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Hope Blooms with nOURish Bridgeport!

Reverend Sara Smith, President, CEO and founder of nOURish BRIDGEPORT and Rev. Ed Rawls, First Congregational Church, and wife Sam Rawls

Stratford’s First New Indoor Hydroponic Farm


By Andrea Byrne

Hope—and generosity—indeed bloomed in Stratford on Wednesday evening, June 1st, at 1895 Stratford Avenue. The 9th Annual Hope Blooms in Bridgeport évent was lively and enthusiastic, celebrating the new Indoor Hydroponic Farm, the most recent addition to nOURish BRIDGEPORT’s community efforts. This is the first non-profit indoor hydroponic farm in Connecticut.

The Farm is housed in a 5000 square foot former warehouse, with the growing equivalent of 6 acres of land. It uses several growing methods—fork farms system, grow rig system and freight container system, all of which will help provide the solution to the shortage of healthy food that so many face daily.

The produce grown there year-round will be for distribution at local food pantries and farmers markets, and eventually for commercial use in order to increase funding for nOURish BRIDGEPORT’s other activities:

• The Super Food Pantry & Baby Center, which provides perishable & non-perishable groceries to 2,000 neighbors per week, and baby formula, food, wipes & diapers to 100 babies per week
• Feel The Warmth, mobile community hot suppers, serving 150 neighbors per week
• English As A Second Language, with beginning and intermediate English, Citizenship and Financial Literacy classes, serving 100 per week
• Thanksgiving: Feast in a Box, complete turkey dinner for families to prepare at home, for 400 families per year
• Stratfield Farmers Market, with fresh local produce & artisan/cottage vendors
• Urban Work Camp, an experiential boot camp for suburban youth to learn about food insecurity & hunger

The evening included a guided tour of the Farm, with explanations of how the systems work by Farm Director Lezli Albelo, and Farm Assistants Nancy Smith and Mario Pena.

Attendees were the many sponsors, supporters, and volunteers who help the organization to function. . Mayor Laura Hoydick and Mary Dean, Director. of Community Development, were there to lend their support.

But none of it would be possible without the enormous spirit, energy and devotion of Reverend Sara Smith, President, CEO and founder of nOURish BRIDGEPORT. She is the well-loved motivator behind all of these activities. The successful live auction was a clear demonstration of how much people believe in her message and her mission. As an example, one bidder gave $15,000 to complete the purchase of a refrigerated truck. Throughout the auction, Reverend Sara was kept very busy running to give one of her famous hugs to the many generous bidders who helped pay for stand-alone commercial A/C units, additional fork farms growing units, and support for other program needs.

As part of her remarks, Reverend Sara pointed out that one in four Bridgeport residents face daily food insecurity and food scarcity; one in five children go to bed hungry; the majority of neighborhoods in Bridgeport are food deserts, in that they do not have a supermarket; and the average age at death in Bridgeport is 60, compared to Westport at 79.

In concluding her heartfelt thanks to everyone, Reverend Sara said, “YOU are throwing a huge stone of HOPE into the pond of food insecurity…The ripple effects will be felt exponentially by thousands of people for many years to come.”

To find out more about nOURish BRIDGEPORT and the Indoor Hydroponic Farm, or to make a donation, go to

Death and Dying

By Joan Law
Feng Shui Joan’s Way

Dying, a formerly taboo subject in our culture is now receiving some much-needed attention. Often, because we avoid thinking about death we miss out on so many opportunities to appreciate life

Facing our own mortality and preparing for it is not only a special gift to those we love, but can also serve as a gift to ourselves if we allow it to deepen the meaning of our personal relationships and to recognize the beauty and the blessings of each and every day.

Neither your physician nor your family should have to guess at your wishes. All of us should have “living wills,” which describe how we wish to be treated, or not, as we approach our final days, and we should name a health-care advocate in a legal document. That person is responsible for making sure our wishes are carried out in the event we are unable to speak for ourselves. This isn’t meant to be a morbid conversation, but a very human one. Please consider what you want, both in life and during it’s close. By transforming the most difficult conversations into an opportunity, it can change not only the way we die, but also the way we live.

The lockdown afforded me the opportunity to explore the topic of death and dying by pursuing a certification as an End-of-Life Doula described in this blog post

Since I shared this news I have had many conversations around the topic of death and how facing the reality of our mortality can provide a new level of appreciation of life. If you are interested in exploring this topic I invite you to schedule a free discovery call:

Bask in the Beauty of a Spring Day

By Joan Law
Feng Shui Joan’s Way

I have been very reflective of late and as I looked out my window today, I saw one single crocus pop its lovely blossom above the ground…waking up from a long, dark winter to bask in the beauty of a spring day.

