Monday, May 28, 2012

Home Town Heroes - Home Town Parades

Memorial Day.  The day we honor our fallen heroes.

Small towns and big cities across the U.S.A. honor their home town heroes who sacrificed their lives so that others could live free.  To have the right to pursue life, liberty, and happiness.  And although today we honor the heroes, let us not forget those they left behind, the families of the fallen servicemen.

My high school friend Beverley, is one of the mothers who made this ultimate sacrifice.  In 2006, her oldest son, Corporal Jordan Pierson, lost his life in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Jordan's family honors his memory with Jordan's Ride Home, a motorcycle ride established to remember Jordan in their hometown of Milford, donating the proceeds each year to Jordan's favorite charities.

This year's run will be held on July 29th and donations, volunteers, and support are appreciated.  For additional information contact:

Today the cowboy and I paid tribute to military personnel by attending our home town parade in Branford, CT. Seated under a shady maple tree we proudly waved our American flag and watched our local Branford High School marching band...

scout troops...


 fife and drum corps...

representatives from civic organizations ...

our town government officials...

and most importantly, our current servicemen and veterans...

all walk down Main Street Branford for this year's Memorial Day Parade.

I hope you had a memorable Memorial Day!

Remember to thank your home town heroes!

For more photos visit: Branford Memorial Day Parade 2012

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Shelley's Garden Center in Branford, CT

Everyone has their own way of knowing that summer is approaching.

For some it's when the days begin getting longer.  For others it's the promise of another academic year coming to an end. For still others (the cowboy!) it's opening day at Yankee Stadium.  But for me, it's when Shelley's Garden Center opens every March and begins the season with a colorful display of plants and hanging baskets.

Shelley's Garden Center is located in Branford, CT on Main Street, just off I-95's exit 53.  For those of you familiar with maneuvering the "pretzel" for the drive into Branford Center, Shelley's stands across the street from Richlin's (former site of the First National Grocery Store and in the same plaza of the former Colonial Pharmacy and Friendlies).

The first sign of spring at Shelley's begins with the appearance of the delightfully frost resistant pansy (my friend Beth's all-time favorite!) in mid-March.  Rose bushes along with bags of fertilizer, soil, and mulch products appear next in April, followed by the beautiful array of products that decorate the area now in May.

John and Yvette Chambers are second generation proprietors at Shelley's, and their children Christiane and Taylor, who also work in the garden center, are now the third.

John's dad, Norm, who established Shelley's Garden Center, passed away in August of 2011, and was known to all for his friendly smile, cheerful wave, and helpful gardening advice. Although Norm was given the moniker of "Mr. Shelley", Shelley's Garden Center is actually named for John's sister Michele "Shelley" who currently resides in Vermont.

The congenial atmosphere that Norm Chambers established continues with the generations that follow.

The cowboy and I recently stopped in Shelley's for our "annual red geranium shopping frenzy" and were able to catch up with John and Yvette.  John reminisced about his school days growing up "working along side dad" at Shelley's after school and weekends, and then all summer long, along with his sister and cousins.  John comes from a long line of gardeners and told us all about Uncle Adolph who sold plants and flowers in New Haven, and still more relatives with the same green thumbs in the Waterbury and Southbury area.

We also learned that Norm Chambers  started the garden center back in 1951 selling his flowers, plants, and seedlings out of a parking lot where Branford Jewelers now stands. (Talk about low overhead!)  In 1960, Norm and his wife Marion were able to open Shelley's Garden Center, where it stands today, on the corner of Home Place and Main Street.

There's more to Shelley's than just flowers!  They have a great selection of statuary

 pots and containers

and a full service store that features garden tools and supplies.

Meander along the pebbly path around back and visit the greenhouse

and the neatly arranged perennials, herbs, and annuals that line the trails.

There's always a new cart 

or bright patch of color 

to look at along the way! 

Flowers are found in every nook and cranny

  Take a trip to Shelley's Garden Center and tell them Home Place sent you!

Shelley's is open 8:30 to 6:00 daily.
March to December.
(203) 488-9479

How about you?  Did you get your "Garden On" today?

Home Place will be back to Shelley's in October to feature the garden center's fall pumpkins and harvest display, and in December for fresh Christmas trees and holiday wreaths!

Link to October Recap HERE
Link to December Recap HERE

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Once Upon A Dream

Dreams do come true...

On Saturday evening, May 19th 2012, Hot Stepz Dance Academy held their annual dance recital at RHAM High School in Hebron, CT.  Hot Stepz Dance is owned and operated by Hillery Errett (aka Miss Hillery) and is located in Marlborough, CT.  The school features classes in ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop, and other popular modes of dance for ages 3 and up.  Auditions for their competitive dance teams are held annually or by appointment. They are known for their unique and forward-thinking choreography and jaw dropping, heart pounding, music pumping dance recitals.  

This year’s Spring Recital was no exception.

