Saturday, December 4, 2010

Breathe Deeply, Cut a Christmas Tree!

The Christmas tree has been an established symbol of the holiday season for many years.  Dating back to 1842 in fact, when the custom was first introduced in Williamsburg, Virginia by Charles Minnegerode.  This holiday custom engages not only our senses of light, touch and smell, but also our sense of family, spirit and deeply rooted tradition.

It is estimated that each year, over 35 million Americans bring a real tree into their homes for the holiday season.  A pretty impressive number, if you ask me!  Our family is part of this statistic, but we like to take it a step further.  Our cherished, day-long adventure includes choosing and cutting down the tree as a family.  

After a large breakfast followed by a trip to the attic to retrieve the totes of holiday decorations, the entire family heads to Maple Lane Farms for our annual tree cutting.   Located on over 120 aces in Preston, Connecticut, the ride is well worth the wait!  Upon arrival, we enjoy some yummy hot cider & cookies, grab a saw and head into the 35+ acres of cut your own Christmas trees! 

It is a marvel to watch our children frolic through the seemingly endless rows of trees.  They run with excitement, showing off their finds, always in search of the "perfect" tree.  I love the magical, ah-ha moment when we all agree on "the one". It is at this point that pictures are taken, (of course), and the tree is cut by my husband and oldest children.  We all yell T-I-M-B-E-R as it falls and become almost giddy with excitement as it falls to the ground.  Then more pictures! 

I really like that Maple Lane Farm employees come to us in the field, mark the base of the tree and take it back to the stand for shaking and baling.  This service allows us to take our time walking back to enjoy the moments of the holiday season that we will always remember. 

I wish you these moments and hope that you find yourselves frolicking at Maple Lane Farms!
Heather  :)

If you go: 

Maple Lane Farms, 57 N.W. Corner Road, Preston, Connecticut 06365
24/7 Information Line: 860.887.8855

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Dinner For Save The River - Save The Hills

As a Waterford resident living on the Niantic River, I am deeply invested in the health and beauty of my surroundings.  The natural wonders pristinely positioned outside our windows provide endless pleasure throughout the year.  Aside from its beauty, the river is our favorite family playground for most of the year!

This is why I am so excited about and interested in Save The River - Save The Hills.  This local nonprofit environmental organization is dedicated to preserving the health of the Niantic River Estuary, its Watershed and the natural beauty of the Oswegatchie Hills.  They provide water quality testing and pumpout programs as well as endless environmental education.  In addition to protecting the environment from pollution and over-development, they have also created community focused events such as Niantic River Day and the ever popular Kayak Regatta.

As most grassroots non-profit organizations, they seek active members and host fundraisers to reach their goals.  Fortunately for us, the Save The River -Save The Hills Wine, Cheese, Song & Pasta Dinner is coming up just in time for the holidays.  Please come out and support this wonderful group next Thursday, December 9th from 6pm-9pm at Flanders Fish Market & Restaurant in East Lyme. 

Enjoy a delicious meal, tasty treats, a live band, silent auction, door prizes, some holiday shopping and more!  Be among the first to celebrate the introduction of the STR-STH new keepsake book about the Niantic River and the Oswegatchie Hills; Past, Present & Future! 

Hope to see you there!
Heather  :)

If you go: Save The River - Save The Hills
Wine, Cheese, Song & Pasta Dinner at
Flanders Fish Market and Restaurant
22 Chesterfield Road, East Lyme, CT 06357
Thursday, December 9, 2010 6:00pm-9:00pm
SaveTheRiver-SaveTheHills or Contact Eileen at 439-1687

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Buy Local this Saturday and EVERYDAY!

Small businesses play such a vital role in the economic health of their communities.  More so than the average person would think.  These innovators have taken an idea and invested their time and money locally.  Did you know that for every $100 spent at a local small business, $68 returns to that community?  

I love the idea of Small Business Saturday to get people thinking about spending time and money at locally owned establishments during this holiday season.  Saturday, November 27th, please shop locally.  Some great holiday gift ideas are right down the street!  Join the movement and spread the word.

The 3/50 Project  also does a great job of spreading the "Buy Local" concept.  They want you to think of three businesses you'd hate to see disappear, then pop in and say hello.  Pick 3. Spend 50. Save your local economy.  Pretty simple concept and very effective! 

