The Fresh Summer 17′ -860 Scene. 

So for this summer here in the 860, I decided to come up with a list of places and things I wanted to do. With so much going on in the summer in a state that has 80 degree April days followed by 35 degree May days, you have to be prepared for anything. A nice day is an opportunity for an adventure!

Where to get fresh local foods and goodies?

So for starters there are some amazing farmers markets in my area, and a great one just a short drive from here in Coventry. Sundays! I’ll be there. If you don’t know, now you know!

Even closer to home, in East Hampton,Old Bank Flowers in the historic village, hosts a farmers market on Main st every Saturday. Their information for farmers market hours is on Facebook. I have not been yet but I’m sure it will be a nice little market! Lori (the owner) does a phenomenal job and is well connected with local craftmen and vendors.

If these destinations are too far, find your local farmers market, I promise you won’t be disappointed in how much better the ingredients taste!

Farmers Markets in CT

Farms are the new “thing”.

Amazing chefs are getting excited about the return to the fields. Max group and Billy Grant’s restaraunt have both been involved for a couple years with this program. They go to local farms, and serve up amazing creations right at the farm for people to enjoy Al fresco ! The addition I’m excited about, is a chef for the restaraunt chain in We-ha Treva/ Avert and their newest Mediterranean restaurant. It’s clear this restaurant group knows their food, in different genres, not that Max and Grant don’t, it’s just a new player on the chef scene! There are so many options, and so little time!

Speaking of farms, there’s a super cool versitile farm that keeps upping the ante! Carter Hill Farm has a little bit of everything for everyone, and it’s super cute because it was created by a couple, who initially wanted to restore the mobile-gas station on the historic Route 66 to its former glory!

The couple bought the property, created this beautiful New England landscape, then they started adding awesomeness! The Spicy Green Bean a restaraunt out of Glastonbury teamed up and opened an open air dining cafe called Goats and Roses  at the farm, and have opened for nice weather days only, so far! They have vintage car shows, drive in movie nights and so much more! I’m stoked about how versatile and community driven this place is! It’s on the list!

Every year we pack a picnic and head to either the CT wine trail and have a little picnic with a bottle of local wine. We have been really excited lately about the beer scene though and all the ct breweries popping up. The Fat Orange Cat is among our favorite in East Hampton,CT. They are definetly getting noticed by the beer advocate and they have a really cute cat on the label!  Check them out The Fat Orange Cat Brew co! Or any of the tastes brews on the  CT beer trail!

If you want to eat out, why not be on an amazing rooftop!?

Cava in Southington,CT. Why do I love this place so much? First of all, I worked for them for 10 years, and I still love them. Second, my best friend designed and created this amazing space. There is no other like it in the state. I will be there many, many times. From the crawford underlit “ceiling”, with the stars twinkling in between, to the fountain with flames, this place is/ has everything. The Greco-Miami vibe is like being in another country or on vacation. You will not be disappointed!

See for yourself Cava’s rooftop is a show stopper!

Downtown East Haddam and the Good Speed Opera House

On my way to dinner for my birthday, we drove through this historic, charming, downtown center. We will be back! They have amazing antique stores, a super cute ice cream shop and the Goodspeed Opera House!

Fun fact: The Goodspeed Opera house was the birth place of the famous musical Annie, among a few other greats! It overlooks the Connecticut River and it seems like the perfect place for a date night!

This is a little vintage charm, and that is what New England is the best at! History and charm make for one fun afternoon.

Have a cultural experience! 

Every year since I was born I’ve attended the annual St. George Greek Orthodox Festival. When I got old enough to drive, all my friends would pile in the car. Soon it became a regular summer occasion! The Greek fest marks the beginning of summer for me…. and hopefully for others too!

It happens to be this weekend June 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th. Check out details!

The Hispanic festival in Hartford sounds like a real party in late June! Great food, great music, dancing, and right in Hartford, Vamos!!!

There’s a ton of other really fun events on CTnow for other ideas for cultural immersion!

Let the fun begin!

There are a bunch of really fun hiking trails, beaches, and outdoor activities, but that’s for another time! Stay tuned for the great outdoor adventure plans on the horizon. I hope some of you have found this helpful and enjoy the fruits of the great state of Connecticut!

Let the summer food, drinks and local fun begin!


