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.”

Really?

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:

mayflower

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

yum

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!

 

Happy Halloween! Let’s drink #REDRUM @NIXSHartford

Happy Halloween friends!  As a huge Halloween and horror story fan, I recommend Nixs Hartford this holiday for all your festivity related needs (as long as they are alchohol and party related – that’s what they do best after all).

Rich Clemens has been featured here before, and is an amazing mixologist, came up with a #redrum cocktail which is both delicious and an amazing reference to The Shining -

brady twins

Cue creepy Brady Twins, hello ladies

It’s a delicious libation, and it involves hand carbonation:

ze carbonation process

Hey, thanks Anthony!

And then it’s served in a VERY crowd friendly glass bottle, oh yaaas

red rum oh yeah

Soo into it

The ingredients are as follows:

hallo my beauty

Pyrat Rum, Sloe Gin, Coconut Water, Amaretto, lime juice, pineapple juice

Oh yeah, and it’s only $6.  So there’s that.  Nixs has a whole slew of Halloween activities planned – a Pyrat (rum) party tonight, with $500 in prizes (for sexiest costume and best pirate costume).  Tomorrow, there will be a “Dia de los Muertos” party with an additional $500 in prizes (wow yourself)

And last, but certainly not least, Sunday will bring a “Day of the Drag,” hosted by the one and only Amanda Lepore and Maritat Bonita, music by International DJ Producer, Scotty Thompson, and an additonal $500 in prizes!

 

Old School Glamour for the @HartfordCourant #250Gala and Old School Vintage for the Posh Sale @TheWadsworth

Sometimes, a night comes along which is 250 years in the making.  Starting in 1776 with the first printing of the Connecticut Courant – a paper which supercedes the United States in age, and which printed the Declaration of Independence.  Today, October 29th, is actually the official anniversary – so Happy Birthday to this publication!  A paper which boasted its first female Publisher withing three lifecycles of ownership and continues that tradition with Nancy Meyer to this day.  I’m talking of my place of work, the Hartford Courant, and the black tie gala at the equally magical Bushnell which took place last Friday eve.

bushnell stars in the sky

Shining stars and a red carpet.  Such dreamy things

The event was the official celebration of 250 years of continuous operation for the Hartford Courant, which is admittedly a pretty big deal.

There were publishers old and new present:
nancy in the media

Including the lovely Nancy Meyer.  Pictured with a gorgeous set of coworkers!

Ballerinas dressed by the ladies of Trashion Fashion in newspaper gowns:

trashion ballerina

Prepping with Amy in the dressing room!

bsllerinas dressing room

So pretty – and Nina Salazar’s tights are fab too

bustier selfie

And heck yeah, a newspaper bustier designed just for me!

Blo of West Hartford styled all the models’ hair – as well as my own:

blo poster

Just fab as always, thanks!

And the ladies were onsite to assist guests with newspaper accessories – also designed by the Trashion Team:

ballerina headband

Here is Penelope modeling her very own newspaper headband, because of course she needed one too

There was a cocktail hour featuring delicious Onyx Moonshine cocktails – a fitting libation for a historical event!

gorgeous onyx bar

Such a pretty bar set up!

onyx moments

Sharing #onyxmoments with the lovely Rachael Forker

Cartoonist Bob Englehart was on hand sketching caricatures of guests:

bob cartoonist

Cool guy

And at the seated dinner, some very fortunate guests dined on the stage

tables on the stage at the bushnell

Photo courtesy of Alex Syphers for CTNow

We ate in a nearby atrium, which features my favorite Chihuly glass sculpture:
chihully glass

Love it – the fact that it’s red and just fit in with the decor was a happy coincidence.  And I didn’t capture a picture (the horror!) but the feast provided by the Max Catering Group was simply delightful – Head Chef Scott Miller pulled off a spectacular spread, and on his birthday no less!  Thanks Scott.

After dinner, there were speeches galore:
dannel malloy

Including remarks from Dannel Malloy, fetchingly dressed in a Vineyard Vines tie specifically designed for the Courant!

your moments in history

So preppy and awesome

And at the end of the evening, a dance floor arose on the Bushnell stage – which was probably the coolest part of the entire evening:
stage

Wow yourself

Seeing Michael was out of town, I lucked out on a very special dance partner – Amanda Reese (married to Josh Reese, CEO of Camp Courant)

selfies with Amanda

Girl can twirl

Speaking of Camp Courant – the entire gala was a fundraiser for Camp Courant, and over $90,000 was raised for the charity. Hurrah!  Here’s to history.

Speaking of history… the next morning Penelope and I headed over to the Design Source of CT together for a very special preview of the Posh Sale.   I attended a posh sale several years back and wrote about it here (actually – I wrote about it for http://www.ct.com before it rebranded and I have no idea why the article is on the Sun Sentinel now except that it’s our sister company – huh).  I thoroughly enjoyed the first one I attended and I am really looking forward to this upcoming incarnation, November 7-9th.  It’s also a charity event, to benefit the Wadsworth Atheneum’s Textile Society, and that means, well, vintage clothes galore:

vintage cabbage patch doll

Also: vintage cabbage patch dolls

christmas ham

Posing in an oversized hat for the “papparazzi” aka fellow bloggers Carolyn and Kerri (left to right)

shoe heaven

Shoes of every style and stripe imaginable – male and female!

zalo shoes

More shoes

dobbs hat yah

Don Draper hats, very hot

vintage lilly

Vintage Lilly Pulitzer.  No one else is allowed to buy this

vintage baby coat and hat

Teeny vintage baby coats (too small for P, alas)

j crew rack

A whole rack of J Crew (glorious)

coat and blazer

Sturdy and classically tailored wool suits

argyle coat that Diane stole jk

Soft, buttery houndstooth coats

throwback jumpsuit

Cool throwback jumpsuits.  Not my size but if it was, I would definitely swap out the buttons and wear this. 

Truly something for every fashionista (or fashion guy) of any shape, size, or persuasion can be had at this sale.  Plus, you’re shopping for a good cause so it’s basically charity work.  Hurrah!  Mark your calendars – I hope to see you there xo

 

 

 

@marchofdimesct Signature Chefs Auction at the Riverview in Simsbury

Man oh man.  Black coffee and blogging at 6 am?  This is the LIFE.  In other news, I don’t recognize the productive morning person I am becoming.  But, faced with a super busy week (husband out of town traveling, our black tie 250th gala tonight, hair appointment at Blo for said gala during my lunch break) I am fitting things in where I can, as one does as a mommy, a blogger, and a working professional.  And that includes setting my alarm an hour and a half early in order to recap the amazing time Leeanne and I enjoyed at the Riverview in Simsbury last week, for the March of Dimes Signature Chefs Gala!  If you missed this one, there will be another in Fairfield on November 5th too – right around the corner.

a recipe for healthy babies

A recipe for healthy babies!  Awwww

Let’s back up for just a minute and look at what the March of Dimes accomplishes.  They are the premiere charity dedicated to eradicating, whenever possible, premature delivery (which leads, naturally to health complications for mamas and their babies) as well as for providing the best possible care for preemies?  What a good cause, is my point.  I was honored to get an email requesting I attend the event as a blogger, and I did receive a free ticket (plus a guest – ie/ the lovely Leeanne) from the charity.

selfies with leeanne ftw also rizuttos cocktail

A rare Leeanne selfie.  I’d like to thank Suzie Hunter for making this possible

The Signature Chef’s Auction takes place annually, with a bunch of big hearted chefs joining forces to offer gourmet bites of food and small samples of cocktails, while guests mingle and enjoy a silent and live auction:

mickey mouse

I didn’t bid, but if I had, it would have definitely been on this Disney experience package.  So fun.  P is excited to meet Mickey Mouse.  Someday (soon) it’s going to happen.

In addition to the silent auction, guests enjoyed a live bidding, which Leeanne and I unfortunately missed as we were both tired and didn’t stay for more than an hour or two, although we thoroughly enjoyed circling the gorgeous Riverview space during the time that we were present, and saying hello to a bunch of our friends who were there working the event:

plan b

Starting with Plan B burgers.  Quite simply the best.  I snatched a ‘to go’ second burger on the way out because I’m obsessed and they were quite kind about my greed, ha.  Also, mini is the perfect size/shape for a burger, in my opinion, and I love that Plan B will make any of their regular burgers with toppings into minis upon request in their restaurants!  OK, end burger rant.

Having started with beef, we moved onto seafood:

bobby vs

Seared tuna FTW

The above delicate bite was from Bobby V’s, an upscale sports bar and lounge located in Windsor Locks:

sweet set up and bobby vs

Kudos for the signature table settings too!  Very cool.

Next up, we sampled a delectable and complex serving of short rib stuffed in pepper from Barcelona:

barcelona peppers

So very pretty

Side note: Leeanne seriously has a photographic memory when it comes to dishes/ingredients.  I was having difficulty taking notes and balancing the plates (plus I was distracted/excited by all the wonderful food and cute baby photos) and she repeated all the ingredients to me, which was seriously nice and also seriously impressive!

march of dimes leeanne photo

And she took this nice picture of the back of my dress/necklace detail!  She is the best

In addition to the food stuffs, there were plenty of libations being poured.  Our friends at Onyx are always nice to see out and about:

linley

The lovely Linley pouring several options for the Onyx (my favorite was the cider/apple Onyx combo – so very good)

Another high note for drinks came form Rizutto’s, who were present with a lovely bite of braised lamb and parsnip/potato mash:
risottos plate

Yum.

Paired with it was a really delightful cocktail called “The Orchard.”  I didn’t snap a picture of it and the event, but I may or may not have ordered a full sized version of the same drink at lunch today:

the orchard

The Orchard – house infused apple vodka, Lillet, sage garnish

So yes, very very nice.  We also enjoyed burnt ends sliders from Bear’s Smokehouse:

bears with burnt ends

Thanks Jamie – delicious as always

What goes well with BBQ?  Beer, naturally.  And Hooker Beer was conveniently located next to Bears (nice placement)

hooker beer selection

I sampled the Munich Style – even tho Watermelon Ale is my favorite – it just seemed like a better seasonal choice (it was the right call, especially to pair with the burnt ends)

There were many more plates to try, but I was filling up fast, so I went straight to dessert and enjoyed a really, really, really, really good cookiewich from Taste by Spellbound:

taste by spellbound

Choose your cookie, choose your filling.  I did red velvet with maple frosting and regretted nothing

But let’s not lose sight of what the event was all about – a fundraiser to help babies!  There were plenty of adorable baby photos everywhere to make sure that was top of mind during the evening:

ze babies awww

Sooo cute

Thanks again to the March of Dimes for the invite.  I’ve been connecting more with the coordinators, and I’m looking forward to walking in their March for Babies Greater Hartford in 2015!