Beyond this Saturday, think about simple changes in your buying habits that will make a difference everyday.  You can make a large impact on your local community by grabbing your morning donut/coffee at the local bake shop or by enjoying your lunch at the local grille.  Buy your child's bike at the local bicycle shop and your next pair of shoes at the local clothing boutique.  Pick up the next birthday gift at a local gift boutique...I'll bet they will even wrap it for you!

The next time you head into a big box store, look at your list and think of where you can make those purchases at a locally owned establishment.  Some are brick and mortar locations and others are found online.  Get to know who is out there and remember that great things come in small boxes.  The vitality of your community depends on it!

Heather  :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Holiday Festival of Trees & Music - Music with Purpose

Picture the Lyme Art Association as the setting for a 14-day holiday season opener.  An exhibit of locally designed trees, fabulous music and special holiday vignettes inside and out.  If that sounds like a pleasing scene, it is only the beginning of the story. 

The magic of the season kicks off in a big way thanks to Bring Our Music Back, and Kitchings Productions.
The Holiday Festival of Trees & Music takes place from Sunday, November 21st
through Saturday, December 4th.  A dazzling display of 25 corporate sponsored, themed trees, designed and decorated by area designers and events beyond your wildest holiday dreams will be in full swing!  Not to mention, a Winter Wonderland Holiday Boutique and special events including Breakfast & Pictures with Santa, Holidays 'Round the World, Cookie Decorating and special holiday vignettes inside and out the Art Association.  Live music will be featured by community youth groups and various local artists throughout the 14-day event!

Let's not forget that the proceeds from The Festival of Trees and Music will benefit Youth in Music initiatives supporting musical artistic development of youth, programs and services within our shoreline community and New London County.  This is truly MUSIC WITH PURPOSE.

Please visit Holiday Festival of Trees & Music for the complete schedule of events and most importantly,
PASS IT ON AND SUPPORT THE EVENTS!!  Remember that it is also a Toys for Tots Official Drop Site... bring a wrapped toy marked by age and gender for the Toys for Tots Trees!
Heather  :)
If You Go:
The Lyme Art Association, 90 Lyme Street, Old Lyme
Tickets: $8 Adults $5 Children ages 6-12
             Age 5 and under are FREE
             Groups and field trips welcomed !
Advance Tickets.... please call (860) 434-1882

Friday, November 12, 2010

Local Pigskin Action ~ Ivy League In Our Backyard

Yale Bowl - New Haven, CT
Having three young, active boys in our home comes with a certain expectation of some great sporting events.  Lots of them.  Lucky for us, our good friend Melissa is on top of things and came through today with a great, low-cost, LOCAL idea.

Turns out, we can get the type of communal excitement brought on by a rivalry dating back to 1873, right here in Connecticut.  That's right; I'm talking about some local Ivy League pigskin.  For a low cost, the entire family can head to New Haven's Yale Bowl on Saturday, November 13th.  Starting at noon, our family will take our place among the 60,000+ other spectators as the Yale Bulldogs take on the Princeton Tigers.

This game is guaranteed to be a crowd pleasing match-up!  Thanks Melissa!
Heather  :)
General Admission Adult/Senior  $8/$5
General Admission 12-Under  FREE!
(Please consult the Yale Bowl website for exact directions and up-to-date pricing)

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Most Important Meal of the Day

Generally speaking, I do not partake in breakfast festivities at home.  I know, I know, it is the most important meal of the day, but my taste buds are not ready for food or beverages until at least 10am.  So, most every morning, I am forced to eat my most important meal on the go.  Because I am a busy Mom & Entrepreneur, it must be fast & fabulous! 

That is why I'm so excited about the list of the 10 Most Fabulous Breakfast Joints in Mystic Country.  There are so many great little restaurants in SECT.   It must have been tough choosing the top 10, but big time fun during the "taste test" phase. 

Now, I have my own personal favorites which depend on my co-pilot status for any particular day.  Typically, if  I'm feeling nostalgic and need the comfort of my roots, I head to Ashlawn Farms in Lyme, CT.  The coffee is roasted right on the premises and it is fresh and fabulous.  There is a classic hominess to Ashlawn Farms that just hits the spot every time.

