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Sunday's seem made for brunch...

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Spend Sunday morning as you wish and then head out for a late breakfast/early lunch that will tide you over until dinner.  Absolutely perfect for #realtor life, where hosting Sunday afternoon open houses is the norm.

Over the years, we’ve all tried many places – some have come and gone while others have stood the test of time. Give our current favorites a try and let us know what you think.

Tried and true, in Easton is The Olde Bluebird Inn.  Great atmosphere, super friendly staff and of course, an awesome breakfast. Equally great are the Westport icons — Dunville’s and the Sherwood Diner. In Blackrock, Haborview gets an enthusiastic thumbs up for its variety of delicious breakfast sandwiches and omelets.

 Lavish and more traditional brunch buffets can be found at Via Sforza (with an Italian flare) and The Pearl in Westport.  For those willing to venture a bit out of Fairfield County, The Wharf at the Madison Beach Hotel was voted ‘Best Brunch’ in New Haven County by Connecticut Magazine, and includes a signature raw bar among the more traditional offerings. The Bacon Bloody Mary comes highly recommended!

 A special brunch menu, with a French flare, is offered at Martel in Fairfield.  In Westport you can’t go wrong with the atmosphere (or food) at Terrain, the Greenhouse Café , the Boathouse at Saugatuck or Tavern on Main (with bottomless Bloodies, Bellini’s & Mimosas for those not working in the afternoon!). In Wilton, the Schoolhouse at Cannondale will delight with entrees ranging from a French Toasted Brioche to the Schoolhouse Burger with Black Pepper Truffle Aioli

Artisan in Southport has blended offerings – a small buffet, plus a special menu featuring delights like Coffee Rubbed Sunday Brisket.  Need we say more?

 Of course, there are those days when nothing can match draw of family favorites cooked in your own kitchen….Bon Appetit!

 

Halloween Traditions

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Every town has “THE” neighborhood where at least one October 31st you and your child or (gasp) your child alone with friends will go trick or treating. Whether that is Salem Road in Weston, the Gault neighborhood in Westport or the “beach” in Fairfield or Westport, fun will be had and copious amounts of candy will be gathered.

Over the years, alternative ways of celebrating the holiday have emerged. Town centers offer Halloween parades with treats distributed by the stores and Trunk-or-Treating options have arisen out of concerns for safety. Non-profits have gotten into the Halloween business too, offering enjoyable events where proceeds benefit some great causes. Is this the year to start a new tradition?

 A Haunting at Mill Hill, Norwalk Historical Society 10/18-19, 10/25-26 7:30-8:30pm

 “Tour the Mill Hill Graveyard! Ghostly entities are waiting to share their true stories of death, murder, insanity and destruction. A murderous train conductor, a heroic soldier from the Battle of Norwalk, and a young girl who perished on the trolley tracks at Mill Hill are some of the ghosts you will encounter along the way.

At the end of the tour, take a photo with the spirits in the new “Hauntagram” Photo Booth…if you dare! Created by local haunted house and special effects experts, George Holomakoff and Greg Kling, bone-chilling surprises await!  Celebrate your survival with refreshments in the 1826 one-room schoolhouse. Suitable for ages 8 and up. “

Things that Go Bump in the Night, Wilton Historical Society 10/19 6-7:30pm

A spooky night for kids ages 8 - 12. Parents are invited to enjoy a glass of hard cider while waiting.  Co-sponsored by Kiwanis.

 Tokeneke Pumpkin Carnival (Tokeneke PTO) 10/19 (10-4pm)

For over fifty years, the Tokeneke Pumpkin Carnival has transformed the Tokeneke Elementary School, located on Old Farm Road in Darien, into a Halloween-themed haunted house and amusement park.  Kids of all ages can find seasonally theme games and activities, a wide variety of rides plus delicious food.

Halloween Parade Darien Community Association 10/25 10am

“Dress up your little ones and bring a bag for trick-or-treating at the doors of local merchants along the way to Tilley Pond. Then join us for snacks and a special show with our favorite magician “The Amazing Andy.” His magical talents will amaze you and your child, and his wonderful antics, humor and sleight of hand will keep even the youngest magic enthusiasts entertained. Meet at the parking lot next to the Darien Fire Station opposite Post Corner Pizza.”

