Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Cross Country Skiing in Litchfield Hills

A snowy winter means mountains of fun in Connecticut's Litchfield Hills, where opportunities for many kinds of outdoor recreation abound.

Imagine the quiet swoosh of a cross country skier gliding across the winter landscape in one of the many state parks and nature centers that abound in this unspoiled northwest corner of the state.  Here are a few of our favorite spots to cross country ski.

White Memorial Foundation, on 71 Whitehall Rd. (off Rte. 202) in Litchfield offers 35 pristine miles of trails to explore.  The Apple Hill Trail is especially scenic for x-country skiing as it meanders for approximately two miles from Laurel Hill to the summit of Apple Hill, the highest point around Bantam Lake.   An observation platform located on top of Apple Hill provides stunning views of the lake, hills and unspoiled countryside as far as the eye can see.  Gliding through open fields and forests you may catch a glimpse of a white tailed deer or a red fox.

Burr Pond State Park, on Burr Mountain Rd. in Torrington offers a lovely blue blazed three mile trail with very little elevation that circles Burr Pond making it easy to ski on.  The trail takes you through a portion of Paugnut State Forest with its sheltering pines and hemlocks.  In addition to including many fine views of the pond – popular with ice fishermen, you will also glide through a variety of habitats.

Collis P. Huntington State Park on Sunset Hill Rd., in Redding is a quiet hideaway park that offers several unexpected charms.  The hill at this park is excellent for sledding and sliding and the network of trails here, most were former roads offer excellent and easy cross -country skiing.   The Blue Trail circles the park in a 5.7-mile loop that is perfect for an afternoon excursion.  A highlight of the park is the unique bronze animal sculptures made by Anna Vaughn Hyatt, one of America's most prolific sculptors.

Housatonic Meadows State Park located one mile north of Cornwall Bridge on Rte. 7 offers idyllic cross country skiing along the Housatonic River.  Swoosh through pine scented trails along the river keeping  your eye peeled on wildlife that makes this area their home.

Perhaps one of the most scenic parks for cross country skiing is Topsmeade State Park located on Buell Road off East Litchifeld Rd. of Rte. 118 in LItchfield.  Nestled in a setting of great natural beauty you will find a maganificent Tudor style home that was once the summer estate of Miss Edith Morton Chase, heiress to a brass family fortune in Waterbury.  There are numerous trails to explore here as well as a number of unpaved roads.  Look of rhte 7/10 of a mile nature walk with interpretive signs.

n 1917, Miss Chase received from her father approximately 16 acres on Jefferson Hill in Litchfield. Here she built a rustic cabin, which was replaced with a more substantial summer home in 1923. She hired noted architect Richard Henry Dana, Jr. to help her design and build the English Tudor style house which was completed in 1925. The exterior woodwork is of cypress, the downspouts are lead, the walls of brick and stucco, and the roof is slate.  Upon her death in 1972, Edith Chase left her beloved country estate to the people of Connecticut and to be known as Topsmead State Forest. In her will, Miss Chase requested that Topsmead State Forest "be kept in a state of natural beauty". To ensure that Topsmead would remain undisturbed, Miss Chase left an endowment to be used toward maintaining and operating the buildings and grounds as they were upon her death.

For more information about crossing country and down hill skiing in Litchfield Hills, visit

Saturday, February 23, 2013

A Visual Spectrum Of Exhibits Opens At Silvermine Arts Center In February

Silvermine Arts Center, located in New Canaan, CT will be opening a new set of exhibits February 24th, ranging from the dazzling abstractions of Sharon Cavagnolo to the visually complex installation by Mary Jo McGonagle. There is also the hyper-real figurative paintings of Anca Pedvisocar and the aptly named “Human Touch” figurative print group show featuring Karen Butler, Helen Cantrell, Alanna Fagan, Nancy Lasar and Nomi Silverman. The show runs through April 5th. All are welcomed to the opening reception on Sunday, February 24th 2:00pm – 4:00pm.

The Question

In her exhibit, “New Paradigms,” artist Sharon Cavagnolo deals with chaos and the human need to control and come to terms with it. For the artist, a gestural or impulsive movement often serves as the beginning of an idea for a painting, with subsequent layers imparting balance, line, color and pattern. The creation of the ‘whole’ represents a new place to be.