This one small sign of spring had me thinking about why I started my business.

I have always been affected by my environment. I was constantly rearranging my room when I was little and my home as an adult. This was long before I even heard of Feng Shui.

It was not until I was completely overwhelmed with three boys, a baby on the way, an eighty-five pound dog, and a home to care for that a gift of a book about Feng Shui changed my life. I realized there was a reason and a practice that explained why and how our environments affect us on a physiological, psychological, and energetic level.

In time, I also learned to follow my intuition while I was implementing what I was learning. I found as I practiced my new designation as a Feng Shui consultant that my vision was more often than not focused on my intuition and not solely on a set of Feng Shui rules.

That is why I called my business Feng Shui Joan’s Way. My interpretation and application of what I have learned, practiced, and observed in my own life and in the lives of those who have allowed me into their homes, is what my business is all about. Furthermore, it is my work with Feng Shui clients that has led me to continue my work to improve people’s day-to-day lives by helping them prepare for the end of life.

Admittedly, I get raised eyebrows when I talk about including an end-of-life doula-ship in my repertoire. I often need to explain that this side-road to my Feng Shui work is really not about death at all. It is about living every day to its fullest by knowing you have the process for closure at the end set so that you and your loved ones simply enjoy every crocus that comes your way.

Today, I reflect on my world and the world at large:

I am grateful for spring showers and flowers – they remind us of what we should focus on.

I am grateful for, and I am enjoying my Feng Shui clients immensely even as I continue to explore the new adjunct to my business…living a better life while also thinking ahead to end of life.

I am grateful that those I love and care about have been relatively unscathed by COVID and that all are healthy and happy.

With all that is going on in the world, I am grateful to be an American and living right here in Stratford – a town that I love. And, even as we bask in the beauty of a spring day, let us pray for the safety of the Ukrainian people and for our leaders and theirs to make the right decisions for the world. I choose to be confident that they will.

And I am always grateful for all my Feng Shui followers.

Fishbar de Milan

Station House Square
2505 Main Street
Claudio Santo

A new Northern Italian restaurant has opened up in Stratford Center, Fishbar de Milan. Fishbar de Milan is not the classic fish restaurant despite its name. They offer a unique concept that offers a fresh and refined selection of international seafood dishes. From American fishburgers and lobster rolls to excellent French oysters and shellfish from all over the world.

The staff has experience in the restaurant industry. Lead by Claudio Santo, who founded and sold Jefferies in Milford, and also owns and operates Fishbar de Milan in Italy; Linda Manos, who guided her family’s restaurant, Pepins,

In keeping with Northern Italy cuisine they have both a French Chef, Viven Coatanroch, as well as Guelilou Abdoul Quedaogo from Milan. Their beverage manager is Melissa Tristine.
Claudio is from Milan, married with 4 boys, and has lived in Stratford for the last 14 years. Why Stratford for his restaurant? “I love it here.”

Is there a difference between Italian diners and American diners?
There is a lot of differences between Italian food and Italian American food.

Most of the Italian immigrants were from Naples and Sicily and they have tomato sauce and garlic as a primary food which is not what we eat in the rest of Italy

Chicken parmigiana, eggplant parmigiana, spaghetti with meatball, penne vodka, spaghetti Alfredo sauce, are not Italian food in Italy, and many other dishes, like lasagna for example are done in a very different way.

Italian food is very regional; every region has his own food but I have to say chicken in Italy is not a popular as much in USA.

Is your chef from Italy also?
Yes we have a Italian chef straight from Italy.

What is your favorite dish?
My favorite dish is Risotto alla Milanese with sausage.

They serve Brunch on Sunday’s and are open for Lunch and Dinner.

• Hours of operation
Sun 11:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m. open until 8 p.m.
Lunch: Mon–Sat 11:00 am–3:45 pm
Dinner: Mon–Thu 4:00 p.m.–9:00 p.m.
Fri, Sat 11:30 p.m.–10:00 p.m.

Click Here for Menu

Click Here for Brunch Menu

You may not find spaghetti and meatballs (but they have a mean meatball sandwich for lunch) on the menu, but there are both meals that are not your typical spaghetti and meatballs what most diners

[Cover Photo: From left to right:  Viven Coatanroch, Melissa Tristine, Linda Manos, Buelilou Abdoul Quedraogo, Claudio Santo]

Feng Shui and the Winter Solstice

Signal Brighter Days Ahead

By Joan Law
Feng Shui Joan’s Way

Feng Shui and the Winter Solstice signal brighter days ahead. The increasing light that enters our spaces as we begin each new year is always so positive. This time of year encourages me to embrace my Feng Shui spirit.

