Friday, February 28, 2014

Microsoft Store opens in Westfarms Mall in West Hartford CT

On Saturday 3-1-14 and Sunday 3-2-4 the newest Microsoft Store will be celebrating their Grand Opening in the Westfarms Mall in West Hartford CT.

Grand Opening Information:

10:30AM | Saturday, March 1 | Grand Opening ceremony begins. As a part of Microsoft’s ongoing commitment to the local community, Microsoft will donate more than $1 million in software grants to local community organizations.

2:00PM | Sunday, March 2 | Gates open for a special performance by Florida Georgia Line at XFITINITY Theatre. Free tickets will be distributed to customers present at our Grand Opening on Saturday, March 1. Fans should come early for their best chance to get a ticket.

Luckily I was able to take a sneak peak into the store and can't wait to share some pictures of what you'll all be seeing at the new Microsoft Store!

I also learned about some of the perks that Microsoft Stores offer. 

Even if you haven’t visited a Microsoft retail store before, you likely know that they offer a curated assortment of products, including tablets like the Surface/Surface 2, personal computers like the Windows 8 PCs, a wide array of Windows Phones, gamer items like the Xbox One, Office products, and more. 

What you probably didn't know: 
  • their tech experts host a range of tech trainings, many at little to no cost. 
  • most Microsoft stores offer a free community space for local organizations to host events! 

Here's just SOME of the items on their "Help is always here" list

Free in-store services
Consultation and diagnostics
    To help understand your needs and recommend the best solution for you.
Microsoft software repair and support
    Includes free virus or malware removal, PC Tune-Ups, and more
Paid in-store services
Warranty Concierge - $49
Data backup migration $49
Personal Training for 1 year $99
Assure $149 (One year of unlimited Personal Training and support services)
You know I'll be taking advantage of most of those resources!

But let's move on to the store and staff! The store is big and beautiful and packed with the latest gizmos and gadgets. It's a techie-dream! Store manager Rick is excited to be opening CT's second Microsoft Store. Did you know there was a Microsoft Store in the Danbury Mall?

Each and every member of the Microsoft Westfarms Mall team are prepped and ready for the grand opening and serving the Greater Hartford community.

Here's some pictures from my sneak peak of the store:

The MakerBot 3-D Replicator Printer - Amazing!
I have seen the future...and it is at Microsoft Stores!

Microsoft Phones with Microsoft Office Tools
Yes, you can open and edit your word documents on your phone!
The Nokia Lumia is rated one of the best camera phones

Store Manager Rick explains the launch of Titanfall
Note: The CT launch party is March 10th at 10pm for pre-release game play and $1000 in prizes!
The Microsoft Store Theater
Available for small group meetings and training
Store Manager Rick explains some of the resources available through the Help Center

And here's a followup picture of the store's grand opening! 

Photo Used With Permission from MicrosoftStore

Stop in and visit your local Microsoft Store to find out the services and products that work best for you. If you're in the greater Hartford area be sure to stop in to the new Microsoft Connecticut Store!

Follow Microsoft Stores on their social network sites to get the latest news on openings and events near you! You can find them on Google Plus at --> +Microsoft Store, like them on --> Facebook and follow them on --> Twitter and --> Instagram

For more pictures of my sneak peak visit the Home Place Facebook page HERE, and while you're there, don't forget to like us!

Westfarms Microsoft Store
211 Westfarms Mall
Farmington, CT, 06032

Phone: (860) 507-2660
Web: Microsoft/Westfarms

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Vinoteca Restaurant and Wine Bar - Italian Food in Greenwich CT

Social Media Tasting Event

This week we traveled to Greenwich CT to visit the Vinoteca Restaurant and Wine Bar.

The Vinoteca opened in late 2013 and is quickly becoming a fun place to visit for food, fun, and drink, seven days a week! Sunday features a Brunch Menu, Mondays are Burger and Barola Night, Thursdays are Ladies Nights, and weekend nights are billed with the tag line of  "Dine. Dance. Decadence."

We stopped in on a Monday night and sampled a wide array of offerings from the Vinoteco menu, including cocktails and a few wines. We were with a group of about 12 so we were able to have a great variety of appetizers, entrees, pizzas, and desserts too!

