Thursday, March 24, 2011

Trade Secrets

It's never to early to think about your gardens!  Put this in your day planner~
Trade Secrets Two-Day Charity event offers garden lovers the chance to indulge their not-so-secret passions.

The ever-popular Trade Secrets, a rare plant and garden antiques sale, that benefits Women’s Support Services of the Northwest Corner, is celebrating its 11th annual event on Saturday, May 14th and Sunday, May 15th at LionRock Farm in Sharon, CT.

Thanks to founder Bunny Williams, one of the world’s leading interior designers; host Elaine LaRoche, owner of LionRock Farm; the many gardeners who’ve shared their gardens on the garden tours, the vendors, the local businesses, the volunteers, and the host of garden-lovers who attend each year, Trade Secrets has become the garden world’s most talked about event.

For the past eleven years, Trade Secrets has brought garden-lovers from around the world to the Litchfield Hills of Connecticut to discover new plants, topiary, and antiques for their gardens. This year is no exception with nearly 60 vendors and garden antiques dealers from around the northeast region coming to set-up their wares under the tents at the picturesque LionRock farm. With their truckloads of rare garden plants and unusual accessories – those kind of unique treasures that you might search a lifetime for – they’ll descend upon LionRock to offer garden lovers a day of pure treasure hunting! Shoppers can find rare plant specimens from specialized growers and from some of the nation’s best known small nurseries, as well as furniture, antiques, cloches and garden statuary from the choicest purveyors of garden antiques, wrought-iron fencing, textiles from select antiques dealers, and so much more.

Sunday’s garden tour boasts five gardens this year. The Cobble Pond Garden in Sharon, CT., the Hodgson-Garden/Holabird House Garden in Falls Village, CT., the Miller Garden in Sharon, CT., Old Farm Nursery in Lakeville, CT., and Bunny William's Garden is back by popular demand

Trade Secrets includes the antique and plant sale on Saturday, May 14 at LionRock Farm in Sharon, CT, from 10am to 3pm, for $35, and the tour of five gardens on Sunday, May 15 for $70 ($60 in advance). For those early-birds on May 14, “early buying” tickets are available for $100, and include early admittance with continental breakfast. For more information or to purchase advance tickets please call 860/364-1080 or visit

Friday, March 18, 2011

Author Talk in Kent

March 19. Author Frank Delaney-will talk about his new book The Matchmaker of Kenmare, a sequel to his popular Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show in the Reading Room from 4-6 pm. Books will be available for purchase and signing. Please register at or call 860-927-3761.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Green Spring Cleaning

The Spring Cleaning Arsenal

by Brittany Shutts

Household cleaning products are often more dangerous than the microbial adversaries they were designed to kill. Indoor air pollution can reach levels between two and one hundred times the level of the pollution outdoors. A study from New Scientist in 1999 shows that mothers in households that regularly used aerosol sprays and air fresheners had 25% more headaches and experienced a 19% higher incidence of depression. The infants in the study suffered from 30% more ear infections and 22% higher rates of diarrhea.

With that in mind, finding the right products to clean your home may seem a daunting task. We discussed this topic in a previous article on this site. Increasingly, there are products on the market that offer a more natural and non-toxic way to clean.

The labels on cleaning products aren’t required by law to disclose more than the active ingredients, and the word “natural” can be misleading. Seventh Generation is one company that has nothing to hide. They have a policy of disclosing the ingredients on the label of their products. For many other products, the Material Safety Data Sheets are a valuable reference for comparing ingredients. Click here to access the database.

Chemical-free cleaning doesn’t have to be complicated, though. The simplest means to clean your home are probably already in your kitchen. They are safe for you, for children, for pets, and the environment. Some of the basics include white vinegar, baking soda, and liquid soap or detergent. By using these simple components, you can ensure that you know exactly what is on the tip of your sponge without expending your energy scouring labels instead of kitchen sinks.

White vinegar is hard to beat as a cost-effective cleaning solution. A standard quart of vinegar usually runs for about a dollar and the hefty jug costs little more. It eliminates 99% of bacteria, 82% of mold, and 80% of viruses without creating a haze of indoor smog—although it will leave your squeaky clean surfaces temporarily reeking like pickles. Also on its list of talents, it can be used to cut grease, clear clogged drains, and act as a fabric softener, thereby making the hefty jug a worthy investment.

To kill mold and offensive odors, fill a spray bottle with vinegar. Use it in your kitchen on the cutting board and other surfaces. In the bathroom, squirt some vinegar onto the rim of the toilet. It’s also great for cleaning mirrors and windows.

Penniless Parenting provides a recipe for a simple all-purpose cleaner that uses a kitchen ingredient that might otherwise be discarded: citrus peels. Collect your scraps of citrus peels in a quart to a half-gallon sized jar. When the jar is just about full, pour vinegar into the jar and let it stand for at least two and a half weeks. Strain the golden-orange vinegar into a spray bottle until it is half full. Fill the rest of the bottle with water and use it on all sorts of surfaces.

Baking soda is great for scrubbing and removing odors. It neutralizes the pH of acidic and alkaline substances. A box of baking soda costs under a dollar. A little bit sprinkled on a damp sponge can be used to scrub showers, tubs, sinks, and tiles. Mix a half cup of baking soda into a bucket of warm water for a gentle solution for mopping.

Nothing cleans like good old soap and water. A good soap for the job is Dr. Bronner’s castile soap, an organic liquid soap composed of vegetable and plant oils rather than animal products. A little bit of castile soap goes a long way, which will save you money and plastic bottles to recycle later. There are many natural scents to choose from, including peppermint, lavender and rose, and citrus. A number of useful applications for castile soap can be found at Networx. For more recipes for a non-toxic cleaning kit, click here for a list from Care2.

Looking for some help around the house? Maidorganic is a Connecticut-based cleaning service that uses only non-toxic, plant-based products. You can find more information at their website.

Are you wondering what to do with the Ajax and Lysol accumulating under the kitchen sink? Don’t forego the benefits of a non-toxic home and use them up. Visit to to find the chemical waste facility or collection program nearest you.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Market Report

Curious to see what has been happening in the Connecticut real estate market.  Please click on the link below for the 2010 Real Estate round up!