I may be stuck inside because it is cold but the sun is shining through my windows and my days are slowly but surely getting longer. It is time for me to start my great spring clean-up and clear out ritual.

Feng Shui is all about the belief that our environments (home and work) directly affect our happiness. And, based on my 20 plus years as a Feng Shui consultant, I know that clutter is a no-no.

So here is a list of ten baby steps you can take to kick-start you spring cleaning program and to celebrate brighter, less cluttered days ahead.

  1. First and foremost soak up the sun however you can. The vitamin D is important to your physical health and the sunlight is important to your mental health.
  2. If it isn’t too cold, get outside. Take your four legged friends for a short walk every day.
  3. Toss outdated shopping catalogs, mail, and old magazines.
  4. How about getting rid of those unmatched socks (unless the dogs like to play with them)?
  5. How old are the makeup, medications, or toothbrushes in your bathroom cabinets?
  6. Clear outdated canned and packaged foods from your pantry.
  7. Are you really going to use all those old empty jars piling up in your garage?
  8. Take old paint cans to your local paint store to be recycled.
  9. If you haven’t worn a sweater, a pair of shoes or pants, or a coat in over two years – donate them!
  10. Make it a family affair by creating a day or a weekend event during which the whole family can participate in the great spring clean-up.

I like number 10 on the list the best (number 2 on the list is a close second). I’ll bet you can think of an incentive everyone in your family wants to work toward.  They may not be thinking of the Feng Shui components of how clearing clutter can create a happy and productive environment. But, I know you are!

A Stress-Free Holiday??

Yes, it is possible.

By Joan Law
Feng Shui Joan’s Way

Feng Shui can deliver a stress-free holiday in some very practical ways.  And, having a stress-free holiday in 2021 just about seems impossible! To be honest, I really believed we would be way past the worry about the Covid 19 virus. And there are many of you who are just plain tired of the stress that particular worry continues to create. I know I am.

At the end of the day, we all want to enjoy the peace and beauty of the holiday season. So, count your blessings, find ways to reduce your stress, and plan some holiday cheer.

Here is a short list of ways Feng Shui can deliver your stress-free holiday and reduce clutter — both physical and mental!

Make your gift requests known:

Creating gift lists and providing them to family members well in advance of holidays and celebrations can be a very helpful tool in limiting the clutter collection.”

Reduce clutter before the holidays begin:

Start now to move out old clothes, toys, games, books, movies and more. Our clutter clearing service can help! And once you are ready to move items out, contact the Vietnam Veterans Association to schedule a pickup.

Shop consumables:

Most people don’t really want to have it all. That’s when a great, clutter-free, consumable gift is perfect. Something sweet is always a winner try Leisha’s Bakeria in downtown Bridgeport, or consider gift cards for a local tea shop that knows all about how to deliver calm to your life. One of my favorite places to buy sweets, treats, and tea is Open Door Tea in Stratford. These gifts will be appreciated for their personal touch and every community has local favorites.

Share the Season – Shop Local – Shop Small!

There are a host of small businesses that need local patrons now more than ever. Give gifts that deliver positive energy, inspiration, and support for your communities. Here are just a few links to help you deliver smiles: Shop Small StratfordMusic Together (virtual music classes for children); City Line Florist (flowers, plants, and gift baskets); Wag Central (for our pets);

Get charitable:

From goats to jewelry and shoes, nothing says “I love you” like a charitable gift. The Toms company not only sells great shoes, but donates a pair of shoes directly to people in need. Looking for even less?  Buy a llama for a family through Heifer International, or Support a Refugee, through Oxfam.  Make an important donation in the name of your friend or loved one: Sterling House Community Center,  Homes for the Brave;  Bridgeport Rescue Mission ; Palm & Able in Shelton, and so many more!

Give the gift of a “Gift Exemption” :

Exchange services or good deeds:

Everyone has skills that others only WISH they had. Sewing, canning, computer skills, handywoman, cooking, an eye for landscaping. Consider YOUR skill and how you can share it with friends and family.

Be Giver-Focused:

Want to be surprised? Recent psychological studies on gift-giving have found that gifts that are giver-focused — a gift that allows you to share who you are, like a favorite product or book — are by far more well-received than recipient-focused gifts.

