Roxy’s Best Of… Connecticut

The Best of the State of Connecticut, from kid stuff (including summer camp) to restaurants to shopping, art, culture and events


Mystic Aquarium & Institute For Exploration Announced New Whales Up Close Program

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As a New England native, our family has wonderful opportunities to expose our family to maritime history.  Out-of-town guests are always encouraged to spend a day down at the shoreline getting a taste of the local Connecticut flavor at the glorious restaurants and clam shacks for fresh seafood.

If your vacation time this summer is limited, take a day trip to Mystic, Connecticut and see all that our area has to offer!

New Encounter Program Allows Guests to Interact with
Beluga Whales Without Getting Into the Water

For young children or those who don’t want to get waist-deep into the water during the Beluga Encounter program, Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration is now offering a new way to have an up-close visit with a beluga whale. Launching on June 1, the Whales Up Close program allows guests to watch a beluga feeding and their special behaviors, with only a three-foot-high window between them and a whale.

The 45-minute program begins in the Beluga Encounter Room, where guests meet a whale trainer and learn about belugas. From there, they are led to a low window in an area of the Arctic Coast exhibit – home to the aquarium’s three belugas – that is behind the scenes and not accessible to the public.

During this portion of the program, a beluga whale will swim right up to the window, directly in front of guests. Guests will watch a trainer interact with the whale and gain firsthand insight into their many behaviors within only one foot of the beluga. These behaviors are taught for regular close interaction that includes daily physical examinations, research, exercise, playtime and learning with the whales. Guests will also have the opportunity to interact one-on-one with the whale over the window and may get the chance to touch the animal.

“Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration’s popular encounter programs bring people closer to animals than they ever thought possible,” said Dr. Tracy Romano, senior vice president of research and zoological operations at Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration. “This new program provides young children and others who are unable to participate in our Beluga Encounter Program with the opportunity to connect with our whales and learn about the important work our trainers do to provide the highest levels of animal care and enrichment. As with all our encounter programs, our goal is to nurture a bond between participants and the animals and inspire people to help protect ocean animals in the wild.”

The Whales Up Close program will take place daily, with a limit of six people per session. The program is open to those ages 6 and up (those under 16 must be accompanied by a participating adult). Cost is $49 plus aquarium admission. The program may be purchased on-site or by reservation (recommended) and may be given as a gift.

To make a reservation, call (860) 572-5955, ext. 520.

For More Information Visit: Mystic Aquarium

About Sea Research Foundation, Inc.
Mystic Aquarium, Institute for Exploration and Immersion Presents are divisions of Sea Research Foundation, Inc., a private, non-profit, charitable organization incorporated in the State of Connecticut . The mission of Sea Research is to inspire people to care for and protect our ocean planet through education, research and exploration.

Cindi is the author of Moomettesgram’s Musings where she offers WAHM tips, Moomette’s Magnificents Reviews, and Mama Mentor where she shares her personal musings and observations of a Baby Boomer Wife, Mom & Grandmother from New England.

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Ice Cream Blogging

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Last night, after dinner, my eldest daughter asked if we could go out for ice cream. She has just gotten home from college and it seemed like an appropriate celebration, so we set off towards one of my favorite ice cream shops here in Connecticut.

First, we stopped at the community gardens, where we have a small plot and the corn and watermelons have come up. Then we stopped by a local reservoir to look at a guardrail put up because of civic engagement. Then, we finally made it to the ice cream shop.


Eating Ice Cream


Our family is very serious about all the food we eat, and try to seek out the best places we can. Rich Farm Ice Cream Shop in Oxford, CT clearly has earned its place on this list. It is fresh ice cream made on the farm. I had ‘Razzmataz’, or something like that. Essentially, it was vanilla ice cream with a raspberry swirl and chucks of fudge. It was very good.

My eldest daughter had peaches and cream and run raisin and my youngest had cookie dough. My wife had been working late so we brought home a pint of German Chocolate Cake ice cream for her.

As we sat outside on the farm, eating our ice cream, I suggested that my daughters might enjoy helping me research a comprehensive study of ice cream shops in Connecticut. People don’t often think about ice cream as one of the great products of our state, but they should.

The Connecticut Farm Bureau has a website encouraging people to get involved in politics to Save Dairy in Connecticut. While I applaud their efforts, in this case, a more hands on approach of finding the best local ice cream shops in the state and encouraging folks to visit them regularly is a much more enjoyable form of civic action.