Kidzfest Touch-a-Truck & More! Human Services Council 10/26 10 am — 3 pm

A Halloween event features over 50 vehicles that dig, climb, rescue, honk & fly. Costume parade (1pm), games, face painting, crafts, music, dancing and more.

$5 Entrance fee benefits Human Services Council, the Children’s Connection

Scare Fair, Weston Girls Scouts at Weston Historical Society 10/26

The Weston Girl Scouts create a spooky atmosphere in the antique barn and set-up a wide variety of games, crafts & activities, including kiddie land, moon bounce, cupcake and cookie decorating for all to enjoy. Costumes are encouraged.

There will be a Silent Auction with many creative baskets designed and donated by the Weston Girl Scout troops, and a wide variety of merchant and individual donations.

Halloween on the Green Fairfield Museum & History Center 10/27 12 – 4pm

“This family event, presented by the Fairfield Museum and the Town of Fairfield, will feature trick-or-treating, giveaways, performances, music, food trucks, bounce houses, games, hayrides, crafts, activities and more! The beloved Costume Parade begins at 1:00pm!”

Trunk or Treat Weston Women’s League 10/27 4 — 6pm

 Located in the secured parking lot of Weston Intermediate School, families decorate their own cars and pass out candy to trick or treaters. (Geared towards 10 and under.)

Hoot & Howl Darien Nature Center 10/28 4 — 6pm

“A not-too-spooky Halloween party will feature festive outdoor play, magic shows, children’s campfire stories, crafts, refreshments, face painting, games with prizes, s’mores, animal encounters, and more!”

 Main Street Halloween Parade Westport 10/29 3:30pm

The parade will proceed up Main Street, turn right onto Avery Place, then turn left on Myrtle Ave to Town Hall and Veterans Green. Children may trick-or-treat along Main Street and in Town Hall. 

Entertainment, refreshments and a small gift will be provided on Veterans Green across from Town Hall at 4 p.m.

 


Prep Now!

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It never hurts to plan ahead.

If you’re thinking of selling your home, now is the time to start preparing. That’s true whether you’re putting it on the market soon, two years from now (when you’re due for a work reassignment), or even five (fingers crossed the last kid finally graduates!).

Prepping your house can be a daunting task. It’s a lot easier if you do it in small, manageable chunks.

Why not start now?

The change of seasons is a perfect time to assess the condition of your house. This fall, go beyond resurfacing the driveway, washing the windows and cleaning the gutters — check the roof and chimney while you’re at it. 

Then step back and look at your home from the street. Maybe it’s time to add some outdoor lighting, re-do the driveway and paint/replace the front or garage doors.

Fall is also the perfect time to improve your landscaping. Add trees, shrubs and other plants now. This will give them time to get established, before the heat and dryness of summer. Pruning and lawn care – weed control, covering brown spots and the like – are essential for optimal spring display.

All satisfying projects that are sure to improve the curb appeal of your home.

Inside, start with maintenance tasks. When were your mechanicals last serviced? Make sure the fireplaces are in tip-top conditions. If not, an inspector will say so – and the buyer will want to negotiate repairs and cleaning. 

Decluttering is critical but can be overwhelming, we know. Tackling that chore one room at a time makes it – well, not easy or enjoyable, but certainly more manageable.

Next, try to view your home from the vantage point of a prospective buyer. Is it finally time to get rid of worn carpeting, remove old wallpaper, refinish hardwood floors?

How about that new kitchen you’ve dreamed of? Why not do it now? You’ll add tremendous value to your property – and the next owners won’t be the only ones to enjoy it. Imagine spending the holidays in your new space!

Is it time for a bathroom renovation? Maybe you’ve thought for a while about adding a deck or outdoor living space, or finishing the basement. 

You can get good ideas about what to do by checking out homes currently on the market. See the difference between those that are updated/prepped, and those that aren’t. And give us a call (203-295-4375) — we are happy to give you some ideas to get started.

It’s all sound advice. It also sounds expensive. If you have a few years left in your home, at least you will have time to appreciate the improvements.

If you are thinking of listing your home soon – we have a solution. Let Compass Concierge front the costs!

This unique service helps you maximize your home’s value. We front the cost of improvements – staging, flooring, painting, landscaping, pest control, electrical work, kitchen and bathroom renovations, water heating and plumbing repair, and more. There are no up-front costs, no hidden fees, no interest payments. Ever.

We guide you through the process, from budget to vendor selection through completion. When your home sells, you pay the cost of services provided – nothing more.

We’re very proud of KMS Partners’ Compass Concierge service. Contact us now for more details.

Even if you’re not planning to sell until your kid finally moves out of the basement….

 

 

Summer is NOT Over Yet — Enjoy that Cocktail Outdoors!

Summer’s un-official end doesn’t mean the days of sipping a cocktail outdoors are over. We’ve scouted out a few locations that have outdoor patios designed just for that …. AND have a happy hour line-up to entice you.

Geronimo’s is on Post Road in Fairfield, just over the Westport border.  You’ve driven by, seen people on the patio and thought hmmm a tequila bar? Well, Monday through Saturday from 4 -7pm you can try their classic margarita, house wine, skillet nachos and/or short rib taquitos for just $5.  They have other specials too.  You’ll probably enjoy it so much that you’ll hit their late night happy hour too – from 9pm to close.

Nearby, Local Kitchen & Craft Beer Bar also has happy hour specials on Tuesday to Friday from 4 - 7pm. Their patio space is smaller but their beer selection can’t be beat. Draughts, house wines and well drinks $4, small plates $5. Oh, and Mondays? Specials like $3 draughts from 3pm to close.

 Parker Mansion, on Riverside Ave in Westport has a nice deck overlooking the Saugatuck River and weekdays specials from 3 to 6 pm.  Or stroll down to the Whelk, where happy hour specials continue until 6:30, (Tues – Friday) with drink specials and $1 Copps Island Oysters.

Relax on the patio at Amis Trattoria, in Westport’s Bedford square, with a signature cocktails for $7 Monday through Friday (4 to 6pm). Snacks, like Sal’s meatballs ($2 each) and Bufalo ricotta bruschetta ($5) pair nicely with wine and beer specials, on tap for $5.

In SONO, Washington Prime features 50% off select appetizers, raw bar and drinks every day from 4 to 6 pm. Sundays? Enjoy a bottle of wine (under $125) for 50% off. Nearby, The Spread offers daily specials weekdays from 4:30 -7, half-priced bottles of wine on Sundays & Mondays and $1 oysters Tuesday from 4:30 until close.  A hip, sleek eatery with indoor/outdoor dining, featuring inventive dishes made from fresh, locally sourced ingredients.

 Offering outdoor heaters like others on this list, but the fireplace really extends the outdoor fun at Cactus Rose in Wilton.  Their specials run Monday-Friday, from 4 to 6pm.  Save 30% on all appetizers and chose your favorite – red or white – sangria for $7.

We say savor the summer, head out and enjoy!

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Just Who Were the Bankside Farmers?

Nearly four centuries ago, the Bankside Farmers were a thing.

In the fall of 1648, five men from Fairfield — Thomas Newton, Henry Gray, John Green, Daniel Frost and Francis Andrews — acquired land from the Native American Machamux tribe, on what is now Beachside Avenue and Sherwood Island. They earned the “Bankside” nickname, because of their location on the banks of Long Island Sound.

What was originally open fields, ponds, streams and tidal salt meadows, full of shellfish and wild grain, soon became farms. The Bankside quintet — mostly God-fearing, upright Puritans (except Newton, who traded liquor and gunpowder with both the Indians and the Dutch) — prospered. They were helped by slaves, and cheap Machamux labor.

In 1666, the area — called “West Parish” — became a separate entity. The name was officially changed to Green’s Farms in 1732. By that time a church of the same name, which also served as the center of the town’s social, economic and political functions, was already two decades old.

The Bankside Farmers’ original settlement grew steadily westward. Farms sprung up on Compo Road (the Indian name Compaug meant “the bears’ fishing ground”), then along the Saugatuck River. (That name meant “outlet from a tidal river.”) Eventually, development spread north, particularly on the west bank of the river.

By 1835, residents had grown tired of being part of three surrounding towns: Fairfield, Weston and Norwalk. Wherever they lived, they had to travel far for official business. They wanted to control their own destiny. That year, the town of Westport was incorporated.

Over time, the Bankside Farmers were lost in the mists of history. Soon though, their name will live again. This time, it’s on the west bank of the Saugatuck River.

