People often operate under the misperception that collecting has to be stuffy, expensive, is for hoarders. That is not true. You can collect a restrained number of things that you can actually use in your home. That is what I aim for now: can I use it and do I have room without looking like grandma’s attic.
Primitive candlesticks are a relatively new thing for me. I recently sort of developed a candlestick crush on them. I think they are cool in their plainness. And they make for cool groupings. Cast iron, tole painted, and so on.
I will caution you that they can be pricey….unless you do what I do and look for them at White Elephants, garage sales and picking barns….like my favorite barn The Smithfield Barn.
And oh I also discovered something else recently – I can find terrific lots of hand dipped and beeswax candles on eBay that are a heck of a lot more reasonable than buying them in stores around here.
I love good coffee. Good coffee to me is not Starbucks which always tastes bitter and burnt. Folgers simply never passes my lips and Keurig machines are o.k.
But if you are really interested, what I prefer is a French Press, an old school stove top espresso machine, and a Nespresso machine. Truthfully I am so picky about my coffee I only order it out at certain places, because the brown water so many people pass off as coffee is just gross.
I have a Nespresso Pixie- my sister gave it to me as a Christmas present and we (the Nespresso machine and I) have been inseparable ever since.
Now the thing about Nespresso is it is controlled by Nestlé and you can only buy their coffee capsules which are do not misunderstand me, excellent. But they are going up in price and I would like to be able to get capsules that are sometimes a little less expensive and a different brand of coffee – preferably small batch hand roasted kinds. Not flavored. Flavored coffee is simply gagalicious and I don’t mean that as a compliment – it is right up there with flavored or any kind of non-dairy creamer.
Well I was cruising around on Amazon.com looking and came across this company in NYC that was new called HiLine Coffee Company. So I went to their website to read about them
Our mission is to sell high quality coffee in Nespresso compatible capsules while offering great value and more choice to our customers. We believe Nespresso manufactures the best single-serve coffee machines and we like their espresso too; however, we feel it’s time to offer consumers a new choice of capsules to use with their Nespresso machines…We’re Gene and Ted, the founders of HiLine Coffee. We share a love of coffee going back more than a decade, when as undergraduates and best friends at Penn we stumbled upon La Colombe, a café near Rittenhouse Square. Just like many remember their first great wine, we remember our first great coffee.
So I figured how bad could coffee be from a couple of guys from Wharton? After all, a few years ago there was a coffee company I was crazy about that was also created by a guy from Wharton whose coffee I missed as the stores went away – New World Coffee.
I ordered a few sleeves and oh my I tried it today.
One word: fabulous.
The flavor was bold and rich and not the least burnt. It had that great espresso taste I love. You see that is what hooks people on Nespresso machines: they can actually produce consistently good cups of coffee and espresso.
So look if you are a coffee junky like me and you own a Nespresso machine for $5 a sleeve for coffee produced in small batches, why not try it? The coffee is good, and trust me I am picky about my coffee.
Seriously? If they keep producing a product this good they will be the next hot thing sooner rather than later and you read it here first.
If you do not own a Nespresso machine but want amazing coffee for your French Press or stove top espresso pot or whatever I buy from a place called Handsome Coffee Roasters from Los Angeles – like HiLine their coffee is super fresh and flavorful and roasted in small batches – all of their coffees are good but I recommend trying their “Roaster’s Choice”. I was introduced to Handsome by a friend who designed their webpage whose girlfriend is a barista.
And if you want to check out one of the best coffee houses anywhere which is also steeped in tradition, check out Cafe Reggio in New York City in the Village around the corner from The Blue Note at 119 MacDougal Street. They are the first place to ever make a cappuccino in the US and have been doing it right since 1927.
I was always told in the scheme of manners the things you should refrain from discussing at a dinner party are religion and politics. How about on blogs? Today might be the day for some rule-breaking as the topic of religion is on my mind.
We’ll start with me. I am born, baptized and all that good stuff a Roman Catholic. To me the church I was born into was quite different from the one which exists today. Maybe that is because my first parish was a Jesuit one called Old St. Joseph’s on Willings Alley in the Society Hill section of Philadelphia. It was and still is a beautiful church with an amazing history steeped in the very formation of this country given it’s location. We have a family pew there. If I am deadly honest with myself the last time I felt at home in a Catholic Church was that one. It was a church where both the beauty of the actual building as well as the disposition of the priests really made you believe.
