a beautiful children’s book 26 years in the making

Giants “A Children’s Grief Story

When somebody tells you that their newly published book was 26 years in the making it really makes you want to stop and think

Giants A Children’s Grief Story by A.E. McIntyre and ElisaBeth Steins is that book. I will let the author A.E. McIntyre speak for himself:

I am proud to announce that Giants “A Children’s Grief Story,” is now available for purchase. This story is 26 years in the making.
Thank you to my incredibly talented childhood friend and artist Beth Steines whose illustrations brought this story to life. In 1994, I wrote the original draft of the story, one night in my college dorm room. Then I just filed it away.
Then in 1998, while attending a poetry class at WCU, Giants was mocked. The other students lampooned it, and thought I was trying to sound like a child. At the time, I didn’t have the courage to say, that indeed, the little boy inside of me had in fact written the story. So then I filed it away.
Then, three years ago, my brother died and it all came back to me once more. So on a bike ride I thought, “I need to write a children’s story about grief,” almost forgetting that I already had. It was then, when a friend Kelly encouraged me to write a second half to the original story.
No one but Beth and I, my editor and Beehive Book Design have read the complete story until now…while the original version of “Giants,” is in the beginning of my book, “Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall, A Life from Moment to Moment.” And then, I filed Giants away again.
Then, two years ago, my daughters school friend lost her father, and once more, I committed myself to trying to turn Giants into a reality. Soon after, Beth signed on as my illustrator. Giants was originally intended for children, but really, it’s a book for adults too. And I am trying to honor all of those adults out there, who also lost their parents too soon.
Very recently, a dear friend of mine passed suddenly, and much like the boy in the story, I found myself facing the same questions about God and Heaven, and whether my friend was now at peace with God? And then I realized, the questions this little boy must face, are the very same questions, that each of us must face, when we lose loved ones, even as adults.
Now… Knowing how hard this is in adulthood, now……imagine for a moment just how hard it is to lose a parent when you are just a child. Thank you!

I wish this book has been around when my niece and nephew were very small children and their father died in 3 1/2 weeks from a vicious pleural mesothelioma a few days before Christmas in 2010.

If you are interested in ordering this book please follow the link to Amazon.

I think this book is a beautiful thing.

life, loss, live your best life

You know you are firmly ensconced in middle-age when people you know or knew die.

The latest round of people I know passing away began in late December when a good friend of my mother’s passed away. This lady was a cool woman. Loving, independent, complicated. Her death was hard on my mother, who had the flu when her memorial service occurred in early January.

I didn’t go to her service. Part of me wanted to, but she was another cancer death and as a cancer survivor they are just so damn physically, emotionally, and mentally painful to attend.

The other thing is this would have been a see and be seen crowded Main Line memorial service and I had just had knee surgery. So even if I had wanted to be there, I couldn’t have been because I literally couldn’t bend my knee enough to stand on a stone floor of a church or sit in a pew.

I made my peace with my decision, and I am glad I knew her. She was a friend of my parents who early on treated me as an individual and not merely one of my parents’ children. When you are growing up and you really wanted your own identity to show through, you appreciated the people who were able to do this. You appreciate the people who see YOU, don’t you?

When she had died I hadn’t seen her in a few years. Life has just taken everyone in different directions. But occasionally we used to email or text. I’m glad I knew her.

However, 2020 brings death closer to my doorstep not because of relationship, but age. Two of my generation. Two whom I had known since high school. Contemporaries so to speak.

Neither of these people were my best friends or my closest friends, but because of how I knew them and when, it has hit home. Sadly.

I have memories of both of these people as teenagers and as adults. A man and a woman.

The man was always just a nice person. Not perfect, sometimes foolish, but always nice. At one point in time he was a brother-in-law to someone I know. Suffice it to say he was always much nicer than his relative. This man fought a battle against a cancer that was always going to win. He was brave and positive about it. Even on hospice. I respect that.

The last time I had spoken with this man was before he ever received his initial cancer diagnosis. He was back in the Philadelphia area and was moving yet again. He moved a lot the last years of his life and I think my greatest impression of his last decade of his life was that he was somewhat nomadic, looking for a place to put down roots again, literally moving from one end of the country to the other. That aspect of his life was tinged with sadness I think. I also think he was lonely.

I have memories of him from high school that are almost like Polaroid snap shots. He was part of a pack of boys I knew. He and his friends dated some of my friends back then, and were just part of even more extended friends group.

The woman who recently passed away who was familiar to me, was also part of that fabric of those growing up years. She was not someone I was close to ever. But I knew her. She was a close friend of two women whom I still know. I actually have memories of them with her. Laughing. Having a great time.

The laughter of youth sometimes seems so far away, doesn’t it? But if you listen closely enough you can still hear the echoes.

When I saw the woman a few years ago, she actually wasn’t particularly pleasant to me. At the time I thought it was strange because we had always been o.k. Now that she has passed, I realize how ill she probably had been even then. I never knew how sick she had been until she died. We weren’t close, so I wouldn’t have.

