About carla

Writer, blogger, photographer, breast cancer survivor. I write about whatever strikes my fancy as I meander through life.

like visiting an old friend: going back to baldwin’s book barn

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Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night, have a passing thought, go back to sleep?  Well, my weird passing thought in the wee small hours overnight was I had not been to Baldwin’s Book Barn on Lenape Road in literally about 20 years!

I am and always have been a bibliophile. A bookworm. A book hoarder. I love my books.  They have moved with me thoughout my life. Even books from my childhood. Books from my parents. Cookbooks. History books. Gardening books. Fiction by Laura Ingalls Wilder to Daphne DuMaurier to Elizabeth Goudge to Marguerite de Angeli to Dickens to Robert Frost and the list goes on.  I married another bibliophile.  We love out books and they are all over the house in various bookshelves.

Growing up I loved the book store at Bryn Mawr College known as The Owl.  The college disbanded the beloved Owl years ago to make way for progress. There is still The Title Page in Bryn Mawr (which was started originally by ladies who were at The Owl), and that is amazing, but for those of us in Chetser County, and book nuts in general, there is nothing like Baldwin’s Book Barn. Nothing.

And yes, when I popped awake in the middle of the night last night, my mind was on a big stone barn full of books…Baldwin’s Book Barn. What’s not to love? A giant Chester County stone barn built in 1822 filled to the rafters with books? Used books, out of print books, rare books, fun books, paperback books, bags of specially priced books….it’s book Nirvana…and it’s Chester County tradition.

As per their website:

William and Lilla Baldwin established their used book and collectible business in 1934 in nearby Wilmington, DE. In 1946 they moved to “The Barn”. The old milking house was converted into a residence for the Baldwin Family and the stone barn became the bookshop and for some years, a country store museum. We are located deep in the heart of the enchanting and historical Brandywine Valley. Baldwin’s Book Barn is one of America’s truly distinctive bookstores. Step inside and you are transported to another time and place. Today, our store is stuffed to the rafters with a treasure trove of 300,000 used and rare books, manuscripts, maps as well as fine paintings, prints, estate antiques, and other valued collectibles.

Store Hours: 10AM – 6PM Every Day
Except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day
Baldwin’s Book Barn
865 Lenape Road, West Chester, PA 19382
Phone: 610-696-0816        E-mail: info@bookbarn.com

So when I woke up woke up this morning and my husband asked what else I would like to do today, I said “let’s go to Baldwin’s Book Barn.”  So to the Book Barn we went. And it was like visiting a fondly remembered old friend.

Ahhh the smell of books greets you still even with the door just cracked!!!  And the door still creaked the same was going in. Still the same smell of woodstove fires. And still the same floor to ceiling books! I will note they still have a terrific Wyeth section and Chester County section.

We went from bottom to top, top to bottom. I bought a couple of cookbooks. It is nice that some things remain the same in this life.

I will note as an aside as I overheard this, that they could use firewood for their woodstove cut to 14″ or 15″ lengths if you can GIVE them any.  There are enough woodstove folks in Chester County and so many people with firewood, how about paying it forward a little?

Here are some photos I took.  I will note with amusement that I never knew Paris Hilton wrote a book. I had a lovely time and won’t wait 20 years to go back. Go buy a book!

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unacceptable behavior in malvern borough

This was sent to me by one of my readers to me this morning at 8:05 AM. This is the Flying Pig in Malvern Borough. On the corner of King and Bridge. A nice local business, a staple of the borough community, and beloved by so many in the extended community.

Graffiti.

Tagging.

The irony is Malvern Borough does a lot of murals, so if somebody wanted to paint on walls they could volunteer and paint on walls proactively.

This graffiti is wrong. It’s not hip, it’s not cool, it’s wrong. This is hard-earned money out of the pocket of any small business that has to deal with this.

If anyone knows who did this, or if anyone has external outdoor security cameras that may have captured who these people were going to and from the site, I hope they pay it forward and go to the police. In turn, I hope the police don’t come down like a hammer on anyone apprehended for this, but instead give them something proactive like community service so they can learn and move forward.

I get the people wish to express themselves, but this is not the way to do it. Don’t punish small businesses like this. Don’t punish residents like this. Slow your roll and find another way.

To the Flying Pig and other businesses with exposed walls especially, as we learned years ago when facing a sudden onset of graffiti in Ardmore, PA (Lower Merion Township) it isn’t a bad idea to invest in anti-graffiti paint or anti-graffiti sealer coats.

At the time we were dealing with this in Ardmore, residents used to come together and help the small businesses clean up the graffiti and repaint. I always found it heartening that something that was pure vandalism could bring a community together, even for a short time.

Malvern Borough is a treasure. I am really sorry to have to report on this sad act this morning.

all hail tecovas: boots you will live in

I rarely do a retail rave. But I have discovered this boot manufacturer out of Austin, Texas called Tecova.

I love boots but I don’t wear high boots as in just below my knee, I like shorter boots and booties. I also don’t do much of a boot heel. I will note Tecova makes all heights of boots. They are beautiful western boots, not overdone in the least. Simple, handmade, classic for men and women and they also make a couple of weekended duffel bags and beautiful leather belts.

They popped up on Instagram and I clicked through to their website. I have been looking for boots that actually fit my feet properly. And as anyone knows who tries to buy boots, it can be a problem.

I chose a classic simple black bootie called “The Penny”. I ordered a half size up from my normal shoe size, because every time I buy boots I have to go a little bigger much like with heels.

These boots fit like they were hand made for me. They fit like boots that should be easily many times over what I paid for them. (I will admit one of the enticements to me was the boot that I wanted was on sale.)

These boots fit perfectly in the heel which is a problem I always have with any shoe because I have a narrow heel. When I was younger my feet were a true narrow width, and now they are more of a regular width , but my heels are still quite narrow.

The boots are buttery soft leather and they are made in Leon, Mexico and sold through this company in Austin,Texas. They have beautiful leather soles and a chestnut brown heel. I could wear these out with jeans, or dress them up truthfully. They are that attractive a boot.

I tend to choose western boots over others because ever since my knee surgery and a couple of bad ankle sprains, heels are not my friend so I have to be careful on the shoes and boots I choose. But I’m not ready for orthopedic shoes just yet. I’m half- Italian so I remember the orthopedic lace up oxfords on little old Italian ladies when I was growing up!

As per their website, company founder Paul and his partners I assume we’re tired of the exorbitant prices for leather western/cowboy boots. And also a lot of them are so extreme in design that they don’t have broad appeal. I am sure they also ran into fit issues, which is always a problem with me with boots, until now.

Another thing about this company is they only sell direct to the consumer. These aren’t a boot you are going to find in every mall or boot store across the country.

Anyway, as always I have not been compensated for my opinion. I bought a pair of boots and they are just amazing. And again they are classic and beautiful and buttery soft fine leather.

If you are looking for boots, try Tecovas.

fall dinner….mmmmm

Fall cooking. The humidity is finally gone and the temperatures have cooled enough that I don’t feel like my kitchen is a sweatshop.

I have thawed one lonely beef shank we found in the freezer, but it’s not enough for dinner, but I decided it was going to be dinner and decided to get it a companion. So off to Worrell’s Butcher Shop in Malvern Borough I went. They had beautiful fresh beef shanks!

I continued along King Street to Kimberton Whole Foods in Malvern. There I picked up the produce I wanted to add to this recipe plus a few other things. (I would’ve gotten adorable little pumpkins there to except they were $2.99 a piece and I thought that was a bit expensive for pumpkins that were literally very small, but I digress.)

So the ingredients – 2 to 3 beef shanks, Crimini mushrooms, Shitake mushrooms, leeks, shallots, celery, carrots, 2 red hatch chilies from my garden , red wine, two 8 oz. containers of Pacific vegetable broth, one 14.5 oz. can of Muir Glenn fire roasted diced tomatoes, sweet paprika , smoked paprika, 4 cloves of garlic diced, dash of cumin, salt and pepper, fresh rosemary, two bay leaves, fresh thyme.

First I start by dredging the beef shanks in a little flour and kosher salt. I toss into a Dutch oven on the stove with olive oil heating. I brown each of the beef shanks ( I ended up with three for this recipe.)

Then I add about a third of a bottle of wine and let that simmer as I am slicing up my vegetables.

As I am adding my vegetables beginning with the garlic, shallots, and leeks I also add one of the 8 oz. containers of vegetable broth.

After I add the garlic, shallots, and leeks I add diced up Hatch chilies, followed by carrots, celery, and the mushrooms.

Next I add the fresh herbs and a little more kosher salt. (I don’t start with a lot of salt I can adjust it later so I really am being judicious with it.)

Then I add a dash of cumin, smoked paprika, sweet paprika, black pepper, the can of tomatoes, and finally another third of a bottle of wine.

Now my beef shanks are ready for the oven. They will cook in a low oven for 3 to 4 hours.

People like to serve these over mashed potatoes, I also like to serve them over rice. And I like brown basmati rice, or a wild rice mixture.

My apologies that this recipe is it more exact, but it just isn’t. I think people need to judge for themselves the amount of herbs and spices and salt and pepper they want in a recipe.

Anyway beef shanks and mushrooms are a wonderful and hearty fall meal. Slow cooking it means the meet will be fork tender.

Bon Appétit!

it’s all about the money, honey

Drove by Greystone Hall today. What a sh*t show. They have already updated their website to reflect the 34 acres they kept after selling to the developer.

“The Woodlands at Greystone”. Another preposterous development name. West Goshen Township should be ashamed, but like most municipalities, in the end all they do is roll over and show the developers their municipal bellies.

This development which has already begun as you can see, will litter the area with what? 598 MORE homes for the area?

Ugh.

But hey, when it comes to development it’s always all about the money, honey.