A weekend of merry and bright

kat and p at the wadsworth

As some of you may know, it’s been a rough and bumpy road for me for the last couple of months.  I haven’t been ignoring Christmas, per se, but I certainly haven’t been plunging into it with the gusto and fervor that I normally do.  So I feel awfully lucky that last weekend, Christmas found me, in two nights and one day of gloriously fun festivities with some of my closest and dearest friends.  Oh so good.

It all started with dinner with Caitlin at the Capital Grille on Friday night:

yaaas best champagne shot

More to follow on this soon!  There was Moet & Chandon Imperial involved however.  Lots and lots of it

hallo hallo

Love you lady

We followed this up with more drinks and dancing – ok – watching other people dance really – at Nixs for the official Nutcracker after party for CONNetic Dance’s Nutcracker: Suite and Spicy!


With our favorite, @Johnnie_Divine

And with Caitlin’s lovely sister, Hannah:


Twinning in our black dresses with sheer panels yaaas.  Mine is from Lux Boutique in West Hartford!

We enjoyed prosecco and, in my case, some reeeally good coquito featuring Tanduay rum (currently in a cocktail contest – vote for it here – I promise it’s worth it). And so the night passed in a blur of glitter and fun (where there are ballerinas, there will be glitter – it’s science)


Photo of the very talented cast, courtesy of Alex Syphers for CTNow

Saturday was the much anticipated, never imitated annual Charcutapalooza and Nick and Emily‘s house.  We had charcuterie galore:

charcuterie yaaas

Oh hey there.  Check the chicken liver mousse on the far left.  At some point in the evening I was basically just speed dipping crackers straight into that pot.  No regrets.

Emily also demonstrated her amazing baking skills with perfect macaroons:

macaroons by emily


And Nick flexed his culinary muscles over some damn good Asian style buns, barbequed pork, and slaw

ban mi bun

Come on man

But the highlight of the party was, by far, the three smoked pig heads provided by Jamie of Bear’s Smokehouse.  I mean, come on.  Look at these things:

3 little pigs

Merry Lord of the Flies!  I mean, Christmas

I managed to procure a pigs head which I will be chopping up and cooking into Congri – that’s Cuban rice and bean for those who don’t know – throughout the winter.  So very good.  Nothing like a good pig head.  Oh, and here’s a bonus shot of Penelope enjoying the festivities on Saturday night, like a Big Girl:

p smiling w macaroon

That smile just melts my heart

P and I hit the town together on Sunday for the Nutcracker matinee and Ugly Sweater Party.  And yes, thanks to Venom Vintage, P had her own tiny ugly sweater to wear:

p in the snow wadsworth

Pictured here, post show, enjoying the show and dancing

I’ve not been in town for the Nutcracker before, and I thoroughly enjoyed Carolyn’s hip rendition of this holiday classic – and also enjoyed Penelope enjoying it too!  Plus – we met SANTA:

santa claus at the wadsworth

Hi Santa!  We would get a picture with Santa against a step and repeat.  Very typical.

The Wadsworth hosts Carolyn’s Suite and Spicy Nutcracker annually and was also home to the Festival of the Trees, featuring uniquely designed Christmas trees which are produced and sold for charity.  Simply gorgeous and quite perfect for persuading me to discard my inner grinch and enjoy the season.  I’m very fortunate to have such an amazing group of friends – thanks to you all for what you do, you know who you are and you are appreciated.


We ate all the meats @BearsSmokehouse and it was glorious

lets eat p

Bear’s Smokehouse has been wowing the residents of Arch Street for several months, as well as operating a small location in Windsor for over a year.  The transition from a piece of counter top space to two large and gorgeous locations can’t have been an easy one – but Jamie and his family handled it like pros, and the soft opening of their new space in Windsor last Saturday went off without a hitch.

p next to vip sign

Penelope realized after we arrived that she left her wallet in her other purse – but thankfully all the delicious BBQ was FREE!