If I am in a rush and just need a quick bite on the fly, I head to Flander's Donut & Bake Shop.  The bagels are made fresh daily and they are out of this world delicious.  Taste one and you will never go to the grocer for bagels again.  If any of the kids are co-piloting for the morning, they can grab a tasty home-made donut or pastry.  They call me "queen bee" every time I go there...can't beat that greeting.  Gina saved me once at their drive thru window - long, funny story. 

If my hubby has a few minutes between clients to meet me for a quick breakfast, we will usually head to When Pigs Fly in Waterford for my avocado omelet fix or to The Shack in East Lyme for pancakes. 
This is also where I take the kids when we are running late for school.  Each child has a favorite and there is something yummy on the menu to please all four of them.  Love the motto at The Shack....Life is Short.  Eat Pie.  Can't go wrong with that mantra.
We are usually pressed for time so these wonderful restaurants are fabulous, locally-owned destinations for  a quick and delicious breakfast fix on the go.  Check out the list and try each one - you won't be disappointed.
Heather  :)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Bakin' with Buddy

The "Cake Boss"
Buddy Valastro
One of my favorite things to do, especially this time of year, is to bake.  I'm not a great cook but give me some flour, sugar, butter and vanilla and I will create a decadent delight that will please any foodie.  Many years ago, I would bring treats to work and it turned into a business.  People from other departments started coming over asking me to create delicious delights for their special occasions.  I made every kind of cake imaginable and began to make cupcakes.  (Guess I was ahead of my time...cupcakes are huge now)  Anyway, it was wonderful...until the reality of working all day and baking all night sucked every ounce of fun out of it.

These days, I live vicariously through the Food Network and take pleasure in creating treasures for my family and close friends.  However, this weekend, I am going to get a bit closer to the action and I am thrilled!
This Sunday, November 7th, The Cake Boss himself, Buddy Valastro, is coming to New Haven's Shubert Theater!  In this live interactive event, the baker and star of TLC's "Cake Boss" will share the stories behind his TV series and his colorful Italian family and will even answer audience questions.  My FAVORITE part will be when he gives a live demonstration of the techniques that have made him one of the most successful and renowned cake artists in the nation!!  He is even going to invite audience members to join the fun on stage!!  (oh, oh, pick ME)

I can't wait to get "bakin' with the boss"!   Wish me luck!
Heather  :)

If you go:
Shubert Theater, Sunday, November 7, 2010 or call 800-228-6622

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween Weekend Happenings

There are so many wonderfully kid-friendly things to do in SECT this weekend!
Don't forget that many of the local corn mazes will be closing soon.  For a list of locally owned, AMAZING corn mazes, check the archives of the NutmeggerNotes blog.  Scott's Orchard in East Lyme is also a fun, smaller corn maze!  Our 4 & 6 year old got through it and found all of the stamps within 30 minutes.

On with the list of Halloween happenings for Saturday 10/30 & Sunday 10/31. 
Be safe and have FUN!
Heather  :)
If you go:
Waterford Village Green:  Book signing, Saturday 11a-1p.  Local author Robin G. Maillett will be on hand with children's picture book, "Jordan Village", at the Waterford Historical Society (corner of Rope Ferry/Avery Lane) A portion of the proceeds benefit the Traumatic Brain Injury Association of America!

Mystic AquariumFall-o-Ween Festival Saturday 11a-10p & Sunday 11a-4p.  Wear your costumes!  Fun for every member of the family! 

New London's Halloween Town:  Saturday at 6p across from the train station. FREE pumpkin painting, FREE trick or treating, spooky stories, live kids music by Steve Elci and friends, dance party PLUS spooky tours and local farm cider and caramel apples, corn chowder and more!

Mystic Seaport
:  Nautical Nightmare Tours begin Saturday & Sunday at 6:15 p.m and leave every 15 minutes. This event is not recommended for children under 10. Nautical Nightmares is not wheelchair accessible as it includes several steps.  Nautical Nightmares was picked as one of America's Spookiest Ghost Tours by!

Deep River Shiver Tours:  Saturday, 7p and 9:30p at the Deep River Library experience a paranormal investigation of the Deep River Library.  During the evening event, visitors will explore the paranormal with a professional investigating team and get “ hands on” experience using the latest high tech equipment and paranormal investigating procedures and terminology.  A VIP package will be available which will be a 2 hour event  including pizza and magic show, interactive tour and “Shiver Tour” keepsake, and Q&A information session.  Call (860) 526-6039 for information.

