Old Friends

Years ago I was fortunate to know a wonderful group of people all living in Milan, Italy - each trying to make a name for themselves in the fashion industry. It's been many years since then but lately, as I delve into my own creative depths, I remember my old friends - many of them photographers and wonder where life has brought them.
One of them is Donna DeMari. She has done well over the years, a successful fashion photographer noted for being the first woman to photograph the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition in 1996. It is her black & white photos of horses though, that really touch me. Turning the pages of her book, her passion for their equine majesty is unmistakable. It is nice to see that she has moved beyond the confines of commercial success and created something she surely loves.

A New York Story

When I was 19 years old, I left the small town (pop. 3,000) I grew up in and moved to the big city. A lot of small town girls have done the same, and if they haven't, they have surely dreamed of it. In my case, the city was New York. After all, "If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere" - at least according to Liza Minnelli. Today I was checking out Homer's Odd Isn't He and came across this video of actor Griffin Dunne. You may not be familiar with him, but I remember him fondly from the 1985 film "After Hours". It was directed by Martin Scorsese, had a great ensemble cast and has become a bit of a cult classic. It is about a guy who is out late in NYC and can't seem to get himself home - loses his subway token, doesn't have cab fare, yadda yadda yadda. Before sunrise he manages to stumble upon all kinds of quacky, New York types in his quest to get himself home. It is one of my all time favorites and above all else, reminds me of my early days in New York. If any of you have an affinity for New York City, Mr. Dunn, or just following your dreams, you may appreciate this New York Story.
If you can't open the video above - here is the LINK

Corporate Lawyers go Cottage Industry

Talk about life style change! Robert & Kara Brooks, husband & wife, ages 50 & 34 respectively, left corporate litigation behind to open Still River Cafe in Eastford, Connecticut. Turning a 150 year old barn on 27 acres deep in the Connecticut countryside into a "jewel box operation", they are noted for growing their own organic produce and using local sources for their meat, fish and poultry. I have a special place in my heart for this gem of a restaurant. Not only is it an inspiration for me on my quest to start my own business, but I was married there last summer - to the man of my dreams I might add - and it was the perfect place for me to celebrate a new beginning!

Heidi Howard - another Eastford, Connecticut entrepreneur!

Are you in the.....212 Zone?

This was the email I got today from my Regional Manager. Just that single sentence.
212: The Extra Degree
(Click link to view)
Have you heard of this?
The company I work for (a large corporation) shoves this motivational concept down our throats annually at our sales conference. Don't get me wrong - it looks great on paper and initially is very inspiring. In fact the music track is quite catchy. "At 211° water is hot. At 212° it boils and transforms into steam. That steam can then power a locomotive! "
You see what we could all accomplish if we just pushed ourselves that extra degree?! The only problem is, between my demanding job, large home, three kids, new husband, and everything else I have going on - I'm not sure I have an extra degree in me. And why is it we are pressured to push ourselves even more? Isn't juggling my work and family enough. Aren't I already doing two jobs when my mother was only expected to do one.? I once heard an interview with the actor Jeremy Irons (a Brit) where he mentioned that he had moved back to England from L.A. because he didn't want his children to grow up with the American concept of what being "successful" means. Let's face it, in this country, one is judged by their success in business. We work crazy hours and consider a week or two to ourselves all year adequate time to get over the stresses of the other 50 weeks. None of those silly siestas for us. The month of August at the seaside? Bah Humbug! Going the extra degree...For me that could be shaving ABOVE my knees in my morning shower, even though I'm running late. Do you think that would count?
Okay, I'm done ranting. I think this is just my reaction to it being Monday and me feeling like I've used up half of Tuesday's degrees.

Don't Forget ME!

