Keepsakes or “Stuff”?

What your Kids Really Want you to Save

By Joan Law
Feng Shui Joan’s Way

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.

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, or call the store at 888-300-0631.

Feng Shui = Art and Intuition

By Joan Law
Feng Shui Joan’s Way

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

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.

Feng Shui Opens the Door to Powerful Relationships

By Joan Law
Feng Shui Joan’s Way

Feng Shui opens the door to powerful relationships by showing us how to create environments that encourage positive engagement with the people in our lives.

A wide range of tools are available for Feng Shui practitioners to utilize in their work with clients. I suspect most folks have seen this familiar image of the Bagua. Note the Love and Relationship area of this Bagua is circled.

Bagua Chart and Relationships
The Bagua is One of the Most Important Tools in Feng Shui
The Bagua is a visual map of how energy flows in our world. It is a key tool in Feng Shui study (link), and it offers a way to evaluate the energy in your environment.

Feng Shui is one of many ancient Asian philosophies that sought to understand how we could live in harmony with nature. And even today, Feng Shui principals are utilized by many of the world’s leaders, such as Richard Branson of British Airways, to plan and mange home and work environments.

Coupled with other Asian philosophies such as Yin and Yang and the Five Elements (wood, fire, earth, metal, and water) it is believed that Feng Shui can have an impact on one’s success in both home and work relationships.

The nuances of Feng Shui are intricate and many. That is why, as a certified Feng Shui practitioner, I begin my journey with clients by taking the time to understand their challenges and the outcomes they wish to achieve.

The first step in my process in working with clients is really the first step into a good Feng Shui relationship. I listen to your story and from there we evaluate what may need to happen in order to grow, enhance, or even repair relationships in your life.

Chi Counselor
I’m not a marriage counselor but I am a Chi Counselor. In a consultation with a client who might be feeling a strain in their marriage I would likely start with an evaluation of the master bedroom. Everything from the colors in the room to the placement of furniture can impact the energy in this important space.

For example, one client of mine was considering moving in with her significant other. But just simply could not get a good night’s sleep in her “new” shared bedroom.

A review of the bedroom indicated that a heavy ceiling beam was positioned over the side of the bed where my client slept. It was not a surprise to find my client was unable to have a good nights sleep with this weight literally “hanging over her head”.

Fixes might include representations of pairs of items in the area or even a laughing Buddha with raised hands to lift the weight of the beam and “raise the roof.” I found the laughing Buddha at a local thrift store, Palm & Able in Shelton CT.

Time to Develop a Green Thumb!

Local Family Encouraging Gardens and Landscaping

Shannon Landscape & Garden Center

1111 Honeyspot Road (directly across from UPS)  

Shannon Lawn & Landscaping is a local family business that started in 1987. It is owned by Michael Shannon, his wife Christine Shannon and Michael’s brother, John Shannon—all of Stratford. They recently moved their company to a larger facility which was necessary to support the growth of their landscaping operations business. Their new location offered them a space to showcase their beautiful plants and trees, giving them the opportunity to begin this new adventure into the retail market and to provide an easy, serene shopping experience to their customers.

According to Christine Shannon, “each year, we bring in plants and materials for use in our landscape installations and lawn care services. We only select plants and stock that do well in our region based on our 35-year experience in the industry. We carry many trees and shrubs that thrive in our region and plan to bring in more native plants as they become available. Our designers on staff select varieties that are popular in landscaping beds and privacy screenings. Our planting recommendations are designed to provide continuous color and beauty throughout the growing season.”

The Garden Center has many products available for outdoor projects including a large variety of trees, shrubs, vegetables, flowers, fertilizer products, seed, tools, sod, mulches and soils. “Our newly renovated building and landscape yard is a great place for our clients to see first-hand the materials we will be using when planning our design and installations at their homes. We are taking requests from anyone looking for something specific and are happy to schedule an estimate if you prefer the plants be delivered and installed for you.”

Their Shannon Lawn & Landscaping’s service business features all facets of landscaping including planting design and installation, lawn fertilization and insect treatments, pruning and mulching, masonry installation, property maintenance & irrigation and landscape lighting systems. They currently service over 2000 customers and employ 35 people in our community. “We are industry experts for all your outdoor landscaping projects and are welcoming new customers every day.”

Grand Opening this weekend: There will be a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony with Mayor Laura Hoydick on Friday May 7th to kick off their Grand Opening just in time for Mother’s Day.

