Author Archives: Admin


Crispy Soft Shell Crab

Arugula Salad, Creamy Lemon Aioli

2  soft shell crabs (cleaned)
1 cup Wondra &
1 cup semolina
2 1/2 oz arugula
1 1/2 T lemon aioli (see below)
vegetable/ canola oil for deep
 frying or pan frying
Lemon Aioli
1 cup mayonnaise
juice of 2 lemons
1/2 bulb roasted garlic
1/2 cup water
pinch of salt

Soft Shell Crab

1. Clean soft shells and soak in milk for 5 minutes prior to use.

2. Mix together Wondra & semolina and dredge crabs in mixture.

3. Deep fry at 350 degrees for 3 minutes, making sure crabs are fully

submerged in the oil, or you can pan fry in a cup of vegetable/canola oil,

2 1/2  minutes each side.

Lemon Aioli

1. Mix all ingredients together.

2. Toss a little(or if you want more use more) over the arugula.

Place arugula salad on plate, crab on top, and slice of lemon wedge on side for finishing. That’s all! Simple simple.

Serves 2.


Sitting Down with Archbishop Blair

by Keith Griffin

Just moments into meeting Archbishop Leonard P. Blair, the newly installed head of the Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford, you like him. He’s a warm, engaging man along the lines of TV’s late Fred Rogers. Beneath that avuncular exterior, though, lies a strong intellect and deep commitment to his faith.

And it’s all delivered with a twinkle in his eye and a flat Midwestern accent that comes from having grown up in Detroit.

Archbishop Blair, who resides in town, sat down with West Hartford Magazine to talk about his role, the challenges of the Church, Pope Francis, and his limited free time.

In some respects, Archbishop Blair is like Pope Francis in that he was relatively unknown when he came here from the Toledo, Ohio diocese to replace Archbishop Henry Mansell who reached the mandatory retirement age of 75.  Local Catholics are still curious about their new spiritual leader.

The Archbishop had this to say about the new Pope and his rock star popularity. “This is a two-edged sword, this popularity. On the one hand, the Pope has put his finger on some neuralgic points about how the Church is perceived, not only the Church, but the teaching of the Church. It’s a two-edged sword because some of his popularity is based on a misperception or false impression that somehow the Pope has any desire to change Church teaching on some very fundamental points that are very difficult for some people in the world today and they don’t accept. I think they’re going to be disappointed. I hope that doesn’t create some further difficulty,” the Archbishop said.

“Pope Benedict [the predecessor to Pope Francis] was a scholar, he was a theologian. He was a humble and rather shy man. Pope Francis is certainly not shy. Priests and bishops are not all cut from the same cloth and neither are Popes. We always pray God will give us the right man to be Pope for the times and each Pope makes his contribution.  Now Pope Francis is making his and it’s very welcome,” Archbishop Blair added.

His humility is apparent when asked about his role as the CEO of the Archdiocese, which comprises Hartford, Litchfield and New Haven counties and includes approximately 700,000 Catholics out of the three counties’ population of 1.9 million. He’s an influential man yet doesn’t project that image.

“I know I have to be vigilant about the temporal goods of the Church. This means getting the very best people to administer these things. The buck stops with me as far as the ultimate responsibility but it wouldn’t be proper nor am I qualified to actually manage or administer all of these things personally,” said the Archbishop, who turned 65 on April 12.

But then his spiritual side comes to the fore as it does with everything he will discuss during the one-hour interview. “The chief role is to be a pastor of souls and principally as a bishop to be a teacher of the faith. That’s the principal job of the bishop as a successor of the Apostles to hand on with integrity the deposit of the faith, the faith of the Church in Christ. “There are many other things the bishop has to do be a spiritual leader and provide for the Church. But you have to appreciate being a teacher of the faith is the most important.”

archCommunion“As long as I could remember I wanted to be a priest. I suppose as a kid I probably wanted to run off and join Rin Tin Tin on the TV at Fort Apache,” Blair said, “but my most abiding memory is wanting to be a priest, adding that his vocation was inspired not only by his parish priests but the nuns who taught him.

