Stuff and Nonsense: around connecticut


Showing posts with label around connecticut. Show all posts
Showing posts with label around connecticut. Show all posts

4.16.2020

Pandemic Groceries: Sardilli Produce & Dairy


Two Hartford-area wholesalers have begun selling boxes of produce, meat, and dairy to the public for contact-free curbside pickup and this is, frankly, a godsend for me. I don't enjoy grocery shopping at the best of times and now, constantly aware of other people's inability to properly social distance, it is one giant clusterfuck of anxiety and dread. I'd used Instacart a few times at the beginning of the pandemic and found the shoppers very efficient and professional, but the company treats them shabbily and, frankly, I don't want to be the reason someone becomes exposed to COVID-19. So, yes, when I heard wholesalers like Sardilli Produce and Dairy were offering curbside pickup, I signed right up.

Sardilli Produce and Dairy offers all fruit, all veg, mixed fruit and veg, dairy, and meat boxes. The contents of the boxes are listed on their website so, if you want, you can menu plan before you even get your box. The company seems on top of things and is quick to post when a box is no longer available or when the next opportunity to order for pickup will be.


When I arrived today to pick up my boxes (dairy and mixed), there were plenty of orange cones and (masked and gloved) staff to point me in the right direction. I pulled into the check-in area and, through my closed window, showed my order number to a (masked and gloved) staff member. Another (masked, gloved, and socially distanced) staff member put papers under a windshield wiper, denoting what I needed, and then I drove off to the trucks. There, more (masked, gloved, and socially distanced) staff loaded my trunk with boxes and I was on my way. The entire process was extremely efficient and fast, taking less than fifteen minutes.

It is safe to say I am hooked on this, having gone ahead and ordered a meat box for next week. If only Sardelli sold a bread, pasta, and rice box my pandemic life would be pretty okay. (Please don't tell me how I can make my own bread. I don't have an oven).


Lynn, you say, this is all very nice and informative, but what about the goods? Are they worth it? Yes, I say, yes. Everything is perfect, not a blemish or bruise to be found, and the dairy has best buy dates in May and beyond. Altogether there's enough stuff to feed as for two or three weeks and, aside from the iceberg lettuce and cherry tomatoes, the produce is all long-lasting stuff.

Here, have a list:

3 lbs Cara Cara Oranges
1 Bunch of Bananas
3 lbs Apples
1 package of Strawberries
1 head of Iceberg Lettuce
1 Package of Multi Color Cherry Tomatoes
2 lb Haricot Beans
3 lb Brussels Sprouts
2 lb Carrots
5 lb Sweet Potatoes
3 each Peppers (green, red & yellow)
1 Each Celery (bunch)
2 lb Onions
2 each Shallots
3 each Cippolini Onions

1 Half Gal 2% Milk (Mountain Dairy, CT)
1 Pint of ½ & ½ Cream (Mountain Dairy, CT)
2 Dozen Eggs Cage Free
1 Butter 1 lb Block (Cabot, VT)
1 Quart of Yogurt Fage Plain
1 52 oz Tropicana Orange Juice No Pulp
1 8 oz Block White Cheddar Cheese (Cabot, VT)
1 - 8 oz Shred Mozzarella (Cabot, VT)


From the boxes, I brought my dad a dozen eggs (plus a third of the brussels sprouts and green beans), because his local grocery store has been out of eggs for three weeks and, at nearly seventy, I don't want him shopping around when I (mostly healthy, probably) can fetch it for him.

4.10.2020

April Morning


It has been many years since I pulled an all-nighter, but last night we were up late, watching streaming things, and then I started listening to an audiobook while I did some work things, and the later it became, the more awake I was. At five, I decided it was simply too late/early to try to sleep so I fed the cat, took a shower, and left the house.

Neil's Donuts opens at six, you see. I know running out for donuts during a pandemic seems like the ultimate decadence ... and it probably is, but I make no apologies. Neil's doughnuts are the best doughnuts in Connecticut. I am going to do what I can to support them, because they are an institution and must not fail.


Also, Neil's Donuts (and its customers) is doing everything right. Staff were masked, gloved, and socially avoidant. Only five customers are allowed in the shop at a time and there are marks on the floor to tell you where to stand. The two customers ahead of me were properly socially avoidant and the entire purchase went smoothly, with nothing to tweak my anxieties.

Having acquired doughnuts, I stopped at Harbor Park for a slow walk along the riverfront. It was a beautiful, if chilly morning, and I had the entire park to myself. Of course, I took some photos. Then I went home, ate doughnuts, and did not go to bed.


The giant head is a concrete sculpture representing the Wangunk Indian Tribe, an indigenous people who lived along the banks of the Connecticut River in what is now central Connecticut, before the arrival of white people in the 1600s brought the epidemics, christianity, and violence which devastated so many of Connecticut's indigenous peoples.

3.13.2020

Elizabeth Park: Spring Greenhouse Show


Who else can't wait for the end of this exhausting, gray winter? I had some time today after therapy and decided to do a little extra self-care with a wander through the Spring Greenhouse Show at the Elizabeth Park Conservancy in West Hartford. The colors! The scents! A half hour visit left me refreshed and filled with fantasies of the bulbs I will plant in my new gardens.

