Sunday, June 30, 2013

Eric D. Lehman, Afoot in Connecticut, at Essex Books in Ivoryton CT

Today I was able to return to Essex Books at Gather for a book reading and signing by author Eric D. Lehman.

Essex Books at Gather, author Eric D. Lehman (L)  and Sue McCann (R), owner of Essex Books

Eric's latest book, "Afoot in Connecticut: Journeys in Natural History", is a wonderful homage to our beautiful state of Connecticut.

Photo Source: Homebound Publications
Eric's love for Connecticut began in his hiking adventures around the state, where he noted that being "so close to the earth" fostered a sense of kinship and admiration for his surroundings.

There is definitely something to be said for slowing down and looking at the beauty around you when you amble around our great state!

He read some of his favorite passages from the book, and the reading was followed by a lively and interesting discussion with the audience. So many of the people shared their love of CT. Of note is that even when Connecticut isn't their native state, something draws them back to our beloved area.

Eric reads some of his favorite passages from Afoot in Connecticut

As the Director of Creative Writing at the University of Bridgeport, Eric crafts his sentences into beautiful ribbons exploring the paths and trails through our great state.

He writes,
"Connecticut is often the most overlooked state of the New England states. Other states have higher mountains, grander beaches, more famous cities. Other states in the area have become famous, while we linger in relative obscurity, caught between the city-pinchers of Boston and New York. But it is that very obscurity that leaves our state so precious for the walker. Instead of giant parks or famous resorts, we have quiet country lanes and villages." (Lehman 2).

Eric is also the author of two other books on Connecticut available at Essex Books and other outlets, A History of Connecticut Wine and A History of Connecticut Food.

If you have a chance, pick up Eric's book and join him on his Connecticut walking tour.
You won't regret it!

Are you interested in meeting with Eric?

He will be at the Mohegan Sun Author's Trail on September 19.2013.
For more information on the Author's Trail click HERE 

Essex Books frequently hosts speaker series with local authors.  
For information, follow Essex Books on facebook:  HERE 

                                                                            Essex Books at Gather 
                                                                                 104 Main Street
                                                                           Ivoryton, Connecticut 
                                                                                 (914) 310-5824

For more pictures from this event - visit and "like" the Home Place Facebook Page: HERE

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Connecticut Blogger Meetup at Las Vetas Fairfield CT

A few weeks ago the Connecticut Blogging Community (#CTBloggers) held a blogger meetup at Las Vetas Lounge in Fairfield CT.

It was the cutest and brightest little place located right in downtown Fairfield!  It's just steps from the railroad station with lots of fun shops and boutiques surrounding the entire downtown area.

It's called a "lounge" - but it's actually a great little coffee shop that offers munchies like sandwiches and stuff!

What a great time we had!

Although Nicole from OberBargain had arranged the meetup, she was unable to attend. But she was there in spirit because I saved a barstool for her in our mutually favorite color of "Banana Republic" yellow!

Nicole knows Banana Republic is one of my FAVORITE she always shares info from their upcoming sales with me!  (thanks Nicole!  Missed you!)

Nicole's website ==> OberBargain always has great info on discounts, bargains, and sales! Check it out!

Wendy from Connecticut Bloggers gave a great information session on SEO (search engine optimization) and "no follow" links.  Wendy and her husband Greg also run the blogs  Sweeties Picks,(books) Sweeties Reviews, (product and party reviews) in addition to Connecticut Bloggers (everything CT!). They have even more web blogs - did I mention they blog a lot!?

I also got to meet some bloggers who I've been following but hadn't met before! Below is Joe (left) from Nutmeg Junction, a great little cartoon about Tony the Trolley and his escapades all around Connecticut. Joe and co-creator Jessica Ponticelli also feature their Nutmeg Junction work on Ann Nybergs Network Connecticut.

On the right is Dana from Mastering Mommy Brain - a cute blog about, well, Mastering Mommy Brain, of course!  Dana shares recipes, toddler tips, and some of her secrets for juggling work and family, with one on the way!!!

I also got to meet Latanya from the blog Sprinkles and Booze. Latanya is a fun blogger  with a great quirky sense of humor! Her funny status updates on facebook and observations on twitter always leave me smiling! Follow her!

In addition, I finally got to meet Chelle of Everyday Polish - a great lifestyle blog, about making it all work. You know, fitting in work, life, friends, blogging, beauty.  Chelle helps us "have it all"!

