#nobillboardsintheburbs

Back to billboards. Happy Holidays affected residents, the issue that never seems to go away is back again.

May, 2009. That was the first billboard hearing about billboards in Haverford Township.

This includes the two ginormous billboards proposed for Lancaster Avenue in Bryn Mawr across from the Bryn Mawr ACME and Our Mother of Good Counsel Church. Two ginormous billboards that would cast a ginormous shadow on lovely small neighborhoods in the vicinity.

Now mind you this was only one site proposed for Haverford Township, there were multiple sites. All in the shadow of churches, schools, small businesses, neighborhoods. And don’t forget the issue at five points in Bryn Mawr, which while technically in Lower Merion, also affects Radnor and Haverford Townships as this is the literal point where two counties and three townships meet. (To see articles about this topic, go to Main Line Media News and search “billboards, Bryn Mawr“.)

Well here we are at the end of 2019 and billboards are back as you can see above. This letter was sent out by Haverford Township 5th Ward commissioner Andy Lewis.

Andy said:

📌As per the attached letter, the hearing on the application of the Bartkowski Investment Group to install billboards in four locations in Haverford Township, including two along Lancaster Avenue at Old Lancaster and Penn Street, is scheduled to commence on Tuesday, January 21st and continue for three days. Please save the dates📌

I never know what the media is going to cover or not cover, and they have been quite devoted over the years to the residents potentially affected by these billboards. However, I have a lot of friends that still live near these billboards sites so I am posting this because how could I not? Back in the day I went to every billboard hearing until I was diagnosed with breast cancer in the spring of 2011.

I will also note this is the same company residents in Tredyffrin are fighting. (See Community Matters.) In Tredyffrin they want to tear down the historic toll house replica built by Okie at Lancaster Ave and Route 252 in Paoli. (Also see Ban Digital Billboard in Paoli Page on Facebook.)

I saved lots of photos from these old Haverford Township hearings and I’m posting a few of them here. I want people to see things like when the firetruck shot their ladder up in Haverford Township above houses to show how tall the billboards would be. Or when residents in Haverford Township made a mock-up using big blue tarps of the actual size of a billboard screen being proposed. and photos of residents taking to the streets over this issue.

I no longer live in or near the areas of Haverford Township being threatened, nor do I live close by to the proposed site in Tredyffrin in Paoli. But as a citizen of this country until they revoke it, I still have my First Amendment Rights… which interestingly enough has always seem to be one of the arguments for why these billboards should be allowed and I’ve never understood that and can you understand that?

#NoBillboardsInTheBurbs pass it on. Please support the residents of Haverford Township, Lower Merion Township, Tredyffrin Township, and any other township who objects to these monstrosities in their communities.

I will also note that four states—Vermont, Alaska, Hawaii, and Maine—have prohibited billboards. Yes, they banned them. So why can’t we say no?

I wonder would the folks from the billboard company want BIG digital billboards on their front lawns? Probably not and I doubt their neighbors would either, right? So why shouldn’t these communities be able to say “no thank you”?

BILLBOARDS = BLIGHT

more thanksgiving prep: laying it all out

Thanksgiving in our house is going to be smaller and much simpler than years past. I didn’t get to all the little ceramic turkeys to put on the table this year so the table just has the simple candlesticks and some greens in a vase. I still think it’ll look pretty.

My order arrived today from Harman’s Cheese in New Hampshire. I love my imported cheese, but for Thanksgiving especially it’s American made cheeses. Tomorrow for nibbles before our little feast, I will put out Harman’s cheddar with crackers with a Balsamic Onion Jam. The rest of the cheese will take us through the holiday season and well into the winter.

The table is mostly vintage. Pewter napkin rings I got years ago. No one likes pewter much anymore so I literally picked these up super inexpensively.

The napkins came from The Smithfield Barn. They are of a newer vintage from Ralph Lauren.

The plates are Steubenville Adam Antique from the 1930s. I bought them for our first Thanksgiving in this house. They came from Frazer Antiques. I remember they were on sale. I have looked for years since at these plates here and there, and never been able to even come close to the deal I got that day.

The placemats are vintage Pimpernal. They belonged to one of my dearest friend’s mothers.

We are having a simple menu. Yams, green salad with a simple vinaigrette, stuffing done outside the bird, homemade cranberry sauce, and the turkey. The turkey is from Loag’s Corner Turkey Farm in Elverson and was delivered by Doorstep Dairy. Doorstep Dairy is our milk delivery service and more. We have been a customer for a few years. They are terrific!

If you are local, Loag’s turkeys can also be purchased through local butcher shops like Worrell’s Butcher Shop in Malvern Borough. We also are big fans of Worrell’s!

