Sunday, April 28, 2013

Clinton Kelly's Do's and Don'ts for Spring 2013 at Macy's #SpringStyles

You've all heard the saying, "it takes a village to raise a child" haven't you?  Well this week, when preparing for Macy's Spring Styles Fashion Show, featuring Clinton Kelly, I certainly experienced something similar to it.

I had planned to attend this fashion show with sponsorship by the Everywhere Society at the Macy's in the Westfarms Mall, right outside of Hartford, CT. However, when the date of the show was released to us, it was only a few days away...and on a weekend that I had planned to visit family in upstate New York. I did reach out to some potential guest bloggers, but it seemed like everyone was busy this weekend! Sad face.

So, of course, I turned for support to the place I knew best, the Connecticut Blogging Community.
One member of our wonderful community, mentioned that a colleague from work was a BIG FAN of Clinton Kelly's and would love to take my seat, and would be happy to take pictures and recap the event for my readers!

So folks, you see, while it takes a village to raise a child, it sometimes takes a community to write a blog!

Many, many thanks Beverly and friends, for this review of Clinton Kelly's Do's and Don't for Macy's Spring Styles 2013! #SpringStyles
copyrighted photo used with permission

Beverly Wanza-Jones is a guest blogger for the Home Place blog.
Beverly is a blogger whose passion includes jazz and fashion

To a rapturous crowd of 400 fans of fashion, Clinton Kelly of TLC's "What Not To Wear" and author of the book "Oh No She Didn't" walked on to the stage at Macy's in the Westfarms Mall and gave us all a lesson on what TO wear! 

copyrighted photo used with permission
Clinton has a personality that electrifies a room while engaging us in a personal, warm conversation about how our clothes make a statement about ourselves. When Clinton's on stage, he gives candid, often funny advice in a kind way, the way only a best friend would. I'd say Clinton Kelly is everyone's best fashion friend! Below he critiques a member of the audience with his trademark wit and inspiration.

The fashion segment of the show opened with this great look of 'mix and match' separates with bold statement jewelry.
Alfani JacketCalvin Klein Tweet Pencil Skirt
copyrighted photo used with permission

Sometimes it's all about the shoes.  Look how wonderfully these coordinate with this suit. The taupe handbag acts as a great neutral and accents the spring colors.

Calvin Klein Suit Separates
copyrighted photo used with permission

Here's a great way to mix patterns. Note the Aztec print that is popular this season, and the boldly patterned cropped pants. Patterned pants are also a fun trend for spring 2013.

Aztec inspired top
Cropped print pants
copyrighted photo used with permission

Maxi dresses continue to be on trend this season.  Here's a boldly patterned tribal print highlighted by a cute little cropped jean jacket.

Casual daytme look with sandals and cropped jacket
copyrighted photo used with permission
One of the highlights of the show were these adorable "short-shorts" worn with a high low striped top and a great pop of color in this peach cropped jacket. 
copyrighted photo used with permission
There were so many spectacular outfits that came down the runway it's hard to choose a favorite! 

The fashions covered work attire, weekend, date night, party perfect and, the aforementioned season's “must-have - crop denim jacket”.

In the closing, Clinton shared with us a positive message. He advised us all not to compare ourselves to models in advertisements who might have been photo-shopped or who had many things about them that are fake. We should be confident in our options of what we choose to wear. The event ended with the thunderous applause of an appreciative crowd!

Macy's did an amazing job hosting this event and the fashions were FABULOUS! The tag line of the event was "Only One Star [the Macy's Star] brings you coast to coast" ...but I give this event 5 out of 5 stars! 

Thank you Macy's! 
Thank you Bonnie for the opportunity to guest blog for you on Home Place

And now it's time for shopping!


Home Place Disclaimer: I am a member of the Everywhere Society. All contributors were provided with compensation for this post about Macy's Clinton Kelly event. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed herein are those of our own.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Branford Restaurant Week 2013 - Jalapeno Heaven


It's Branford CT's 2nd Annual Restaurant Week!
April 14th through the 20th 2013

And although last year we were able to go to about five participating restaurants, this week was so busy that we were only able to squeeze in two!  But those two were FANTASTIC! If you'll remember, in a previous post we told you about our visit to Ballou's Wine Bar.

Moving on, for our second stop for Branford Restaurant Week 2013 was with our good friends at Jalapeno Heaven!

Saturday night we set out for Jalapeno Heaven as guests of the Flores family who have owned and operated Jalapeno Heaven since 1992.

