When you preserve/save, or try to preserve/save giant heritage trees, in a sense you are preserving a little bit of history.

The big beech that smashed a large part of itself into our home and deck has been topped and now we cross our fingers and hope it lives.

My arborist showed me more carving dates in the trunk I hadn’t noticed. The oldest date is 1871. The initials that correspond with it are somewhat obliterated, but the date is clear. There is also at the very bottom someone carving in it from 1935, and other dates from almost every decade of the 20th century and initials and hearts and things all around it.

When you look at this, you can’t help but wonder who all these people were that sat under the giant arms of this beech tree. I don’t know about you, but I think that is pretty cool to even contemplate.

That’s what makes me sad about all these housing developments in addition to the fact that they’re just crowding the landscape with their plastic glory, trees like this fall every day. Developers just tell townships they will plant new trees. You can’t replicate this.


portrait of a climber

DSC_3481This is our arborist, Robert Phipps. At the top of our giant beech this morning. hundreds of feet up. He loves what he does and it shows.  How cool is that?


in the trees


When you have trees, they are responsibility and constant maintenance. Even if those trees are in woods.

We had begun major preventative tree work here, but sometimes Mother Nature just has her own ideas about what should happen and when.

The ice storm isn’t something I will NOT soon forget, but I know at the end of the day we were very lucky. And I say that in spite of the damage we sustained. And trust me, as I spent days looking at what was the Armageddon of my backyard and back of the house it was hard to be positive.

I am always a big proponent of supporting local businesses, and when it comes to our arborist there is no exception. He is local and he is excellent. He is also a climber. When it comes to tree work, especially in these giant heritage trees, being a climber is truly an art form. Any guy with a chainsaw can climb in a bucket truck, but very few can climb trees the way he can.

Another reason I like my tree guy, is he is sort of a tree hugger for lack of a better description. He is someone who will get creative to save a tree, rather than just cut it down.

I snapped this photo this morning.

The arborist we use is Robert Phipps of Phipps Tree Care. I recommend him highly.

I have had an awesome time photographing him way up in the giant beech today. I don’t know how many hundreds of feet this tree is, but even topped it still has got a couple hundred feet of height. We are going to see if we can save it.

much ado about chicken


The humble roast chicken. A backbone of American cuisine. I am one of those people that loves roasted chicken. But I need to spice it up a little and not just roast it in the style of Julia Child all of the time.

So I have been experimenting with marinades that use plain Greek yogurt as a base. My favorite plain Greek yogurt is the Fage brand.

As I am especially pleased with today’s marinade so I thought I would share the approximate ingredients:

1 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
1 tablespoon of garlic powder
1 teaspoon hot Hungarian paprika
Salt to taste (kosher is best in my opinion)
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
Dash or two of hot sauce/Tabasco

Combine marinade a greedy ingredients in a small bowl whisk well, taste for salt and set aside.

Take a 4 1/2 to 5 pound roasting chicken and butterfly it – basically you are cutting it in half and spreading it open so it lies flat.

Take butterflied chicken, put it in a large Ziploc freezer bag and dump the marinade on top. Squeeze all the air out of the bag and seal the bag and smoosh the marinade around. I then put this bag in a bowl and put it in the refrigerator for anywhere from five hours to overnight. I periodically smoosh the marinade around in the bag and turn the bag over so it coats evenly.

When ready to cook bring your chicken out of the refrigerator and remove from marinade and lay out flat in a roasting pan lined with onion slices. Discard the rest of the marinade. It has had raw poultry and it so you can’t use marinade for anything else.

The chicken goes into a preheated 350° oven skin side up and flat out for approximately 15 minutes per pound at 350° . I actually use a meat thermometer to check for proper doneness with poultry.

The chicken is delicious when you use a yogurt marinade. I will serve this with something like roasted carrots and a salad, or a wild rice mixture and a salad, or oven roasted potatoes and a salad.



all aboard the crazy train at the chester county SPCA?


Ok look I won’t even pretend I know what is going on, but when sources send me this photo what am I to think? When I hear of volunteers being “fired”, and police coming to the shelter when board members are there, what am I to think? Is this how the new Executive Director comports herself? Is this how they run animal shelters Philly-style? Wasn’t she at PASPCA too?

I am NOT a volunteer of the Chester County SPCA or affiliated with them. I hate to have to mention this once wonderful organization in a negative light again. But as someone who watched the last drama over the land deal unfold, and then was so excited when State Senator Andy Dinniman came in with folks to get the shelter back in shape, I have grave concerns for the future, don’t you ?

Answer me this: when did it all become power and politics and no longer about the animals?

Oh also check out the article in The Daily Local.

I am very sad about this. Drama and nonsense could kill this shelter and I have to wonder if letting people in who some considered problematic at the PASPCA was a huge mistake?