These passings are something to ponder because they are my generation. That makes you think. I remember as a little girl my grandparents and great aunts reading the obituaries almost daily. And it seemed like far too often there was somebody between the pages of the local newspapers that they knew.

Loss and passings certainly makes you value life, no matter how difficult it can be at times. After all, life has peaks and valleys, doesn’t it?

But I swear, middle age is like a weird right of passage. You hopefully know better who you are as a human being, but it’s also about life and loss. You also sometimes wonder is your life exactly what and where are you thought it would be at this point? I know I have thought that.

And I do know that I am lucky. I am blessed and I don’t use that word lightly or frivolously. I had breast cancer in 2011 and I am here in 2020 to write down all my random streams of consciousness that sometimes make my readers scratch their heads.

Life is not perfect. And someone who tells you life is always perfect is either not being honest with you or with themselves. Life is what you make out of it, but there are peaks and valleys and bumps in the road. I guess it’s how we adapt to those changes that makes us who we are, that defines us later in life.

So tell those who matter to you that you love them. You never know the path life will take us on. Live your best life.

Pax.

more foodie fun….in glenmoore!

It is just a foodie fun weekend this weekend. This evening we went to Glenmoore Deli and Country Market which is located at 1941 Creek Road, Glenmoore, PA 19343. (Phone 610-942-4321)

The proprietress/chef is Christie Keith and she is another kitchen wizard I am lucky to know. Her place is a cool little joint in the delightfully sleepy village of Glenmoore. It’s a weekend breakfast and lunch place and it’s another hidden gem that more need to visit.

I will warn you, it’s a cell signal no man’s land, so call ahead to make sure they are open and when you get there, you unplug and enjoy your meal.

I know, I know I have kind of turned into a breakfast and lunch and brunch person. It’s what I really like.

Every once in a while, Christie does a special dinner. There is no liquor license here, so you can BYOB but a lot of people just don’t. There is always some wonderful teas or lemonade or coffee or infused water served.

This evening it was a Polish dinner. It was nothing short of amazing. Pierogis that were delicious and light and fluffy. Kielbasa. Tiny meatballs on fresh arugula. Borscht. All sorts of homemade fresh pickles. Cucumber salad. Kolaczki. Honey Almond Cake.

It was delicious. We were seated with a lovely local couple as the tables are sort of family style after a fashion. People came with their families, and young and old and every age in between, we just enjoyed a wonderful meal.

Christie is calling this her Comfort Food Series and we can’t wait for the next one!

Check out Glenmoore Deli and Country Market for breakfast or lunch one weekend. They have a Facebook page so keep an eye out for Christie’s next fun dining adventure!

have you visited magnolia cottage shop in malvern/frazer yet?

I have written about Magnolia Cottage Shop before, but it really is quickly becoming a favorite place so I thought I would post some photos. I went to pick something up there today and I just love it. It’s nice to have a store that has a wonderfully curated selection of gifts with all sorts of antique and vintage mixed in. 

Magnolia Cottage Shop is located at 288 Lancaster Avenue in Malvern/Frazer. Their phone number is 484- 320-8022.

The owner really goes out of her way to have fun things that you just don’t find every place else. One of the things she carries which I really like are the Wickit Good Candles. They are a hand poured craft candle with Chester County roots but are hand-crafted at the Jersey shore.

Wickit Good Candles have wonderful scents that are not overpowering and overwhelming. I like a candle that gives you a waft of a beautiful fragrance, not something that smacks you in the face and smells like grandma’s old potpourri.

For those planning bridal showers and even baby showers in the spring, this is a great store to pick up presents that are fun and have whimsy. 

They also have monogramming available for things purchased in the shop which I really like because they are bringing in these bags which will make awesome shopping totes or beach/pool bags. I don’t know about you but I’d rather carry my vegetables from the farmers market in a cute bag!

And I am my mother’s daughter in that regard…. I just love monograms and personalization.

So if you haven’t had the opportunity to check out Magnolia Cottage Shop, also keep in mind that they do things like offer small group workshops, classes, demonstrations and even some Young Rembrandts Chester County children’s art classes!

farm boy fresh…hooked

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Today I finally made it to Farm Boy Fresh in Malvern.

“Don’t take my picture!” he said “Look at this apron!”

Oh Chef, the thing is this, pristine aprons to me mean y’all aren’t having fun creating your food.  (Besides, I am the home cook who can kill an apron almost as soon as I put it on!) So a little smudge of something on your apron is a good thing.

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I have been wanting to get to Farm Boy Fresh and as today is Thursday, it was chicken basket day, so instead of just writing about how amazing everything looks, I went for a little look see myself. (I wrote about them earlier this month.)

Yes, seriously, we have a classically trained chef who trained with people like Emeril Lagasse right here in Chester County.  Living his best life with his wife on their lovely farm and cooking breakfast and lunch….inside the Sunoco Station at Routes 30 and 29 in Malvern.  Yes, where Three Crazy Ladies was.

While there, Chef Paul Marshall was telling me about the chicken he uses when he was preparing my order and a couple of others.  He uses Poulet Rouge.  I had not heard of that type of chicken in years.  As in I saw them on a farm once in France when I was like 14. They are a russet red chicken with long legs and a bare neck.  Seriously.  I realized those were the chickens I saw ummm…. decades ago.

I did a little reading when I got home and these chickens do indeed have longer legs and they are less round than some chicken breeds can be.  They are known for their flavor and apparently they have thinner skin.  I actually found a farm down south that raises them and you can buy them and other heritage poultry and meats from (Joyce Farms).

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I am not sure if this is where the chicken today came from, but the chicken I had today was so good it was like a religious experience.  Did you ever have lunch that smelled so good and looked so good that it was like there was no time for social media and food photos and you just ate a meal without taking it’s photo?  You know the way it used to be before we were Instagramming, Tweeting, or Facebooking?

That was today.

The chicken was hot, juicy, and fresh and there was that lovely fluffiness of perfectly cooked chicken that had not only a good dredge with flavor, but buttermilk. And a little bit of a flavor profile that gave it just a little reminiscence of a kick but not spicy.  Super subtle.  Served with the chicken was this slaw that I am guessing was Napa cabbage (my favorite) and I am not sure all what else, but it had Asian influences and seemed to be more of a vinaigrette and essentially I could have dined on that alone it was so good.

IMG_1919I also bought a yummy blueberry chia muffin, chocolate chip cookies,  and a jar of hot pepper jelly.

You know what else I liked?  I got to hang out and talk to the chef.  I have a friend from high school who is a chef (Carlo DeMarco of 333 Bellrose in Radnor), and have met others over the years through friends and family and they are a lot of fun to speak with.

Since I like to cook, I like to learn, and all of the chefs I have met are happy to talk food and share.  Chef Paul Marshall is no exception.  He was so nice and very interesting and I also loved hearing him speak about his wife Julie who apparently grew up in the area.  That was awesome.  You have to totally and immediately appreciate and respect someone who obviously adores their spouse, and their eyes light up when they speak of them.

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My friend Sherry Tillman, who created First Friday Main Line and owns Past*Present*Future in Ardmore can tell you that I am a food geek.  Whenever we were doing out food events years ago like Foodapalooza, she always knew she had someone to go to the participating restaurants and photograph the food and chefs and speak with them. That is my idea of fun.

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Soon at Farm Boy Fresh there will be amazing high boy farm style tables so you can eat in and not just take out.  It is totally quirky to have an amazing chef cooking in a gas station, but you know what? That juxtaposition just works. This is fun.

Farm Boy Fresh is a welcome addition to the lunch and breakfast places in Chester County.  It’s so great to meet someone that just loves what they do.

Go get yourself some breakfast or lunch.  Farm Boy Fresh is located at the Sunoco at 7 Lancaster Avenue in Malvern (the corner of Route 30 and Lancaster Ave in East Whiteland Township)

I will note for the record that I was not compensated for this review.  I went in to buy lunch and I will be back! I am Farm Boy Fresh hooked!

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antique cookbooks

I think these cookbooks can be categorized as antiques. Left to right in the photo above they were published in 1922, 1936, and 1913.

They are an education in and of themselves, as well as being their own kind of time capsule. But these cookbooks, like their vintage mid-century cousins are terrific because they give you a lot of basic techniques and recipes that are overlooked in modern cookbooks in favor of photographs and pizazz.

They are also interesting little history lessons. Next time you see old cookbooks at a rummage sale or wherever, take a look through them– you might be surprised and have fun. Not everything is on the Internet as far as recipes go.

Sometimes it is fun being a bookworm 😊

tammany hall style politics?

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Today class, we are going to learn about what passes for politics. In particular Tammany Hall style politics which should have been buried with old Boss Tweed right? Like what you see above. Two Facebook pages that amount to cyber bullying masquerading as politics. Which of course makes it rather rich when you see current local elected officials say:

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I would be pleased as an elected official that she pointed it out, except ummm for this:

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Ms. Santalucia is a Supervisor in West Whiteland.  Her sister Rose Hogan Danese is running against Danielle Friel Otten:

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It’s getting like the Hatfields versus the McCoys with the Chester County Democrats isn’t it? Look who else’s name has surfaced?

I don’t quite get how Danielle Friel Otten is a threat to world order, or Ginny Kerslake is either.  Yes I know both women, and so Supervisor Theresa Hogan Santalucia doesn’t get confused, I do not speak for these women or their campaigns.  I am no one’s campaign operative. That is a tired old has been argument that goes back a few years and even that I was a tea partier  LOL.  (And also so this Supervisor doesn’t get her skirts further in a twist, this is known as opinion.  YOU are an elected official and YOU put certain things out there in the public. If you don’t want people commenting, change your privacy settings.)

It’s always all about the money in the end, so who is threatened the most by those who wish to serve because it’s the right thing to do?

Just like Republicans are divided, Democrats are an even bigger fractured fairy tale.  In Pennsylvania I think it is a simple thing to see: Wolf Democrats who are descended from Rendell Democrats are threatened by anyone and anything that doesn’t fit into their cheerleading squad.

Tammany Hall politics live on because we as the voters allow it.  Stop allowing it.

 

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