A couple of weeks ago I went to an estate sale in Malvern. I bought some vintage linens and this was among them. Jennie the Little Hostess Doll from Colonial Williamsburg. I had seen it before and people treated this like a tea towel. But it isn’t. It’s a cloth doll pattern. Irish linen, actually.
So today I decided Jenny the Williamsburg doll would come to life as in I would sew her up. You see, a very special little girl I know has a birthday coming up. I like old fashioned simple dolls, and I hope she likes it.
I did trim the doll up a little with some vintage trimmings I have. I think she looks cute. A fun project on a rainy day!
Eastside Flats in Malvern Borough. Still don’t like them how many years later, although I do support the businesses. So who owns Eastside Flats now because I am uncertain at this point who owns the development and who manages it? It’s not the original developer.
Does everyone remember a couple of different things that put Eastside flats in the news early on? The amazingly and shockingly low amount of ratables Malvern Borough would receive for approving a development still out of scale and character for the Borough of Malvern? And the other kerfuffle when The Whip Tavern said no to Eastside Flats in Malvern Borough?
But then everyone heard Christopher’s was coming to town. It was like that one thing changed a lot of perception about this behemoth of a development. I have always felt like Christopher’s was a kind of anchor that drew people to Eastside Flats and other people and other businesses quite possibly. I know they are what initially made me personally give Eastside Flats a chance.
Christopher’s made Malvern more of a destination, which in turn benefited other businesses and the borough itself. And if there was a community event, Christopher’s in Malvern was right there for the community the way Christopher’s in Wayne always has been.
And for years Christopher’s did things like featured local artists on their walls. And they had wonderful staff. If you told one of the Christopher’s waitstaff you had a particular food allergy or a series of food allergies, they all knew the menu so well that they could bring you a flawless order that wouldn’t make you sick. They did this for a friend of mine one time when we went in for lunch. She had a lot of food allergies and they took care of her so perfectly. (it’s because of all these things that I will continue to go to Wayne once life returns to a more normal pattern.)
Recently, Christopher’s closed their Malvern location thanks to the COVID19 of it all, to return solely to a Wayne which leaves a giant, gaping, empty hole in the streetscape,and also, well they will be missed. In addition to being a wonderful business, Christopher’s offered food that wasn’t formula pub food and you didn’t just go there because it was a bar. You went there because it was a restaurant and it was a nice experience for all ages. It wasn’t huge or cavernous and cold as a space it was kind of just right. But can you imagine what the rent nut was to cover in Eastside Flats?
COVID-19 has caused America’s hospitality industry from coast to coast to take a direct and brutal hit. The largest in history for that industry. Restaurants and other hospitality industry businesses are closing left and right from coast to coast. And I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that not only are they getting no assistance, it’s the rents they are being charged.
But I have to ask, what kind of rent do these commercial landlords think they will get? After all, we are in a struggling in the present economy at a minimum, and nobody wants to look at what the other potential downside is, correct? I also think overall the economy has not been as strong as we have been led to believe. And people will argue with me about that but that’s just how I feel.
Malvern’s charm is in it’s history and size, much like the village portion of Berwyn and similarly scaled small towns and villages. Berwyn is in Easttown Township and a present is suffering from potential development implications of its own, but I think they need to look at what’s going on in Malvern Borough right now.
These new developments come in and even with old developments they will offer a lower rent to get somebody in the door. Then those rents get jumped over time to the point that the businesses have to look at their own financial viability and decide if they want to put food on the table of their families and staff or food on the table of whoever the commercial landlords are.
I know plenty of people who have over the years owned other restaurants or brick and mortar stores in various communities who had to make the painful decision to close because after their initial honeymoon when they first came to town and did business with their respective commercial landlords, they couldn’t justify the rents any longer.
And commercial property owners don’t really necessarily care about the empty storefronts in our communities, it’s about what they can make. So they won’t look at continual lease turnover the same way a community might. If one of their property sits empty, I am told they apply those losses to the bottom line of profits from other properties, so for them, it’s business as usual if a place is empty, right? Greedy is as greedy does right? And a lot of these commercial landlords aren’t local. So they don’t get what happens locally nor do they really care do they?
So now we are here in 2020. In October 2020 which has to be one of the most stressful and heartbreaking years a lot of us have experienced in our lifetimes. And a global pandemic known as COVID-19 is bringing the economy down like a house of cards, card by freaking card isn’t it? Drive Route 30 alone from further west to east to the city line. You really see the empty store fronts. This is no joke.
When it comes to local restaurants, not all of them have the space to put things outside and not all of the communities have the wherewithal to let the businesses put tables outside. And because this virus is not under control, and there’s no shot for it, everything is two steps forward and seven steps back is what it feels like. We are in the midst of additional outbreaks now. Which of course then makes businesses fear they will have to shut down again.
Someone said to me that essentially politics is driving all of this. And you can’t just blame it on one party or the other. Especially out here in these smaller municipalities. They don’t really have political savvy or Wiley Coyoteness. And yes, in Philadelphia they do (cue Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and the giant mess there), but out here? The politicians don’t necessarily run much, they are kind of run, aren’t they?
So when I heard about Christopher’s closing, I mentioned it to a chef in search of a space. And they didn’t want just any space they wanted the right space. And this is a chef who will blow a lot of culinary minds. They have the international and national credentials, they have the knowledge base and experience. So I told them about Eastside Flats. Selfishly, I want them to open a restaurant in our area. A lot of people do. They are also the kind of person who would bring people to the community just the way Christopher’s did and say Alba and General Warren do. It would be win-win to our communities and existing fine dining.
I asked this person the other day whatever had happened with them investigating Eastside Flats. And I think suffice it to say, unrealistic rents on the part of the commercial landlord happened. Did I mention this is a person with business experience? They essentially told me that what was being quoted for rent wouldn’t be sustainable during a normal period, let alone a global pandemic. Essentially, a business needs to sustain itself and with what whomever over there at Eastside is currently thinking, it just wouldn’t happen, that they wouldn’t even be able to break even. It’s a typical commercial property dilemma, and the dilemma is the only party who would be making a profit would be the commercial property owner and what small business in their right mind wants to assume that risk?
I am not an economist, but I remember hearing somewhere once that most restaurants only start to turn a profit in the 3 to 5 year mark if they are lucky and survive that long. Profit is revenue minus costs, both fixed and variable, right? Starting a restaurant is fantastically expensive correct? Also what fits into the equation is also not confusing profitability with revenue generating, yes? Even if a restaurant is generating high revenue, they’re not necessarily reflecting a similar profit, correct?
So I think Malvern Borough and other municipalities need to wake up. Stop just bending over for absentee commercial landlords and developers. Recognize that compromise is something that they have to negotiate so we get quality non-formula and not just chain or franchise businesses in our communities. We need a retail mix that has better planning, essentially. In a lot of other areas municipalities have retail coordinators who help recruit businesses to the communities in which they work and help the negotiation process between potential businesses and commercial landlords. Even business district authorities and business associations will do this. And the simple reason for that is nobody is as invested in the community as the community itself.
Eastside Flats is kind of looking like a ghost town. And they just let a huge opportunity for our community and for them walk away because of unrealistic rent expectations. They might not like my opinion but the first amendment allows me to have it.
So that is your food for thought so to speak for the day. How are your communities being impacted by commercial landlords during COVID-19? And how will the hospitality industry survive and what will it look like after this? And when you are formulating your response try to leave the politics out of it because politicians and political parties come and go but these are our local businesses.
Also if you are interested Bon Appétit Magazine has a terrific article from the end of September on how you can help those in the restaurant industry.
It’s funny how cooking and gardening have helped make the crazy of 2020 fade for finite amounts of time. Maybe it is because I enjoy both.
This is not a recipe post. This is about how I feel headed into the last quarter of 2020.
I woke up this morning utterly sick of people and the way they are behaving. Between COVID-19 and the election, the constant barrage of smack talking crap is just too much some days. So this morning I started a loaf of sourdough bread and made some fresh tomato sauce with sausages so I could make a pasta sausage bake this evening.
Like gardening, cooking is calming for me. It centers me. Maybe because it is such a basic purpose of life.
The whole feeding and cooking for people thing makes me think of a chef I know. I was taking photos for him once and he said to get a photo of diners breaking bread (each table had a small loaf of bread.) He remarked that people remember that simple act of breaking bread. It was a nice thing to remember this morning in the midst of crazy.
