Soon little ceramic elves will be peeking from book shelves. Gnomes and Santas too. Maybe some nutcrackers. The tree will come to life with vintage and other ornaments. And Christmas baking season will begin.
But what will Christmas in the year of COVID19? Will we celebrate in tiny family pods? Will we celebrate. And what about that grinch holed up in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC? What about all the people who continue to be affected by COVID19 including now our former Chester County Sheriff?
So yes, finding my Christmas spirit has been a little challenging this year. There has been a little bah humbug in the air. Usually about now we are planning a Christmas party. But not this year. We won’t even see our entire family this Christmas. Too many people from too many places. That bums me out.
All of our Christmas celebrations will be quieter this year undoubtedly. But we do need to find our Christmas spirit!!!
Yes, even though I had recently discovered a couple of cool little Santas for a table, my Christmas spirit has been struggling.
Until yesterday. Yesterday my friend Kristin had her business’s open house. It was very different than previous years. We were timed, it was super small, we had to wear masks, and there was hand sanitizer. But there was still Christmas magic every which way I looked. She said sometimes we just have to believe and she’s so right!
Yesterday at the Smithfield Barn we were treated to a vintage Christmas. Totally magical so keep an eye out for more small, socially distanced pop-ups. Also check out what my other favorite elf Lisa has planned at Brandywine View Antiques in Chadds Ford! And you can’t forget Life’s Patina starts spreading holiday cheer next week and Meg is another favorite elf who always seems to know what I am looking for!
Also things that you won’t see this Christmas would be the open house I usually have for my friends to promote another friend’s business. But as luck would have it my friend Alice has two fabulous websites to showcase her products:
Also to be considered is Past*Present*Future in Ardmore. Owned by my friend Sherry, you can shop safely with a mask in the store or buy things online! An artist by training, she has an amazing I and hers is a store that you go in and marvel at everything she has collected for her customers. It’s a beautiful place! And if you’re more comfortable shopping remotely right now you can do that too.
The last three places I am mentioning today are also special to me an run by friends as well. Clover Market has pivoted to online due to COVID19 and Janet has curated an amazing collection of things and they offer free shipping! Shopping Clover 🍀 has never been easier.
Second to last would be King’s Haven in Paoli which is not just an amazing interior design destination, but has a remarkably beautiful collection of art and gifts. All due to my talented friend Lauren.
Finally, there is Framers Market Gallery in Malvern, Newtown Square, and Haverford. Yes Jayne and Dave are friends, but I am a devoted customer and not just for the framing business. They rep some amazing local artists! And to me one of the best gifts you can give anyone for Christmas or the holidays is the gift of art!
Yesterday I realized part of finding our Christmas magic means #ShopLocal and #ShopSmall as well. So I hope you find lovely presents at some of these places and they are all places I am just a regular customer of. They won’t even know I have mentioned their business until I hit publish on this post. As a customer I like to pay it forward.
So I know this is going to be a holiday season like no other. But we do have to believe in the magic of the season.
Shop local, support small businesses wherever you live!
A while ago, in between people cursing me out on my blog’s facebook page for daring to discuss things rationally out of their comfort zone, I had posted something and a relative of the Chester County artist Henry T. MacNeill told me about his pen-and-ink sketches. So I hunted down a copy of this super cool little book that was full of his sketches, done by his family printers owned by his son, Stephen Moylan, for Chester County Day in 1956.
What I realized as I got into this was I often see Henry MacNeill drawings as vintage postcards! A website Postcard History wrote about Mr. MacNeill this summer. I also found an old blog post by one of Mr. MacNeill’s great granddaughters Jennifer MacNeill (who is also a brilliant artist and photographer.)
This evening was an absolutely perfect night for one of the first fall events of the season! We attended the Fall Preview Party for Life’s Patina.
Meg Veno outdid herself as always! This evening’s charitable recipient was Cuddle My Kids , a local non-profit which provides in home no cost cancer support for families in and around Chester County. As a cancer survivor I deeply appreciate these smaller charities which work so hard to help families and give them a bit of a break.
Looks inviting doesn’t it? That is because it is!!!
So what are you doing tomorrow Sunday, August 11 between 12 noon and 6 PM?
You should be going to Glenmoore PA. Just put 1941 Creek Road Glenmoore PA into your GPS or maps program and go! Trust me, it’s a beautiful drive into the country and you will be glad you did! I sure am!