So, if you care about the State of Connecticut, or if you care about ice cream, please join me in enjoying ice cream the farms of Connecticut, especially Rich Farm Ice Cream Shop in Oxford, some of the Best of Connecticut.


Connecticut Student Innovator’s Day - May 9, 2009

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Connecticut Students to Exhibit, Present Sustainable Energy/Environmental Projects at Expo

Governor M. Jodi Rell has proclaimed May 9 as Connecticut Student Innovators’ Day in recognition of more than 1,600 Connecticut middle and high school students from across the state who have participated in year-long courses and programs that promote STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). Students will be presenting team “green” projects in information technology, biotechnology, e-commerce, engineering, science research, health careers and digital media on May 9 at the 2009 Connecticut Innovation Exposition at the Connecticut Convention Center.

“Connecticut’s students represent the future of the state, and their ability to successfully compete in a technology- and innovation-driven world while applying green principles will be key, not only to their own success, but to the success of the state and nation,” said Governor Rell.

The Center for 21st Century Skills @ EDUCATION CONNECTION develops and manages the technology-rich, project-based courses and programs in conjunction with Connecticut Career Choices (CCC). There are currently more than 45 schools across the state using the curricula – the Expo is the culminating event for the students. Each year, students in CCC courses and programs are asked to respond to an issue currently facing our society. The work they do toward solving these problems helps to prepare them for the 21st century workforce. All 2009 Expo student teams were challenged to develop solutions related to sustainable energy and/or environmental responsibility.

“We’re preparing a workforce for the 21st century by giving students real-life challenges and the skills to address those challenges. That includes developing solutions that promote a sustainable future for our planet,” says Michael Mino Director, Center for 21st Century Skills @ EDUCATION CONNECTION.

Lieutenant Governor Fedele will be kicking off the opening ceremony at 9 a.m., followed by keynote speaker Lewis Pugh – environmentalist, explorer, swimmer – who will recount his polar adventures as he educates attendees about climate change.

Projects will be judged by a panel of business professionals and field experts. The opening ceremony begins at 9 a.m. and exhibits will be available for public viewing from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. with oral presentations or “elevator pitches” (to “sell” their projects to the audience and judges) taking place throughout the day. The exhibition is free to the public and attendees can visit student exhibitions and hear oral presentations. For more information, visit

Middle and high school students from these districts will present their innovative projects:

Berlin, Bethel, Bloomfield, Bridgeport, Bristol, Brookfield, Danbury, Derby, East Haddam, East Hartford, East Haven, Fairfield, Glastonbury, Hartford, Litchfield, Manchester, Meriden, New Britain, New Canaan, New Fairfield, New Haven, New London, New Milford, Newtown, Norwalk, Oxford, Plainville, Regions 6, 8, 9, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, Simsbury, Southington, Stamford, Terryville, Thomaston, Waterbury, West Hartford, Windham, Woodstock, and Xavier High School.

About the Center for 21st Century Skills @ EDUCATION CONNECTION

The Center for 21st Century Skills ( promotes the advancement of 21st century skills, technical education, and careers by creating “blended learning” environments that combine traditional face-to-face classroom learning with online instruction. It is an organizational unit of EDUCATION CONNECTION (, the Regional Educational Service Center for western Connecticut. For more information, visit

About Connecticut Career Choices (CCC)

CCC ( is an initiative funded by the Connecticut Office for Workforce Competitiveness to engage Connecticut middle and high school students in a variety of challenging STEM-related courses. CCC combines innovative, Internet-based curriculum with experiential learning opportunities, such as hosting classroom speakers, company tours, job shadows, and teacher externships.

Bio: Cindi is the author of Moomettesgram’s Musings WAHM tips, Moomette’s Magnificents Reviews, and Moomettesgram’s Favorite Recipes of a Baby Boomer Wife, Mom & Grandmother from New England.

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Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum and Buttolph-Williams House To Celebrate Statewide Connecticut Open House Day June 13

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Here’s a wonderful opportunity for a family day trip to introduce your children to a bit of history! While you’re visiting, take in the local charm of Old Wethersfield’s antique shoppes, restaurants, bistros, the Town Green, the serene boats in the Wethersfield Cove!

Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum and Buttolph-Williams House To Celebrate Statewide Connecticut Open House Day June 13

Festivities Designed to Build Awareness of State’s Cultural and Tourism Assets Among Residents
[Wethersfield, Conn., April 27, 2009] – The Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum in Wethersfield today announced plans to participate in the Fifth Annual Connecticut Open House Day — a unified celebration of the state’s fascinating world of art, history, film and tourism — on June 13, 2009.

