Leeanne) from the charity.

selfies with leeanne ftw also rizuttos cocktail

A rare Leeanne selfie.  I’d like to thank Suzie Hunter for making this possible

The Signature Chef’s Auction takes place annually, with a bunch of big hearted chefs joining forces to offer gourmet bites of food and small samples of cocktails, while guests mingle and enjoy a silent and live auction:

mickey mouse

I didn’t bid, but if I had, it would have definitely been on this Disney experience package.  So fun.  P is excited to meet Mickey Mouse.  Someday (soon) it’s going to happen.

In addition to the silent auction, guests enjoyed a live bidding, which Leeanne and I unfortunately missed as we were both tired and didn’t stay for more than an hour or two, although we thoroughly enjoyed circling the gorgeous Riverview space during the time that we were present, and saying hello to a bunch of our friends who were there working the event:

plan b

Starting with Plan B burgers.  Quite simply the best.  I snatched a ‘to go’ second burger on the way out because I’m obsessed and they were quite kind about my greed, ha.  Also, mini is the perfect size/shape for a burger, in my opinion, and I love that Plan B will make any of their regular burgers with toppings into minis upon request in their restaurants!  OK, end burger rant.

Having started with beef, we moved onto seafood:

bobby vs

Seared tuna FTW

The above delicate bite was from Bobby V’s, an upscale sports bar and lounge located in Windsor Locks:

sweet set up and bobby vs

Kudos for the signature table settings too!  Very cool.

Next up, we sampled a delectable and complex serving of short rib stuffed in pepper from Barcelona:

barcelona peppers

So very pretty

Side note: Leeanne seriously has a photographic memory when it comes to dishes/ingredients.  I was having difficulty taking notes and balancing the plates (plus I was distracted/excited by all the wonderful food and cute baby photos) and she repeated all the ingredients to me, which was seriously nice and also seriously impressive!

march of dimes leeanne photo

And she took this nice picture of the back of my dress/necklace detail!  She is the best

In addition to the food stuffs, there were plenty of libations being poured.  Our friends at Onyx are always nice to see out and about:

linley

The lovely Linley pouring several options for the Onyx (my favorite was the cider/apple Onyx combo – so very good)

Another high note for drinks came form Rizutto’s, who were present with a lovely bite of braised lamb and parsnip/potato mash:
risottos plate

Yum.

Paired with it was a really delightful cocktail called “The Orchard.”  I didn’t snap a picture of it and the event, but I may or may not have ordered a full sized version of the same drink at lunch today:

the orchard

The Orchard – house infused apple vodka, Lillet, sage garnish

So yes, very very nice.  We also enjoyed burnt ends sliders from Bear’s Smokehouse:

bears with burnt ends

Thanks Jamie – delicious as always

What goes well with BBQ?  Beer, naturally.  And Hooker Beer was conveniently located next to Bears (nice placement)

hooker beer selection

I sampled the Munich Style – even tho Watermelon Ale is my favorite – it just seemed like a better seasonal choice (it was the right call, especially to pair with the burnt ends)

There were many more plates to try, but I was filling up fast, so I went straight to dessert and enjoyed a really, really, really, really good cookiewich from Taste by Spellbound:

taste by spellbound

Choose your cookie, choose your filling.  I did red velvet with maple frosting and regretted nothing

But let’s not lose sight of what the event was all about – a fundraiser to help babies!  There were plenty of adorable baby photos everywhere to make sure that was top of mind during the evening:

ze babies awww

Sooo cute

Thanks again to the March of Dimes for the invite.  I’ve been connecting more with the coordinators, and I’m looking forward to walking in their March for Babies Greater Hartford in 2015!

