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Baking holiday memories



Sweet & Simple Bake Shop's gingerbread people are addictive. Michelle Jaffee’s secret? “Don’t be afraid of ginger!”

Photographs by Melani Lust // Floral Design & Styling by Birch Designs & Greenfield Hill Nursery

What’s a girl from Big Sur, California, doing in Greenfield Hill? Baking, that’s what. While you are probably still snuggled in your bed,
Michelle Jaffee, owner of the Sweet & Simple Bake Shop, is cranking out batches of blueberry muffins and chocolate-chip cookies for the day. That petite and pretty blonde lady you may have spotted—often dusted with flour herself—is also a wife, mother of three boys, and a 19-year resident of Fairfield.

The road to opening her very own neighborhood bake shop wasn’t just a lifelong dream for Jaffee. It was more of an epiphany around an important birthday. “I turned 40 and thought, What am I going to do with the next half of my life?” she explains.

Her happiest childhood memories involve baking pies with her grandmother, and watching her mom create festive holiday cookies. “A stand-mixer was usually on in my home,” she says. “And it wasn’t a big deal to whip up a batch of cookies or even make an elaborate pie from scratch on any given day,” says Jaffee.

“They did it naturally and often without a lot of planning.”

The past years as a young mother in Fairfield, everyone knew Jaffee as the “baking mom,” bringing cupcakes or cookies to school events, inviting the class parents over for coffee and muffins. It wasn’t a leap for her to offer her treats to a wider audience. A methodical, organized, and determined person, Jaffee didn’t want to embark on the endeavor without some training, so she enrolled in a six-month French Culinary Institute course.

“This is where I gained some valuable, real-world experience of what it means to bake professionally, where I learned new techniques and honed my own.” 

With her FCI training under her apron strings, Jaffee was ready to take the next step to selling, say, at the local farmer’s market. Not so fast. “You need to have a health-department permit to sell at a market of any kind, and to get a health department-permit you need a commercial-kitchen space,” says Jaffee.

“My life was starting to turn into the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie,” muses Jaffee.

Indeed, one thing led to another, and Jaffee found a commercial space to rent in Bridgeport, where she could bake—often in the wee hours of the morning—to get her chocolate-chip and oatmeal-raisin cookies ready for wholesale delivery. Soon little cellophane packages with the signature daisy logo were popping up around Fairfield and Westport. They were well received, orders poured in, but people wondered who the person was behind these homemade goodies.

“I think baking is such a giving art, and I wanted to do that and connect with the people enjoying it,” explains Jaffee.

She saw herself running her own shop, one that was, as she puts it, “an extension of my own home and kitchen.” And while it might sound corny, two years later, that is just how everyone feels walking into cozy Sweet & Simple at 75 Hillside Rd.

Barely a five-minute ride from Jaffee’s house, the store now has regulars including commuters who stop by for their morning coffee and muffin, or the kids who pop in after school for a cookie.

While Jaffee is always scouting recipes for new ideas, she says her baking style is what she calls “heritage.”

“My best recipes are my grandmother’s and my mom’s, and what is being passed down to generations is really a classic kind of American baking that I want to help preserve.” 

That doesn’t mean she won’t try something new. Craving raspberry rugelach? No problem. Need gluten-free muffins? She can do it. Much of what you find in her cases is a response to popular demand. And she has one word to address that: cupcakes. “I never knew the power of the cupcake until I opened my shop,” she says. “Little, big, sprinkled with sugar or candies—people can’t get enough of them.”

December is of course a very exciting time for Jaffee and her tight-knit staff because it means holiday cheer celebrated in the form of gingerbread houses, decorated cookies, and elaborate cakes. Jaffee and her staff will even help you style your own dessert party. This is so much of her philosophy—bringing home-baking back, even if she assists you a little beforehand.

“I have the warmest memories of baking with my mom growing up, and I love to encourage people to do that with their kids.” Jaffee jokes that she was “born in the wrong era,” indeed she loves the aesthetic of the 1950s, and her home and shop are both decorated with a little 1950s kitsch. 

Jaffee’s stately home atop Greenfield Hill is one you’d swear is an antique from the Federal period, but is actually a reproduction built in the ’50s by a builder and homeowner 

who adored that historic style. “I loved the whole look of the house and have changed very little,” she says. While she might feel like a ’50s girl in some ways, Jaffee is a decidedly 21st-century woman in business.

She’s adept at social media, and with her tongue-in-cheek series #bakingbad, she has developed a following on Facebook of over 10,000 fans and 2,500 on Twitter. “My business would neve​r have flourished without the support of local women and female-led businesses who have always spread the word about me,” notes Jaffee.

Melani Lust, a photographer from Westport does all of Jaffee’s product shoots for her website.This strong local network of like-minded females often joins forces with her to make good events better.

Megan Pratt and Jen Maloney of Birch Designs are friends and customers who have created floral displays for Jaffee, personally andprofessionally. She in turn recommends them for events and parties.

Mary Anne Heine of Greenfield Hill Nursery & Garden Shop also loves to collaborate and worked with Birch Designs to decorate each room.

