people should garden more


People should garden more. A lot of my friends garden in addition to myself, but today we are the exception rather than the rule. (And yes I know I am garden obsessed.)


People either don’t make the time, or are happy with what the developer regurgitated and called landscaping. Or they have someone do their “gardening” for them. They miss all the pleasure having a garden and actually getting your hands dirty brings.

Television shows on HGTV show all instant outdoor “rooms” with lots of hardscaping and a fire pit. They no longer actually show you how to create and maintain a garden with plants other than from the home improvement store chains.


People who don’t garden miss so much. They miss seeing a daylily become a sport of itself and give you a more exotic double ruffled version of itself.

They miss actual bees lingering in the bee balm before they check out the lavender. They miss the morning and evening songs of the birds who live in and around the garden and the pleasure of watching a rose flower for the first time and how an old fashioned favorite like lisianthus never fails to disappoint.


When you garden you smile at the everyday happy composure of the average garden daisy, and how wonderful the perfume of scented geraniums and lavender are together.

An Irish friend of mine told me last week that my garden reminded her of Irish cottage gardens. I can think of no greater compliment.

Gardening is good for what ails you if not anything else. Gardening just makes you happy ! Not mowing the lawn to exacting precision, but actual get dirt on your hands, digging in the dirt gardening.

People should garden more. And supporting your local and independent nursery and garden center also benefits your local economy.

So why not garden more?


horse and buggy watching….

DSC_0072When we were passing through Gap, PA, we were behind, in front, and along side several Amish buggies. The photos I am about to show you were cropped in, as we give buggies and their drivers the space and distance they deserve.

These photos in a series as it occurred show amazing horsemanship – you see this horse was a mite skittish and had the Amish gentleman not been so proficient this might have turned out differently…and he never raised his voice.











picking stock at antiques for tourist prices

DSC_0034On a trip up into Lancaster County this past weekend we stopped at what from the outside appeared to be a promising antique and antique salvage place along Lincoln Highway in Parksburg called Pheasant Run Antiques. A giant bank barn with  architectural salvage displayed from the exterior.

The best part about this antique store was the creative way they merchandized a lot of things. Cute tableaus interspersed with salvage.

However, with no offense intended to the shopkeepers, I personally won’t stop twice. I do not like mostly picking stock priced at antiques for tourist prices.

Yes they have some architectural salvage, yes they have some primitives, but the merchandise is rough for the most part and all is quite over-priced comparatively speaking.

Antique show prices are more reasonable than what I saw.  And I also saw some stock that appeared to be reproduction (like a black metal possibly iron candle chandelier) , not antique and it wasn’t marked as such.

They advertise as having sale days “for the trade” (or other dealers), and maybe they swap and dicker with them for better pricing, but for what I saw there, I would rather keep on barn picking.

If you just want to go to educate your eye, they do have fun salvage to look at here and there.

baby crazy?

old-fashioned-baby-strollerThere is an article circulating around about a couple in Tredyffrin who have asked the Chester County Court System for protection from the birth/biological mother who lives out of state.  The article reads like a Lifetime TV or true crime movie.

Adoptive parents seek protection from biological mother
POSTED: 06/28/14, 5:36 PM EDT | UPDATED: 59 SECS AGO

WEST CHESTER — In an unusual court filing, a Tredyffrin couple has asked the court here to prohibit a Maryland woman and her husband from stalking them via the Internet and in person.

The Maryland woman, Michelle Stilipec, is the biological mother of the Tredyffrin couple’s son, but has waged an increasingly vituperative battle to gain custody of the young boy, claiming that she was the victim of an illegal and fraudulent adoption process — one of a number of dissatisfied mothers who have joined a loose “anti-adoption” campaign in the United States.

The Tredyffrin couple earlier this month filed a protection from abuse petition in Common Pleas Court, citing Stilipec’s alleged “ongoing threats, stalking (and) harassment,” behavior they say has become increasingly hostile.

On June 3, the petition alleges, Stilipec appeared at the mother’s workplace and at the couple’s home — addresses that she was not legally entitled to have information about, according to the couple’s West Chester attorney.

In the petition, filed on June 16, the mother alleged that Stilipec had posted flyers in her neighborhood accusing the couple of kidnapping her son, who she identifies as Jonathan Eagle Stilipec, and of committing adoption fraud….Michelle Stilipec also appears in a YouTube video that lasts for 20 minutes in which she describes her case. In it, she can be seen holding up a flyer with a photo of the Tredyffrin couple, who she labels “kidnappers” and accuses of adoption fraud. In it, she is dressed in a red, white, and blue blouse with stars…..“They encouraged my husband, son and myself to leave our home for fear that (Michelle Stilipec) was planning to abduct (the child),” the mother wrote in her PFA petition. “We had to leave our home, (and) take a leave of absence from work for an extended period of time.