During this one-day event, the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum, along with approximately 250 other organizations and attractions throughout the state, will open its doors to visitors. The first floor of the Deane House will be open from 10 a.m.-12 p.m., the first floor of the Stevens House will be open from 12 p.m.-2 p.m. and the first floor of the Webb House will be open from 2 p.m.- 4 p.m. Also, the first floor of the Buttolph-Williams House will be open from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Connecticut residents and their guests receive free admission to each house during the times listed above. Visitors should check in at the Webb House gift shop.

This exciting statewide event, sponsored by the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism (CCT), is designed to broaden awareness among residents of Connecticut’s exceptional cultural and tourism assets and encourage them to become ambassadors who share their newfound discoveries with visiting family and friends.

To qualify for any Open House Day special, at least one person in each visiting group must show a valid Connecticut driver’s license. Connecticut Open House Day also includes opportunities to become a Connecticut Ambassador as part of CCT’s Ambassador Program, an ongoing initiative designed to cultivate pride among residents in the state’s many diverse historic, arts, tourism and entertainment treasures. For more information about Connecticut Open House Day, visit or call 1-888-CTvisit.

About the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum
Located in the heart of Connecticut’s largest historic district, the museum, which consists of three authentically restored 18th-century homes, brings Wethersfield’s rich history to life, from the American Revolution to the early 20th century. The museum includes the 1752 Joseph Webb House, which served as George Washington’s Revolutionary War headquarters in May 1781, when he met with French General le Comte de Rochambeau; the 1770 Silas Deane House, built for America’s first diplomat to France; and the 1788 Isaac Stevens House, which depicts life in the 18th and 19th centuries through original family objects and includes a new display of early American toys and a restored bedroom that would have been able to accommodate all five children that lived in the house.

The Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum, located at 211 Main St., Wethersfield, is open daily – with the exception of Tuesday – from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., May through October, and on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., November 1 through April 30. Three-house tours cost $8 for adults and $4 for students and children ages 5 to 18. The museum also offers a variety of classes for school and community groups. For information about current exhibits, upcoming events or Museum School classes, call (860) 529-0612 or Visit

Cindi is the author of various blogs at Moomettesgram’s Musings for WAHM tips, Moomette’s Magnificents Reviews, or Mama Mentor for personal musings and observations of a Baby Boomer Wife, Mom & Grandmother from New England. She is also the Editor of 50-Something Moms at Type-A Mom.

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The Hebron Maple Festival

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If you want to get a taste of part of what makes Connecticut sweet and wonderful, you will be hard pressed to find a better event than the Hebron Maple Festival. The 19th Annual Hebron Maple Festival is taking place March 14th and 15th, 2009. If you miss it, be sure to put their 20th annual festival on your calendar.

Having grown up in the northwest corner of Massachusetts, I always reluctantly thought that Vermont Maple Syrup was the only true maple syrup, with Massachusetts Maple Syrup coming in a close second, especially if it came from a friend’s sugarhouse. I grew up with Sugar on Snow during blizzards and maple syrup used in just about everything, including maple cotton candy at the Big E.

Years later, I visited sugarhouses in New Hampshire and had to admit that they make pretty good maple syrup as well, but I’d never really grown to appreciate Canadian maple syrup, or maple syrup from Connecticut.

Yet the Hebron Maple Festival changed my mind about that. You see, part of what makes any maple syrup special, or perhaps any food special, is the love and traditions around that food. The festival helped reveal some of those traditions.

Being the good Democrat that I am, I stopped at the Hebron Democrat’s tent and bought a maple cured ham, egg and cheese sandwich and chatted briefly with the folks there. They were the sort of Americans that sustain our democracy. People that work at the fairs across our country to raise money for local campaigns. They were pleased that the Comptroller of the State of Connecticut, Nancy Wyman, had stopped by. Across the street, good loyal Republicans were doing their part as well for the our Republic.

We stopped at the Hebron Historical Society to view a historical quilt exhibition and sale. I took plenty of pictures, which will be up on Flickr soon. Afterwards, we stopped at the Hebron Volunteer Fire Department to get some Sugar on Snow.

For those who have not had Sugar on Snow before, it is maple syrup boiled to the softball stage of hardness. From pots of boiling maple syrup, it is ladled onto snow, where it cools quickly to the consistency of taffy. Many people cut the sweetness with pickles, which is how my wife and I did it.

