Summers at the Market

Disclosure: I provide social media assistance for the Collinsville Farmers Market. This review is my own and does not represent the thoughts or views of the vendors and board members of the Collinsville Farmers Market and/or the Canton Advocates for Responsible Expansion, Inc..

Summer is (finally!) here! After what seems like forever, the weather is now warm enough to really experience the awesome things Connecticut has to offer outdoors. One of my favorite activities is attending local farmers markets. Farmers markets give me the opportunity to support local businesses, buy fresh and local produce, and experience things I may not get to otherwise.

Fun in Collinsville

Collinsville Farmers MarketLast Sunday was the first day of the Collinsville Farmers Market’s 2017 season, and I couldn’t be more excited about it! I have been going to the Collinsville Farmers Market since 2008, and love its relaxed and fun atmosphere. The vendors are awesome too! I love looking at the flowers from Syme Family Farm and getting vegetables from Gresczyk Farms. Another vendor I like is Heirloom Kitchen, who specializes in gluten-free foods. There aren’t a lot of places that can make a great gluten-free muffin, but Heirloom Kitchen is one of them!

One of the nice things about the Collinsville Farmers Market is its location. The market is set up in the center of Collinsville, and is a stone’s throw away from local restaurants and shops. For me, every visit to the Collinsville Farmers Market begins with an iced coffee from LaSalle Market and Deli. Their restaurant is always busy, and the coffee is fantastic! Another fun store to peruse is the America the Beautiful Country Store, which is full of authentic Amish furniture and products. Coming to the Collinsville Farmers Market is a great way to spend a Sunday morning!

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Running Ragged

Have you ever had one of those days (or weeks…or months) where you have done so many things that eventually your mind and body begs you to slow down and let it catch up? Well, that has been me since my last entry. So many things (both good and bad) have happened since the Women’s March on Hartford that I haven’t had the time to sit and reflect. So, here I am.

January

At the very end of January, I got to do two very exciting things. First, I got to check out a New York Islanders game at Barclays Center. This was the first time I ever visited the Barclays, and I was impressed by the grandeur of it. Some say that it’s not a great arena for watching hockey because of the smaller rink size, but it did have great sight lines! I was up in the nosebleeds for this game, and I was able to have a good view of the entire rink. I was also next to the Blue and Orange Army (a group of Islanders fans that is the hockey equivalent of the Mets 7-Line Army), which was pretty fun!

Next was my Winter Regional Weekend for chorus in Newport, RI. Our regional weekends are the Sweet Adelines version of conferences for different professions. They’re held at hotels around our region, and there are a variety of seminars we can take to help us further improve our craft. This weekend was held at the Newport Marriott, which was absolutely GORGEOUS! The hotel is decorated with a nautical theme (because what else do you do when you’re literally next to the Atlantic Ocean), but in a classy and upscale fashion. The rooms have what looked to be white sails as a headboard against the beds, and ropes around the lights as decoration. The gym was also a plus for my visit – it scales two floors, so you can fit a “full size” gym into a smaller space. I found it to be very clean and able to meet my exercizing needs. The best part about the hotel was how central it was to shopping and restaurants!

February

As far as months go, February was the craziest. Every weekend was filled with some sort of activity or obligation. I held a small Superbowl party at my house with my closest friends, which was pretty fun. A couple weeks later was my dad’s 60th birthday, so we held a surprise party for him at home. This was an exciting (yet completely nerve-wracking) event; tons of family and friends came, and we got delicious food and desserts from Hall’s Market and Cake Gypsy to satisfy the crowd. My dad was surprised and happy about the party!

One weekend, I went skiing with a friend at Mount Southington, a small ski area in Central Connecticut. I’m pretty familiar with Mount Southington as my elementary school went there for Ski Club. It wasn’t the enormous monstrosity I thought it was as a child, but it was still a ton of fun! The trails are excellent for novice skiiers; the one black diamond trail they have felt like more of a blue square to me. My friend and I took on the slopes for a few hours until the biting cold finally brought us indoors for the day.

Another weekend led to a trip to Mohegan Sun to see the band Pop Evil at the Wolf Den. The Wolf Den is an awesome venue to begin with – there is literally no bad seat in the house. The tickets to shows at the Wolf Den are free; but seating is first come first serve as a result. My friend and I took refuge at the bar behind the Wolf Den (since the line to get in was enormous), and it turned out to be the best idea we had all evening. We had a direct view of the stage, so I got to see and hear everything perfectly! Pop Evil put on a spectacular show – they were fun, engaging, and got everybody on their feet. There was even an elderly couple swing dancing to their songs! I definitely want to see them again!