Archbishop Blair also sees as a challenge the “great crisis of faith” facing his Church. “We speak of various programs and methodologies we’re trying,” he said, “to draw people back to church, to try to attract other people to join the Catholic Church.  All these things are well and good as outreach. But ultimately in our society today what we are facing is a great crisis of faith. Many people question the need for religious practice as a member of a believing community that lives by an authoritative creed that includes moral teaching and sacramental worship.    For many, religion is reduced to philanthropy–doing good, trying to be decent people and helping others materially. They think that the practice of faith, attendance at church, is not essential for happiness in this world or the next.

“So when it’s a question of what to do to bring people to church, it’s a combination of many things but mostly it’s a question of asking God to give people the gift of faith. Then, of course, on our part to make that gift of faith credible in their eyes, because we’re practicing what we preach. If we say join us, come to church, go to Mass, and then when we leave church we don’t act in a very edifying way, we contradict the Gospel. Young people in particular are quick to see any hypocrisy. Of course we’re all weak, we’re all sinful, none of us lives the Gospel perfectly, but we try with God’s help,” the Archbishop said. “And just as with the Judas the mystery of iniquity was at work even among the Lord’s own apostles, so now the scandal of iniquity can be found whenever the faith is betrayed, as in the tragedy of clerical sexual abuse.”

A touch of sadness comes to his voice when he posits that the crisis is driven by more than just a loss of faith. “A lot of the traditional ways that brought people together, for example, close family life and the extended family, neighborhoods—for Catholics all of these things revolved around the practice of the faith. Today family life is in crisis for many, and family and neighborhood ties aren’t what they used to be. All of these things make it more difficult to hand down the faith. So we have to work in new ways to create a sense of community,” he said.

“The personal element, personal contact will always be essential.  It’s not just the Church but also other voluntary groups and organizations that are experiencing real challenges in bringing people together.  Much of today’s society tries to go it alone. People have the mobility and the communications now, and often spend time on their cell phone rather than talking to the person next to them. That kind of thing is a challenge for all of us,” he said.

But then the Archbishop demonstrates he is not a man mired in the past. Technology can and is being embraced to help the Catholic Church in its mission. “We are very blessed to have excellent resources on the web today. All you have to do is Google something about the faith and you will find some very good Catholic resources for answering questions and getting guidance. Not that it’s any replacement for personal contact, but it’s a great resource,” he said.

The Archbishop embraces technology in his daily life – to a degree. “Most 10 year olds are more savvy than I am, but I do use the web, and actually get most of my news off the web– church or secular. I use it a lot for communications. I have my iPhone to communicate. But if there is anything lengthy to read, I find it hard to do so on a computer screen. I still have to print it out and read it.”

Another challenge for the Church is the education of children in the Archdiocesan schools – a challenge many parents find difficult because of the cost. There are 16,000 students attending the Archdiocese’s 53 schools, including nine high schools where 98 percent of graduates attend college. Catholic school students consistently test two grade levels above their public school peers.

“I acknowledge that the costs today are high and not everybody can do it. Catholic schools grew in the United States because immigrant Catholics came who were not well received by their Protestant fellow citizens. The public schools were basically Protestant and not very favorable to Catholicism. In the big cities, at least, the Catholic people made a great financial sacrifice to send their kids there so they’d get a really good education and also preserve their faith.

“I’m not saying our public schools are anti-Catholic today.  Without prejudice to public education, which we all want to succeed, I hope that Catholic people would still be willing to make a sacrifice for the added dimension that the Catholic school can give. It’s always been a sacrifice.

“Ultimately we’ll only have Catholic schools to the extent that the Catholic parents are convinced of the importance of a Catholic education. That necessarily includes the religious dimension. In that sense it’s in their hands how well we will survive and flourish,” he said.

archbishop2 The Archbishop has praise for programs in place to help with tuition. The Archbishop’s Annual Appeal has a tuition assistance program that helped more than 1700 people last year. There is also Matthew 25, which provides aid to Northwest Catholic students from individuals or foundations willing to support four years of education. The program identifies gifted students and monitors their progress throughout their high school experience.

It’s a program run by Catholic Charities, which the Archbishop praised for its scope. “I was very impressed with the Hartford Archdiocese,” he said. “The Archbishop’s Annual Appeal, for example, is remarkably generous on the part of Catholic people. That includes a whole array of Catholic Charities outreach services and other charitable activities. Catholic Charities also gets grants and other support to conduct this work. It’s extremely important. Archbishop Mansell was fond of pointing out that after the federal government the Catholic Church is the largest provider of social services in the country.”