10 Simple Pleasures that also Happen to be Free! 

In life we try to fill our hearts and our homes with things, people, experiences all in search for meaning and happiness. For the majority of us we focus on life’s milestones and forget that it’s comprised of those tiny moments we often overlook. Here are a few things to consider…. that are remarkably simple.

1. Knowing you were right. 

This doesn’t hold true in every situation but for the most part getting the pleasure of knowing you were right is simply satisfying. There’s nothing cute about a know-it-all or a stubborn fool.  However, if you have an argument worthy of a google search and it’s a a matter of facts and not opinions, then knowing you were right on point is the best feeling. No ones feelings get hurt. No one really cares, but deep down you get the satisfaction of knowing.

2. A pat on the back.

When someone tells you how good you’re doing. It’s nice you feel a sense of accomplishment and pride. When you do something for another person and they reinforce your efforts it pushes you to continue.

3. Getting exactly what you want, when you want it. 

Example: I have a hankering for some ice cream but not just any ice cream, cake batter froyo. I get in my car, go to froyo and get it.

I have just given you an example of getting exactly what you crave when you crave it. This can be true for other mediums such as going to a place you really want to go or seeing someone you really want to see. The goal is you get what you want when you want it and it’s awesome!

4. Finding something you lost or forgot about!

When you clean out your closet and locate $5 in your old jeans. It’s like the money gods came down and handed you a gift for  getting rid of stuff you don’t like anymore. The bonus is you get to experience the “brand new feeling” for that shirt in the back of your closet first when you buy it then again when you locate it while cleaning out the closet! So it’s the bonus of a new shirt without the cost! Brilliant!

5. When you get more than 8 hours of sleep and leisurely wake up. 

I don’t know if I’m the only  one who really enjoys sleep but it’s the greatest form of relaxation. If you work a 9-5, chances are at some point during the work week you are cutting your sleep short because of obligations. When the weekend rolls around you may or may not have a chance to sleep in… but when you do… it’s pure joy.  Sure when you sleep “too much” you feel worse… but, frankly if you get restful sleep it’s sure to set you up for success.

Sleep is the greatest form of meditation. There are few feelings better than waking up cozy on a rainy Saturday, and if you don’t think so, we can’t agree on anything.

6. Completing a list, finishing a project or simply getting some daughting task over with. 

Some people live by lists, I am one of them, and honestly when I can say I’ve checked everything off my list, the feeling is euphoric. Others have tasks they know they need to get done, procrastinate until the very end, but even those people can agree when it’s done it’s DONE! Booyah! Shablam! No more stuff to do! Nailed it!

As a former college student I know each college attendee can attest to this feeling of finishing another semester, or getting through finals week without dying.  It’s just the same as cleaning your house and making yourself a cup of tea, you success you! So hey, maybe we should bare those obstacles, if not for anything else but the sheer feeling of accomplishment!

7. Being on time. 

Say what you want about being late but it’s stressful. If you show up late to work, you run the risk of being fired. If you are late to meet a client, it makes an impression. If you are late meetings with friends you are showing them no respect. In most ways being late is rude. However, outside of the rudensss,  there’s the excessive speeding that comes along with it. When you don’t manage your time you can’t be at peace. It’s simple. When you know you have time to spare you inevidibly feel more at ease. Whether you are a morning person or not, when you give yourself time, you ultimately save yourself the anxiety and stress of making excuses for your recklessness.

When you are on time, even early, you feel good. It may be a simple pleasure, but that’s the point of this list. Also be on time, because you should be, it’s the right thing to do.

8. Free time. Nothing but whatever you want to do. 

It’s part of the adult struggle, time =money. Every thing is worth time. If you have time to spare on something you truly love to do, that’s spectacular. When you steal a moment to read a book, or a magazine, or browse Pinterest. It’s freedom. When you have time or make time to do something you are passionate about, you feel recharged. If you don’t know what it’s like to have spare time or to separate time for yourself, we need to have an intervention. No matter how crazy life gets, you need to be selfish at least 3 hours a week, for your sanity.

9. Being given a “no-reason- gift”!

Who doesn’t like presents!?  Better yet, who doesn’t like surprises (really). So what is better than getting a present on your birthday or Christmas, I’ll tell you, a present for NO REASON. It’s like the universe just said here ya go you little prince(ss) you earned it! The opposite is true for “sorry about that” gifts, no one wants these, ever. No, gifts for no reason are the epitome of sweet and satisfying!