We moved to the Main Line when I was 11 turning 12. There we joined a parish called St. John Vianney. When I was young, the pastor there was this amazing man called Father Ignatius Reynolds. My great-aunt Josie had sung at his ordination mass as it turns out. I liked him and his teachings, but was turned off to an extent as a new kid there when I had to go to Sunday School at the then parish school. There I learned the cruelty of children of “good Catholics”. One of the nuns who taught us was completely senile. The kids were merciless with her. But then again, so were some of the kids with others.
Believe it or not, in 7th grade I was bullied in Sunday School of all places. The girl had a fairly pleasant sister, but she was the kid who had the less pleasing personality in the family and at that time she was mean as spit and a bully. It wasn’t much fun to be bullied in Sunday School. I learned to stand up for myself when I realized no one else would and thankfully when I told this girl to buzz off, eventually she did.
The fact that this Sunday School was attached to a Catholic Church which did nothing to control some of the kids did in a way create an issue for me with the Catholic Church. Next issues for me would be when I got a little older.
When my parents moved from suburbia back into the city decades later they had their records transferred to a new parish close to them. My records were to stay put as I was still on the Main Line. But then I realized mine hadn’t stayed put. So I called up the rectory and spoke to Father Lexus (what else would you call a priest who you had seen driving a Lexus?). Father Lexus said to me “well I don’t know who you are” I asked him with all due respect if he could possibly know all of his parishioners because not only was he new to my parish, he had another parish, which made him responsible for what is known as a twinned parish. Father Lexus told me he would have to interview me and then decide. Talk about a turn off. I had been confirmed in the parish, him appointed about two seconds to the parish. But hey, unfortunately with most affluent parishes, it is always all about the money. As a fairly ordinary person in that regard, I was in a sense forgettable.
Then an amusing thing happened after that. I was on a train bound for NYC with a friend for a party and this little man in full clerical black robes to the floor glides by on the aisle.
“Who is that?” my friend asked.
“Cardinal Bevilaqua. I think I will go say hello.” I replied
So I went up to speak to Cardinal Bevilaqua. After all how often do you get to converse with a Cardinal? He was a very pleasant man. Of course because at his core he was a priest, he asked me what parish I belonged to. I told him honestly I did not know and recounted a gentler, more polite version of the Father Lexus story. Miraculously, a few weeks later, I started getting donation envelopes and parish mail again. I was back in. No great surprise there as he had appointed Father Lexus to my parish in the first place.
As a Catholic, and a resident of the Philadelphia area I will admit there have been many challenges to faith over the past decade or so. Look at all the pedophile priests, one of whom the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and then Rome released from priestly duty and put back into my old neighborhood unsupervised for years. Eventually he was one of the ones who went to jail but what kind of church puts a person like this BACK into a neighborhood full of children in the first place? And what kind of man who called himself a priest ever drove an old gold tone convertible Rolls Royce occasionally?
And then there is the whole Pre-Cana thing. Back in the day, it meant that you were counseled prior to marriage by the parish priest who undoubtedly baptized you and knew your family. Times have changed, priests are fewer, and the Catholic Church also has turned this in to a warehouse money-maker.
Weddings and funerals are BIG business – don’t get me started on the story of a friend who had to pay off her parish so she could have the music of her family’s choice and not the church’s at a family funeral. Or the other friend who buried a family member out of a church close to where they lived in Philadelphia who had the priest who conducted a funeral mass like “INSERT NAME HERE” and said during his sermon “well we don’t know where [X person] is now.” Uhh we’re Catholic, this was a good man, so Padre how about trying heaven because if you as a priest can’t summon up the concept of heaven well Houston we have a problem, don’t we? I am to this day, incidentally, honestly glad that the family was bereft enough that they did not actually comprehend what this priest had said.
