Art for
Everyone’s Sake

Art can seem daunting. The truth is that it wasn’t until I got older and shook off a few self-imposed constraints that I realized the best thing about art: It’s all about what you like. It’s about what touches you, making you pause and smile. And it’s about what you want “hanging” around you when you’re just hanging around. But then, the folks at Cindy Stevens Fine Art have always known that. Cindy herself is an artist — and a gifted one, but she’s never considered herself above studying with or teaching those with a spark she’s admired — nor has she ever considered it beneath her to help paint sets for a local theater group because…well…for her, art is an adventure. All of it. And her studio and gallery reflect not only the joy she derives from her own painting, the works of other accomplished artists, and the emerging talents of her regular students but the joy of those who attend her Painting Parties or Summer Art Camp just to spend a little time messing about with brushes and paints — every effort worthy of framing. So don’t be daunted by the words Fine Art over the front door. Because here, it’s all about the fine art of enjoying art. And here, thou art invited to come and enjoy! — J.H.
Cindy Stevens Fine Art
30 East Main St., Clinton

Imagine that.
Sitting in my kitchen is a ladder-back chair from the late 1800s, its hand-woven rush seat still solid — not a screw or nail to be found. And across from it, there’s an equally old drop leaf table, its dovetail joints meticulous. Both were made by Charles Spencer, my great-grandfather, who, with his wife Ella and children Henry and Ruth, made their home in Westbrook. Their farm sat on what is now Essex Road, and the homestead itself is still there. In fact, the Pink Sleigh Christmas Shop occupies the old barn — and a family the original house. And having those pieces keeps me close to them somehow, the many scuffs and dings and scratches they wear are cherished keepsakes of everyday moments I can only imagine. But then that’s why antiques are so special. They come with stories — some known and some simply imagined. And some of the best stories can be found at Rambling River Antiques. Not that everything they sell is old. There are some very cool new treasures mixed in. But it will be someday. All of it. And it’s all beautiful. So go. Browse a bit. And either find the story that speaks to you — or write your own. — J.H.
Rambling River Antiques
172 Boston Post Rd., Westbrook
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Sometimes, the grass
really is greener.

Especially if it’s on the other side of the fence — where DeMar’s Landscaping and their partner, Connecticut Irrigation, have been busy. But don’t be jealous, because you can have a DeMar’s yard, too. Starting from scratch? DeMar’s will provide not only a stunning landscape design but quality topsoil, expert seeding, installation of all trees and shrubs, and both the fertilization program and irrigation system capable of ensuring optimal growth, health, and beauty. Got a well-established yard that just needs better care? Not to worry. DeMar’s is pleased to jump in with whatever thatching, top seeding, new plantings, pruning, mowing, and fertilizing is called for, as well as the irrigation system essential for everything to flourish. Need pavers or a retaining wall? No problem. And here are two more advantages to having a DeMar’s yard: As summer wanes, they are ready to handle all your fall leaf and winter snow removal handily. So! Want to be green with envy — or “the other side of that fence,” where the grass (and everything else) really is greener? Yup. Thought so. Give DeMar’s a call. — J.H.
DeMar’s Landscaping, LLC
Connecticut Irrigation
454 E. Main St., Branford

Grow ahead.
One of my best memories from summers in Old Lyme is the dark pink roses that seemed to grow wild along the rocks above our beach. I don’t know if they were planted — or simply arrived on a gust from an on-shore breeze. But they were a sturdy lot, their delicacy belying a strength I always admired. Then there were my Grandmother’s hydrangea, unstoppably lush alongside the steps in a blue as glorious as a late June morning. So plant that garden by the sea. Just be sure to take into account the fact that salt borne in on gentle sea breezes, strong stormy winds, and even the early morning mist is no match when you plan properly. And planning properly starts by knowing how to use salt-tolerant trees and shrubs, in combination with protective fences and retainer walls, to shield perennials that have learned to thrive in salty, sandy soil. And there are many. Roses and hydrangea are two, but Lamb’s Ear and Russian Sage can do very well, as can Zinnias, Salvia, Coreopsis, and Sedums. And most coastal gardeners discover that quite a few annuals enjoy a summer at the beach, too. But just to be safe, let Riggio’s Garden Center guide your green thumb. In shoreline vernacular, they are old salts at cultivating lush landscapes, complete with beautiful flowers, advising you on how to select plants sturdy enough to bud and bloom despite a bit of brine — and how to protect even stalwart florae as much as possible. While you’re there, check out all the gardening supplies, planters, and statuary Riggio’s stocks to enhance your efforts. And stop in for a bouquet of beautiful fresh flowers at the Essex Flower Shoppe. It’ll start you dreaming. — J.H.
Riggio’s Garden Center
Essex Flower Shoppe
136 Westbrook Rd., Essex

