#21DayFix Beachbody challenge – halfway through and feeling great!

When Erica approached me to do this challenge (and blog about it) I had a healthy amount of skepticism.  Mainly because, well, it’s a very busy time of year for vacations, and day drinking, and other things that don’t always vibe well with a workout and diet plan.  BUT I agreed, knowing I’d go through this with some cheats, so let’s just get those out of the way right now, shall we?

orange martini yaaaas

Oh my

cheats

Confession is good for the soul

rose at trumbull kitchen

I REGRET NOTHING

So, yeah, it would be factually inaccurate to say I’ve been following the 21 Day Fix to the letter (and I’ll be in Florida for the last week, so there’s that).  However, even with all of the above, I’ve already lost four pounds!

halfway through

Woohoo!

oh sads

Ok, this is a more accurate (read, honest) workout face

This is possible because, as with most things, following something to the letter isn’t the only way to make it more effective.  Yes, I may have had a couple more cocktails than the program calls for – and the occasional truffle potato chip.  But overall, my eating habits cleaned up quite drastically from before the program:

not so green photos

Look at the food in this picture.  Ice cream, pasta, arroz con pollo.  And a three pack of wine.

green photos

Now here’s a snapshot from this week.  Lots of green, leafy, fresh, vegetable laden dishes, and a no sugar added watermelon cooler.

That’s the funny thing about working out and eating right.  It really doesn’t take much to get good results!  And much of getting good results is making healthy choices.  Our dinner at Carbone’s last week is a great example of this.  I was a bit nervous about it, as I associate Italian places with pasta and really didn’t want to go off the deep end, as far as sticking to the eating plan.  But not only was I able to find an entree that was very healthy, it was also, by far, the most satisfying and delicious menu option for me:

veal medallions

Truly a win win!

peppered sea scallops

Another meal I was worried about (and shouldn’t have been) Taste of Hartford at Trumbull KitchenI ate all the peppered sea scallops, the watercress, and a small bite of the sticky rice.  Perfectly satisfying and quite healthy.

It also helps if, like me, you happen to love working out.  I just really do (sorry).  So, although I am not physically strong enough to follow the seven workouts per week – I average five days – two of those days are heavier work outs than the program calls for- such as a half hour of running and then cardio.  Or a power yoga class.  Again, it’s a matter of fixing bad habits, not reinventing your entire fitness and eating routine.

Also very useful, along with the eating plan and exercise DVDs (which I am going to be so happy to have this winter when it gets dark outside early and it’s too nasty to drive to the gym) there are these really delicious and healthy nutrient dense shakes in the 21 day fix:

shakeology and blazer

Vanilla shake with ice and orange juice

chocolate shake

Chocolate with kale, blueberries, and coffee.  Weird combo I know but it tastes delicious.  Also, a nice photobomb from P!

I come from a family of health freaks, and unfortunately I don’t always follow the good habits I learned as a kid, such as taking in plenty of vitamins.  These shakes are laden with dense nutrition – I can tell from my energy levels and skin tone – so it’s not just a meal replacement, it’s also a very healthy helping of things your body wants and needs to function at peak proficiency!

In addition to the shakes, I’ve developed a healthy addiction to G Monkey fresh squeezed beet juice, which is available at the Billings Forge Farmers’ Market every Thursday in the summer!

beet juice

Yummo

One more big, helpful factor for me: my CSA with the Garlic Farm!  Having a guaranteed portion of delicious, fresh, organic and GMO free vegetables per week is just awesome, and P really enjoys picking up the veggies, so it’s been a great experience so far:

p getting her csa

Eat more kale.  No seriously, do it

my kale brings all the boys to the yard

Kale jokes, courtesy of Bagels to Broccoli!  Ok, I’ll stop now

One other healthy habit I’m really enjoying about the 21 day fix is the water bar:

water bar

aka, #smugwater

Infused water is delicious, healthy, and very easy to do.  My favorite combo is blueberries and basil.  I’ve found I can start an infusion at work and leave it at my desk for several days (covered), topping up as needed, and it is delightful.  It’s very important to stay hydrated when dieting, as well as in the hot summer months, and all of this is especially true for me, as I’m anemic (another reason I’m not overly focused on calorie control).  I’m finding throughout this program that I am gaining healthy habits which I will certainly keep once the fix is over – the shakes, the healthier options, the water bar, the cardio boosts – it’s all going to be part of my daily routine as well as a more intensive program for the next ten days or so.  And I think that’s the most important thing: when you learn to be healthy, it becomes a natural part of who you are, leading to confidence, energy, and a boosted self esteem.  Modifications are important based on lifestyle and also history – I used to have an eating disorder so you won’t see me weighing in more than twice during this process – but overall, each tiny win on the road to being healthy leads to a happier life – and just maybe – a hotter bod.  🙂

