Flanders Nature Center & Land Trust is excited to announce the return of their popular Field & Forest 5K Trail Run! The race is planned for Friday, June 4th at the Flanders Van Vleck Farm & Nature Sanctuary in Woodbury at 6PM. All ages and skill levels of runners, joggers, and walkers are welcome to register to enjoy this 3.1-mile run/walk through the trails and rolling hills of the picturesque nature center.
Friday, April 9, 2021
Thursday, April 8, 2021
Native Americans lived off the land and were able to identify edible plants and fungi from a young age. Most people today don’t invest the time to gain the experience required to know where to look for and how to identify wild food and edible plants. If you have ever been curious about foraging and what is edible in the woodlands of Connecticut, don’t miss the Spring Foraging Forum on April 18 with Griffin Kalin, a Museum Educator and Traditional Skills Expert at the Institute for American Indian Studies located at 38 Curtis Road in Washington, Connecticut. This program is recommended for the entire family and will be held in three one-hour time slots starting at 1:00 pm.
Monday, April 5, 2021
Broad Field Farm grows organic tomatoes and fresh vegetables and sells them at local farmers' markets as well as at their own stand on Winchester Road in season. In this video, enter an empty greenhouse and learn about the work and different techniques used to cultivate organic produce. The surprising amount of winter office work from ordering seeds to planning for crop rotation and getting the greenhouse ready for cultivation is also discussed.
Tuesday, March 23, 2021
Tuesday, March 16, 2021
Escape rooms are the new medium for learning, storytelling, and play. In December 2020, Wigwam Escape (located at The Institute of American Indian Studies in Washington, Connecticut) won the coveted escape room “2020 Golden Lock Award” by the Room Escape Artist. They were impressed by Wigwam Escape's unique take on learning through play, with their innovative and interactive puzzles allowing for problem-solving and critical thinking from multiple perspectives.
“We are thrilled that Wigwam Escape has won this award – it is truly an honor. It is really rewarding to have Wigwam Escape recognized not only for its educational value but also for the fact that it is fun,” said Lauren Bennett-Dionne, Manager of Wigwam Escape.
The Wigwam Escape journey begins in the year 1518 - players leave all modern-day devices like watches and cell phones behind, learning to take cues from the world around them. The room itself has hand-painted murals of New England forests, fields, streams, ponds, and gardens that allow players to be immersed in the pre-contact environment of Connecticut's woodlands. The centerpiece of the room is a to-scale wigwam, crafted using traditional methods from local bark and trees.
Players learn that a nearby fishing village has requested help, so they must hunt, forage, and gather supplies for a journey ahead. This unique, hands-on approach connects players to the ways Native peoples lived and the skills they relied on 500 years ago in their daily lives. Some of these lessons are timeless, allowing for an even broader takeaway from the experience of Wigwam Escape.
If you have friends and family members that are puzzle lovers, history buffs, story seekers, and enjoy immersive experiences, this adventure will definitely challenge and delight them! Wigwam Escape is committed to keeping visitors and staff safe by having each escape room be a private experience, with only one group playing at a time, and strict sanitation of all touchable game surfaces and waiting areas between groups.
This spring from March 15th – April 25th, Wigwam Escape is offering players a special deal. 20% off your ENTIRE booking with discount code DEERANTLER
If you are looking for a safe and exciting outing that is sure to chase away the winter doldrums, call Wigwam Escape at 860-868-0151 or book online at https://wigwamescape.org/book-now
Monday, March 15, 2021
The Keeler Tavern Museum in Ridgefield is hosting a virtual program, Tapping into the Past: Tavern Life in Early Connecticut on Tuesday, March 16 @ 6:30 p.m.
Keeler Tavern has a long history of being a community gathering place. In the eighteenth century, as a working tavern, the historic structure helped connect Ridgefield residents to people, information, and ideas from the New England region and beyond. Learn about how taverns were an essential part of every Connecticut town – including Ridgefield – tomorrow, Tuesday, March 16th, as educators from the Connecticut Historical Society (CHS) join us for a virtual presentation.
On Friday, March 19, Haight Brown Vineyard on Chestnut Hill Road in Litchfield is hosting two in-person events.
The first event from 5:30 to 8 pm on March 19 is a wine glass painting workshop. An instructor will guide you through the creation of 2 wine glasses to take home. There will be several sample designs for inspiration, or create your very own original design. No experience necessary. The fee includes instruction, materials, and a GLASS of WINE. Cancellations 7 days in advance for a refund. The cost for this event is $40. To reserve your spot click here.