I didn’t mention dessert. That I am actually not baking. Someone gave us a cheesecake. Not our normal Thanksgiving dessert, but my husband loves cheesecake!

My last piece of the puzzle is a vintage turkey platter. Also from the Smithfield Barn a few years ago. American made, true vintage, and I love it.

Holidays are about traditions. Thanksgiving is about the classics: turkey, friends, family.

Here is a poem from Ella Wheeler Wilcox:

Thanksgiving

We walk on starry fields of white
   And do not see the daisies;
For blessings common in our sight
   We rarely offer praises.
We sigh for some supreme delight
   To crown our lives with splendor,
And quite ignore our daily store
   Of pleasures sweet and tender.

Our cares are bold and push their way
   Upon our thought and feeling.
They hand about us all the day,
   Our time from pleasure stealing.
So unobtrusive many a joy
   We pass by and forget it,
But worry strives to own our lives,
   And conquers if we let it.

There’s not a day in all the year
   But holds some hidden pleasure,
And looking back, joys oft appear
   To brim the past’s wide measure.
But blessings are like friends, I hold,
   Who love and labor near us.
We ought to raise our notes of praise
   While living hearts can hear us.

Full many a blessing wears the guise
   Of worry or of trouble;
Far-seeing is the soul, and wise,
   Who knows the mask is double.
But he who has the faith and strength
   To thank his God for sorrow
Has found a joy without alloy
   To gladden every morrow.

We ought to make the moments notes
   Of happy, glad Thanksgiving;
The hours and days a silent phrase
   Of music we are living.
And so the theme should swell and grow
   As weeks and months pass o’er us,
And rise sublime at this good time,
   A grand Thanksgiving chorus.

I don’t know if I will write again between now and Thursday, so Happy Thanksgiving!

chesapeake bay crab cakes & more and the snotty pants customer service experience

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WARNING RANT AHEAD. Turn away now if you don’t want to read it.

Chesapeake Bay Crab Cakes & More. A catalog company based out of Owings Mill, Maryland.  Part of the Chesapeake Fine Food Group.  They describe themselves on LinkedIn as:

Based out of Baltimore, MD, Chesapeake Fine Food Group is the proud parent company of Mackenzie Limited, Chesapeake Bay Crab Cakes & More, and Impromptu Gourmet.

Whether you’re a seafood connoisseur or a chocoholic, our catalogs have something for the gourmet in everyone. We have a simple rule of thumb: find the best of the best, and never compromise on quality.

Our three catalogs circulate on a monthly basis, and we can also be found online at http://www.mackenzieltd.com, http://www.cbcrabcakes.com, and http://www.impromptugourmet.com

One tiny detail? I get catalogs from Chesapeake Bay and Mackenzie Limited. Only I have never ordered from them nor received a gift from them.  When TWO of the same catalog came in for Chesapeake Bay today I called “customer service”.  Can you say Ms. Snotty Pants at your service?

Indeed.  Snotful doesn’t even begin to cover it.

Ms. Snotty Pants was all professionally perky when she answered my customer service call. She was saccharine sweet until….OH MY GOD the nerve!  I had the temerity to request NO CATALOGS.

“You aren’t calling to place an order?” Ms. Snotty Pants asked.

“No, sadly I just want to kill fewer trees. I have never received a gift from your company nor ordered from your company and also never requested a catalog, so I just want to be removed from the mailing list.”

“I can’t help you.” replied the suddenly icy Ms. Snotty Pants. 

This is when she got truly snotty. Spoke to me like I was a toddler.  She couldn’t possibly help me because (wait for it) my name was on a mailing list they paid for.  Someplace called the Direct Marketing Association.

I was dumbfounded. I asked her to repeat herself.  So she did. Irritated Mommy to bad toddler style. Did she offer me contact information for Direct Marketing Association? NOPE.

And apparently although they can solicit me for business in an unsolicited manner and clog up my mailbox, they are not required to maintain an opt out of catalogs list that so many other businesses keep.  Basically this woman didn’t give a crap when she realized no credit card and order from me.

Forget about the fact that I think these lists should be like do not call lists (which aren’t paid attention to much anymore, sadly), I think this phone call speaks VOLUMES about the LACK of actual customer service because every other catalog company I have phoned to say “Hey no more catalogs please” could NOT have been nicer.  They were all lovely. Except for Chesapeake Bay Crab Cakes & More.

So maybe they have wonderful products and maybe their other brands MacKenzie Limited and Impromptu Gourmet also have wonderful products. But I will never, ever order from them and will encourage anyone who wants to read this post this far to also never, ever order from them. Customer service should be pretty damn basic for a company like this. And they are lacking.