As we enjoyed the day, numerous people walked about with their dogs, from the smallest puppies to the largest greyhounds and great danes. It provided great enjoyment for our seven-year-old daughter, as she approached the owners and asked permission to pat the dogs. The owners were universally friendly. Some of the reason for the abundance of greyhounds is that the CT Greyhound Adoption Agency was at the festival seeking forever homes for the dogs.

We ended the day with a trip to the Wenzel Sugar House. Fiona had a great time patting a calf on the farm and running through a pine grove. We watched syrup being made. Unfortunately for us, but fortunately for them, they had sold all of their syrup that day. They would be making syrup all night long to have more for sale on Sunday. So, we drove a little ways up the road to the Hurst Farm Sugar House across the line in Andover CT. They too, had sold all of their half gallon sized cans of syrup. However, we were fortunate to get some fresh baked bread just out of their oven, and Fiona got one last chance to buy sweets at their country store.

The town Democrats and Republicans, the volunteers at the Historical society and the fire department and the farmers like the Wenzels and the Hursts provide a great reminder of what is great about Connecticut and our country, as well as a glimpse into the simple joys we can find a short drive from our doorsteps. The Hebron Maple Festival is truly one of the things that is best about Connecticut.

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Essex Connecticut Winter Festival and Eagle Watch

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The majestic Bald Eagle has been returning from Canada and Maine to nest in the Connecticut River Valley. For several years, the historic Town of Essex has been the hot scene for the gathering of viewing of the eagles at the Annual Eagle Festival.

Given the state of the current economic climate, The Festival, under it’s previous corporate sponsorship, was in jeopardy of becoming extinct.

Fortunately through a concerted grass-roots effort, the locals came to the rescue and established a new Festival that will take place over the course of several weeks during February and March.

What: Essex Winter Festival and Eagle Watch

When: February & March, 2009

Where: Essex, Connecticut

There will be events throughout the area during school vacation week; rides along the Essex Steam Train; River Quest Eagle Cruises along the Connecticut River and much more!

Don’t forget to bring your camera and binoculars, and dress warmly!

For a schedule of events, visit:

Cindi is the author of various blogs at Moomettesgram’s Musings for WAHM tips, Moomette’s Magnificents Reviews, or Mama Mentor for personal musings and observations of a Baby Boomer Wife, Mom & Grandmother from New England. She is also the Editor of the Timeless Bliss channel at Blissfully Domestic.

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Discount Tickets ~ Sesame Street Live: Elmo Makes Music

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See Sesame Street Live in New York City  February 5-16 and get great discount tickets!

If you would like to create memories with your children or grandchildren, here’s an opportunity to see Sesame Street Live in person with them, and receive a discount to do it! Feb 2009

Visit Moomettesgram’s Musings for more information:


Winterfest ~ Food Expo ~ Snow and Ice Sculptures at Lyman Orchards

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Winterfest ~ Food Expo ~ Snow & Ice Sculptures at Lyman Orchards

We New Englanders really enjoy making the most of a long winter season, especially when we have no control over the elements!

After everyone’s done celebrating Groundhog Day, keep those hats, mittens and scarfs at hand; mark your calendar and plug in the coordinates on the GPS for Winterfest Weekend at Lyman Orchards!

My family has always enjoyed visiting Lyman Orchards since our daughters were babies, and now we have the opportunity to bring along our charming son-in-law, and of course, the grandkiddos!

Sat. & Sun., February 21 and 22, 2009

Come celebrate the fun side of winter! Hours of indoor and outdoor family fun include our annual Food Expo, Snow & Sculptures provided by Bill Covitz, Rail Jam by Ski Sundown, Pony Rides, and more!

Watch as the Connecticut Valley Siberian Husky Club performs mushing demonstrations!

If you’re still hungry after all the free samples, feast on a great sandwich or salad from our Deli, or warm up with a good cup of our homemade soup.

Lyman Orchards is at the junction of Routes 147 and 157, Middlefield, CT.

The family orchards date back to 1741 and cover approximately 1,100 acres, harvesting acres of apples, berries, peaches, pears and pumpkins.

Each season features a unique celebration.

Lyman Orchards also boasts a golf course and club, along with the state’s largest indoor farm market, the “Apple Barrel Farm Market” which is open year-round. Tempting cider, cider doughnuts, freshly baked pies, bakery goods, preserves, vinegars, salsas, apple sauce and condiments will keep you salivating!