This cheese shop really
takes the cake.

Yeah, I know. That’s kind of mixing metaphors. But it’s true. The Cheese Shop of Centerbrook really is in a class all by itself, and that’s because Owner Paul Partica is a professional cheesemonger — a word the Brits use to describe someone who buys and sells cheese for a living, which is precisely what Paul has been doing for half a century. And he’s also schooled a few cheesmongers along the way, training some 40 new cheese shop owners for some 40 new cheese shops, when he worked for a very successful national franchise. Well, now he’s the Big Cheese, and not surprisingly, he’s made it his business to stock his cheese shop with what may well be the finest selection of cheese in Connecticut. Indeed, his inventory of cheeses leaves you saying “Cheese, that’s a lotta cheese” — because it is, including artisanal cheeses from all over the world, including France, Italy, Spain, Australia, Denmark, England, Switzerland, Sweden, Argentina, Canada, Germany, Holland, Ireland and Norway, as well as some wonderful domestic cheeses. Of course, that’s not the only reason this cheese shop is so popular. It’s popular because it’s a relaxed sort of place where you’ll always be invited to “try before you buy”— and a place where a delightful variety of charcuterie, handmade pastas, local breads, coffees, fruits, olive oils, condiments, chocolates, and gelatos make stopping in and stocking up more like an adventure than an errand. But then you really need to go see for yourself. After all, the proof is (sorry!) in the pudding. — J.H.
The Cheese Shop of Centerbrook
33 Main St., Centerbrook









Sea for Yourself
Located just above the borough of Fenwick, Saybrook Point sits at the mouth of the Connecticut River, its vistas of Long Island Sound, historic Saybrook Breakwater Light House, and the river itself splendid — the endless parade of fishing and recreational vessels in every shape and size mesmerizing. So it’s no wonder Saybrook Point Inn, Marina & Spa is one of the best seats in the house for those who love the smell of salt air, the cool touch of a sea breeze on a warm summer afternoon, the sounds of sails luffing when the tide is slack and the air still, the muffled hum of inboards and outboards, and the sound of halyards clanging on the sloops and catboats and daysailers docked nearby. If all of that isn’t enough, this luxurious resort also offers exceptional spa services at Sanno Spa. Superb dining at Fresh Salt or lighter fare in the Marina Bar — both with menus featuring locally sourced, seasonally fresh ingredients and tables with stunning views. The Inn features stylish accommodations, from cozy rooms to impressively spacious suites. With close proximity to a host of other shoreline attractions you can enjoy right away — or save for your next visit. Or the one after that. Because once you’ve discovered Saybrook Point Inn, Marina & Spa, you’ll be back. — J.H.
Saybrook Point Inn,
Marina & Spa
2 Bridge St., Old Saybrook

Give ‘em an inch
and they’ll do your whole yard!

Lawns and gardens are funny things. They look so simple. A little grass seed here and a shrub or two there. Some flowers in between. A couple of bags of mulch. And voila! But if you’ve ever set about the task of turning the grounds — large or small, plain or fancy — surrounding your home into something special, then you know one thing. Simple is simply not the right word to describe such an undertaking. Knowing what grows best where takes some knowledge. And making it all happen takes some doing. The good news? All you really need to know is one thing: the name E.A. Quinn Landscape Contracting, Inc. And other than dialing the phone, you won’t need to lift a finger, because their land- and hardscape designers, master gardeners, stonemasons, and licensed installers will handle it all. And beautifully. Indeed, a quick peek at their website gallery is beyond compelling. Kind of makes you green with envy. — J.H.
E.A. Quinn Landscape Contracting, Inc.