Even though people thought they preferred recipient-focused gifts, it was actually giver-focused gifts that brought people closer. It seems as though there’s greater meaning in a giver-focused gift. So the next time you’re gift shopping, try to find something that lets you share something of yourself with the person to whom you’re giving a gift.

Reduce and reuse in gift wrap:

Nothing fills the landfills every holiday like wrapping paper. If you are crafty, you can opt to sew your own easy drawstring bags, which can be gifted or re-used annually. Or invest in re-usable paper gift bags.


Gratitude Reminder

By Joan Law
Feng Shui Joan’s Way

As we approach Thanksgiving this year, I am reminded of a quote that has always resonated with me:
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough, and more.
It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.
It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.
-Melody Beattie, American author of self-help books on codependent relationships

I recognize that all of us have felt the enormous weight of the world’s challenges these past several years. And many of my clients have been overwhelmed with sadness at daily news reports that are less than rosy. It is hard sometimes to keep a smile on your face.

My family volunteers regularly at The Lord’s Kitchen. It is a small thing to do in a world so full of challenges. It is hard to imagine that there are people who are starving in America, but there are. And many of those folks are right in our own communities. Don’t forget the donation of a turkey or canned food items are desperately needed at all our local food pantries. One of my favorite places for food donations is Sterling House Community Center.

Having just wrapped up a longer term clutter clearing project with a lovely client, I am also reminded that the stuff we no longer need can make an enormous difference in someone else’s life. Those almost new coats, blankets, shoes, dishes, toys, and more are accepted with open arms at Palm and Able, Goodwill, the Salvation Army and so many more worthy charitable organizations.

Take a moment to be grateful – even if your life isn’t perfect – you just may find that what you have is enough, and more!

Thank you to all my good friends – I am and always will be grateful for you!

Diamonds are Created Under Pressure. So, Stay Calm and Shine Bright Like a Diamond!

By Joan Law
Feng Shui Joan’s Way

As I thought about this latest newsletter and blog, the thought struck me that diamonds are created under pressure.  And it is with great joy that I report that the Law family mined quite a few diamonds this past year!

Each and every one of our adult children experienced something big in their lives. I know all the parents out there understand fully that when your children face the good and the not so good, you are right there with them.

I also know that achieving the special and important things in life comes with hard work, a few bumps and bruises, and maybe just a little bit of pressure.

Yes, the good stuff still comes with stress. And, I honestly have to say, Feng Shui principals helped me navigate one of the most stressful and yet one of the most beautiful years of my life!

Here is what 2020 looked like for my family:

  1. Our daughter Audrey started her journey to become a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine.
  2. Our son Mason married Lauren in May and moved into a new home.
  3. Our son Clark moved into his own home.
  4. And our son Spencer married Alivia just a few weeks ago!

Feng Shui is not just about “fixing” things that aren’t working. It is about creating an environment that supports your physical and mental health so that you can enjoy the good and navigate the bad with ease.

Incidentally, a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine help patients develop attitudes and lifestyles that don’t just fight illness, but help prevent it, too. Can you see my influence on my daughter!

If you ever need help finding your life-diamonds, I’m here.

What’s Old is New!

Ride the Tidal Wave

Stratford locals and professional sellers from near and far will be there with a river raft of trinkets, treasures, and stacks of stuff! You never know what you’re gonna find at The Tidal Exchange! Come find what you are looking for in Stratford this Saturday, and every Saturday, through November 13!

You can’t get enough stuff and you know it! If one is good, two is better! And if two is better, a baker’s dozen might scratch that itch!

Around each and every corner is there’s another chance something special is going to jump out at you! If Captain Kidd really buried his treasure right off the Connecticut coast, just imagine what you can dig up in Stratford !

As many as 75 Vendors from far and wide gather to strut their stuff in Stratford Connecticut Directly off Interstate 95. Every Saturday from 8am – 2pm through November 13th!

Tools, Toys, and old tractor seats! Vintage, vinyl, a veritable treasure trove of stuff! Handmade, homemade or hauled in from somewhere or another!

Vintage Valhalla! The Antique Acropolis! Tool Town! The Dollar Depot!

A Food Truck Fiesta! (come hungry)

Tag Sale booths too! Have your tag sale at The Tidal Exchange

Free Parking all day
Free admission after 12 p.m.
Early Buyers get the pick of the litter for $10 between 8 a.m.- 9 a.m.
From 9-12 p.m. it is $3 per person
Friends and families are welcome for $5 for up to 5 people.
Vendors can still reserve spots at…/CTEventsUnli…
Find out more at:

Thank you! Thank you for all your support for this great new event in Stratford!