(Almost) Connecticut… Best of Fall…

If you are in western MA, CT and Hey, maybe even RI… maybe?…. You know about The Big E.

It is only the best fair in the entire New England land, as far as  I know…. and even though it is not in CT it only takes about 40 minutes to get there. Come on, once in a while you gotta leave CT to find some of the gems in this location.

I have only been to the Big E twice but, knew after the first time it was the best experience in the entire world of fairs and I knew I was in love and wanted to come back every single year. For uncontrollable reasons it took me 3 years to get back there, not for lack of trying I might add.
This year it was almost just as good as I remembered it. Almost, because one very important thing was missing, Salmon on a Stick. I will explain later..

Here is a brief summary of the Big E:

The Big E, the largest fair in the Northeast, is home to The Big E Cream Puff & Craz-E Burger. It’s a New England extravaganza with top name entertainment, The Big E Super Circus, The Avenue of States, Storrowton Village Museum, animals, competitive exhibits, rides, shopping, crafts, a daily parade and a Mardi Gras parade, and foods from around the world —- for 17 days each September!

It’s the last blast of summer — celebrate at The Big E in West Springfield, Massachusetts!”  (BIG E website)

There are endless vendors selling everything from lipstick that changes colors on different skin tones, hot neck wraps, jewelry, bath, body and hair lotions and potions, and over prices insoles, to house siding, gutter cleaners, mops and other random household goods.The shopping is in two maybe three large expo centers/barns (Better Living and Young buildings) and that alone will take about 2 hours to get through if you are taking your time and stopping and looking around. If you are going with kids there are lots of fair rides they may be tempted to ride. Luckily I avoided all that and saved that time for more shopping and eating!

Click here to check out the Big E awesome Flickr account.

Then there is the food…
This is where the following infamous items live: donuts meat burger (yes it is as is sounds), fried oreos, and I heard even this year… Fried KoolAide… I don’t know how, so don’t ask me,.  I am able to stay away from all those ‘tempting’ fried treats, but I always splurge for Salmon on a Stick ($8 a stick)

These are the people responsible for my heartache this year, but the ones I fell head over heels in love with my first year.

(Maine-ly Smoked Salmon Website)
They were sold out by the day I got to them and had no sympathy for my story of wanting to go to the Big E just for them!
I mean, this is pure delicious-ness and healthy all in one!!  Much tastier and healthier then the Fried Parade going on outside the buildings.

My friend that came with me got the Calm Chowder Bread Bowl, and they were going fast! Very popular and very good (I assume) because she ate the whole thing and just the smell was enough to win me over!

Next is the shopping:

The last time I was at the Big E I got the Hot Neck Wrap and sinus bean bag to go along with it. I still have it and it’s just like new. Lasts a long time…! And very comforting I must add 🙂

The Big E is so big I would definitely allow at least 4 hours minimum just to see everything. If you want to stop and eat, even more time!  Do be prepared to spend money. This was something I ideally was trying to save up for (ideally because it didn’t happen, lol). But tickets are not cheap, and then the food, plus drinks and any shopping, not to mention tickets to a show in my case… you are gonna want to make sure you have money with you for sure. Nothing worse than missing out on a awesome item just because you didn’t plan ahead and save up for this once a year spectacular!

Amazingly, Jeff Dunham happened to be there. You know, totally unplanned……Jk jk. It was TOTALLY planned…and he didn’t happen to ‘just be there’. He was there for a ‘performance’ I guess that is what you call it? Anyways, of course he was hilarious and who couldn’t laugh/think this guy is cute:


He did Sparks of Insanity and a little sneak peak at his Halloween series coming up soon!  I am not a big comedian fan, but I do like him thanks to my college roommate.

If you are not living in CT and just reading this from some other state, make sure you put the Big E on my bucket list! This is a great New England tradition and something, I love and wouldn’t change a thing about it!


Escape CT while still in the state!

I bet you didn’t know that Connecticut has its very own Jersey Shore beach, did you now?
It is called Soundview Beach more specifically The Pavilion at Soundview Beach, located in Old Lyme, CT. While this is NOT a place to take your children, and not a place for grandma and grandpa to come and listen to the waves, it is definitely a place to come and well… wear next to nothing and… get wasted.

There is a bar onsite and live entertainment most days. At night the bar becomes a sort of dance club I hear (I didn’t stay late enough to find out).

I did have a couple drinks and got lunch there, both surprisingly good! I going a teriyaki chicken sandwich and was shocked by how tasty it was! Basic drinks were $5, like cran-vodka, etc. I was surprised by this as well, since I thought they would try getting away with a lot more. I guess between the cover to get in (sometimes they have one sometimes they don’t) and the cost of parking, they finally cut you some slack on the cost of drinks.

I had a blast, it was not what I was expecting since I never had been before, but it was definitely fun, especially people watching. U definitely had a Wizard of Oz moment when I turned to my friend and said “I don’t think we are in Connecticut anymore”, but in fact we were! There were more “guido” muscle heads and girls letting it all hang out then I have ever seen congregated in one place before (unless on Jersey Shore, which I avoid watching at all costs).