Archbishop Blair is a man who knows his limits and realizes the need to step back from the work that can easily swallow up all seven days in the week. “As a bishop or a priest, I always try to take a day off – one of the seven. I don’t have the weekends off so one of the seven. Some weeks it doesn’t happen,” he said.

Being outdoors is very appealing for him whether it’s walking or riding a bike. Those are the kind of things I do to unwind. A while ago the weather warmed up a bit and I took a ride down Route 44 to the reservoir for a long walk. Doing that, I unwind a bit.  I think about the Archdiocese but not in a hectic way, and I don’t just think about work. We all need that.”

“I also love the water. I grew up around the Great Lakes in Michigan. I’m happy that Connecticut is near the Sound and the ocean and there are some nice inland bodies of water. I was attracted to the walk at the reservoir because of the water there. It is very peaceful on or by the water.

“The Lord said to keep holy the Sabbath Day. The Sabbath was meant to show among other things that everything doesn’t depend on us and our work. You have to give a day to God to show that ultimately things are in His hands. I’m not saying my day off is the Sabbath – far from it. But the idea of activism, that one has constantly to be doing things, it not healthy for the body or the soul.

“I realize that many of our fellow citizens are working very hard and don’t get any time off. Some are even pursued by their employers on the cell phone or web after hours and on holidays. I don’t think that’s a healthy thing.”

His humor comes through even when discussing his growing knowledge of the Archdiocese after four months as the archbishop. “When Father Romans, [then his secretary] and I are driving to various events, he often points out churches and some favorite restaurants to me. He claims that I seem to remember the restaurants better than the churches. Maybe that’s not a very edifying thought.”

To view the full magazine online, please visit our ISSUU library.



Home and Garden in West Hartford Magazine.

Prime Time Gardening
Tips and Tricks for planting in Prime Season!
This is the time of year that gardeners live for…even those who just purchase a few packs of annuals or a hanging basket or two!  Everywhere you go, the world is a riot of flowers, plants, flowering trees, fruit and berry bushes, herbs, vegetables plants, some with full grown fruit already on them. The bounty is overwhelming!…read more

Nurturing Gardening Relationships
Let’s face it,it’s been a long, hard winter.  And, for those of us who love gardening, it’s probably been even harder!  There are only so many times we can find beauty in snow on tree branches or nicely pruned hedges before we get anxious to be back into the garden. As the weather begins to warm up, let’s remember not to rush out into the garden too soon.  As excited as we are to get back to our gardens and plants, there’s nothing more harmful than working in wet soil.  And many of us in this area have clay or compacted soils already so we need to take extra care not to work in those wet soils or we will have a much worse problem…read more


Prime Time Gardening

Tips and Tricks for planting in Prime Season!

by Karla Dalley

This is the time of year that gardeners live for…even those who just purchase a few packs of annuals or a hanging basket or two!  Everywhere you go, the world is a riot of flowers, plants, flowering trees, fruit and berry bushes, herbs, vegetables plants, some with full grown fruit already on them. The bounty is overwhelming!

By making some thoughtful choices now at the garden center, your garden upkeep for the rest of the season can be made much easier.

First, decide on the type of gardening you will be doing.  Do you need to replace some plants that have died over the winter?  Are you filling some spots with annuals for color?  Are you planting edibles (herbs, vegetables or perhaps some berry bushes)? Are you renovating an existing garden? Knowing this will help you focus on what you need at the garden center and keep you from getting distracted by all the alluring choices.

Check the sunlight in your garden area. Due to a rough past winter, many trees have come down in yards and what might have been a shade garden in the past, could now be a full sun garden.  Different plants might need to be chosen for that spot, and some of the existing plants may need to be moved.

Plan your bloom time. When thinking about purchasing plants for a new garden, (or any that you might be renovating) make several trips to the garden center at various times of the season.  If you purchase all the plants in April or May, you’ll have a lovely, spring blooming bed that will be nothing but foliage for the rest of the season. Even if all of the plants you’ve chosen do bloom in spring, this type of garden can be lovely for the rest of the season if you choose some plants with ‘colorful’ foliage: variegated leaves, chartreuse leaves, or darker burgundy or purple leaves.  Plan accordingly.