But back to Pre-Cana. If you want to be married in the church you are supposed to go to Catholic boot camp. Now it is not being counseled by your parish priest it is instead teams of married couples who probably know little to nothing about you overseen by priests who know little to nothing about you. Rah rah go Catholic! But you have to go through this process which includes a “Marriage Preparation Course” get a certificate and whatnot while trying to keep family members from going off the rails while you plan a wedding. And oh yeah, you have to pay for this inconvenience. No wonder so many couples are stressed out when planning weddings, right? And don’t you love the concept of people who have zero commonality with you other than Catholicism telling you how you are supposed to enter your marriage and live your life?
And then there is the whole thing about divorce. You are supposed to get an annulment if you were married in the Catholic Church. I still wonder to this day when a friend of mine’s mother in law got an annulment so her remarriage would be recognized if she annulled her first marriage like it did not exist did that make her children from that marriage illegitimate? After all she was getting her Catholic get and *poof* making the marriage disappear in the eyes of the Church, right? People I know who have gotten annulments who are more my contemporaries age-wise have spent oodles of money in the process and it took forever, like you were being punished for getting out of a failed marriage.
I will admit freely I am a haphazard church goer. Maybe it is indeed because of the rigidity of the “You.Must.Go.To.Church” of my youth. Maybe it is because of the occasional Catholic guilt I get from my mother as an adult about not going to church regularly.
But contrary to what some uber-Catholics might think it does not mean I did not know who I am, or what my faith is because I do. I just sort of figured God is all around us so would he really judge so harshly if I wasn’t an every Sunday church goer?
I had bits of this discussion with a younger priest (as in not older than dirt) I met while going through breast cancer treatment. His name is Father Denny and he is the pastor at Our Mother of Good Counsel in Bryn Mawr. He reminds me of the priests I knew and admired as a child. He is a remarkable man and one of the reasons I liked him so much other than he was there for me to occasionally chat with when I was going through something difficult (breast cancer), he is also a gardener. If you live on the Main Line and you are looking for a priest who actually walks the walk and doesn’t just talk the talk, he is your guy.
I have friends of many different religious persuasions. Catholic, Jewish, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Unitarian, Baptist, Lutheran, Quaker, Greek and Eastern Orthodox, and so on. I have watched them struggle with their religions and churches, sat on the sidelines while their churches had some amusingly juicy scandals from time to time as well. I also have friends who became ministers or who were off spring of ministers and rabbis. These people in particular are amazing – they live their beliefs, they don’t foist their beliefs onto you and they are Godly and accepting for lack of a better term. Really good people.
Now to where I am going with this post. I might not be a devout Catholic, but I know that is what I am. I have no issue with people practicing and embracing mainstream religion (although I prefer religion in moderation). Where I go off the rails is with the super evangelical and so-called “born again” Christians. Off shoot religions. And these are the people who never in any way shape or form can ever truly respect you are not like them as far as religion goes and they love to recruit new blood and foist their beliefs onto you. I have a huge problem with people who try to foist their religion on you. It’s not right and I do not know that God.
In any event, have noticed an alarming and disturbing religious trend in this country and in this state over the past few years. It may partially be like a knee jerk reaction to politics to an extent, or a reflection of the economy, but in a lot of cases I see people struggling to define themselves who in their quest for that fulfillment are getting sucked into groups who I find disturbing and almost cult like.
I know people who were born into traditional religions who have become “born again”. At first I was happy for them because it seemed they had found peace or whatever. I even went to bible study with one of them to check it out and to try to be supportive of a friend’s new religion choice.
What I found wasn’t so holy or spiritual, it was kind of disturbing. And cultish.
I entered this room of mostly women. There were some men. There was all this singing and evangelical tent preaching hand waving and I found myself struggling, but tried not to judge. Then there were these weird God discussions. I kept waiting for the bible study format I was familiar with to appear – you know when they discuss actual bible passages and go over bible passages they were supposed to review from the previous week?
I looked around the room at the people. One woman I recognized. An older woman who at one point had lived in my old neighborhood. She was born Jewish, married I believe a Catholic. She then became a Jew for Jesus and then joined that cult-like Church of the Saviour in Tredyffrin Township. Ironically, in spite of all her attempts at piety, she was one of the nastiest women I had ever met. She never did anything to me, I gave her generally wide berth – but I saw her do things to people which blew my mind. I also once witnessed her go into a racist, profanity laced tirade in front of a police officer when she had caused an accident that was so astounding I seriously thought she needed an exorcism. (She was practically foaming at the mouth while spewing her vitriol) And there she was reinvented once more, this time a born again Christian.
