CT Bridal Event's fifth-annual nuptial expo enriches wedding plans with new ideas, provides free samples of baked goods, and supplies marital merchandise from more than 30 vendors. Guests can launch bouquets skyward to assess their aerodynamic qualities before perusing photography samples and bakery selections topped with couple figurines, monograms, and edible wedding certificates notarized with permanent icing. Love Me Two Times showcases discounted designer wedding gowns, mother of the bride and groom gowns, party dresses, and fistfuls of elegant jewels. Visitors can wander over to a bridal museum that documents fashion and makeup tips through wedding history, from recent nuptial extravaganzas to Marie Antoinette's infamous cake gown, which incensed the bread-wearing populace of France.
Created by an early-childhood educator and mother, The Bright Spot entertains ankle biters with fun activities, slides, and games designed with the development, education, and interests of small children in mind. Children and parents can learn together in filial harmony during The Bright Spot's classes, which pique the interest of young minds with offerings such as Curiosity Quest for preschool- and kindergarten-age ranges, in which kids create craft projects and experiment with science concepts such as weather, gravity, and the human body's four basic humors. Puzzles, games, pintsize trampolines, and play-doh stations abound throughout The Bright Spot’s play areas, entertaining tots during 10 open-play sessions. Environmentally friendly cleaners and VOC-free wall paint help protect little ones from harm, and the spacious play area is compact enough to keep careful watch, but large enough to comfortably house kids’ swiftly expanding horizons.
Over the course of 20 years, family-operated Just Like New has inspected apparel, accessories, and home furnishings from thousands of consigners, accepting only the pieces that meet strict quality and style standards. At the start of each fashion season, the family treks to New York City to gather enough designer duds to restock two 5,000-square-foot locations. Clothing, shoes, and accessories by classic brands such as Coach and Ann Taylor adorn shelves and keep mannequins from being charged with public indecency, and a children's section outfits youngsters in apparel purchased exclusively from catalog brands and specialty stores. Just Like New's jewelry selection glitters with 14-karat gold and sterling silver; vintage and costume jewelry occasionally makes the cut by way of jingling the shop owners' favorite songs. Vintage glassware, furniture, and artwork make unique design accents for the home.
Though Lauren Cooksey started out with just a Salvation Army camera in hand and three children in tow, the photographer and single mother was determined to fulfill her dream of achieving a successful career in her chosen art. Her talent and sheer willpower paid off; today, Lauren continues to snap shots under the moniker Cooksey Photo and has even enlisted one of those aforementioned toddlers, Tracy, to join her mission.
With 20 years of industry experience behind them, the mother-daughter photography team captures candid images of individuals and families, crafting prints with warm, sepia tones brushed with custom color. During photo shoots, the duo uses handmade sets and props to coax out the personality of each baby, graduating high schooler, or beloved mannequin. Afterward, they select the best image to edit before dressing it up with daubs of digital color. Finished prints from a family session spruce up a lonely end table, or a print from a pet photo shoot can enliven a mantel in a doghouse. The new in-home studio, which opened in June 2011 is also child-friendly.
The Stone and Paddle’s California-style thin-crust pizzas acquire their subtle crunch while baking atop a hot stone in a 600-degree oven. Gourmet toppings such as hot sausage, shrimp and artichoke, and spinach and gorgonzola grace the pies, which share table space with flatbread sandwiches that are also stone-baked. Though chefs must return nightly to the steel-encased bunker where they safeguard their secret dough recipe, guests can enjoy a new location in Rocky Hill, linger on the shaded patio at the Vernon location or watch sports on Manchester's flat-screen TVs.
The Puiia family, native New Yorkers, dreamed up Between Rounds' menu in 1990, and ever since they have skillfully prepared its freshly made sandwiches and baked goods, in the process enticing the palates of reporters from Better Connecticut. Each day, bakers whip up signature New York–style bagels in a variety of flavors before pairing them with cream cheese, cobbling them into breakfast sandwiches, or hurling them in impromptu games of ultimate frisbee. Hailing from the lunch roster, freshly baked flaky loaves and rolls surround premium deli meats and cheeses as baristas grind fresh beans for gourmet coffees and specialty espresso beverages. The arena in which the bakers and baristas operate sparkles with the sunlight pouring over the tabletops of the colorful, WiFi-saturated dining room, and a drive-thru window allows customers to enjoy meals without leaving their cars, vans, or sleds.
The passionate instructors at Centerspace Wellness Studio cultivate creative energy through art and wellness classes, including several styles of yoga. Students concentrate on bodily alignment and breath control as they flow through a flurry of asanas during energizing Hatha yoga classes, while Spaaah yoga classes help overworked students release their choke hold on stress and frightened office interns by moving through a series of restorative postures set to a relaxing pace. Svaroopa techniques gradually release deep layers of tension with primary spinal openers—fundamental poses designed to limber up the tiers of muscles encircling the spine. Greenhorns shuffle through modified and prop-based poses during 60-minute sessions of beginner yoga, which strive to enhance body awareness and reveal thoughtful gift ideas for the toes. The welcoming studio supplies all necessary mats, blocks, props, and blankets, and recommends that all students arrive for class 5 minutes early free of perfumes or scented oils.