10. Making a connection.

You know that moment you are talking to a stranger and all of a sudden it turns into “me too”, the common ground has been broken. It’s an interesting feeling when you meet a new person and you hit it off, not romantically just personally. I’m talking about those people who you see in passing at your yoga class and chit chat with, those people in the grocery store you see but never talk to. It’s the moment when you decide that today’s the day you’re going to ask what their name is that your brain has a tiny eruption of excitement. It’s weird how humans make these connections but some say it’s because we all have vibes and some of our vibes match others vibes. I tend to think that you feel comfortable and then you find out that those people you have seen and not spoken to are actually just like you. It’s satisfying to know we aren’t all alone in this world and others share our views.
So there you have it, these simple pleasures in life are not only free but super satisfying. Focusing on the details tends to make you value to big picture. Life isn’t always beautiful, but finding moments that reinforce our happiness is.

Are you on the local scene?

In the last 10 years we’ve seen a shift, maybe a sutble movement but nevertheless a change. We want local! Why? Well because It’s better that’s why! When you shop locally you feel a sense of community, you support a family not a stock holder and you get an arguably better product. Depending on where you live, you probably have more opportunities to shop locally than you think. Walmart is not the only option.

Connecticut is a hybrid of big names and small business. For the most part you can find anything you want simply by going on Amazon but if you take the time you can probably do better at a local store.

The craft beer movement is here, and sorry Budweiser but we really like the flavor.

When you buy locally crafted beer you are supporting a community, a mission, and you know that those guys gave it their best shot.  Hanging Hills Brewing company is a locally made beer located on  the same street in hartford my grandmother lived on when I was a child. Well so what? The reason I point this out is the cities in Connecticut have been over run with poverty, violence and for the majority of folks the only reason to go to Hartford’s outskirts is if you have a restaraunt or bar in mind. There is typically no reason to go outside the downtown area unless you live there, because it’s seen as a dangerous place.

The reality is, this beer garden set right off the highway was packed with like minded middle class people who just wanted to take a break from the day to day and have a beer. We even saw the weather man and his crew hanging out!

Farm to table or as I like to call it, the only way to eat!

When you walk into a Whole Foods, it’s arguably better than stop and shop, but when you walk into a farm stand, it’s the top of the tier. There is no delivery, there are no additives, the product was plucked from the dirt and placed in its respective bin with like-items. In other words if you have an opportunity to go to a farm stand, farmers market or grow your own produce, then you should. That is all.

Fresh food is the ultimate luxury. If you are willing to spend $80 on moisturizer or make up and you stuff yourself with blue dye #5, then you will need to invest a lot more money in healthcare later…  What you eat is so important for your present and future! It’s also 10x tastier than a mass produced vegetable that didn’t have adequate time to ripen and was pumped full of fake ness.

The other thing about fresh food is that the farmers who produce these products work hard, and we should collaboratively support our farmers here in the US but specifically in our communities. No farms, no food! I promise if you buy a tomato from a supermarket, and one grown from a local grower, you will never want to buy another supermarket tomato again. The flavor speaks for itself.

 When we build together we grow together!

Do something local, it will always be more rewarding.
I’m not a socialist, I am however a big fan of empowering our fellow man. If everyone supported each other’s great gifts to society then our communities would be common again. Here in Connecticut the majority of towns have some “center of town” local stops, but for the mom and pop shops it’s a dying market.

Communities are based on kids,and schools, where they used to be built for the needs of families as a whole. Technology has brought availability but as for the center of town, there is no incentive to buy local, because it’s easier to get free shipping.

If parents of children are the only ones getting involved with community projects which are propogated by their kids PTA meetings what about the other percentage of the population? What inspires people to get involved or support their local craftsmen/ business owners etc?

Certainly it’s not cheaper to buy local verses going to Walmart. I will say this about that, if you don’t support your towns businesses your community will suffer. The economy will suffer. And ultimately the future will be big conglomerates with no voice.