KMS Partners is proud to announce Westport’s newest residential project. Twelve luxury condos are rising on Wilton Road, at the former Save the Children site. It’s just north of the brand-new office complex — and only a few steps from the exciting Meatball Shop/OKO/ Bartaco restaurant scene in and around National Hall.

“Bankside House” will be Westport’s finest condos. Designed by the innovative Roger Ferris + Partners architecture firm, and built by award-winning developer David Adam Realty (think Bedford Square), they’re a unique opportunity to have all the conveniences and beauty of a home in downtown Westport — without any of the maintenance.

The four-story building features two- and three-bedroom homes. The open layouts and oversized windows of each light-filled residence frame both the river, and Westport’s charming town center across the way.

Each Bankside condo offers private outdoor living space, and river views. Of course, all include the luxury finishes and craftsmanship of a custom Roger Ferris home.

Three units have been listed, at prices ranging from $2.599 million to $3.450 million. See floor plans and other information for the 2-bedroom penthouse, 3-bedroom northwest corner Unit 2C, or the 2-bedroom Unit 3C or the full Bankside website . All 12 condos will be completed by 2021.

Westport has come a long way since five farmers wandered over from Fairfield. But after nearly 400 years, we have not forgotten the importance of living “bankside.”

(Want to learn more about the Bankside condos -- and many other amazing Westport properties? Contact us at 203.295.4375)

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Supporting Great Organizations

Real Estate is not just about houses, it's about people.  It’s about finding a community where you belong. All of us at KMS Partners love the welcoming communities in which we work and live. We support these communities by giving of our time, talent and treasure to a variety of charitable organizations that aid and enrich the lives of those in Fairfield County.  As active volunteers, we are also fortunate to meet and enjoy the company of many friends and neighbors.

There are lots of worthwhile organizations and countless ways to get involved.  We’ve had a busy 2019 already, helping a number of organizations with their fundraising efforts.  A little about our involvement and the organizations follow (titles link to their websites). Give us a call if you want to find out more or want to lend a hand in future events — we promise it is rewarding and fun!

 Weston Historical Society

“The Weston Historical Society discovers, collects, and preserves our heritage and makes it come alive in the context of local, regional, and world events for our residents and future generations.”

Financially supporting their mission, KMS Partners has been a sponsor of the Weston Historical Society (WHS) since 2017.  Team member, David Weber, is a very active member of the WHS Board of Trustees.

 David leads various projects for WHS, including the “Landmark Homes of Weston House Tour” that was held on June 2nd — an enormous undertaking and significant fundraiser for WHS.  KMS Partners Mary Ellen Gallagher, Laurie Morris and Michael Mombello volunteered as docents during the tour and Susan Seath assisted in selecting the homes for the event.

Music at the Barn, a summer concert series is another of David’s projects.  The series culminates in Westonstock, a Fall event that is sure to also have many KMS hands on deck!

 Wakeman Town Farm

 “The mission of Wakeman Town Farm is to serve the community as an educational demonstration center for sustainable living.  Wakeman Town Farm offers a wide array of educational programs in agriculture, land stewardship and animal husbandry which serve to inspire the community to unite for the mutual benefit of a healthy environment and a more sustainable future.”

 KMS Partners became a formal financial supporter of Wakeman Town Farm (WTF) in 2019. 

Assisting with fundraising efforts for WTF, KMS team members Mary Ellen Gallagher, Kim Harizman, Sheila Keenan, Laurie Morris and Karen Scott spent July 20th at Family Fun Day, providing lemonade to several hundred attendees. The team will also be helping at Harvestfest and Octoberfest this fall.

 Westport Sunrise Rotary Club

 “We are a committed group of business and professional individuals who come together for fellowship, and service. We share a common desire to improve our community – both locally and internationally. Our motto is Service Above Self but we make sure we have fun at the same time.”

Sheila Keenan, a founding KMS Partner, has been an active Rotarian for over 20 years. Recently given the “Unsung Hero” award for the district, Sheila’s contributions are vast!  You probably saw Sheila at the Sunrise Rotary booth during the Westport Maker Faire and/or Farmer’s Market. Sheila and fellow Rotarian/team member Michael Mombello were both active with the Club’s main fundraiser — The Great Duck Race on June 1st. KMS Partners also financially supported the event which raised $45,000 for beneficiary charities.

Food Rescue US

“Food Rescue US is committed to ending American food insecurity by directly transferring fresh, usable food that would have otherwise been thrown away from grocers, restaurants, and other food industry sources to food insecure families throughout the U.S.” 

 Beyond helping rescue food, KMS Partners’ work with this wonderful organization includes hosting a new fundraiser “Pools, Patios & Pergolas – A Luxury Tasting Event”. While Kim Harizman took the lead, all team members were actively involved in putting this successful event together.  Thanks to the support of our wonderful communities, the July 13th event raised over $10,000 to help end food insecurity in Fairfield County!

Elderhouse

“ElderHouse is a safe, active and caring place where seniors can spend their days involved in activities, returning home to their families in the evening. Older adults benefit from active engagement, health monitoring and individualized care. Caregivers benefit from reliable, affordable, high-quality services for their loved one. The result is better health and well-being for families in our communities.”

Karen Scott, a dedicated supporter of Elderhouse in Norwalk, reluctantly agreed to participate in their March 21st fundraiser “Dancing with the Stars”.  She spent hours learning and perfecting the dance routine at Fred Astaire Dance Studio. Her efforts and those of her fellow dancers, paid off — it was an enjoyable and very successful night for Elderhouse. Of course, Team KMS was there in support of both Elderhouse and Karen!

Westport Historical Society

“Our mission is to inspire the holistic discovery of our town’s history inclusive of our collective heritage and its place in the larger American story.”

Team member Michael Mombello sits on the Advisory Council for Westport Historical Society. Involved in many events, Michael most recently helped in planning and day-of-activities for the Hidden Garden Tour on June 9th.  As a house captain, Michael recruited fellow KMS team members as volunteers to lead tours throughout the day.

As you can tell, KMS Partners is a true partnership, helping and supporting each other while sharing resources, ideas, tips. We are proud to work together to benefit community organizations. And these are just a few of the organizations/events we participate in – the fall and winter are just as busy.  Join us, won’t you?

Our Great Move!

A little over six months ago, KMS Partners joined Compass. To be honest, it wasn’t just a good move. It was a great one!

 Before the move, we knew our clients would benefit from Compass’ cutting-edge technology and innovative marketing efforts. We were sure we’d be supported by forward-thinking, energetic and seasoned agents. Throughout the real estate world, Compass is known as the future of the industry.

 All of our expectations have been met -- and surpassed. We are excited to share some of our favorite Compass features with you.

 Compass’ culture emphasizes collaboration. That’s always been a hallmark of KMS Partners. Now, though, we work with a national network of agents, enthusiastic marketers, experienced career coaches and social media gurus. All are filled with that same spirit of sharing and helping. Every day, we learn something from them. (They learn from us too!)

 With Compass’ version of a company-wide social media site, we all trade stories. We ask for recommendations and referrals. We get info first and fast -- before it’s released to the general public via MLS and other listing services. We’ve developed a real community online.

 We love Compass’ game-changing Concierge Program. Compass advances the funds to allow sellers to prepare their homes for sale.  This can range from painting, staging, landscaping and more.  One client already used it to make $16,000 in home renovations. The house sold in two weeks!

 It didn’t take long to learn the power of Compass’ custom data dashboard. It’s easy to see -- and show clients -- exactly how the market reacts to the current list price of a home. Concrete data helps us quickly tweak our digital campaigns. Through the dashboard, buyers and sellers also realize how wide Compass’ reach really is.

 Many clients were already familiar with Compass in New York City and other major markets. As they start looking for homes in Connecticut, the transition is seamless.

Change is never easy. But working for such a dynamic young company, with its infectious positive energy, entrepreneurial attitude and can-do philosophy, energized all of us. We embraced the learning curve. Soon we were looking at the real estate world through new, digital eyes.

 On a personal level, Compass is also a great fit for KMS Partners. They are very respectful of our experience, local knowledge and professionalism. And our results continue to impress — 29 completed transactions thus far in 2019, a volume of just under $40 million; 10 pending transactions and 32 active listings.

 Can you feel our excitement? Want to learn more? Just call us 203.295.4375; email kmspartners@compass.com -- or this fall, stop in to our new office, the handsome new building at 54 Wilton Road, Westport. Our fabulous view of the Saugatuck River is just one more reason we’re so glad that KMS Partners and Compass are now a full-time team!

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 )

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!