“We can” with @LoveMondoTrasho and the first #Hoptoberfest hosted by the @MaxRestGroup

Hello friends!  I’m drinking Malbec, watching The Matrix, and not feeling super inspired to write, to be honest.  BUT I had such an amazing weekend with two very cool events, so it’s totally worth it to get in the flow and get this post going.  That’s what I’m telling myself anyway 🙂

As I had mentioned in my last post, I was very on the fence about going to the Aids CT Fashion Show.  Simply because of the sheer volume of cool events in October – but I rallied and I attended, and it was so worth it.  I was also battling a head cold last Saturday night, so I didn’t get to see the whole fashion show and I’ve stolen some of Nick Caito’s gorgeous photos from CTNow to do justice to the main event.  First off: New Country Motor Cars is an absolutely fabulous event venue:

harvest people pouring

Also fabulous – the good folks of Harvest who donated their time and products to help fight Aids in CT!

saison beer very rare

They even poured a super rare saison for myself, Nick, and Emily.  It’s good to hang with Caito/Cahill, because these are the type of perks they get =)

I liked the New Country Motor Cars Mercedes dealership space because, well, all the pretty cars, but also because it was light, airy, and split into several sections which made for fun exploration and also separated the mixing, mingling, and shopping from the catwalk in a cool way.  The show itself was split into two sections: local designers and local retailers.  Hosting and judging was Mr. Mondo Guerra himself, of Project Runway fame:

pic w mondo

And also kindly posing for pictures at the step and repeat with us!  Featured left to right: Jon Aidukonis, (SP), Diane Taha, Mondo, Me, and Emily Cahill

We drank champagne and browsed local retailers during the VIP hour:

ctn-pictures-we-can-2014-fashion-show-20141011-004

We are experts at drinking champagne.  Photo by Nick Caito for CTNow

stackpole jewelry

Check out the cool neon bands – they are necklaces/bracelets/customizable/from Italy.  I’m going to investigate further the next time I’m on Pratt St, which luckily for me, is tomorrow

One of my coworkers, Betsy Foster, actually walked in the fashion show too for local boutique Lyn Evans!

betsy modeling

Werk, girl

And yes, unfortunately part of my head cold was a blinding headache with light sensitivity, which made watching the runway show near impossible.  But as promised previously, here’s a gorgeous photo by Nick, and you can check out the entire gallery here

nick caito photo

Sunday, October 12, I awoke blessedly head-cold free to a quintessentially gorgeous autumnal day.  Which made for a wonderful three mile run at the Farmington Rail Trail

trees man

I love to spend almost an entire day per weekend outside.  It’s harder to do this in winter, of course, although I do snow shoe which helps with getting my fix of the great outdoors (yes, I know, hippie) but days like last Sunday?  Those are the ones that are MEANT to be spent al fresco.  Gorgeous, sunny, perfect – if you like in CT you know what I’m talking about.  It was a perfect day.  Which, as I told Scott Miller of Max, was really quite awesome for their first ever, totally sold out, Hoptoberfest!

scott miller with p

I asked Scott for a picture and he in turn asked to pose with “the famous Penelope” which was just adorable

baby dance off

Equally adorable: tiny friends getting acquainted.  There was a dance off.  Then P went in for a kiss and the little boy ran to his Mommy.  Alas, young love.

As far as the beer?  Oh, excellent.  And the snacks were of equal quality.  The Max Restaurant Group doesn’t mess around – so that’s no surprise.  Rosedale is a beautiful location for al fresco events, and I love that it’s only 20 minutes from home

rosedale farms cow

Sooo charming

There were familiar faces as well as new friends in the beer selections:

hooker beer tent

A perennial favorite: Hooker Beer

pumpkin scotch and cannolli beer

New to me: Shebeen Brewing.  The Cannoli Beer was nutty and packed with flavor – sweet with hints of vanilla and chocolate

And oh yes!  The snacks.  Glorious, glorious snacks.  I was oh so glad I had gone for a run that morning, as there were nice little passed (free with ticket entry!) bites:

allagash and blue cheese

My favorite: the blue cheese and walnuts on an endive.  It balanced so nicely, flavor wise, with the beer.  Particularly the saison in my glass for this picture

And a very reasonable $5 token bought heartier fare:

pretzel and bacon

Pictured: candied bacon, which I have sampled before as a garnish on cocktails at Max Burger.  Candied. Bacon.  And, of course, pretzels with mustard and beer sauce.  Yaaaas

The aforementioned Scott Miller is now the head of the Max Catering Group and assured me that they will be rolling out more events in the future.  Which is great news.  We all had a terrific time, and it was hands down the best beer festival I’ve ever attended: