[oink] Brunch @CaseusBistro and Penelope’s big year in review

2015 has drawn to a close… but not before the recap of Penelope’s year!  This is the second installation because, well, she is two.  Read the first one here.

And do yourself a solid favor and check out [oink] – the new concept from Chef Craig Hutchinson in partnership with the ever so delicious (and cheesy!) Caseus Bistro of New Haven.  This is a month long event, kicking off with the first Sunday in 2016.  Menu is below and tickets are available for purchase here!

caseus brunch

This year, Penelope and Mommy enjoyed some excellent adventures.

We went brunching with dolly at the American Girl Store

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Pancakes, matching outfits, on pointe everything

As well as attending an American Girl Fashion Show in Stamford!

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In addition to micro-fashion, Penelope went with Mommy to Hartford Fashion Week and enjoyed the red carpet experience in vintage apparel from Venom Vintage

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We also had some cultural experiences at Playhouse On Park

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Enjoying the Three Little Pigs

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Watching Gwendolyn and the Graceful Pig with the Ballet Theater Company

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And more red carpet fun at the annual CONNetic Dance Nutcracker

We enjoyed a beach trip or two in the summer

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Becoming mermaid in Wells, Maine

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Playing with cousin Orlando on Singer Island

And we enjoyed some traditional New England activities in the fall, such as

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Pumpkin painting

and

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Apple picking!

We enjoyed many amazing mommy/daughter dates, including a tea party photoshoot

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Courtesy of Sassy Mouth Photo

and a Farm to Table brunch at Clark Hill Farms in Granbyphoto-38

We finished out the year with our first ever trip to Disney

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Mickey Mouse ice cream, Mickey wand, Elsa dress.  Peak toddler.

And celebrated Christmas Eve with a candlelight service at Grandpa’s church, Christ Fellowship

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Holding our candle like a big girl!

To finish, we would like to wish all our friends and family a very Happy New Year, with many more to follow!

 

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#GivingTuesday with @CONNeticDance plus a tour of @Bvssportsbar

Happy Giving Tuesday everyone!  It’s time to give back as well as to shop all those sweet deals at Target.  We recommend checking out CONNetic Dance’s #GivingTuesday deal: $100 for tickets the opening night of the Nutcracker Suite and Spicy (Wadsworth Atheneum, Downtown Hartford, December 12th), plus a piece of an original painting created through dance and expression in collaboration with Open Studios!

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Also created in collaboration with Penelope!  Check out the full Youtube video of the dance here plus a link to purchase the tickets and painting!

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A scene from the “ugly sweater party” for Carolyn’s Nutcracker – a signature dance of the performance

Penelope and I will both be attending the matinee on Sunday, December 14th, which includes a special appearance from SANTA and a dance party.  Very exciting stuff.

Other exciting stuff – allow me to introduce my new favorite sports bar in the entire world: Bobby V’s

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A terrific place to watch the Giants lose 14-20 to the Redskins.  Oy.

Head Chef Jordan Stein is an old friend, and he was kind enough to invite myself and Jenna Kijowski and Jessica Brigham Bishop (of CT Ain’t So Bad) in for a lovely sampling of cocktails and food last football Sunday!

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Squad!  Check out Jenna’s blog here!

We sampled multiple drinks, including:
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Caramel Apple Martini (Caramel Vodka, Sour Apple Pucker & a caramel swirl)

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Thin Mint Martini – ooh lala! (3 Olives Vanilla Vodka, Kahlua, Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur, White Creme de Cocoa, Cool Swan Irish Cream, Creme de Menthe)

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Pumpkin Spice Martini – for those of us, like myself, who can’t get enough pumpkin even after Thanksgiving (Pumpkin Spice Liqueur, Cool Swan Irish Cream, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, topped with nutmeg and cinnamon)

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The Leaf Peeper – my personal favorite! Spicy and refreshing (Pineapple & Mint Infused Tequila, St Germain, Apple Cider & a splash of OJ)
We didn’t finish these drinks, full disclosure guys.  Way too many and there were a couple more that we tried that aren’t pictured.  In the interests of it being 1:30 pm in the afternoon, small sips of the cocktails were enjoyed by all, and we switched to beer for the food ingestion (plus beer & football, what can I say?  I’m a sucker for a classic pairing)
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Broad Brook Porter Ale for me – a nice fresh, crisp, dark brew
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A super rare Lawson’s “Double or Nothing” for my pals – a delicious blend with notes of buckwheat and maple.  Yum!
 Ok, on to the foods.  Jordan’s philosophy is simple: make scratch bar foods and execute them very well, with people’s dietary restrictions in mind.  The Portabella Poutin is a hearty vegetarian dish which I would eat RIGHT NOW if it magically appeared in front of me, and the Nachos are made with rice chips and gluten fee!  Side note: get the wings.  Just do it.  Try a couple of the adventurous toppings – you won’t be sorry.
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Portabella Poutin – roasted portabella mushrooms over potato wedges, smothered in a porcini gravy and topped with havarti & muenster cheese
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Clams Casino Flatbread – surf & cockle clams, north country bacon, tomato, fresh herbs, mozerella & parmesan cheese blend
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Nachos (glamor filter intentional – nachos are glamorous business) Pulled pork, melted cheese, guacamole, pico de gallo, sour cream
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Calamari Sticks – rice flour dusted calamari served with sweet chili & snappy lime dipping sauces
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Wings – peach fire, sticky soy, chipotle BBQ, pastrami, chocolate & coffee

In addition to football, or the sport of your choice (I just watch football so you tell me) there is also horse and jai alai betting for those so inclined.  A fun way to spend an afternoon indeed!  Will be back often.  And next time, we can only pray, my G Men will WIN instead of – ugh.  Enough on that.  Thanks again to Chef Jordan for a delightful showcase of his cuisine.  A highly recommended spot!