The second event from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on March 19 is a St. Patrick's Wine, Cheese & Chocolate Pairing. Participants will enjoy several Haight Brown wines paired with cheese & chocolate. Eat & drink, make some new friends and learn some interesting facts about wine. The class will be held indoors w/ appropriate distancing. Cancellations must occur 10 days in advance for a refund. The cost of this event is $35. To register click here.
About Haight Brown Vineyard
In 1975, Sherman Haight established the first winery in the state of Connecticut. He worked with UCONN and Cornell to grow the state’s first vinis vinifera in the form of Chardonnay and Riesling, 1100 feet above sea level on Chestnut Hill in Litchfield. He petitioned the state of Connecticut to create legislation recognizing farm wineries and contracted an architect to build a large Tudor-style winery building. In 1976, the structure and the surrounding vineyards became known as Haight Vineyard, the first established winery in the state of Connecticut.
In 2007, Amy Senew purchased Haight Vineyards from Sherman Haight promising to uphold the tradition he had started over thirty years before. Amy renamed the winery Haight-Brown Vineyard in an attempt to preserve Sherman’s legacy while at the same time associating a new name and a fresh start with the winery. Today, Amy Senew serves as General Manager of Haight-Brown Vineyard.
Monday, March 8, 2021
Bored on Saturday March 13? No Problem... it is Virtual Nature Trivia Night @ White Memorial Foundation
White Memorial Foundation, the largest nature sanctuary in Connecticut located in the gorgeous town of Litchfield is hosting a Nature Trivia Night on Saturday, March 13 from 7 pm to 9 pm via Zoom. Sounds like a lot of fun!
If you aren't afraid of a challenge and think you have got what it takes -- or if you want to learn something new then register for this zoom call to hook up with the experts! Here is how to Pre-register: https://whitememorialcc.org/product/virtual-nature-trivia-night/ And, don't forget to invite a few friends!
Here is how it works... This trivia night will be facilitated via Zoom using Breakout Rooms. It will be a team event, however, you will register individually. If you would like to be on the same virtual team as another registrant(s), list their name(s) in the “Team Members” box on the registration page. Otherwise, they will randomly assign you to a team before the night begins.
Registrations MUST be in by 4pm on Friday, March 12 so that we have time to formulate teams in the Zoom Breakout Rooms. No prizes or food will be included this year, just a guaranteed good time! Goofy costumes and Zoom background screens are encouraged.
Pre-registration and pre-payment are required. Space is limited! Click here to register or call 860-567-0857 to register. Members: $5.00, Non-members: $10.00 7:00 P.M. A ZOOM link will be sent to you the day before the event.
Friday, February 26, 2021
If you are in the mood for a Saturday or Sunday drive check out these new Winter Weekend In Norfolk Connecticut videos that will help you plan a route before setting out. Winter Weekend in Norfolk made its debut virtually last weekend and is still offering on-demand videos to stream. The videos featured are series to watch that will be helpful if you are planning an in-person drive to bucolic Norfolk. These videos will show viewers a variety of points of interest that can be explored safely in Norfolk from self-guided architectural tours to nature walks and even cross-country skiing and winter photography. There are many videos to choose from when visiting the Weekend in Norfolk website that will appeal to the entire family. For the Winter Win website https://weekendinnorfolk.org
If there were a competition for the most architecturally distinguished small U.S. town of 2,000 people or fewer, Norfolk, Conn., might win it. It is the only town of that size with landmark buildings designed by eight nationally-significant architects, all within a short walk of the town green, as well as many other distinguished buildings scattered throughout. If you want to see why architecture matters, take this virtual tour or, even better, plan on visiting Norfolk in person.William Hosley, your tour guide, is a curator, historian, writer, and photographer. He is passionate about local history and historic preservation and has developed a deep attachment to dozens of places worth caring about. He is the former director of the New Haven Museum and Connecticut Landmarks and was a curator at the Wadsworth Atheneum, where he organized several major exhibitions. This nine-minute video takes visitors on an in-depth tour of Norfolk's architectural wonders that will give visitors and residents alike a new appreciation of why Norfolk looks like it does today. To take the tour https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3mTimVL-8GE
Thursday, February 18, 2021
Tuesday, February 16, 2021
The charming town of Norfolk located in the heart of the Litchfield Hills organizes a town-wide weekend celebration of art, music, and nature every August and February. Although most of the events being planned this year for the Winter Win are virtual, Mother Nature permitting, the Norfolk Volunteer Fire Department is hosting an in-person event on Saturday, February 20th from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Town Skating Rink. Bring your skates and enjoy the fresh air and natural beauty of Norfolk while skating on this pond that is surrounded by the beautiful Litchfield Hills. There will be a bonfire going to keep skaters warm and even s'mores for that extra energy boost! WIN organizers ask that skaters wear masks while at the event and social distance in accordance with CDC protocols. If you can't make it on February 20th, no worries, the Fire Department maintains the rink through the winter season.