My friend, A Bird In The Hand pointed out that I had forgotten Katherine Hepburn in yesterday's post about Hartford's famous natives. In fact, being my favorite, I was saving her for her very own mention. Born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1907, Kate, as her friends called her went on to become one of the most celebrated actresses of the century - practically living it herself, leaving this world in 2003 at the age of 96. Her life and work speak for themselves. Winning four Oscars for Best Actress, she was actually nominated twelve times. She was a life long resident of Connecticut, spending her final years at her home in Old Saybrook, over looking the Long Island Sound.
At the end of the day I think Humphrey Bogart's impression of "Katie" sums it up best:

"Hepburn has unassailability. She is a dyed in the wool eccentric. There is nothing phony about her. She is not beautiful, more like a nylon-covered skeleton. She's no chicken any more either, but she's really fascinating with a tremendous off-beat kind of sex appeal which throws out a challenge that not any hunk of man can take up. She's shy, though. At interviews she shakes like a leaf, although she has the guts not to show it. She's got maybe half a dozen friends in Hollywood and she just circulates among them. You never see her at the nightclubs. When you spend six weeks on a boat in the jungle with a woman and all around you are down with malaria you kind of get to know her. I got to know Katie like a favourite book."
(London Daily Mirror, 1953)

The Love of her Life, Spencer Tracy

With Cary Grant in "Bringing Up Baby" 1938

Hepburn Family in Hartford 1914

Home in Old Saybrook, Connecticut

Katherine Hepburn 1907 - 2003

For more Famous folks from Hartford!


I work in the restaurant industry and the current trend is toward buying local - organically grown fruit & vegetables, farm raised meat & poultry, fish from nearby shores and cottage industry dairy products including eggs, milk and goat cheeses from area farms. There's also local bee keepers and their honey, artisan bakeries and maple syrup from the forests we hike through. More and more, local chefs are designing their menus around what's available and what's in season, in their own back yards - mine, of course, being Connecticut.
I've just discovered buyCTgrown.com, a website with a comprehensive list of local resources, including farms, markets and restaurants. It provides a map with photos, bio, directions and web links. No need to be a professional chef - fresh, organic products are available to us all.
So take a Sunday drive in the country - and do your grocery shopping!

Sam Hammer Holcomb Farm, West Granby

Known for buying local:
Chef Jason Collin
Firebox Restaurant, Hartford

Chef Christopher Prosperi
Metro Bis, Simsbury

Still River Cafe, Eastford

Chef Kara Brook's Carrot Cupcakes

My Artist!

I recently attended the 7th Annual Brew Fest at The Old State House in Hartford. It's just steps from my workplace and on a warm June evening, a relaxing way to pass the time. My own in-house artist, my husband, does the art work for the event. He has his own advertising & design business and works from home in his newly renovated studio. His creativity and life style are my envy and inspiration! Here are some fun pics from the event...

My co-workers: Joe, Arkeya, Angela, Christian Roby

The T-shirt!

Impressionism Still Lives!

Essex Cat Boat from South Cove - morning
As a former art student, I can never get away from first falling in love with the works of Manet, Monet, Degas & Renoir. There is something so magical and transcendent about this style of painting. One of Connecticut's best in this genre is Leif Nilsson. Originally from Old Lyme, CT - a town that could be described as a painting itself, Leif now resides in the other quintessential Connecticut River Valley town of Chester. I don't pretend to begin to have this kind of talent but am certainly inspired by someone making mucho dinero doing something they love. Below are the artist and his studio.

Spring is Here!

n my quest to design my new life and new product that will support me in the manner I have become accustom, I've been reminiscing on the days when I created hand painted tiles and sold them in "kits" for the kitchen or bath at street fairs in Greenwich Village. In chatting with Habitually Chic (who lives in New York) I remember the city and it's street fairs arriving with the spring season. I think I will have to head down to lower Manhattan - a two hour trek for me - for a creative hit at one of the upcoming fairs. Christopher Street, Soho, LES, Brooklyn Heights - doesn't matter. There is always someone reaching for their dreams in New York. I've found mine there in the past - time for an update!

Kaffe Fassett

Years ago I was married to a Brit and living in London. My tea drinking, freelance illustrator neighbor turned me on to Kaffe Fassett. If you are not familiar with him, he is a textile, knitware/needlepoint designer. I fell in love with his designs and colors and immediately started making his tapestry pillow kits. He's recently made a push toward the textile industry but started out dropping out of art school in England to do his own knitting designs. He's an American - born in San Francisco but living in England since the '60's, so he might as well be a Brit. In this age of muted colors (or as the Brits write it: "colours") it's refreshing for me to see such intense color in such quantity. It's so rich you can almost taste it.

If you like Kaffe Fassett, you love this quilt!
"It's never too late to be who you might have been." --George Eliot