“(Dis)connect” is the new site specific installation by Silvermine Guild Artist, Mary Jo McGonagle. Combining video and signature wall coverings and paintings, the installation reflects her fascination with how relationships take place in our everyday lives, hovering between humor and desperation. Time-based media in conjunction with painting creates the overall environment. McGonagle’s work is a multi-disciplinary exploration of images and narratives of sublimated family dynamics and the idea of the suburban home as an environment of contradictions. . In her exhibit, she uses decorative wallpapers, patterning and colorful language to conceal contemporary phrases. The phrases are camouflaged within the wallpaper patterns. There is an element of discovery, revealing our innermost feelings which deal with the unspoken, “not so nice,” thoughts that we all share.

The Elements

Anca Pedvisocar’s exhibit “Take 2” is about second chances given to forgotten moments in forgotten lives of forgotten people, to be re-lived in a different way by people of our time. For this artist, the most difficult part in her work is choosing what to do next and why. Anca will look over the many black & white snap shots she has collected of the last century before choosing the most significant “insignificant” moment in time worth painting. The central theme of Pedvisocar’s paintings is a mixture of tension and solitude that seems to bring people together, while simultaneously pulling them apart. This conflict makes itself visually apparent in people’s most inconsequential and mundane actions and postures, glossing their figures with an unmistakable varnish that makes them impervious to one another and to themselves. The treatment of the figures in her paintings are restrained, as in a black and white movie, while exalting the color of the background, evoking the presence of an old, skipping soundtrack and a narrator’s voice starting to tell their 

Curtain Call

The Guild group exhibition, “The Human Touch: Five Printmakers,” showcases new figurative works by Silvermine members Karen Brussat Butler, Helen Cantrell, Alanna Fagan, Nancy Lasar and Nomi Silverman. The five artists share a love of printmaking, exploring contemporary interpretations of the figure in a variety of print techniques including woodcut, intaglio, lithography and other media.

For more information on these exhibits and other events at the Silvermine Arts Center, please visit or call 203-966-9700 ext. 20.  For area information visit

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Native American Drum Making Workshop at The Institute for American Indian Studies

The Institute for American Indian Studies in Washington Connecticut located in the heart of the Litchfield Hills is offering a workshop to celebrate the drum because it is considered to be the most important Native American instrument.  Most Native Americans prefer to use drums made from traditional materials made by a master drum maker or make their own. This is because of the strong spiritual associations of the is the heartbeat of Mother Earth.

Indigenous peoples made several kinds of drums; log drum, water drum and the most common, the hand drum. Hand drums could be single or double-headed. In the northeast region they were traditionally made using a wooden base and an animal hide; typically deer or elk.

The drum is considered to be the first musical instrument used by humans; historians believe the drum has been virtually every culture known to mankind. The original purpose was for communicating over long distances as a type of signal.

On Saturday, February 23 from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. Allan Madahbee, Ojibway artist and musician, will instruct participants in making their own single-face drum while sharing the importance of the drum in Native American culture. This workshop is recommended for cildren ages 12 and up. The workshop fee is $150; $125 IAIS Members. Reservations and a $50 nonrefundable deposit is required by calling 860-868-0518. The museum is located on 38 Curtis Rd. in Washington 
Connecticut. For additional information For area information

About The Institute for American Indian Studies

IAIS is a Not-For-Profit organization. We do not receive monies from the State, Town of Washington nor any other museum or gaming facility. We reply on membership, programs and contributions for support.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Night at the museum - the Bruce Museum!

Come dressed in your pajamas to the Bruce Museum on Friday, February 22, 2013, from 5:00 - 9:00 pm, for Night at the Museum. This will be a fun; activity-filled and family-focused event with proceeds benefitting children's education and scholarship programs at the Bruce.

The Museum is creating a night to remember for the entire family. This event is being offered in conjunction with the upcoming exhibition Chinasaurs: Dinosaur Discoveries from China scheduled to open at the Bruce Museum on January 26, 2013.

Guests will be treated to dino-themed activities including movie screenings and craft activities. There will be pizza for the children, and adults can enjoy wine and beer as well as delicious, upscale Asian food compliments of ChinaWhite modern organic kitchen.

Chinasaurs: Dinosaur Discoveries from China welcomes visitors to walk among the skeletons, skulls, nests and eggs of more than a dozen of these rare Asian dinosaurs. From the huge 30-foot long, meat-eating Yangchuanosaurus to the gazelle-sized plant eaters such as Psittacosaurus, the prehistoric fossils of the Far East provide an exciting experience for dinosaur enthusiasts. Chinasaurs offers a glimpse of the unprecedented evolution of dinosaurs and their dominance over the world for more than 155 million years.