Jaffee will often bring treats to the nursery’s shop for staff and customers to enjoy.

“Women banding together for a great outcome, that is something that makes this experience even more rewarding,” says Jaffee. 


Gingerbread Houses 
No one can resist making or snacking off a gingerbread house. Sweet & Simple Bake Shop provides make-your-own kits that look as good as they taste.

 

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July 2018

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Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

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Bruce Museum
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Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
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Sponsor: Pequot Library
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Cost: Adults $10; Students and Seniors $8; Members and Children Under 5 Free

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Cost: Members: Free; Adults: $5; Seniors & Students: $3; children 5 and under: Free.

Where:
Fairfield Museum
370 Beach Rd
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

Grab your best friend for a Girl’s Night Out of making your own natural skincare products at Red Bee’s Honey House Barn! We’ll make beeswax lip balms, healing salves and honey...

Cost: $125

Where:
Red Bee Honey
Weston, CT  06883


Sponsor: Red Bee Honey
Contact Name: Emily Sabo, Events Manager
Website »

More information

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Egotistical leading man, director, and producer Fred Graham is reunited with his ex-wife, Lilli Vanessi, when the two are forced to play opposite one another in a new production of...

Cost: $50-$360

Where:
Waveny Park
70 Pine St.
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Website »

More information

An irreverent, fast-paced romp through the Bard’s plays, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) was London’s longest-running comedy having clocked a very palpable nine...

Cost: Free Admission

Where:
Christine's Garden
151 Main Street
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View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

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Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
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Cost: Free and open to the public.

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View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 120-325-9034615
Contact Name: Tracy Steneken
Website »

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The Bruce Museum spotlights the creative energy and vitality of fine art created by regional high school students in the 8th annual iCreate exhibition. Opening on June 9 and continuing...

Cost: Adults $10; Students and Seniors $8; Members and Children Under 5 Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Telephone: 203.413.6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Burn Baby Burn”, a group exhibition featuring works by Kathleen Kucka, Dennis...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
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View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free and open to the public.

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 120-325-9034615
Contact Name: Tracy Steneken
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

A series of graphic novel-style panels designed by illustrator Kirk Manley tells the dramatic story of the spy ring that operated between New York City, Long Island, and Fairfield during the...

Cost: Members: Free; Adults: $5; Seniors & Students: $3; children 5 and under: Free.

Where:
Fairfield Museum
370 Beach Rd
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Egotistical leading man, director, and producer Fred Graham is reunited with his ex-wife, Lilli Vanessi, when the two are forced to play opposite one another in a new production of...

Cost: $50-$360

Where:
Waveny Park
70 Pine St.
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Website »

More information

An irreverent, fast-paced romp through the Bard’s plays, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) was London’s longest-running comedy having clocked a very palpable nine...

Cost: Free Admission

Where:
Christine's Garden
151 Main Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Website »

More information

Nature is on display in “A Reverence For Nature” with pieces that reflect the artists’ admiration of nature or the environment in a multitude of ways. Exhibiting artists include...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Nadia Martinez
Website »

More information

Garden Menagerie Exhibition on view through August 25, 2018 during regular library hours Garden Menagerie, features a variety of works by Alex Sax and a selection of nineteenth-century books...

Cost: Free and open to the public.

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 120-325-9034615
Contact Name: Tracy Steneken
Website »

More information

The Bruce Museum spotlights the creative energy and vitality of fine art created by regional high school students in the 8th annual iCreate exhibition. Opening on June 9 and continuing...

Cost: Adults $10; Students and Seniors $8; Members and Children Under 5 Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Telephone: 203.413.6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Burn Baby Burn”, a group exhibition featuring works by Kathleen Kucka, Dennis...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

A series of graphic novel-style panels designed by illustrator Kirk Manley tells the dramatic story of the spy ring that operated between New York City, Long Island, and Fairfield during the...

Cost: Members: Free; Adults: $5; Seniors & Students: $3; children 5 and under: Free.

Where:
Fairfield Museum
370 Beach Rd
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $100

Where:
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Sponsor: Stems + Co
Website »

More information

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

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View map »


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Website »

More information

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Cost: $50-$360

Where:
Waveny Park
70 Pine St.
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Website »

More information

An irreverent, fast-paced romp through the Bard’s plays, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) was London’s longest-running comedy having clocked a very palpable nine...

Cost: Free Admission

Where:
Christine's Garden
151 Main Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Website »

More information

Nature is on display in “A Reverence For Nature” with pieces that reflect the artists’ admiration of nature or the environment in a multitude of ways. Exhibiting artists include...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Nadia Martinez
Website »

More information

Garden Menagerie Exhibition on view through August 25, 2018 during regular library hours Garden Menagerie, features a variety of works by Alex Sax and a selection of nineteenth-century books...

Cost: Free and open to the public.

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 120-325-9034615
Contact Name: Tracy Steneken
Website »

More information

The Bruce Museum spotlights the creative energy and vitality of fine art created by regional high school students in the 8th annual iCreate exhibition. Opening on June 9 and continuing...

