New England Oystermen circa 2021

Bell’s Shellfish

7 Generations of Shellfishing Coming to Stratford

by Rob Norrholm

For over 7 generations the same family line has been harvesting oysters and clams from Long Island Sound, bringing over 200 years of expertise and quality to each and every catch.

With 55 years working in the industry himself, in 2006 Captain Dave Hopp decided to start his own one-boat shop, naming it Bell’s Shellfish after his grandfather, Captain Wallace Bell, who passed along his immense knowledge of the aquaculture of The Sound and love for the clamming and oystering industry.

Bell’s Shellfish has since grown to 4 boats and a grandfather working alongside his grandsons daily.  Here is their story from his grandson Rob Norrholm.

What is the history of Bell’s Shellfish?

“Shellfishing is in our DNA and a family business. Currently, Bell’s Shellfish is run by Captain Dave Hopp who is my grandfather, along with myself and my brother, Kyle Norrholm.”  Rob Norrholm

Each of us run our own boat and have known for our whole life that this is what we would be doing.  Our father also plays a part in the daily operations both on water and land, so we have three generations out there together at the moment.

We know that this is something that is rare and special. We take great pride in it. My grandfather learned how to Oyster from his grandfather, Captain Wallace Bell, and his uncle, Captain Wallace (Barney) Bell. Wallace learned the trade from his father, Willis Bell, whom learned from his father Hiram Bell. Each of these men live(d) in Norwalk (dating back to the 1800’s) and plied their shellfishing trade on Long Island Sound.

Though the technology and vessels have changed a bit (from oystering boats run by sails to steamships, to today’s diesel powered boats), the methods and stories live on and are what we apply to our work each day.

It’s very cool to look back and see each generation with “oysterman” next to their occupation in census data, sometimes in their own hand writing even. Though we have our own company now with Bell’s Shellfish, it wasn’t since the first (known) generation of family oystermen that it was that way.

Hiram Bell was a partner in Norwalk-based Bell & Raymond Oyster Company during the 1800’s, but after several events happened, the generations to follow, including today’s three active generations, all worked for other local oyster and clamming companies, captaining boats, but rather than working for ourselves, we were working for the broader family business.

Many of the clam and oyster companies in Long Island Sound share a family tree… fun fact! In 2006 my grandfather decided he was ready to go out on his own, knowing that Kyle and I were all in to make it a family venture of our own. Here we are 15 years later, still doing what we love and constantly evolving our business. We are getting ready to open a retail shop in Stratford to sell our freshly harvested clams and oysters 5 minutes from our docks in Bridgeport.

Why did you decide to follow in your grandfather’s footsteps?

As a child I spent a ton of time at the docks and on the boats with my grandfather. I got a taste of running my first boat when I was 9 years old. One Saturday, I went with my grandfather for a boat ride while he was working. He was going to move oysters from deep water to shallower water for this part of their growth process. He let me run the boat (under careful supervision of course) on the way out to get them. After we finished moving the oysters and were heading back in, he looked at me and said “Good job kid, only a million more to go!” and I guess I really have taken that to heart. I’ve been hooked ever since.

How do you “oyster” or “clam”?

Oysters and clams are both cultivated on the bottom of Long Island Sound using dredges. There are differing approaches to catching each, but the general idea is the same. We strategically work the bottom to encourage growth while careful to not do any damage. The health of Long Island Sound is our top priority, as the healthier the environment, the more fruitful the harvest. We generally leave the docks at 6 am and return with our catch of the day at 2 pm. One of the most frequently asked questions I get is, “do you do this year round?” And my answer is yes, we’re out there 12 months a year with very few “bad weather” breaks.

What do you do with the catch?

We sell our daily catch to our wholesalers, many of whom are local and provide to area restaurants and grocery stores in addition to regional fish markets in New York and Boston.

We also have a few restaurants that we deliver fresh caught clams and oysters to directly, and then the remainder are caught-to-order day of for our online sales orders and soon to be shop. We can’t wait to be open in Stratford and bring our clams and Stratford Point Oysters into your kitchens and cookouts!