Essex Steam Train's Fright Train:  Saturday and Sunday, 5:30p & 7:30p
Recommended for tweens ages 8 and up. 

Mystic Seaport:  Trick or Treat, Sunday 4:30p-6p (last admission accepted at 5:30p)
What could be more fun than Halloween at Mystic Seaport before darkness falls? Bring your own trick-or-treat bag and please park in Latitude 41° Restaurant's parking lot and walk across to the north entrance. Follow the pumpkins to the village, where not-so-spooky spooks are waiting to pass out treats.

Clyde's Cider Mill:  1st Annual Halloween Costume Contest, this Sunday 12p-2p! Ages 1-12 yrs, prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places will be awarded. Winners will be announced at 2p.

If you want to share information on the people, places and products that make SECT so special, please email us!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Food, Frights & Fun at Fall-O-Ween Fest!

Mystic Aquarium Fall-o-Ween Fest!
Mystic Aquarium is a fun place to explore any day of the year.  This weekend, they are pushing the excitement level to all time high with the new, three-day
Fall-o-Ween Fest!

Guests of all ages will enjoy a special Halloween sea lion show, carnival games, a creepy exploration station, deejay, themed contests, scavenger hunt, a haunted marsh, face-painting, hundreds of Jack o’ lanterns and giveaways, among other kid-friendly merriment.  Adult visitors will enjoy seasonal ale tastings which will be paired with fabulous fall themed food.  There is even a scary haunted house which is recommended for ages 12 and up!

Go and experience the spooky transformation at Mystic Aquarium.  The fun begins at 3pm this Friday, October 29th and ends at 4pm on Sunday.  Don't miss it!

 Heather  :)

If you go:
Mystic Aquarium, 55 Coogan Blvd., Mystic, CT 06355-1997
Contact:  or 860.572.5955
Friday, October 29 from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. (last admission at 9 p.m.)
Saturday, October 30 from 11 a.m. to 10p.m. (last admission at 9 p.m.)

Sunday, October 31 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (last admission at 3 p.m.)
Tickets can be purchased in advance online or at the gate.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Living Their Passion in Lisbon; Cedar Knoll Farm

It is not too often that you meet people who live their passion.  I mean really LIVE it.  That's why I am so inspired by Elaine and Terry Joseph.  This husband and wife team left their jobs to pursue what really moves them; their love of horses. 

My family has had the distinct pleasure of experiencing the magic of Cedar Knoll Farm during CT Open House Day in June.  My husband and I brought our children to see the animals and take a carriage ride.  The little ones chased the chicks and marveled at the beautiful horses.  Our favorite part was the scenic and ever so relaxing horse and carriage ride.  That distinct clip-clop always makes me smile and seemed to have a mesmerizing effect on the kids.  It is romantic, refreshing and down-right fabulous.

Upon returning from the ride, we were introduced to Raj.  Raj is the resident miniature colt and should come with a warning label.  He is a 10 on the cuteness scale.  This is the point where the kids started asking for a horse of their own!  That is, until Raj was released and they realized that he could out-run a cheetah.

I am looking forward to heading back to Cedar Knoll Farms with my hubby for a fabulous Horse and Carriage Wine Tour.  (Hint Hint Hint)
Elaine and Terry really know how to take care of their animals and their customers.  I just can't wait!

In closing, I would like to share a link about Cedar Knoll which was aired on Positively Connecticut. 
This gives you a peek into their lives and will hopefully inspire you as much as it does me.
Take a look
Heather  :)
If you go:
Cedar Knoll Farm, 57 Kimball Road, Lisbon, CT 06357 or 860.376.8110

Monday, October 25, 2010

Dreams For Jenna; Helping Kids at CCMC

Neighbors of 9-year old Jenna Smith wouldn't take her cancer diagnosis lying down.  They took the terrible news and created a foundation to help Jenna's family and kids fighting illness at Connecticut Children's Medical Center.  And so, Dreams For Jenna was born.

The mission is simple; to take Jenna's contagious smile and give it to other kids fighting illness.  The idea of a hand-made pillowcase to make a child's hospital stay a bit more comforting became the focus of the foundation.  