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@HSOtweets Talcott Mountain Music Festival and a farm to chef BBQ

Summertime in Connecticut means that the Hartford Symphony Orchestra moves out doors to the Simsbury Meadows (double check info) for five fun and family friendly concerts, each featuring a different theme.  We attended last Friday and were blown away by the Orchestra’s collaboration with Morgan James, Capathia Jenkins, and Randall Craig Fleischer for Broadway Rocks!

hartford courant media partner

This is my favorite media partnership yaas

hartford mag and flowers

A Hartford Magazine on each and every table!  Nice

We had a very nice group of ladies in attendance (plus one gentleman boyfriend who graciously offered to snap this picture)

ladies at talcott

Pictured left to right: Diane Taha of the Greater Hartford Arts Council, Carolyn Paine of Connetic DanceRachael Forker of Onyx Moonshine, Me! of CTNow/Hartford Courant, and Emily Cahill of Yelp, Hartford.  Quite the power group.

Speaking of Onyx, Rachael was kind enough to bring us Cranberry Onyx Margaritas.  I’m glad I haven’t had the chance to try the Cranberry Onyx before this… the margarita blend was such a nice blend of citrus and tart – it was the serendipitous introduction.

moonshine yaaas

Plus, the Onyx looked really nice in my new mason jar cocktail glasses.

In addition to friends actually in attendance, we had friends who were there in spirit:

caitlin and 90 plus cellars

Haha, hi Cait!  Flanked by two bottles of 90 Plus Cellars, quite appropriately.

Emily mixed her 90 Plus Prosecco with a home made blueberry and basil simple syrup, which will hopefully serve as a nice base for many a future summer cocktail meet up.  We also had some great offerings from our partners for Talcott:

three sisters wine

The always amazing Rosedale wines

fruit tart

And finger foods from Fitzgeralds.  The fruit tarts are my actual favorites.  I crave them in the winter because I associate them with Talcott and summertime.

All the food, libations, and camaraderie were an excellent back drop to the main attraction: the music.  I’m a self professed classical music nerd, due to many, many hours on the piano in my formative years.  And who doesn’t like a good Broadway tune?  The beauty of Talcott is that it takes a higher brow concept, like the Symphony, and combines it with the mass appeal of pop music:

talcott crowd

Demonstrated with this crowd here.  The perfect weather probably didn’t hurt.

There was plenty of singing along to crowd favorites from Wicked, The Phantom of the Opera, and to round things off: a flash mob from The Age of Aquarius!

dancing onstage

Fun

Oh, also there were fireworks.  And a perfect, full Hunter’s Moon.

talcott moonlight

So, basically, the best night out I can remember in quite some time!

Also fun and relaxing was hosting a farm to chef BBQ on Sunday.  Yes, I know that term gets bandied about quite a bit, but the lion’s share of the ingredients were sourced from farms within 5 miles of my house that very day, so I feel like it’s justified.

p wiz tomato haz

Behold the tiny hunter gatherer

Penelope loves trips to the Garlic Farm, which is useful as I currently write their newsletter and we have a CSA starting up soon.  It seems like a great thing to do with a baby – tactile development, GMO and pesticide free vegetables, shapes, colors – plus, at the end, we have fresh delicious things to eat

hartford baking co

Hallo beauties

My friend Amanda and I headed up to Lost Acres for local wine whilst the men folk stayed at home with the kids.  Naturally, this led to a glass of wine on the patio, with jazz playing in the background

dry riesling

If you haven’t been to Lost Acres and you live close by, just go.  It’s so worth it

Once back home, I prepped a very simple bruschetta (recipe below) and cracked open another bottle – one I’ve been saving for some time, waiting for the right pairing:

ironside bruschetta

Tada!  Plus Ironside Cabernet – courtesy of Cait – from the same folks behind the 90 Plus Cellars Brand

The tomatoes from the Garlic Farm were beef tomatoes – rich and meaty, with a thick, juicy texture which I felt would pair better with red wine then a right.  The nicely balanced tannic quality of the Ironside blended nicely with the crunchy, balsamic  bruschetta.  Plus, I was pleasantly surprised at the thinnish mouthfeel of Ironside – it’s got a three dimensional, robust flavor palatte but a more maleable body then many cabernets, which also lends itself well to summer drinking!  Ok yes, I just learned “mouthfeel” and I’ve been dying to use it in a sentence.  True wine snobs feel free to attack me in the comments. 🙂

The Ironside also worked very well with Sweet Pea local burgers and watermelon feta arugula salad (stolen from the Capital Grille’s summer menu, thank you very much).  It’s the first wine created by the 90 Plus Cellars company, and the backstory is quite charming too!  Always nice to read about or drink a wine that you have a bit of a personal connection to, don’t you think?  (My connection, if it’s not obvious, is Cait, who now works for 90 Plus as a marketing lady extraordinairre).

hamburger and saladt

Also pictured: marinated shrimp.  And you can’t see it, but there is black pepper Sweet Pea chevre on top of the burger.

It’s definitely worth it to go local, fresh, and seasonal for a BBQ.  The bruschetta alone packed a much bigger flavor punch then many I’ve prepared in the past, due to the extremely fresh ingredients.  Plus, there’s the added satisfaction of sustainability and knowing you’re supporting local agriculture.  I’m thinking that when we go to the Florida Keys in August, I’ll try to make a Floridian version of farm to table (sea to table?) with fresh grouper and citruses.  Ah yes.  Let the good (summer) times roll!

Farm fresh bruschetta

Beef Tomatoes

Fresh garlic

Fresh basil

Balsamic vinagrette

Extra virgin olive oil

Rock salt and fresh cracked pepper

Fresh ciabatta bread

Cube tomatoes and combine with slivered garlic and torn up basil in a medium sized bowl.  Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic and season to taste.  Refrigerate for at least 1/2 an hour and up to four hours.  Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees, thin slice the ciabatta and drizzle with a bit of olive oil.  Lightly toast the ciabatta and then spoon the bruschetta on top and serve immediately.

 

Two awesome weekends with Penelope – @MillwrightsCT and @FunwithCarbsLG barbeque

I had every intention of posting last week, I swear.  But somewhere between working full time (which I adore) little Penelope (who is the best thing in the world), and a three day holiday weekend (yaaaas), time just got away from me.  So here’s a summary of the last two weekends’ festivities, starting with: dinner on the patio at Millwrights with my loves!

Oh, what’s better than dining outside on a glorious summer evening with the people you care about?  Just about nothing.  Well, the opening night of Talcott Mountain Music Festival would have been nice, but when our babysitter had to cancel, we went for a family evening – and it was fantastic.  Millwrights, for being somewhat (ok, very) fancy and farm to chef, is still down home, hospitable, and oh-so-baby friendly.  How friendly you ask?  Friendly enough for the General Manager, AJ, to hunt down sunblock from me for little Penelope when she got a bit too much early evening sun on the deck:

millwrights baby

Thanks to Chef Tyler‘s wife for lending us some and pretty much saving our dinner.  P practiced her naice walking al fresco and threw a jelly sandal in the pond, and she did not get sunburned in the slightest.  A very successful evening.

Dining with a 15 month old can be a bit chaotic, so we have a couple simple rules to manage the experience and make sure it’s pleasant for us and our fellow diners:

– Eat early.  The ‘witching hour’ for P is around 7:00 pm, as that’s her bed time, so a 5:00 pm start time typically works well

– Seek out family friendly places.  This tends to be less “Chuck E Cheese” and more “awesome, laid back staff – ” like Millwrights, as well as places with stimulation and some space to stretch the little legs and wander about.  Outdoor dining in general is, of course, fabulous for this.

– When all else fails, grab some to-go boxes and exit stage left.  To be honest yes, this has happened a couple times.  But thankfully not on this particular evening!

So there you have it.  I’m sure every parent has a trick or two up their sleeves – just happens that this works well for us.  It also helps that I occasionally receive gift cards as bonuses through my work place – as budgets for new parents can be tight also (and ours certainly often is!)

millwrights cocktail

Another parent staple – a delicious cocktail.  Pictured: the Violet Femme (vodka, creme yvette, lemon, rosemary)

amuse bouche

Chef Tyler sent out this delightful amuse bouche, which has an equally delightful French name which I remembered only as its translation: cheese puff (the Violet Femmes may have been to blame for this)

millwrights biscuit

Anyone whose been to Millwrights and doesn’t have a gluten allergy will most likely attest to the flaky delectable qualities of the biscuit and house infused butter combo

asparagus action shot

We ordered a side of asparagus for P, but it was enjoyed by all

steak millwrights

Mike’s entree: Tournedos of Beef Tenderloin.  The pickled scape garnish was incredible.  I’m canning scapes this week in an attempt to replicate at home.

duck millwrights

My Duck Breast.  The parmesan grits were a bit of a let down for me – I’m a purist when it comes to grits and the texture was a bit too rich, mealy, and not quite starchy enough for my taste.  But the flavorful, fatty, rare plus duck more than compensated, and it paired quite nicely with my Violet Femme.

This was my first opportunity to actually dine on the deck at Millwrights.  I can’t wait to go back, hopefully for drinks at sunset?  Who knows.  It’s awfully nice that its only fifteen minutes away from our house 🙂

arrigoni 16

Love it

So that was Friday evening – over and home before the sun had fully set – but that’s not a bad thing at all on a long summer night with a small child in tow.  Saturday, we had another family excursion to the Pickin’ Patch in Avon!  We arrived just in time for the last strawberries, which is why our berries are a bit small.  We worked hard for them and they tasted extra juicy because of it!

picked by penelope

Sun ripened, juicy beauties.

pickin patch baby

Someone got a special wagon ride from Daddy!

As well as berries, the Pickin Patch has a variety of ‘you pick’ vegetables.  We grabbed some snow peas, and I would definitely like to go back for more of a veggie array at some point in the future.  We plucked these particular berries for a very maple syrup infused brunch at our house the very next day and served them in maple syrup (naturally).  The entire concept of the brunch was birthed from a single bottle of maple syrup infused wine from Arrigoni Winery in Portland. I did a tasting when I picked the bottle for the party up, and a write up of many of their wine blends is coming tomorrow!  There were enough of them that they deserve their own post.  The maple syrup wine didn’t last long, but thankfully we had back up:

onyx and necklaces

Namely, Onyx moonshine infused with strawberries.  Paired with some delightful Lia Sophia necklaces which were also up for grabs at the brunch

p and hannah

Look at these fashionable ladies

Most of the cooking was done by a kindly guardian angel who arrived on a fluffy cloud from Billings Forge and professionally took over my kitchen, thus preventing a syrupy meltdown on my part.  Cathy AmaranteI can’t thank you enough for applying your professional catering knowledge to my chaos, and the food you prepared was tasty and beautiful:

egg cups

Pinterest worthy ham and egg cups

goddess pancakes

Bacon and apple pancakes.  I also provided really ugly and not very good Vegan pancakes.   Sorry vegetarians/vegans.  I tried.

brunch spread

Other tasty food stuffs!  Those giant muffins were so good and unfortunately can be purchased very close to my house.  I’m in trouble.

p and alex

Little people enjoying play time

p and amanda and spike jonze

…and necklace modeling.  Yes, it looks good on you P

On Independence Day, we celebrated with my husband’s family and a giant array of Italian delicacies (hello, cutlets!)  Unfortunately the weather was awful – fortunately – we got to attend Leeanne‘s barbeque the very next day!

l cheese plates

I made this and, heck yes, I’m very proud of it.  Blue cheese, Sweet Pea chevre, and prosciutto.

l blackboard

No lack of food or tasteful displays here! 

The highlight of the barbeque for me were the Broad Brook Beef burgers.  Ok, definitely the highlight for me were the Broad Brook burgers.  I’ve never tried this local beef before, and the meat was intensely flavorful and juicy.  Oh man.  Definitely going to stock up at some point in the near future.  There were also many delicious libations flowing:

l rose

Rose, because we classy

l onyx

Yet more Strawberry Onyx Lemonade. Great minds think alike.

rare luddite sighting

Also, Two Roads Brewing Company Road Jam beer.  Hi Rob!

p baba

I managed to photograph both camera shy luddites, but not a single group shot of the ladies.  DANG

cool kid

…except for P killing it in her glasses

Lack of taggable Facebook photos notwithstanding (the horror!  the humanity!) a terrific time was had by all, and it was an honor to be in attendance for Leeanne and Rob’s first BBQ.  The next day was the end of our three day weekend, so we opted for a low key hike to Enders

enders

Which I’ve blogged about before here and I’ll do so again because I absolutely love it

p and daddy

P and Daddy enjoying the waterfalls

bill murray

And a picnic!  Note how Mike is channeling Bill Murray from Caddyshack

sangria enders

Guess who just got mason cocktail jars and promptly filled them with sangria?  And posted the recipe at the end of this blog?  Awww yeah

p and mammy enders

Only seems right to end on a Mommy-Baby selfie

It’s the apex of summer – so many more long and sunshine filled weekends to come.  Hope everyone else enjoyed the sun, the beach, the awesome weather, and the long holiday weekend with friends and family xoxo

Easy Summer Sangria

2 bottles unoaked red table wine

1/2 cup cointreau

1/2 cup brandy

1/2 cup sugar

1 lemon

1 apple

1 orange

San Pellegrino Aranciata

Cut the apple and orange and place in the bottom of a large pitcher.  Juice the lemon over the other fruit and sugar.  Macerate the fruit with a long handled spoon, and add the cointreau and brandy, plus 1/2 bottle of red wine.  Place in fridge for several hours, stir, and add the remaining wine.  Keeps in the fridge for up to a week.  To finish and enjoy: strain out the fruit and serve over ice with a splash of San Pellegrino Aranaciata or other flavored Pelligrino (sprite or prosecco also work nicely)

 

A weekend with Penelope and some pampering for Mommy at Skincare by Marcia!

Reminder: tonight is Yelp Helps at the Society Room!  So get out after work, enjoy some cocktail samples and nibbles, and get to know some of Hartford’s finest local charities, non-profits, and arts organizations.

Sometimes the weeks – and especially the weekends – get very busy with events.  It’s an occupational hazard of working int he media – and to be honest I love it – but it’s really nice to slow down at times and spend quality time with Penelope.

kat and p

We make for quite the dynamic duo

On Saturday, we headed into Hartford to walk the pink carpet, make arts and crafts for Daddy, and enjoy Open House Day.

happy fathers day

Hartford Prints hosted a great arts and craft’s event for kids.  This is Penelope’s cousin’s, Eva’s craft.  P’s was decidedly more abstract.

ootd

My OOTD.  I was proud of the mommy look so I am sharing, even tho it’s a terrible selfie face.

Conveniently, The Society Room is located directly across the street from Hartford Prints.  And they had a nice pink carpet rolled out for the ‘fabulous little ladies’ attending this VAZ event (the sweet spot for this event was 6-12 years, but everyone from 14 month old P to older teenage girls seemed to have a really great time!)

society room vaz

Fancy fancy

 VAZ is a local group dedicated to providing women with fun and meaningful ‘girls night out’ type experiences.  The event we attended was their annual junior VAZ – and it was, indeed fabulous.

aerial view vaz

Great turnout! 

Among the many vendors present, I spotted a couple familiar places who are clients of mine:

  Little Miss Bella Boutique in Farmington!  A great spot to pamper your little princess with a manicure or a tea party!

playhouse on park kids

Playhouse on Park! With a booth all decked out for the occasion in dress up finery

There were tons and tons of fine, girly merchandise for sales – from shoes to tutus.  Thankfully, Penelope has excellent taste and she chose the $5 teddy bear – proceeds from which benefited Grace Academy Hartford.

Penelope might have been a bit young to really get into the shopping (oh thank you God) but she was completely into the red carpet.  Little girls ages 6 and up were invited to strut down a runway MC’d by Cinderella

pink carpet

Work it, ladies

So naturally, Penelope had to test out the runway herself

yes i dance now

There was dancing and much excitement

cousins

With her lovely cousin Ava.  Still eyeing the stage however.  Can’t keep a diva off the stage.

After we left VAZ, slightly dazed, in a sugar coma, and covered in glitter, my Aunt Virginia suggested we walk down to the Wadsworth, which was offering free admission for Open House Day!

open house day

So cool

wadsworth

And there was a live DJ and chalk for the kiddos outside!

Inside, there were a myriad of arts and crafts activities, as well as the opportunity to dress up and be photographed in traditional African clothing garments as an interactive function of one of the Wadsworth’s new exhibits: Fresh Faces (a collection of varied portrayals of African Americans in American art).

wadsworth arts and crafts

It’s amazing how often you can go to the Wadsworth and end up leaving with something you created yourself!  Here, museum goers create collages with varied textured papers, as well as their own art pieces.

So, Saturday was a fine day out in Hartford.  Sunday was, of course, Father’s Day, and Mike took off for golf with his Dad for most of the day, leaving P and I to our own devices.  We stayed local in Granby, visiting two farms and a vineyard and hiking at Enders.

p with her scapes

Picking scapes at The Garlic Farm

p and mammy

Paddling in the waterfalls at Enders

waterfalls

So very gorgeous.  I recommend you go, and bring a towel

adirondack chair

Sitting in the Big Girl Chair at our favorite, Lost Acres Vineyard

rose glass

Whilst Mommy enjoyed a nice glass of rose

bag of swag

The results of our shopping: local honey, scapes galore, Sweet Pea feta, local pork, and a bottle of rose

In addition the weekend’s festivities, I’d like to include a mention of Marcia, who is an amazing aesthetician who recently moved to Stonington, CT, from California.  She brought with her Lira products – a brand which is quite popular on the West Coast and based out of London.  Like another one of my favorite UK based brands – Lush – Lira uses all natural stem cell plant ingredients to create highly precise skin care products with homeopathic basis such as alpine roses and oranges.  Right up my alley!  I am a bit leery of chemical facials, so I was very into the ingredients list in this line.

lira

Tada!  Lira!

Marcia is warm, friendly, and consultative in her skin care approach.  She invited me down for a free facial after I met her through a mutual friend at one of our Hartford Magazine launch parties.  I’ve waiting a couple weeks to post this as I wanted to see the difference in my skin.  Since the facial, my occasional acne has cleared up considerably (I’ve also been using a gentle Lira facial exfoliator recommended by Marcia) and my skin has better shine and tone, without a doubt.  It was amazing how much dead skin was on my face (ok, it was disgusting)… immediately after the facial, I had visible freckles which weren’t there an hour before!

marcia billburg better photo

Thanks so much Marcia!

Marcia can be found right on Stonington’s cozy main street, inside Elizabeth’s Hair Studio

view of the street

I have mad love for Stonington.  It’s just the quintessential Ct shoreline town, and the Main St is just quaint and perfect

If you do go see her, please mention this post for 10% off of a treatment of your choice!  And also,  like her page on Facebook for more info on what she does and the fabulous Lira product line.  You’re not likely to find it from another aesthetician on the East Coast, and the natural ingredients are worth a daytrip (not that we need an excuse with this gorgeous summery weather).  Plus, summer is a great time to protect your skin from the sun and the elements with a little pampering.  I’ll be back soon, without a doubt 🙂

 

 

A Farmer’s Market Roundup

Hello!  Summer is right around the corner, and with it, the chance to buy everything from cheese to veggies to Onyx Moonshine outside and locally at the Farmer’s Market.  Below is a round up of some of my favorite markets, as well as those recommended by Facebook friends in CT.

…and speaking of summer, the 90 + Cellar’s Rose Cruise is right around the corner too, on June 7th!  I’m very excited to travel up to Boston to attend this event (only a couple hours away – I love CT) and tickets are available today with a $10 discount when you use the code DRINKROSE33.  Visit here to purchase:  http://bit.ly/drinkrose14

rose glasses

OK!  back to the farmers market.  Top dog in town appears to be, by an overwhelming majority, Coventry Farmer’s Market.  Which makes sense, as it’s the largest in the state, features amazing happenings such as the annual Farm to Shaker competition, and also won the Best of Hartford readers’ poll this year!

coventry

Here is Winter and her amazing crew celebrating their win, along with a Celebrity Chicken.  Photo courtesy of Robert Cooper for Ctnow.com

I went to Coventry last summer with a wee Penelope and Caitlin, and she did a write up of it on her blog, which is here if anyone wants to read it/see cute vintage Penelope baby pictures.  If you want to visit, the market takes place every Sunday from April to October.

But just because Coventry is amazing doesn’t mean we should ignore the other amazing markets in the state!  Next up on the list is Billings Forge, which is an urban year round market located on Broad St in Hartford.  It’s within walking distance of my office, and I stroll down all the time to get goodies such as fresh greens from Collinsville, goat cheese from Sweet P (which I can also get, to be fair, within a couple miles of my house but it’s nice to see it in the city!) and kale and radishes from Simsbury.  The Billings Forge market also accepts food stamps and is a great way to bring fresh, green things to the city.  And in the summer, you can catch the Nora Cupcake truck or the amazing vegan G Monkey Mobile for a fresh twist on lunch!  The Billings Forge market takes place every Thursday, all year round.

It would be wrong to make this list and not include my home town market of course.  I feel like all of the Granbys are basically a giant farmers’ stand in the summer – with fresh goat cheese available at Sweet P, local wine at Lost Acres, and many, many little vegetable stands.  It’s pretty great, and so is our stand alone farmers market, which runs from June – October.  One of the best wares to come out of our region, in my opinion, are gorgeous wildflowers, so if you’re looking to pretty up your next dinner party or surprise a significant other, you know where to go!

OK, on to the recommendations.  LeeAnne – our favorite resident foodie- gives a shout out to Coventry (of course) but also recommends her local Ellington or  South Windsor markets.  Jennifer Crookes Carpenter – PR lady extraordinaire – has home town pride in Collinsville, and their market which includes: he best ramps, garlic and tomatoes around (plus a one-eyed rooster),” which sounds pretty amazing.  And my awesome coworker Rebecca gave me a tip for another urban market near Hartford Hospital on Fridays (cool – especially for anyone who is staying in the hospital long term), plus the Suffield Farmers’ Market – which is also close to home for me, so I’ll be checking it out this summer once it opens in June.  Thanks everyone for the tips!

If you have a local, favorite market which isn’t mentioned here, please leave it in the comments below 🙂

From Happy Hour at Rizuttos to a Cinco de Mayo Art Party at @HartfordPrints – one heck of a weekend

May is a glorious month, is it not?  Especially for those of us who live far enough north to experience a true, biting winter, followed by a slow starting Spring (brrr).  But the warm weather is finally here, and all of the state seems to be in bloom with flowers, as well as cool events and happenings:

chef tony

Chef Tony of Rizutto’s in West Hartford

My good friend Carolyn Paine joined me for a free happy hour on Friday over at Rizutto’s.  Chef Tony Camilleri, pictured above, invited us in and graciously picked up the check (thanks so much!)

kat and carolyn

Cheers!

We both immediately bypassed wine in favor of cocktails, as there were so many good looking ones to choose from.  When we remembered we could have more than one (yay adults!) it made life a lot easier

grilled cheese and dippers and cocktails

Pictured: our first round.  From left to right: a “Cool as a Cucumber,” (Crop organic cucumber vodka, agave lemon soda, finger limes, and soda), Mini Grilled Cheese (manchengo, prosciutto, and acai berry mustard), Cherry Pepper Buffallo Chicken Skewers with gorgonzola dip, and “The Devil’s Honey,” (Old Overholt rye, muddled mint, house-made sriracha honey, and lemonade)

I thoroughly enjoyed the Devil’s Honey – which I ordered with extra sriracha for an extra spicy and sweet kick.  The skewers were also very spicy and tender, and who doesn’t like mini grilled cheese – even when ordered without prosciutto at Carolyn’s request?

carolyn instagramming

A photoshoot for the next cocktail: a Lavender Cosmo (vodka, white cranberry juice, triple sec, fresh lime juice, and house made lavender syrup).  Also, please note and admire Carolyn’s fetching business onesie

sniffing the cocktail in a business onesie

Here’s a better picture of the onesie.  It’s amazing.  Perfect for office meeting or cocktails with friends.

guava deliciousness

My own little beauty: the Guava Goddess (Ulimat vodka, fresh lime, Domain de Canton ginger liqueur, guava nectar).  Love the rosemary garnish!

We also sampled several other perfectly sized appetizers, which are all priced from $3 – $5.  The cocktails were not on the happy hour menu – although we could have chosen a wine or beer which was – and were all priced at a reasonable $10

little pizza

Margherita mini-pizza.  So cute!

crab dip

Cast Iron Crab Dip!  Carolyn declined so I had this all to myself.  I was ok with this

bruschetta

Luscious bruschetta.  According to Carolyn at least – I had enough carbs with the dip and the pizza!

At the end of the evening, curiosity got the better of us, and we ordered and sampled the ominously, and honestly titled, “fireball shot”

fireball shot

Oh my goodness.  Why.

The initial sip was heaven, but the flavor got cloying very quickly – it’s basically whiskey, infused with fireballs.  Yep.  I can see why they serve this with a beer chaser!

After happy hour, Carolyn and I strolled to Charming Charlies for some cocktail enhanced shopping for a birthday party we are attending next weekend – one of the best things about the Blueback Square!  Again, a big thanks to Tony for inviting us in, and I’ll most definitely be headed back ASAP to sample the cocktails we didn’t get to this time around.

Saturday, Penelope and I had a nice play date with some other babies at ReCreate CT, which takes place every year in Elizabeth Park

baby playdate

Attempting to push the stroller.  Kudos for trying, kid.

Naomi, who I met at the Best of Hartford party invited us to listen to Little Ugly during an al fresco, free concert.  It was great to see all the babies enjoying the music, and also – I lucked out and found the NoRa Cupcake Truck right before they sold out!

nora cupcake

Cinco de Mayo preview with a Margarita cupcake.  All the yaaaaaas.

We wanted to head to Firebox afterwards, but alas, when we arrived, all the low tables in the bar were full, and even the trendiest of babies doesn’t fare well with a high top (although if someone were to design an extra tall high chair for such occasions, that would be wicked cool).  So we headed home early, which was just fine as it was still a lovely day in the park, and the next day we had big plans to join Leeanne for a much anticipated brunch at Millwrights!

sweet cocktails

Hallo beauties.  All photos courtesy of LeeAnne Griffin

The brunch at Millwrights is quite unique as, according to Chef Tyler Anderson, he basically made a menu around what he would want for brunch – a mix of three courses (appetizer, main, and dessert) and family style sides for $30 a person.  Yes, it was decadent.  Yes, it was a ridiculous amount of food.  Yes, I have more pictures (naturally)

bruleed grapefruit yas

Beautiful grapefruit bruleé with tarragon syrup.  I’ve had something similar at Firebox before – and I’m a big fan.

asparagus

Thanks to Chef Tyler for treating us to the Asparagus, with house cured ham and sauce gribiche!  P loved the crunchy asparagus although she balked at the sauce (because baby).

bread basket

The lovely bread basket

steak and eggs

My main course: Steak and Eggs, with beef tenderloin, poached egg, greens, and bearnaise sauce

eggs benny

Leeanne’s very pretty main: Eggs Benedict with braised ham, wild ramps, and meyer lemon hollandaise

omg sausage

Oh nothing.  Just house cured bacon, and home made sausage, and succulent potatoes.  Just hanging out.