Bell’s Shellfish proudly harvests clams and Stratford Point Oysters year round, wild caught off the shoreline in Stratford.

WHEN: Stratford Point Oysters are available year round

TASTE: Because our oysters are fresh and wild caught, they are naturally salty and sweet with a hint of brine and clean finish.

https://www.bellsshellfish.com/the-shop

 

Vacay During a Pandemic

Get that vacation feeling without leaving home

By Joan Law
Feng Shui Joan’s Way
FengshuiJoansWay@gmail.com

To get that vacation feeling without leaving your home is not that difficult.

Think about how you feel when you enter a vacation rental home or a resort suite.

I don’t think I know a soul who doesn’t love a vacation at the beach. The air seems cleaner. The sun shines brighter. You feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders. Your senses are tuned in for relaxation and adventure.

Water is one of the most powerful elements in Feng Shui. On the Bagua it represents the entrance to your home, life’s journey, career, and business success. Water or representations of water are ever so important to the energy flow in your life.

So, it’s no surprise that a vacation on or near the water makes you feel good. But there are a few added Feng Shui techniques that can deliver that sense of light, freedom, and exuberance that vacation space typically offers.

Only Seashells and Beach Stones Allowed – NO CLUTTER!

You cannot measure the beauty or benefit of walking in the door of a space that is clean, bright, and clutter-free.

Space that is clear of distractions and/or reminders of work, household duties, and family obligations and responsibilities can feel like being on vacation.  Donate or toss the broken or unused items in your hallway. Or, at the very least, find a way to store them where you cannot see them.

The closets and drawers of vacation spaces are empty – no squeezing and pushing to close overstuffed drawers.

If your closets are full of clothes that don’t fit or that you don’t wear anymore, you know what to do. The VeteransThe Salvation ArmyGoodwill, and The Kennedy Center’s Palm and Able shop are all great places to donate clothes to folks who can really use them. Feel free to email me if you need other resources and places to donate; I can often make a connection for your unwanted items with someone in need.

The kitchen counters are clean and clear of food and a multitude of appliances.

Find ways to limit or hide counter-clutter.

The bathroom counter is clean and clear of everything but a bouquet of flowers or a basket of scented soaps.

This room is tough. The toothpaste, shampoo, hairbrushes, and hair dryers inevitably end up on whatever available surface there is. If you really crave the vacation or even spa-like experience, put it all away when you are done with it and add that pretty basket of soaps and a candle to the room.

Is it Ground Hog Day Again?

While vacation space is clear of life’s clutter and the weight of that clutter, it is also a different space. We may feel a bit like we are hitting the repeat button in our day-to-day living.

A change of scenery can be accomplished in your home on a seasonal basis. Regularly moving and re-purposing your stuff within your space is actually good Feng Shui. This exercise moves and re-purposes your home’s energy. And simple added touches such as a floral arrangement in the colors of the season or switching out the art on your walls from time to time can freshen your perspective in positive ways.

Just a reminder that there is a rhyme and reason to the stuff you surround yourself with in Feng Shui and a harmonious home or office environment opens the door for good things to enter your life. Maybe even a vacation!

If you need help figuring out what to keep, what to get rid of, and what to re-purpose so that it enhances your life, contact me.

 

Let the Sun Shine

Solar for Stratford

by Lori Scala
Community Outreach Program
Trinity Solar
Lori.Scala@trinity-solar.com

Founded in 1994, Trinity is the largest privately-held residential solar installation company in the nation. Spread across 9 states, their expert teams include over 1,600 employees dedicated to making your solar journey simple.

More than 65,000 homeowners have gone solar with Trinity to create a brighter future and, together, they are making a difference. The Connecticut office is responsible for over 2000 new installations in the year 2020, during a pandemic, and are on track to help even more Connecticut homeowners in 2021.