We started with their Polpettini, House-Made Meatballs, made with veal, pork, and beef, and topped with a delicious Whipped Ricotta.

Polpettini, house made meatballs topped with whipped ricotta

Then we sampled one of my favorite items! Cozze: Prince Edward Island Mussels, red curry broth, and french fries.

Cozze: Prince Edward Island mussels, red curry broth, and french fries.

The mussels were so good, but equally good was the red curry broth. We immediately requested some bread to soak up the garlicky-spicy goodness. The red curry packed a bit of heat that added a great kick to the dish.

Panetto: Italian Grilled Cheese made with Fontina Cheese, with a side of San Marzano Sauce for dipping. It is amazing that something as simple as a grilled cheese can be so delicious when made on a hearty bread with good cheese

Panetto: Italian Grilled Cheese, fontina, San Marzano sauce

We then moved on to several different types of pizza

Pizza: Rustica made with charred tomatoes, olives, sea salt, and olive oil. Quatro Formaggi made with ricotta, gorgonzola, parmigiano, and marscapone cheeses. Spicy Lobster made with marscapone, habanero peppers, lobster, and sweet corn.

Clockwise from left, Spicy Lobster, Rustica, and Quatro Formaggi 

Favorite pizza? The spicy lobster, but believe it or not, it wasn't the lobster that made it so good, - instead it was the corn that gave this pie its uniqueness. The sweet corn, rich lobster, and the spicy habenaros gave this pizza a great flavor and fresh taste.

Three types of salads were served,  Insalata:  Kale with bosc pairs, walnuts, and topped with pecorino cheese, Greek Chopped Salad, with cucumbers, watermelon, feta cheese, and red onion, and Italian Wedge Salad with Bibb and iceburg lettuce, gorgonzola cheese, tomato, and topped with crispy prosciutto.

Clockwise from left, Kale Salad, Greek Salad, and Italian Wedge Salad

Our pasta course consisted of Parpardelle Bolognese, a favorite of our table. While we all agreed it's not the prettiest of dishes, it certainly was one of the tastiest!

Parpardelle Bolognese

Vinoteca loosely translates in Italian to vino, or "wine",  and the suffix teca -  means "to specialize in." --- So, of course, we sampled some of their wines with our dinner.

Although I didn't care for the white wine (I like my white wine on the sweeter side) I did enjoy the red. It was a Nero d'AVOLA 2011, a Sicilian wine. Light and slightly fruity.

For our main course we sampled the Pollo Scarpiello, chicken made with bits of cherry peppers, sauteed spinach, and a spicy sausage. Although I don't usually order anything with sausage as I find it overpowers the dish, this was a subtle addition and I found myself truly enjoying the earthy flavor and texture it provided.

Pollo Scarpiello

We also sampled the Salmon Al Arranciata with a blood orange sauce, served with marscapone mashed potatoes,and asparagus. The salmon was wonderful, although the blood orange sauce may have been a bit to tart for our liking.

Salmon Al Arranciata

For dessert we were treated to four different offerings, Cannoli cake, Cappucino Cake, Tiramisu, and New York Cheesecake.

Desserts at Vinoteca

Although I started my meal with their seasonal martini special, the Fig Martini, it likely would have made a better after dinner drink or dessert. Prepared with house made fig voka, a splash of pama liquer, pear nectar, and vanilla syrup, it was delicious!

That concluded our evening at Vinoteca Restaurant and Wine Bar. Our only critique about our sampling was that service seemed a bit 'off' on our visit. When we asked about specialty cocktails we were advised to read the menu. Serving spoons for family style dishes as well as plates had to be requested. Minor things, but noticeable in a restaurant of Vinoteca's caliber.

Vinoteca Restaurant and Wine Bar
33 Lewis Street
Greenwich, CT
(203) 661-2354

On street parking and a metered public parking lot is one door down.

Here's a link to the Vinoteca opening menu - Vinoteca Restaurant and Wine Bar Menu.

Disclaimer: We were invited to this promotional sampling at the Vinoteca Restaurant and Wine Bar by members of  the Vinoteca Management and Marketing Team, however, the views and opinions expressed herein are our own.