I grew up in Marlborough CT from childhood to adulthood. I watched places that were staples of the town go out of business because of lack of support from the town. The Tavern in town was a bar that George Washington went to and was an icon of the town. It was a sad day when they closed their doors. A super market, a pharmacy and a number of other businesses have been lost to the big brands in the center of Marlborough and businesses don’t want to come in because of the hostile environment of the town, and of the state. It’s those businesses that keep the town funding and those businesses that bring hope for the future of the town. It’s these small towns that make up the state and ultimately the country. If we let the small businesses fall prey to big businesses what hope do kids have for entrepreneurial futures?

If we don’t support eachother in a local community then Rome as we know it will fall victim to corporations who don’t care, who don’t give back, and who have their own agenda. If we had more small town support for small business, the future would be made of people who want to build things, not grow up and work in a city.

Moral of the story, try something local, get out and meet the owner of your local coffee shop, go into the store you’ve been driving past for the last 2 years, you’ll be glad you did.

Travel, Even if it’s nearby.

Something about being in a new place fills your soul and your core with this uneasy, excited, butterfly, poop feeling. It’s like you are going up a roller coaster and you know it’s going to be exciting and thrilling. Being in a place you have known and you are revisiting somehow gives us that same sentiment. It’s like Boston for me. I spent many many days and nights in Boston. When I return something inside me awakens. It’s as if my skin is on fire and my heart is awake. It’s a great feeling.

When you travel, even close by, you look carefully at things.  You see things differently, with rose colored glasses. The effects of stopping and smelling the roses my friends, is overall life satisfaction.

You start to see those familiar signs on the highway, and pay your final toll, then you see Fenway and suddenly it all comes back.” I remember why I love this place”.  When you finally arrive it’s like a rush of adrenaline and you can’t wait to explore the places you have been and try new ones as well.

I suppose traveling and love have the same general feeling. It’s exciting and new and always makes you feel kind of queasy, in a good way. There is something  about planning a trip that just fills you with new opportunity. The chance to explore is probably a fundamental human need. It’s on the same scale as creating something or leaving your mark on the world.

I have often wondered how people I know can simply drop their real life in exchange for a backpack and go to Europe with no plan. That idea sounds insane, that is not the kind of trip I could take. It’s too passé.

I would love to be able to travel, as most people would, but on my own terms and with certainty that when I return I have a schedule to get back to. It’s important to have balance in life and getting a backpack and going, indefinetly, is not my idea of a good time. I admit I’m too high maintenance for whimsical ideas like that. I need to know my hotel is clean/ has good reviews and I have a general itinerary so I don’t go totally crazy trying to organize myself.

Being free isn’t what I’m good at. I suppose those people have some kind of ingrained spirit that allows them to let go of reality and live in the moment. This is great, but when you go back home how can you settle down? Once you fly how can you go back to walking? I don’t think you can. It’s like caging a wild bird. They might stay in their cage but they will always try to escape. I’ve met many untamed people like this and they are often the most interesting and sad. They are restless and nothing makes them happy, unfortunately for their partners they have to constantly restrain them. It’s always a fight for freedom in their minds. I have known many free-birds and while I am envious of their “wing-it” attitude I am certain they will never find home, or be happy in one place for long.

It’s strange to feel at home in so many places. I feel at home in my condo, at my father’s house where I grew up, in Rhode Island in many places, parts of Boston, and in certain people’s homes. I don’t feel like traveling without knowing at some point I will sleep in my own bed. Travel is like a roller coaster, you go up while you get to where ever you are going you get to the top and you feel enlightened by the new-ness of it all and as you descend it’s exhilarating to have had all these experience and finally you get home with your feet on the ground. It’s a safe and comfortable feeling but you always want to do it again. It was awesome. You carry the experience with you at home and with those you encounter. You wait impatiently, until your next roller coaster ride. All the while knowing you still have home. Home is always my favorite place, no matter where I am going or where I have been.

Maybe I like feeling grounded, maybe it’s because I’ve made “home” a place of refuge surrounded by comfort. Or maybe traveling is better done in doses so you appreciate every moment. Being home we plan for the places we will go, being away makes us value our lives. It makes us humble and it keeps us human. The feeling of returning home is just as exciting as arriving in a new place or even a familiar place. That feeling is what we love about life. It’s taking that deep breath of fresh ocean air or smelling th burning fireplace in the living room. It’s a feeling like love.

Travel often in life, and remember where you came from, for both are worth the ride.