“We believe that solar is the most practical form of renewable energy on the planet and seek to make it accessible to as many people as possible. Solar is one of the most impactful ways to lower your carbon footprint, can help you get control of your electric bill and protect the environment for future generations.” Lori Scala

“Empower yourself and your family with predictable electric rates and clean energy. By making the simple switch to solar with Trinity, you can save money for the things that matter most and protect the environment for generations to come.”

According to Scala, with that in mind, the owners of Trinity also decided to create an opportunity for nonprofit organizations, that need help raising funds. The Community Outreach Program was formed, which has helped support many of your favorite organizations while providing their members with a no cost solar installation.

“Stratford Forward is one of the partners that Trinity is working with to not only educate the homeowners in our community on the benefits of solar but, to help support local projects that everyone can benefit from.

With this partnership, for anyone that is considering solar and signs up through the custom link below, Trinity donates funds for the appointment, whether you go solar or not, and for the installation, if you choose to move forward and have panels installed.

The Solar process is simple:
• Click on this link and fill in your information
https://www.trinity-solar.com/organization/stratford-forward/
• Someone from the Trinity Community Outreach team will call to ask a few qualifying questions and set up your personal appointment.
• If Trinity can help you save money and your home qualifies for their no cost solar program, they will make sure that they are with you every step of the way.
There is no commitment for signing up. Only the benefit of finding out more from a company that, not only has been in business for many years but, is also supporting our community.

If you would like to speak with someone before signing up through the link, you can contact the community outreach team at 800-655-2500 or speak to our Regional Account Executive directly at 203-895-8968.

Just please make sure to always mention Stratford Forward.

Together, Trinity Customers Are Making A Difference.
39,875,424 – Trees Saved
5,983,985,169 – Miles Not Driven
5,316,548,916 – Pounds of CO2 Reduced

Figures based on EPA calculator – https://www.epa.gov/energy/greenhouse-gas-equivalencies-calculator

Is It July Already?

Balance, Summer Fun, and Gifts

By Joan Law
Feng Shui Joan’s Way
FengshuiJoansWay@gmail.com

I don’t know about you, but I feel like this past year has just slipped away. While many of us anticipated having more time on our hands due to navigating COVID-related circumstances, we actually filled our time with (perhaps) more important things.

If we can find any positive outcome from this past year, it may be that we have discovered the critical importance of finding and creating balance in our lives.

Busy friends and business colleagues have shared with me that working 12 hour days and weekends will not be a part of their future life plan as they move into the second half of 2021. And so many of my clients have been in that same mode.

I would love to learn more about where you are at in your life and what the year ahead is looking like for you.. Please go to my website and participate in my on-line survey:
www.fengshuijoansway.com

The survey would like to know what life events or circumstances do you anticipate in the coming 12 months. Questions address:
• Retirement
• Wedding
• New Baby
• Merging Households
• Home Improvements, Renovations, Additions
• Divorce
• Address Health Issues
• Job Hunting/Starting a New Career

When you participate in the quick survey you’ll be entered into a drawing to win this informative and beautifully photographed book – New Minimalism, Decluttering and Design for Sustainable, Intentional Living.

Added rewards for sharing some info in the survey with me include:

1. A Feng Shui tip for one area of your coming year that you feel you need the most help with;

2. Open Door Tea Samples;

3. FSJW Jar Opener.

My sincere wishes to you for a balanced, fun, and safe July!

Keepsakes or “Stuff”?

What your Kids Really Want you to Save

By Joan Law
Feng Shui Joan’s Way
FengshuiJoansWay@gmail.com

What your kids really want you to save as you begin to downsize your life might surprise you. Especially in a throw away culture. Gone are the days where items are passed down to the young married couple just starting out. For example, today’s young couples would prefer inexpensive, easily replaceable, and contemporary place-settings rather than grandmother’s fancy Bone China dinnerware. And young couples are leaning toward lean and mean living and tiny homes.

The good thing about this trend indicates experiences rather than things take precedence. Who would have thought consumerism could manifest as good Feng Shui?

A sample of what your kids really want you to save might include your first passport or sentimental piece of jewelry. Looking at all those country stamps from exotic places will remind them of what an adventurer you are, and opens the door to retelling the stories of the time after college when you backpacked and hitchhiked through Europe and the Middle East. That ring you got at your Sweet 16, or the watch you received from your dad when you graduated college is priceless.

There are so many items gathered over a life-time that it is often hard for us to make those choices – so ask your kids to share in your journey to embrace those things that are most important.

Keep and pass on objects that have sentimental value. Here are some thoughts:
• One printed photo of your wedding.
• A photo of the first time you held them (you have tons but that first one is the keeper).
• Something belonging to the oldest living relative they know.
• Highlights of their childhood.

Don’t forget your furry friends! The dog tags worn by childhood pets could have a place in the remembrances box, along with a photo of them with the family.
Keep and pass on objects that have sentimental value.

Where Clutter Clearing and End-of-Life Planning Collide

This concept of what to keep and what to toss gets played out for me time and time again as I work with clients wishing to downsize. The other parallel concept that inevitably pops up is End-of-Life planning. In fact, my past three clients were in their 80’s. These recent projects really encompassed three distinct areas of focus.

My clients were all clearing clutter to make their homes more attractive to sell, down-sizing or deciding what to take with them so that they could move comfortably to assisted living or smaller, more manageable homes. Also under consideration was their legacy to their children – not wanting to leave kids with a mess to manage.

The task of “letting go of” or “re-imagining” sentimental things is a big deal. Clutter-clearing, down-sizing, and legacy/end-of-life planning utilizing Feng Shui principals is about managing each of these processes with intention.

The Process Goes Something Like This:

Clutter Clearing:
I work with clients to figure out what can be tossed and what can be donated. Bottom line the first step is to move the “stuff” you don’t need or want on. You might know of a friend who loved an item you no longer need. I’ll bet that friend would be pleasantly surprised and grateful if you passed it along as a gift.

Clutter Clearing and Gifting:
My daughter recently received a beautiful thrown pottery set from a friend who no longer needed it. Hand-made and infused with positive energy by Jeanette George Dais, this set sends my daughter off to college for her degree as a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) in style and with well-wishes.

Down-sizing:
The “clutter” is gone. The next step is to figure out which of the items left are the most special. The idea is to get rid of the old catalogs and magazines or dishes and cutlery so that you can enjoy things that hold real value.

Legacy Items:
Knowing what/who/how selected possessions are to be retained and remembered is perhaps the most meaningful exercise. This is a great time to begin work on a Legacy Project…a physical reminder of who you are and the life you’ve lived, a gift to family, and a treasure to cherish. Examples include memory books, letters, video/audio recordings, crafting favorite objects/clothing into keepsakes, and more.

Here is an example of a fun Legacy Project. Choose favorite flannel, t-shirts, or blankets and craft them into a Memory Bear – ask me for info. Or investigate T-Shirt memory quilts that many local crafters make for folks.

Raising Money for Our History Preservation

Mellow Monkey Teams Up With Stratford Historical Society

By: Howard J. Aspinwll
Mellow Monkey

Mellow Monkey Gifts and Home Decor will further its continued partnership with the town’s Historical Society by holding a Gallery and Sale of vintage maps, photos and memorabilia reproductions. The framed images, which will be on display in an outdoor gallery at the store, have been reproduced from the Historical Society’s archives.

Mellow Monkey owner, Howard Aspinwall approached Gail Liscio, President of the Stratford Historical Society in the Summer of 2020 with the idea to reproduce artifacts from the Society’s archives as a fund raiser for the organization.

“As a small business, it has always been a priority for us to support community organizations like the Historical Society. We are acutely aware of the challenges these organizations have faced in raising money during the pandemic. With the recent market demand for home decor, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to meet consumer needs for wall decor while helping the Historical Society raise needed monies for improvements and operations,” said Aspinwall.