And I was able to catch up with some of the other amazing bloggers I've met before that were there!
Left, April, who also has a boatload of blogs, but my two favorites are Crafting the Magic (hobby blog) and Land of Melted Clocks, one of my very favorite personal reflection blogs. April is always honest with her feelings and makes you realize that you're not alone on this journey we call life.
On the right is the magnificent Jenny of Sweet Jenny's CT. Jenny bakes like a demon...and her blog simplifies things so well that it makes me feel like I can bake like a demon too! Her food pics are AMAZING!

Last, but certainly not least, my three old blogging buddies:
Natasha (left) from One Woman's Style Evolution, a fashion and beauty blog for those of us 40+ and over a size 10!  Hilary (middle), of My Own Blog Review, who lets me live vicariously through her and does fabulous fashion recaps, and product reviews, and Erin (right), from Accidentally Stylish, a fashion and beauty blog, who loves to find thrifty vintage pieces!

I would be remiss if I didn't send a big thank you to Whole Foods Market who provided us with a great gift bag full of snack and protein bars, candles, chapsticks, and all sorts of goodies!

and Shirley J's Mugging, who provided a cooking mug for a future review. This product is fool proof! Just add the ingredients in the mug and bake a dessert for one!  Sounds good to me!  Look for my recap of this product soon!

If you're in the area, stop at Las Vetas Lounge, 27 Unquowa Rd, Fairfield CT. 

It's a fun place!

For more pictures of our meet up - visit and like the Home Place facebook page HERE

Do you have any favorite places to meet up with friends?

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

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Connecticut Open House Day - #CTOpenHouse - Connecticut Tourism

This year I was honored to be asked by the Connecticut Department of Tourism to be a member of their "Official Street Team" and visit, tweet, and write about some of the places I visited for their 9th Annual Connecticut Open House Day 2013.

        Click here for a complete listing of participating places ==> CT Open House June 8th 2013

#CTOpenHouse - @CTVisit
What a great day!

One of the things I had in common with the other members of the Street Team was that I was taken aback by all the great treasures that our wonderful state of Connecticut has to offer.  It certainly gave me the opportunity to appreciate the wonderful place that I've resided all of my life! Next year I will definitely be back, and plan to visit so many more of the participating destinations!

#CTOpen House - @CTVisit
Sweet & Simple Bakery, Middle: The Ogden House, Right: The Bellarmine Museum at Fairfield University
This year, I was only able to sandwich in a few places on Saturday, due to a hectic work schedule (I was in New Orleans for most of the week, arriving back in CT late Friday evening), and plans that I had already made in Fairfield in the early afternoon on Saturday.  However, it gave me the opportunity to foray once again into beautiful Fairfield County, away from my native New Haven county and eastern shoreline area.

I'm so glad I did!

I was able to visit fellow CT blogger, Michelle Jaffee's Sweet and Simple Bake Shop. Michelle's shop has only been open for a short time, and I remember how proud she was to announce to our CT Blogging Community how thrilled she was to fulfill her dream of owning a bake shop.
Sweet & Simple #CTOpenHouse 

The bakery is adorable! A gem tucked in among some other boutique type shops, with plenty of parking, and close to an outdoor Saturday summer farmers market.

I had a moment to talk to owner Michelle, who wanted me to be sure to thank all the people who came out for CT Open House! She feels like she made lots of new friends through the #CTOpenHouse day, and is, of course, looking forward to all of them returning soon! Michelle is a little spitfire, and I loved her open bakery concept, where you can watch all the behind the scenes baking going on!

If I lived in the Fairfield area, her shop would be my daily stop for coffee! It was that good! I also purchased some delightful sugar cookies, fruit flavored glazed shortbread cookies, and some Italian wedding cake cookies.

Sweet & Simple - #CTOpenHouse
L-R, Italian Wedding Cake Cookies, Flower & Heart Shaped Sugar Cookies, Lemon & Raspberry Glazed Shortbread Cookies.
I also heard about Sweet & Simple's partnership with The Farmer's Cow ice cream!  What a match made in heaven!  The Farmer's Cow ice cream and Sweet & Simple's cookies! PERFECT PAIRING! And, as part of the #CTOpenHouse festivities, Michelle was able to offer us FREE samples of some of their creations!

Of course, I kept it 'healthy' and opted for the oatmeal raisin cookie with vanilla ice cream. And, was. it. ever. good. OH YES! See the pictured pamphlet below for some of the other combinations.
Sweet & Simple - #CTOpenHouse
The Farmers Cow Ice Cream Sandwiches made with Sweet & Simple Cookies

Sweet and Simple
75 Hillside Rd  Fairfield, CT 06824
(203) 292-8992

Follow them on facebook: HERE

Michelle then asked me where my next destination was, and when I told her Fairfield University's Bellarmine Museum of Art, she URGED me to stop at the Ogden House because it was right on the way.