Oh and about the Direct Marketing Association?  If you call them, they have absurdly short customer service hours daily, and oh yeah, you have to PAY THEM to submit an application to remove your name from their solicitation lists when you didn’t give them permission in the first place.

So I signed up at CatalogChoice.org, a non-profit who will try to help you get off the catalog lists.

As per an article Chesapeake Fine Food Group is sadly woman owned by Laura McManus and  Kate Glenn. Don’t know them and shame on them for not extending customer service to people who take the time to contact you to ask to please be opted out of catalogs they never requested in the first place. And FYI? Their Better Business Bureau Reviews are  awful. Their Facebook reviews are on average bad as well.

Any catalog companies who can’t assist you in getting removed from a mailing list are not catalog companies who deserve the business of any consumer whatsoever.

Rant over.

thanksgiving prep: cranberry sauce

First of all a shout out to Great Jones cookware! I am a really happy customer and bought three of their pots/pans. The one above is called “Saucy“. this is the pot I chose to make my cranberry sauce in this year. I will also note that I am not a compensated blogger, I am just telling you about certain things because I use them, buy them, like them.

Thanksgiving is going to be a little more simple for us because I am waiting on another knee surgery so I am limited in what I can do and should do. So today I made the cranberry sauce and Wednesday I will make the stuffing and the sweet potatoes and then all we will have to do is heat those up. (Yes,I am not doing the stuffing in the bird for the first time ever.)

Cranberry sauce is not hard to make. And basically it’s one bag of fresh cranberries, one cup of sugar, 2 cups of liquid. Today I used orange juice, and I forgot to add the orange zest although I had an orange waiting in the refrigerator. I also added cinnamon and ground mace to taste.

I brought the mixture to a gentle boil on low heat with a lid on the pot. If you don’t have a lid on your pot or a splatter screen your cranberry sauce will end up all over your stove!  I will note that I did have a little lift to the edge of the pot so steam was able to escape. I have these little silicone things called lid rests which are made for this.

I did stir occasionally as the berries were cooking so nothing stuck to the pan.

When my mixture was brought to a boil I used my potato masher to mush the cranberries. I then added two little packets of Knox unflavored gelatin, and stirred and stirred until dissolved and incorporated into the sauce. I like my cranberry sauce to be a little bit jellied so that’s why I do this. However, I am not a fan of canned cranberry sauce.

I put my cranberry sauce into three jars, and when it cools I will tighten the lids and refrigerate. I do not do a canning water bath on these– I just cook and jar and refrigerate.

These three jars will take me through the holiday season. Thanks for stopping by!



do you believe in santa claus?

The photo above isn’t some random act of Google photo. It is my cousin Suzy visiting Santa Claus at Christmastime, in 1954. A full decade before I was born. A Philadelphia area department store Santa Claus. I am not sure which store.

I have many memories of going to see Santa and to pose for photos. Usually with my sister. I don’t remember us ever having individual Santa photos, we were a three years apart matched set with Santa.

Christmas was magical in Philadelphia when I was little. The Christmas Village at Lit Brothers, the Dickens Village I think at Strawbridge & Clothier, Christmas displays at Gimbels, the organ and Christmas everything at John Wanamakers.

We would go and visit things with my great aunts and then we would also have lunch in the Crystal Tea Room in John Wanamaker’s.

There was of course the year when I was really little and we used to have to do the Crystal Tea Room lunch also with my father’s sister and possibly her daughters as well. My aunts’ daughters were self-perceived Christmas perfect. Never a hair out of place. Also about as warm and fuzzy to me as an ice cube. I have forgotten a lot of our enforced togetherness. It was tough being a kid and knowing to your core they didn’t like you.

What I do remember was the year I accidentally dropped my chocolate milk in my Aunt Teresa’s lap. And she was wearing a white wool Christmas suit. OOPS!

When we went to the Crystal Tea Room I always had scrambled eggs and toast for lunch and chocolate milk. This one year I must’ve been playing too much with the chocolate milk and my mother told me to “drop it”. She probably wanted me to eat my lunch, but literal child that I was I dropped the milk all right… in my aunt’s lap!

Christmas in Philadelphia back then in part was so magical because of all the displays that were about the holidays and celebrating the holidays. They weren’t necessarily attached to specific items or displays of items to buy. It was just about the Christmas season. And you could call it Christmas without everyone freaking out.