This is something of interest to me because I was never able to have my own children.  So if life circumstances been different, maybe I would have been one of those parents who adopted, instead of becoming a step-parent.  I also know someone who has devoted their life’s work to a non-profit that assists parents trying to adopt with grants and whatnot.

I know many who have adopted, I grew up with kids who were adopted. In both instances, the kids always knew and I never knew any who had sought birth parents out when they were old enough, nor that birth parents sought these kids out. But I know both instances happen because face it, it is totally human nature to want to know where you came from.

The adoption process is arduous and expensive. That I know from friends.  As a matter of fact I have one friend who opted out of the process years ago because it was just too hard on the couple. I have heard stories of single moms who were encouraged to give up their babies by their hospitals when they were born.

Baby stories are always heart wrenching. This one working its way through the Chester County Court system is just terrible to hear about.

This couple, I don’t know them and they aren’t named so I will call them John and Mary Doe, adopted a baby through a legitimate agency.  And now the birth parents have decided they want their baby back and that their rights were violated. They have joined the ranks of what is described as an “anti-adoption movement.’

If the birth parents, who are apparently from Maryland, were just fighting this through the court system it wouldn’t necessarily be news. But because newspapers like the Daily Local are reporting things like the fact the birth parents started a Facebook page against the adoptive parents put up a kooky video on CNN and papered the neighborhood of the adoptive parents in Chester County with flyers on utility poles, this case is front and center.

None of us were there, so we don’t know what happened, but I still feel for the adoptive parents. They went through the adoption process legally by their account to the media and I guess in court documents.  It looks like from the birth parents Facebook page and blog the agency was Adoptions From The Heart?

These birth parents by their own accounts on their Facebook page do not appear to be dumb or illl-informerd. In their own words they say:

-Michelle is a Veteran of the US Navy where she held a Top Secret Security Clearance. She has a B.A. in English and a background in holistic health. James is senior enlisted in the US Navy as a Mass Communications Specialist. We have no criminal record between us.


The birth parents imply that the media has gotten it all wrong and that the Tredyffrin Detective hasn’t been nice, basically.  O.k. if people in the community you serve, your residents, appear as if they are being harassed, stalked, and basically cyber-bullied, how are you supposed to be? Matter of fact get to the bottom of it, right?

And where I keep getting stuck is it doesn’t seem like these adoptive parents just brought this baby home. It seems like they have been parenting him and providing a home for quite a while.  And now they have by newspaper accounts had to flee their home and go into hiding?  Who does this to people?

By their blog, these birth parent claim post-partum depression of two years ago when the adoption must have taken place so has this been going on that long? The blog doesn’t have many posts but the most coherent is the “our story” post from 2013.  The rest of it reads of a person (or persons) suffering from deep emotional distress.

The blog is called Jonathan Eagle’s Law. Incidentally as per the Facebook page, the birth parents are not of Native American heritage.

The husband/birth father  in this equation is apparently still active duty military.  I just can’t get my head wrapped around how they went through a long process to adopt their baby out to another family legally and now this is happening.

At the end of the day, as this baby grows this horrible case threatens to become his life legacy and that doesn’t seem fair.  Poor child.

The birth parents on their Facebook page wrote something about family support a few hours ago:

It would be nice if we had family to support us in this time, unfortunately that is not the case. We both came from broken homes where our spirits were broken and where we were asked to remain children rather than encouraged and blessed to become adults and live our own lives. People grow older and they mature, hurts from the past heal, but we can not force other people to grow up with us. It has only been our deepest desires to reconnect with our family but there must be openness and honestness on all sides.
We were told within the first year of our marriage that our choices were not ours, our house was not ours, and our womb was not ours. Those things belonged to them to control and Michelle was the other woman in her own marriage because she chose to become college educated and capable of earning a living before becoming a mother….correction, before allowing them to be grandparents. Michelle never had a mother, and she had watched single mothers struggle for a living.
Years ago we made the mistake of defending ourselves, as so many people do. We learned in time that the best thing to do is walk away and try to heal ourselves. We can not change others. We can not force our love others who tell us that they do not want our love; we can not heal someone of pain they will not talk about; we can not ask someone to love or respect us if they do not love or respect themselves.


I can’t tell who is doing most of the writing on this page, but an educated guess would be the birth mother. She seems to be in such emotional pain that I have to ask if she did have her child, would she be able to care for him?

There are no winners in this case. It will undoubtedly play out on a much more public stage than not, and I feel for the adoptive parents at the end of the day.  They went through a process to adopt a child, and now this. I now understand why so many families choose closed versus open adoptions.




summer salad x 2 = delicious


I purchased some amazing produce at the West Chester Growers Market yesterday. So I decided to share with you some simple summer recipes to turn farm fresh veggies into delicious salads that were inspired by what I purchased and by the herbs growing in my garden.

