Thursday, January 23, 2014

Farm To Table in Winter?

Friends recently called and asked if we wanted to go to dinner downtown.  On a school night.  While my initial reaction was that we're not "cool" enough to go downtown on a school night, I'm really glad we did!

The restaurant they picked was Firebox, a Farm To Table restaurant that uses locally-sourced ingredients and is located adjacent to Hartford's Billings Forge Farmer's Market.  Bonus that they had a parking lot with an attendant.  The restaurant is located in "Frog Hollow" which is considered Hartford's most New York-style urban neighborhood and includes Olmsted-designed Pope Park.

The atmosphere was very hip: exposed brick, interesting light fixtures, wooden beams, candles in small Mason jars, blackboards, and walls of bottles of wine.  There's a tavern room, a small room, and the larger dining room in the back, complete with a fireplace and warm, intimate ambiance.

So what could they offer as Farm To Table on a very cold & dark Winter's night?  Plenty!  There was a nice selection of seafood for starters and gorgeous cheese plates from Cato Corner, Colchester.  Between us we ordered from the Taste of Hartford Prix-Fixe menu and tried the meat terrines, market greens salad, a roasted root vegetable soup, grilled char, winter braised pork stew with melt-in-your-mouth root vegetables, calamari and kale, homemade bread, chocolate cherry bread pudding with pistachios, and a cheese plate to take home. It was ALL delicious!  No exaggeration.

We started out in the tavern with drinks as we waited for the dining room to be ready, and perused the wine list and happy hour specials.  Apparently there's live music some nights and they also host events for social clubs and parties like the wedding they have set up in the photo above. The place was buzzing even for 5:30 on a Wednesday, and in the blink of an eye 3 hours had gone by as we enjoyed our meal and dinner conversation.  Our overall feeling was that it was a relaxing, inviting place that we'll definitely come back to.  In fact, I'd head back there tonight if I had the time and try out the Tavern menu because I can't stop thinking about the gorgeous burger a waiter walked past me last night. Also I need to try out their brunch menu!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

I Dream of Houses...

I remember my early days in Real Estate, where I was building my business, working 80+  hours per week and showing house after house after house.  My husband would tell me when we woke up in the mornings that I'd been talking in my sleep, giving house tours!  I specifically remember one morning he woke me up laughing, asking me to tell him more about the "cute ranch with the fireplace and the sunroom!"

I can't help it.  I LOVE houses.  I still dream about them.  Only now I sometimes dream about houses I create in my dreams.  There's a beach house that keeps coming back, and recently in my dreams I saw a rustic almost-tree house overlooking water & mountains in the Pacific Northwest.  I can't help but wonder if these places exist and if one day I'll walk in and recognize them…

This is probably one of the many reasons why I love to rent houses, villas, and flats when we travel.  I put a lot of thought & research into what I want in a home, especially a vacation one, so that it becomes a wonderful part of the memory of place.  Life is too short to make it anything but wonderful, right?  Here are just a few of the places we've been fortunate to call home while away…

There's nothing like really putting yourself in situ to get the feel of a neighborhood, shopping at the local market, eating at the local pub and strolling in the local parks…

I'm searching for homes to call home again right now.  I look for local rental or letting agencies, which I find from reading local papers or magazines online, and I've also had great luck with, or getting recommendations from friends.  There are several home exchange websites to check as well, as some of them have listings where the owners are willing to rent instead of just exchanging.

A lot of people also come to me to ask advice on travel with children and renting properties abroad.  I'm happy to chat if you're looking for help!  Just leave a comment below.

Friday, January 3, 2014

31 Things in 31 Days - My New Year's Work Boost!

With this icy, snowy weather we're having at the start of the New Year, it's too easy for me to justify sitting by the fire with a cup of tea and just working my way through my daily work checklist.  I know there is more I could do, and I  know that how I start my year sets the tone for the rest…and with 2 snow days to kick off 2014, I've had time to come up with a revised plan.

Enter a work/productivity booster.  31 Things in 31 Days.  It's not a new or original idea. Trulia is running a challenge/sweepstake on the same subject.  I've used a similar list for things like housework and cooking (and once for exercise, which didn't work out - haha!) but I hadn't formally applied it to to real estate until today.  I read a few different real estate websites to find ideas for new things to supplement my checklist & calendar.  There are so many articles, blogs and websites offering ideas.  Just doing the research inspired me!

There are a lot of great things you can add to your January 31 Things List to help start the year strong.  My list covers several real estate-related categories that I already work on, but is broken down into very specific tasks in these categories: communication, social media, education, follow-up, writing, growth and networking. Everyone's list will be different based on their own business plan or style or even experience.  Once I got the ideas flowing, I actually came up with MORE than 31 ideas to add to my list!  (What about taking a day off?  Yes, I've got that covered.  I am hoping for a whopping 3 days off this month, and I've scheduled those days' tasks on other days, in order to keep the 31 as a total.)  Some  tasks will take longer than others, but it's a kick-ass list, and it's all about accountability.  Accountability in real estate is a big deal to me.  I'm really excited about it!  It may very well lead to a "28 Things in 28 Days for February!"