Pillowcases are made with love and donated to CCMC.  Each pillowcase is sponsored by an individual or business for a ten dollar donation to Dreams For Jenna.  In fact, on October 10, 2010, 341 pillowcases were donated to CCMC in Jenna's name.  The next shipment will be made around Thanksgiving.

All of the money raised from sponsorship and donations will go directly to Jenna's family to help them with anything needed during this difficult time.  Sponsoring is simple and any donations will help.
If you are interested in more information, please visit or, e-mail at
Be Well,
Heather  :)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Tales From The Crib - The Dark Side of the Balloon

"DeeDee Filiatreault tries to be a freelance writer in Niantic"...and boy o boy does she succeed!  I just love reading her local column titled "Tales From The Crib" which is published in The Day newspaper. 
DeeDee's witty stories hit very close to home as her children are the same gender and ages as my youngest two children.  I feel like I am right there with her during these experiences which she pens so well.  I laugh, I cry and I sympathize with every parental moment!  Did I mention that I laugh? 
I am proud to call her my friend and want to share her wonderful adventures with you!
Check out her latest tale which was printed in The Day on October 14, 2010.
Heather  :)
Tales From The Crib - The Dark Side of the Balloon

Jack-O'-Lantern Walk at Mystic Seaport!

The Mystic Seaport is the place to be Thursday, October 28th!  Starting at 5:30pm, as the sun sets along the banks of the Mystic River, the sight of glowing pumpkins will illuminate the night at Mystic Seaport's first ever Jack-O'-Lantern Walk.

You may enter your own creation or take a stroll on the shore and enjoy what is sure to be a beautifully illuminated fall evening. Contestants of all ages are welcome and your admission is free with registered participation!  Pumpkins will be judged in four age groups: youth, young adult, adult and senior. It is a wonderful fall activity for all ages. The Mystic Seaport is even awarding prizes!

Our whole family is signed up for the carving contest.  I can't wait to stroll the shore with my family and friends.  This is truly my favorite time of year...what a great way to enjoy the season!
Heather :)

If you go:
When:  Thursday, October 28, 2010 -  5:30pm - 8:00pm

Where: Mystic Seaport, 75 Greenmanville Avenue, Mystic, CT

Contact: or 860.572.5322

Admission Price: Tickets are $7 for non-members/$5 for members

Registration Details:  Open through Tuesday, October 26th. 
You can download the Carving Contest details and entry form at
Tickets:  Purchase tickets online at

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Time For An Amazing Corn Maze

Fall is my favorite time of year, especially here in New England.  One of our favorite fall family traditions is visiting local corn mazes.  They are a special way for the entire family to experience a sense of adventure in the great outdoors!  Finding your way through cleverly shaped paths surrounded by towering stalks makes for a surreal experience. 

Lyman Orchards Corn Maze
As a Mom, I love that some education has been thrown in the mix.  Tasks like finding an "extraordinary legend" at Preston Farms or learning about the history of ice cream at the Fort Hill Farms keeps things interesting. 
Celebrate the UCONN Women's Basketball Team with a tribute to their outstanding two-season record at Lyman Orchards!  Foster Family Farm's is keeping it interesting by featuring over 4-miles of Egyptian Adventure Corn Maze trails.  

Want to support cancer research?  Plasko Farms donates a portion of it's corn maze ticket sales! 
St. Vincent's "Swim Across the Sound" cancer prevention and education programs benefit from your admission. 

There is something for everyone in the family!

Check out our list below of local corn mazes.  If you are lucky, you'll also find scarecrows, pumpkins, apple picking and maybe even a hay ride! 
Prices and hours of operation vary.

If you go:
Preston Farms, 92 Route 2, Preston, CT - Open through November 7, 2010
Contact: 860-886-6293 or

Fort Hill Farms, 260 Quaddick Road, Thompson, CT  - Open through November 7, 2010
Contact: 860-923-3439 or

Foster Family Farm, 90 Foster Street, South Windsor, CT- Open through October 31, 2010
Contact: 860-648-9366 or

Lyman Orchards, Junction of Routes 147 and 157, Middlefield, CT - Open through November 7, 2010
Contact: 860-349-1793 or

Plasko's Farm, 670 Daniels Farm Road, Trumbull, CT
Contact: 203-268-2716 or