Jamie invited us in to sample his menu, and it was a good chance to bring P along, as its a very kid friendly venue and vibe – and what kid doesn’t love mac and cheese?

p w her dessert

Not to mention peach cobbler.  This was her favorite and she insisted on eating it all by herself.  Like a Big Girl

My good friend, Amanda, chose the smoked chop special
smoked pork chop


And I selected my most favorite Mac Attack (actually – second favorite – my heart belongs to the Burnt Ends on the Bear’s menu – but who doesn’t love mac and cheese?  I got a version of the mac attack today with pork.  Again.  Mmmm)

bbq and merlot

Paired with a very nice mini bottle  of blue label Francis Coppola Merlot.  Great pairing and a great wine for a BYOB event

There were many friends out and about that night – including one of my favorite bloggers, Jenna from CT Ain’t So Bad

ze gang yaaas

Always nice to see you and your crew Jenna.  :)  And hey!  There’s Jamie on the far left.  Thanks so much for the great meal Jamie!

Oh and we DID get the requisite girl ‘shoe pic’ on our way out – early due to P’s bed time – but how cute are her toddler sneakers in this picture?  I just can’t:

SHOE stitch

So classic.  So necessary

It’s wonderful that Bear’s new location is only minutes from our house.  We will be back often, and you should go to.  There’s nothing wrong with really, really good BBQ with all the fixings.

All of your Holiday Contests are in our base @Hartforddotcom

nutcracker suite and spicy

Hello Friends!  It’s the most wonderful, nutty, suite and spicy, bedazzled-with-reindeer-applique, time of the year!  So do yourself a solid and get out and enjoy some theater and cocktails and ugly sweater goodness.  And if you play your cards right – you can do so for FREE!

Hartford.com is hosting the annual (awesome) Ugly Sweater Christmas Stroll on December 13!  Enjoy Onyx cocktails at several Hartford hot spots, as well as a glorious Ugly Sweater.  Just post a picture of yourself in an ugly sweater on their Facebook or Twitter page to enter.  Here’s a glorious photoshop they did for me yesterday, as my sweater was too basic to really be considered ‘ugly’



CONNetic Dance is bringing their Suite and Spicy, totally awesome, uber hipster, Nutcracker to the Wadsworth for the 5th year in a row.  And oh what fun – they are also giving a pair of tickets away!  Just post a picture of yourself with a Nutcracker to their Facebook page by the end of today (Thursday) with the hashtags: #spicynutcrackerselfie #conneticdance.  There will be a sweet (and spicy!  haha!  puns) afterparty on Friday night at Nixs also.  I’ll be attending… hope to see you all there!

nutcracker selfie contest

Good luck everyone!

The Twelve Wines of Christmas, Courtesy of M & R Liquors

For the past ten years, M & R Liquors has celebrated the Holiday Season with a hand picked selection of 12 wines, chosen with festive celebrations in mind.  Ranging from deep red to bubbly, you’re guaranteed to find a wine to pair with your holiday party, dinner, or cocktail hour.  The ladies of M & R – Jessica and Patti – and I sat down to Burton’s take out (delicious!) and a sampling of all twelve last week, in order to get into the spirit of the season and bring you, dear reader, a recap of each and every delicious blend.

the ladies of m and r

Pictured left to right: Jessica Rounseville and Patti Paul of M & RPictured foreground: delicious salmon pasta from Burtons.

in my happy place

There are some things more festive than a holiday sweater and a wine tasting.  But I’m not sure what they are.  I’ll get back to you on that.

Without further ado, I bring you:



“A Partridge in a Pear Tree:” Charmes D’Magnol Bordeaux Blanc 2012 ($14.99) Why start with a Bordeaux Blanc?  Well for starters, its high acid content makes it a wonderful wine to pair with appetizers.  French wines are almost always designed with a food pairing in mind.  This particular blend hails from Bordeaux: a region well noted for its excellent grapes. It also boasts an impressive 88 points, courtesy of the Wine Enthusiast.  Recommended food pairing: goat cheese and crostini.


