paying it forward to help those in need this holiday season


The holiday season is here. There are many in Chester County facing hardships of all kinds including losing their homes or needing resources for health related issues. People of all ages, races, religions. With small children and without. Families as well as individuals.

If you know of services or non-profits faith based and otherwise which help families in need in Chester County PA please post a comment or post a comment on the Chester County Ramblings Facebook Page. Include any links, contact names and numbers, and so on. I am talking food, clothing, pro-bono legal assistance, shelter, housing, health related…YOU NAME IT! (and food banks and non-profits seeking donations you may also post comments regarding what you are looking for and how people can find you.)

As human beings we need to pay this forward. The economy has been tough the past few years. And but for the grace of God any of us could fall on unexpected hard times.

I know sometimes pride prevents people from reaching out for help, but I am hoping maybe if they see this post and my readers post helpful links and suggestions in comments we can help people out there.

Thank you

a great thing: plaid pajama project

d52a97ecd64d48da08be311e8331e66fSo my friend Pamela had this idea born of her own Christmas memories and family traditions. In her own words:

Every Christmas for as long as I can remember, my sister and I were allowed to open one gift on Christmas Eve. We received a new pair of pajamas from Nonnie and Poppie and wore them that night. During our teen years we had some funny pajamas opening experiences as it was humorous to see what they would choose for us.

You’ll still find us laughing till we cry when recounting pair I got during my freshman year of college which were purchased slightly too large. How large you ask? Large enough for Kristina and I to fit in them- together! As you can see, these pajamas played a huge part of our family Christmas memories.

My parents, Mema and Pepa, carry on this tradition and give pajamas to our children each year, and even when we aren’t together it’s the only gift they open on Christmas Eve.

I wanted to take this tradition one step further, to give pajamas to local children in need this year. And while I could do this alone I thought I’d give my family and friends the option to give, too. I have a few connections working to find children for me so if you are here and there isn’t anyone left to sign up for please check back. I’ll keep adding children as I get donors! 

If this tradition touches your heart and you would like to contribute by choosing a child to buy for, or if you would like to contribute towards our wrapping supply costs you may sign up here.

Plaid PJ

Plaid Pajamas Project is just a nice thing we can do for kids at Christmas. And these are kids here in our area.  Participation is as easy as a click of a signup button on  Classes have been sponsoring classes, families have been sponsoring children who share a name or a size and when no names are available, all sizes are given to shelters where comforts of home are always in short supply.
pp1All pajamas must be brand new with tags attached and not contain any branded characters or wording. While the temptation and intentions are wonderful, Plaid Pajamas Project asks that no additional gifts be sent with the pajamas. 

Plaid Pajamas Project also accepts cash donations to support delivery, wrapping and other expenses. Pajamas and donations can be mailed to Plaid Pajamas Project, PO Box 186, Berwyn, PA 19312. Pajamas can also be dropped off at Lulu’s Casita in Ardmore or Creative Clubhouse in Havertown.  Signups have come from across the area and one name in particular stood out for my friend Pamela.

pj“I check the list every day and one day I saw my Nonnie’s name on the list and I welled up with love and pride,” said Pamela.  “She’s given me and my family so much in our lives and now she’s reaching out to help me bring her tradition to others. I guess that’s what the holidays are all about.

Pamela is one of my earth angels as well as a friend. She gives so much and has such a big heart. So not only have I donated to the cause, I am paying it forward and asking you my readers from near and far to help if you can.

To learn more about Plaid Pajamas Project, visit

To sign up to participate CLICK HERE.

  • All pajamas must be brand new with tags attached.
  • Pajamas should not contain branded characters, or any wording.
  • Only one set of pajamas should be sent per child chosen, nothing additional (i.e.: slippers, socks, bathrobe, etc.)
  • All pajamas should be sent to Pamela’s home address, she will make the drop offs to the recipient families. After you sign up you will receive an email with the mailing address. You are welcome to order online and have your order delivered to me. In the shipping area please use one of the address fields to indicate the first name and age of the child you are buying for.
  • PO Box 186 Berwyn PA 19312
  • Email with any questions!

