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The KMS Lobster Roll Face-off

Heaps of sweet lobster meat on a buttery toasted frankfurter bun....a favorite summer treat for most New Englanders! We decided to take an unscientific survey, polling the KMS Partners, to find THE best lobster roll in or around Fairfield County.

The results were inconclusive but whether you are a Connecticut purist (warm, with lots of melted butter) or a fan of the traditional Maine lobster roll (cold, with a little mayo and extras), we do have some great options for you! Get ‘em to go – they make a perfect beach or concert meal. Or enjoy the seaside atmosphere at some of these great locations.  Either way, we think your taste buds will be happy.

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Michael Mombello generally likes his “cold with mayo, celery, lemon and a bit of onion” but he claims the CT style at Knot Norm’s is “flat out amazing”. Seconded by Sheila Keenan, we say it is definitely worth a try!

(Hot lobster steamed and then poached in house made lobster butter. Topped with micro celery and lemon juice - yum!)

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David Weber stands by the rolls (and everything else) at Heibeck’s Stand. “Fairfield County's best lobsta roll is at Heibeck’s on Route 7 in Wilton! Surprising yes, but voted best in surveys and I can say everything from this roadside stand is great.”

Mary Ellen Gallagher was torn —

#1 for its authentic atmosphere and fresh caught lobster at Guilford Lobster Pound (top photo); “the rolls are awesome and eating outside on the dock in beautiful Guilford Harbor makes a perfect end to a summer day” 

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#2 for its amazing lobster rolls is The Seven Seas in Milford. Eat at the bar (free popcorn while you wait); knowing this place has been thriving for 50 years. They must be doing things right!

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Kim Harizman and Karen Scott went with the relatively new, fast, casual concept of Match Burger Lobster – featuring both a hot and cold roll, and of course, burgers. Eat-in or Carry-out. Choices, choices.

Sheila Keenan, while agreeing with both Kim and Michael’s picks, has another favorite.  She can be found at Westfair Fish and Chips on a weekly basis – for their lobster rolls as well as other great seafood.

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Surprising to us, we had two non-lobster lovers in the group. Susan Seath enjoys it occasionally, when it is hot.  We think she should give LobsterCraft a try – The Coastal will make her a true believer. If she can convince Laurie Morris to go with her, we think she would enjoy the Maine-style Dirty Maynard.

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And of course, for the grab-n-go variety to take to Levitt Pavilion, you can’t beat Stew Leonards!

So there you have it.  Can you squeeze eight lobster rolls into your summer?!

 

Summer Fun

Whether you’re a longtime homeowner, a new arrival or a summer renter, you share one thought: Let’s make the most of these months!

 Summer fun is a big part of what got you here. There’s a lot going on between now and Labor Day. Here at KMS Partners, we’ll make sure you don’t miss any of it.

 The Levitt Pavilion is Westport’s free outdoor summer series. Six nights a week, the handsome stage with sloping lawn on the banks of the Saugatuck River hosts concerts (rock, jazz, folk, military bands, kids – you get the idea) and other entertainment. Bring a picnic, open the wine – and did we mention, it’s free?!

 Fairfield’s thriving music scene includes summer concerts at the Sherman Green Gazebo, smack in the center of town. Nearly every night at 6:30 p.m., a band plays. Kids romp, adults socialize, and of course there’s plenty of places to get ice cream nearby. It’s as Norman Rockwell-esque as Fairfield County gets.

 “Music at the Barn” is a special Weston Historical Society series. There’s a Steely Dan Cover band June 23; jazz sensation Chris Coogan July 14, and Otis and the Hurricanes August 18. An all-day “Westonstock” Woodstock-style event on September 14 is not to be missed.

 For a comprehensive list of concerts in surrounding towns, check out Fairfield After Dark

 About the only thing you can’t buy at a Sidewalk Sale is a sidewalk. Everything else – clothes, jewelry, sunglasses, shoes, furniture, antiques, sports equipment, stuff – is available in racks and on tables. Prices are often slashed.

Westport’s (downtown and Playhouse Square) is June 28-30.

Fairfield’s (downtown) includes a street fair, on July 20.

 For nearly 50 years, the Fine Arts Festival has cemented Westport’s reputation as an arts town. The nationally recognized, juried event features 175 painters, photographers, sculptors, printmakers, glassblowers, jewelers and more. This year’s event is July 20th  and 21st.. There’s lots more going on too around Main Streets, including Westport Library’s annual book sale (July 20-23, on Jesup Green) The sale includes just about every book printed, and CD and DVD ever made (it seems).

 The next week (July 27-31), Pequot Library hosts its own incredible book sale. Over 100,000 items (including music and movies) are featured, in the Southport institution’s handsome building.

 You may not think of a library as a place to spend your summer, but Westport Library’s newly transformed building is definitely worth a visit. BTW, the grand opening is Sunday, June 23 (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.).

 What’s summer without 4th of July Fireworks?

Westport’s are July 3. Compo Beach hums all day with picnics, marching bands and other fun. A ticket is required to park at the beach. Fairfield’s are also July 3, at Jennings Beach. Music starts at 6 p.m.; the pyrotechnics begin at 9:15.

Weston sets off its fireworks on the actual 4th of July, at the middle school — a community-wide 4th of July Celebration. Gates open at 4:30 p.m. Bands play, magicians perform, and the entire town comes out. Tickets required.

 If sunsets are your thing, one of the best spots around is Compo Beach. South Beach – with its barbecue grills, picnic tables and alcohol-is-fine policy (no glass though!) – is where the cognoscenti gather to gawk.

 Want a bit of action beyond sunset-watching? Westport’s Parks and Recreation Department sponsors a summer road race series, every Saturday at 8 a.m. The first one is 2.3 miles; each week is longer, building up to a 10-mile finale the Saturday before Labor Day. It’s competitive, with plenty of camaraderie. Those 12 and under can also compete in Westport’s Age Group Track Events on Thursday evenings.

 How about golf? With public courses in Westport and Fairfield you have options! Longshore Women’s Golf Association (Tuesdays); Longshore Ladies Nine Hole Association (Thursdays); Longshore Men’s Golf Association has a summer weekend calendar online. Fairfield has leagues (Men’s, Women’s and Senior’s) that play at H. Smith Richardson or the South Pine Creek Par 3 Course – details here.

 The Westport Weston Family YMCA’s Point-to-Point Swim is Sunday, July 28. Swimmers of all ages and abilities race from one jetty to the other, in this very popular Y fundraiser.

 No story about summer in these parts is complete without a mention of the Blues, Views & BBQ Festival. Thousands of visitors stream to Westport’s Levitt Pavilion and environs to enjoy world-class blues music and mouth-watering barbecue. There’s plenty of other food too, and lots for kids to do. This year’s event is September 1 and 2.

 That’s a lot! We know you can’t do everything. But there’s one more summer highlight we hope you’ll consider. On July 13 (5 to 9 p.m.), KMS Partners Compass presents “Pools, Patios, Pergolas.” You can admire the luxurious outdoor living spaces of three fabulous Westport homes, while sampling food and custom cocktails from three award-winning caterers. It’s a benefit for Food Rescue US - Fairfield County, a fantastic organization that works hard to ease hunger.

 We hope to see you there. And of course, at many of these other great events. Now that’s what summer here is all about.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Compass to the Rescue

KMS Partners is a true partnership. We all share resources, ideas and tips; we tap into each other’s skills and talents.

We are also proud to partner with community organizations. We believe firmly that a real estate company is more than a business. It is a vital part of its town. And it is imperative that we do as much as we can for all our partners in it.

One of this area’s most effective and efficient non-profits is Food Rescue US. Founded in Norwalk -- and now national, with 18 chapters -- its mission is simple: Take food from organizations that have too much, and distribute it to those with too little.

The mobile app is key. Volunteers pick up the food, then deliver it a couple of miles away to homeless shelters, food pantries, senior centers and other service agencies.

Over 140 rescuers are active in Fairfield County. Area donors include supermarkets like Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Stew Leonard’s -- as well as Fairfield University, Norwalk Hospital, Bridgewater Associates and GE.

“People want to serve in a direct, impactful way,” says Nicole Straight, Food Rescue US’ local site director. “It’s so powerful to take food that would have been thrown out, and bring it directly to people who need it.”

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Beyond helping rescue food, KMS Partners’ partnership with this wonderful organization now includes an exciting fundraising event “Pools, Patios & Pergolas – A Luxury Tasting Event”. On July 13th, we’ll showcase several of our most intriguing properties to guests. Each location will feature a top caterer, offering a different cuisine plus fun music and signature cocktails. We will take advantage of the season highlighting magnificent outdoor spaces. In addition, we will announce a new and exciting residential project at the final location. Details forthcoming.

One ticket buys access to all venues, food and drinks. 100% of ticket proceeds will help Food Rescue improve its technology, and pay full-time employees.

Every Food Rescue US volunteer, donor and agency believes as we do, in the importance of community involvement. All are equal partners in this endeavor.

We could not be more proud to be partnering with this wonderful organization.

(To download the app, search for “Food Rescue US” in the Apple or Google Play store. For more information, go to www.FoodRescueUS.com and get tickets to the July 13th event here)

from The Wall Street Journal…

Seeking Pristine Condition with feature-rich Kitchen and Master Suite

For centuries, the tony suburbs of NewYork City have been a haven for the rich, who bought luxurious estates on sweeping acres. But many of today’s home buyers, no matter how wealthy, seek the opposite — smaller, smarter houses on compact lots that are ready to be moved into. Read more, including KMS thoughts by following this link — Gilded Age Luxury to Home Improvement Show Mentality

Price Point Differentials

The outlook for real estate sales in Fairfield County, Connecticut, and Westchester County, New York, is bifurcated. The market for homes priced at under $2 million is slowly improving in both counties. But sales of estates are down dramatically, with no change in sight. Read on Outlook: Cautious With a Touch of OPTIMISM

Westport: A True “Town Green”

Did you hear about Westport’s great osprey uproar?

Every March for years, the magnificent birds return to their nest from a winter in South America. But this is not just any nest; it’s perched on a platform high above a busy Post Road parking lot. Westporters love watching each pair construct a new nest, fetch food, lay eggs, then teach their chicks to fly.

This year, a parking lot renovation project threatened the ospreys. All weekend long, residents rallied together to make sure the nest was undisturbed. They made phone calls, offered to help build a new platform, and made the birds into instant celebrities.

It’s hardly the first time the town rallied around a great cause. In fact, Westporters pride themselves on making their voices heard. Over 50 years ago, a utility company wanted to buy Cockenoe Island -- to turn the beloved camping and fishing spot a mile off Compo Beach into a nuclear power plant!

Well! It took a while -- and $200,000 -- but Westport now owns Cockenoe Island. Wildlife flourishes, and every summer it is still a favorite destination for boaters.

Cockenoe Island was big. But in many smaller ways, Westport makes its eco-commitment known too. For example, 100 gardeners have plots at the Community Gardens. They grow an astounding variety of produce there. They also enjoy true “community.” They share tips, bounty and friendship. They come from all over town, and span all ages. Their thumbs are green -- and so are their hearts.

Westport is also home to a thriving Farmers’ Market. Begun more than a decade ago by Paul Newman -- yes, that Paul Newman -- it’s grown into much more than a place to shop for the best fresh, healthy and local seasonal food. (Including everything from fruits and vegetables to honey and homemade pies.)

Every Thursday from May to November, the Farmers’ Market rocks outdoors on Imperial Avenue. Musicians play. Chefs show off their favorite recipes. Everyone smiles.

When it gets too cold, the Farmers’ Market heads indoors, to Gilbertie’s Herbs and Garden Center. It’s a year-round institution -- and just one more way that Westport supports the environment.

The Westport Garden Club, Greens Farms Garden Club and several smaller, similar clubs are another. Planting and caring for an ever-changing array of flowers, shrubs and trees, they make Westport look beautiful.

No story on Westport’s commitment to the environment would be complete without Wakeman Town Farm. It’s many things to many people: a working farm (complete with llamas). A summer and vacation camp for kids. A place where teenagers volunteer, and learn to care for animals and the land. An educational center, with program for every age on topics from beekeeping to cooking.

It’s the perfect spot for meetings and parties too. WTF -- as it’s lovingly known -- is as integral to the town as its ospreys.

KMS Partners is a proud sponsor of Wakeman Town Farm. We support its many activities and fundraisers -- and not just with checks. We look forward to seeing you there!

And -- thanks to the foresight of Westporters five decades ago -- there’s not a nuclear power plant in sight.

(For more insights into Westport -- green and otherwise -- contact KMS Partners: 203.295.4375

There's No Business Like Show Business

Broadway producers, and Weston residents, Alan and Barbara Marks gave the Kiwanis Club of Weston a rare view into the production process of a Broadway show. The couple is known for their work on Dear Evan Hansen, a Tony Award Winner for Best Musical. Other productions include After Midnight, Master Class, Finian's Rainbow, and the team have a hand in Hamilton.

In talking about the business of show business, Weston Today reports:

“Mr. Marks said theater has no equivalent of Hollywood’s studio system. Every production is a company, an individual business enterprise, and the producer is CEO, responsible for all that happens on stage: hiring a director, a casting agent, actors, writers, choreographers, composers, lyricists, negotiating with a theater, and everything else.

Producers don’t own a show. Mr. Marks said they only “rent the right to present the work of other people for a certain period of time.” Everything is a collaboration. A producer “can’t change a word of the script, a note of a song, or a step in the choreography” without the consent of creators.

According to Ms. Marks, producers work in a small world. There are only 41 Broadway theaters. Many of them have established, long-running shows, which means new productions compete for a stage in only three or four available venues.

It is also a financially risky world. Mr. Marks said 80 percent of Broadway shows do not make money, and the costs are enormous. Ms. Marks estimates the average Broadway musical costs $15 million to launch, may take seven years or more to go from concept to opening night, and takes years just to break even.

The shows that do make money tend to make tons of it. Hits like “Hamilton” and “Chicago” generate hundreds of millions in profits. Mr. Marks quoted an adage: “You can’t make a living in the theater, but you can make a killing.”

And sometimes it just doesn’t work out at all. A few years ago, Mr. and Ms. Marks made a large investment to develop a musical called “The Last Goodbye,” a brilliant concept inspired by the music of the late Jeff Buckley, who in turn had been inspired by “Romeo and Juliet.” A tryout in San Diego was promising. But the show needed changes to go to the next level, and the producers and creative team couldn’t agree on what changes to make. So, in this case, the show didn’t go on.

Today, with a solid record of success, the couple has high hopes for a new production about Jean-Michel Basquiat, the one-time graffiti artist who, said Mr. Marks, “changed the landscape of contemporary art” in the gritty New York of the early 1980s. They are excited about the big-name Broadway figures who will be involved.” Follow the progress of this production by clicking Basquiat on Broadway. We can’t wait for what is sure to be a colorful production!

Are you moving into the Weston area or just interested in knowing more about the very active, philanthropic Kiwanis Club of Weston? Contact member and KMS Partner, David Weber at 203.451.7888, david.weber@compass.com or visit Weston Kiwanis.

 

 

Home Staging Starts with Tidying Up

Let's talk home staging. Love it or hate it, we still think it is a priority task to prep your home for a successful sale.

On New Year’s Day Netflix premiered the eight-episode series on the virtues of the “KonMari Method” of tidying. A resurgence of the method first outlined in Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing has begun. The series sparks joy thanks to the transformation and the personality of Marie Kondo and those she helps.

Writing of the lessons learned from reading the book, One Kings Lane Editor, Cate La Farge Summers, summarizes the method:

“First, put your hands on everything you own, ask yourself if it sparks joy, and if it doesn’t, thank it for its service and get rid of it.

Second, once only your most joy-giving belongings remain, put every item in a place where it’s visible, accessible, and easy to grab and then put back.”

Simple enough, right? In the full article (click here), Cate tells of 8 lessons learned from  the book. We think if you take her advice, you will make it through your clothes in no time. And we all know, uncluttered closets look BIGGER!

 Lesson #1: Tackle Categories, Not Rooms

I’d always tackled clutter by room—take on the office first, the bedroom next. Instead, Kondo’s first rule is to tidy by category—deal with every single one of your books at once, for example, otherwise they’ll continue to creep from room to room, and you’ll never rein in the clutter. She advises beginning with clothing, since it’s the least emotionally loaded of one’s things (books come next, old photographs are much later), so as soon as I found a free afternoon, that’s exactly what I did.

 Lesson #2: Respect Your Belongings

With my eyes now open, I realized my closets had hit rock bottom. Everything had succumbed to a mixed-up messiness. Kondo asks that you consider your clothing’s feelings: Are they happy being squashed in a corner shelf or crowded onto hangers? Are your hardworking socks really thrilled to be balled up? It had sounded out there when I read it, but suddenly my clothes looked totally miserable.

Lesson #3: Nostalgia Is Not Your Friend

As I started emptying the closets, I opened boxes filled with letters and old photographs. Serious mistake. Kondo knows what she’s talking about when she insists you put blinders on and focus only on the category of stuff at hand. Read one old letter, and suddenly you’re down a rabbit hole of nostalgia.

Lesson #4: Purging Feels SO Good

Once I got to work, it was so much easier and more fun than I’d thought. This question of joy gives you permission to let go of off-color shirts bought on sale, dresses past their prime, skirts that always clung uncomfortably….Six hours later, I’d filled 12 bags with non-joy-giving clothes. Instead of panic, I felt relief—12 times lighter. It also felt like good karma: The best stuff went to a consignment shop, and the decent stuff went to a charity thrift store, off to see a new, hopefully better life.

Lesson #5 and #6: Fold, Don’t Hang

Once you’ve sorted out the things to discard—and only then—you can decide where the remaining things should go. Rather than folded in a cubby or hanging in a closet, Kondo thinks a lot of our clothing would be better off (or as she’d say, happier) folded in a dresser.

Kondo’s vertical folding technique makes everything easy to spot and hard to mess up (you aren’t jostling a whole pile every time you take something out or put something back). Folded this way, clothing looks like fabric origami, ready to line your drawers in neat rows.

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To keep these little folded packages standing at attention in the dresser, try using shoeboxes as drawer dividers. A smaller box is perfect for square scarves, a deep one in the bottom drawer for sweaters.

Lesson #7 and #8: Fall in Love with Your Closet and Rediscover Your Style

You’ll be tackling the next category before you know it. Trust us, your home will photograph and show better…and you will love the way your home feels!

Want more ideas? We are happy to stop by - call us at 203.295.4375 or email info@kmspartners.com


 

Dancing with the Stars

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Would you believe that our very own Karen Scott is competing in Dancing with the Stars - A Gala Benefit for ElderHouse?  Modeled after the popular TV show, this exciting fundraising event has partnered Karen with an amazing, award-winning professional dancer, Manuel Trillo from Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Norwalk. Together, they will perform in a dance competition at the Gala being held on Saturday, March 23, 2019 at Rolling Hills Country Club in Wilton, CT.


ElderHouse, in Norwalk, is a worthwhile not-for-profit organization that provides adult day services to older adults with aging conditions like memory loss or physical impairment, offering dignified care in a social setting and extends much needed support to family caregivers. Every dollar pledged goes directly to support their program.  Please join us in supporting ElderHouse by making a donation or attending the Gala on March 23rd to cheer on Karen and Manuel. 💃🕺🏻

 

Sssshhhh…this is a LIBRARY

Homebuyers have many reasons to move to Westport and Weston: Schools. Long Island Sound. Culture. Proximity to the city. “Libraries” are not on the list. But once folks arrive, they quickly realize that their new towns boast two of the finest suburban libraries in the country.

 They are handsome. They provide a range of services and programs, for people of all ages. They even have books. Twenty-first century libraries have moved far away from the sssshhhh! model.

Today’s libraries are vibrant, active places, filled with creative people doing intriguing things. And you won’t find more variety and activity anywhere than here.

Right now, the Westport Library is in the final phase of an 18-month “Transformation Project.” When it’s completed in June, the already beloved library will be truly astounding.

A flexible “Forum” in the Great Hall is the centerpiece of the renovation. The tiered grandstand – think of the very cool structure in Times Square – can be reconfigured for any of the more than 1,700 programs presented each year. Art, movies, music, dance, food, authors – you name it, the Westport Library does it. Now, they’ll do it even better.

Westport was one of the first libraries anywhere with a MakerSpace. That hub of creativity will soon be even better. A nearby HackerSpace – filled with the latest technology – will have its own entrance, and be open 24/7. (You never know when inspiration will strike!)

Reimagined children’s and teens’ spaces, an expanded café with outdoor terrace, and many more meeting rooms are in the final stages.

The exterior is as compelling as what’s inside. The Westport Library has always featured stunning views. But the Transformation takes even greater advantage of its riverside location, with new entrances and areas luring users to relax and hang out.

Westport’s downtown is undergoing a major renaissance. The library – just steps away – is an important anchor. Check it out. You’ll add it to your list of reasons to love your new home.

The Weston Library, on Norfield Road near the town center, is smaller, but no less dynamic.

Boasting the latest technology, a crack staff and a welcoming vibe, it’s a true community resource. Compelling programs draw Westonites here seven days a week.

A recent $5 million gift from Dan Offutt will help his beloved Weston Library deliver even more services to its many dedicated users. A new, modern 2-story wing will enable expanded programs in arts, technology and exhibitions, along with 3D printers, robotics, a recording booth and exhibition area.

You may come to this area for education, water, golf or theater. But you’ll discover our libraries. They’ll draw you in – and you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them.

Learn more about Westport’s Transformation Project, Daniel Offutt’s gift: an Art & Innovation Center, the Westport Library and the Weston Library.

To learn more about how KMS Partners can help you buy a home in either town, call us at 203.2954375 or email us at info@kmspartners.com

Connecticut Rocks!

We’re not New York — but we’re close.

We’re not Boston — but we’ve sure got that New England vibe.

We’re not like any other place in the world. We’re Connecticut.

Our little state has a lot going for it. In a 24/7 Wall Street survey, Connecticut is the 3rd-best place to live in the country. Residents are among the best educated in the country (39% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree); our median household income of $77,385 a year puts us in the top 10%, and we’re one of only 10 states with a life expectancy over 80 years.

All of us at KMS Partners are pretty proud of our state. We’re particularly pleased to live and work in Fairfield County. We may be biased, but we think this is an amazing area.

But don’t take our word for it. Consider this:

  • New England has plenty of water, hills, beauty and history. You’ll find all of that right here — at your fingertips. Everywhere you turn, there’s something exciting and inspiring.

  • We’re a direct, comfortable train ride from New York City. And there’s no better place than the train to work, socialize or relax.

  • No one likes paying taxes. But there’s no comparison between taxes here, and those in neighboring Westchester County, New York City, Long Island and New Jersey (Well, there is a comparison. You’ll be amazed when you run the numbers.)

And as much as we tout Fairfield County overall, we love giving a shout-out to Westport and Weston in particular. For example:

  • Our schools rank among the best in the country — by every metric. The community feeling in our public schools is strong, deep and meaningful.

  • A community like Westport offers astonishing amenities. With a thriving arts center; newly renovated, 21st-century library; town-owned country club; beaches and parks galore, there is something for everyone. Westporters’ only complaint is that there’s not enough time to do everything.

  • Westport has a heritage as an arts community. For over 80 years, the Country Playhouse has been a leading regional theater. Working artists are showcased in galleries throughout town. Staples High School music concerts and theater productions rival professional ones — and the entire town turns out to see them.

  • Westporters care. There is a culture of philanthropy, and a longstanding tradition of inclusion.

  • From the bustling Farmers’ Market and innovative Wakeman Town Farm, to the airy, modern YMCA and many gyms and health clubs, to popular farm-to-table restaurants, Westporters embrace a healthy lifestyle.

  • Weston is an outdoors-oriented town. Devil’s Den is a spectacular property for hiking, swimming and nature-watching. Lachat Town Farm offers educational programs in agriculture, the environment, nutrition and the arts. And the Weston Historical Society — with its adjacent barn — has programs you won’t find anywhere else (1960s music and culture, anyone?)

There’s a very cool vibe throughout our towns. We can’t put it into words, but you’ll feel it when you drive (or walk, or bike) all around. We’re happy to show you some of our favorite spots. You can find us, KMS Partners, at Coldwell Banker | 472 Riverside Avenue | Westport, CT 06880 | 203-295-4375 | info@kmspartners.com


Holiday and Winter Fire Safety

As we add lights and decorations to make our homes festive for the holidays, we are sadly reminded of a tragedy that struck our area last December. Our home inspector friends at Pillar to Post recently outlined key steps to take to prevent your home and loved ones from fire. Please, take a moment to read and act as it is truly our hope that you all enjoy a safe and beautiful holiday season!

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Last December a fire left a 54 unit condominium complex in Norwalk uninhabitable weeks before the holidays. Although residential fires continue to take their toll every day in lost lives, injuries, and destroyed property, most conditions that cause house fires can be avoided or prevented by homeowners. The recent fire in Norwalk was caused by carelessly discarded smoking materials. Taking the time for some simple precautions, preventive inspections, and concrete planning can help prevent fire in the home - and can save property and lives should disaster strike.

  • Re-check your indoor and outdoor holiday lights for damaged wires and plugs. Follow the manufacturer's guidelines as to how many multiple strands can be joined together, as a fire hazard could result from overload. Enjoy indoor holiday lighting only while someone is home, and turn them off before going to bed at night.

  • Candles add a welcoming, festive feeling, and need to be placed in stable holders and located away from curtains, drafts, pets, and children. Never leave burning candles unattended, even for a short time.

  • Keep live Christmas trees in a water-filled stand and check daily for dehydration. Needles should not easily break off a freshly-cut tree. Brown needles or lots of fallen needles indicate a dangerously dried-out tree which should be discarded immediately. Always use nonflammable decorations in the home, and never use lights, even LED types, on a dried-out tree.

  • Never run electrical wires, including extension cords, under carpet or rugs even temporarily as this creates a fire hazard.

  • Fireplaces should be checked by a professional chimney sweep each year to prevent a dangerous buildup of creosote, which can cause a flash fire in the chimney.

  • When using space heaters, keep them away from beds, curtains, papers - anything flammable. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for use. Space heaters should not be left unattended or where a child or pet could knock them over.

  • Use smoke detectors with fresh batteries. Smoke detectors should be installed high on walls or on ceilings on every level of the home, inside each bedroom, and outside every sleeping area. Statistics show that nearly 60% of home fire fatalities occur in homes without working smoke alarms.

  • Flammable materials such as gasoline, kerosene, or propane should always be stored outside of and away from the house.

  • According to the U.S. National Fire Protection Association, 47% of reported home fires between 2011 and 2015 were kitchen fires. Grease spills, items left unattended on the stove or in the oven, and food left in toasters or toaster ovens can catch fire quickly. Don't wear loose fitting clothing, especially with long sleeves, around the stove. Handles of pots and pans should be turned away from the front of the stove to prevent accidental contact. Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher within easy reach. Extinguishers specifically formulated for grease and cooking fuel fires are widely available and can supplement an all-purpose extinguisher.

  • Have an escape plan. This is one of the most important measures to prevent death in a fire. Visitready.gov for detailed information on how to make a plan. Local fire departments can also provide recommendations on escape planning and preparedness. In addition, all family members should know how to dial 911 in case of a fire or other emergency.


SERVING HOME BUYERS, HOME SELLERS, HOMEOWNERS & 
REAL ESTATE PROFESSIONALS ACROSS FAIRFIELD COUNTY SINCE 1999

 The Dave Leopold Team

10 Morehouse Lane

Norwalk, CT 06850

david.leopold@pillartopost.com


Winter in Connecticut

In 1945, “Christmas in Connecticut” thrilled movie audiences all across America.

More than 70 years later, a true New England winter in Connecticut is still the most wonderful time of the year.

There’s so much to do here at holiday time. Each of us at KMS has our own favorite activities, events and traditions – and they are not limited to the actual holidays.  Here are a few, reminders for many and suggestions for those of you we’ve had the pleasure of helping make Connecticut home!

The Staples High School Candlelight Concert. For 78 years, high school musicians have awed audiences with a processional, production number, and stirring “Hallelujah Chorus.” You don’t need a kid in the concert to love this one, and it usually sells out! For tickets, click here.

Looking for that perfect tree? Try the H. Smith Richardson Tree Farm (run by the Connecticut Audubon Society) on Sasco Creek Road in Westport’s Greens Farms neighborhood. Or Jones Family Farm in Shelton. You can actually chop your own at Maple Row Tree Farm in Easton. And don’t miss the Wakeman Town Farm Holiday Tree Lighting on Friday December 7th for some traditional family fun!

The Westport Historical Society offers “Happy Holly-Days,” a month-long festival including tree decorating, candle making, Menorah decorating, a gingerbread contest, Solstice storytelling, and (of course) Santa for the kids. The centerpiece of the WHS month is a Holiday House Tour. You’ll be green (and red) with envy at these New England beauties. All information: www.WestportHistory.org.

Around the corner from the Westport Historical Society, on Main Street, Westport offers horse and carriage rides on weekends. And just up the Post Road, the Westport Country Playhouse is the enchanted setting for “The Nutcracker” (December 1 and 2).

Everyone loves personalized gifts. You can make your own at Hands on Pottery in Fairfield and Darien. Inexperienced? No worries. Their little elves can help.

Maybe some fresh air or time for yourself? Take a hike in Weston’s Devil’s Den. Or skate by the Sound at Longshore’s great outdoor PAL rink, then relax with hot chocolate (or cocktails) at Pearl at Longshore.

Longshore is also the site of an Uncorked Wine Tasting Gala. It’s a (very tasty) fundraiser for Westport’s Sunrise Rotary, on November 30.

Every town has its perfect sledding spots. In Westport, we love Birchwood Country Club and Winslow Park.

Winter is also a great time to visit Philip Johnson’s Glass House in New Canaan. Not far away – in the same town – is beautiful Grace Farms. New Canaan is also famous for its Holiday Stroll. This year it’s November 30 and December 1.

The Historical Christmas Barn in Wilton is like a trip down memory lane. Ornaments are hung from all over the world. For an amazing gift shop – true colonial America style – head to the Wilton Historical Society.

Not far from Fairfield County, there’s nothing like a hockey game at the “Yale Whale.” Okay – this may beat it: Dinner at the original Pepe’s Pizza on Wooster Street! New Haven is also filled with wonderful museums. We recommend the Yale University Art Gallery, the Yale Center for British Art, Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, and the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield.

Kids of all ages love the old steam train in Essex. It’s even better than a sleigh!

Have your own winter favorites that we missed? Please let us knowinfo@kmspartners.com

Fall is a time to have an attitude of gratitude!

What are you thankful for? There is so much to choose from! Fall is a time of year that we can especially pay attention to the simple gifts, the family time, the wonderful friends and blessings that have been brought into our lives. We may forget how lucky we are to have hot showers, reliable transportation, work to do, food to eat, and clothing to choose from.

Sometimes during the holidays, it can be easy to get caught up in the busyness of the season: the house cleaning, the big meals to cook, the gifts to buy, the stress of it all. By showing your thankfulness for the simple things, and accepting each day as a gift, you will not have to look far to find reasons to be grateful. Plus, your gratitude, will inspire others around you to do the same.

Challenge yourself this holiday season to make a list of the things and people that make you smile. Then put it on your fridge, on your bathroom mirror, or even in your car, so you can be reminded daily of your blessings. We at KMS Partners are certainly blessed with the camaraderie of our successful partnership, enjoying the benefits of the #1 Coldwell Banker office and living and working in our wonderful communities. We are especially grateful for the loyalty of our wonderful clients.

May you have a happy, healthy and fun-filled Thanksgiving!

Weekend Homeowners

One of the best parts of being a KMS realtor is that we never know who will walk through the door.

Take for example two longtime Bronxville, New York residents. Every summer they bought an out-of-town pass for Compo. They spent as much time as they could at their favorite Connecticut beach.

At last, they decided to buy a weekend home in Westport. They looked for a l-o-n-g time. Finally, they found a house and land they loved in the Old Hill section. They moved in in June.

One of the couple commutes to New York each day. However, they marvel at their new life. Some weekends they entertain friends; others they spend quietly together.

Both say that the wait for a place they love makes their new home even sweeter.

They’re part of what we call “weekend homeowners.” Some are testing the waters before they commit to living here full-time. Others just enjoy having a getaway. All share a desire for a slice of something different from their weekday existence, on highly valued weekends.

Westport has always attracted a creative, artsy, spirited crowd. Some come from New York, or other cities. Others live in smaller towns, but want access to the water.

Shopping, restaurants, music and theater are prized attractions too. Then there’s that hard-to-describe Westport vibe that many suburban places lack.

KMS worked recently with a Brooklyn family with two girls. The parents had gone to college in New England. Every summer, they rented a beach house.

This year -- after several subpar experiences on Long Island -- some friends mentioned Westport. The family tried Beachside Avenue.

They fell in love with the town and its vibe. They could not believe how much there was to do. (The views from the patio were not too shabby either!)

Now, they’re looking for a home to buy. If they can’t find the right place, they’ll rent the same house again -- and keep looking.

Weekend homeowners come in all sizes and varieties. Some are young families. Others are empty nesters, or people entering a new phase of life.

Whoever they are, and wherever they come from, KMS Partners is ready to show them a weekend place.

And, once they love it, we’re happy to help them move here for good!

 

Westport's Farming History — Wakeman Town Farm

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When we talk to potential homebuyers about Westport’s history, we mention our agricultural past. As we show you possible homes, we point out repurposed barns highlighting that farming heritage is an important part of this town’s charm.

But whenever one of our KMS Partners talks about Wakeman Town Farm, Westport’s past truly comes alive. WTF (as it’s fondly and funnily known) is a working farm, complete with produce for sale, animals to care for, and year-round activity.

It’s also much more. Wakeman Town Farm -- one of the oldest family farm properties in town -- is an educational center, with classes on cooking and baking, healthy food production, composting, even solar technology.

It’s the site of a summer camp, and a year-round magnet for students of all ages. There’s a CSA, offering a delicious range of fruits, vegetables and more.

WTF is also a gathering place for holiday parties, family fun days, “Green Days” and beer gardens. Anyone can rent the property -- including the newly renovated, gorgeous and very functional kitchen -- for special events, like birthdays and graduation celebrations.

All this is overseen by Corey Thomas, the young and energetic “steward” who farms, cares for goats and rabbits and alpacas (!), organizes classes, and draws in hundreds of volunteers who -- in true “it takes a village” spirit -- make Wakeman Town Farm hum.

KMS Partners loves this little town gem. (Well, not so little. It’s a dozen or so acres off Cross Highway, adjacent to Bedford Middle School and Staples High. Easy accessibility is one more draw for the many students who make WTF their second home.)

We love its mission: a place where anyone, without any previous knowledge of agriculture or animals, can learn about the land, expand their horizons, and feel part of a community of like-minded Westporters young and old.

To us, Wakeman Town Farm is Westport at its best. This is a town that honors its rich and varied history. A place that embraces environmentalism. A community that knows our future depends on working together to conserve our resources -- and that wants to learn, together, how to do it.

We hope you’re as excited about Wakeman Town Farm as we are. We’d love to show you around, and introduce you to some of its most ardent volunteers. WTF is one more reason we really “dig” Westport.

(For more information about Wakeman Town Farm -- or any other part of Westport life -- contact us)

As a new school year begins, get involved!

New to the area, looking for a way to meet people and put your talents to work? Get involved in school!

Lived here a long time, but eager to try something different and give back to the community? Get involved in school!

You don’t even need school-age children. Whatever your passion, get involved in school!

If you think volunteer efforts are limited to baking brownies for PTA fundraisers, think again.

Schools rely on volunteers to power many activities. Libraries are hotbeds of activity all day long — and not all of them involve books. Librarians need help planning programs, organizing events and teaching technology. You’ll be amazed at the varied role libraries play in today’s schools.

In culture-rich Fairfield County, moms and dads are a crucial resource. You can bring dancers, musicians, actors and authors into classrooms and auditoriums. In Westport you could join the Schools’ Permanent Arts Committee, which oversees more than 1,500 pieces of original paintings, sculptures and cartoons.

High schools and middle schools in the area have robust theater programs. But the directors can’t do it all. They need set designers, costume experts, lighting specialists and much more to help put on spectacular shows.

Other after-school programs rely on outside expertise too. Westport’s nationally recognized robotics teams are organized and coached by parents. So are chess programs in other towns. Many such activities begin with volunteers. Feel free to offer up your own special skills.

Speaking of coaching: varsity, junior varsity and freshman teams need you. KMS Partners’ own Kim Harizman is an assistant high school girls’ tennis coach -- and she does not even have a daughter!

Mothers and fathers can be tremendous advocates for important causes. Each town has organizations for parents of children with learning differences or special needs, and for intellectually gifted youngsters. There are state and national associations too.

If you’re politically involved, consider education issues. From budgets to standardized testing, you can make your voice heard. If you’re particularly intrepid, you can run for your local Board of Education!

Public schools, private schools, preschools -- all benefit from parental involvement. And that yields rewards far beyond the joy of giving back, and the satisfaction of using your talents for a good cause. You’ll meet new people, be exposed to new ideas, and learn new skills.

And if baking brownies for fundraisers is your thing: You’ll make tons of quick friends.

The Weston Historical Society Presents Westonstock:

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Six Hours of Music, Peace and Love on the Coley Farm Homestead

Sixties Music, Cars, Food and Family Fun

on Saturday, September 15th

The Weston Historical Society transports you back to a time when young people of the ‘counterculture’ generation gathered for an historic happening of music, peace and love. Presenting Westonstock – a six-hour music festival and fun day on Saturday, September 15th from 2 P.M. to 8 P.M. on the Coley Homestead at 104 Weston Road, Weston CT. Westonstock is part of the society’s Life in the Sixties exhibit and a great way to feel that sixties ‘’vibe” in a beautiful rustic setting.

Westonstock will feature Old School Revue with the Saugatuck Horns, a six-piece band decked out in vintage 60s attire. They will be joined by three top vocalists and a dozen other artists throughout the day, treating the audience to musical favorites spanning genres from Beatles/British Invasion, Memphis Blues, Motown, Rock, R&B, Psychodelic, Soul and Jazz. It all happens from the stage of the big, red Coley Barn on The Weston Historical Society campus.

Westonstock is a family event with games, and arts & crafts activities for the kids. Music, TV and movie trivia contests will occur throughout the day, as well as dance demonstrations and contests. Burger & Dog Food Truck will be on premises, along with other food and beverage suppliers.

To round out the 60s experience, vintage cars will be parked around the property — guaranteed to take you back to the golden age of the American automobile. Dragone Classic Motors will be lending many of the cars, including an “Air Cooled” section of VW Beetles and Vans. There will also be local vendors on premises displaying and selling various arts and crafts.

“The Historical Society hopes to transport visitors back to the 60s with this exciting community event. Come and spend an hour or the entire day on our three and a half acres of open field and museum space,” said Pam Kersey, President of The Weston Historical Society. “The proceeds will support our renovation projects of both the historic Coley Barn and Coley Farm House.”

The complete roster of musical artists are: Old School Revue with The Saugatuck Horns, The Bar Car Band, Chris Coogan, Crispin Cioe, Susan Didrichesen, Billy Foster, Joe Meo, Frank Barrese, Charlie Karp, Joe Kos, Bob Cooper, Tyger MacNeal, Jeff Southworth, David Weber, Cinnamon Girls and Rob Carlson. “This might not be Yasgur’s Farm – but it will be a day of nothing but peace, love and music… just what we all need!” said Roger Kaufman, of Old School Productions, music co-ordinator of the event.

Tickets are available on-line at www.westonhistoricalsociety.org. Advance tickets are available now through September 1st : Members $15, Non-Members $20, Kids $5. After September 1st : Members $25, Non-Members $30, Kids $5. Tickets will also be available at the door the day of the event.

The Weston Historical Society would like to thank our annual sponsors: Fairfield County Bank, Cohen and Wolf P.C., KMS Partners at Coldwell banker and our Life in the Sixties sponsors Teed and Brown, Aspetuck Valley Country Club, and Jet Blue for making Westonstock possible.

For more information: www.westonhistoricalsociety.org or 203 226-1804.

Every KMS partner has a story.

We love matching buyers with the right house, and helping owners through the process of selling their beloved homes.

We also have lives outside of the office (and our cars!). Each of us has passions we joyfully follow.

But only one of us is a rock star.

That's David Weber.

His drumming roots reach back from Boston to the San Francisco Bay Area. He started the band Copperhead in Marin County with the former leader of the famed Quicksilver Messenger Service, John Cipollina. When bass player Pete Sears left to tour with Rod Stewart, he was replaced by Bonnie Raitt’s bassist and David's oldest friend, Hutch Hutchinson.

Copperhead shared the stage with many great bands and musicians: Santana. Journey. B.B. King. Yes. Jefferson Airplane. Peter Frampton. Van Morrison. The Grateful Dead.

Hot Tuna. Frank Zappa. Steely Dan.

They played a New Year’s concert at Diamond Head crater for 250,000 people with Santana and Journey. I've got “lots of stories,” David says from his days hanging with the Grateful Dead and The Airplane.

Clive Davis signed Copperhead to a huge Columbia contract. “You’ll be America’s answer to the Rolling Stones,” the noted executive said. They recorded one album. Davis got fired in a payola scandal not long after signing them. The new regime dumped them. They’d sold 50,000 records already, but that was the beginning of the band’s end.

Then came Raven, with legendary piano player Nicky Hopkins (Beatles, Stones, Kinks, Jefferson Airplane).