Individual tickets for Night at the Museum are $75 per adult and $25 per child (children under 3 are free). Patron level tickets, which include special benefits, will be available for $250, $500, $750 and $1,000. For more information or to receive an invitation, please contact Jen Bernstein, Special Events Manager, at 203-413-6761 or

For information on the Bruce Museum For area information

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Winter Wonderland Children’s Ball February 23

Calling all little princes and princesses!  Stepping Stones is rolling out the red carpet as the museum transforms into a snow-kissed wonderland for its fifth annual Winter Wonderland Children’s Ball on Saturday, February 23 from 6:00 – 8:30 pm. Children are invited to dress up in their party best for a memorable evening of fun and entertainment.

Moms and Dads, sons and daughters will be treated like the princes and princesses that they are as they enjoy a magical wintry celebration featuring dancing, hors d'oeuvres and full access to all the exhibits in the museum. Families will enjoy posing for the paparazzi as they arrive, learning ballroom moves from Robin Poska’s Ballroom Magic of Norwalk and making wonderful winter crafts.

Be sure you bring your camera.   Photo opportunities abound as we celebrate the magic and wonder of the season amidst a whimsical winter backdrop of a lighted courtyard, a play-sized igloo, a life-sized snow globe, spectacular winter muralssnowflake-adorned galleries and a myriad of snow people.

Tickets for this unforgettable evening for the whole family cost $10 per person for museum members and $12 per person for non-members.  Children under the age of one will be admitted for free.  Winter Wonderland Children’s Ball tickets are non-refundable and non-transferable.  Registration is required.  Space is limited, so register early.  Call 203 899 0606, ext. 247 or visit  For area information visit

About Stepping Stones Museum for Children
Stepping Stones Museum for Children in Norwalk, Conn., is an award-winning, private, non-profit 501(c)(3) children’s museum committed to broadening and enriching the lives of children and families. Located on five acres in Mathews Park, the LEED Gold certified museum encompasses five hands-on galleries, state-of-the-art Multimedia Gallery, Family and Teacher Resource Center, cafe and retail store.

Stepping Stones is located at 303 West Avenue, exit 14N or 15S off I-95 in Norwalk. Museum hours are Monday – Sunday, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm. Admission is $15 for adults and children. Children under 1 are free. To learn more, call 203 899 0606 or visit

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Valentine's Day Ideas

If the winter doldrums have set in, a welcome cure is in sight...Valentine's Day! Whether you want to get out on the ski slopes or retreat to a fireside, the inns and resorts of Connecticut's Fairfield County and Litchfield Hills are offering a host of special packages for Valentine's Day.

It's a Sweet Deal for Sweethearts at the Shelton Inn Hampton on 695 Bridgeport Ave. minutes off Rte. 8.  They invite you to celebrate this Valentine’s Day with your sweetheart and are offering a romantic evening for two that includes deluxe king bed accommodations for one night for two, a complimentary breakfast for two, a $50 gift certificate to Vazzy's Cucina Restaurant (free shuttle service) and champagne and chocolate covered strawberries.  This offer is available Feb. 8-17.  To reserve 203-925-5900 (use promo code PDK) or

Hampton Inn
It’s Valentine’s Day all year round at the Hilton Stamford Hotel & Executive Meeting Center.  Their “Stay in Love in Stamford Romance Package” includes your choice of wine or sparkling juice upon arrival*, a $25 food and beverage credit, and more. Visitors must book at least three days prior to arrival and stay a minimum of two nights. Rates start at $149. To book your room call (203) 967-2222 or

Hilton Stamford Hotel & Executive Meeting Center
For a fun Valentine’s Day getaway try the “Stay Here, Play There NYC Train Package” at the award winning Sheraton Stamford Hotel. The package includes overnight Stamford accommodations from $156 per night, two adult round trip Metro North train tickets from the Stamford station to Grand Cental, complimentary shuttle service to/from the hotel and Stamford station and Breakfast for two in restaurant 700 Main.  To reserve call 203-358-8400 or visit
Sheraton Stamford Hotel
The Bridgeport Holiday Inn on 1070 Main Street is offering a Valentine’s Day Package for $214 that includes a champagne toast on arrival with a chocolate heart, a gourmet 4 course dinner for two, an overnight stay in a deluxe king bedded guest room and free validated parking.  This package is only available on Feb. 14. To reserve your spot call (203) 334-1234 or