The beach was pretty, the sand was fairly decent and the food, drinks and music was flowing. It felt like I was on vacation on a tropical island.
Want to escape from reality? Go to Soundview Beach! 

What to do (besides eat) in Downtown Hartford

I will be the first to admit that there is nothing really exciting in Downtown Hartford unless you are coming for dinner or a fancy lunch (or a college kid on the weekend late at night).
There are no streets lined with cute bookstores, or boutiques. There are no jewelry stores and bath and body shops to wander in and out of. Even Starbucks in closed on the weekend! Now that is saying something! (another cry out as a “fake city”)

However! (yes, there is always a ‘however’)

There is a gem hidden in Downtown, it is on Pratt Street. It is low and behold a women’s clothing store! Not just any clothes, there are clothes that are modern and edgy…and designed by local students seeking to become famous designers! This amazing store is called NIRO. In additional to the sophisticated and beautiful clothes, their jewelry and purses are equally as desirable! (and usually only around $30-40!)

“Eclectic clothing with ethnic aesthetics is key words that describe the designs coming out of The NIRO Boutique” 

This description on their website is right on point. I never have been in NIRO without finding something I would love to own. AND they are not at high end designer expensive prices. They are moderate and possibly affordable! I would say things range around $30-$80.  I LOVE how they explain “Shopping at NIRO Boutique is not a task to check off your to-do list, but more of an experience, to savor and revel in.  One cannot help but feel an instant calm and serenity upon entering the boutique.” They definitely make this VERY clear in their stores layout with sofas and friendly staff ready to just chat or help you pick out something wonderfully unique and classy. I have been many times with one particular friend who buys something adorable and one of a kind every time we are there. Her purchases include a black eyelet open front sweater, a bold blue clutch with an optional long strap and awesome buckles, and an delightful light pink beaded flower cocktail ring!

If you don’t know this about me I am a big fan of helping others and supporting local communities. That is why I think the NIRO Mission makes me happy and proud to shop there. Read their movement below;

“NIRO Design Center is the studio in which NIRO Couture the collection is created as well as the classroom for many individuals in pursuit of a career in fashion design and retail management. If you are an independent designer interested in having a space to sell and showcase your work please call (860) 724-NIRO (6476) to schedule an appointment.”

I highly recommend you check this place out when you are in Downtown Hartford, you are not only getting one of a kind orginal pieces to add to your waredrobe, you are also supporting aspiring local designers with ambition, dedication and most obviously, genuine talent

Don’t you worry…

Don’t you worries bloggie readers out there… I have not forgotten my new blog!!
This has been an insane week. So until I can share more of my own finds I suggest anyone seeking a trouble, looking for scares or just interested in the weird and spookies of CT, check out this website below:

Some of my” favorites” include:
Dudley Town
The clown Silo
Abandoned institutions
Some of these institutions I read about still had scattered files and papers all over the floors from a “quick exit” the doctors took way back when…

I use favorites loosely because these are just posts that stood out to me, mostly because they either freaked me out or made me very curious.

When making this post I couldn’t even stay on the site long because the whole thing just creeps me out.


CT Bucket List

So it may be crazy, but I have a CT Bucket List. I have a list of things I want to do in CT before I leave the state (in the unforeseeable future at this point). Check it out and let me know if you think I am missing something!

1)      Dine and/or get drinks at Rooftop 120 in Glastonbury, CT

2)      Attend the CT Wine Festival
(Source: CT Wine Trail Facebook photos)

3)      Travel the CT Wine Trail and get as many passport stamps as possible

4)      Have a make-shift photoshoot with the dogs at Elizabeth Gardens (rose garden)

5)       Go ziplining!

6)      Attend Liquid Lounge at the CT Science Center

7)      Attend Third Thursday at RAW

8)      Attend first Thursday at Wadsworth

9)      Dine in at least 5 places in New Haven restaurant section

10)   Try the crazy cool Miya sushi restaurant with weird combinations in New Haven
Check out what I mean by “crazy cool” HERE

11)    Travel to NYC for a night or weekend!

12)   Go to the BIG E as many times as humanly possible, and eat salmon on a stick and pickles! HAHA Maybe not at the same time though… 😉

13)   Attend Restaurant Week!

14)   Attend all the “good” Happy Hours in West Hartford Center/Blue Back Square
So far I have made it to : Cuvee, Treva, and Shish Lounge,

15) Have an AMAZING college career. (I am sorry I cannot show you those pictures…just yet 😉 )
but I graduated with honors, partied with fraternities, fell in love (at one point), and made some of the best friends of my life.

15)   I am SURE there must be more that I am forgetting….. 

but until next time 🙂 

Woodbury Ski Area (Summer!)

