love being part of this family

Yesterday I went to the “Smith Family Reunion” at Main Line Animal Rescue.  I love the place.  I have critters from there.   MLAR took the day to say hi and thanks to everyone who has rescued from them over the years with an open farm day reunion and picnic.  You could bring your critters if you wanted.  I actually met a pot-bellied pig named Miss Piggy!

So here’s the deal: they like many other no kill shelters, take the animals we as human beings throw away like trash.  All ages, all shapes and sizes.

Yes there are rules dealing when dealing with rescues because face it, they don’t want the pets who “go home” with new families to end up back in the system.

And even once in a while with all the precations they take, one of their dogs ends up back in the system.  I saw an example yesterday.  And it is not because the dog was a problem, it can all be chalked up to a  human trick.

This sweet female dachshund used to belong to a sweet older lady.  The lady had adopted the dachshund from Main Line Animal Rescue. The lady died and her husband plopped her dog bag in rescue.  While I am really happy that this dog came back to the rescue which placed her and knows her, I am really sad at some humans.  Pets are not so disposable.  They give us unconditional love, and don’t ask for much in return.

I toured the facilities and was once again amazed at how this rescue is a breed apart in so many positive ways.  First and foremost the site is clean. The runs are clean, the kennel is clean.  And the dogs for being in this kind of situation for the most part do not seem unhappy.

So that being said, if you are going to donate to a rescue, please consider Main Line Animal Rescue.

You can like them on Facebook too!

Over and out.





not your mama’s pasta salad

When it is hot, even I don’t want to cook as much.  So today I was feeling like pasta salad, but I wanted something different from spiral pasta or say, tortellini.  I opened the freezer and grabbed a bag of mini ravioli.  Why not?  If you can make a tortellini salad, why not use mini ravioli?

So I created a vinaigrette and added a bit of fresh lemon juice, some mustard and a couple of tablespoons of mayonnaise and whisked it together.  If you wanted to you could use a store-bought salad dressing.  I would suggest if that was the case, an  Italian or Caesar or Balsamic vinaigrette.

I cooked the mini ravioli to the minimum of cooking time as per the package.  I drained them and put them in a bowl to cool.

In another bowl I took a Vidalia onion, cucumber, a couple of tomatoes, fresh green beans blanched and chopped, half a jar of roasted peppers chopped up, fresh herbs (parsley, basil, and dill), a cup or so of chick peas (“ceci”), and a small jalapeno pepper (seeded, cored, and diced), tossed it in the dressing, and then gently folded in the cooled mini ravioli.

I adjusted for salt and pepper, et voila!  Not your mama’s pasta salad.

I may toss some fresh crumbled queso fresco on it when I serve it. Or I might just leave it as it.  I love queso fresco.

*Important to note is to NOT overmix this or the ravioli will literally rupture.  Do NOT over dress this or the ravioli will fall apart from that too.

I think it tastes pretty good!

Hmmm I just realized about a year ago, Conde Nast contacted me to use another one of my everything but the  kitchen sink recipes in a cookbook being published in the Fall of 2012.  I need to follow up about that – I do not even know what the cookbook is to be called…..

say it isn’t so west chester! chester county book and music company is CLOSING?

I just read the most awful thing on the West Chester PA Facebook Page :

Coffee Talk: How do you feel about the Chester County Book & Music Company closing down? What are you hoping takes its place? Share your memories and thoughts with us below.


I just discovered Chester County Book & Music Company within the last year.  Was just there to photograph Teresa Giudice, one of the Real Housewives of NJ in the Bravo reality series land when she had a book signing about a month ago.

A website named West Chester Does which my browser won’t let me open so there must be viruses on it has this to say:

The Chester County Book Company grew from its first size of 1K square feet in 1982 to 28K square feet, making it one of the largest independently owned bookstores in the US. However, the book store is entering into its last chapter; closing. Even though the store stocks over 100K book titles, over 25K music recordings and 5K movies it’s no match for on-line discounters like For now, the closing date has not been determined. The Chester County Book Company and its 38 employees will continue to serve customers as normal. The owner of the West Goshen Shopping Center; Robbins & Co has agreed to give the book store 60 day notice to leave once the time comes. The book store has been in the community for a long time and many will  miss it.

(Truthfully I wish West Chester Does would figure out whatever it is that doesn’t allow its site to open because it looks like it has a lot of good stuff on it)

Anyway, back to CCB&M.  What a wonderful store!  On the Main Line proper where I used to live, we first saw most of the independent book stores die – one of the only ones left is Reader’s Forum in Wayne.  Then we watched the big box book stores die.  First Barnes & Noble disappeared, then Borders.  If you wanted used or rare books, there were stores to accommodate that need, but until I moved to Chester County, if I wanted a real honest to goodness book store I had to hunt.

When I saw Chester County Book & Music in that godforsaken and truly ugly West Goshen Shopping Center (well it is.  It makes Ardmore West Shopping Center in Ardmore look attractive), it was like I could hear that “taaa daa” sound in my head.  A book store was close by.  And not just a chain, but an independent book store with employees who actually liked and cared about books and weren’t just chain store cash register jockeys.

I gave Chester County Book & Music a call this morning and spoke to someone who is a long-term employee.  They tell me the store will be open indefinitely.They do not have a definite closing date.

I heard a LA Fitness might go there. L A Fitness seems to be springing up all over and they are trying to shove one in the Wynnewood Shopping Center too, and from what I am told residents down there are none too happy.  Chain stores eat small businesses as a far as I am concerned.  They have their place, but nothing can ever replace the place small businesses have in our communities.

LA Fitness is to me like Rite Aid or CVS, as in how many are needed?

We don’t have book stores, but we have tons and tons of chains and big box stores.

In this economy, it behooves us even more than before to support our local businesses. Local businesses are often run by neighbors and friends, or neighbors and friends are employed by small businesses.    Small businesses also help define a community’s character.

So that being said, I wonder.  I wonder if someone in the West Chester area stood up and told the owner of Chester County Book and Music Kathy Simoneaux they had a new location for her if she would consider it?  Maybe smaller, definitely less expensive in the rent category, but could this business be saved?  Maybe not all employees would keep their jobs, but some would and wouldn’t it be worth a shot?

So West Chester.  Think hard.  Who do you know that has a space to fill that maybe this book store could move to?  Seems to me not every retail slot is filled.  Seems to me maybe even along Paoli Pike there might be something? A site for the store without the cafe.  Bookstores don’t need to be in the restaurant business.

And interestingly enough when I asked the employee if that had been considered, the response was “go for it” ….as in it couldn’t hurt.  “None of us want this store to close.” they said.

I don’t know about you, but I love book stores. I love books.  I have done the electronic version, but truthfully, nothing replaces the feel of a book in your hands, or the smell of new books.

Can this business be saved?  I for one would love it. It seems to me when I read the article it is the landlord giving them the boot, doesn’t it?  And if the West Goshen Shopping Center is owned and operated as per newspaper by this Robbins & Co of Bala Cynwyd, is there any connection between the LA Fitness proposed for Wynnewood and the one proposed for West Goshen?  Also important to note, the one in Wynnewood they are trying to get shoved through as being open 24 hours a day and is that something people out here would want?

Here is the article in the Daily Times:


Published: Thursday, July 19, 2012

WEST GOSHEN — The Chester County Book Co. & Magnolia Grill on Paoli Pike is looking at its last chapter. The store so familiar to so many in the region is set to close.The space that is the book store and the former neighboring Fashion Bug could become a LA Fitness exercise center.

Kathy Simoneaux, owner of the book store, said her old lease expired in January and the store has been renting on a month-to-month lease ever since.

As for a closing date, “I have no idea when that will happen,” Simoneaux said. “We’re going along business as usual.”…..The landlord will give the book store 60-days notice to vacate when it comes time to move, she said.

The decision to end the lease was “mutual,” Simoneaux said. “It was a 15-year-old lease that steadily increased every year.”

Eventually, she said, the rent got “unbearable.”

The book store moved into the West Goshen Shopping Center in 1987….Casey LaLonde, West Goshen township manager, said land development plans to add space to the shopping center were approved last week. The township won’t know when there will be a change in tenants until the owner of the center applies for building permits.

The new space will be 46,000 square feet, roughly 30,000 square feet from the book store, 12,000-square feet from the former Fashion Bug and an additional 4,000 square feet that will most likely be added in the back of the shopping center, LaLonde said.

“It’s sad to see the Chester County Book Company leave,” LaLonde said. “They’ve been a part of the community for a long time.”

The West Goshen Shopping Center is owned and managed by Robbins & Co. of Bala Cynwyd in Montgomery County.

as the west vincent turns: this little piggy and other tales of the politically ridiculous

Is throwing a private party using any public monies whatsoever feeding from the public trough?  (Of course any municipality is free to throw a party, but do they use taxpayer funding of any level to throw private parties? If so, is this a wider conversation which needs to occur?)

Or, is it just in West Vincent that this is different?  (I am asking because I do not know.)

Is it just to be chalked up as no worries, it’s only money?

I figure I would throw this out there and ask.  West Vincent is a Township that has a Republican majority so pardon me if I don’t quite grasp how it is fiscally responsible to use any taxpayer funds in this sort of economy to throw a private party.  Times are tight, times are different.  Is what happened 30 years ago, ok now?

I understand that the funds were spent so they could honor Zoe Perkins, a former supervisor and member of the township’s planning commission.  However, that being stated and given the continued issues over there in this little slice of Chester County, wasn’t that just a bad idea? As in dumb de dumb dumb dumb?

I mean is it not true that Farmer in The Dell, Supervisor Ken Killer uses some township owned land as part of the land he farms on? (And what is “Project Moo” I unearthed about this?)  And Chester County’s Queen of Eminent Domain, former Executive Director of French and Pickering Creek Conservation Trust, Clare QuinnWho is receiving taxpayer funded health benefits?

So they wanted to throw this Zoe a party to honor her?  It should have been an open reception of some sort if they were using any township monies.  Why?  Because don’t those monies stem from residents/taxpayers?

And OH.MY.GOD the utter neurosis of these West Vincent officials when it comes to whomever “Chickenman” is?  Why does it matter?  If Chickenman sends out missives based upon publlicly available information, well couldn’t anyone do this?  Given the fact they are seemingly so obsessed with Chickenman, I have to ask if a right to know request was submitted on West Vincent that asked for costs involved in any and all surveillance of private citizens at any time or occasion, what would be the end result?

It just seems to me that isn’t it reasonable to assume that if they are so obsessed still with a Chicken who has been around a few years that they might be spending taxpayer money in all sorts of ways that no one knows about?  Mind you I am just asking a fair question, as it just seems like every time West Vincent is in the news or gets an unpleasant light shined on them, they resort to the furtive and paranoid Chickenman references, and pardon me but is Chickenman the only one who notices things sometimes aren’t quite what they seem? Gosh it was like this in Delaware County a few years ago with a secret blogger named Delco Tom Paine, and I thought it was ridiculous then in that situation.

Why is it they think the public and the local reporters who cover them are stupid?  If they are adding 2 + 2 = 5, duh-oh aren’t people going to ask where the extra 1 came from?

West Vincent, it is not so much you threw someone a party or how much money you spent, it is that you seem to be unable to resist the urge to feed from the public trough, only the public wasn’t invited, were they? If they had a public ceremony open to whomever wanted to come, let’s get real?  How many people would have come? Probably no more than who went to the private affair.  BUT it would have been a public thing.

And I am sorry but yes, saying good bye to a public official might be a genteel thing to do, but if all you were serving was a sip or two of soda, it could have been paid for differently.   And lordy, doesn’t everyone have enough extra glasses and plates and table linens that they did not need to be rented?

You can’t keep wearing the “I’m With Stupid” shirts, West Vincent.  You can’t keep using a lone chicken as your scape goat.  Times have changed, even in West Vincent, and people want accountability from their officials.  And above all else, you can’t say you are a Republican majority run municipality if you are using taxpayer funds on anything other than their immediate benefit.

And people of West Vincent, if you are going to keep voting these people back into office year after year, you do in fact, deserve each other.  Sorry for the tough love, but it’s time to man and woman up: you want change, vote for it this coming November and every season after that until you feel you have a better degree of municipal representation.  These politicians and municipal folks work for the taxpayers and residents, not the other way around.

Posted: 07/22/12 12:09 am

WEST VINCENT — Using a combination of donations and township funds in May, township supervisors hosted a private appreciation party for a former supervisor.

The party was held to thank Zoe Perkins, a former supervisor and member of the township’s planning commission. It was attended by invitation only and held in the township building, which is adjacent to West Vincent Township Park.