When planting, remember to leave proper spacing between the plants to accommodate their mature size.  During the first season the garden may look sparse. Mulching in between the plants will help unify the bed, or planting smaller annuals in-between for a year or two might allow the plants to fill into their mature size without being over-crowded.

Remember a few things about newly purchased plants. Take those size and spacing requirements liberally.  Sometimes a plant straight from the garden center will behave differently the first year in the garden than it will in succeeding years.  A plant may grow taller, or shorter as in the case of mums and asters, for example, than the tag indicates. With respect to ultimate height, remember how big a 6’ shrub can be. Nursery pot size can sometimes be deceiving with shrubs.  Those shrubs that look cute and dwarf can still grow large, if that is what the cultivar is designed to do!

Edibles are all the rage now and most are colorful and decorative enough to be incorporated into existing landscape beds or planted into pots.  Just be sure that no pesticides are used in these gardens…you don’t want to go through all the trouble of growing your own food and then mistakenly spray it with poisonous herbicide!

Herbs grow beautifully in pots and some even prefer to grow this way. Basil, as well as some of the other Mediterranean herbs like thyme and rosemary seem to love container culture.   Best of all, as long as you have a sunny spot near the kitchen, the herbs are always in reach.

And, as far as decorating with fresh flowers, remember that many perennials have a long bloom time, and of course, annuals bloom through most of or all of the summer.  Fresh flowers are an easy summer decoration both indoors and on the patio or porch.  If this is something that appeals to you, choose flowers at the garden center accordingly.  My home is rarely without cut hydrangeas from my garden, for example.  And while flower arranging isn’t my strong suit, they do look lovely with a large cut hosta leaf or two behind them.

Finally, family owned garden centers are becoming a rare commodity these days. As gardeners, we need to do all that we can to help them thrive.


The Classic Man.

The world of Men’s Fashion is on fire this year and thanks to Dressed To The Nines, of West Hartford…the bar has been raised! Coupled with a few hot cars, the message is clear: Classic never goes out of style!

Stroll the Center or take a weekend get-away in this custom sport coat in tan plaid with jewel tone highlights, in silk and wool by Dormeiul/England. It’s a classic two-button style with side vents and is pic stitched. His shirt is 100% 2-ply 120s cotton, in a light blue end-on-end by Thomas Mason/England. Ed completes his look with a pocket square in 100% silk, hand rolled print, made in Italy.

Ed MacDonald, of West Hartford, can be spotted strolling the Center with his family on weekends.



Classic doesn’t go out of style… this custom-made business suit with a two button style jacket, notch lapels, side-vented with pic stitching and a ticket pocket is always in style. Sam is wearing super 1205 worsted wool in marine blue sharkskin with an overplaid by Vitale Barberis/Italy.  The trousers have a plain front and are cuffed. Sam’s shirt is 100% 2-ply 120s cotton, in summer white by Stoffa of Italy. His tie, in powder blue print on silk, is hand made in Ireland by Atkinson. The pocket square is 100% cotton, made in Italy.

Sam Fulginiti is a funeral director from Essex who travels to West Hartford Center for his custom business suits.


The trend now is to invest in a custom made tux for your wedding so you have it for black tie functions in the future! Tuxedos can be made-to-order so they fit like a glove with total comfort, whereby the suit simply moves with your body!

Brandon Dufour, of Watertown, wanted an unforgettable wedding when he recently tied the knot with his wife, Theresa Labarbera Dufour (New 8’s Good Morning Connecticut traffic reporter, and host of Connecticut Style). So, he decided on classic tails in Loro Piana Super 130s wool worsted with an all cotton pique vest and matching tie. His shirt is a classic formal shirt by Thomas Mason/England in 2-ply 100s cotton.

menone menfour

Men who are looking for a classic new look will love Dressed to The Nines. During your initial consultation, Bob will focus on creating your personal style by selecting clothing that best flatters your features and enhances your appearance. For example, you’ll discuss the benefits and drawbacks of the various coat options, whether you prefer single or double breasted, center or side vents, two or three buttons, and trousers that are pleated, flat front and plain or cuffed bottoms.