It seems the worse the news gets on T-rump, the more fanatical the devoted become. I think people who remember WWII era and post-WWII era dictators are probably the only ones who would have ever seen such behavior before. It’s also like a fanatical religious tent revival from the Great Depression. It’s like watching the proverbial train wreck/car wreck/plane wreck. You know you should look away, only you don’t, and then you get a headache…and the behavior is just depressing…and so sad.
I understand there are those out there who are solid conservatives who feel duty bound to vote the straight party ticket no matter what. Dinosaurs, some beloved to me, but dinosaurs nonetheless. I don’t begrudge them their voting choices, why do they begrudge me mine?
As Americans, we have to vote the way our own heart and own mind tell us to. Or in theory that is the way it is supposed to work, only it’s not, is it? In years past, I was equally appalled and fascinated by people outside polls in Ardmore, PA telling people to “vote the way we told you to.” And it still goes on, every election cycle. If you can even get people to the polls because a lot of people talk a good game and never actually vote, which blows my mind as I find it to be one of our greatest rights as Americans.
I have had a long journey from Republican to Democrat with Independent in between. I still wonder if I am more of a situational Democrat, because it’s the state of this country , the various and continual mind boggling situations that brought me here. I do marvel because I was so resolute in my Republicanism, until 2016. Then it was like I lost and old friend, mourned them, and had to move on. I do not know what my political future holds and that does actually bother me but I know what calls itself the Republican party is not the Republican party I once knew, believed in, or volunteered for during the RNC 2000.
What else do I mourn? Civility in conversation even with supposed long-term friends. Especially lacking on social media. It’s all anger and vitriol, both sides of the political aisle. And when you sit still somewhat Malcolm in the Middle, it just takes your breath away. And more often than not, the worst offenders are women. Ladies we are not Stepford Wives, we all are not supposed to think, drink, chirp, and dress in unison. The behavior is so limiting…for them.
2020 has made me revisit the music of all stages of my life. Supertramp, first listened to in Strasbourg, France in the late 1970’s on a little portable record player. Take The Long Way Home. Old Fleetwood Mac. Old Genesis like Follow You Follow Me and Crosby Stills Nash and Young Our House which I remember where I was the first time I listened to it: the basement of my sorority the fall of 1981. I was homesick and used to do my homework in the downstairs of the sorority and listen to the records there.
Also revisiting Carly Simon, Rosanne Cash, Bonnie Raitt, Dire Straits, Johnny Hates Jazz, English Beat, Basia, Steely Dan, Steve Winwood, Little River Band, Joe Jackson, Alan Parsons Project. Also have been listening to more classical music (but NEVER opera!) which would make my late father happy.
Rosanne Cash actually dropped a new single today. Her take on the year (see bottom video.) Other artists I have been listening to? Taylor Swift. Yes seriously. Me. Her Folklore album was such a surprise. It’s a gem. Every song tells a story and many of them you can identify with. So many of the lyrics made me smile. I have always listened to the occasional song Taylor Swift has written. But when this album dropped on Spotify, I sat and I listened. I must play it at least once a week. It is transformative and it shows how she is maturing as an artist. It’s beautiful actually. In this crazy stressful year, this music is welcome.
Books. I am reading again. And watching lots of BritBox and ACORN streaming because their shows are just well, better. I am working on my vintage quilts which always need a patch or seven. Cooking with my late mother-in-law’s mixing bowls today. remembering my father when I plant daffodil bulbs.
Anything to escape this year where every time you turn around something bad or sad is happening. People I know are sick, friends are taking care of other sick family members. And illness is isolating enough in more normal times, but now? Now it’s just cruel.
And yes, I have had my sad moments in 2020. Who hasn’t if they are honest? Our new normal is anything but and I thought I was done with new normals when I survived breast cancer.
A friend of mine today told me to remember when people give me a hard time about how I run a community Facebook group to remember that today it helped distraught owners reunite with a wandering dog very quickly. She brought me to tears just now when she texted me that.
My friend also reminded me that human nature is backwards and more people complain than express appreciation and also reminded me that people are so unhappy because of the sheer helplessness we have felt since March. A global pandemic, a leader that doesn’t lead but rants on Twitter, confronting racism in this country, protests and rioting and looting and businesses failing…and politics. Politics that to an extent leave almost everyone behind at times. Depression and suicide rates are at all time high. People often are NOT seeking help, so they mistake pain and loneliness for anger. (These are a lot of her words paraphrased, she sums it up so beautifully.)
This is 2020. I don’t think any of us will ever forget it. But God willing and if the creek don’t rise, we will all survive. I met a Mennonite woman the other day. She was delivering something to me. She bid me good day and we talked for a while. She was probably the most Godly person I have met all year, and the simplicity of her belief and faith were inspiring. Her name was Esther and she said to me that she wondered what God was trying to teach us this year, and I replied I wondered if we could really all stop and listen to what he was wanting us to think about. I think a lot of it is taking us all back to basics and not taking life and love for granted.
And that is the thing about this crazy year: in the midst of the crazy and anger and vitriol and UNcivil discourse, there are occasional moments of joyful simplicity and beauty. Beauty in the things around us like our gardens, our friends, our neighbors, our families. If we learn nothing else in 2020, we learn not to take life for granted.
Life can be hard, but it can surprise us. We have to look for the positives in 2020 and it’s hard some days, trust me, I get it. Our next hurdles will be the holidays. How can we do big family gatherings? The short answer is if we love our families, we simply cannot. This bums me out because as much as holidays drive me crazy, I love the sounds of conversation and laughter around my table and Christmas Tree.
I am going to thank you now for meandering on this ramble with me and close with a Langston Hughes quote I have quite literally loved since the 4th or 5th grade:
“Hold fast to dreams for if dreams die life is a broken-winged bird that can not fly.
Hold fast to dreams for when dreams go life is a barren field frozen with snow.”
Wishing you all the best in these crazy times. VOTE.
2 cups all purpose flour (yesterday I used bread flour it was all I had)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 large egg
1 cup puréed pumpkin (15 oz)
1 cup sourdough starter-( fed within the last week and you have to let it warm up from out of your refrigerator for at least two hours)
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup or even 1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup flaked coconut or raisins
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground mace
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
Directions: Mix all wet ingredients except for sourdough starter.
Add spices. If you don’t like as many spices in a pumpkin bread as I do just decrease it. I am a cinnamon fiend I love cinnamon.
Stir in sourdough starter.
Stir in dry ingredients until just mixed. everything has to be incorporated so you’re just going to have to pay attention. I do this by hand not with a mixer.
Pour into a lightly greased Bundt pan and bake at 350° for approximately one hour. I use a metal skewer the skinny kind like you used to close the back of a turkey to test to see if the baking is complete. Toothpick or skewer should come out clean.
Cool in pan at least 25 minutes before removing from pan.
My final COVID-19 cooking note is if you can find canned pumpkin at a reasonable price by it because the prices attached to it now are absurd.
I will state after experiencing this person in East Whiteland at Routes 30 and 352, I wouldn’t vote for the invisible John Emmons for Congress because of people like this. (Not that anyone has seen the man, he’s kind of like the male equivalent to Kristine Howard. You are just supposed to vote for them just because.)
I have carried pickets in protest in my day, but I never stood on a crazy busy street corner in East Whiteland yelling at cars, practically in traffic. Not exaggerating, look at the photo.
I know the photo is grainy I was a passenger in a car and I was not expecting that woman and her friend and their signs. They were startling, alarming, and unpleasant.
Offensive. Something about “DemoCRAPS”. Yelling, smiling, are they unhinged?
This woman and her pal are a completely unnecessary traffic hazard at this intersection and the person I was driving with almost got hit trying to not be too close to this person turning the corner and some fool coming out of the Linden Hall development decided to just kind of gun it through the intersection when they did NOT have the right of way.
I do not care if someone wants to exercise their rights and look like a fanatical jackass campaigning for whomever, in this case John Emmons. What I do care about is not being subjected to additional hazards on already busy roads.
John Emmons train your protestor volunteers better. They should be well in from the curb.
And not for nothing else, that woman on the corner where she was positioned without a face mask was technically not socially distancing from drivers and cars and how is that fair to all of us who are merely driving by on the road?
Oh and I voted for Chrissy Houlahan. Gladly. John Emmons would be my cup of electoral tea the first day of never.