 According to Supervisor Jim Wendlegass, the party was kept small primarily due to cost restrictions and occupancy limitations of the building’s room.

 Supervisor Clare Quinn, who worked with Perkins, said township funds are occasionally used to pay for refreshments, and this is not considered an extraordinary expense or activity.

The township party was first publicized in a recent posting on a website about West Vincent affairs written by “Chickenman.” The website,, states that the focus of the articles posted there is an effort to fight “corruption in West Vincent.”

  The exact identity or identities of “chickenman” are subject to speculation. “Chickenman” and the newsletter comments have been the topic of public comment at township meetings….“(Perkins) served for 18 years, and gave all her money back to the township that she served,” said Quinn. “Every now and then we think it’s OK for the citizens of the township to thank somebody with a little bit of soda.”…It’s not like we rented a country club and had an exorbitant affair,” said Wendlegass, who estimated the total cost paid for by taxpayer money, including the sundial, was about $600. “We are very sensitive to the taxpayers and we try and do things as cheaply as we can.”


One of my most favorite things are vintage handmade quilts.  Maybe it is part of the legacy of having had a Pennsylvania German grandmother, I don’t really know.  I am not a quilter, but I admire it as a  usable folk art form.  I actually have a couple of friends who are quilters .

Quilts are just cool, and quilting has been a popular craft in the United States since the 1700s.   In a sense, it is the ultimate folk art . ( A fun blog to check out on the topic is Tom Miner Quilts and Folk Art.)

Some of these vintage quilts can be very expensive, and they come in all colors and patterns.  Many tell a story, yes story quilts. Or memory quilts.  I hear there are quilt shows, but have never been to one. Quilts are history in textiles.

I look for simple quilts.  I find them at tag sales, church sales, flea markets and there are a lot on eBay if you know what you are doing.

I will admit I am cheap, so I won’t pay much.  A lot of people decorate with quilts, and there is a Pinterest Board about that and a little video on HGTV’s website that is about decorating with quilts.

I use my quilts, and I like to look at them so you will often find a stack perched on a guest room bed.  I know people who have quilts tabbed and semi-mounted for wall hanging.

Country Living Magazine periodically has things about decorating with quilts. (Speaking of Country Living Magazine, you can still nominate this blog for a Blue Ribbon Blogger Award until July 29, 2012!)

A couple of quilts I have acquired have needed a little TLC and I have learned to patch them with scraps of ribbon, lace, and fabrics that meld with whatever the quilt has as afar as color and pattern.  And you know what? For a loving hands at home bit of TLC, it works just fine!

Vintage quilts were made to be used, so seek them out.  I will note that no vintage quilt ever goes on a bed without being cleaned first.  I have never bought one that is dirty, truthfully, just something I think makes a common sense best practice.

If you know of places to find fun quilts, or shows that feature quilts, please feel free to post a comment!

the successful housekeeper

Photo courtesy of GarageSaleChicChesterCounty

I saw this book on one of my favorite treasure sites Garage Sale Chic Chester County. The owner Kim has a great eye, and well today she just got me. She also prices fairly.

She put up a photo of a book she had for sale called “The Successful Housekeeper” dated 1882.  More than fair condition for it’s age and at $12 it had to be mine.

So I took a little drive over to see her in West Chester, and also discovered a fun litho too called “The Lucky Rich” that is so Downton Abbey it makes me giggle.

But back to this book, which I have now learned was a housewife’s bible of the time and still has people seeking it out.   Written by Mrs. Milon W. Ellsworth in 1882, it advertised itself as a “Manual of Universal Application; Especially Adapted to the Every Day Wants of American Housewives.”

Thanks to the Library of Congress, you can actually check out this cool piece of Americana out on the web.  Someone actually reprinted it in 2009.

There are recipes, homemaking tips, entertaining tips, a section on rearing children, growing flowers.  You name it, it is like Betty Crocker meets Good Housekeeping only so much more fun given the era of publication.

My copy is a little dog- eared, but whomever originally owned it also added her own recipes.

This will be fun to go through!

bird’s-eye view

I happened upon this house somewhere on the outskirts of Valley Forge Park.  Mind you I am still directionally challenged in my new county, but *SIGH* doesn’t this house seem to have a marvelous bird’s-eye view of the world?