Vinoteca Restaurant & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The 33rd Annual CT Flower and Garden Show - Hartford CT 2014

Today was the perfect day to travel up the I-91 Corridor to Hartford CT to attend the 33rd Annual Connecticut Flower and Garden Show at the Hartford Convention Center!

The theme of the 2014 show was "Backyard Paradise" and as you can see from the above picture, and those you'll see below, the exhibitors really delivered. There were some beautiful displays from local landscape designers that prove anyone's backyard can be an oasis!

Last year, friends Carol, Gayle, and I had such a wonderful time getting into the spring mood and enjoying the flowers and displays, that we were anxiously awaiting this year's show. We couldn't wait for this weekend to come! Apparently so was my sister and brother-in-law Kathy and Bob, both of whom I was pleasantly surprised to run into when we got there!

It appears everyone is ready for spring!

The show lived up to all our expectations, in fact, it surpassed them! If you've been following my website, you know that Connecticut has been battered this winter by snowstorm after snowstorm, so the ability to see some flowering displays made me think of this quote from Ode To The West Wind:  "If winter comes, can spring be far behind?"--Percy Shelley

Luckily, Spring is just a short four weeks away. Hooray!

Here are some of our favorite moments from the Connecticut Flower and Garden Show.

Gazebo display by Pondering Creations

Creative Contour

And here are some of our favorite finds!

Hand Stenciled Pots

High top Adirondacks

Le Frog!

Garden Basket

Pics of Carol, Gayle, and Brother-in Law Bob!
Me and Kathy hid from the camera!! 

For more pictures of the CT Flower and Garden Show visit the Home Place facebook page HERE and don't forget to "like" us while you're there!

Did you visit any garden shows this year? 
I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Wedding and Bridal Expos and Trunk Shows in Connecticut for 2014

Bridal Expo Time is Here in Connecticut!

Here's a list of some of the expos and trunk shows this year!

If you have a bridal event going on in CT for 2014, email with details and we'll place your information here.

Sunday, February 23rd 
Wadsworth Mansion Wedding Show  11 am to 3 pm
Admission: $5.00
Wadsworth Mansion
521 Wadsworth Street
Middletown, CT

Sunday, March 2nd
Romantic Styles CT Bridal Expo , 12 noon to 4 pm
Designer Bridal Showcase
Admission: $10.00 (Click the link below for a limited time 1/2 price online ticket sale!)
404 Washington Avenue
North Haven, CT

Sunday, March 9th
Bill Miller's Castle Bridal Show  - 1 pm to 4 pm
Admission:  $8.00
Wedding Steps Show
834 East Main Street
Branford, CT 
Bridal Champagne Lounge from 11am to 2pm
Presented by Happily Ever After
Admission:  $8.00
Lyme Art Associate
90 Lyme Street
Old Lyme, CT
Connecticut Bride Expo
Presented by Connecticut Bride Magazine
Admission:  $10.00
Marriott Trumbull Merritt Parkway
180 Hawley Lane
Trumbull, CT

Thursday, April 3rd to Saturday, April 5th
Hayley Page Bridal Collection Trunk Show at 10 am each day
Admisson:   Free
The White Dress by the Shore
104 East Main Street
Clinton CT

Sunday, April 6th
Hartford Bridal Showcase from 11am to 4 pm
Presented by Jenks Productions
Admission: $8.00
XL Center Civic Center Plaza
Hartford CT

Friday, April 25th and Saturday, April 26th
Modern Trousseau Trunk Show at 10 am each day
Admission:  Free
The White Dress By The Shore
104 East Main Street
Clinton, CT
Thursday, June 12th through Saturday, June 14th
Modern Trousseau Trunk Show at 10 am each day
Admission:  Free
The White Dress By The Shore
104 East Main Street
Clinton, CT

Friday, June 20th to Sunday, June 22nd
Enzoani Trunk Show at 10 am each day
Admission: Free
Bridal Trouseeau
529 Main Street
Branford, CT

Thursday, Sept 11th
Amarante's Bridal Show 6 pm to 9 pmPresented by Wedding Steps
Admission: $8.00
Amarante's Sea Cliff Inn
62 Cove Street
New Haven, CT 

Please call and visit these boutiques and locations to confirm dates, admission costs, and times.

