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They say one way to take the chill away is with a fine glass of wine. Maybe two. Maybe three. Either way, I can’t argue with that.

As winter ramps into full gear, there’s no better way to take away the winter chill other than a visit to a local Connecticut winery.

Surprising, isn’t it?

Many local wineries aren’t known to be open through the winter months. If you were to mention going to a winery in the month of December to anyone, you would get some pretty weird looks as they are most commonly only explored through the summer.

Au contraire!

These bottles don’t just get packed away because it’s cold. They get consumed! After all, they would become quite lonely hibernating all winter just waiting for someone to pop open the cork and take a swish of the mouth watering wine for which it holds.

I’m no stranger to Connecticut wineries. In fact, I frequent them weekly. No, I’m not a raging alcoholic who goes about town becoming disruptive at local wineries.

I’m Italian.

Having since moved east of the Connecticut river this past June, I have been embarking on wineries in eastern Connecticut. Many, I didn’t know existed since I’ve only ever explored those to the west.

A new favorite of mine has become Cassidy Hill Vineyard in Coventry. It’s family like atmosphere paired with its log cabin feel and a warm fireplace will make you feel right at home this winter as you indulge in some of the finest wines east of the river. You may even be lucky enough to catch a visit from some cute little dogs.

Cassidy Hill offers a variety of wines, some grown in state, others out. What counts the most is the atmosphere of which it brings to the table. You can have perfectly desirable wine, but if you can’t get the atmosphere right, I’m not staying!

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Cassidy Hill perfects. With its stunning views from the porch of the rolling hills to the east, you’ll feel like you’re sipping wine in Vermont. Just don’t forget after a few glasses of wine that you’re really in Connecticut.

As the holidays warm up on us, take a weekend off and unwind while eliminating the winter chill with family and friends. Cassidy Hill is only open through December, so pack a lunch and cozy up this warm rustic weekend retreat, you won’t be disappointed.

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“Get the turkey! Shoot, I forgot the mashed potatoes. I’ve got wine! What? No vodka?! Shoot!”

Ah, the holidays. We’re all scrambling to get everything just so, scratching off our shopping list item by item only to come home and realize, yes, there’s still more we need. There’s always more that we need!

This year, I’m hosting Thanksgiving for the first time and I too am scrambling. The house is finally in order, decked to the halls in holiday cheer. It only took a month to get it right, along with numerous trips to Pottery Barn and Target. I think the cashiers know me quite well. Does that mean I owe them stuffing?

I hope not. I didn’t plan for that!

The food is ordered from a local venue. I won’t spill the surprise from where, but it’s sure to delight. I can smell the turkey in my house already. Then again, that could be one of the many scented air fresheners I purchased recently thanks to those Bath & Body Works coupons that flood my email.

In years past, my Thanksgiving was always different. In the years of my youth, Thanksgiving would be hosted by my aunt and uncle in their turn of the century Connecticut home. Always a large gathering of family surrounded by a great deal of food and laughter. In recent years, my mother and I would have Thanksgiving at my timeshare to the north complete with a studded Thanksgiving dinner with strangers which made me all the more humble while networking along while diving into the freshest of food straight from local farms. My Thanksgiving has never been consistent, but what has been is my love for my family, friends, and the holidays.

I’m excited to kick off the season, but most importantly to spend time with loved ones and friends as we embark on yet another cherished holiday season together.

Just don’t forget the vodka.

Wishing you all the very best this Thanksgiving from my family to yours.

-Mike Valletta

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Is there anything more warming to the soul then a store doing the holidays right?

Many retailers go above and beyond when it comes to decorating for the holidays. They try diligently to capture the magic of the season by spreading holiday cheer to all in the form of seasonal decor and of course, the many happy faces of the stores staff.

Only one retailer really gets it though. A retailer so humble, that they make sure to attract all of your senses.

Yankee Candle Village in Deerfield, MA makes sure to delight while ensuring your senses are overly satisfied, right down to your tastebuds as you indulge in homemade fudge and cookies.

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It’s one of my favorite stops of the holiday season. From the outside, it is noted as the worlds best Christmas shop, and it’s no wonder as to why. With numerous holiday lights strung up outside, not missing a beat even on the trees, to the numerous Christmas trees and wreaths lining the front porch, you can tell this place really loves Christmas from the exterior.

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But wait, there’s more.

As you make your journey to inside, breathe. Pause for a moment as your mind is triggered by the amazing scents that only Yankee Candle can create. Balsam fir, sparkling snow, and even a hint of some holiday cocktails. The air here is enough to make you think you have landed in the North Pole.

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Perhaps you did.

Continuing along in your journey, your mind will continue to wander as you stroll through an indoor forest of sorts complete with a snow machine to dazzle the kids, as well as the shimmering trees dressed to the nines in lights and ornaments. Of course, as you embark through this fun little theme filled glory, you can’t forget to miss the Christmas Village setup complete with trains.

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The main attraction here are the candles. They are nearly endless. As you make your way out of the forest and into “scenter stage” as I like to call it, you’ll walk into a room filled with candles of everything you could imagine straight down to the ingredients you use in your kitchen. Just when you thought you’ve taken in all you could possibly have, there’s always more to keep your senses tingling for more.

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Candles here are everything, but so too is the decor. Yankee Candle just gets it right, every time. There’s no competition.

Now, go ahead and get your home ready for he holidays. Yankee Candle is sure to give you just the right amount of inspiration you need.

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warm-winter

I love the holidays.

If you follow me on Snapchat (TheMikeValletta), you would have seen a great preview of this column!

There’s just something about a Christmas tree twinkling with white shimmering lights while dressed in a warm comfy sweater sipping on a whip cream topped hot chocolate that makes the cooler months, well, warmer.

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This year, I got a head start on holiday decor for the home. I felt with all the negativity that is going on across our country with the election, it was time for a little joy. In past years, I would have spent hours hovering the boards of Pinterest looking for just the right look to accommodate my home for the season.

This year, things were just a little different.

I decided to figure things out on my own. After compliments I had received regarding my summer decor, I decided to whip up my own magic again for the holidays. The term simple came to mind, nothing too over the top. After all, I’m not living in Santas workshop.

As I started my shopping adventure at my neighborhood Target, I wanted to line things up with the color plaid. Plaid is the new duvet cover I picked out while adding a warm white throw blanket and pillow as a pop of color to brighten up the room.

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Pinecones? Pinecones go with plaid. They also smell as festive as the holiday season is. Who needs lavender to fall asleep at night when you have cinnamon sceneted pinecones.

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For the first time, I also added a tree to the room. I normally only have a Christmas tree in the main room of the home, but this year, we’ll add a couple more. For less than the price of a tank of gas, ($20, I have a hybrid.) I found this simple yet stylish prelit tree at Target. Add a few rose gold pine cones to the mix and you have yourself a 2016 Christmas tree.

Rose gold is the color of the year. Stick with it.

I also really love adding candles to any holiday atmosphere. There’s just something about a gently roaring candle to add to the ambience.

Yes, the holidays are rapidly approaching. This year, more than ever, we all need a little cheer a lot sooner in our lives.

Let’s get festive. Don’t forget the wine.

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Brand Update.

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What a year it has been!

Can you believe we are already talking about the holiday season? I can recall when we were all just relishing about how warm last winter was here in the northeast! Time certainly has flown by, and hopefully you have gotten to enjoy a pretty stellar summer.

I wanted to take some time out to give everyone an update of where the brand is at today. Back in February when I relaunched the site, I turned my name into an LLC. Mike Valletta Multimedia was born.

Kind of cool, huh?

I mentioned early on that there were much bigger things ahead for the brand, and blogging was just the beginning. Throughout this past year, I’ve been experimenting with what kinds of content will make people tick. We did everything from travel and lifestyle to full blown LGBTQ. We found out what worked, and what didn’t work. The end result; you wanted me back. You wanted to hear the stories of the places I’ve traveled, the mom and pop businesses that are the fabric of our communities, even some home inspiration.

I’m offering that now, and much more.

As you navigate the newly designed site, you’ll notice a section labeled services. These services are the core of the business, and that’s when social media consulting was born.

As an early adapter to the blogosphere, I’ve helped many businesses start to shine. It’s in my nature! I love what I do for local communities. When you enjoy what you do, you never work. You just live. That’s exactly what I’m doing. Helping businesses through blogging and social media consulting is a passion of mine, and a passion I plan on delivering through vivid marketing to an audience I love.

This is phase two at Mike Valletta Multimedia. There’s a few more phases left, and I’m still not going to spill the beans.

Thank you for continuing the journey with me. Head on over to the services page to find out more, or to schedule a consultation.

 

Mike Valletta

Buzz Creator & Content Manager

Mike Valletta Multimedia

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Have you ever wanted to just rewind the time? You know. Relive a time that was prior to technology and a life of simplicity?

There’s a place where you can do just that. A place where time itself has stood as still as the products it holds.

The Vermont Country Store is a Mecca for all things yesteryear. This quintessential yet fun shopping experience will have you putting your phone down while you’re chewing down on homemade fudge and playing with wooden children’s toys or enjoying a game of chess. This is no ordinary country store. This is thee country store.