Jalapeno Heaven is such a great place to go.  Always cozy, always fun, my favorite part of going is entering the parking lot and smelling all the good food grilling and cooking! The sign of a great restaurant!

Of course, as soon as we were seated, our good friend Ellen, who was waiting on us, brought over the customary basket of warm chips with two kinds of made on premise salsas, the traditional red salsa, and a salsa verde.

For beverages, I started with a Karma Tequila Margarita, on the rocks with salt, and I also sipped on a tiny little bit of Karma Tequila  neat, separately in a snifter, as I wanted to sample this 100% blue agave tequila on its own. It was light but flavorful, with a distinctly smooth and mellow taste, and just the right amount of "heat".

Jalapeno Heaven had a couple of great specials for Branford Restaurant Week, but we decided to go with the "order two entrees and receive a complimentary appetizer"

For our appetizer we ordered Mexican Crab Cakes, listed in the menu as: Four spicy crab cakes served on a bed of our spicy con queso sauce, garnished with scallions, tomatoes and sour cream.

I know what you're thinking, and the answer is YES!  They taste just as good as they look!

For our entrees, the cowboy ordered Chili Dogs: Oscar Mayer goes Tijuana with two hot dogs in rolls topped with Hector’s chili and melted cheese...

and I ordered the Tequila Lime Shrimp Combo: Four jumbo tail on shrimp tequila lime marinated then char grilled. Served with one tangy Mexican shrimp cake over a bed of fresh spinach and then drizzled with a warm tequila lime sauce.

I cannot begin to tell you how good this was.  Three days later, as I am writing this post, my mouth is still watering for the tequila lime sauce that flavors this dish.

We decided to go ahead and split a dessert as well, and ordered Jalapeno Heaven's Bananas Foster. This delicious dessert is flambeed tableside and served over creamy vanilla ice cream. I even videotaped Ellen's tableside presentation...go ahead, view it...and ENJOY! I certainly did!!!!
press the arrow to begin
Don't try this at home without instruction!  
Staff members are well trained in this technique.

If you live in the Branford area, or if you are traveling through the southeast Connecticut shoreline, I highly recommend Jalapeno Heaven!  It's a cute little place with loads of charm...and the food is amazing.  The best thing is that the staff is super-knowledgeable about all the food, and if you have any questions they are always happy to help with answers.

There's also a full takeout menu, a seasonal patio, and upstairs cantina/lounge, a huge vegetarian menu, a "lite" creations offerings menu, and for the "gringos" there's plenty of gringo-food!

We truly enjoyed participating in #BranfordRestaurantWeek2013 and visiting Jalapeno Heaven!

Jalapeno Heaven is open year round and accepts most major credit cards.

40 North Main Street
Branford, CT 06405

twitter: @JalapenoHeaven1


Have you visited any restaurants for Branford Restaurant Week 2013?

Do you have a favorite Mexican dish?

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

Disclaimer: We were the guests of Jalapeno Heaven for this visit, however, all thoughts and opinions are our own.
Jalapeno Heaven on Urbanspoon

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Branford Restaurant Week 2013 - Ballou's Restaurant and Wine Bar

It's Branford CT's 2nd Annual Restaurant Week!
April 14th through the 20th 2013

We celebrated by going to Ballou's Restaurant and Wine Bar! This was our first visit there although we had heard some great things about it!  Ballou's bills themselves as "a relaxed and casual wine bar ... that offers a selection of wines from around the world as well as local vineyards."

Ballou's is located in the Indian Neck section of Branford CT, at the site of the old Indian Neck General Store and Market.

We started off with a "flight" of wine, ordering a Riesling, a Pinot Noir, (no particular brands) - and for the third selection, told our waitperson, Jennifer, to surprise us.

Jenn brought over our flight, which consisted of the following:

Wine # 201: Willamette Valley Vineyards Riesling, Oregon,  Flavors of peach and apricots

Wine #301: Sante Pinot Noir by Coppola, California,
Bright fruit flavors, silken texture and fine tannins

Wine #401: Di Grazia William Sonnet Blush Riesling, Connecticut, White Grape wine blushed with raspberry

They were all wonderful, but true to form, my favorite was the Williamette Valley Riesling.

The flights at Ballous range from about $14.00 to $18.00.  Flights are a wonderful way to sample some new wines at an affordable price, and discover new ones without breaking the bank!  And let's be serious.  They're just plain fun! While we were there it looked like everyone was ordering a flight too!