After enjoying your time on the ice, take time to explore all that Norfolk has to offer. There are fabulous hiking trails at Haystack Mountain State Park and at Dennis Hill State Park. The views of the surrounding countryside are spectacular any time of year so don't forget your camera. Don't miss the Norfolk Village Green that is located at the junction of Rte. 44 and Rte. 272. Surrounding the green you will see the Stoeckel Estate, home of the Yale Summer School of Music, a Federal-style Congregational Church, a Romanesque styled Church, and the shingle style Norfolk Library that was built in 1888. At the southern tip of the Green is a memorial fountain designed by architect Stamford White. The On-Demand Video featuring an Architectural Tour of Norfolk with William Hosely, a prominent Connecticut Historian, and Preservationist is a fascinating introduction to the many treasured buildings in town. Watch it before visiting Norfolk to get the lay of the land.
If in-person events aren't on your agenda, Winter WIN has a fantastic number of Live-Streamed and On-Demand videos that will be available to view beginning Saturday, February 20th. There are so many videos to choose from in five different categories including music, art, nature, fun for kids, and more! There is something to please every viewer on the list.
Visit the studio of a costume designer and puppet maker or attend a workshop on winter photography. If you like music, there is plenty of it with everything from a classical Quartet to piano, drum, and guitar performances. If you like the great outdoors take a walk on the wild side with John Anderson or check out Norfolk's miles of pristine cross country ski trails with Star Childs. If the winter night sky is of interest don't miss the video with the astronomer, Mathew Moore Johnson.
If you want to try something new to eat, check out the Spanish cooking class with Martina Gago from Santiago de Compostela. Viewers will learn how to make Tortillas de Patatas, one of the signature dishes of Spanish cuisine made with eggs, potatoes, and onions. This tasty dish can be served hot or at room temperature as tapas.
Curling has a long and rich history that is thought to have originated in Scotland in the 16th century. In Norfolk curling has been alive and well since 1956. The On-Demand video shows the camaraderie among the players as well as how the club makes ice!
Animal lovers will enjoy the On- Demand videos by Lost Ruby, Husky Meadows, and Broad Field Farms because they give viewers an inside peek of what life is like on a farm in the winter!
The length of each video and a short description is included on the website. For complete information visit https://weekendinnorfolk.org. The winter weekend videos are slated to go live on February 20. In the meantime to help you pass the weary winter days, the videos from the 2020 Summer WIN are still available to watch on the website.
About Weekend in Norfolk
Now in its sixth year, the all-volunteer WIN Committee organizes two town-wide events annually: the Summer WIN and the Winter WIN. Norfolk’s town officials, the Economic Development Commission, and a multitude of local organizations, institutions, and individuals support these two town-wide festivals.
Monday, February 15, 2021
George Washington's horses slept in Wadsworth Stable in Hartford, the capital city of Connecticut! This stable was originally located in downtown Hartford, built by the Rev. Daniel Wadsworth on his estate in 1730. His son, Col. Jeremiah Wadsworth, served as Commissary General for the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.
On September 20, 1780, Wadsworth hosted the first meeting between Washington and Rochambeau at his Hartford mansion. During this meeting, Washington's horses were housed in the Wadsworth Stable. Perhaps Washington's faithful horses Nelson or Blueskin were fed and watered there!
In 1801, the stable was razed as a firebreak. It was then rebuilt in the Palladian style to complement the Wadsworth mansion.
In 1950, the stable was scheduled for demolition. Katherine Seymour Day formed The Friends of Hartford and raised enough money to relocate the stable. In 1954, the Connecticut Daughters of the American Revolution agreed to assume ownership of the stable. The building was dismantled, moved to Lebanon, and reassembled in its current location. The stable is now home to various farm tools, ironware, and numerous antique wagons including a fully restored 200 year old enclosed sleigh. The sleigh was given to the Oliver Ellsworth Homestead by the Wadsworth Chapter of the CTDAR in 1906 and was moved to its new home in the Wadsworth Stable in 2008.
Friday, February 12, 2021
Mardi Gras is a splendid celebration -- it is a kaleidoscope of color, music, revelry, and joy. It is one of the few regional festivals that have spread across the country. It is a festival that says - catch the gold beads, dress up in outrageous costumes, dance, drink, and be merry! It is a festival that says, tomorrow we shall be virtuous, but today, we party! Mardi Gras is the French word for Fat Tuesday and is celebrated in towns along the Gulf Coast including Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi. Most of us think of New Orleans, known affectionately as NOLA by the locals as Mardi Gras party central.The History
Historians have traced the origin of Mardi Gras to Medieval Europe. It is thought to have originated in Rome and Venice in the 17th and 18th centuries. Eventually, this pre-Lentian celebration moved to France and from there it moved to Louisana. The first Mardi Gras celebration was held in 1703 in the tiny settlement of Fort Lous de la Mobile, which is now Mobile, Alabama. New Orleans was founded in 1718 and the first Mardi Gras was celebrated there in the 1730s. Louisiana's governor, the Marquis de Vaudreuil, established elegant society balls which became the model for the New Orleans Mardi Gras balls of today. By the late 1830s, New Orleans held street processions of markers with carriages and horseback riders to celebrate Mardi Gras.
By 1856, dazzling gaslight torches or "flambeaux," floats and a masked ball was added to the festivities. In honor of a visit of a Russian Grand Duke, a parade was started in 1872 and is one of the most popular spectacles of the celebration today. The colors of Mardi Gras are purple, green, and gold and were selected to honor the visiting Grand Duke's imperial house colors. These royal colors are symbolic; purple stands for justice, gold for power, and green for faith.
The floats, that are the centerpiece of today's parades are financed by private social clubs known as Krewes that work year-round to get them ready. By law, all riders on the floats must wear masks and on Fat Tuesday, decorative carnival masks are legal for everyone else. Many people get into the spirit of the celebration by wearing elaborate costumes, wigs, and masks. The most delicious aspect of New Orleans' Madri Gras traditions is the King Cake which is only eaten at this time of year.
How to Celebrate Mardi Gras @ Home
Even if you can't make it to NOLA this year, there is no reason why you can't celebrate Mardi Gras at home. This holiday isn't limited to just those folks that live in New Orleans, it is celebrated all over the world. It is easy to adopt some of the traditions of Mardi Gras no matter how far you are from New Orleans! Here are our favorite ways to get into the spirit of this celebration.
Decorate Your House & Dress the Part
This is a great opportunity to brighten up a dreary February day and night! Decorate your house in gold, green and purple. For your dining table put on a green table cloth, use gold napkins and glittery gold placemats and plate chargers. Complete the look with purple confetti or beads around the placemats and glowing purple candles at the head and end of the table. For a centerpiece use an assortment of purple flowers wrapped in gold surrounded by colorful masks and glittering Mardi Gras beads. And, don't forget to dress the part by wearing something gold, green, and purple - the more glittery the better!
Pass Out Party Favors & Colorful Masks
Throws from the colorful floats of the Mardi Gras parade are one of the most beloved traditions. Head to the store and stock up on coins, beads, and other trinkets that you can give out to your friends and family. Make sure to have a selection of colorful masks on hand to liven things up. It is fun to look like you have just left the revelry of Bourbon Street with colorful beads and trinkets around your neck. After all, masks are such a big part of the festival it helps revelers get into the spirit of Mardi Gras - no matter where you are!
Mardi Gras for All Y'all
A three-night signature celebration is being planned virtually in 2021, called Mardi Gras for All Y'all that is being presented by NOLA.com and Blain Kern's Mardi Gras World. This live streaming event will have appearances by Emeril Lagasse, Hoda Kotb, Preservation Jazz Band, Archie Manning, Marine Forces Reserve Band, Ashton Ramsey, and Jimmy Buffett. There will also be special guest performances by Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award Winners Leo Nocentelli and George Porter, Jr. For the full line-up click here.
