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.


  1. Great pictures! I visited Sweet & Simple too, everything was sooooo good! I wish I could have done more for open house day - I had two tired little boys with me who wanted to visit their favorite toy store in Fairfield. :) I'll have to check out the other places at another time, I'm close by to Fairfield!!

    1. Sarah, I'm so jealous that you are so close to all these amazing places! I plan on visiting Fairfield county a lot more often than I have in the past. Not only is it a beautiful area, but everyone is so nice!

  2. What a fantastic day! I loved seeing the photos. We visited Sweet and Simple too! I love the castle like structure of the Bellarmine Art Museum-that deserves further exploration! And I've never gone to the Ogden House but now, thanks to this post, I will!

    1. Joe, the university grounds are beautiful. I could spend an entire day walking the campus and visiting the museum. It is a great place to spend some time! Bring the family, I know the little ones will love the art classes and story hour!

  3. Looks like a fun and busy day! I really need to get out and enjoy our state more!

    1. I know! I agree! We have such a beautiful state. I'm ashamed that there is a historic colonial home within walking distance from me that I've never visited!

  4. Get report! Looks like you had a fun and busy day. I so need to get out and explore our state more!

    1. Yes! I was exhausted! You live in such a beautiful area, I'm coming out your way more!

  5. Great report and photographs. I am so glad that they had this event. I would have never realized just how much historic homes were practically within walking distance from where I live. I am looking forward to next years event. I spent my time exploring the sites in Greater Hartford, but I think I would like to explore the properties on the South of the state next year.

    1. I am so glad we got to participate, I loved your tour of the Governor's mansion and the Harriet Beecher Stove home!

  6. Ooops, I lost my comment again...

    TAKE 2.--- Great photographs and report. You were busy! I am so glad that they had this event. I didn't realize just how much there was to do in this state until I looked at the list of participating properties. I am already looking forward to next years event.

    1. Thank you so much! There is a lot to do in this year I hope they make in Open House WEEKEND! So much to do in a single day!

  7. Hi there! I'm one of the volunteers at the Ogden House and I just wanted to thank you for the kind words and amazing pictures that you took! It is people like you that make what we do worth while! Feel free to come back at anytime! :)

    1. You can bet I'll be back! I had such a wonderful visit and I love Fairfield! I can't wait to return!


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