Sgwotts & The City - October 23th - October 25th

The weekend was a flurry of activity – all good, but I wish it was longer – we did manage to pack a bunch of fun into 2 days and no one was worse for the wear!

After running around Connecticut Larry and I wanted to be in New Jersey before the explosion of traffic hit since it was Friday night – oddly enough, we managed to zip down into the city I think in little over an hour – not the case for the other side of the highway…

Since we arrived early Larry and I decided to see a movie, “Couples Retreat”, which we both got a kick out of. The nice thing was our timing was perfect, because as soon as the movie ended we just had enough time to meet Scott and Gwen (the “Sgwotts”) at their favorite Italian restaurant, La Veccia Napoli (, which we were going to surprise Gwen at for a belated 40th birthday surprise.

La Veccia Napoli was just perfect and I can see why Scott and Gwen love it – the owner Mimo, was so nice and his wife is the chef, who made these phenomenal dishes. My litmus test lately with Italian restaurants is ordering linguini in clam sauce – this place did not disappoint – yummm!

After dinner we headed to the “Sgwotts” and met Buck/Bear the cat for the first time – what a cutie – although, yet again, the cats always seem to like Larry over me – what gives???

I think I was a little worse for the wear with having wine that night, so I can’t recall if we actually did our usual Dominoes game. However, I do remember a comfy bed, so I think that’s where my night ended.

On Saturday were going to head to China Town in NYC to buy some purses – I’d been chomping at the bit to do this for sometime, so I was pretty giddy that morning. Unfortunately, it was pretty crappy that day because it was drizzling, so that put a slight damper on things.

We went to breakfast at the great diner in Hoboken, NJ, which is my new favorite area. We were in this area that is being completely redeveloped with lofts, shops and restaurants and just looked like the place to live if you gave up your first born!

I love NYC. Love it. Love everything about it. So anytime I’m there, I’m just happy as a clam.

When we went to China Town, which I haven’t been to probably since I was little, it was already raining pretty hard, which didn’t making the purse purchasing process very easy. The funny thing was, and I’m not exaggerating, everyone, and I mean everyone, said to us as we were walking buy “Gucci? Prada? Louis Vitton?” It was hysterical!

The four of us managed to probably hit about a hundred shops, back room included, and I walked away in a state of euphoria with my two “Gucci” purses in tow, this time a little worse for wear because my negotiating skills were pitiful, but hey, I’m a newbie at this!

We probably would have stayed late in the city if the weather was nice, but I think we all felt that being soaked and walking around the city wasn’t that particularly fun. So we stopped at a bar Larry and Scott like to got to, St. Mark’s Place, and then headed to La Palapa for dinner ( – love this place. We’ve been to it before and it’s just really cozy and has great food, particularly the “guac!”

After stuffing ourselves with delicious Mexican fare and fabulous wine, we headed home to play Dominoes – always fun, as you can see – unless of course Scott or Gwen beat Larry or Jill!

One thing I wanted to point out is a sculpture Larry did years ago and gave to Scott – isn’t it great? I wish my better half would create some more of these – I love it!

The next day we all went to breakfast at the local diner and then Lar and I headed out some we could make our half-way point stop in Youngstown, OH.

What a great trip – looking forward to coming out east again in the spring!

Breakfast with Veronica & Tooling Around CT – October 23rd

On Friday morning Larry and I met my wonderful friend Veronica and her new husband Michael for breakfast.

I found on the Internet that The New Station House was opened again in West Redding where the original Station House was before it moved to Ridgefield and then burned down. Gail’s Station House was hands down one of my/our favorite breakfast stops, so I was thrilled that it was opened again and suggested to Veronica that me met there.

Unfortunately, The New Station House is not the same as Gail’s Station House – no connection to each other at all except that they were in the same location at different times. Not that it was bad, but really didn’t come close to Gail’s. Gail’s always had wonderful homemade breads and treats and yummy breakfast and lunch – I hope someday she’ll consider reopening in Ridgefield because it really was wonderful.

Anyway, I digress…I hadn’t seen Veronica in quite awhile, so I was chomping at the bit for a get together – we were way overdue! On top of that, this was the first time that Larry and I had met Michael – even though I’ve heard fabulous things about him for years and felt I knew him already – I was actually the first time we met.

Well we were all very chatty with each other and Veronica and I were able to catch up while Larry and Michael were talking work shop - programming – over my head – which they both do, at least I think they do! :).

Time flew by and we had to go, but it was so nice to visit with each other and catch up. Looking forward to hopefully seeing Veronica & Michael in the spring!

The rest of Friday morning and afternoon we zipped all around the area trying to pack in as much as we could see – actually this was Larry appeasing me on my need to see everything I could of the area and show him my and my family’s old stomping ground.