Cost: Adults $10; Students and Seniors $8; Members and Children Under 5 Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Telephone: 203.413.6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Burn Baby Burn”, a group exhibition featuring works by Kathleen Kucka, Dennis...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

A series of graphic novel-style panels designed by illustrator Kirk Manley tells the dramatic story of the spy ring that operated between New York City, Long Island, and Fairfield during the...

Cost: Members: Free; Adults: $5; Seniors & Students: $3; children 5 and under: Free.

Where:
Fairfield Museum
370 Beach Rd
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $35

Where:
Red Bee Honey
Weston, CT  06883


Sponsor: Red Bee Honey
Contact Name: Emily Sabo, Events Manager
Website »

More information

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Cost: General Admission- $15, VIP Purple Experience- $50

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Ives Concert Park
43 Lake Ave Ext
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View map »


Sponsor: Ives Concert Park and Promotions in Motion
Telephone: 203-837-9227
Contact Name: Phyllis Cortese
Website »

More information

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Egotistical leading man, director, and producer Fred Graham is reunited with his ex-wife, Lilli Vanessi, when the two are forced to play opposite one another in a new production of...

Cost: $50-$360

Where:
Waveny Park
70 Pine St.
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Website »

More information

An irreverent, fast-paced romp through the Bard’s plays, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) was London’s longest-running comedy having clocked a very palpable nine...

Cost: Free Admission

Where:
Christine's Garden
151 Main Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
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Join Grace Farms Foundation for an inspired conversation about how religion is portrayed in the media today. Journalists Wajahat Ali (New York Times and CNN contributor) and Michelle Boorstein (The...

Cost: Free

Where:
Grace Farms
365 Lukes Wood Road
New Canaan, CT  06897
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Sponsor: Grace Farms Foundation
Telephone: 203-920-1702
Contact Name: Regan Hayes
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Nature is on display in “A Reverence For Nature” with pieces that reflect the artists’ admiration of nature or the environment in a multitude of ways. Exhibiting artists include...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
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Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Nadia Martinez
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Garden Menagerie Exhibition on view through August 25, 2018 during regular library hours Garden Menagerie, features a variety of works by Alex Sax and a selection of nineteenth-century books...

Cost: Free and open to the public.

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
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Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 120-325-9034615
Contact Name: Tracy Steneken
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The Bruce Museum spotlights the creative energy and vitality of fine art created by regional high school students in the 8th annual iCreate exhibition. Opening on June 9 and continuing...

Cost: Adults $10; Students and Seniors $8; Members and Children Under 5 Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
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Telephone: 203.413.6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
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Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Burn Baby Burn”, a group exhibition featuring works by Kathleen Kucka, Dennis...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
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Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
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Fairfield Sidewalk Sale & Street Fair Saturday, July 21, 2018 10:00am-4:00pm, Rain or Shine First Selectman Mike Tetreau announced today that the Town of Fairfield and Fairfield...

Cost: free

Where:
Downtown Fairfield
Post Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Sponsor: Town of Fairfield & Chamber of Commerce
Telephone: 203-256-3120
Contact Name: Mark Barnhart
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A series of graphic novel-style panels designed by illustrator Kirk Manley tells the dramatic story of the spy ring that operated between New York City, Long Island, and Fairfield during the...

Cost: Members: Free; Adults: $5; Seniors & Students: $3; children 5 and under: Free.

Where:
Fairfield Museum
370 Beach Rd
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Mock Stock is going Metal in a nod to AC/DC, Guns N Roses, and Metallica.  Halfway to HELL (Tribute to AC/DC)- Halfway to HELL- AC/DC Tribute features a High energy stage show with two...

Cost: Tickets $20 in advance, $30 at the door.

Where:
Ives Concert Park
43 Lake Ave Ext
Danbury, CT  06811
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Sponsor: Ives Concert Park and Promotions in Motion
Telephone: 203-837-9227
Contact Name: Phyllis Cortese
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On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
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Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
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The Magpie Salute brings together the reunited guitar team of Rich Robinson and Marc Ford from the Black Crowes, bassist Sven Pipien (also from the Crowes) along with lead...

Cost: $48

Where:
Fairfield Theatre Company in The Warehouse
70 Sanford Street
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Egotistical leading man, director, and producer Fred Graham is reunited with his ex-wife, Lilli Vanessi, when the two are forced to play opposite one another in a new production of...

Cost: $50-$360

Where:
Waveny Park
70 Pine St.
New Canaan, CT  06840
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An irreverent, fast-paced romp through the Bard’s plays, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) was London’s longest-running comedy having clocked a very palpable nine...

Cost: Free Admission

Where:
Christine's Garden
151 Main Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Website »

More information

Garden Menagerie Exhibition on view through August 25, 2018 during regular library hours Garden Menagerie, features a variety of works by Alex Sax and a selection of nineteenth-century books...

Cost: Free and open to the public.

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 120-325-9034615
Contact Name: Tracy Steneken
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Burn Baby Burn”, a group exhibition featuring works by Kathleen Kucka, Dennis...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

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