Note: Home Place is not affiliated with any of the organizations listed and is therefore not responsible for changes in admission costs, dates, times, or places.

Alex Deibold - Branford CT Native and Pepe Pizza Descendent - Wins Bronze in Sochi

Have you been following the Olympics! I just love watching the daily events on TV and getting the updates on scores and medal winners all day long.

I was absolutely thrilled to learn that former resident Alex Deibold, of Branford CT, my hometown, won a bronze medal at Sochi in the Snowboard Cross!

Today it was the sports headline in our paper, the New Haven Register!

And Deibold has even MORE ties to Connecticut!

He is the nephew of Tony Rosselli, Frank Pepe, the pizzeria founder's, oldest grandson. To celebrate this momentous occasion the entire Pepe Connecticut family gathered at the original Pepe’s Pizzeria in New Haven and presented a pizza with the Olympic rings atop Pepe’s world famous Napoletana pizza to celebrate his feat!

Alex Deibold wasn't among the favorites to win a medal in Tuesday's snowboard cross final, yet he was the only American to advance to the final and the only American with a flag draped around his shoulders as he stood on the podium after his third-place finish, reports USA Today. His fellow teammates dogpiled on Deibold after the 27-year-old Branford, CT native slid across the finish line in third place. His teammates understood just what Deibold had endured to even make the Olympic team, let alone find his way upon the podium.

Deibold truly was the underdog among them - but he came through for Team America!

For more read:

 See Alex’s Today Show interviews here: 

!!! *** Go Team U.S.A. *** !!!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Big Book Club Getaway 2014 at the Mohegan Sun Resort and Casino

The Big Book Club Getaway - returns to the Mohegan Sun!

Read my recap of last year's event HERE

Choose from over 20 exciting presentations 

by more than 70 bestselling authors!

Friday Events (check the event schedule HERE)

Pillow Talk ~ Bestselling Romance and Erotica Authors
  • Featuring: Eloisa James, Laura Kaye, Cathy Maxwell, and L. Marie Adeline
Literary Libations at the Lansdowne Pub
  • Featuring: Tim Federle and Tom Acitelli

Saturday Events (check the event schedule HERE)

A Hero’s Tale – Military Memoirs and Biographies
  • Featuring: Artis Henderson, Jason “Jay” Redman, and Captain Glenn Sulmasy
Novel Ideas – Male Authors in Journalism and Fiction
  • Featuring: Norb Vonnegut, Pete Hamill, and David Handler
Writers at Work
  • Featuring: Christopher Castellani, Adam Sexton, Stuart Parnes, and Julia Pistell
Magical Fiction – Spirits, Mystery and Wonderment
  • Featuring: Sarah Addison Allen, Karen White, and Suzanne Palmieri (Hayes)
The Way We Were – Historical Fiction
  • Featuring: Charlotte Rogan, Stephanie Lehmann, Donna Russo Morin and Heather Webb
International Thrillers
  • Featuring: J.E. Fishman, Kitty Pilgrim, and Nick Hahn
Steamy Stories – Bestselling Romance and Erotica Authors
  • Featuring: Eloisa James, Laura Kaye, Cathy Maxwell, and L. Marie Adeline
A Conversation with William Mann ~ Hollywood Biographer
  • Featuring: William Mann
The World’s Strongest Librarian – Josh Hanagarne
  • Featuring: Josh Hanagarne
Now Boarding – Travel and Culture
  • Featuring: Nina Sovich, Susan Conley and Eloisa James
Whodunnit? Mystery and Suspense
  • Featuring: Jennifer McMahon, Julia Spencer-Fleming, Rosemary Harris and Hank Phillipi Ryan
Toil and Trouble – Witches and the Occult
  • Featuring: Brunonia Barry, Marybeth Reilly McGreen, Maggi Smith Dalton, and Paul Caranci
Reflections in the Light – Christian Writers
  • Featuring: Tessa Afshar, Allia Zobel Nolan, Carol Barnier and Lucinda Secrest McDowell
A Peek Behind The Curtains – Broadway Revealed
  • Featuring: Susan L. Schulman, Jennifer Ashley Tepper and Peter Filichia
Kiss and Tell – Harlequin Romance authors
  • Featuring: Kristan Higgins, Shannon Stacey, Natalie Charles and Kristine Rolofson
Telling My Truth – Memoir and the Self
  • Featuring: Karen Dietrich, Mellini Kantayya and Diane Smith
Finding Our Way in The World
  • Featuring: Qais Akbar Omar, Carlos Eire, Brando Skyhorse, and Christopher Castellani
Delicious Writing – Books with Food
  • Featuring: Giulia Melucci and Suzan Col√≥n
On Water and Relationships – River Journeys
  • Featuring: David “Bugsy” Morine, Joseph Monninger, Dr. Cindy Lovell, and Wick Griswold
Ellora’s Cave ~ Erotica
  • Featuring: Avril Ashton, Karen Stivali, Tara Nina, and Diana Hunter
Touring Connecticut ~ Tales and Travels
  • Featuring: Diane Smith, Eric Lehman and Garrison Leykam