First we checked out the old neighborhood – traveling up Mountain Road and then Pine Mountain Road and seeing all the old haunts: pointing out to Larry the old white house that was owned by a photographer and used for Playboy shoots; the beautiful stone manor that was owed by this famous composer and had this great pond behind it and sadly has now been added on to; “Glass City” a place where Brett and I used to play on Mountain Road (actually it’s just one of those beautiful old Connecticut stone walls that Brett and I played by and found some very old bottles and trinkets etc. and just generally liked how we could conjure up various play scenarios to keep us occupied for a while before we needed to come home); the blackberry bushes we would pick berries under the very large power lines (which now I’m thinking was probably not a good idea, but we sure did have fun!); the drainage tunnel under our road (Pine Mountain) that we would run through and yell and take in with glee the general delight of hearing our voices echo as we ran through the tunnel; seeing the Glennan’s house, Veronica’s house, the Anderson’s, Lavalla’s the Vassallo’s (our cousins) and then our house.

I had Larry pull over just to take in the view of the house. We hadn’t been back to the house since our honeymoon (10 years!) and I just wanted/needed to see it again. I loved our house – just a nice normal house with a great woods in the back that we would play in for hours, the front “woods” which I at one point tried to convert into a trail so I could convince the folks that we certainly could have a horse on our property – and at the time thinking it was just his long trail and now in reality seeing that it was about 200 feet long (that’s what happened when you’re a kid, the world seems so much bigger!).

The thing that made me sad was that I noticed that the house appeared to not be kept up as when my parents had the house (they built the house in the 60s and always maintained everything perfectly). But overall the house was the same and I just sat there just taking it all in and wishing I could see the inside to see what has changed.

After my little reunion with my childhood home, the next stop was Branchville and Georgetown: a stop at the Whistle Stop CafĂ© (where I worked in high school) for a carrot pecan muffin (best muffins in the world, hands down!); a stop in Georgetown to see what’s changed (a “new” tapas restaurant and market, an ice cream shop, sandwich shop, what appears to be the now shuttered development that was supposed to redevelop the Gilbert & Bennet Wire Mill property with shops, entertainment and housing, and “my” lovely little church, Sacred Heart).

I’m realizing as I’m directing Larry to go here and there that he’s just letting me rattle off a mile a minute about everything that I’m seeing and telling him what’s what etc. Finally getting a word in, Larry points out how much he loves the area (except for the ridiculously narrow and twisting roads). So I’m glad he was able to see some more of the Vassallo’s old stomping grounds.

We basically were working our way down Route 7 in order to pick up the Parkway to head towards NJ to see Scott and Gwen for the weekend and to surprise Gwen at dinner that night for her 40 th birthday, so I/we managed to get in a few more stops to pass the time before we met them for dinner: South Norwalk (SONO), which is the great area right on the water which has nice shops and restaurants and where my family used to have our boat; a stop for lunch at SONO Restaurant which my family used to go to and has yummy seafood.

Then we moved on to Stamford (actually Darien) to visit Nannu’s grave at the cemetery. Unfortunately, Larry never got to meet Nannu, but I just know that they would have loved each other – I could see the two of them talking with Dad about baseball etc. and just having a good old time.

And of course, since we were in Stamford, I had to have Larry see Nannu and Nanna’s house – still looking great and bringing back all the wonderful times I had at the house – the great attic I loved to go in; the wonderful meals Nanna would make; how Nannu would say “give the kid something to eat”; the great front porch where I would sit out on and listen to Dad and Nannu listening to the Yankee game on the radio, hearing Phil Rizzuto announcing the game, having no idea what was going on, but just enjoying that we were together on this great porch and just lying on the lounger and enjoying the day. Just a great time enjoying the simple things in life.

What a great way to spend the day – visiting my past and sharing with Larry the great place I grew up in.

As we got on the Parkway, I just had this great feeling, not sad because I didn’t live there anymore (I love where we are), but just a nice homey feel of “familiar” and it just made my day.

Eastbound Visit (Connecticut) - October 22nd

On Wednesday Larry and I hit the road to head to CT and NYC to visit family and friends. We arrived on Thursday, took a quick nap and headed on down Route 7 to visit Nana, Aunt Tessie and Uncle Walter. Yay!

We were staying in Danbury because the next day we were going to meet my friend Veronica and her husband Michael for breakfast, so it was nice to work our way down to Norwalk and see what has changed and not changed in my old stomping grounds.

With my face glued to the window – Larry was driving :) – I was rattling off to Larry all the things that were familiar to me: the Danbury Fair Mall (a regular spot for me), Heibeck’s who has/had THE best lemon ice, Georgetown, the Wilton YMCA, the Parkway etc. Honestly, I was tearing up – everything came flooding back to me just how beautiful Redding and the surrounding areas are – obviously, you can’t take the CT out of the girl!

When we arrived at Aunt Tessie and Uncle Walter’s house, we did a hug exchange – everyone looked fabulous. Then the mini-reunion was expanded because Lynette and Steve came for the evening!

Larry and I received a tour of the recent updates to the house – the new wood stove (we’re jealous!) and the gorgeous Epay wood deck that Uncle Walter and Aunt Tessie built off the back of the house – just beautiful.

Nana made her famous stew (yum!) and we had this tremendous salad, which was fabulous. Larry and I had a great time catching up with everyone at the table and just filling in each other about who’s doing what etc.

After dinner, we watched a little of he Yankee game and headed back up to Danbury for the night.

Thank you Nana, Aunt Tessie, Uncle Walter, Lynette and Steve for a truly relaxing and fun evening!

We’re planning on coming out again in the spring, so hopefully we can see everyone for another get together!