A private pajama wrapping party will be held in December.  Media will be invited to attend.

paris, oh paris


There is that moment when….. one of your dearest and closest friends texts you a photo….from PARIS.

As in the city which has just been a victim of terrorist attacks…The city of lights….Paris.

My exact text back to her was “For the love of Christ don’t tell me you are in Paris now??”

And she messaged back “Yes…can you freaking believe it?!!!”

These are the little things you don’t think of – you know a friend is going away on vacation but you forget where.

I have friends who call France home, so when the news broke of those attacks last week I really felt my heart in my throat.

Then I had a conversation with another dear friend this morning who said she might be taking a break from social media because people pounced all over her because she commented on Paris but neglected to mention Lebanon and Africa and wherever else there had been terrorist attacks also last week.

OK really???? That how you’re going to judge a person’s worthiness because they forget to remember other horrific events which occurred across the globe last week on Facebook???

And as far as the tourism goes in Paris, I am really sick of these attacks no matter where they occur. It is so awful that people are committing these acts in the name of one religion and culture against people who are other religions and cultures.  Why are we fighting medieval religious wars in the modern era?


This is the other photo my friend sent this morning.  It was a moment of silence at noon today Paris time and all French came outside. 

My friend said is all the French want to talk about it. They will say things to Americans like “this is how you must’ve felt after 9/11”. She also remarked how remarkably gracious the Parisians are two visitors in their city even at a time like this.

My friend says the sites are shut down in Paris but restaurants and cafés are open. She said wherever you go your bag is checked and they actually feel quite safe.

What a crazy world we live in. I can’t wait for my friend to get home…. Not that this craziness can’t happen anywhere and I think that’s part of the problem. But as my friend points out with her photo, we need to keep on living.

To my “American(s) in Paris” , safe travels and see you soon.

Paris, je t’aime.

bittersweet anniversaries

  It is a weird bittersweet sort of day. Ten years ago my father passed away. Eight years ago today my cousin Suzy passed  away. And seventeen years ago today I introduced one of my best and closest friends to her now husband at another friend’s wedding rehearsal dinner. So it’s a bittersweet, memory filled kind of day.

I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since my father left this planet, but it has.  I don’t talk about daddy dying much. Yes, it happened to me too, the loss of him. I just don’t ever want it to be about me, because it was about him. 

And it might sound odd saying that, but since he died I have always felt a bit of a disconnect with my family about this.  I remember first feeling it when I had to go help pick out his coffin.

Truthfully, I did not want to do that, was told I was expected to be there. I remember walking a few steps behind my sister and my mother wondering why I was there. I had no part in the decision and did want to be there. The truth is Catholic or not, I hate open caskets. The person you love is gone, and what is left is a body that is just a vessel at that point. 

  The last time I spent with my father was with both my parents on their wedding anniversary on November 11 of the year he died. I could tell on that night he was ready to go, but he was determined to wait for my sister to come down with her family from New York so he could say goodbye to her and I also knew he did not want to die on his wedding anniversary. 

I remember now oddly enough an expression on his face that reminded me of his mother, my late grandmother when she was dying. I can only describe it as an acceptance and a knowingness.  I remember we watched the original Sabrina with Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart. That was one of my parents favorite movies.  I knew that night when I was saying goodbye that I really was saying goodbye. I told him I loved him and kissed him goodbye.

My sister and mother were with him when he actually died. It was my sister’s turn to have time with him before he passed and I did not want to intrude on that.  I remember getting the call from my mother early that evening that he was gone. I went into the city and it is still to this day a very out of body memory. I remember getting to my parents’ apartment and being told to go and say goodbye to him before the funeral home came to take his body. He had only died about an hour before so it looked like he was sleeping.

My sister and my mother were somewhat hysterical which is understandable, but it was like I was just sort of on the outside looking in. I didn’t want to fall apart because I figured somebody had to NOT fall apart. It was like walking around awake in a bad dream.  After the funeral home came for him I changed the sheets on the bed for my mother and did a couple of  loads of laundry. 