Putting the “Din”
in Dinner

There’s only one place we know of where you are guaranteed actual sizzle with your meal, and that’s Ruth’s Chris Steak House. Fact is, Ruth’s Chris Steak House learned a long time ago that broiling the finest cuts of beef to perfection, topping them with a buttery mix of freshly chopped parsley, then serving them on a 500-degree plate so customers can actually hear the savory flavor isn’t simply the way to a man’s (or woman’s) heart. It’s the shortest route. And when they discovered that they could make chicken and chops and seafood deafeningly delectable, it sort of lit a fire under them — and before you knew it, Ruth’s became an international favorite. The good news is there’s one close by in Newington. Where? Just follow your ears. — J.H.
Ruth’s Chris Steak House
2513 Berlin Tpke.

It’s a Shore Thing
Whether you’re buying, selling, or leasing, happy endings always begin with the right realtor. Someone who knows how to match needs and wants to neighborhoods and schools…shopping, dining and entertainment…healthcare…banking…and — especially here at The Shoreline — to beaches, lakes, marinas, and those amazing spots along the coast where the sun actually sets over the water. Someone skilled at pricing and positioning a home for sale — and equally clever at finding the “finds” house hunters crave. And someone with both the financial and negotiating savvy to ensure optimal value and timely turnaround for buyers and sellers alike. Well, here on The Shoreline, that “someone” is Robin Keegan. A founding member of The Shoreline Homes Team at William Raveis, Robin has over 10 years of highly successful real estate experience, a bag full of prestigious awards, an active bond with the shoreline community she calls home, a keen faith — and a tendency to see her commitment to the clients she serves progress into genuine friendships. Fact is, Robin’s the real deal. And since one real deal has a way of leading to another real deal, starting your real estate adventure with Robin is indeed a shore thing. — J.H.
Robin Keegan,
The Shoreline Homes Team
William Raveis
709 Boston Post Rd., Madison

The Sound of Taste
Sometimes, when you read a menu, one thing or another just sounds good — which begs the question “how do sound and taste align?” Well, I think I know the answer. It’s memory. Well…memory in cahoots with imagination. Indeed, by the time we are old enough to actually read a menu, we have already developed keen memories of not only countless flavors but how they modulate when blended together or expertly seasoned with herbs, spices, condiments, and oils. And let’s face it, once our memory is piqued, the imagination kicks in, activating our taste buds — and you simply don’t argue with taste buds. You order and enjoy. But here’s what’s really interesting. The same thing can happen when a restaurant known for its exceptional cuisine is simply mentioned. And the truth is that when it comes to Assaggio, their name alone is enough to make one want to dress up a bit and go — its silken consonants as irrresistable as butter. And if you’ve dined there, forget it. You hear the name…memories flow…the imagination gets busy…your palate is aroused…the craving begins — and before you know it, you’re on the phone making reservations for dinner. Sounds good, doesn’t it? That’s because it is. — J.H.
Assaggio “A Taste”
168 Montowese St., Branford

The Best Day of
your Summer

Named for Old Lyme’s beautiful Black Hall River, Black Hall Outfitters — or BHO — operates the area’s two go-to resources for paddle-sport rentals and sales. The first is set directly on the Connecticut River Estuary, Canoe & Kayak Trail in Old Lyme, with Great Island National Wildlife salt marsh, one of the East Coast’s finest kayak and kayak fishing spots, right in their back yard. And the second, just down the road in Westbrook, is on the Menunketesuck River, with direct access to the 500 acre Stewart Mckinney Wildlife preserve, a paddling paradise. Know what that means? It means that when the urge to take in the natural splendor of the shoreline — and do so off the beaten path and on the water itself — hits you, you’re already there. Just choose from among the great selection of canoe, kayak, and SUP (stand-up paddle board) for rent or for sale at either location, then off you go for some instant gratification that can last hours — or a lifetime. And BHO has its own full-service marina for boats up to 22 feet, fishing tackle and bait, and welcomes group outings for team-building programs, company gatherings, family reunions, or parties of any kind. Stop in. Head out. And enjoy. — J.H.
Black Hall Outfitters
132 Shore Rd., Old Lyme
362 Boston Post Rd., Westbrook






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