Sign me disgusted with chaos and fanaticism…this country is is such distress it hurts your heart these days to be an American.
A friend asked me if I ever watched the East Brandywine Township meetings. I said no, but just spent some time watching the September 17th and October 1st meetings.
Get. Out. The. Popcorn. Drammmmma.
East Brandywine is like a little or a lot of who is on first. There is this one supervisor named Kyle Scribner. Seems kind of to really not get along with other two supervisors. He was the Chair of the Supervisors Board until the September 17 meeting when he quit being chair. It seemed to be over who was solicitor for the township, and apparently it is now Marc Jonas of Eastburn Gray but was formerly Kristin Camp of Buckley Brion? Is this such a big deal I mean don’t townships change solicitors all of the time? Is there more to the story?
Follow this link for everything East Brandywine has on You Tube.
Now mentioned in the East Brandywine meetings is litigation I guess the township is in. And one of the things they keep talking about is the “Carlino Giant Case”.
So I went a Googling. That’s that whole thing that has to do with what used to be the Croppers, correct? I guess that is why there was a special Saturday call or session listed for yesterday October 10th? Something about appointing a special counsel?
So relating to this case, I found the following while noodling around on Google:
My friend Catherine Quillman, who is a Chester County artist, author, and historian sent me a note the other day. Yes , she is one of those people like myself who occasionally sends real notes. (Only hers are always so much better because they usually involve a little piece of her art or a cartoon she has drawn.)
Anyway she sent me this old art advertisement she came across and it’s about Loch Aerie. It was done for Chester County artist Christopher Schultz in 1994 when he was selling a print he made of Loch Aerie that was slightly fanciful.
What makes this old advertisement so special is I don’t think Catherine knew I used to own one of these prints! I had bought it off a yard sale group and it lived on my guestroom wall until I found a C. Phillip Wikoff print I liked better. (I also found that print on a yard sale group.)
So when I heard the current owners of Loch Aerie (the Poiriers ) had rescued her, I decided I would give the Loch Aerie print to them as a housewarming/welcome to the neighborhood kind of thing. And I did just that. But this advertisement is part of the provenance of the print so I will give them this too!
Local history and local artists are always intertwined and this is just a cool thing! Thanks Catherine for always thinking of me!
Some people write me nice notes that say “I love your blog. It is intelligent, relevant and thoughtful.” But then there are the nasty comments, even some which may or may not be interpreted as an implied threat.
Here is one I got today or overnight is more accurate, as I am not up at that hour:
Ummm ok. Love the threatening tone, do I have to call the police? Has this message been sent to every media person or any other bloggers who covered this? Here are some links:
So this morning I went on an Internet hunt to see if the case had gone to court and was there a disposition? This is what I found:
So the case has NOT gone to court as in NO trial yet, so where is this disposition? How can someone be innocent when the trial has NOT happened yet? The court docket says that at present the trial will happen in front of Chester County Judge Jeffrey Sommer on OCTOBER 21, 2020.
I wrote about this originally (again) because I am now a 9 year cancer survivor who has also had secondary cancers (squamous cell skin cancer if it is any of your business.) This thing with cancer scams BUGS me. Cancer is EXPENSIVE. No joke, I get it.
I was lucky, but it also was not easy every month making payments until the debt was finally gone. ON THE BREAST CANCER BILLS. Right now I am looking at a few thousand in overage from insurance that I have to pay because of two skin cancer surgeries I had this year.
I have donated to cancer fundraisers on occasion. Not every one that crosses my path, but when I know someone does need help, I try to pay it forward. I have quite a few friends battling HORRIBLE cancers right now. Cancer is no joke so when a fake thing pops up, I am naturally upset.
This story even made international news. In the UK for example. The Daily Star and The Daily Mail. I did not originate it and there are court dockets and District Attorneys office stuff so why is this guy hassling me?
So here’s the deal: I will update when the trial has occurred and the Chester County District Attorney’s office releases something. Or when the docket changes to reflect disposition. Or regular print and television journalists do an update. But nasty commenter? I have done nothing wrong. All you have done is draw more attention towards your “friend” and was that the goal?
Thanks for stopping by for this episode of I kind of guess it’s time to threaten a blogger.