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adventures with Penelope!

When skies are gloomy and clouds are grey – a two year old will brighten your day!  So goes the saying (which I clearly just engendered) but it’s quite true.  No matter what else is going on in my world, Penelope is the best and brightest thing in it.  And we have had some wonderful mommy/daughter dates over the past couple of weeks.

Including:

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Seeing Gwendolyn and the Graceful Pig as part of the Ballet Theater Company’s Spring Repertory Performance!

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Thank you Roman for the tickets!

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This VERY family friendly ballet included a nice kiosk of toys in the lobby – P scored a toy pig, which came in handy as there were three different performances, with two traditional ballets leading up to “Gwendolyn” which was narrated live by the author, David Rottenberg

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Leading up to the main act was Peer Gynt, a darkly humorous Norwegian piece exploring the woodland fantasies of the titular character.

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Alas, we didn’t find out if Gwendolyn learned to dance or not, as P’s tiny attention span ran out.  So we shall have to buy and read the book and, of course, attend next year, when she is just a little older and less wiggly!  Can’t wait to start P in ballet classes also, she is very into it and the Ballet Theater Company is very conveniently close by our house, with lots of summer programs to offer.  Fun times ahead.

In addition to fun at the ballet, P also had her first hair cut!

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We went to Snip-its in Canton and they did a wonderful job – complete with bubbles and a prize at the end.  Not a traumatizing experience for anyone (except, perhaps, Mommy).

In addition, we also went hunting for faeries at the Bellamay-Ferriday House and Garden in Bethlehem, CT.

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P was understandably upset at not finding any faeries, but considering we went in the middle of the day and they were all napping, it was quite understandable.  We also packed a picnic and ate outside, and we will be returning next weekend for the official Fairy Festival (May 16th) which includes pony rides and other fun happenings!

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One of the faerie houses on display, which will be judged next weekend with a prize for the best one.

And then, of course, there was Mother’s Day.  For Mother’s Day, I decided to do a day full of things that SHE would enjoy, as that’s what equally makes me happy – plus as a working Mom I can never get enough fun activity days with my Little (I may have also treated myself to a J Crew necklace and matching earrings on sale when we were in Canton – plus Mason jar flowers from Whole Foods – but hey, these things happen)

We started out at the American Girl Store in Natick, MA for brunch

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Yes, that’s a tiny high chair for the dolly.  And P and the dolly are wearing matching tops.  It’s all so cute I could barely stand it.  P had an awesome time, and the pancakes were nice and fluffy, the staff was friendly – the only thing that was less than desirable was the coffee – next time we go I might smuggle in my own cold brew or French press coz I’m picky when it comes to my coffee.

 

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Dessert at the end of the meal – a flower pot full of “dirt” aka chocolate pudding with crumbled cookies and sugar cookies on the side.  What an adorable idea for a little girls’ party!  I may steal it.

After brunch, we headed up to the Boston’s Children’s Museum, which is five full floors of delightful activities for littles.  P has been before, and this trip she was able to enjoy even more activities – which she will continue to grow into as she gets older.

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The bubble room was a big hit

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As was the construction zone.  Wearing a hard hat and safety vest because safety is important.

I am so blessed to have such a delightful, wonderful little daughter.  And I’m excited to see my own Mom in a couple weeks when we head down to Florida together!  I hope everyone else had a wonderful Mother’s Day too – and thanks as always for reading!

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.

 

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:

cocktail samples

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:
fishers island lemonade

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.

Penelope’s Big Year + Send a Kid to Camp Courant!

This post is all about my kid – Penelope – and some of my favorite photos from this past year.  I promised it to a couple of you in lieu of the Facebook ‘year in review’ algorithm (which I don’t care to do for multiple reasons).  So I hope you enjoy!  And speaking of kids – a great fundraiser is coming up in February – for Camp Courant.  I’ll be there – will you?

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2014 was a big year for little Penelope!  She finally grew some hair!

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Naice hair

Learned to walk:

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Like a Big Girl

Enjoyed her first birthday party:

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And her birthday cupcakes

Visited the Garlic Farm:
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Seen here with a scape, which we learned are for looking at and not eating raw in the car

Rosedale Vineyards:

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Straight up chilling with Scott Miller

As well as Lost Acres Vineyard:

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Where they look the other way when babies sneak grapes off the vine

We also went to the beach!

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Seen here at Cape Cod in a baby tankini with whales.  So fetch.

And to Florida

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Swimming with Grandpa in Florida

We learned about the finer things in life, such as:

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Fashion

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Cannoli

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Cupcakes

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…and temper tantrums.  Unfortunately.

We attended some marvelous parties:
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Such style

And channeled our inner Naked Cowboy:

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Went to lunch with the ladies

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Bonded with our favorite Auntie

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And coordinated outfits with Mommy

And we finished up the year dancing on the stage at the Wadsworth in an ugly Christmas sweater at the Connetic Dance Nutcracker Suite and Spicy matinee:

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So amazing

Such a big girl now :*)  Mommy is so proud.