As part of Ballou's Branford Restaurant Week special, we were able to order an appetizer to share, two entrees, and a dessert or shared fondue. That's right, a 3-course dinner for two for only $35.00. What a great deal!

We started with a shared Assorted Cheese-Plate that included, Havarti Dill, Sharp Cheddar & Gruyere cheese served with sliced apple, cranberry walnut chutney, and crackers

The cowboy originally ordered the prime rib, but was told it wasn't available, so I talked him into the brisket. 
The brisket was served with mashed potatoes and baby carrots and spinach. It was soooo good. The only thing he noted was that the sauce and spices were a little on the sweet side.

I ordered the Roasted Portabella Mushrooms and Spinach Ravioli blended with Mozzarella, Provolone, Parmesan and Pecorino Romano Cheeses. and served with a delicious creamy Gorgonzola Sauce.
This was wonderful!  The portobello mushrooms were smokey and the spinach added a nice light flavor.  However, as good as it was, the next time I order it (and I will order it again) I'd like to try it with the fra diavalo sauce.  The gorgonzola sauce was delicious, but very rich.  I'd like to sample the ravioli next time with this spicy red sauce, to see if it lightens it up a bit.

Next we moved on to dessert.  Instead of ordering off the menu, we decided to split a dessert fondue, and ordered the chocolate and peanut butter fondue.
Jennifer serves our chocolate and peanut butter fondue at Ballou's Wine Bar in Branford CT

The fondue came with cubed pound cake, sliced strawberries, sliced bananas, and cubed rice krispie treats. Although this was very good, I think the next time I order it I would ask that they go a little heavier on the peanut butter.  I'm not sure if it was the brand or flavor of chocolate that was used, but we both detected a bit of burnt taste from the chocolate.  Although this wouldn't deter us from ordering it again, to see if it was the chocolate, or if perhaps our palates were compromised from our dinners.

We had a lovely time participating in #BranfordRestaurantWeek2013 and Ballou's Restaurant and Wine Bar is definitely on our list of places to return to!

Ballou's is open year round and accepts all major credit cards.

2 Sybil Ave
Branford, CT 06405
203 208 1701


Have you visited a wine bar? 

Do you have any favorite specials from recent restaurant weeks?

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

Ballou's Restaurant and Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

National Library Week 2013 - Communities Matter @ Your Library #NLW13

This year the American Library Association (ALA) celebrates its 54th annual National Library Week. (#NLW13)  Each year the ALA recognizes and highlights the contributions that libraries and librarians have made throughout the year.

This year, the theme for National Library Week is "Communities Matter @ Your Library"

Nowhere is that more apparent than at my local library, the James Blackstone Library in Branford, CT.

This beautiful gem, located in downtown Branford, is the media hub for the town. Not only does it feature an extensive collection of reading materials, computer stations and programs.

It also features seminars and workshops on a myriad of topics.

This month, there are talks on safety and survival, financial planning, horseshoe crabs, New England in the movies, and a guest instrumental guitarist.

For a link to their monthly calendar, click HERE.

For a link to children's events, click HERE 

During the past few storms that battered the CT coastline leaving many without power, the Blackstone Library flung open their doors, inviting residents in to charge cell phones, and connect with their neighbors.

Yes! Communities Matter @ Your Library! 

I've been a book lover all my life. I remember long after the lights went out I'd be reading under the  covers with a flashlight.  And I never complained about a long car trip, as long as I had a Happy Hollisters or Nancy Drew mystery book to read.

Of course, that doesn't mean that I never asked "are we half-way yet???"  (chuckle)

Luckily, both my parents were avid readers and instilled that love of reading in me.  My sister and I had so many books when we were young, and loved the library so much, that we created a home library of our own, where we would "stamp" books out. Yes. We "played library"!!

I hope your town has its own local library that serves as the learning hub for your community too!

This week, artists J. Timothy Quirk and Jessica Ponticelli take a whimsical look at libraries around Connecticut by featuring a local library for each day of National Library Week in their cartoon "Nutmeg Junction"!