Addicted? Harvard Doctors Speak Out
  • Featuring: Dr. Robert L. Doyle, Joseph Shrand, MD, and Dr. Sylvester “Skip” Sviokla, III, M.D.
New England in Fiction
  • Featuring: Joseph Monninger, Nan Parson Rossiter, and Jane Green

Register and purchase your tickets HERE 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Warby Parker Glasses and Sunglasses for the Hipster in You

Are you a hipster?

Photo provided by Warby Parker
Used with Permission

hip·ster  [hip-ster]  

Noun. Slang.
   1.a person who is hip.
   2. a hepcat.

Did you know the Warby Parker line of fashion eyeglasses are perfect for the hipster in you?  Warby Parker features prescription eyeglasses starting at $95 that offer a retro vibe with their vintage inspired designs and styles.

Photo Provided by Warby Parker
Used with Permission

This year Warby Parker's new Spring Collection introduces eight new shapes and six new colors, while the Palm Canyon Collection refreshes some of their favorite frames in a palette of colors with names like mesquite, acacia, ironwood, and sand.
Photo provided by Warby Paker
Used with Permission

What's more, Warby Parker is a socially conscious organization. As with all of their existing collections, for every pair of frames sold, a pair is distributed to someone in need through their non-profit partners.

But I'm most excited about their Palm Canyon CollectionWith the Palm Canyon Collection, they have really outdone themselves and refreshed some of their most popular frames—Winston, Duckworth, Preston, and Wheeler. (Love those names - so hip!) Each frame features a hand-mixed acetate inset at the end piece, with patterns inspired by Color Field painters and mid-century minimalists.

Photo provided by Warby Parker
Used with Permission

Designing and constructing the patterns required a technique that took them over a year to perfect, and each pair is distinguished with a unique contrast detail created by melding sheets of woodwork-inspired acetate and tortoise acetate together. Each is its own work of art and no two pairs are alike.

Photo Provided by Warby Parker
Used with Permission

Palm Canyon Collection frames are available for $145 online at and at Warby Parker stores and showrooms. Click HERE to find a retail location near you.

Photo provided by Warby Parker
Used with Permission

Be sure to check out all of Warby Parker's other great eyeglasses and sunglasses either online or in store and YOU can be a hipster too!

It's easy to find a great pair that matches your style and design taste by utilizing their free Home Try-On Program and Service.   Click here for details ==> Warby Parker / Home Try On ProgramFast free shipping both ways.

Bring out the hipster in you with a pair of Warby Parker eyeglasses or sunglasses! 

2014 CT Flower and Garden Show in Hartford CT

33rd Annual Connecticut Flower & Garden Show

February 20-23 at the Connecticut Convention Center

If you are as tired of this winter’s deep freeze as I am then the  Connecticut Flower & Garden Show – one of the largest and most prestigious flower shows in New England, is for you!

The 33rd Annual event will take place this Thursday, February 20 through Sunday, February 23, 2014 at the Connecticut Convention Center on 100 Columbus Blvd. in Hartford. 

Thursday, February 20 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; 
Friday, February 21 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; 
Saturday, February 22 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and 
Sunday, February 23 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The colorful, fragrant show will cover almost three acres with the 2014 theme, “Backyard Paradise”, with wonderful ideas for homeowners and apartment and condo dwellers alike. 