“Giving back to our town is very important to our family, so we are sponsoring a fundraiser for our local Stratford Police Athletic League (PAL) this weekend. We are donating $1 for each tree and shrub sold this weekend to Stratford PAL.”

Looking ahead, “when time allows, we will be installing a Waterfall and Koi Pond in our outdoor garden to feature pond installation services which we provide. We are committed to the future growth of our landscape service and sales divisions as we continue to beautify the properties in our service areas and provide a friendly workplace for our family of Shannon employees.”

Shannon’s Garden Center is directly across from UPS, and the new the home of their 3 business divisions – Shannon Lawn & Landscaping, Shannon Landscape & Garden Center and Shannon Irrigation & Landscape Lighting. They can be reached at (203) 375-8240, on Facebook, as well as their website

Their landscape service divisions are open on weekdays during normal business hours, with the Shannon Landscape & Garden Center also open on Saturdays from 9 am to 4 pm and Sundays from 10 am to 3 pm.

Tea Time in Stratford

Tea-rrific Free Gift Available for Readers!

By Joan Law
Feng Shui Joan’s Way

Those of you who know me well, know tea is a thing for me. But not just any tea. My absolute fave tea and place to drink tea is Open Door Tea in Stratford.

The Open Door Tea Café and Shop just shouts good Feng Shui to me. Here is why:

  • Great Location in Paradise Green, Stratford (3552 Main Street).
  • The physical space – ambience calms me with great music and welcoming seating arrangements.
  • Local artists are featured on the walls creating a sense of community and support of other small businesses.
  • Tea options range from calming to healing and the tea-cups are charming relics of times gone by. In fact, one of my “Ask Joan” club members donated a tea-cup collection that once belonged to her mom to the folks at Open Door Tea.
  • The staff is amazing! Owner Kasia Lindeberg’s knowledge of tea is only surpassed by her passion for sharing it and its healing properties with her customers. And the entire Open Door team is just as knowledgeable and passionate.
  • The food is great – from salads to smoothies and the best baked goods ever! All made there.

Enjoy the tea in person or order online. You can pick-up, order for delivery, and arrange for catering. Just visit the website for details. And, if you want to have a little virtual fun with your office staff or friends, you can arrange a virtual tea tasting!

So, my friend, Kasia wanted me to share some of her amazing tea with you.

Just email me your snail-mail address and I will send you a FREE sample of Open Door Tea while supplies last!

Oh and my friends know where to find me when we meet at Open Door Tea. My favorite seat faces the door – that is good Feng Shui of course. Now that Connecticut is opening up, I’ll look forward to seeing you there soon.

Be well!

Positive Thinking Begets Positive Results

By Joan Law
Feng Shui Joan’s Way

In the words of Alfred, Lord Tennyson:
Today I saw the dragonfly
Come from the wells where he did lie.
An inner impulse rent the veil
Of his old husk: from head to tail
Came out clear plates of sapphire mail.
He dried his wings: like gauze they grew;
Thro’ crofts and pastures wet with dew
A living flash of light he flew.

Positive Thinking Begets Positive Results
Many folks think of the dragonfly as a symbol of re-birth or of transition from one life to another. The transition a dragonfly or a butterfly undergoes in its life-cycle is positive and beautiful. So too is that of we humans.

I have two very happy examples to share with you this week…
First, the response to last week’s newsletter and blog has been amazing and, to be honest, quite unexpected. I was uncertain how folks would react to my news about becoming an End-of-Life Doula. But, the reaction was truly uplifting and indeed positive. Here is another story about someone else who has taken up “my” new gig…What it’s like to launch an unusual side hustle, from a mom starting a gig as a death doula:

What is a death Doula?
While many people think of doulas as providing nonmedical support to people before, during, or after a birth, a death doula provides such support for those nearing the end of their lives.

They are an emotional support person that is hired by the family or the dying person to assist in the transition process. A death doula might help someone in their final months or days build a legacy project chronicling their life, for example. They also help families process grief, help caregivers with daily tasks, prepare the dying space, as well as providing other aid.

Is there a Doctor in the house?
Secondly, my amazing daughter, Audrey has been accepted to medical school! She will be attending Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine to become a Doctor in that specialty.

Creating positive intentions to help folks live a better life is what I do…but it is your kind and supportive intentions that keep me positive about a bright future ahead for all of us.

Thank you