Click on the Town or City name below to see Nutmeg Junction 's cartoons featured on Ann Nyberg's NetworkConnecticut

Sunday: New Britain
Monday: Torrington 
Tuesday: Vernon
Wednesday: Branford (Image below)
Note: This Copyrighted Image Has Been Used With Permission 

Thursday: Southington
Friday: Farmington
Saturday: TBA


Do you have a favorite library or library story?
I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Earth Day 2013 at Meigs Point Nature Center Hammonasset Beach State Park Madison CT

Today we headed out to Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison Connecticut to celebrate an early Earth Day 2013. #EarthDay2013

Although Earth Day technically isn't until April 22nd, the folks at Meigs Point Nature Center, located in Hammonasset State Park, decided to get a jump on the festivities with a wonderful celebration of Mother Earth.

Today's event was sponsored by The Friends of Hammonasset, a non-profit group who work together to preserve Hammonasset Park's natural resources.

Meigs Point Nature Center is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 5pm from April to October and features snakes, turtles, lizards, fish, and frogs. Oh my!
They even have a touch tank that features all sorts of creatures.  Today there was a lobster.  Nothing personal Mr. Lobster Man, but I prefer mine boiled, and served with butter.

Also available to hold for the brave at hearts were some, uh, errrr, boa constrictors. 

We then wandered outside to see the fun events going on!  One of the highlights was the Native American flute playing (press the arrow to hear a short melody)....

The music was hauntingly beautiful and a perfect background for a relaxing day.

Next we moved on to the spear throwing area that all the children were lined up for!
These "spears" are actually called atlatl and predate the spear by a couple of thousand years!
They're more like darts and have a special holder that allow for their amazing distance.

And we stopped for a moment to listen to talks by wild life safety experts and conservationists.

We capped off our day by taking a short hike around the area,
looking at beautiful Long Island Sound, the sparkling water, and the beautiful beach!  

Summer is just around the corner!

If you're looking for a great place to take the family for some conservation and wildlife information, you'll find that Meigs Point Nature Center at Hammonasset Beach State Park is a wonderful place to spend the day! 

For additional photos: Click HERE and "like" the Home Place facebook page

Do you have any favorite nature centers, state parks, or beaches that you frequent?

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

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sweeties' Book Review Party with Krispy Kreme, Torani Coffee Flavors, and Books! #bookreviewparty

This weekend Sweeties Reviews held a Book Review Party (#bookreviewparty) with sponsorship support from Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and Coffee, Torani Coffee Flavors, and, of course, lots of authors' books!

The great folks at Krispy Kreme even sent travel coffee mugs for everyone to enjoy their coffee in and take home!

Although this was not my first time having a Krispy Kreme doughnut, it had been a long time since I had one!  And they were just as yummy, light and deliciously sweet as I remembered!

Krispy Kreme also sent some fun hats for everyone to wear, and they even donated some of the fresh ground dark roast coffee for us to try and some to take home!
As soon as I arrived I was amazed at the amount of books that Sweetie's Review received! Our event looked like we were holding it inside a book store!

There was a wide range of topics to choose from:  some self-help books, fiction, vampire, and children's books.  Click HERE for a list of the authors and titles that were offered.

I chose three books:

The books I selected couldn't be more different from one another and I'm looking forward to reading them over the summer!  I'll post my reviews on Goodreads and Amazon.

I then settled down to my coffee, trying the Torani vanilla flavor syrup in my Krispy Kreme dark roast coffee.  It was so good, and I used it in lieu of the typical small teaspoon of sugar I usually add.  The vanilla flavor was aromatic and gave just the right amount of sweetness to my coffee.  Just how I like it! And yes. I had a SECOND Krispy Kreme doughnut!

Also available was some of the wonderful Brix Chocolate.  Uhhh, YES!  I admit I had a little of Brix's milk chocolate with a half a glass of wine!

About half way through the party we gathered some of the Connecticut Bloggers that were there and took an event picture. Unfortunately, some had already left - and others hadn't yet arrived!  I'm so bummed that we haven't had a picture taken yet that shows all of us together!
L-R: April, Bonnie, Wendy D., Wendy L., Nicole, Julie
Missing: ThereseHilary, Natasha
And, just for good measure, Mr. Fluffy got in on the Krispy Kreme Action

How about you? What's on YOUR summer reading list? 

I'd love to hear about it in the comments below


If you have an event you would like promoted or a product you would like reviewed by our group, 

Or contact me at

Thank you Sweeties Review for a wonderful event & to the companies who furnished products!  

We had a great time at the #bookreviewparty !

Disclaimer: The products featured in this post were provided by Sweeties Review through the following companies: Brix Chocolates, Torani Flavored Syrups, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and Coffee, and the authors and publishers listed HERE  

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