Friday, December 14, 2012

Shelley's Garden Center in Branford CT for the 2012 Holiday Season

Tis' the season!

...and the holiday season would not be complete without a stop at Shelley's Garden Center in Branford to see owners John and Yvette Chambers, and pick up a little decorative greenery.

This season I'm on the hunt for pine boughs and evergreen branches to decorate my window boxes. I knew I could find them at Shelley's!  They have juniper, holly, pine, boxwood,...and so much more!

Each year I try to do a little something different when decorating my window boxes.  This year my inspiration comes from fellow CT blogger DaiseyJayne's post: "Think I Could Glitter That?"  that involved glittered pine cones and milkweed pods decorating a cinched burlap-covered wreath.  So, the rest of the weekend I will be scouting (aka wandering my neighbor's yards) on the lookout for [free] pine cones, and I'm hoping to find some wired burlap-like ribbon at a fabric store that I can weave through the greenery.

Because these will be outside in my window boxes, I'll likely lightly brush or spray the pine cones with shimmery gold paint instead of glitter.  I'll also include my standard dried hydrangea blooms that I use every year.  I love that they dry paper thin and are a gorgeous shade of sepia toned golden-brown.

But I digress....

Shelley's has more than just greenery!  They have loads of beautiful fresh trees, wreaths, swags, roping, and kissing balls! Here's some of my favorites on display!

Inside the store there are rows and rows of beautiful poinsettias!

  Aren't they beautiful?  All different shades - each one prettier than the next!

Visit Shelley's Garden Center if you're in the area!

Shelley's Garden Center
Shelley's is open 8:30 to 6:00 daily.
March to December.

217 Main Street 
 Branford, CT 06405
(203) 488-9479

How do you decorate for the holidays? 
I'd love to hear about your holiday decorating traditions in the comments below!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Macy's Celebrates Hanukkah in the Westfarms Mall CT

This year Macy's at the Westfarms Mall in CT teamed up with the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford to celebrate Hanukkah!

Macy's and Catherine, Risa, Alysa, and Anna from the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford were on hand and ready to welcome all attendees!

There was storytelling by the good folks at the Mandell JCC Family Room Library. Did you know about the PJ Library?  This program, free for the first year, offers families Jewish children's books and music. PJ Library reports that "this program is designed to give parents and children one of the most powerful and nurturing learning experiences - reading and listening to music together."

The children listened intently to the time honored tales that have been passed on from one generation to the next.

There was truly an afternoon of fun planned for everyone!


Fun balloon animals and designs

Sparkle and glitter arm art

Cookie decorating by Tallulah's Catering was also a big hit!

There were beautiful beaded bracelets to make
Brent of Macy's Entertainment Group Special Events leads the jewelry makers through the design steps

Christopher of Macy's helps with jewelry designing, too!

And the most beautiful candy station, also prepared by Tallulah's Catering 

The afternoon was music-filled and everyone who attended had such a wonderful time!  

A big thank you to Macy's and the  Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford for a fun day!

For additional pictures click Home Place's facebook page here

You can "like" the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford facebook page here

Do you know that Macy's has events year round?
Click here to and enter your zip code to find an event near you!

Hope your holiday season is fun-filled, too!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

New Nikon 3200 from Milford Photo in Milford CT


Santa came a little early this year.

Nikon 3200 Camera and DSLR Starter Kit
The Cowboy finally tired of my hints...and surprised me this morning with a trip to Milford Photo in Milford CT.

Hello Nikon 3200! And hooray!
At Milford Camera (taken with my old Olympus by "can't hold a camera still" cowboy)

Luckily, I had been doing a little background research, and he had too, for we both spotted some of the sales flyers the camera shop had been distributing this season.  I was planning on going with the Nikon 3100 as it was about $120.00 less, but he insisted that we go with a little better model, so we agreed on the Nikon 3200 model that was selling for $599.00.

Our sales associate, Lachell Workman, was so patient with me and all my questions!  Frankly, I didn't even know how to turn the thing on! She let me walk around the store and practice with the floor model so I could see if the camera weight and grip were comfortable, and to explain the very basic questions I had.  Lachell also let me experiment with the telephoto lens to judge whether it was something I might want to include.  Although I did like it, I think I can put that purchase off for awhile.  (AKA - put it on my wish list for birthdays, anniversary, etc.)

We decided to go ahead and purchase the Digital SLR Starter Kit that included the following for an additional $119.00:

Gray Camera Bag, filled with:

  • Pro 52MM Multi Coated filter
  • Pro SDHC 16GB Memory card
  • Pro HB-45 Nikon Hood
  • Pro Opti Cleaning Cloth
  • Pro Opti Cleaner
  • Pro LCD Screen Protector
  • Nikon EH-EL Spare Battery
  • Nikon D-SLR DVD
  • Gift Certificate for a free 12 x 18 print

Me and Lachell going through the accessories
Another picture by the "can't hold a camera still" cowboy.
Gotta love him!