Big thanks to Michelle!

I loved the Ogden House, which is curated by the Fairfield Museum and History Center. We have a similar 18th century historic home in my hometown of Branford Connecticut, the Harrison House, that I'm ashamed to say I have yet to visit. I'm so glad I was able to visit the Ogden House and speak with the all nice folks that volunteer there!

#CTOpenHouse - @CTVisit
The Ogden House
The Ogden House is a 1750's saltbox colonial that has been lovingly maintained by the Fairfield
Museum Center. Typically only open seasonally in the summer on Sundays, but for today, they too, were participating in Saturday's #CTOpenHouse!

I did a quick tour of the inside of the Ogden House, and was amazed at the knowledge my tour guide had of both the 1750's and the original materials used. The inside contains a colonial family's living space, including a kitchen, family room, and parlor; and upstairs there are two bedrooms, all with historically correct paints, textiles, and materials.
#CTOpenHouse - @CTVisit
The Ogden House Interior
Outside, the garden tour guide was chock full of information. The Ogden House Gardens themselves are maintained by the Fairfield Garden Club, and have been since the 1980s. The garden club members have also been called upon to help at the Ogden House at previous times, helping to plan a tricentennial celebration in 1935, landscaping in 1974, and then, the official kitchen garden in the 80's.

They are always interested in learning more about colonial gardening, so if you have any information you'd like to share, contact them at: Fairfield Garden Club, P.O. Box 435 Southport, CT 06890.

Colonial gardening was essential to the survival of the 18th century townspeople, and all of the plantings had to be functional. Although items like garlic were grown, they were not used for flavor or spice, but more for their medicinal and healing purposes. The garden paths were paved with crushed seashell, essential to adding calcium and nutrients to the soil.

Also in the gardens were beehives, and I learned that honeybees were not indigenous to the Americas, brought over by our Scandinavian ancestors, again for their utility in their ability to pollinate, and for the medicinal honey produced. This year the garden club is hoping to work with the local beekeepers to produce the first batch of authentic Ogden House Garden Honey!  Each year the club holds a private tea at the Ogden House that I'm hoping to receive an invite to! 
#CTOpenHouse - @CTVisit
The Ogden House Gardens
After touring the garden I was able to pull together a group of volunteers for pictures and to watch them interact with the families that were touring.
#CTOpenHouse - @CTVisit
The Ogden House
Folks, it is the volunteers at these organizations that make a great tour sucessful! Always remember to support their efforts and thank them for their hard work!

The 1750 Ogden House & Gardens

1520 Bronson Road, Fairfield, CT 
Open Sundays, 1pm – 4pm from
June 2 – September 29, 2013
$3; Members free.

With my eye on my dwindling time, I moved on to my final destination of the Bellarmine Museum of Art at Fairfield University. This was my first time on the FairfieldU campus and I was awestruck at the size and the beauty.  What a gorgeous campus! What an amazing museum!

#CTOpenHouse - @CTVisit
Bellarmine Museum of Art at Fairfield University
The #CTOpenHouse coincided with both their alumni weekend on campus and their monthly Museum Family Day Activities. The entire campus was decked out with festivities and fun! In addition to their current exhibit and artifacts, it was family fun day and the children's activities included a class on "Building Blocks of Art III: Shape" in their smART Classroom - and a reading hour, held right in the beautiful museum.

The staff at the museum are wonderful, and the children activities were well attended and FUN for all ages! While touring the museum, I was assisted by many staff members who were happy to help as well as an extremely knowledgeable and informative intern, majoring in Medieval Art History at Georgetown University, home for the summer and interning at FairfieldU.

I could have spent the rest of the day at the museum, but alas, I had to leave for my previous commitments! When you go, do plan to spend a few hours there; and the grounds themselves are beautiful! Relax and enjoy!

The Bellarmine Museum of Art at Fairfield University

1073 N Benson Rd  
Fairfield, CT 06824

(203) 254-4000

That concludes my day of #CTOpenHouse and I'd like to sincerely thank the Connecticut Department of Tourism for inviting me to be a member of the Street Team for their 9th Annual Connecticut Open House Day!

For more pictures of my Open House travels: Visit and "Like" the Home Place Facebook page...HERE


Did you participate in any of the CT Open House Events?

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

Disclaimer:  I was offered the opportunity to participate with the CT Tourism Office as a member of the Street Team as part of their "Connecticut...Still Revolutionary" promotion. All opinions expressed are my own.

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