Aptly titled Once upon a Dream, during this year’s recital each team came out and performed to the high levels of achievement that have come to be synonymous with Hot Stepz.  But halfway through this season’s show, during one of the dance teams’ electrifying numbers, the entire show came to a screeching halt. The troupe of girls on stage synchronously parted like the Red Sea and a lone man, the handsome Tony Cekovsky, appeared from stage left to make a shocking entrance.  

With a team of beautiful young girls gracefully executing a complicated mix of grand jetés and fouetté jetés behind him, Tony surprised the girl who often said that that nothing in life could ever surprise her.

Front and center on that stage Tony proclaimed that he had a very important question to ask this girl, a question that he had rehearsed in his mind for what seemed forever.

And there, in this crowded auditorium, with scores of onlookers, under a single bright spotlight, Tony asked Mr. Spotlight Man to follow him into the audience. Comically he asked the girl if, just this once, she would make it easy on him and stand up.  I’m not sure, but I think he was having a hard time locating her among the dozens of people in the dark, crowded auditorium. 

And she complied.  Yes.  The girl who couldn’t be surprised, with an expression of mixed horror, shock, elation, but most importantly love and adoration, finally stood up.  And there, in this crowded auditorium, Tony professed his love as he walked purposely towards her.  He told her how she and her daughter Amber have been the most important things that happened to him in his life.  That they were his whole world.  That he wanted to make it forever. 

And with that he pulled an exquisite little box out of his pocket, swiftly dropped to one knee, and said simply, “Charlene, will you marry me?”  And although I couldn’t hear her answer, as she wrapped her arms around him, and buried her head on his shoulder, I think you can tell by the picture, that she likely whispered, “Oh yes!”

Charlene’s daughter Amber was one of the girls onstage performing to Tony's solo that as you can see became a duet.  Together, Tony and Amber had arranged with Miss Hillery to have this heartfelt performance be the culminating act of the night, for Amber’s mother, the lovely Charlene Chiaravallo.

As you watch the video below and see the scene unfold, remember that true love is out there.  Never give up no matter how long it takes, or how many frogs you have to kiss to get yourself there. 

Your tall dark and handsome. Your prince. The man of your dreams.  He’s out there.  And if you can’t find him, just give him some time to find you.

Just ask Charlene.  Dreams do come true.

Click the video below to see!

How about you?  How long did it take you to find your "forever"?  

Are you still looking?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Welcome to the Shoreline Meat House

Today the cowboy and I had the pleasure of visiting one of Branford, CT's newest additions, the Shoreline Meat House .  For those of you not familiar with this shop, it is billed as "a neighborhood butcher and grocery store"

The Shoreline Meat House is located in beautiful Branford, CT - not far from the center of town and easily accessible from I-95 Exit 54 (Cedar Street) on the corner of Route One (North Main Street) and Cedar Street.  They occupy the former space of Zane's Cycles (who moved farther down Route One) and for those of you familiar with old-time Branford, the former Grossman's.  (aka The Home Depot of the 70s-80s).

Apologies in advance for the flash reflection in all the pictures of items below.  The cowboy was rushing me and, of course, embarrassed that I was taking pictures and "talking up" both the customers and sales personnel!

We were greeted by the GM, John DeMilo, who is a visible presence; so welcoming and accommodating, and more importantly, chock full of information! In addition there are key personnel "working the aisles" who can explain anything and everything to you!

Folks, if today's visit is an indicator of customer service, it will be A+.   The butchers and service personnel actually make eye contact with you and are HAPPY to help you with your questions!
Below is a picture of the deli salads available.

The Shoreline Meat House offers both prime and select cuts of meat.  Prime runs in the $21and up range,  and select starts at about $11and up.  Plenty of white meat offerings too, fresh chicken and pork cuts.  The butcher on duty told us, "if you don't see it - just ask" 

Fresh seafood abounds.  The wonderful woman who helped us explained that all their seafood is FRESH never frozen!  Shipments are received daily from the fishing docks of Boston.  Loads of variety!  

 Also available is a full-service deli counter featuring Boar's Head  meats and cheeses.  In addition, they make sandwiches and subs "to go" - a great offering for those who work in the Branford area!

The following are some candid shots taken throughout the store.

The "Pasta Station"

Produce, cheeses, and dairy.  Remember when your milkman brought you milk in a glass container?  Well, they got it here!  

Hey, how did the cowboy sneak into the picture?

Love me some potatoes.  (I'm a true carb-loving girl)

...and like a true "local"  - they support "local" - in the name of our local bottling company, Foxon Park Beverages, out of our neighboring East Haven, CT. 
For CT-expatriates, you can buy Foxon Park online and have your favorite white birch beer or gassosa (and other flavors) shipped directly to you by contacting Foxon Park at:  

More local flavors with some infused extra virgin olive oils.  And a sampling table!  YUMMMM!

All in all, we had a great trip to the Shoreline Meat House and for a limited time they are offering samples sizes of 2-3 oz packages of marinated steak tips to first time visitors!  A great way to build a loyal following and clientele. 

  Visit the Shoreline Meat House and tell them Home Place sent you!

Tell us, where did you go today?

Home Place Rates The Meat House:  A+

Note: For information on Meat House franchising opportunities go to 
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