Bridgeport Holiday Inn

The Hilton Garden Inn Norwalk is offering a Valentine's Day Package through Feb 28 that offers luxurious overnight accommodations for two, chilled bottle of champagne, gourmet chocolates and a full American breakfast at the Great American Grill all for $109.  To reserve your room call 203-523-4000 or

Hilton Garden Norwalk

The Hyatt Regency in Greenwich is offering a romance package at their newly renovated hotel that is sure to provide an unforgettable setting with all the romantic touches.  The romance package offers breakfast buffet for two in Winfield's, champagne delivered to room upon arrival, complimentary valet parking for (1) vehicle, evening turndown service, and 3 p.m. late checkout for just $20 more than the rate of the day.  This package is available through 12/30/2013. To reserve call 203-409-4340 or

Hyatt Regency Greenwich

If you are a fan of Love Potion # 9 you might want to book at stay at Rock Hall Luxe Lodging on 19 Rock Hall Road in Colebrook that is offering a Love Potion #19 Valentine's Package. Add this Valentine's package to your luxurious accommodation, and receive a romantic fireside essential oil Couple's Massage, afternoon "Snowball" cocktails, and a hand's on session with Rock Hall's herbalist to create a unique love potion, a pair of imported Turkish towels, and a Rock Hall cocktail shaker. The package is $475 with the purchase of accommodation and is available Feb. 8-17.  To book this call 860-379-2230 or visit
Rock Hall
The fabulous Falls Village Inn located in the heart of historic Falls Village is not only creating a special menu for Valentines Day they are offering a Hooray For Love package that includes an overnight stay in a luxury king room with private bath, a complimentary welcome bottle of Falls Village Inn Signature Label Wine, corkscrew and glassware for two, a sample of locally made chocolate & nuts, and continental breakfast for two.  Rates start at $209 and the package is available from Feb. 14 – Feb. 17.  For more information call 860-824-0033 or visit

Falls Village Inn

Overlooking the Farmington River, The Old Riverton Inn on Rte. 20 in Riverton is offering a Valentine’s Cupid County Inn Romance overnight package on Feb. 14 only Overnight accommodations, flowers, candy and bottle of champagne in your room, plus a romantic valentine’s candle light dinner for two and a full country breakfast in the morning make this package a delight.  Rates start at $230 for a small room or $270 for a large room, all decorated with Hitchcock furniture. To book your room call 860-379-8678 or

Old Riverton Inn
The Heritage in Southbury’s Be My Valentine package offers a perfect getaway and includes overnight accommodations for two, a complimentary bottle of moscato champagne delivered to your room, dinner for two in the elegant Heritage room, and access to amenities such as the heated indoor pool/whirlpool, sauna & steam rooms.  Rates start at $179 and are available only on Feb. 14.  For more information call 1-800-932-3466 or

On February 9 Interlaken Inns’ Valentine's Day Package offers a red rose for her, a cozy and romantic night away, plus a fabulous dinner with to live music throughout dinner, then - dancing to the region's premiere 13-piece Big Band.  The complete package offers a three-course dinner for 2, Glass of house wine or cocktail for each of you, A red rose for her, Dancing, Overnight accommodations for 2, Breakfast for 2. Complete Valentine's Day Package is $279 per couple (total package is $334.98 per couple including tax and service charge).  To book call 1-800-222-2909 or visit

Sunnyside at Interlaken Inn

Litchfield Inn is celebrating February for Lovers month and is offering a romance package for the entire month that includes deluxe overnight accommodations, a three course dinner at Bantam Bistro, bottle of Sunset Meadows Wine and cheese, lovers dessert platter delivered to your room and breakfast for two.  The cost is $359 per couple and can be booked by calling (860) 567-4503 or visiting

Litchfield Inn
The stately Mayflower Inn located in the heart of Washington is offering a Valentine’s Day package on Feb. 14 that includes a very special Valentine's Day Dinner for 2 (exclusive of beverages), a Bottle of champagne in room upon arrival and Continental Breakfast.  Rates start at $950.00 and Suites at $1,250.00.  To book call 860-868-9466 or

Mayflower Inn
In Southbury, Valentine's Day at Crowne Plaza Southbury is being celebrated on Feb. 14 – 16 in style.  Enjoy a scrumptious dinner and relaxing overnight stay with your sweetheart at the Crowne Plaza Southbury. The  package includes deluxe overnight accommodations, Special Valentine's Dinner for two in the Arrowhead Restaurant, and a full breakfast buffet the next morning all for $199.  Call 203-598-7600 or

Crowne Plaza Southbury