After the oddness of picking out a casket that I wanted no part of, and the plans, the discussions of who would eulogize my father began.  At first my mother did not want my sister and I to do eulogies. But as strange as that sounds I had written my eulogy months before, shortly after my father told us he was terminal. I actually discussed it with him because I wanted to write about my father from a more happy place while he was still alive and not from a point of immediate sorrow just after his death.  It also for some reason felt important to me that he should know what I was going to say. Some might say I was seeking approval, I don’t know. I just wanted him to know what my thoughts were.

The following days sort of passed in a bit of a blur. I remember the funeral mass at Old Saint Josephs on Willings Alley in Society Hill being packed on all levels for his mass. It was a bit overwhelming for me and when I got up to do my eulogy and I actually paused a moment. But I then found the faces of close friends in the church so I was able to focus and do a good job and remember my father on that day from a point of happiness and gladness in my heart.

But today 10 years later, I realize that I have mourned him in a bit of a restrained way all these years. At the time he died I didn’t want to lose control of my emotions because the emotions I saw a raging and both my sister and my mother terrified me.  The reaction to death emotions are also exhausting if you let them get the better of you.

And then slowly as I came to terms with his being gone I began to feel this sort of detachment. I loved him very, very  much, but I never wanted to mourn him in a technicolor grief stricken way.  I wanted to be able to let him go but keep the happy memories. The funny memories that made me laugh and brought us all joy.

I think of my father at random times during my everyday life. He like to garden so in the garden I will think of him. He was a great cook so sometimes when I’m making something I will smile and wonder if my father would like that. I always think of him at Christmas because he was a perfectionist about putting up the tree and loved Christmas.  I also think of him when the cardinals flock to our woods, he loved cardinals.

I will close today, ten years later with the poem I read at the end of my eulogy :


information wanted on loch aerie in frazer


Ok so here is the deal: I was contacted by a rather cool and prestigious PennDesign professor from the University of Pennsylvania. He’s the  kind of guy who often introduces preservation minded buyers to historical prosperties.

He thinks Frazer’s own Loch Aerie or Lockwood Mansion is amazing Victorian fabulousness. He wants to be connected with whomever the Tabas family has in charge of Loch Aerie. I can’t keep up with the realtors on the site so I have no clue who is agent for the property.

If you have any information on with whom to connect this professor to, please leave a comment.



how many accidents will have to occur on route 100 through exton before something is done?

100 accident 2

See that car? It was behind a good friend on Route 100 yesterday. They were in a horrific accident on 100 waiting at a red light I think at the Ship Road intersection.  They were not in the turning lane, but in a through lane.

Route 100. I hate it and avoid it when I can – not the part that scoots into West Chester at the end but the constantly under construction Exton and so on part.

I almost lost a friend last night. She is a mom to four small kids, too. This is what she says in part:

“Had a scary moment earlier tonight. Was driving back from ….Exton …..Was stopped at a red light on Route 100. I had a line of cars ahead of me and one car behind me. We were all waiting for the light to change. In my mirror I saw headlights moving toward us at a high rate of speed. They were high —it was an 18-wheeler truck. I have no idea why it didn’t brake.


It slammed into the car behind me- completely totalled that car. That car went into my car- and I went into the car ahead of me. In all, 4 cars were damaged- and one big truck.


The scariest part was seeing it coming and not having enough time to do anything except grab the wheel, brace for impact, and scream. Happily, we all walked away. I went to the ER just because I was nervous about the neck pain & headache, but it’s just a strain and I get to go home to my bed and my family, unlike some other folks who were in the ER for other ailments.  Life is precious.”


Damn it when are they going to deal with what happens on that road? PennDOT? State Representative Duane Milne? State Senator Andy Dinniman? Chester County Commissioners? Anyone?


I am guessing the perpetual almost Brooklyn Bridge-like state of constant (chronic?)  construction doesn’t help, but it shouldn’t be an excuse.

Route 100 is deadly. And it almost took someone I know last night and I am NOT o.k. with that.

Thanks for stopping by and yes these are accident photos from last night I was given to use.

100 3 100 4 100 5 100 6 100 7 100 8 100 9 100 10 100 11 100 accident