Bob DeGemmis, owner of Dressed to The Nines, has been helping gentlemen look their absolute best for generations! He works out of his  West Hartford Center headquarters. Bob grew up in the business and is the third generation of the DeGemmis family to offer custom tailored suits, shirts, sport coats, pants, topcoats, and formalwear.  While Bob has made a few ties in the past, he doesn’t want to compete with an expanded tie market globally. He stocks a large assortment of ties. Bob’s grandfather, Alfredo, a custom tailor in Italy, immigrated to Connecticut in 1916, bringing his bespoke tailoring skills with him. Since then, the DeGemmis family has been providing  wardrobes to gentlemen in Connecticut and New York.

Suits $895-$4,000, Shirts $150-$500, Trousers $345-$750


Casual and Business Photography by
Cheyney Barrieau Photography

 Formal photography by Brian Ambrose Photography

 Styling by Bob DeGemmis
Men’s Clothing from Dressed To The Nines. Custom clothing price ranges: Suits $895-$4,000, Shirts $150-$500, Trousers $345-$750. 

Bob DeGemmis Dressed to the Nines,
998 Farmington Ave., West Hartford Center.

 Watches Shinola – The Runwell, Made in America; Rolex – Oyster Perpetual Yachtmaster, and Patek Philippe – Calatrava
Lux Bond & Green
46 LaSalle Road, West Hartford Center

 Sunglasses Robert Marc Plastic, and Oliver Peoples Shaefer
Central Optica, 33 LaSalle Road, West Hartford Center

 Shoes All by Carlo Pazolini, including a casual brown driving loafer, a versatile oxford, and a black tuxedo oxford.
Carlo Pazolini, 500 Westfarms Mall, Farmington, CT

Luggage Bosca Tribeca Stringer Bag and Tumi
Tegri-Lite Continental Carry-On
991 Farmington Avenue, West Hartford Center

 Cars: 2014 Porsche Panamera Turbo S Executive Edition Color: Basalt Black on full black leather.  2013 Porsche 911 S Cabriolet.  Color: Anthracite Brown on full espresso leather.
Hoffman Porsche
630 Connecticut Blvd, East Hartford

To view the full magazine online, please visit our ISSUU library.

Nurturing Gardening Relationships…

To Help Nurture Your Garden!

by Karla Dalley

Let’s face it,it’s been a long, hard winter.  And, for those of us who love gardening, it’s probably been even harder!  There are only so many times we can find beauty in snow on tree branches or nicely pruned hedges before we get anxious to be back into the garden. As the weather begins to warm up, let’s remember not to rush out into the garden too soon.  As excited as we are to get back to our gardens and plants, there’s nothing more harmful than working in wet soil.  And many of us in this area have clay or compacted soils already so we need to take extra care not to work in those wet soils or we will have a much worse problem.

What can we do on those lovely warm early spring days?  If we have garden paths, we can take those to tour our yards and see what needs to be done once that warm sun dries the soil a bit more.  Surely after all the snow and ice this winter, we will need to prune broken branches at a minimum.

While it may not be apparent immediately, some of our plants may have died this past winter.  While this can be heartbreaking, it can also be an opportunity.  If the gardens are too wet to work in, head out to your favorite garden center.  Spend some time now, in the early spring, before the mad rush in May when it may be difficult to get as much individual attention as you’d like.

There are always new plants coming onto the market but sometimes the “tried and true” plants are better for your location.  I know from a lot of experience that variegated plants don’t do well for me–they can be genetically weaker and I have a very tough site to begin with.  So I either avoid them altogether (a tough decision because there are some great ones out there) or I put them in a sheltered location to give them a real chance to thrive.

What I just said is “I’ve killed an awful lot of variegated plants to come to that conclusion.”  But in early spring, the great folks with lots of experience at your local garden centers can help you avoid the same adventure–unless you like that sort of experimentation.  Spend some time talking to them about what your conditions are like: sunny, hot and dry; shady and dry; shady and wet–you get the idea.

If it’s possible–and often it is because many of these places stay open late at least one evening–try to go during a slower time so they have some time to spend with you.  You’ll find it a rewarding experience and you’ll understand the value of shopping locally as well as coming away with a better understanding of some plants.

While you’re at the garden center, pick up some early spring flowering plants for a patio container.  They don’t have to be pansies, although they could be.  There are lots of great choices like nemesia, alyssum and diascia.  Or, try some early perennials like hellebores.