custard pie omg omg

Last but certainly not least – Buttermilk Pie with black current sorbet

leeanne and p

Penelope chilling with her Auntie Leeanne, reading the thrilling page turner: Where is Baby’s Belly Button

We left thoroughly stuffed (I mean, obviously) and I brought home the bacon, which went quite nicely with roasted asparagus for dinner that night.  In the afternoon, P and I enjoyed the garden because…

vogue

Yes, because Sunday Funday

mushroom

She is my very favorite mushroom

If anyone is wondering – Mike was away on business this weekend, which is why P and I got to enjoy so much quality time and play dates together!  And to top it all off, we attended a very fun, creative, engaging Cinco de Mayo party at Hartford Prints! on Monday night

arts

Pictured: sidewalk chalk and street graffiti.  I really hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow because I want to see the finished designs quite badly when I go downtown!

Rory sure does know how to throw a party in her letterpress studio, and there are plenty of cool new items in for spring if you haven’t been shopping there in a while.  In addition to live music from Oh Cassius! (which I’m sure was wonderful but was past Penelope’s bed time, so I didn’t get to find out first hand, alas) there were free tacos!  yeah!  free tacos.  And free margaritas!  yeah, free margaritas. Sorry about that sentence structure but I get quite excited about these things:

tacos

Thank you Whole Foods West Hartford!

ripe

Thank you Ripe!

Plenty of Hartford friends were out and about as well – who wouldn’t want to check out such a cool party?

p and kerry

Pictured: best friends with rad hairstyles

selfieeees

Pictured: ridiculous selfies with CT Ain’t So Bad.  Just because we can.

Nothing like Cinco de Mayo on a Monday to make it feel like a three day weekend, even if I worked a full day today!  Well, that about wraps it up.  But yeah, Hartford is kind of awesome, and if this is what the rest of the summer is going to be like, I can’t wait.

Happy Earth Day! Let’s @Maketrashion + Penelope’s Easter Style

trashion alex symphers photo 1

Photo courtesy of Alex Syphers for CTNow

 

Last year, I was in a blissful haze of new Mommydom, and Trashion Fashion barely blipped on my radar. This year, however was different, as Amy and I got together to brainstorm some marketing plans. And I got to walk in the show in a fabulous Yelp get up. So I went from no involvement to… lot of involvement… which was terrific, if a bit terrifying with a one-year-old running around and being in our busiest time of year for work with the Best of Hartford.
But if I worked hard, then Amy and her team absolutely killed it. From the model coordinators to the amazing artists, led by Nina Salazar and Jen Merli, there was a ton of passion – and trash – that went into producing a magical evening.

jellies
Etheral jellyfish – made of recycled plastic bags – floating above the runway at City Hall

The idea of Trashion is pretty simple – take clean waste – often from contributing local business such as Blo West Hartford and Billings Forge – pictured below – and create amazing gowns.

 

ladies of trashion

From left to right – Blo’s look, Yelp’s Look, Hartford Print‘s look, and Billings Forge’s look.  I now strongly want a kale fascinator of my own
It’s kind of a mash up of green awareness with the “unusual challenge” on Project Runway – ie – it’s two things I really, really dig. The live runway show featured many amazing looks

trashion alex syphers photo 3

Photo courtesy of Alex Syphers for CTNow
And the pre-show reception featured installations that raised awareness for green activism, as well as food donations from Billings Forge and drinks courtesy of Ripe and Tanduay.  The passion fruit daiquiri is my new summer obsession – thanks JD!
If you missed this Trashion – it’s going on the road with upcoming shows in Brooklyn and Washington, DC, including a rumored pop up dance event today in NYC in honor of Earth Day.  Check out the showdates here!

 

flower bombs

Also – the guests all left with flower bombs as favors – can’t wait to chuck mine in the garden and watch them bloom
So yes, all of this took place the night before Easter. Which means I took it easy at the afterparty – which was right up the road at City Steam

laurel
Laurel behind the bar modeling some amazing trashion accessories in her braid
City Steam was also the site of a pre-Trashion photoshoot by the way – check out this amazing mash up design of Hartford Courant and City Steam coasters and posters

 

city steam photo courtesy of Amy merli

Photo courtesy of Amy Merli
As promised in a previous post, here’s a picture of Penelope’s adorable easter head bow, which she wore to early morning Mass at St Therese Church

penelope bow

And ripped off her head five minutes later – I guess she feels about head bows like she does about head bands, unfortunately

After church, we changed into something more casual and rugged for egg huntin

easter basket

Seen here placing an egg into her basket!  Like a Big Girl!

And then it was back into the fluffy yellow dress – sans bow – for Easter lunch at Auntie’s!

easter

Such a little ham

Hope everyone had a lovely Easter and is enjoying Earth Day today!  Cheers to all xo