Other memories I have include going down to South Philadelphia to my great aunts’ house on Ritner Street. And when I was really little they did the seven fishes. That was when my Uncle Pat or PJ as we called him was alive. He lived with his sisters, and none of them ever married although I remember PJ having girlfriends. PJ had a gruff and gravelly voice and when I was little I remember he used to tease me by asking me if he could have some of my Christmas presents, especially the dolls. My great aunts used to buy us these awesome dolls and I loved them as a little girl.

South Philadelphia was alive with Christmas lights and decorations. They would literally string the lights across the street. It was really pretty I don’t know if they still do that anymore but it was very magical as a kid. And they went all out on Christmas decorations. I found the photo above on Google and that’s what it was like. Streets strong with stars, candy canes, Santas.

My mother’s brother Jack and his family lived up in the Northeast. My Uncle Jackie also loved Christmas. I remember lots of lights and I swear I remember Christmas music being piped outside from the roof a la Clark Griswold and Christmas Vacation. I also remember one year my Aunt Connie taking ceramics classes and making everyone those vintage ceramic Christmas trees. I don’t know if anybody still has any of her trees but I remember they were pretty!

Now did you believe in Santa Claus? We did. It was a truly magical time when we were little and I loved it.

I’m sure my parents didn’t love having to wait until we were all asleep to load up everything under the tree but it was so awesome to come down on Christmas morning and see the presents under the tree and see the crumbs that Santa left behind from the cookies and milk we had put out for him. Of course there was that thing my father used to do – he used to use his non-normal writing hand and leave a note to us from Santa thanking us for the cookies.

In truth, I do remember some of the department store Santa Clauses being more scary than jolly. and while I believed in Santa Claus I never believed that those Santa Claus folks were real. But as a child I did like to play along when it wasn’t scary Santa sitting there waiting for us. Or the occasional boozy Santa who smelled like he had gotten into the Christmas cheer on his lunch break.

As an adult do I still believe in Santa Claus? No, but I believe in the beloved tradition of it all. I also believe how Santa Claus is part of a very magical season. A season of giving and miracles. I do believe in Christmas miracles.

Santa Claus is steeped in history. And thanks to the History Channel you can read all about it on their website.

Christmas is a really special time of year and even though it is highly commercialized I’m really glad that some of the traditions still endure. There is one Christmas memory that I wish I had actual photos for and I was really little. And it is the memory I am going to leave you with today.

When I was a really little girl, my parents had a red VW bug. That was the car they had so that was the car that used to get a Christmas tree strapped to the top of it. Our house in Philadelphia had really tall ceilings so it was easily a 10 or an 11 foot tree that would get strapped to the top of the Bug.

I remember one snowy Christmas as a little girl and I’m thinking it was the Christmas of 1969. They bundled me up and I went with my father to pick up the Christmas tree. I remember going through the snowy dark streets of Philadelphia down to a railyard. I’m guessing around South Philadelphia but I’m not really sure. I remember people buying trees as they were pulled off the freight cars. It was snowing too.

This will always be one of my favorite Christmas memories and I’ve never forgotten it. As a matter of fact that is part of the reason why I bought a couple of Christmas ornaments that were mercury glass a couple of years ago that were VW Bugs with little Christmas trees on top. I also bought them because my husband loves VW Bugs.

Every family has Christmas traditions and Christmas memories. And part of the magic of the season is trying to keep these traditions alive as we go forward throughout our lives. Yet we have to adapt them to our living circumstances today. I will note that I still to an extent put ornaments on the tree the way my father did. From size, to shape, to really special ornaments last.

Next week is Thanksgiving, and then after that we are full court press into the Christmas season. Don’t just make it a race to the finish line, actually take a minute and enjoy the magic. And go see Santa Claus.

Thanks for stopping by.

the holidays aren’t a hallmark movie, and that is o.k.

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The holidays are hard for people even when you aren’t a holidays-are-hard-person. You always want them to be perfect, yet they rarely are at all.  It’s human nature and accepting we don’t live in a Hallmark movie set.

Thanksgiving is the seasonal kick-off to weeks of we want familial perfection. Only have you met a perfect family? I haven’t.

The holidays are romanticized and commercialized to such an extent that we think we have to be perfect every year or the world might end as we know it. I am no exception.

Last Thanksgiving was the year of the turkey that would not cook.  My husband wanted to put it in the oven at one time, and me another. In the end he had his time choice and then it was like a comedy of errors courtesy of the turkey gods.  We ate late, and had turkey consternation.

Please note that according to Sunset Magazine:

For a 10-13 lb. turkey (weight with giblets): Bake in a 350° oven for 1 1/2-2 1/4 hr.

For a 14-23 lb. turkey (weight with giblets): Bake in a 325° oven for 2-3 hr.