In fact, you don’t even need to have flowers.  You can put together a great container of edibles that will take some frost and still give you a great looking planter.  Plant some decorative leaf lettuces–a 6 cell pack of mixed leaf lettuces will do so long as you have a nice mix of textures or leaf colors.  Pick up a 3 cell pack of parsley (flat leaf or curly leaf, which ever you prefer) while you’re at it.  And if you can find an alpine strawberry to tuck in there, that’s good too.  And I would add in some small-flowered violas–organic, if I could find them (or calendulas) so that I’d have some color and some edible flowers for my salad.

All those things go into a shallow 8” container so you’ll have lovely color and some fresh greens to augment your salads right into June or so!

Meanwhile, you will have learned about some plants, trees, shrubs,  perennials, or maybe roses for your garden (or whatever you were asking about when you were talking to the garden center staff).  And once your soil dries out, go back and purchase some of those plants you learned about.  Maybe you’ll see some new ones to ask about.  June and July are great times to wander around garden centers too.  This is how gardening relationships are born.

To view the full magazine online,
please visit our ISSUU library.

On the Road to Better Health

Allyson’s weight loss journey continues!

by Nancy Roy

When Allyson first came to me for help with losing weight and getting fit, I was impressed with her determination and knew that she could accomplish any goal she set!  We began working together in the comfort of her home living room at a slow pace since she hadn’t exercised in a long time. I knew she needed to incorporate regular cardio workouts since she was hoping to eventually drop 20 pounds or more. She began a strength training and stepping program a couple days a week with me and was also diligent about adding ‘homework’ assignments on those days she wasn’t working out with her trainer.

Getting outside more, even to walk the dog everyday, is a huge part of getting fit. There are so many physical activities people can easily work into their day, such as taking the stairs, dancing, walking more, and so on.

After working with Allyson during phase one of her new fitness plan, in 8 weeks, she has lost over 5 inches of body fat and lost over 4 pounds, despite gaining some new-found muscle! Her overall body fat count dropped from 39.1 down to 36.2. I was really impressed and Allyson was excited at her results, which only motivated her even more to continue her journey!

She is headed in the right direction. Taking weight off slowly and safely (1/2 pound-2 pounds a week is ideal) so she’ll be more likely to keep it off.

And the best thing about her results is that she accomplished them with just two one-hour sessions with me each week, right in her own home! How easy is that to get started?!

Her workouts now consist of 20-30 minutes of cardio (depending on how intense the strength training workout is for achieving toned muscles and a strong core). We now do various forms of step aerobics (low impact/high intensity) such as jumping jacks, mountain climber, burpees, etc. As time progressed, Allyson was able to handle longer cardio work-outs due to her increased endurance and stronger heart.

Now, during phase 2 we have pumped up the weights! During this time it’s important to stay away from the scale because muscle weighs more than fat…so even if she may gain a few pounds in muscle she will be increasing her metabolism to burn fat longer, which will eventually show up in losing inches and seeing her clothes get looser!

Did you know that 45 minutes of cardio burns fat for 8 hours just sitting in a chair? Adding weights to that workout and the time increases to 12 hours! This will achieve muscle definition and a flatter core (visible in one’s abs). Allyson is also doing sit-ups, crunches  and planks during this phase of her fitness journey.

Next phase will be focused more on increasing balance and flexibility along with longer cardio workouts and heavier weights for toning.

“It’s been wonderful!” smiles Allyson, “I already feel better and my clothes are looser. I can walk my dog longer and also think about what I eat everyday to maintain and continue to lose some weight!”

The key that a fitness program is working is when you are physically and emotionally ‘feeling better’ and Allyson certainly lives up to the challenge!

Find out how Allison is doing on her fitness journey and what she looks like after phase two of her workout program in the next issue of West Hartford Magazine and perhaps you’ll start moving more and join Allyson on her quest to get fit!

To view the full magazine online,
please visit our ISSUU library.

True Beauty Begins with a Beautiful Mind

Old age wisdom that has lasted centuries!

by Tammy Kroll

We ‘ve all heard “You are what you eat” and I can’t stress enough how important that is.  But have you also heard, “As a man thinketh, so is he”.  So, how does that relate to beauty?  Take stress, for example.  When we experience it, a chemical process happens within us, producing cortisol and wreaking havoc with our health, showing up on our faces with breakouts, dry flakiness, sallow complexion, worry lines, etc.  We cannot avoid stress but we can train our thoughts to counter-balance this sneaky skin zapper with happy chemicals like serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins to soothe our souls and smooth our skin.  As you would with your face, start the process of cleansing, toning and nourishing your mind.