So I found a Savenowct.com deal for Woodbury Ski Resort, which turns themselves into a summer adventure location, which is  a smart business move for sure! I convinced my friend to go with me.  All we knew was that there was a track and a tube, and basically they shove you down. I wanted to do the add on The Aqua Zorb but my friend was having none of that. Basically the Zorb is a huge ball you climb inside (it’s filled with water for cushioning I guess) and they strap you in and shove you down a slope! Going down a slope in the tube was good enough for her, and thank goodness we didn’t sign on for the Zorb… Read on and you will find out why!

By the time we got to Woodbury Ski around 12pm it was downpouring, we obviously were not expecting a storm that day. We waited it out in the camp like cafe and one of the guys cooked us an extra set of chicken fingers to munch on while we waited out the storm. Everything was wooden, the benches, tables, walls. It totally felt like a camp I use to go to when I was little. When it was just slightly drizzling we went back downstairs by the slope and figured we were already there and they were willing to let us go down so we may as well try. They only had the smaller, less steep slope open because of the rain which was just fine. There was quiet literally a conveyor belt you stand on to get up to the top. Let me just say it is in no way sexy trying to step onto that thing with no railing to balance yourself. Image me hands down, butt up wobbling trying to stand up while the guy running the thing stood there laughing at me… Yup that happened.

( picture from Woodbury Ski Area website. Not mine!)

Anyways, we got to the top and I made my friend go down first 🙂   Half way down the guy watching her turns to me and said “wow, since it’s raining she is going alot faster than I expected”. I am not sure if that was suppose to be reassuring or what, but all I knew was that I was next and I was not so sure about this anymore. Too late! I jumped in and he pushed and before I knew it I was spinning all around backwards, forwards, sideways down this steep slope hitting bumps and the railings the entire way. And yes, it was extremely fast. I got to the bottom and I could tell my friend was over it.She had a headache just from one ride down. I was not however ready to give up that easily, I made her come up one more time. That time I flew down and almost went over the railing, and slammed back down right onto my derrière. Let me just say it is very painful for anyone who has not experienced injuring a tailbone before. After that we were both over it and called the trip a wash and headed home. The guys were great, gave us rain checks and were very friendly. I would have loved to go zip lining, which they also offer had the weather been nice. But I guess there is always next time… but maybe with a different friend since this one swore never again 😉
If you want to get a feel for the place check out their videos here! It gives you a pretty good idea of what it is like doing down those slopes and the Zorb has a video too!
I would love to go back and spend a day there on a hot and beautiful day. I am sure it would be tons of fun since there is so much to do, from 2 different tubing slopes and the Zorb to ziplining and who knows what else! Who’s up for it? I have two rain checks! 😉

Best Happy Hour in West Hartford Center

Hands down… Cuvee is the best Happy Hour spot in West Hartford Center.
I LOVE this place.  I was shocked to see that they serve sushi of all things at this upscale South Florida vibe restaurant. But it is great! The bar is separated from the rest of the restaurant, which has curtains hanging from the ceiling and sofas instead of tables for dinning. Happy Hour is Tuesday through Friday 5-7pm and 50% off EVERYTHING!! (Don’t try to go Mondays, they are closed.) Yup that means you can get a glass of wine AND a flatbread of your own design (my personal favorite combo) for just about $10! If you happen to get sushi at Happy Hour it is about $5 and I highly recommend the Cuvee Roll. West Hartford Roll is runner up.

Cuvee has introduced me to new wines that have quickly become my favorite.
Most noteworthy are Carmenere Terranoble and Matua. I don’t know that I would have tried them had it not been for Cuvee. These were both results of recommendations when I was asked what I usually liked and welcomed the server to make suggestions.

Outside of Happy Hour this is a great Date Night place because you can get warm and cozy on a sofa and just have a little space from everyone else. This is being compared to being in a big open dining room with the loud scream kid at the table next to you. Not anywhere near my idea of a good time.

Until you can get there yourself check out there Food Gallery. When they have themes parties (New Years, St Pattys Day, etc) they are a whole other beast. I would never recognize the place!  If you are into upscale partying in a classy location this is your place!

Let me know when you go and how you liked it!

Hello! Welcome…

Welcome to CT Gems. Thank you for checking me out 🙂
This is a blog for anyone looking for something, anything decent to do in this state. I will be the first one to tell you I NEVER thought I would be in CT as long as I have been. I am young, and there are not alot of young single people in the area. I like to have alot going on and alot of options of things to do on the weekends, and that is lacking in CT too.

That said, I have taken it upon myself to make a Connecticut Bucket List because there are some really great things to do in the state, and you better bet I want to do them. It’s a CT Bucket List because I honestly do not plan to spend the rest of my life in this State. I don’t know how long I will be here, but lets just say I don’t want to raise a family here. I admire Connecticut since friends that were born and raised here have shown me it’s beauty from their perspective, but alas I am still not hooked.

Therefore, I have created this blog to share my gems and favorite things in CT in hopes that I can make others enjoy the state, whether you have been here your whole life, you’re “stuck” here for any given reason (job, college, significant other, etc.), or you are just looking for something to do!

Please send a message and tell me about your gems too! I am always excited to try new places!
I hope you enjoy!