Music inflames temperament and adds to the festivities of any Mardi Gras party at home. Everyone knows that food and music are the heart and soul of NOLA. Organized by the New Orleans Visitors and Convention Bureau, to tune into concerts that are live-streamed directly from the clubs of NOLA click here. You will find everything from steamy jazz and funky brass to soulful blues, honky-tonk piano, and much more.
Shaken, Stirred, and Savored!
If you like cocktails then you will feel right at home in New Orleans where vendors sell drinks of all manner outside and in. If you want to start your celebration off with a cocktail try the Sazerac, the cocktail most linked with New Orleans and, as of 2008, the official cocktail of the state of Louisana. It is named after the Sazerac de Forge et Fils brand of cognac brandy that is the original main ingredient. Often described as a cousin of the Old Fashioned the Sazerac's secret ingredients, a dash of absinthe and bitters, makes this cocktail a strong aromatic drink that embodies the spirit of NOLA. For a recipe click here. Another popular drink is the sweet, red Hurricane, a rum-based drink served in a glass that resembles a hurricane lamp and embellished with a cherry and slice of orange. First served at Pat O'Brien's in the French Quarter in the 1940s, this drink remains one of the most popular today. For a recipe click here.
Cook Themed Food or Order Out
Cook an inspired NOLA meal like po'boys or gumbo, jambalaya, crawfish etouffee, or red rice and beans. Perhaps the most iconic dish of New Orleans is gumbo, a thick seafood stew served over rice. The roots of this dish go back to its French and African heritage. There are a number of variations of gumbo and each one is delicious. For the recipe by late famed chef, Paul Prudhomme that is served at Mr. B's Bistro in the French quarter click here. A trip to NOLA isn't complete without having sweet and creamy pralines. Aunt Sally's Creole Pralines have been around since the early 1900s and are still made the traditional way starting with Louisiana pecans. For a special surprise to add to your festivities order a Mardi Gras NOLA gift basket from Aunt Sally by clicking here.
Bake a King Cake
The King Cake is only available during Mardi Gras. It is a circular cake that looks like a braided crown that is frosted with green, gold, and purple icing and sugar. The cake is made of rich brioche dough and can be filled with pralines, cinnamon, chocolate, or cream cheese. Basically, a King Cake is baked like your average bundt cake, except that buried inside the batter is a tiny, plastic baby figurine. There are two theories of why a plastic baby is baked into the cake. The first is that the baby is symbolic of the infant Jesus because of the religious connections of this holiday to King's Day. The second theory is that whoever had the piece of cake with the baby in it was crowned King or Queen of the Mardi Gras celebrations. Today, it is a symbol of good luck.
For a King Cake recipe click here. If you don't want to make a King Cake from scratch you can order Mam Papaul's King Cake mix on Amazon that includes praline filling, colored sugar, and even a plastic baby! To order click here.
We hope that until you travel with us to NOLA and take our Mississippi River Cruise that these suggestions will make your Mardi Gras at home fun and festive...it's time to let the Good Times Roll! For information on Tours of Distinction's Mississippi River Cruise that includes NOLA click here.
Thursday, February 11, 2021
Since Valentine's Day is on Sunday, we decided to feature a romantic walk to Lover's Leap in New Milford. This scenic 160-acre park has a storied past as well as hiking trails, scenic vistas, and historic ruins.
Heading away from the parking lot, visitors will walk over the Berlin Iron Bridge, built-in 1895 that spans the Housatonic River. It is only one of five remaining bridges that span the river. This bridge is closed to auto traffic but can be enjoyed by hikers. The bridge provides scenic views of the Housatonic River.
Across the bridge, the Lovers Leap Trail heads southeast 1,200 feet to the rock formation that gives the park its name. From here, tradition has it, that the Pootatuck Indian Chief Waramaug’s daughter, Princess Lillinonah, fell in love with an Englishman. He left her with the intention of returning one day, but in her despair, she flung herself into the Housatonic River. As she plunged into the now buried "great falls" in her birch canoe, her lover having just returned dove in after her. Both drowned. The Chief himself died in 1735.
The path through the woods follows the Housatonic River to a lookout of Lake Lillinonah and the surrounding hills. The path is easy to walk on and shaded with oak trees.
For a map of the park click here. The park is located off Grove Street in New Milford. There is also a small parking area off of Town Farm Road.