Cleanse – To rid of impurites.

Take Inventory.  Rid your mind of any impurities that are clouding your thoughts.  Anger and bitterness towards others are as destructive to your mind as toxins and dirt are to your body.  Consider the media you choose. Negativity from certain TV shows, news and internet all can have adverse cumulative effects on the brain.  Are there people in your life, work situations, relationships that are constantly bringing you down?

De-clutter and sort.  Box up clothing you don’t wear and other items just taking up space.  Grab a huge garbage bag and start filling it with all the accumulated paper around your desk. Don’t put it off.  Start journaling.  Just the simple act of writing down your angry feelings, fears and hurts, can free up your brain.  Cut back on TV time or even cut it out altogether.  See how you feel – even after a short time.  Allow for creativity to fill the gap.

Let Go.  Forgive those who have hurt you.  It doesn’t mean you open yourself up to further wounding – set boundaries if you must.  The act of forgiveness is enough.  Right the wrongs that have been weighing on you – perhaps calling on or sending a note of apology if necessary.  And forgive yourself. Give yourself the gift of a fresh clean start.


Tone – Give greater strength or firmness to.

Set New Patterns.   Learn to interrupt old negative thought habits.  Have tools such as crossword puzzles, Sudoku or other games at the ready when those bad patterns creep back. Pick up an uplifting novel and spend time getting swept up in a beautiful setting and story.  Keep in mind it takes about 30 to 45 days to set new habits so give it time. It will be worth it in the end.

Be Productive. Start planning a garden or decorate a room in your house.  If you are on the creative side, paint a picture, knit a scarf, dust off that old guitar and crack open your Beatles anthology.  Creating and being productive is a great way to counter negativity and exercise your brain.

Learn Something New. Whether it’s taking a college course at a local campus or looking up something you’ve always wondered about online.  Learning, as well as creativity releases positive chemicals in the brain so go ahead and learn to paint! Challenge yourself and learn to fly!


Nourish – To supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth.

Be One With Nature.  Break from the angular world of desks and office cubicles and step out into the fresh air and onto the soft flowing curved paths of the reservoir or park.  Just a 30 minute stroll can change your mood for the better. Experience the Arts…stroll through a local Art museum or attend a poetry slam. Expand your perspective. And finally,  Love Somebody…beginning with yourself! Be grateful and compassionate. Give to charity. Hug someone…and give yourself a pat on the back!

To view the full magazine online, please visit our ISSUU library.


We Felt Like “Regulars” in Minutes!

by The Twin Tasters

Before we even get to the food, hats off to Sonny Chen, general manager of Black Bamboo Chinese Restaurant, for well deserved accolades as “the best” Chinese food in town! Sonny, a Watkinson and Hall High grad, has built quite a faithful following at his small Farmington Avenue restaurant which has some seating, but mostly serves take out and caters as well.

We approached this tasting with wide open minds and we let the chefs prepare their specialties and most popular items.

The Scallion Pancakes, or Asian Flatbread as Sonny called them, were crispy, hot and delicious. Made from rice flour, these appetizers are gluten free (as long as you avoid the soy sauce).

The Vegan BBQ Boneless Ribs could almost fool a meat eater. Made with Seitan (also called wheat meat or wheat gluten), they have a slightly chewy texture that hugs the savory sauce.

We were happy with the plentiful fresh ginger slices in the Shrimp with Chinese Vegetables, and the organic green beans in our veggie side dish were cooked just right. The sauces were light and flavorful. Oh, almost forgot the pork dumplings – handmade to perfection.

Black Bamboo Chinese Restaurant
844-A Farmington Ave.
West Hartford, CT 06119

You never know where The Twin Tasters will pop up in their quest for good food in town. 

To view the full magazine online, please visit our ISSUU library.