Here is hoping someone can unravel this hot mess, right?

farmhouse chic


My near and dear ones like to tease me about my affinity for farm animals (cows, goats, and chickens in particular). I am told I will always be too much of a city girl to make a good farm girl (apparently I need to tolerate long power outages better), but a girl is allowed to dream, right?

So does that make me perhaps just an accidental country girl in the making?

Mind you, the teasing is in good fun, so I really don’t mind. What I do know is I love living in Chester County and especially like the rural aspects and the open spaces. I also love the fun of the hunt for cool pieces to decorate with, and Chester County is loaded with places and even warm weather flea markets. Jake’s Flea Market in Barto comes to mind. Except Barto is actually Berks County, but that is worth the drive I am told. I have not been yet.

Will I ever love long term power outages and trees pounding the house in storms? Probably not, but surviving this winter means I am hopefully better prepared next time and hopefully we won’t experience a next time like this winter for quite a while.

As many know I have developed an affinity for certain kinds of things that would be classified as either primitive or farmhouse chic. Vintage patchwork quilts, oil lamps, rustic candlesticks, and things like milking stools would fall into that category.

Milking stools, you ask?

Yes. They are fun and add whimsy to a room. I like old wooden footstools too. You can find them all over, and the price points should always be reasonable because they are so readily available.

A reasonable price point in my opinion maxes out at around $25. I see plain wood foot and milking stools at all sorts of price points, but if the cost goes over $25 , unless they are some truly amazing bit of woodworking I loose interest. I am a picker and bargain hunter at heart, sorry.

There is a big difference in my mind between a fine country antique and an item that has a utilitarian and real purpose that also can have a second life as a fun accent in your home.

I have two. One I found languishing under a table at Reseller’s Consignment in Frazer and one came from the Smithfield Barn in Downingtown. They both came in under $25 each. They are handmade and of solid hardwood and have three leg. Milking stools have three and four legs. I have been told by actual dairy farmers that the three legged stools balance the best on uneven surfaces.

One of my stools has three legs and the other four. I love the patina of the natural wood and oil them occasionally. I am not a fan of candy coating beautiful wood in milk paint. That is the taste of a lot of people and a good way to renew beat up wood pieces, but generally speaking not for my personal taste. I like those accents in the homes of others, it just doesn’t work for us in our home .

Anyway, they will never be a priceless heirloom, but I love them. People will actually sit on them and they make an amusing conversation piece. And some milking stools are simply beautiful examples of handmade craftsmanship.


…and we called belfor


This has been the winter that has tried the patience and good will of many and I am no exception. But in my defense, having a few thousand pounds of tree land on the back of the house like a 747 and then to be days and days without power, running water, and so on will do that to you.

We are lucky even in this mess, as it could have been much worse than it was. Especially since where the tree punched through the wall was about six inches from where my sweet man lays his head on his pillow. And that tree hit the house hard and racked it. It also hit hard enough that when the tree punched the wall it popped the solid slats of a hardwood headboard. And pieces of giant tree in the house aren’t much fun, either.

I would not trade my Chester County existence for anything. I love it here. But this winter has been like an endurance test, and I will admit I just have days where I am done with it.

Yesterday was one of those days. Yesterday was when the main roof started to leak.

We had felt another tree part hit the top of the roof during the ice storm but couldn’t get anyone up in all the snow to check. You see, all the snow after the ice storm and the temperatures has made the beginnings of restoration work for a lot of people just slow down exponentially because well, it’s dangerous. But until yesterday the main part of the roof held.

First we woke up to what looked like magic crop circles on the ceiling. By late afternoon we saw the sheen of moisture on the ceiling and the ceiling dry wall starting to freckle then bubble. All in an attractive brown color, of course .

With flooding rains expected later today we called Belfor. They are the best amongst their peers at dealing with post-storm nonsense. And they have an office around Exton.

When we called their 800 number last night we spoke with a woman named Anna. She was hands down the best customer service-type person I have ever spoken with. Then after we gave her our information, a man named John called. He said his crew would be out at 7 a.m. I will admit after a couple of weeks of NO ONE storm related showing up when they said they would post-storm I didn’t believe him.

Well shut my mouth at 7:01 a.m. this morning here they were!!

I can’t even explain what it feels like, other than I am both happy and grateful. This is our home and I love it, and it is such a relief to know they are here.

I must say RIP to the original patio table glass, table, and umbrella however. A branch got it all this morning. The chairs might be on life support too, I am not sure.

For the first time in days I can see other than TREE out the back of our house . Fingers crossed that all continues to go well.

I need it to stop raining in the house.

Thanks Belfor. You are so far more than living up to your advertisements on TV. Seriously? Those ads aren’t hype. These guys are working hard.

Next up: tree guys for the really big stuff but not today….

Sign me grateful.


this winter in photos


I am pleased to offer my next book available through Blurb.  It is basically nature through my camera lens this winter.  There is a book preview for your convenience.  Blurb books make unique one of a kind gifts or a pretty treat for yourself, especially if you love photography.

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