If you live in the greater New Haven area, the Milford Photo Store is a great place to go for information. Lachell was very knowledgeable and so patient with my questions!  She's been at Milford Photo for about a year and is also a professional photographer, check out her website here.

Milford Photo also has an online learning center with tutorials and helpful articles. What's more, they also offer loads of on-site classes for both beginners and advanced!  I've already signed up for their Introduction to DSLR Cameras in January 2013! The class is a very affordable $29.95

Wish me luck!  This type of stuff brings out the geek in me!  Time to put away the ole' point and shoot and join the digital age!

Disclosure: I received no compensation for this post.  All opinions are my own.
All pictures in this post were taken by the "can't hold a camera still" Cowboy with my old Olympus camera.  

Can't wait to try the new Nikon 3200!  It's charging as I write this post!

What kind of camera do you use? 
Are you a point and shoot-er or a manual focus-er
Do you have any special lenses that you recommend?

I'd love to hear your suggestions and recommendations in the comment section below!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Macy's Santa National Tour 2012 in Providence RI

The Macy's in Providence Rhode Island certainly worked their "Macy's Magic" when Santa stopped at the store this week during his Whirlwind 2012 National Tour! What's more...Macy's is donating $1.00 for every letter received in Santa's special mailbox (up to $1,000,000) to the Make A Wish Foundation
Home Place Blog
Macy's Make-A-Wish Santa Mailbox
Santa arrived at 6:00 sharp in a fabulous parade led by a dixieland style jazz band! 

Home Place Blog
Dixieland Jazz Band Parade for Santa
As soon as he arrived Santa had a question and answer session with the children and explained Macy's partnership with the Make A Wish Foundation and how the money donated will help a child with a life threatening illness's wish come true.

He then introduced everyone to Virginia and explained how her letter to the editor in 1897 inspired everyone to "believe" in the spirit of Christmas. The "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" editorial is one of the most uplifting stories of the holiday season.
Meet Virginia!
Macy's  is very proud to be associated with the true spirit of the season and has included the "believe" logo as part of their holiday campaign.  There's even a "believe" meter!
Macy's Believe Meter
Christmas wouldn't be complete without a reminder to NOT be NAUGHTY and to ALWAYS be NICE.  Of course, Santa reminded EVERYONE  about the Elf on The Shelf that just might be watching...and who will report any bad behaviors back to Santa.

Santa then read the story of The Night Before Christmas with the help of his specials elves, Holly and Nutmeg.
Holly, Santa, and Nutmeg read The Night Before Christmas
Listening to the Night Before Christmas
Prior to Santa's arrival, the behind the scenes elves at Macy's entertained the waiting children with areas to write their letters to Santa, along with face painting, and balloon magicians, so they were all ready to line up and sit with Santa once he finished his story.

We Love Santa!
Home Place Blog
I believe!

They mailed their letters off to Santa...
Mailing a letter to Santa - and helping the Make A Wish Foundation!
 and got to meet the amazing Virginia!
I was also lucky enough to run into the incredibly funny Stephanie of the blog
MommaBeThyName and together we approached Santa and gave him our lists!

We even met Macy's Providence Place store manager Craig Robbins who was so happy to have his good friends Santa, Holly, and Nutmeg stop in for a visit!
Holly, Santa, Craig Robbins, and Nutmeg

You might remember I spoke about Craig when I last visited the Providence Place Mall to attend the Clinton Kelly Million Dollar Makeover Fashion Event.  Craig always displays the personal service that Macy's is known for.  It's a pleasure to visit his store!  (Read more about Craig and the Million Dollar Makeover event here.

The Macy's special event's crew, along with the on site staff, does a spectacular job at these events!

You can meet Santa and his friends too!  Here's a list of his upcoming stops this year!

You can see more pictures of Santa: Home Place-Santa's Whirlwind 2012 National Tour

Have you visited Santa this year?
Do you have any special wishes this holiday season?

I'd love to hear about them in the comments below!

Disclosure: I am a member of the Everywhere Society and Everywhere provided me with compensation for this post about Santa’s Whirlwind National Tour. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Bald Men Have the Prettiest Wives - or How I Met My Better Half

Dear Readers,
I am lucky to belong to an amazing Facebook group called Generation Fabulous, GenFab, or #GenFab, for short. And this week, I'm participating in this group's second blog hop! Our assignment is to write about how we met our spouse/significant other.
In addition to my post, you really do want to read the rest of the GenFab members' posts, which you’ll find listed at the bottom of this page.


He was ON THE FLOOR in a BAR when I first spotted him. 

Kneeling.  (You sillies - what were you thinking!!!???)

He was KNEELING on the floor talking with two pretty girls who were sitting at a table in the country-western nightclub that I managed.  His long lanky legs stretched across the aisle that was the main thoroughfare of the club. A few waitresses had to walk around him, and some customers in the dark smoky bar nearly tripped over the long legs that were blocking most of the aisle.

It was my job to tell him to move.  He nodded good naturedly with that 'good ole boy' smile he has.

And then...he ignored my request. THE NERVE!  (Did I mention that the two girls were VERY pretty?)