Elizabeth Park Conservancy hosts this show every year and it is a simply stunning display of flowering bulbs and other seasonal blooms. This year the floral display included varieties of French hyacinths, muscari, tulips, daffodils, pansies, trellised sweet peas, culinary herbs, and hanging baskets, as well as a collection of tropical plants and succulents. The week-long display concludes with a sale of everything in the greenhouse for completely reasonable prices. Admittedly, I have yet to make it to the post-show salad, because I forget to book the time off!

What I'm saying is, the Spring Greenhouse Show is well worth a visit.

Tulip 'Foxy Foxtrot' & Narcissus 'Tahiti'

Tulip 'Spring Green' look so striking next to bold, purple hyacinths

Multiflowering Tulip 'Shogun' are an inviting mix of apricot & melon

More Tulip 'Foxy Foxtrot' with its soft ruffled petals

Leucojum aestivum 'Gravetye Giant' looks like a great mashup of Snowdrops & Lily-of-the-Valley

Lathyrus odoratus 'Watermelon' (I think), an heirloom variety from Renee's Garden

3.09.2020

An Evening With Dr. Douglas Tallamy


Recently I had the good luck to attend a presentation by Dr. Douglas Tallamy, professor in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware and the author of many publications, including the recent Nature's Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard.

Dr. Tallamy spoke about the vital need for a homegrown approach to conservation. With eighty-three percent of the land in the contiguous United States privately-owned, we must integrate native plant species into our yards, balconies, or window boxes to create conservation corridors he calls "Homegrown National Parks."

Such parks would boost the wildlife diversity in North America tremendously by making suburban lawns and gardens more productive for insects. Insects eat foliage, birds eat insects. The more delicious bugs to nom on, the more populous and healthier the birds. If we don’t increase the number and quantity of native plants in our landscape, then the populations of insects will continue to drop and that is very bad for the birds and everything else.

According to Dr. Tallamy the best plant you can add to your landscape is the oak, because they support more than five hundred species caterpillars ("bird food"). Asters and goldenrod are also strongly suggested, as they support the most species of insect herbivores and pollinators. Conveniently, asters and goldenrods are usually drought-resistant and deers avoid them.

Overall, it was a fascinating evening and I recommend getting a hold of a copy of Nature's Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard.

2.23.2020

2020 Connecticut Flower & Garden Show

The Connecticut Flower and Garden Show in Hartford is something I look forward to every February. Even though I don't attend every show, the photos it generates are a godsend in the middle of winter blahness. Over three acres of beautifully landscaped gardens, horticultural displays, and vendors transform the Connecticut Convention Center into a gardener's paradise. The themed gardens are just so much gardeninspo, filling my head with fantasies about my new yard.


If all that's not enough for you, the show also offers a daily series of talks and workshops. As large crowds in enclosed spaces tends to trigger my anxieties (working on it), I used the talks as an opportunity to create a little breathing space for myself.

I attended three talks:

Grow a Pollinator Garden with award winning, nationally recognized garden writer Charlie Nardozzi

Every Yard Matters: How to Create a Healthy Monarch Butterfly Habitat at Home with Diane St. John of Natureworks Garden Center

Wild Flowers with Owen McLaughlin, landscape architect and founder of Perennimix.com


And purchased three books from the UCONN Hartford campus bookstore's gardening and local interest display:

New England Bird Lover's Garden: Attracting Birds With Plants and Flowers by Randi Minetor

Northeastern Birds Backyard Guide by Bill Thompson III

Native Plants for New England Gardens by Mark Richardson and Dan Jaffe

Do you see a theme?

12.21.2019

Tea at the Phelps-Hatheway House

I recently had the pleasure of attending a tea in honor of Jane Austen’s birth anniversary at the Phelps-Hatheway House in Suffield. The afternoon began with a tea tasting led by a representative from Rishi Tea. We tasted Quince Eucalyptus and Cinnamon Plum, both organic caffeine-free botanical blends. The Quince Eucalyptus (a blend of quince, eucalyptus, ginger, black pepper, yuzu) was both bright and citrusy, but there was an underlying astringency I did not find pleasing. Much better was the Cinnamon Plum, a blend of plum, currants, hibiscus, and Saigon cinnamon. Already a fan of hibiscus tea, I was really taken with the perfect balance of flavors. Cinnamon Plum is definitely moreish lets-brew-a-whole-pot-just-for-me tea.


After the tea sampling, we retired to the "tea room" where we were served what were described as refreshments popular in the early 19th century and conversed at length among ourselves about Jane Austen and her delightful novels. We ate a variety of scones and quiches, plus cucumber sandwiches and a delicious (if anachronistic) Victoria Sponge.


The afternoon concluded with a tour of the first floor of the Phelps-Hatheway House and a brief vocal performance by one of our guides. All in all, it was an extremely pleasant way to pass a December afternoon.



The Phelps-Hatheway House & Garden highlights the luxurious lifestyle enjoyed by two wealthy 18th-century Connecticut Valley families until their fortunes collapsed. Suffield native Shem Burbank built the center chimney structure in 1761 where he and his wife Anna Fitch Burbank raised nine children. A merchant of British goods, Burbank’s business suffered during the American Revolution. In 1788, he sold the house to Oliver Phelps originally of Windsor, who served as Deputy Commissary under George Washington and later a successful land speculator. In 1794, Phelps commissioned the addition of a substantial wing decorated with imported Parisian wallpaper. A depressed real estate market forced Phelps to foreclose on the property in 1802 and move to Canandaigua, NY where he died in 1809.