“2 Turtle Doves:” Chateau Maligny 1st Cru Chablis Fourchaume 2011 ($34.99)  As with many wines on this list, the folks at M & R have selected some of their favorites which carry, quite frankly, obscure labels – you’re not going to see a whole lot of “Chardonnay” on the label here, for example – although there are 100% Chardonnay grapes in the wine! The concept is to challenge the palate with new and exciting  This particular light and creamy wine hails from the Chablis vineyards, on a small family owned and operated estate. The flavor would pair very well with pasta in cream sauce, lobster, or a nice light cheese plate and green grapes.


“3 French Hens:” La Perliere Poilly Fuisse 2013 ($24.99) For those who might not know (I certainly did not – until the knowledgeable ladies of M & R clued me in) – “Pouilly Fuisse” refers to a white wine produced in four villages within the Mâconnais region of France.  This particular wine has 100% Chardonnay grapes, an excellent mouthfeel with mid crunchy characteristics, and a heavy load of spice and oak on the palate.  The spicy aspects in particular make this a great seasonal wine which will make you feel festive as you sip it.  Recommended food pairing: roast chicken or turkey.


“4 Calling Birds:” Limoux Terroir Les Garrigue – 4 Terroirs 2010 ($19.99) Another wine hailing from Burgundy, this particular blend has a higher acidity and less sugar content than ‘new world’ Chardonnays from Australia and California.  There is a high acid content with a beautiful color and clarity, and a smooth creamy mouthfeel in this wine.  The fruit characteristics would pair well with a seafood risotto.


“5 Golden Rings:” La Perliere Gevrey Chamgertin 2010 ($43.99) Moving from whites to red, we venture into the marvelous world of Burgundy’s Cote de Nuits district.  This particular wine is very reasonable priced, hailing as it does from a region that is home to a whopping nine Grand Cru vineyards.  The pinot noir grape is harde to work with, and this particular wine is 100% Pinot Noir and executed brilliantly, with a nice smoky aroma and a smooth and full bodied finish with a bright hint of blackberry and oak.  It would pair brilliantly with a salmon dish, or a nice steak filet.


“6 Geese a Laying:” Rubus Barossa Shiraz 2012 ($18.99) Leaving France for a minute, we venture to Australia to sip one of my favorite wines on the list.  It’s a deep, dark, bold red with a rich fruit flavor and just a hint of spice.  Hailing from Australia’s top wine producing region, this wine garners a total of 90 points from Wine Spectator.  It’s a bold, smoky red which would fit nicely with a roast at Holiday dinner.


“7 Swans a Swimming:” Double R Ranch North Coast Red Blend 2011 ($18.99) As a member of the Wine and Spirits Guild Group, M & R Liquors has the opportunity to produce its own blends throght it’s “Double R” label – named for Roy Rounseville, one of the founders of the company.  This is a classic California “big red” – a blend of eight grapes expertly capturing a berry palate with a many spicy layered notes.  A very popular wine in store, the recommended pairing for this is roast turkey.


“8 Maids a Milking:” Block 478 Napa Valley Cabernet 2012 ($19.99) Another big California red, this wine is new to M & R this year.  It’s a boutique blend with a great price point for its execution, with every grape coming from a small, intense 10 acre block to ensure a superb amount of attention to cultivation.  A very mature red with a liquorice and pepper palate, this wine is purely expressive of Napa Valley Cabernets.  Recommended pairing: flourless chocolate cake.


“9 Ladies Dancing” Block 627 Yountville Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 ($28.99) Another block Napa Cabernet, this particular blend can retail for over $160 per bottle – so its another steal at the price point.  Its a dense and firm red with a nice crunchy palate and a crisp finish – a premium grape with a sophisticated taste and notes of cherry and chocolate.  Again, this red would pair well with chocolate, or a bold protein such as duck.


“10 Lords a Leaping” Casarena Reserve Malbec 2011 ($19.99) This is an intensely sophisticated and delightful Malbec, hailing from the Casarena Vineyards near Mendoza, Argentina.  It is suberbly balanced and has a wonderfully deep, buttery mouthfeel with just of acid finish and beautiful deep clarity.  Drinking this wine, it’s easy to see why Malbec is such a hugely popular and trending blend.  Enjoy this wine paired with an exquisite charcuterie board to bring out all the complex characteristics of the grapes.