Argh. IDIOT.  I went back over and told him to move his legs out of the way.  

Again, he smiled and nodded. And again, he brushed me off.

I went back over and told him he had to move. NOW. Or he was out. O*U*T - OUT.  Leave. His choice.

Smart boy.
He moved.

He started coming in regularly to listen to the country bands the club featured.  We started talking. He had moved up to CT as a teenager from his native Virginia. He pronounces his home state in a soft slow southern drawl, "Vah-JHIN-yuh."

I kind of liked the way he talked.  Yup. Me, a born and bred New England Swamp Yankee. 

I also kind of liked the way he was a true southern gentleman and never said anything bad about anyone.  And he was funny.  REALLY funny!  Quick witted and always making me laugh. One day, while a group of us were teasing him about the 'bald' head that he hid under his cowboy hat, he countered back that bald men have the prettiest wives.

For some reason I thought about that remark a lot.

Whenever he came in the club I made it a point to sit and talk with him for a while.  We became fast friends. And for some reason I start noticing that the bald men I saw around town actually did have REALLY pretty wives. Go figure.  

Eventually, one of the customers at the club started dating him.  I told her to be good to him and that I thought he was a really nice guy.  A keeper!  I told her not to screw this relationship up.  They go out a couple of times … but it never leads to anything serious.  

He continues to come in and we talk.  One night he asks me if I’d ever like to go out to dinner or something with him. Because I make it a habit not to date customers, I say: "Sure. As friends, right?"

He nods, but never sets a time or place.

A few months go by and some of my friends start saying that they think he likes me and that we should go out.  I laugh it off and say, "nah." But secretly I’m thinking, "hmmm, why not?" A few weeks later he goes away with some buddies for a short vacation.

I realize I miss him when he doesn't come in that week.  Really miss him.  And when he returns I tell him so. But kind of casually.  You know, like in a collective 'we' missed you this week.  I think he takes it in a friendly way.  But he does ask again a little later, "Would you like to go out to dinner sometime?" 

This time I'm quicker on my feet. I say:  "Yes. Thursday. Pick me up at seven."

We went out on that first date in September 1991 and got married five short months later in February 1992.  Poor boy.  He still doesn't know what hit him! 

You see, I simply decided I wanted to be one of those pretty wives.

And the moral of the story? Marrying my handsome husband automatically made me one.

Read how some other members of GenFabTM met some of the people who became their other halves below...



Sunday, December 2, 2012

Holiday Open House at the Dudley Farm in Guilford, CT

The holiday season is filled with so many Christmas bazaars, fairs, and festivals.  I wish I could go to them all!  This year, the Cowboy found a new one for us in Guilford, CT, at the Dudley Farm who were were holding their 17th Annual Holiday Open House and Market!

The Dudley Farm is located on Durham Road in Guilford, CT at the junction of Route 77 and Route 80.  The farm consists of the white farm house and various barns situated on over 10 acres of land. The farm was originally owned and operated by the Dudley family beginning in 1844.  In 1991, the last remaining Dudley family member donated the house and property to the North Guilford Volunteer Fire Department. The department formed a non-profit farm museum commemorating the area's agriculture traditions by establishing the Dudley Foundation, and supports the museum through a variety of events held year round.

This year we were only able to stop for a short time while we were out doing some holiday shopping.  Although we were unable to tour the farmhouse that was decorated for the holidays, we did venture into the Munger barn (dismantled from the Munger farm and reassembled in an old-fashioned barn raising on the Dudley property) and view some of crafts and other unique items available.
Home Place Blogger at the Dudley Farm in Guilford CT
In the Mungar Barn At the Dudley Farm in Guilford, CT

The unexpected surprise? A great bluegrass band was playing up in the hayloft and it added such a festive element to the holiday fair.

Home Place Blogger
Bluegrass Band at the Dudley Farm in Guilford, CT

Next year, this will be a definite stop for us and we'll be sure to spend some more time there! 

Here's some of the crafts and other items that were available.  
Pine and Evergreen Decorations
Mice having a tree decorating party!

Hand Painted Ornaments by Tricia
Contact Tricia at
Well...YES! The Cowboy bought me one!  
It wouldn't be Christmas without him buying me a new ornament for our tree! 
More Hand Painted Items by Tricia

Home Place Blogger
Santa Doing Some Early Shopping 
We ventured downstairs where even more vendors were set up!  
Home Place Blogger
Downstairs at the Munger Barn at the Dudley Farm in Guilford CT

Home Place Blogger
North Guilford Historical Society

Home Place Blogger
Wood Working Items

Home Place Blogger
Beautiful Christmas Blankets and Items
On your way out...stop and design your own wreath!
Home Place Blogger
Design & Decorate Your Own Wreath

We hope to see you there for the holiday fair next year...or maybe at some of the other great events the Dudley Foundation sponsors!

The Dudley Farm • 2351 Durham Rd, Guilford, CT 06437 • 203–457–0770

Do you have any holiday festivals that you attend every year?  How about any holiday traditions?

I'd love to hear about them in the comments below!
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