Finally, last weekend led to a couple culinary adventures in Middletown. My friends and I went to Krust, which is an up-and-coming pizza bar in NoRa. The restaurant has a minimalist, hipster aesthetic which allows the visitor to focus on the delicious food. Their pizza is topped with unique ingredients (brussel sprouts, for one), which separates them from other restaurants in the area. I was fortunate to find they had gluten-free crust available for my pizza. However, on this particular night my first pizza got burnt, and the second one was undercooked. The staff were really nice to me about it, though, and I know they were making an effort to make sure I got something good to eat. I would definitely visit Krust again, particularly because of the staff experience!

The second place we went was Zero Degree Thai Ice Cream. The concept of their restaurant is cool – the ice cream is made in front of you on an antigriddle, and you get unlimited toppings on it. However, I did not feel the “flair” was worth the hour long wait. The ice cream itself wasn’t as good as I thought it would be when I got it, which was a disappointment. If you want to visit Zero Degree, make sure you do it at a day and time where it won’t be crowded. You may have a better experience than I did.

Happy 2017!

Happy 2017 from Outside my Nine to Five! Like most people, my holidays were filled with family, shopping and (of course) food. I was able to do a few things that were fun since my last entry, though! Here’s a quick recap of the end of 2016:

Not Just Another Holiday Show

After Simsbury Celebrates was my chorus’s annual holiday concert. As the name indicates, it wasn’t your typical holiday concert. We had trivia, “elves” running up and down the aisles handing out candy canes, an opera singer, and the most entertaining version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” I have ever witnessed in my life. Picture a church sanctuary, people sitting in the pews anticipating their turn to sing along. As their day of Christmas is called, they joyfully spring out of their seats and pantomime the animal or object given that day. As time goes on they try to outdo the other groups and show that yes, their day of Christmas was indeed the best day. My chorus was standing on the risers watching the absolute hilarity occurring in front of us; wondering “How are we going to top this next year?” Needless to say, this concert was one for the record books. Continue reading “Happy 2017!”

De-stress in Northampton

Catching Up

The past few weeks haven’t been too out of the ordinary. I had one weekend where I didn’t stray far from home. Then there was Halloween.  I had attempted to attend the New Britain Museum of American Art‘s Museum After Dark Halloween party that Friday night.  This event is SUPER popular: people come in amazing homemade costumes, and there are lots of fun things to do. This year was so packed that the event was sold out before 7 PM…and I hadn’t pre-ordered my ticket. Night one of Halloween weekend = bust. The next night, a group of my friends and I went to Rooftop 120 in Glastonbury for their Halloween party. I will admit to not being impressed with it; the contests they were holding were poorly organized and it took WAY too long to hand out the prizes for them.

After Halloween I went out to a Hartford Wolfpack game with one of my friends. We got dinner at Agave Grill beforehand, and it was DELICIOUS! I got the enchiladas, which I really enjoyed. Then…a little event called the Presidential election happened. Like a lot of people I know, the aftermath of the election really stressed me out. Fortunately, I found a way to escape: grab a bunch of my friends and go to Northampton! Continue reading “De-stress in Northampton”

Opening Weekends

October is the best time of the year for many reasons: Halloween, fall festivals, and the beginning of hockey season! The past two weekends I have gone to opening night for the UCONN men’s hockey team, the Hartford Wolfpack and the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. All of the games were fun for various reasons, and all resulted in victories for the home team. Read on to see what happened!

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Southington Apple Harvest Festival

Two weekends ago was the opening of the Southington Apple Harvest Festival. Unfortunately, it was also the first weekend where we’ve had rain in over a month. The showers and blustery cold didn’t get me down, though. I had so much fun!

Downtown Southington

The Apple Harvest Festival takes place in the center of Southington, an area I know very well. When I was a kid, I learned to play clarinet at Apple Music when they were on Center Street. Walking down Center Street with my mom after music lessons was one of the highlights of my day, especially in the winter when the holiday decorations were out! Downtown has evolved since then, and in a good way. There are numerous restaurants and shops encompassing Main and Center streets, giving the curious wanderer lots of places to stop.

The Festival – but mostly about the food.

One of the main reasons people attend the Apple Harvest Festival is the famous Zion Lutheran Church apple fritters. The lines can get ridiculous! Unfortunately for me, there’s this thing called gluten that gets in the way. However, there were so many other options for me to enjoy! My friend and I got our dinner from the local Boy Scout troop, which was cooking grinders and baked potatoes. We both enjoyed our meal and supporting the Scouts. Then I found Hardcore Sweet Cupcakes, who had been at the Mum Festival a few weeks before! I was so excited to see them there because I had purchased a gluten free blueberry lemonade cupcake at the Mum Festival and really enjoyed it. This time, I got a gluten free lemon cupcake (I don’t remember the name at the moment), which I unfortunately found to be a little dry. Finally, my friend and I got soft serve ice cream with the signature topping of the evening – hot apple filling! As odd as it sounds, it tasted amazing – like eating the inside of an apple pie with vanilla ice cream!