Aspinwall met with Stratford Historical Society staff in the Fall to go through hundreds of maps, photos and drawings from their archives. “I spent several hours capturing vintage photographs of local trolleys, vintage maps of the greater Stratford area and vintage drawings including numerous images of aircraft built right in Stratford by Sikorsky Vought.” said Aspinwall. “The project is a very exciting one for both the store and the Society as it makes these artifacts that have been previously reserved for viewing only at the Historical Society’s library available for purchase. And a portion of the sale of each item goes directly to support the Stratford Historical Society”

“We’re very excited with this project as it makes our archives more accessible to the public while giving the Society a new way to raise awareness of the town’s rich history,” said Liscio. “The gallery will certainly offer visitors the opportunity to take a walk down memory lane and if something they see resonates with them, their purchase will benefit the Historical Society.”

The Gallery and Sale will take place at Mellow Monkey Gifts & Home Decor, 360 Sniffens Lane in Stratford. For more information, mellowmonkey.com or call the store at 888-300-0631.

Feng Shui = Art and Intuition

By Joan Law
Feng Shui Joan’s Way
FengshuiJoansWay@gmail.com

For me Feng Shui is all about art and intuition. The practice of Feng Shui is not a science. Its origins are derived from an Ancient Chinese philosophy and the practice of this philosophy is considered an art.

The word “Feng” translates to wind and the word “Shui” translates to water. The movement of wind and water makes the world go round. And the ancient Chinese believed that the energy or “Chi” of these elements (as well as wood, earth, metal, and fire) could be manipulated enough to make a difference in people’s lives. Understanding how to balance the energy in our lives truly is an art.

In the modern world you will find many versions of how best to practice the art of Feng Shui, and, at the end of the day, Feng Shui Joan’s Way relies quite heavily on my connection to a client and their space. My sense – my intuition of my encounter with a person’s energy and the energy around them dictates my approach to the art of Feng Shui.

And the art of Feng Shui can lead to some pretty powerful stuff!

Let me illustrate with a personal experience that involves Feng Shui, Two Roads Brewery, two dogs, and a pair of slippers.

A Match Made in Heaven
We welcomed a new member to our family a few weeks ago. My son and daughter-in-law tied the knot at The Farms Country Club in Wallingford. What a beautiful and memorable day – rain and all!

My son’s new wife first came to me as a client. As she and I worked together to thoughtfully clear and prepare to sell the home that had belonged to her mother before her passing, the universe kept sending me messages about this special young lady.

There were many messages. But the three that lead me to also take on the role of a match-maker was her affinity to dogs, Two Roads Brewery, and a pair of slippers.

Now, as a Feng Shui practitioner, I do believe that the clearing of a home, room, or clutter can be the catalyst for opening your life to new people and experiences. And most times, the connections I make in this process for clients do not involve my own children.

Their story was best captured by a good friend of mine, Kathrine Vass of Ever After Memories She officiated their marriage and recounts their story so beautifully that I asked my children if I could share this with my readers.

Here is an excerpt:
“… As Lauren and Mason begin their own branch on this family tree, let’s take a moment to go back and remember how it all began.

It’s often said that the best things in life come to us when we least expect it and perhaps in the unlikeliest of ways. Almost 4 years ago, Lauren was simply looking for someone to help sort out and organize her home. What she got was the help from a professional Feng Shui decluttering expert who would turn out to be, not only a matchmaker, but her soon-to-be mother-in-law.

Finding someone to love can be a lot like cleaning an old house; it feels daunting, and you don’t know where to start. If any of you know Joan, she always has a way to keep it simple. As she worked with Lauren and got to know her better, she offered one day: “I don’t usually do this, but I wonder if you’d be interested in meeting my son, Mason. You both have dogs, you both like going to Two Roads Brewery and you both have the same slippers.”

Just three little things — a good place to start.

Lauren thought, “why not?!” and with an open mind, a date was set to meet Mason…”

Beautiful, right!

Mason remembers that afternoon, at Two Roads, as the day he first saw this pretty girl with the beautiful smile and nice eyes. She was animated and talked a lot with her hands, but Mason liked her and right away there was a spark.

Lauren enjoyed being with Mason as well and they spent the time talking about dogs, family, traveling and everything in between.

After that day, they went on a few great dates but then, as it tends to do, life took them in different directions for a time.