“11 Pipers Piping” Cuvee Papale Chateauneuf Du Pape 2010 ($39.99) Ah, a cuvee.  Known for its excellent, this one boasts a whopping 91 points from Wine Spectator.  The “chateauneuf” blend always has 13 different grapes in it, with one or two whites in the blend.  This is an excellently sophisticate wine with a notes of plum and graphite, and a nice subtle spice to finish its nose.  The grapes mesh perfectly into a buttery and concentrated red which will pair very well with a lamb dish.  Very highly recommended.


“12 Drummers Drumming:” Double R Ranch Sparkling Brut ($24.99) we paired this Brut with dessert and enjoyed its bubbles and fresh palate, with hints of vanilla and brioche.  A traditional champagne blend from Sonoma, the grapes are crisp and selected in the traditional Methode Champenoise.  This would also be a terrific choice to toast in the new year!

Funk Night at the Half Door and Open Studios with BALLOONS

Last weekend was very Hartfordy in all the right ways.  I met up with Emily, Nick, and Jon on Friday night for a very pleasant and mellow evening of good cheese, friendship, and funky music at the Half Door in Hartford

go snarknado go

It’s a mini #snarknado.  All my pictures from this event are dark because my camera’s flash is terrible!  Time for a camera perhaps?

For $35, we were treated to two drink tickets – good for funky beers, naturally – as well as all the funky cheese and grilled cheese we could eat.  Which turned out to be (surprise) a considerable amount of cheese:

funky cheese

I’m not proud of the things I did to the cheese plate.  But they happened and we move on

I first sampled a saison beer:

beer and pork belly

Paired with delectable pork belly.  Such win

nick caito pork

Nick Caito delicately liberates mutliple pork belly pieces from the tray for our table

We also sampled beer flights, in which I unknowingly ordered sample sizes of beers far outside of my comfort range:

beer flight

The Blueberry Nightmare was aptly named, let’s just put it at that.  Pretty photo by Emily who is a better photographer than I am.

I have it on good authority from a leading area Beer Snob that sour, mashy, decarbonated beers are about to become the next trendy “thing.”  Which needs I really need to develop my palate, as I was unable to appreciate the more ‘exotic’ samples in the flight.  Well, it’s not like they didn’t warn us – funk night, funky music, funky beer, funky cheese.  Speaking of funky music, the band was amazing:

funk band

And you had better believe people were dancing

But the crowning pinnacle of Funk Night, for me, was the grilled cheese bar.  Because the gods are kind, we sat in a booth perfectly positioned for multiple trips to said bar to load up on tasty, fresh grilled cheese on sourdough bread:

grilled cheese station

Thank you, oh Grilled Cheese Master

Not surprisingly, I rolled myself home quite early, extraordinarily full of beer, cheese, and happiness.  Which was fortuitous as the next day I volunteered for Open Studio Hartford!  Open Studio is a quite wonderful annual event featuring hundreds of local artists exhibiting their wares across multiple venues in Hartford.  I was selected for balloon duty – a noble honor indeed.

balloooon duty

I’m not saying I’m a little kid.  I just really like balloons.  Who doesn’t?

This fun volunteer activity involved tethering balloons to various locales in Hartford so that passers by would know they were of the Open Studio tour.  I had adorable help on Pratt Street in the form of Kerri Provost and Penelope:

balloons on the street

Who was, naturally, also very into the balloons

We stopped by Hartford Prints and I discovered their new Dinner Party line, which means now I have to throw a dinner party as an excuse to buy all the things:

set the perfect table

Look at the pretty, pretty paper ware

And also previewed the super cool Dada exhibit, which will be the site of a Welcome to Bohemia party tomorrow night!  I’m pretty stoked for this party, as Dada/Surrealism is my favorite art movement, and I also wrote my thesis in part on Dada:

dada storefront

Nothing says “Liberal Arts Major” quite like writing a thesis on absurdity

So yes, that promises to be a cool party tomorrow night – not to mention my first ever Welcome to Bohemia event, which is pretty awesome. We finished balloon tying and did a quick, and too brief tour, of Artspace.  I would have loved to stay longer,, but 20 month olds operate on very strict timelines, if you know what I mean:

art space

But look at the cool art

So we did a brief tour before making our way to a favorite lunch spot: Tangiers.  I had most delicious falafel and Penelope demonstrated her artistic talent drawing with her bean soup (I think she even ate some of it)

p and kerri

P was more interested in Auntie Kerri’s cookies.  Smart girl.