Admission Info: 
Cash Only. 
$16 Adults; $14 Seniors Age 62 and Over on Thursday/Friday only; 
$4 Children 5-12; Free under age 5 – 
Group rates for 15 or more people: contact (860) 844-8461 or

Highlights include:

Twenty (20) gardens filling over an acre, created by professional landscape designers and nonprofit organizations, and include naturalistic, low maintenance and organic gardens.

Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut’s 2014 Advanced Standard Flower Show: 12,000+ square foot design and horticulture competition with more than 250 judged entries, all with a Backyard Paradise theme! Focal point is a grassy area with a fire pit and four different gardens with native Connecticut plants.

Hundreds of displays and activities and aisles of fresh flowers, plants, garden ornaments, herbs, bulbs, seeds, fertilizers, soils, gardening books, patio furniture, ornaments and lawn equipment for purchase, floral and garden arts & crafts. People can bring a 1/2 cup of soil to the UConn Co-op booth for free soil testing.

More than 80 hours of seminars by horticulturists and experts including:
  • Lorraine Ballato of Brookfield - "Foolproof Hydrangeas" and about "Vegetables Contained";
  • Bob Buettner of East Hartford - "Floral Arranging";
  • Tom Christopher of Middletown - "Low Maintenance Lawns";
  • Mike & Angelina Chute of Riverside, RI - "Six Simple Steps to a Successful Rose Garden";
  • Pamm Cooper of Storrs - "Butterfiles in Connecticut; The Food they Need As Adults & Larva";
  • Phil Costello of South Hadley, Mass. - "Landscape Lighting";
  • Tammy Cressotti of Granville, Mass. - "Introduction to Beekeeping";
  • Anita Dafonte of Newtown - "Organic Vegetable Gardening" and on "Starting Seeds";
  • Lelaneia Dubay of Hartford - "The Process of Landscape Design";
  • Nancy DuBrule-Clemente of Northford – “Fearless Pruning" and about "Blended Gardens";
  • Dr. Wade Elmer of New Haven - "Fighting Fusarium in Flowers";
  • Maureen Hasley-Jones of Old Lyme - "Mother Earth";
  • Rose Hiskes of New Haven - "Protecting Our Trees From Asian Longhorn Beetles & Emerald Ash Borers";
  • Nick Mancini of Westport - "How to Grow True Organic Seeds"; 
  • Tovah Martin of Roxbury - "The Unexpected House Plant";
  • Kerry Mendez of Ballston Spa, NY - "Three Seasons of Outrageous Color from Perennials" and about "Simplifying Gardens";
  • Penny O'Sullivan of Stratham, NH - "Fabulous Foliage: Year-Round Color with Trees & Shrubs" and about "Painless Pruning - Simple Solutions for Healthy Plants";
  • Dawn Pettinelli of Storrs - "Fertilizers" and about "Soils for Gardeners";
  • Peter Picone, author & wildlife biologist - "Ways to Create and Enhance Wildlife Habitat in Your Surroundings";
  • Rich Pomerantz of Washington Depot - "Art in the Garden" and about "Relax, It's Only Garden Photography";
  • Carol Quish of Storrs - "Pests in the Perennial Garden";
  • Mark Richardson, New England Wild Flower Society in Framingham, Ma. - “Sustainable Horticulture - Redefining the American Landscape”;
  • Experts from SavATree: The Tree & Shrub Care Company - "Choosing the Right Tree for the Right Location", about "Organic Lawncare", and about "Protecting Your Landscape from Deer Damage";
  • Dr. Neil Schultes of New Haven - "Genetically Modified Crops";
  • Paul Split of Bourne, Mass. - "Gardening Under Glass" and about "Organic Container Gardening with Herbs"; and
  • Rob Townsend of Portland - "Watergardens".

Show sponsors include B & P Turf Farm, Goodyear Farms, T.J. Bark Mulch, Bob Kelly Florist, Inc., Bedard Enterprises, and North East Expos, Inc.

For full information about the 2014 Connecticut Flower & Garden Show, seminars, and driving directions, visit or call North East Expos, Inc. at (860) 844-8461.
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