It wasn’t until the following fall when they reconnected. Everywhere she went Lauren seemed to be constantly running into Mason. Each time, he would make it known that he was still interested.

Lauren, impressed by his persistence, decided to give him a chance. There was something different about him in the all the best ways and she knew she needed to get to know him better to find out.

Joining Mason for his Friends-giving dinner that November made it official. Lauren was “his lady” and he was proud to have her by his side. From that day forward, they spent as much time together as they could, moving slowly and kindly to build the strong foundation their relationship has now. In a big moment, the first meeting of their dogs, Cosmo and Gus, something new happened – they created their own pack!

As I listened to Mason and Lauren’s story, on a sunny afternoon, surrounded by the dogs, one word constantly came to mind: loyalty. In any relationship, of course love is important – but, the promise of loyalty, faithfulness, unwavering devotion – that is not always easy. From their spots on the couch, where Cosmo and Gus peacefully snored, loyalty is not a word for dogs, but a way of life.”

Beautiful, right! I can’t promise to make a love connection for you. I can promise that I will listen to your story. And I will do my very best to help you open the doors and windows of your life to the possibilities that await you.

Pizza Place with Pizzazz

Interview with Mackenzie Carey – Chief Chef and Bottle Washer!

 The Parlor
999 Stratford Avenue

A new business on the Avenue!!!!

The Parlor took over the old Jerry’s Shakespeare pizza – nostalgic for many Stratford residents. Many customers drop by to reminisce in the old space and are hooked by the smell, soon becoming regulars at our modern joint.

According to Mackenzie Carey, they have taken a different approach to pizza than the previous owners by installing a brick oven kit from Italy that they cook their “New Haven style” pizzas in. We also offer vegan options that set us apart. Our most popular pie is probably the one we named after our restaurant – The Parlor. This spicy/sweet combo is surely a hit!

We also have a loyal Vegan community whom would most likely mention the Strega Nona as #1- a favorite amongst vegan and non vegan customers, adorned in fresh garlic, basil and plant-based meatball.

We were very happy to find a location in Stratford to open our restaurant since it is the town we grew up in. We love the opportunity to be able to offer delicious pizza to all of our existing friends and family, and making new ones along the way!

Mackenzie, who is the owner, is a lifelong Stratford resident, having graduated from Stratford High School and Southern Connecticut State University.

We would like fellow Crier readers to know that not only do we serve up delicious pizzas, salads, and apps, but we are a family friendly place and love our customers! We look forward to meeting new potential customers and hope we can make something yummy for you!

The Parlor is open Tuesday-Saturday 11am-9pm. Sundays 12-8pm. Monday’s are closed.
Service options: Dine-in · Takeout · Delivery
Phone: (203) 522-5055

Fame and Reputation is not Just for Athletes or Actors

By Joan Law
Feng Shui Joan’s Way
FengshuiJoansWay@gmail.com

Fame and Reputation is important Feng Shui. A focus on fame and reputation is not just for athletes, actors, and politicians. The energy around how one is perceived in a career, in a circle of friends, a neighborhood and a community is absorbed from and reflected back into the universe in powerful ways.

Validation and recognition for our efforts at work, home, and life helps us grow and sustain our psyche. We all need recognition in some form or fashion.

Phil Mickelson is top of my mind as I think about his celebrations after winning the final round at the PGA Championship golf tournament on the Ocean Course, Sunday, May 23, 2021, in Kiawah Island, S.C.

What do people think about when they hear your name?

There is no doubt, one should be aware of one’s reputation in day-to-day living.

However, it is especially important for those looking for work. More immediately there is a huge number of folks who are thinking about returning to work after COVID Pandemic related layoffs and business closings. And with the month of May, we also have new graduates entering the workforce.

So, now is as good a time as any to reflect on what people think about when they hear your name. In a world seemingly dominated by “social media”, thinking about reputation is more important than ever. I think we all know “tweets” and “posts” can come back to haunt us.