Aside from the food, there were a lot of different vendors representing community groups around Southington. My friend and I took refuge from the rain and cold in the First Congregational Church of Southington craft show, which was a fun thing to see. The craft show had quilted items, homemade goods and franchise booths (i.e. Tastefully Simple). They also had a small raffle which had a few items of interest to me.

Despite the rain, it was great to get out and enjoy a community festival!

B – Weekend

I am not sure how this happened, but this weekend I explored places that each had the letter ‘B’ somewhere in the name. Hence, the ‘B’ – weekend!

Crystal Bees

My weekend started out with an evening at Crystal Bees in Southington for Radio 104.1’s Cashapalooza Live. This event provides the opportunity to win $104 every 15 minutes on top of other prizes. Considering I’m a twenty-something with loans to pay, the potential to win free money and prizes was a definite draw.

When I entered Crystal Bees, I was shocked to see just how huge it was. My guess is that they retrofitted an old industrial space and turned it into a massive arena of fun. One side of Crystal Bees has a video arcade with a mix of classic (Skee-Ball, basketball, air hockey) and modern games (they have Flappy Bird!), and a cornhole and bocce court. The other side consists of a bowling alley and a bar and bistro with plenty of seating. Throughout Crystal Bees, there are big screens that project either local television or a wide array of music videos.

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New Hampshire Part One – Meredith and Lost River Gorge

Greetings! The end of August was my much-needed vacation to the Lakes Region of New Hampshire, near Lake Winnepesaukee. I’ve been coming up here for the past few years with my family, and it has always been an adventure! I’ve done a lot of different activities, including swimming and relaxing at the house my family rented.

Meredith

We have been staying in Meredith, NH since we started vacationing here in 2014. It’s a small lake community with a quiet, beautiful downtown. At least once a day I will walk from the lake house and visit some of the shops, hoping to find a souvenir or two during my excursion. One of the best parts of downtown is Hermit Woods Winery, which specializes in fruit wines made on-site. They hold wine tastings every day and winery tours on the weekends. My favorite wine to purchase from them is their Harvest Apple, a smooth golden wine that is sweet without being overpowering.

Continue reading “New Hampshire Part One – Meredith and Lost River Gorge”

Ipswich

The beginning of this month a very emotional time for me. We had to put one of my dogs down that Tuesday, so my family was still recovering from that loss. At my brother’s request, we took a trip up to my grandmother’s in Ipswich, MA to visit him that Saturday. While we were up there, we were able to visit a few of our favorite places.

Downtown Ipswich

Ipswich may be small, but it has a beautiful and quaint downtown! One of my favorite places in downtown Ipswich is Zumi’s. Zumi’s is a small coffee shop with a warm, community atmosphere. It prides itself on serving sustainably sourced coffee and treats, and supporting the local and international community. The coffee is also delicious, which is a plus! I usually get a French Vanilla Latte while I am there, but when it’s in season their Pumpkin Spice Lattes are also delicious.

Russels Orchard

Another favorite spot of ours is on the outskirts of Ipswich; Russels Orchard. Russels not only boasts a wide variety of pick-your-own produce, but they have a spacious barn dedicated to selling a selection of baked goods, produce, and locally-sourced products! While we were there, my mother and I took part in their wine tasting. We sampled four wines made from fruits grown right on the property, with our favorite being their Apple Blueberry wine. Russels is a great place to bring kids, since there is so much to do!

Off the Vine

That evening, my mother, my brother’s girlfriend and I got dinner at Off the Vine Tuscan Grille in Rowley. That place is quite possibly my new favorite restaurant on the North Shore. It has a very relaxed, family-friendly vibe and a menu full of delicious food. They are primarily known for their flatbread pizzas, which is what my mother and my brother’s girlfriend had. They didn’t have any gluten-free flatbread, so I got their pan-seared salmon with an apple salad on the side. I absolutely loved what I chose to eat. The salads are large and very filling, and the salmon was cooked perfectly!

The weekend was a much-needed getaway after losing our beautiful dog. Since then, it’s been busy and difficult to finish this blog entry. Fear not, dear readers – I am back with more adventures to share! Keep an eye out for more entries coming soon!

Thai Gardens, The Outlets and Gomers

I’m back after a relatively uneventful weekend last week. My grandmother came to visit, and we were at home for the majority of the time; hence why I didn’t post an entry last week. However, this weekend has been pretty fun!

Thai Gardens

Friday night, one of my friends and I made plans to go to the Clinton Crossing Premium Outlets in Clinton. Since we were both coming from work, we decided to get an early dinner near her place in Middletown. We decided on Thai Gardens, a cute little restaurant on Main Street that my friend and her brother had been to before. The atmosphere was very calm, which was partially due to it being happy hour. The staff were friendly and accommodating to my gluten issues. My friend and I had their pad si ew, which included carrots, egg, and baby corn cobs. I had never had it with baby corn, so that was a new experience. Overall, the meal was delicious! Continue reading “Thai Gardens, The Outlets and Gomers”