After the bible study I remember asking my friend about people in the meeting. Some had given off weird vibes. Ends up a few were recovering alcoholics and whatnot, but instead of going to traditional AA and NA meetings, they were part of this group. There was also someone with serious emotional imbalances who was a danger to themselves and others unless medicated, but this group thought meds wouldn’t help him but Jesus could heal the person so they prayed over them.
I never went back to another meeting although I was asked. I was polite, I was not critical or judgmental. But as time has passed this group has sucked this person I know in further. Now it is at the point where these born again people have replaced a lot of their long-term friends. They go on these trips to see all these Christian speakers. Now I thought the Catholic Church liked to make $$, well you have seen nothing until you see all the little nickel and diming that all adds up in the realm of being born again.
These born agains follow people like Joyce Meyer and Sid Roth just to name a few. Joyce Meyer is one who has been watched for years and in 2003 watchdog groups called on the Internal Revenue Service to investigate Meyer and other TV preachers. Every summer Joyce Meyer does this evangelical conference in Hershey PA that people do bus trips too. She is like this multi-million dollar brand and didn’t people learn from the fraudulence that was Jim and Tammy Faye Baker? If Jesus walked around with bare feet and plain robes giving things away, how is it these people are raking in the dough and claiming to live in God’s image?
Truly, I try not to judge where religion and religious beliefs are concerned. However I would be remiss if I didn’t comment on the fact that some of the born again Christian beliefs some people are turning to is kind of scary.
What scares me is that these groups have turned some people who used to be very much live and let live into incredibly intolerant beings.
How is worshiping that brand of God productive or positive? How is going from believing in an all-embracing God to a judgmental deity a good thing for anyone? And how is it positive in the way they try to control everything that goes on amongst their members lives? If you know people who are part of these groups, you know the deeper they get into the group the less time they have for people in their lives who aren’t part of that group. Almost cult-like in some cases.
Extremism isn’t good for the soul. Be who you are.
And do I believe in God or a higher power? Yes. Perhaps I am more spiritual at times than religious these days, but that is o.k.
Anyway some may not like this post. Some may find it irresponsible or wrong, but I think we need to talk about these things. Discussion is not wrong.
Yesterday we stopped at the Smithfield Barn for a little treasure hunting and then wound our way back through Chester Springs to do other stuff. We decided to take some twisty windy country roads for the heck of it and ended up on one of the many dirt roads in Chester County after going by a barn I had photographed in 2009 but had not been able to back track and rediscover since!
The irony is yesterday I still did not know where exactly I was, or in what municipality (I should have written down roads!), but as we came out of the dirt part of this particular road we happened upon a forgotten farmhouse. It also had crumbling ruins of barns and outbuildings.
Can anyone tell me where I was and what the deal is with this boarded up farmhouse? I would love to know the history here. I have been told that I was at “Eagle Farms” and it all used to be working farms back there. I was also told just today that open space beauty killer Toll Brothers bought back there and other entities like Pulte and Jack Lowe and wow really? Is it that I got a photo of what might not exist much longer and be replaced by more plastic houses?
Oh ok let me know what else I need to know or what fellow readers might find interesting.
I asked these fine feathered fowl if they had seen Chickenman, but *sigh* all they did was cluck….truth be told with all that clucking they sounded just like West Vincent Township Supervisors and officials…very amusing! Enjoy the day!
Market inspired summer salad- my own recipe (but I am digging the 3 cookbooks I picked up on the cookbook swap at East Goshen Farmers’ Market last week)
Anyway farmers market summer couscous salad:I cooked 1 cup of plain couscous according to directions with sea salt, garlic powder and olive oil to taste.