For a 24-27 lb. turkey (weight with giblets): Bake in a 325° oven for 3-3 3/4 hr.

For a 28-30 lb turkey (weight with giblets): Bake in a 325° oven for 3 1/2-4 1/2 hr.

Times are for unstuffed birds. A stuffed bird may cook at the same rate as an unstuffed one; however, be prepared to allow 30 to 50 minutes longer. While turkeys take about the same time to roast in regular and convection heat, a convection oven does a better job of browning the bird all over.

 

This year we are starting the turkey earlier and I think I am doing the dressing outside of the turkey.  This year, I also need help since I have managed to tear the meniscus in my other knee.  When I tore my meniscus in the other knee a couple of years ago, my meniscus waited until well after the holidays.

Translation?  I will also need more help at Christmas and I won’t be cooking dinner for around 14 people.  Maybe having that break is a good thing, but I actually like doing Christmas dinner. Cooking for people at Christmas is one of my favorite presents to give.

This also means I will be decorating differently. And more simply. It might kill me. No not really, but my inner Christmas elf might revolt. Sigh…and fewer kinds of Christmas cookies will be baked too.

Asking for help and knowing you need help is not the easiest realization.  Again, I am definitely no exception. But I guess when you need it, it’s a lesson in working together and trust. Admitting I will need some help this time around for the holidays is maddening. Trust me. There is so much to do.

The other thing about the holidays is giving back.  How do you give back? Do you volunteer at a shelter? Cook meals for the less fortunate? Donate to a toy drive? I don’t think it matters what or how much you do as long as you pay it forward in some small way. And it doesn’t have to be publicized for thousands of atta’ boys or atta’ girls, just do it to pay the magic in this season forward.

And back to the Hallmark movie versions of the holidays.  I love my Hallmark Christmas movies, don’t misunderstand me.  But it’s a little unrealistic. From the apartments and homes that 20-something characters  have (in places like New York City and Chicago no less!), to the always perfect hair, perfect coupling up and don’t forget Hallmark movie characters don’t have sex ever, or show too much boob in their Christmas party dresses…it’s like life in a snow globe.

A delightful time warp bubble that transports us for a while from everyday life. But hey now, everyday life is not so bad, flaws and all.  And we all have to acknowledge and accept as nice as those saccharine sweet made for TV holiday moments are, do we really want to trade that for our own realities? I mean sure it would be especially nice if the kitchen cleaned up itself magically after holiday meals, but as for the rest of it? Maybe let it inspire a tablescape or other decorations, but don’t place unrealistic expectations on yourself.  I know because somehow I do it every year.  Holiday Perfectionists Anonymous come on down!

Image result for norman rockwell holiday angelThis year I aim to be a little different.  It might kill me, but I will try. Meanwhile, I will be sure to look for all the perfect holiday tableaux as seen on social media, knowing full well reality might be a lot different.

Don’t Botox your holiday social media.  It’s actually o.k. to be less than perfect, look less than perfect. And I have to laugh because any time I personally express a less than perfect social media persona it starts.

“Are you ok?”

“Did you see what she posted?”

Lord love a duck, it’s quite all right to be human.  Have a bad day occasionally. My plastic surgeon and professional stylists tribe are on vacay, ok? Sometimes I do not have a village, and it’s just me not wearing make-up…. (a cardinal sin in the eyes of my mother who told us never to go to the grocery store without lipstick years ago.)

And the holiday race for more social media “friends”? Oh resist. The real ones are so much better. Truth.  I have started turning people down and culling the herd. I don’t need neighbors of people I barely know as friends and if I did not like you in high school and you didn’t like me, well not to be mean but why do I need to be part of your people collection?

And that is what I always find fascinating about social media.   The fakeness of it. Especially when you know it’s so far removed from the truth.  And that fakeness factor increases around the holidays because so many people have a hard time for a multitude of reasons.

So I guess I am saying slow down and appreciate what we have in this world. You don’t have to fake it until you make it. You can admit you love the holidays knowing it might have a couple of flaws.

Love the holidays for what they are. Don’t resent them for what they aren’t.

And pay it forward.

Enjoy the magic of the season.  It’s totally there when you stop stressing over perfection. Have you seen my lipstick? I need to go to the grocery store…..

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west whiteland: development and crumbling history?

Along S. Whitford Road. I have photographed this before. It continues to deteriorate.

Meanwhile, turn the corner onto Creamery Way I think it is and you see:

It’s like in West Whiteland there is a race to develop every square inch into homogeneous Tyvec wrapped insanity…while history rots.

Surely Chester County deserves better?