David’s next group, SFO, was backed by the Nederlander Brothers. The band opened the initial tour for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. But “ego clashes doomed us,” David says.

He then spent two years as guitar legend Link Wray’s drummer. Link’s album was the first record David ever bought – in junior high school!

After years of touring, he decided to do something different. David built a recording studio in Hollywood where he wrote songs and produced acts. Bonnie Raitt’s musicians were his house band. Greg Allman, Sly Stone, Melissa Etheridge, Etta James, Little Feat, the Nevilles, Dennis Quaid, Little Richard, Freebo, Southside Johnny, Joe Walsh – all came through David’s studio.

Unfortunately (for him), someone invented the PC! Suddenly, musicians could record at home. The studio went kaput.

So, David went to Hawaii for a few years and became … a diving instructor. It was a lifelong dream, and he loved it.

But in 1994, he got an offer to build and manage a recording studio clear across the country — near Weston, Connecticut. The life-long musician couldn’t say no.

The job did not work out. But life did. He met his wife Deni, and her 6-year-old son Matt. Fast forward to today: Matt is about to become principal bassist with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra.

Funny how things work out. David got his real estate license that next year – 1995 – and has been an all-star real estate agent ever since.

Yet he still finds time for his musical side. He’s been a driving force behind the Weston Historical Society’s current exhibit, “Life in the Sixties.”  The exhibit is a fascinating look into the music scene that David loved and lived – with plenty of great concerts and panel discussions too.

So, what does David think of all this?

He quotes a line from one of the most famous bands he’s worked with: “What a long strange trip it’s been.”

(To learn more about David’s Weston Historical Society exhibit, click here.)

To contact him, or any other KMS Partner, click here)

It's All About the Music

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Home buyers come to Fairfield County for many reasons: The beaches. The schools. The lifestyle.

At KMS Partners, we answer all your questions about your new hometown. And we do it with a fantastic soundtrack in the background.

Music fills the air here. And there’s no better time to enjoy it than summer. Outdoors with a picnic or indoors at a cool venue, the music scene here is hot!

KMS is particularly proud to sponsor the Weston Historical Society’s Music at the Barn Outdoor Concert Series. Mark your calendars for PJ Pacifico (July 22) and the Stone Band (August 26), both at 5:30 p.m. Bring a lawn chair, blanket and food, for great entertainment. Then come back on September 15 for “Westonstock,” a day-long music festival with games, crafts and food trucks too. Come early to any show, and check out the great “Life in the Sixties” exhibit. For more information, click here: http://www.westonhistoricalsociety.org/music-at-the-barn-2018/

Neighboring Westport offers 55 nights of free entertainment at the Levitt Pavilion. Rock, country, jazz, big band, Motown -- whatever your taste, you’ll find it at this beautiful amphitheater on the banks of the Saugatuck River. There’s one fundraiser each year: On August 25, it’s Melissa Etheridge. For a calendar and more info, click here: http://www.levittpavilion.com/

On Labor Day weekend, the Levitt hosts Blues, Views & BBQ. Some of the best blues musicians in the world entertain -- and the barbecue can’t be beat. Bounce houses and other family-friendly attractions fill the nearby Westport Library parking lot. Click here for details: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/blues-views-bbq-festival-tickets-45933935638

There’s lots more live music in Westport too, at events like the Downtown Arts Festival (July 14-15), Farmers’ Market (Imperial Avenue parking lot, every Thursday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), Tuesdays at the Train (July 17, August 7, 5:30 p.m. Luciano Park) and Slice of Saugatuck (September, date TBD).

Neighboring Fairfield has its own rockin’ scene too. There’s always something going on at FTC, a downtown venue that attracts top-name bands and musicians. The programming is diverse, and there are plenty of nearby restaurants for pre- and post-concert meals. For more information, click here: https://fairfieldtheatre.org.

Around the corner, there’s a full (and free) summer music schedule at Fairfield’s Sherman Green Gazebo. It’s a scene straight out of Norman Rockwell, but the musical genres span the globe. Click here for the full schedule: http://www.fairfieldct.org/summerconcerts

Back in Weston, Lachat Farmers Market (last Friday of each month) features music along with fresh fruits, vegetables and anything else that grows. Here’s the website: http://www.lachattownfarm.org/farmers-market.php

Further north, both Danbury (http://citycenterdanbury.com/events/category/concerts-on-the-green/) and Ridgefield (https://chirpct.org/) have free summer concert series. The Ridgefield Playhouse books concerts by entertainers like Little Feat, Ronnie Milsap and Don McLean (https://ridgefieldplayhouse.org/live-events-2/).

There’s much more, of course. Just put your top down, drive around and listen for the sounds. Wherever you are, there’s music in the air.

(To learn more about the local entertainment scene all year long, contact KMS Partners: info@kmspartners.com)

Hummock Island Oyster Farm Tour ~ Westport, CT

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I recently spent a wonderful Friday evening, watching the sunset from the iconic little grey house on Hummock Island in Westport.  Where’s that you might ask?  It’s the little grey house, with the white porch in the middle of Sherwood Mill Pond.  It’s also command central for the Hummock Island Oyster Farm, right here in Westport.  The Northrup Family owns the 82 acres of the Mill Pond, and has since 1857! In fact, they’re the largest land holder in Westport. It all began 1741 when the pond was awarded as a grant from the British King and a hundred or so years later a house was erected on the tiny island which would serve as a residence for the “oyster guard” who kept watch over the surrounding waters.

The tour begins with a short boat ride out to the house. You'll learn all about farming these bivalves from the Northrups & how they’re taking this ancient craft of harvesting oysters into the 21st century.  They’ll even teach you how to shuck an oyster — which is as hard as it looks! If you enjoy slurping fresh briny oysters right out of the water, while the sun sets in front of you, this is an event you won’t want to miss.  Tickets can be purchased through their web site, http://www.hummockisland.com/. They’re even on Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/hummockisland/

* 2 thoughts: Wear shoes you don’t mind getting wet & don’t forget to pack your own libations.     

Cheers! ~ Mary Ellen Gallagher