When cooled and fluffed I added two diced medium tomatoes from Thornbury Farm, I diced red/purple lollipop onion from Sunny Slope, minced herbs from plants I bought and planted in my garden from the East Goshen Farmers’ Market (mostly from Brogue Hydroponics) – 1/3 cup chopped mint, 1/3 cup chopped flat leaf parsley. Then I added 1/3 cup chopped cilantro, zest of one lemon, juice of one lemon, a little more olive oil, wine vinegar to taste, adjusted salt and added fresh cracked pepper.
“How often does six acres on the Main Line on Route 30 across from a train station come up for sale?” Kahn said.
Kahn initially thought a multifamily project with some retail space would work for the site and be similar to a project Kahn is developing with Cornerstone Communities in Malvern, Pa., but those plans might change.
“It’s a phenomenal piece of real estate, and I didn’t anticipate the tremendous amount of interest from retailers,” he said. “I’m working on several different scenarios. Some with a multifamily component and some without.”
Kahn is hopeful he will have a concept to present to the township and neighborhood sometime this summer.
(For what it is worth if i lived next to Waterloo Gardens I would be contemplating a relocation as you know this will undoubtedly end up a cram plan next in an already congested area, right?)
So anyway, after Waterloo did the dance in Devon where they were fine and everything was simply marvelous until they closed Devon and moved all operations to Exton.
Waterloo customer card:A piece of local history and trivia after this coming August
Waterloo Gardens also filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection about a year ago now – July 2012 according to Bob Byrne of TE Patch. And it wasn’t merely the decline in the construction business that killed Waterloo like Roberts LeBoutillier CFO said. Their poor business planning following the takeover of the business by the current generation of family did it in my opinion. Dumb things like an expansion to Delaware that never worked out, for example. Insane price points in their stores would be another thing along with what appeared to have been changes to their core business. When some of their long term staff started going elsewhere you also didn’t have access to the same level of gardening advice you once had that when I was growing up that always seemed like it was a core principle you knew all was not peachy keen. Until about seven years ago I could wander into Waterloo and spend hours checking out plants. At that point in time, even if I did not buy something because they were always expensive , I always came away with future ideas for my garden.
The nursery and garden center business is not for the faint of heart. It is a brutal business and very seasonable. Once upon a time years ago I took a career segue and because of my love of gardening and skill level with gardening I decided to try working for a nursery. I worked for the then Bryn Mawr Feed & Seed which was located by that point on Montrose Avenue in Rosemont (it used to have a location I believe somewhere around Malvern when the brothers were alive). Anyway by that point both brothers who originally ran this business were deceased and one of the widows ran the store.
That was the job where I learned that the fictional character Simon LeGree had nothing on that small business owner. Seriously it was awful and there we all were among all those beautiful plants. I recall many things including being sent to the warehouse when single men came into the shop because the owner felt the younger daughter needed to shine at that point – it was so suburban Cinderella’s stepmother it was funny. However, I did learn with that experience that I did have serious gardening chops and for years after I left my great nursery job experiment I did garden consultations – in particular on roses and container gardening and window boxes. But no joke, I learned first hand how tough the nursery business is. The business there in the end was not sustainable, and the business shuttered and Smith & Hawkin rented and majorly renovated the space. Smith & Hawkin lived in that location happily until that corporate tumble occurred. (I lovvvveeeed Smith & Hawkin)
So anyway for months people have been watching Waterloo and their remaining Exton location and then about three weeks ago or so many of us started hearing closing rumors again.
I confirmed it personally myself when I called the Exton location on North Whitford Road THIS MORNING and asked how much longer they would be open. I was told that as far as employees knew they would be open through August 31st and a “going out of business” sale would start on Friday July 5th.
But you don’t see that information listed on their Facebook Page or website at this point. I know people, including other nursery owners, have gone to Waterloo this week to buy stuff but was told even office supply junk being sold off was being over-priced so I will be curious to see what the liquidators do. I wonder will they be paying people to stand on the highways around here in giant plant costumes waving going out of business signs?
The bummer about this is that the Exton location was always the jewel in the Waterloo crown I thought. That is where all the really awesome plants were.
Once upon a time Waterloo Gardens was something. Now unfortunately they are another local business folding. And that is a damn shame at the end of the day no matter what the root cause of business failure.
I will say that residents of Chester County are luckier than most because we have a LOT of wonderful nurseries. I highly recommend Woodlawn Garden Center & Nursery in Malvern, Somerset Nursery in Glenmoore (and Zionsville) and Del Vacchio Landscape & Garden Center in East Goshen.
Support your local nursery of choice. You will be glad you did and you will get better plants. Shop local!
They will feature BBQ recipe handouts, special surprises, fabulous food and produce and a COOKBOOK SWAP! (Sorry but I am madly excited to go to a cookbook swap!)
The deal with the cookbook swap is bring cookbooks that are gently used but in good enough condition to go to a new home. Bring any food-related books that you’re ready to trade – cookbooks, foodie memoirs ,cooking reference books. Add them to the table. In return, take your pick from books others have brought. Each home chef is welcome to take as many books as they bring is the unwritten rule of cookbook swaps.
Cookbooks are EXPENSIVE and a lot of the cool ones are out of print, so I hope this becomes a regular market feature here.
4th of July is not just about celebrating America’s birthday and our freedoms, it is also a time of family, fun, friendship, and community. So why NOT head out to the East Goshen Farmers’ Market? If you are usually working it is a great way to check it out, if you are feeling like you want someone else to bring that little something something to a BBQ or picnic or cook out, why not either check out the amazing produce or maybe find something already prepared to contribute? Or just come to hang out at a community activity at probably the best municipal parks in multiple counties?
PLEASE NOTE THE MOST UP TO THE MINUTE UPDATES FROM THE EAST GOSHEN FARMERS’ MARKET ARE ALWAYS FOUND ON THEIR FACEBOOK PAGE! LIKE THEM TODAY!
And I have to say a shout out is in order to Heidi, East Goshen’s market manager and her crew of volunteers. They have done an amazing job fixing a market that some might say was deliberately left in a shambles following the purple huff departure of the former market managers. And they are all so pleasant, welcoming, and helpful. They want you to have a good market experience.
The layout of the East Goshen market is fabulous and welcoming – you can stroll along as if you are in a more European style market and every week it gets better and better. I am also discovering a lot of my favorite vendors from West Chester Growers Market and the West Chester Artisans Market are calling East Goshen home on Thursdays. As a matter of fact, check out West Chester Patch this morning for a great article about one of the shared producers, Sunny Slope Farms:
Posted by Bob Byrne (Editor), July 1, 2013 at 09:50 pm
This is the peak time of year for buying fresh and local summer produce. One Lancaster County farm has a unique “community” business model that puts some of the freshest fruit and veggies on West Chester and other area tables every week.
So I was looking for information on a farm I like at East Goshen Farmers’ Market this morning and put “East Goshen Farmers Market” into Google and hit enter. What came up somewhat surprised and shocked me for the petty of it all. The OLD East Goshen Farmers Market page that was from when the “ladies’ of Growing Roots Partners was running it. The http://www.eastgoshenfarmersmarket.blogspot.com/ .
O.k. so I could get it when it was earlier in the season and everyone is running around pre-markets to set up that this should stay up, but now? Now it is just sour grapes on the part of Growing Roots Partners. I think (and it is o.k. for me to have this opinion) that they are just being petty at this point. They leave the OLD site up just to confuse and make people think that East Goshen no longer has a farmers market. Talk about PMS (Post Market Syndrome).
Growing Roots Partners should exhibit some style and take what they want off their OLD east Goshen site and then take the blogspot down – it is the right thing to do.
I will note that I checked out the market last weekend in Malvern. I found it cramped and constipated and it sort of had an “urban” feel. And it also wasn’t very crowded and last Satuday was a beautiful morning. Yes there were farmers I had missed but the layout of the Malvern market is such that I will still go find those farmers elsewhere (if they are allowed to be elsewhere).
I like to support all markets, but on Saturday mornings my preference is still the West Chester Growers Market for a weekend market. It is not a huge market, but it is well laid out and flows.
When Malvern Farmers Market’s owners Growing Roots Partners grows up I will be happy to check out that market again. Their market layout seems to reflect the market managers’ personalities. Sorry I don’t like petty and leaving an old website up to deliberately confuse the public is wrong. And I don’t want to hear they don’t know how to take it down because that is why they call it “push button publishing” – it is so simple a five year old can take it down.