As you arrive, you instantly notice it’s New England charm. A gravel parking lot greets you as you hop of out of your car and make your way into what feels like an old barn, dressed to the nines in the plants of the season and strutted with real wooden rocking chairs allowing you to catch your breath before this place leaves you breathless inside, and it will. Making your way in, you instantly feel the nostalgia. Glass jars full of candy hit you like you’re at an old time general store. Samples of homemade fudge leave the senses to do one thing; eat them.

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Yes, the Vermont Country Store has its way with comfort food. Throughout your shopping experience, you’ll notice there are all sorts of samples. Pumpkin cheesecake dip to top a grahamcracker? Not before you indulge in the fresh selection of Vermont cheeses.

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This place is dangerous.

It’s a frequent stop of mine up to my vacation home in nearby Killington. Each time I seem to get reacquainted with the notion that life at a slower pace was just right. There’s just something about the simple life that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy. Maybe it’s the food that they’ve been putting in my belly as I shop the collection of old fashioned body lotions and shampoos, or old time quilts like grandma used to make. Then again, maybe it’s the hot apple cider that’s been brewed to perfection.

Whatever the case, the Vermont Country Store has perfected a charm of an era gone by. Too often today, we are so consumed in modern conveniences with our heads in our phones that we haven’t stopped to realize the one important thing that matters the most; living a life that’s a little less manufactured, and one that is as simple as it is enjoyable.

That Vermont country air will also teach you something. Stick around long enough, and you may catch yourself never wanting to leave.

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The Vermont Country Store Cookbook: Recipes, History, and Lore from the Classic American General Store

Enjoy the pictures? Now available for purchase on the Home Collection. Click here.

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Everyone knows I really love my coffee. A day without cofeee is a day without motivation as well as half of a brain.

In fact, a day without coffee in my hand is so bad, that if you try talking to me I will give you the look of death and question why you are even speaking to me in the first place.

Seriously. Don’t approach me.

Luckily for me, there’s a fix. Coffee shops. There’s nothing like the aroma of a good old coffee house to cheer me right up. Maybe it’s the constant brewing of espresso that perks me right up to being a civil member of society so that I can once again talk to people who don’t make sense anyways.

Maybe.

I’m not talking about Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts or any other chain of the sorts. For me, I enjoy the local flavor. A good old fashioned mom and pop that brews up the best beans in town.

Silk City Coffee in Manchester, CT gets it. They get me. They know what I need, and they know exactly the atmosphere I need in order to get on with my daily routines.

Recently opened, Silk City Coffee is located in the heart of Manchester village, right along Main Street, and a hop, skip, and a jump from the new construction apartment community that I just moved into in town.

How convenient of them.

Pumpkin spice lattes, caramel macchiatos, whole bean coffee…and my oh my, decadent deserts. With a coffee house with such aromatic options, who would want to go anywhere else for their daily brew? Silk City Coffee delivers on every aspect.

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On a snowy October day, a norm here in New England, I made an impromptu visit to this new found glory of ours in town. I had my expectations set high since I discovered them on Instagram a while back while they were in the building process.

They exceeded all expectations.

The pumpkin spice latte made complete with a big mug that made the couch feel as cozy as the coffee as it came complete with a latte leaf in the middle of the coffee, and the tart was as warm and delicious just like the atmosphere itself. Silk City Coffee is an anitiquated building in the middle of the villages downtown district and is complete with hardwood floors and majestic metal ceilings with turn of the century design, and of course you just can’t forget the big comfy couches.

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If you’re looking for your next place to unwind for a bit in the afternoon or even recharge while you’re working on projects and networking with fellow community members, Silk City Coffee promises to deliver an extroidinary experince.

It’s one that I could approve of, and I’m a tough cookie.

Shop Amazon – Happy Belly Nut and Trail Mix Snacks

Shop Amazon – Happy Belly Fairtrade Organic coffee

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Source: @SilkCityCoffee on Instagram.

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As the colors of Autumn fade, as does the memories of a fun festive season here in New England, so too does the warm Indian summer days as we plunge into a more traditional weather pattern of early winter.

Sounds depressing, doesn’t it?

Sun setting earlier. Trees reduced to sticks. Temperatures reaching a maximum of forty degrees.

There are those of us, however, that see all this in a different light; screw the seasonal depression. It’s time to hit the slopes!

Thankfully, here in New England, we have our old faithful Killington Resort. Killington is located in the green mountains of Vermont and sits at nearly 5,000 feet above sea level. Snow in October is no stranger, and once the first snow falls, Killington is ready to turn on the snow guns and blast the trails with a sea of the white stuff.

As a skier, the anticipation builds up every October. When will the first day be? How long must we wait? How the hell do I get my skis waxed fast enough so I can floor it up to the mountain once they open?