So that was quite the fun and Hartfordy weekend, and this upcoming one promises to be more of the same – the Mouth tonight at the Mark Twain House, One Big Event on Saturday and then, of course, the Dada party.  Have a great weekend everyone – and if you’re lucky enough to live in a city with plenty of artsy happenings and parties, get out and go to one, because they’re wicked fun.

An Outsider’s Guide to Hartford: #notaroadwarrior #hartfordhasit

hartford prints

Image by Hartford Prints


Recently, USA Today published “An insider’s guide to Hartford” – a slick piece of branded content (paid for by Hilton Homewood Suites) highlighting a tour of what to do in Hartford for someone who has never visited before.    Now, I’m all for branded content.  I WORK in advertising – I believe in the power of a good story to enhance your brand, and I don’t see any shame in selling your brand.  But I – and I believe I am not alone in this – DO take umbrage with insider tips offering up such unbelievable gems as: “stay out of Downtown Hartford,” whilst writing an “Insider’s Guide to Hartford.”


I don’t consider myself to be, in any way, a “Hartford insider.”  I know Harfordites who are born and raised and bred in this fine city but, real talk, I’ve only lived here four years.  I’m a global person, born and raised all over the world, and I am very, very proud to call Hartford home.  Sure, I live in the “suburbs” (technically the country).  Sure, the city has problems with income inequality, urban blight, and oh, many other things.  But this is a city alive with heart, history, and art, and it has oh so much to offer:

Mark Twain HouseOh nothing – just you know ONE OF THE MOST CLASSIC AUTHORS OF AMERICAN LITERATURE HAD A SWEET ASS HOUSE ON FARMINGTON AVENUE, AND YOU CAN TOUR IT.  Totally not worth a mention, USA Today.  Sheesh.

Real Art WaysThey currently have cats.  Also, nice parties every third Thursday.  And all kinds of cool art house cinema.  Among other things.  Highly recommended.

Dish and Sorella Two sisters restaurants nestled on main, serving up classic American favorites (Dish) and yummy wood fired pizza (Sorella).  Locally owned and operated and really, really good.  Dish just added brunch if you’re looking to brunch it up downtown also.

WadsworthOh I don’t know.  Only the oldest art museum in America.  No big deal.  Home to several stories of art, rotating exhibits (Caravaggio was a recent favorite of mine), First Thursday art parties, and a HUGE year in 2015 including a cool new Coney Island Exhibit.  Within walking distance of Dish – so maybe brunch and then an art gallery?  There are worse ways to spend a Sunday.

MaxYeah, Max Fish is pretty neat (especially the bloody mary bar on Sundays – woohoo!) but you really can’t go wrong with Trumbull Kitchen for small plates and happy hour, or Max Downtown for a more formal and classic dining experience.  Oh hey, both are located downtown.  In Hartford.  The city, you know, not the county.  Look at that!

Comerio.  If you want authentic, delicious Puerto Rican empanadas with every sort of shell imaginable (potato, pie crust, corn meal, etc all stuffed with delicious meats and cheeses): go to Comerio.  Bring cash and be amazed at how much you can get for just a little coin.  And enjoy the friendly locals who will be happy to help you find a selection if you’re not familiar with Puerto Rican counter cuisine.

Bushnell and Elizabeth ParkOh sorry, did you just eat your own weight in empanadas?  Happens to me all the time.  Walk (or run!) them off at the Bushnell park, located in the heart of the city.  It’s a wee park but the way that the paths are set up, you can do a decent circuit.  And you can also enjoy laughing children skating on a free ice rink provided by the city during Winterfest in a couple weeks: adorable.  Elizabeth Park is nestled in the west end, and featured miles of trails, tennis courts, a kick ass rose garden, and The Pond House Cafe.  Both also host regular festivals and free movies and the like.  Fun.