Check out their continually changing Calendar for other special events: Easter apple hunt; summer music festival; food expo; baking contests, and of course, the upcoming Winterfest Celebration:

For More Information:

(800) 349-6015 or (860) 349-1798

Cindi is the author of Moomettesgram’s Musings for WAHM tips, Moomette’s Magnificents Reviews, and Mama Mentor for personal musings and observations of a Baby Boomer Wife, Mom & Grandmother from New England. She is also the Editor of Timeless Bliss. Follow Moomettesgram on Twitter.

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Essex Ed Parade ~ Celebrate Groundhog Day with Connecticut’s Own~

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Happy New Year Everyone & Welcome to 2009 !

It’s going to be an exciting year here at Roxy’s Best of…Hartford, Connecticut ~ I have many great tips, day trips and notices of happenings planned for you!

We’ve made it through the major holidays and hopefully won’t get hammered by too many Nor’easters.

Before you know it, February will be here. That means Groundhog Day will be right around the corner.

Essex Ed Groundhog Day Parade

I’d like you to find your calendar and Save The Date ~ Sunday, February 8, 2009.

Gas prices are going down and it’ll be a perfect opportunity for the whole family to attend a parade (did I say Parade, in winter?) in historic Essex, Connecticut!

The charming village of Essex has celebrated Groundhog Day by hosting a parade with the center of attraction being Essex Ed, an almost 8-foot tall, 200 pound foam and fiberglass character known for his infamous weather predictions!

Not to be outdone by Punxsutawney Phil, of Pennsylvania ~ Connecticut Yankees have come up with their own lovable winter rodent.

Essex Ed is known for his ever-changing colorful costumes, which at times have included him being a firefighter, Professor Hill from the musical The Music Man and the Dutch explorer Adriaen Block.

So put on those home-made winter wooley caps, mittens and scarves that Grandma made, and visit Essex Village. Don’t forget to bring your pots and pans to bang on ~ which is the thing to do and is meant to symbolize “waking Essex Ed up” so we can bid goodbye to the snow and ice & herald the welcoming of Spring!

Essex Ed’s normal parade route is down Main Street.

While you’re there ~ plenty of opportunities will be available for you to stop and warm up while enjoying the local fare at restaurants and bistros. We’ve enjoyed some wonderful grub and grog at The Black Seal ~ and you’ll love the atmosphere!

For more information visit:

Cindi is the author of Moomettesgram’s Musings for WAHM tips, Moomette’s Magnificents Reviews, and Mama Mentor for personal musings and observations of a Baby Boomer Wife, Mom & Grandmother from New England. She is also the Editor of Timeless Bliss. Follow Moomettesgram on Twitter.


Introducing Roxy’s Best Of… Connecticut: Featuring Moomette, Small Town Mommy and Aldon Hynes

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Welcome to Roxy’s Best Of… Connecticut, featuring Cindi (a.k.a. Moomette), Anne (a.k.a. Small Town Mommy), and Aldon (Orient Lodge), three local bloggers who know a lot more about Connecticut than Roxy does… in fact, some say the only way a Jersey girl like me can cross the Connecticut border is under cover of the night.

Moomette is the host of Roxy’s Best Of… Hartford, Connecticut, one of the very first Roxy blogs not written by Roxy.  She is one prolific writer, best known in and around the blogosphere for her blogs, Moomettesgram’s Musings; Moomette’s Mama Mentor Blog and Moomette’s Magnificents Reviews

Small Town Mommy chronicles the day-to-day life of Anne and her family in and around the small town of Redding, Connecticut. Small Town Mommy will be hosting Roxy’s Best Of… Danbury, Norwalk, Westport, and Fairfield County, Connecticut…. just as soon as Roxy gets those local sub-sites up and running.




Perhaps best known in the blogosphere for his Orient Lodge blog, Aldon is the gracious host of Roxy’s Best Of… New Haven, Connecticut.  He hails from Woodbridge, CT, and offers interested parties several choices of bio.  I chose this one:  “Aldon is a metaphysical vagabond working as a baggage handler in the airport of the emotionally challenged. He has a keen interest in technology, group dynamics, philosophy, literature, finance. He has dirt under his finger nails from too much gardening. Aldon has replaced his “Researcher” Pompom hat with a red, white, and blue turban. He still wears a Scarlet “R”, and some weird combination of triangles indicating that he is a gay Jewish Researcher. Aldon is now also wearing a Howard Dean in 2004 button, an official MOO Crew Badge, and a wedding ring.”