I mean, they’re important questions. More important than Hillary Clintons email scandal.

Winter as a skier is like summer for a surfer. Those cold blustery days with blue skies? We like to call them bluebird days as we’re gliding down the mountain getting our goggle tans on. After that, comes apres ski. A time to mingle with fellow skiers with a couple of hot alcoholic beverages while enjoying some good music and recalling the days events. Sliding on your bum is all part of the fun!

So, a toast. Our mountain is calling us home for the season, and it’s time to make our pilgrimage back. There’s no place else like Killington Resort to just make winter feel right, and each year, Killington out performs no matter the weather pattern.

See you on the slopes, fellow skiers and riders. Killington Resort opens Tuesday AM for season pass holders, and Wednesday AM for the general public. I will be making my pilgrimage back later this week and fully anticipate a good start to the season. My hiking legs are ready. In order to ski the terrain, you must take the gondola up and then take a short hike across a wooden staircase to what’s called the Northridge area.

Any hike to ski snow in October is worth it. It’s been a long summer.

Off to the races.

 

 

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Autumn is perhaps one of the most popular seasons on the calendar here in New England. After the warm summer breezes comes the crisp air and color explosion of leaves across the region. 


One area of our region in particular that has always been a personal favorite, is none other than my home base of Litchfield County, Connecticut. Nestled in the northwest corner of the state, this gem of a county is away from the hustle and bustle and is a land steeped back in time with rich history. It is also a place where Autumn just seems a little bit more bright and beautiful. Perhaps it is the rolling hills with a mascarade of colors exploding this time of year that makes it all seem just ever so perfect.

Maybe it’s the quaint New England charm that is offered in its small towns that is even more attractive this time of year. It’s as quintessential of a place as moms warm homemade apple pie sitting atop the oven just waiting to be scooped up for desert with a scoop of ice cream on top. 

Okay, so maybe it’s not as delicious as I made the apple pie sound, but it’s pretty darn close.

Litchfield County is a land that time has forgotten, and it’s just waiting to be explored. With its high peaks in  the far northern part of the county with views of the Berkshires to the north, the Taconics to the west, and the rolling hills and river valleys of Connecticut to the east to the depths of the most serene lakes the state has to offer, you’ll find it challenging to question why there’s just no other place quite as special and unique as Litchfield County, Connecticut.

Need some wine in your life? Wine not! There is an array of winery options laid out just for you. What better way to take in Connecticut’s most scenic foliage than with a glass of wine, or perhaps some mulled wine, from one of the many local vineyards that are filled with New England hospitality at its best.

Whatever brings you to Litchfield County, don’t forget to leave your troubles at its borders while you’re taking the roads less traveled. There’s much to explore, and you better be as carefree and charismatic as the land you’re about to embark on, because in the Litchfield Hills of Connecticut, unwinding just comes naturally.

Let’s Talk.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are tightening their grips on the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations.

There was a debate recently, and in case you haven’t heard, there’s a presidential election coming up in a few short weeks. What are we doing to ensure our future is secure?

I hope something.

Isis. Global warming. Race. Economy.

If you think for a second that your vote does not matter, perhaps you should think back to what happened to George Bush in Florida when he was running for president and won by a small margin.

If you think what you have to say does not matter, maybe you should tell that to the same people who show up at town hall meetings to plead their case to town officials and end up being heard as towns want to do right by its citizens.

Am I sounding any alarms?

Concerned about your children or grandchildren growing up in a better economy than where we are today?

Are you watching the events of Charlotte, Tulsa, and Chicago unfold? Want to change it?

Vote.

Don’t think about it. Don’t say your voice will not matter simply because you are just one person. The reality here is that it will matter, and if you are not registered to vote I strongly urge you to do that right now. If you have learned anything as an adult, it should be that whatever you do today will impact the future, and voting for your next president is included in that duty.

If you sat and watched the debate on Monday night and laughed because it seemed like a circus act, perhaps you should weigh out the differences between the two candidates and choose the best one that is positioned to lead this country. Don’t just vote on someone because the vast majority of your friends are encouraging you to vote a particular candidate. This is not a popularity contest. This is your finances, health care, jobs, infrastructure, and your future. The list goes on.

If you don’t get out and vote, well, perhaps you don’t have room to complain. You can’t change direction without first helping to change direction. You cannot simply sit back and watch other people do the work, while you’re not actually assisting in doing it yourself. If you want change, be the change.

I urge you to pay close attention to each candidate over the next few weeks and make an informed decision. Do your homework and on Election Day take your test at the polls and bring your best possible answer. The rest of society, including the ones who are still growing up, well, they are all relying on you.

-Mike Valletta

 

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