Hartford Stage.  An award winning professional theater, currently showing a gritty reboot of Hamlet, directed by Darko Tresnjack, which I am very excited to see later on this week.  Very cool.

Pratt Street Shopping.  More than one place to stop here folks.  Get some amazing Hartford postcards (or Holiday cards!) at Hartford Prints.  Shop for something avant garde, edgy, and affordable at Niro.  Or pick up a sleek, tailored suit at Stackpole, Moore and Tyron.  Step into the Tobacco Shop and purchase a quality cigar or two.  Point is, masculine or feminine, there is a fun shopping experience to be had here.

Bushnell Center for Performing Arts – a truly stunning performing arts center – hosting dozens of musical and events every year and home to the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.  A wonderful spot to get a fix of pop, classical, or modern culture on the stage.  I recently saw Wicked here and it was fantastic.

Front St/On 20 – Front St’s bar scene is growing better and better every day.  Have a cocktail an Nixs and go see a movie.  Have a cocktail at Nixs and catch a show at infinity bistro.  Have a cocktail at Nixs and catch a movie at Spotlight (and also, have a cocktail in the movie theater too, yay).  Have several cocktails and then drunk BBQ at Bears SmokehouseOk, I like cocktails – it’s obvious yes?  Another good and close by to Front St hot spot – On 20  Their new happy hour menu is matched by stunning vistas of the city and the Connecticut River.  Oh and last, but certainly not least for Front St?  The Capital Grille.  Steaks and Stoli Dolis.  You can’t go wrong.

TisaneA favorite of Hartford’s underground scene, Tisane is right up the road on Farmington Avenue.  A vibrant tea bar, free wifi, and a lush, hip atmosphere are balanced against a euro-asian food menu and – wait for it – really good cocktails.  This is my favorite meeting spot/work away from the office spot/I don’t really need an excuse to go here, ok, I don’t.  I spend a lot of time at Tisane.  You should too!

TangiersFalafels.  And falafels.  And more falafels.  And some of the nicest, most gracious wait staff you’ll ever meet.  This amazing family owned business offers Middle Eastern specialties and also stocks grocery items.  it’s always a delight to go here, and Tangiers is also on Farmington Avenue, so stop by after Tisane perhaps?

CONNetic Dance/Trashion Fashion/Sea Tea Improv/Hartford Hot Several: There are too many amazing arts associations to name all of them (hello! Open Studios!) but three stand out to me for offering so much in the way of visual and performance art.  CONNetic produces a hip version of the Nutcracker and also offers modernistic twists on ballet classics.  Trashion upcycles your clean waste into amazing gowns.  Sea Tea Improv will make you laugh and pops up in the most unexpected places and will help you with your pop up wedding if you’re so inclined.  And the Hartford Hot Several somewhat defy description, but if you’ve never seen a WNPR personality banging on a trash can in the name of glorious, silly, marching band music, you haven’t really lived.  Yeah, Hartford has all that.  And we also have our own hashtag!  #Hartfordhasit

So sure, in all fairness, perhaps it helps that I am NOT a road warrior, dashing from place to place, enamored with questionable margaritas.  I do indeed, through my job, get a chance to savor, appreciate, and experience all the arts, culture, food, and fashion that Hartford has to offer.  But the point is: it’s all there.  Go out and enjoy it.  Leave the suburbs at the weekend and enjoy the city – catch an improv class, a puppet play, a great meal, and tour an art gallery or two.  There’s nothing stopping you from appreciating all this and more.  I’m sure I missed a bunch of cool stuff, so please add in the comments if you’re so inclined.