Discovering Alaska

“The Last Frontier”

by Lydia Brown

The Aleut word “Alyeska” means Alaska, which translates to “The Great Land.” This Great Land was purchased from Russia in 1867 and was awarded statehood in 1959.  Alaska boasts 17 of the highest peaks in the United States (Mt. McKinley being the biggest and most famous). Five percent of the land is covered by glaciers (29,000 square miles) and it has more than 70 active volcanoes!

While oil is the main source of income, tourism has become just as important to many of the towns.  The largest influx of tourists come by cruise ship, including large luxury liners such as Princess Cruise Lines, Norwegian, Holland America, Celebrity Cruises, and Royal Caribbean, to the smaller adventure ships.  No matter what form your trip takes, it’ll be a lifetime adventure. From dog sledding to whale watching, excursions abound. There are no limits in Alaska!

A favorite spot is the Kenai Peninsula in Southeast Alaska.  The Kenai River is turquoise blue like the Caribbean Sea (I am told the color is from the glacial sediment) and boasts some of the finest fishing, horseback riding, hiking tours and wildlife viewing in the world!

Juneau, Alaska’s capital (named for its founder Joe Juneau, an early settler in the 1800s seeking his fortune in gold) will give you the option to board a helicopter and land on a glacier or experience a flightseeing plane over the glaciers with spectacular views.  Whitewater rafting is very popular here as well, and luckily you won’t have to row as they do all the work for you.  You’ll get right up close to the glacier!  Salmon fishing abounds here, canoe trips and kayaking, as well.  If you want to stay landside you can take a cog rail up the side of Mt. Roberts and do some hiking.

Ketchikan is the remnant of a true Indian village….the Tlingits Indians.  Here at the Saxman Village they depict the history with Totem poles and folkloric shows.  You will also find Totem Bight State Park, all of which depict the native culture of the times.  You can see lumberjacks in action and visit Misty Fjords National Park with its two million acres of sheer cliffs and 1,000 foot waterfalls.  Oh yes, and don’t forget to visit the historic boardwalk of Creek Street and its famous “red light” district for a little local color.

Skagway was the gateway to the gold fields for the thousands who flocked to Alaska and the Yukon with the hope of striking it rich.  Skagway was the shortest route to the Klondike, but it wasn’t the easiest.  Over 100 years ago, the White Pass route through the Coast Mountains and the shorter but steeper Chilkoot Trail were used by countless stampeders. In its hay-day, Skagway was Alaska’s largest city with over 20,000 inhabitants. Today there are a mere 1,000 residents.  If you do stop in Skagway, stop by the “Red Onion Saloon” for a pint and some folklore about its days as a “bordello”.

Most folks coming to Skagway arrive by cruise ship and walk across the rail tracks from the dock to board the “White Horse Yukon Railways” and travel over the route followed by the many who sought their fortune in gold.  The train follows the old gold rush route on new tracks but from the viewing platform you will see the original tracks with 2865 foot drops and realize what it took to build this by hand, without the benefit of equipment. This is one of my favorite journeys and I highly recommend it!

Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city is modern and surrounded by spectacular wilderness. Here you can enjoy some world-class attractions, native Alaskan culture, shopping and dining.  The nearest port is Whittier, located about 65 miles southeast of the city.  The old port of Seward used to be home to the major cruise lines but Whittier replaced this about 5 years ago.  The Seward highway links Anchorage and Seward and is a National Scenic byway and of the 15 routes designated as an “All-American Road” in the United States.  Dramatic views of the wild abound.  This area is home to Prince William Sound which has the most tidewater glaciers in the world and boasts a rich marine life due to the depth of the sound.

There are so many ways to experience Alaska and not everyone wants to see if from the comfort of a luxury cruise-ship.  Many prefer the “road less traveled”.  Enter the small ships, able to dock in isolated bays and smaller cities like Petersburg and Wrangell.  They provide a more intense experience.  Life onboard the smaller ships  (about 100 passengers) is far more relaxed. You wake up to the sound of the birds instead of noise from the balcony next door.  Your days consist of kayaking or hiking rather than shopping and taking helicopter tours.  Evenings are spent reading in your room or listening to a naturalist talk.  No need to buy a new cocktail dress, although you may spend as much on outdoor gear.

However you choose to see this vast land it will forever be embedded in your memory. I hope that you will get to experience the beauty of Alaska some day in the near future, so in closing I say to you,  “Go west young man, this is the last frontier!”

To view the full magazine online, please visit our ISSUU library.