Before I begin I am going to add a footnote about the parking. Last year, the lot adjacent to the market was open for parking. This year a lot of the spaces are marked off reserved….and are always empty. I don’t know whose parking lot that is adjacent to the public lot which the market sits upon but it would be nice if the Borough of West Chester maybe helped a bit more in the parking cooperativeness on Saturday mornings? After all, this market brings people to town every week.

Anyway, at the market I found the most beautiful red and yellow beets that were small and firm. I also found terrific young onions (sometimes known as spring onions) , and fresh cucumbers.

These ingredients have made two summer salads: old fashioned cucumber salad and mixed beet salad.

Mixed Beet Salad

2 bunches of smaller sized fresh beets
(Trim the tops and root ends off the beets after washing any dirt off the beet. Roast them at 350 degrees in a foil packet on a baking pan. All you do is salt and pepper the whole beets and sprinkle with olive oil. The beets take 30- 40 minutes to roast.)

1 red onion or large red spring onion chopped small

1 clove garlic minced fine

Dill (fresh), salt, pepper

4 tablespoons of olive oil

6 tablespoons red wine vinegar

After beets are roasted and cooled, peel them. Slice into thin, uniform slices. Add the onion and rest of ingredients and toss and chill.

Cucumber Salad

2 Cucumbers peeled and sliced thin

2 teaspoons of white sugar

Salt, pepper, fresh dill

1 red onion or large red spring onion chopped fine

7 or 8 tablespoons red wine vinegar

After you peel and slice the cucumbers dress with salt to taste and sprinkle the sugar over them. Toss.

Add the onion and dill to taste, add salt only if you think you need more and crack some fresh pepper over everything. Toss and chill.

Both of these recipes can be increased proportionately. Keep refrigerated and these salads are good for a few days.


invasion of the flower snatchers

Japanese beetles are here…..grrrrr. I found a recipe for a trap to catch them that doesn’t involve pheromones. It’s organic , so what the heck, I am going to try it:

Japanese Beetle Trap and Bait
The following bait and trap method is to be used during the height of the Japanese Beetle season.

1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1 mashed banana
1 pkg yeast

Dissolve sugar and yeast in the water. Mix the well maxhed banana into the sugar water. Put all ingredients in a gallon milk jug. Place the jug (with the top off) in an area where Japanese Beetles gather. The fermentation and odor of the bait attracts the beetles which get in but not out.

I figure it can’t hurt.

Japanese Beetles arrived in this country around 1916 in Japanese Irises or something. They were first spotted in New Jersey.

I don’t feel like having my plants shredded and I know the commercial traps basically send out and “open house” signal to beetles, so I will try the organic version above. I also use Neem oil but they seem to not be deterred by that very much this year.

Repellent plants are supposed to be catnip, chives, garlic, tansy and rue. And a surprise use for a bird not a lot of people like: starlings apparently view Japanese Beetles in grub form as a delicacy.

Japanese beetles feed on a huge host of plants, not just roses.

Basically if you like flowers, they like flowers. And when all else fails, stomp on them.

dining al fresco in west chester

I love dining al fresco before the summer gets too muggy, and tonight was a perfect night for it. So off we went to West Chester to Doc Magrogan’s Oyster House on Gay Street.

It’s a super cute place with the right look and truly terrific waitstaff.


At the top of the list of “buts” we will start with the table of slightly inebriated or more women behind us. Super loud and unattractively so, they should probably practice taking selfies before they go out as a group again along with modulating their voices after a few cocktails. I am all for having a good time, but those ladies were slightly sloppy. One was drinking wine on ice cubes out of a straw, but I digress.

That table wasn’t the fault of the restaurant, although it would’ve been nice had to take the initiative to do something about them because they were disturbing all sorts of diners around them. When they left it was such a relief because you could actually speak to the people you were dining with as the volume had so decreased.

The fish was quite fresh that I had, but the meal other than the seafood was somewhat tasteless. No herbs, not really any spices, no pizzazz. Also for the prices they charge per plate on both their entrées and their appetizers, there could’ve been better greens, and a little more fish. For my dinner I had an entrée salad, and the greens were less than impressive. I could’ve found better at ACME.

They have this summer sangria with mango that I ordered. I had two glasses of it, about 5 1/2 ounces each glass. Both times the sangria was not chilled and I had to ask for ice. The second time the bartender sent my drink out missing a key ingredient because they were out of it. Did not care for that presumption on the part of the bartender.

What the bartender should have done is send my waitress out to say they were missing ingredients would I mind having it without a key ingredient or would I like something else. I did not send either drink back, because it wasn’t the waitress’s fault. But the bar staff should have known better.

Doc Magrogan’s Oyster House is a veritable institution in downtown West Chester and I would like to give it another try sometime as I have heard great things. But tonight I was underwhelmed at best. Except for the waitstaff. Again, I want to say how nice the waiters and waitresses were.

Tonight’s meal was a far cry from the excellent meal we had at Philadelphia’s farm to table called Russet last week. It was however, a beautiful night to eat outside. The town of West Chester does sidewalk dining very right.

Thanks for stopping by