My recommendation is to read whatever you are getting ready to put out there at least five times and ask these questions before you hit enter:

  • What would my family and closest friends think about this post?
  • What would my community think about this post?
  • What would my audience think about this post? (Note: this can apply to politicians, actors, athletes, retailers…basically anyone who has clients and is selling/representing a product, service, or brand.)
  • What would prospective employers think about this post?
  • Do I really want people to witness my frustration, anger, deeply personal feelings in such a public forum?

Note: Red Fame and Reputation Box at top/center of the Bagua
To influence the energy in the Fame and Reputation gua (area) in your home and office:

  • Like all gua’s, keeping this space clean, dusted, and free of clutter is important.
  • Decorate with up images, like hot air balloons, the moon, the stars and the sun, tall buildings etc.
  • The fireplace is especially helpful if it happens to be in this area of your home and office. If not, you can use candles and other symbols of fire here.
  • This would be the perfect place to showcase your diploma, certificates of recognition, and awards.

Think of your visits to a doctor’s office. Imagine the doctor with this diploma hanging behind is desk. Placed as a validation of the skills needed for the position, that diploma also creates a sense of confidence for the patient.

Speaking of Fame and Reputation, Google reviews are today’s “word-of-mouth” for many small businesses. If you haven’t left a review for a favorite small business, I can tell you first-hand they are invaluable.

I received the best review today. We all need a pat on the back occasionally. This testimonial brought tears to my eyes because this client’s experience is what I hope to bring to every consultation.

My new client said, “I chose Joan initially because her website indicated that she was a down to earth normal looking person who just happens to practice Feng Shui. I had had other experiences with Feng Shui practitioners in the past and my experience with Joan was the total opposite, and a breath of fresh air. Her unpretentious presentation and assessment of my life and HOME was extremely helpful to me. She made subtle changes that had almost an immediate impact on my general well-being. I was not asked to buy her crystals or any little Feng Shui gadgets! She gently probed personal situations in my life and offered constructive ideas on how I might make changes to those when I feel ready. I would highly recommend Joan if you are looking to sell your home, or just to live comfortably in your own home. She is a real find, and right here in my backyard in Fairfield County”!

Sweet Treats on the Avenue

Cakes by Sonia

Interview with Owner: Sonia Diaz
2067 Barnum Avenue

She first opened her business down Barnum Avenue in Bridgeport in late 2019 — not the greatest timing in retrospect. Since her opening there are days when there is a line out the door for these delectable sweet treats.

When did you first realize that you were able to bake and decorate cakes?
I first realized I was able to decorate and bake when I was around 16. I would always watch baking competition shows and I fell in love! It started as a hobby but I later figured I’ll probably be doing this for a living!

I started from home baking and then I got hired by Food Bazaar as a cake decorator at 18 as my first job.

Why cupcakes?As much as I love decorating cakes I wanted to do something that is smaller and easier for everyone to eat! Cupcakes are a perfect size!

What is the most unusual cake you have ever been asked to create?
To me the most unusual cakes are those with very different flavor combinations! Who would think chocolate and lemon would be a thing! One thing I learned in the baking industry you’ll have to be open to create everything.

What made you decide to go “brick and mortar” with cupcakes?
What made me decide that I needed a brick and mortar was when I realized how much space I was running out of in my mom’s apartment. I always dreamed of having my own shop but I knew it was time when my small home kitchen looked like a bakery!

How many different varieties of cupcakes do you have, and how are they rotated?We have around 30 flavors. I like to always have my classic flavors and also different gourmet flavors and combinations, it gives everyone a lot of options to choose from.

Your “specialty cakes” have appeared on your website, as well in Facebook sites where people requested a special cake, and then posted a photo. Missing from all those photos were wedding cakes. Do you make wedding cakes?

We do make wedding cakes!! Wedding cakes are definitely my favorite they’re so simple and elegant. It makes me feel honored being part of anyone’s big day!

For a special cake we require at least 1-2 weeks in advance we do get lots of orders so to make sure you can book with us I always say to plan ahead!

What are your hours of operation?
We’re open from 10:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday.