the grinch must live in upper uwchlan township


Folks I bring you sad Christmas tidings. Upper Uwchlan Township is trying to close down a place near and dear to many of our hearts.

Incredibly, Upper Uwchlan is trying to shut down the SMITHFIELD BARN.

On so many levels, this is a big bag of wrong. From a practical standpoint, where will half of the township employees shop if they close down the barn? Most of them are customers are they not?

The owner of the Smithfield Farm property prior to the Smith family tenure operated some sort of an antique store and often sold things out of the barn. So it’s nothing new. And the sales that go on there are glorified garage sales are not an everyday thing.

At first my friends were told that there were some sort of neighborhood complaints. So the Smith family did what concerned neighbors naturally do: they went door-to-door asking if they have somehow upset a neighbor.

I don’t know for a fact, because I haven’t done one, but I bet a freedom of information act request would turn up what exactly ? My opinion is not much.

What I wonder about quite honestly is the Toll Brothers project pending next-door to the barn property the crosses Little Conestoga Road as well.

Somebody somewhere told me that some kind of turtles were found on the property the developer had purchased, so if environmentalists are aware of that, wouldn’t that mean that project might be scaled-back?

So I have to ask the question: does this sudden desire to shut down the occasional barn sales they have ignored for so long have anything to do with a developer? That would be a real shame if it did wouldn’t it?

I assume all will be made clear eventually, but this now means the perfectly nice family is going to have to retain help to save their barn. Can I count on all of you out there to help? Can you please contact every supervisor and go to local meetings coming up? Call reporters you know?

Are they going to outlaw yard sales in this township next?

Please help save the barn!

Upper Uwchlan just became as bad as West Vincent in my book with this.

In Malvern borough they tossed some bums out with that writing campaign this past election season, maybe it’s time to consider that here as well do you think?

Barn sales and yard sales are part of Chester County life and a lot of fun. You should be allowed to continue. And this is a very nice family that I feel is being victimized by local government most unfairly.

Upper Uwchlan

Guy A. Donatelli
Chairperson 78 Stonehedge Drive Glenmoore, PA 19343

Catherine A. Tomlinson
Vice-Chairperson 788 North Reeds Road Downingtown, PA 19335

Kevin C. Kerr
16 Heron Hill Drive Downingtown, PA 19335

140 Pottstown Pike
Chester Springs, PA 19425
Phone: (610) 458-9400
Fax: (610) 458-0307

Cary Vargo Township Manager
(610) 646-7008


the christmas post


Well it’s Christmas Eve. Thought I would do my Christmas post now. I was thinking about writing this post as I ironed Christmas linens for tomorrow.

It has been a bustling day preparing for Christmas Day and welcoming people in and out of our home. Each time the doorbell rang, it brought a welcome surprise.

Neighbors have popped by with their neighborhood gifts; my sister and niece and nephew are here from New York City and my cousin Lauren drove over from Bucks County. It has been a really cool Christmas Eve.

It is days like this with all the simple pleasures that make you believe in the magic that is Christmas.

My cousin Lauren is the eldest child of my cousin Suzy who died a few years ago from cancer. Suzy was in our house so often growing up that she was more like a big sister than cousin. She would have been so happy to see us altogether today – when Lauren was growing up we spent a lot of Christmases together. Suzy even planned caroling parties!

The steady flow of family in and out today was so nice. I found myself thinking of many wonderful Christmases past. And when the blustery snow flurries blew in this afternoon it was just so darn perfect.

Today for some reason I have been thinking about very traditional Christmas carols. Like the Holly and the Ivy .

Anyway here is wishing you and yours a very blessed and Merry Christmas!

christmas cooking for guests


My sister is vegan. I am a carnivore. So I’ve had to readjust my thinking so she has things to eat on Christmas.

A big batch of hummus tahini- homemade – is already chilling, and kale chips are about to be made.

Bubbling away on the stove is a giant vegan stew. It smells pretty good. But wow, what a lot of work. Hope it tastes good…. And other things I need to think of still.




Today I had some running around to do and ended up at the Wayne Farmers Market. It was insanely bustling, but I had forgotten how festive it was during Christmas!

I visited one of the butchers there to get the makings for my country pâté, and I picked up some fresh herbs and other things including some Fragonard soap from The Blue Rooster.

The Blue Rooster although not really food related is one of my favorite stalls in the farmers market –it’s always so pretty and their linens are so colorful and gorgeous. Visiting them is like a little mini visit to Provence!

I came home after some more shopping, and put my pâté together and refrigerated it. I will bake it off tomorrow.

I also put together a bunch of little gifts for my neighbors. You see, my neighborhood has this awesome tradition of exchanging small presents with each other. Whatever your baking, candy you’re making, however the spirit moves you.

This is such a nice little tradition and something that people just don’t take the time to do any longer. It’s a shame that more people don’t do little niceties like this any longer.

What’s that saying? Oh yes:

It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air.
~W T Ellis

don’t mean to be bah humbuggy…but


I don’t mean to go bah humbug, but I need to remind people how the blog works.

As opposed to people like Sarah Lockard, aspiring Main Line Diva wannabe and chatelaine of and many other bloggers, this is not a monetized blog. I don’t charge you a bunch of money for five little instagrams and an #adorbs tweet and so on.

I write when the spirit moves me. Or I post photos and recipes. That is the formula: what hits me for whatever reason. There is no other method.

If you want to reach the blog for OTHER than a comment on a specific post you can use the private message function of the Chester County Ramblings Facebook page. I can’t post everything, but try to look at everything for consideration.

I don’t mind helping out in the community but I would prefer comment sections of specific posts not be hijacked for other commentary that is non-related . I don’t want to be put in a position where I delete comments.

Also understand it is but a few days until Christmas so my time is more limited than normal.

Thank you so very much for reading Chester County Ramblings and Merry almost Christmas!!!

And if any of you ladies out there are looking for festive Chrsitmas flats, I will be consigning two pristine pairs of Mootsie’s Tootsies at Charmingly Linda’s in Frazer over the next day or so.

my chocolate chip cookies


I have always loved chocolate chip cookies. I have spent the last 25 years tweaking this recipe, which is mine and not anyone else’s.

My friend Ann asked me to share my recipe. So I thought I would.

It has been a terrific pre-Christmas day I have been baking most of the day, and I also had a visit with my childhood friend and former neighbor Alexandra. We sat and drank coffee and caught up as I baked. She lives in upstate New York now, and comes down periodically to visit her family who live locally.

Truly it was a perfect afternoon. I just love days like this.

Here’s the recipe:

Deluxe Chocolate Chip Cookies

Pre-heat oven to 375° F

2 cups flour
1/2 cup miller’s bran (coarse wheat bran – fluffy and adds fiber)
1 level teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt (not sea salt )
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 sticks or half pound sweet butter room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon
2 large eggs
1 12 oz bag semi sweet chocolate chips

1 6 oz bag milk or white or extra dark chocolate chips (your choice)

1 cup chopped or crushed pecans (I make my own out of pecan halves – the trick is not big pieces but not ground)

2 crushed Heath bars or Hersheys Skor bars (optional)

Directions :

Measure out your nuts, chocolate chips, and Heath bars (if you are using them) in a bowl by themselves and set aside.

Measure out all your OTHER dry ingredients EXCEPT the bran and mix together in a bowl and set aside.

Get out another bowl for the wet ingredients.

Using your mixer cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add vanilla and almond extract at low-speed and mix well. Add eggs one at the time at low speed.

Add bran by itself to the creamed mixture

When everything looks creamed not curdled, slowly add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt about a half a cup at a time, mixing it low-speed. You will end up possibly having to mix this with a wooden spoon it may get too heavy for the mixer.

Stir/fold in the nuts, candy, chocolate chips.

Refrigerate dough at least one hour covered so it doesn’t dry out.

Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Doughballs should be approximately 2 inches apart on the sheet. That means for each cookie sheet you will get 12 cookies.

Bake at 375° for 10 to 11 minutes. Check on your cookies so they don’t over brown on the bottom. If your oven is uneven you may have to rotate your cookie sheets halfway through baking.

When the cookies look slightly brown on the edges but golden and perfect in the center after 10 or 11 minutes, pull them out and allow them to cool for approximately five minutes before removing from the cookie sheet. Put the cookies on a wire rack to cool before putting in a tin.

You must cool cookies properly before placing in a tin because otherwise they will break before they are cool.


linens and old lace


My mother recently gave me linens my great grandmother received when she was a bride. Her name was Concetta. She was my father’s grandmother. We have the same initials so it is pretty cool to have these linens.

I have vague and shadowy memories of my great grandparents on my father’s side. I remember visiting them with my father when I was a tiny child, around three, I think.

I remember a tiny woman in black sitting in a chair speaking Italian, and I remember my great grandfather being a somewhat intimidating figure to a small child. I remember him being rather tall and jingling coins (change) in his pocket.

Just a random memory . It is funny what children remember.

Another thing I remember ? A particularly snowy Christmas in 1969. I was five and my sister two.

We lived in Philadelphia at that time in Society Hill. There was so much snow that the trolleys and cars couldn’t run on the streets and I remember being pulled down the middle of our street on a sled.

These old linens and pieces of handmade lace are easily over 100 years old. So I have wrapped them up in unbuffered acid-free archival tissue paper. It’s a must for old textiles especially if you don’t use them much.

These linens also don’t get stored in the attic or basement because linens of this age require very even and stable temperatures as well as preferably a darker storage area.

I wonder what Concetta looked like as a young bride? I never saw photos of her anywhere.

I love old and vintage textiles but I generally prefer ones I can use. These linens are part of my family history so I have to treat them well, which means not using them a great deal.

Thanks for indulging my walk down memory lane on another snowy evening.

did someone say cookies?


Okay I might need a Christmas cookie intervention this year. I have been making dough for two days. And the spare refrigerator looks like Santa’s Bake Shop.

You see that is my ultimate Christmas cookie baking tip: make the dough first, clean up your kitchen from all the dough making preparation, and then bake at your leisure.

Amaretti, oatmeal, chocolate chip, peanut butter coconut, gingerbread, cardamom sugar cookies, pfefferneuse, and snickerdoodles.

That’s a lot of dough to go into one oven.

Tomorrow I actually bake.

After all this it will be QUITE a while before I make more cookies….

misplaced christmas spirit: save the righteous indignation

DSC_0048Lordy,  my eyes are rolling this morning.   A few days ago, I wrote a post titled “in bad taste” in response to something a magazine writer Victor Fiorillo had covered about what a fauxblicist named Sarah Lockard had sent out.

Victor Fiorillo’s article now has over 200 comments, and there are more blogs covering this topic than I have seen on anything else social media related for quite a while.

One of the things that came out was something new on, a blog and writer who is basically mainstream, generally  fair, and widely read.

Romenesko: Sarah Lockard – the blogger who’s seeking a free Christmas Eve dinner – charges $75 for any contact


Sarah Lockard, the proprietor who is trying to get a Philadelphia-area restaurant to feed her family of five for free on Christmas Eve, has let people know that she’s now charging $75 for any contact. “Every text, email and biz correspondence with is billable,” she says. The screenshot below – grabbed about a week ago – was sent to me by a Lockard acquaintance.

Some of the blog posts have been , and some quite funny.  Bloggers for the most part have been somewhat disgusted.

I was disgusted although not surprised.  I have first hand knowledge of her “business practices” as a non-profit I was very much a part of until a few months ago when my time constraints changed due to distance, experienced the “Lockard touch” in 2008.

First Friday Main Line is a small arts-based non-profit based in Ardmore, PA that has been in existence since 2006.  They are in fact a begathon, and if it was not for donations and the kindness of artists and musicians who believe in art reaching every day people along with the tireless dedication of Executive Director Sherry Tillman, this event and small non-profit would not exist.  Sherry also has a family and runs the amazing craft store in Ardmore called Past*Present*Future.

I used to do the PR for First Friday Main Line.  Sherry can show you binders full of actual placement I did in print media alone, let along the connection to television media as well. I even received a Congressional Commendation for something I did for First Friday Main Line in 2010. I am not tooting my own horn, merely setting the stage.

I have also been a blogger since long before many picked up a keyboard.  I started because my friends’ businesses in Ardmore, PA were being subjected to eminent domain for private gain. With the encouragement and shepherding of the Institute for Justice and their Castle Coalition arm, I began to hone the craft of blogging. The citizens group I was part of did not have money for a PR campaign, so we learned to do it on our own.  But it came at a personal cost.  When you are an activism-based blogger you really open yourself up to things. I learned to have a tough skin.

Anyway, back to First Friday Main Line.  What is one of the keys to the success of small arts-based non-profits with not much extra money? Exposure.  So we worked hard to establish this non-profit, which was modeled after the First Friday celebration in places like the Old City section of Philadelphia.

Somewhere in the early fall of 2008 we were approached by a website called and they offered to list the non-profit First Friday Main Line on their events calendar or something like that.  So Sherry, the Executive Director said “why not?” After all, even if we had no clue who this Sarah Lockard person was or what her website did, placement is the key for exposure and we considered it another local website.  At that time we were not aware of the expensive strings attached.

All ever did (we think) was maybe list us on an events page, but we are not sure because the only First Friday thing we ever saw listed was in 2008 and it was for the now defunct Wayne First Friday, which was one of the many suburban off-shoots of the First Friday Main Line model.

So Sarah was on the press release list for First Friday Main Line and in October 2008 we received this e-mail:

Subject: Your link is expiring
Date: 10/21/2008 8:19:45 P.M. Eastern Standard Time

HI !
Thank you very much for this email
Your line link for First
Fridays on the Main Line will expire Thurs Oct 23rd
If you do want to renew
this each month, it is $500/month.
Please let  me know as this is

Sarah Lockard

PS I am glad we were
able to give you such fantastic free promotion these last three weeks!!!

Ok not to be rude, but what did she do? I remember at the time going over this with everyone working on First Friday Main Line and everything that had been done in those last three weeks, as in actual media placement had been done with Sherry and myself!

I sent her a reply to which I do not recall receiving a reply:

Sent: Wednesday, October 22, 2008 9:16 AM


Subject: Re: Your link is expiring

Dear Sarah,
I hadn’t been aware you were running anything to be honest, so I apologize for overlooking it.  I  also just did a search and all I found was Wayne First Friday:
Anyway, thank you.
As for essentially running a link for $500 month, you would need to speak with the Executive Director Sherry Tillman, as I do publicity.  But, as someone who is on the committee of a very small no profit that is essentially a beg-a-thon, while your web site is lovely, when several other high-profile sites and magazines will run us for free because we are non profit, and write stories about First Friday Main Line….well $500 a month is too rich for our blood.  That is $6000 a year.
We are a non-profit. I just can’t see how we can justify that kind of money.  Also, on your web site, you mentioned a launch party recently.  In this economy, being that new, how can you justify the costs basically being charged by print magazines to get new business?
It’s not that I do not wish you well, but $500 a month?   I have cc’d Sherry in the event this interests her, but have you considered a swap?  Say our committee took a vote and agreed to link your site to ours, would you provide a prominent link to our site on your site?
Mind you, I am NOT speaking for the committee as a whole, I am just throwing an idea out there.
I also notice that you list the business associations including the Ardmore Initiative on your site.  Are they being charged as well? They are non-profits as well.
Anyway, if you can find a way or propose a solution as to what we can do that is mutually agreeable, Sherry will tell me.
If not, know that I do find your site interesting .

Since that time, I know many people and many businesses who have had Sarah Lockard interactions that were less than stellar.  And I have to ask because I have never seen, has she actually ever placed any of her “clients” in the traditional media and elsewhere? After all it’s not like her website is internationally famous, is it?

Anyway, I just wanted to point out that she wanted to charge a start-up non-profit this amount of money to be listed.  And for all the people who said all she was looking for was a swap of services with the free Christmas Eve dinner, I point out, that in my opinion, that was not merely what she was about.

So now a few days have gone by and there has been nothing out of Ms. Lockard about either her “Generous Monday” post or her free Christmas Eve feed me e-mail.  But what is popping up is this from some female bloggers:

Not to be rude, but I hope they got their five free Instagrams out of the deal.

Open Letter to Sarah Lockard of AroundMainLine

| December 16, 2013 | 3 Comments

Dear Sarah:

I know we don’t know each other, but I’ve been following the fallout fiasco from your restaurant email that was leaked and I want to say


I’m sorry that there was someone who you reached out to for business who decided that sharing a private email (and your information) was OK.

I’m sorry that the blogging industry is filled with some vultures who wait for something to feed on because they don’t want to reflect on their own lives.

I’m sorry that a business contact was not professional enough to react in a responsible way.

I’m sorry that this was blown out of proportion and reduced to petty bullying by people who hide behind computer screens.

It goes on from there, but you get the gist of it. I applaud this fellow female blogger for writing about this and sharing her opinion but  I am sorry that this woman expended so much energy being sorry for a woman who has reaped what she has sewn. She should save the sympathy and empathy for someone who deserves it.

Sarah Lockard is not being bullied. She sent out an e-mail from her “corporate” branded  e-mail account to a bunch of restaurants and who knows who else.  She put this out there in the public when she hit “send”.

What happened was indeed you reap what you sew.  There was nothing private about an e-mail that promised some odd sort of very public display in return for feeding her entire family on Christmas Eve for   in essence more publicity for herself! It was a gamble, and she rolled the dice badly, and this is not bullying it is backlash.

And then there is this from another blog I had never heard of called What’s Up Fagans:

The Scary Side of Blogging

Katelyn Fagan  December 16, 2013

In one of my of blogging Facebook groups, someone shared a post about a blogger who made a bad PR choice, I guess you could say…. All of this represents to me . . .The scary side of blogging…I try to present my REAL life, my real home, my real self…..

Now thousands of other have mocked not only her business idea, but her, as a person, calling her horrible names, mocking her haircut, fashion, and looks. They have flooded her blog and email with hate comments and mail. They have put her entire family in a negative spotlight.

And my heart aches for her!

Because I never, ever, want something like that to happen to me! But it could. . . 

I could, because of my little bit of cyberspace, hurt not only myself and my business, but my family and loved ones. And that is scary. That is horrifying!  And the worst part? She didn’t even choose to share this publicly on her blog; someone else decided to share her email. Someone else threw her into the news….Because, for every self-conceited, self-righteous, know-it-all, holier-than-thou person who bashes, hates, criticizes, judges, condemns, and laughs at another without much of a second thought, thanks to the faceless internet, there is a real person on the other end being very really affected by those words….Don’t be the jerk. Be the good.

Now I agree with a lot of what this blogger has written about.  Just not applying it to whom she is writing about.  And while the reset of the world might view aroundmainline as a blog, and it’s owner/publisher a blogger, a very important distinction is she does not put it out there that she perceives it that way:
Welcome to, the Philadelphia region’s first online magazine covering the Main Line and beyond. AML is privileged to welcome you to a reliable, socially responsible and culturally rich online magazine that speaks to the Philadelphia region. That’s right, we don’t believe in wasting paper and your valuable money to bring you the best of Philadelphia’s Main Line region, the surrounding areas and vibrant western suburbs. So, we are publishing our magazine digitally respective of the earth’s resources and your valuable resources.

I have no problems with e-commerce, but this whole thing is about making money and exposure for Sarah Lockard. So that doesn’t make her some mom blogger writing late at night in her PJ’s while waiting for the laundry to finish. She’s not that gal in my humble opinion.

These two blogs I have cited aren’t from these parts, either.  They are part of a group called Project Purse Club which is out of Indianapolis, Indiana. The Midwest is a whole different world and a world away.

I would love to be able to support every female blogger, but I am a realist. And there are a lot I simply don’t agree with. I do believe in realism, but my reality is not pink and cotton candy.  It’s the real world, and there are real issues. I do not take paid advertising on my blog, and what I write is my opinion.

I see both sides.  I was a purely activism-based blogger for many years.  I had something to say, and when I was finished, I changed my course.  I became a parent later than most and am a SAHM in training.  Some days I think that being a mostly SAHM (stay at home mom) is harder  than when I was a 9 to 5 person solely.

I also write about breast cancer because I am a breast cancer survivor.  Never thought I would do that, but then again I never thought I would have breast cancer either.

Now I took some criticism on my first post on the Free Christmas Eve Dinner Debacle, which should simply be known as Lockardgate

I am sorry, but I found what she did appalling.  But the simple truth of it all is if this woman made an honest mistake, she would not ignore what is going on around her, she would woman up like a professional and apologize or clarify what she wrote in that e-mail.

But she hasn’t.  And to all of those judging all of those other people commenting and writing who have had experiences with this person that weren’t positive? They are entitled to their opinion.

I think obviously that Sarah Lockard is bright.  And at times I have marveled at her knack for shameless self-promotion, free photography portraits that include hair/make-up/wardrobe. But asking restaurants to feed a family on Christmas Eve who can buy their own dinner is showing a lack of respect for the small businesses she is supposedly representing.  It also shows a lack of integrity.

If Sarah Lockard had sent out the e-mail asking to do this free Christmas Eve dinner for a family down on their luck or homeless or something I would feel quite differently.  But this is not what this is about.  This is and always has been about self-promotion.  And to me that is not a Christmas spirit I choose to embrace.

So while I appreciate the musings of some mom bloggers from the Midwest on the topic, they really don’t get it. But I hope they keep on blogging anyway.