Artini, Halloween, and Some Cool Cats @RealArtWays … Oh My

I love Halloween.  It’s my second favorite holiday (because Christmas – and even that I go back and forth about).  And I love that this year I had the perfect excuse to dress up in a classy, fabulous way the night before for ARTini – the Greater Hartford Arts Council‘s signature martini fundraiser.  Not that there’s anything wrong, whatsoever with going out the night of in a cute little costume (I guess??) but for me, Halloween is all about Penelope and her trick or treating (more to follow on that).  So it truly was the best of both worlds that Carolyn, Emily, and I (plus friends) all congregated to drink cocktails and support the arts:

snarknado gang

“The gang” aka #snarknado

Photo courtesy of Alex Syphers for CTnow

The Greater Hartford Arts Council’s choice of venue for this year’s event was impeccable: the Gershon Fox Ballroom at Marquee Events is very art deco:

art deco interior

So sparkly

Also adding to the theme: a curated art show and Trashion Fashion models

trashion model

So cool

But the main focus of the event was, of course, the martini samples. A full list is as follows:

Capital Grille – The Stoli Doli

Cheesecake Factory – Strawberry Martini

City Steam – Maple Mudslide

Hooker Brewery – Beer & Stout

Hotel California Tequila – Pancha’s Last Stand

Max Downtown – The Mayflower

Onyx Moonshine – Thanksgiving in a Cup

Vito’s by the Park – Kettle Corn Pear and Salted Caramel

I only captured a few pictures of the drinks – as I was busy drinking them:

cheers ladies

So thanks again to Alex Sypher for this amazing picture of the Stoli Dolis.  If you haven’t tried this frothy pineapple delicacy – which is simply vodka marinated with pineapples – then get to the Capital Grille STAT.  It’s their signature cocktail.

A couple more highlights:

maple mudslide

Maple Mudslides from City Steam.  Only one of my very favorite cocktails – plus maple flavor.  Oh goodness.  And I must get these candles from the Hodgepodge

Hands down, my favorite cocktail of the evening was served up by Max Downtown:


The Mayflower, served up by their Master Mixologist, Brian Mitchell.  In impeccable bar attire, naturally

Any night that ends with eating delicious Whitney Ave pizza of couple of flappers is a good night in my book:

late night pizza with flappers

Such win

I stayed the night at Carolyn’s so that we could get up bright and early the next day to attend the Metro Hartford Alliance Rising Stars breakfast:

hartford stage


At the iconic Hartford Stage Company, no less

And then of course, after work, it was onto the evening’s festivities and I would imagine the reason most of you are reading this: Penelope’s Halloween festivities!

bee and pumpkin

Is bumblebee.  Bzzzz bzzz bzz

Our next door neighbor has a little boy just a couple months older from P, so naturally they went out together in a wagon:

wagon rides

And naturally he was a crocodile

walking to the door

Cuteness level: 1000%

After the tiny trick or treating, a couple friends came over for dinner:

amanda and matt

Hello lovely friends!

We enjoyed a really nice bottle of pinot noir, which was a gift from one of our partners at the Courant (to each employee!) in honor of our 250th:

sparrow hawk pinot noir


As well as a pitcher of delicious Onyx Moonshine and honeycrisp apple cider:
onyx and vogue

Hands down, one of the best fall libations you can make, and so simple too!  I mean, two ingredients simple

We had a full spread of food:

plate of food

On owl plates, naturally.  See, some people have to bust things like this out just for Halloween, but I use owl plates year round.  Perhaps THAT’S why I enjoy the holiday so much

table decor halloween

I also pretended to be Martha Stewart.  Badly.  Those are “pumpkin bags.”  Crafting is not really my “thing.” Ah well.

The rest of the weekend was equally lovely, topped off with a visit to the first ever cat installation over at Real Art Ways:

art installation cats raw

“Cats in Residence”

Penelope is a crazy cat lady in training – girl loves her some kitty cat.

with kitty

And the kitties were all very nice and gentle with her

As well as ‘cat art’ on the walls, all the cats in the installation are from the local cat rescue shelter CT Cat Connection and available for adoption.  The installation is in place through December, so you have plenty of time to go to Real Art Ways and bond with the kitties – perhaps take one home to a forever home?

kitty t

I wore my Big Bang Theory t shirt and made an elegant speech on Penelope’s behalf to her father as to why we should adopt a kitty.  I was overruled, alas.  By Penelope’s father.  At least we can visit the kitties often at the exhibit and with our many friends who have cats!

I hope everyone’s Halloween weekend was equally fantastic.  Now on to Thanksgiving, Christmas and the rest of the Holiday Season!  Fun times ahead!