Our 4th wedding anniversary @Atlantisresort

Happy 4th anniversary to my husband, Michael.  On October 21st, 2010, we carved our names into a tree outside of a courthouse in Vegas:

October 21

Perfect for the type B bride who elopes and easily forgets dates!

Ascended the Stratosphere

stratosphere

So high in the air

And said “I do:”

our wedding

The dress is BCBG and I bought it online without trying it on.  It fit perfectly.  I get lucky sometimes (in love too!  I mean, obviously)

It’s more traditional to do something ‘big’ for five years, but then again, we’re not really traditional people.  So we decided to head off, without little Penelope, to Atlantis Resort a couple weeks ago to commemorate our wedding in a big way.

balcony view

Thanks for the free balcony upgrade, Atlantis!  And the amazing trip

As the view above demonstrates better than a thousand words, Paradise Island (Freeport, Bahamas) is an absolutely idyllic locale.  The island vibe is happy, serene, and as relaxing as listening to the palm trees on the beach.  We enjoyed every minute of our four day, three night stay, although I think that we both agreed that the family friendly nature of the resort meant that the next trip back would definitely be with Penelope present.  There are large, clean, kid friendly pools…

pool yaaas

Whoa.  Yeah.

…awesome water slides (terrific) super aquariums (sharks! wow), and a really cool looking kids’ club.  So yeah, there was some natural parental guilt when I pictured how much P would have enjoyed the pools, being the little water baby that she is:
P1010483

Seen here enjoying a pool with Daddy on Sanibel Island last Christmas in Florida.  Man, that kid was bald back in the day

But – sometimes it’s really nice to have one on one time with someone you love.  And if that one on one time happens in paradise?  Well, heck, might as well roll with it.  So I relaxed, and we thoroughly enjoyed our vacation.

lying down

From the beach/grottos (that’s me, manatee style)

To the casino:

w the sculpture

Note Mike’s yard long daiquiri please.  The man loves his daiquiris

To our off resort field trip to Senor Frogs:

baby mike and kat

Our first trip to Senor Frogs in 2009

four years later

And in 2014!  I think Mike wore those same board shorts in 2009.  Might be time for a new pair ;)

In addition to the pool, beach, casino, and bar excursions, I went on a food quest: to eat conch in every form I could find it.  I had reasonable success but I believe I could have done better and will try to raise the bar next trip:
johny rockets

Conch chowder at Johnny Rockets?  Love it

preparing the conch salad

Conch crudo prepared fresh on the sea (literally, in a boat) ceviche style with lime and tomato

mimosa brunch

Stewed conch in gravy for breakfast (pictured right on that very full brunch plate)

awesome grouper

Ok, this is a picture of grouper.  But there were conch fritters at the meal.  We just ate them all before I could take a picture – it happens – and the grouper was very, very good

In addition to the Conch Quest, I crossed an item off my foodie bucket list and went to Nobu for the first time.  Michael and i both loved it, and my favorite items were the lychee martini with elderflower and the salmon wrapped in pear, which is a flavor combination I still fantasize about:

photo 3

Really masterful pairing, both in flavors and texture

In addition to the pools, the beaches, the really cool water slides, and all the aforementioned eating, there was a nice little cluster of shops on the resort.  I believe in duty free whenever possible, and I was very happy to score a travel perfume for myself:

chanel

yaaaas

And a Barbie perfume set for P:

barbie perfume set

Which she absolutely loves because of course she does

And, of course, I wore as much Lilly Pulitzer as possible in a four day period:

photo 2

Dress from Silkworm!

lilly t

Also from Silkworm.  Come to think of it – most of my Lilly is from Silkworm.  Thanks for being a northern outpost for this awesome southern brand, Erica!

We stayed at the Royal Towers at the resort, which is the mid price range option, and very centrally located, which is nice, because as you can probably imagine, the resort itself is friggin’ enormous:

atlantis arches

And also, really gorgeous

When we return, I think it will be to the Royal Towers.  And it most likely is a question of if, not when, as the entire vacation was really lovely from start to finish, and all the family friendly elements of Atlantis will make it a great destination to return with P in the years to come.  So goodbye for now Atlantis:

rum cake yaaas

And goodbye rum cake, which definitely did not survive the plane ride home.  Because I ate it.

Until, we hope, very soon!  And thanks to all the lovely people we met on the island who helped us to celebrate our four year anniversary in such a wonderful way.  And to my husband, if you overcome your hatred of social media long enough to read this – I love you very much, and happy anniversary.