Today I had my BEST score in a long time! Cool vintage dairy sign from the Vintage & Vine Preview POP-up at Glenmoore Deli (1941 Creek Rd Glenmoore PA)
This new venture being introduced to us by two of my pals Kristin Smith and Christie Keith is something you don’t want to miss!
Seriously? Go tomorrow! If you’re going to church you can go after church. It’s a nice weekend and here is the menu:
This burger was fresh and AMAZING!
Salad with fresh mozzarella and a balsamic glaze.
Old-fashioned fair lemon 💗
All of the food is locally sourced when possible (obviously we don’t have any citrus groves in Chester County) and is super fresh! Amazing produce and some was for sale in the store as well.
iThe eclectic mix of vintage, antique and more modern treasures was so much fun! Including to my surprise a fabulous jewelry line out of Washington DC created by a woman born and raise in Chester County! Yes, Diament Jewelry by Libby Diament.
Libby has a store in Washington, DC and started making her jewelry while living and working in NYC. Libby travels around the country hunting for vintage parts and jewelry that can be brought back to life. It’s sort of like finding treasure!
Diament Jewelry has been worn by celebrities including: Jennifer Love Hewitt, Elle Fanning, Cher Lloyd, Rachel Bilson, Giada de Laurentiis, and Meredith Vieira.
Bar earrings from Diament Jewelry
I had been looking for a pair of bar earrings for a couple of years. But I didn’t want ones that look like everyone else’s. So I was super psyched to discover the ladies had Diament Jewelry in their pop-up today. I also bought a pair of small studs that look like glittery slices of quartz or fools gold. As I get older I like wearing study earrings more than I have in a long time and there’s a nice variety for sale along with some adorable dangle earrings like a pair of wishbones! There are also in a locked case some of Diament’s lovely ethereal necklaces.
To check out more on Diament Jewelry visit their website or better yet read the article Forbes Magazine wrote about Libby Diament!
You will also find lovely local raw honey by Hound Dog Honey and soaps and lip balm by Vellum Soap Company and unless they sell out these to die for soft caramel candies by Dave’s Delectable Delites of Glenmoore.
But have I raved enough about the menu? So good. So fresh. Christie Keith is a genius in the kitchen! That is the best part about this menu everything is fresh nothing is frozen. It makes all the difference in the world in taste.
I love to cook as everyone knows, and Christie Keith is one of those people that I will have cook for me any day!
Take a drive in the country tomorrow. Have lunch, find a treasure!
Tonight we had a long overdue dinner date with a dear friend from high school and her husband. These friends are like family to me, so I love when we can get together.
We started in Malvern Borough at Restaurant Alba where the chef was kind enough to do one of the fabulous tasting menus for us (usually Monday through Thursday)
Now I don’t normally photograph the entire menu, but dinner was spectacular.
First up was an egg from the chef’s own chickens served with a fresh grilled ramp and served over couscous:
Next was this delightful fresh trout with refreshing pink grapefruit and micro greens:
After that a delightful pasta that had pistachios chopped in the sauce!
Following the pasta was this melt in your mouth pork belly served over polenta that was totally sublime.
Following the dinner was a flourless chocolate ricotta cake:
I just love Alba. The staff is so nice and it’s just a special place. They got us out the door in plenty of time to make our 7:30 PM curtain at People’s Light.
I think sometimes we take for granted that we have this amazing theater complex and talented players right here in Chester County. I started attending plays there when I was a teenager. One of my good friend’s parents were big and early supporters of this theater treasure.
This evening we saw For Peter Pan on Her 70th Birthday. It runs through May 12th and I loved every minute! When I was little the daughter of a family friend was Peter Pan in a summer production at the Community Theater in Avalon NJ. I remember her flying across the stage in her green tights and costume. It was magical!
Flash forward to this evening. I am an adult and this was a grown up version of Peter Pan. With all the magic of the version of the show I loved as a little girl. (Yes that’s all you get out of me, go see it before it’s gone!)
This evening we also had the extra special treat of seeing another friend from high school’s brother perform and the dog in the show? He was trained by another friend! So it really was a very exceptional and memorable evening.
Once upon a time in a lifetime of mine long, long ago I worked in New York City. Ok yes, decades ago at this point but there were things outside of work that are still these pleasant snippets of enjoyable experiences and memories. Among them was there was (and still is) art everywhere.
Music, art, theater. Subways with poetry on posters like my favorite poem by William Butler Yeats:
When You Are Old
When you are old and grey and full of sleep, And nodding by the fire, take down this book, And slowly read, and dream of the soft look Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace, And loved your beauty with love false or true, But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you, And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars, Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled And paced upon the mountains overhead And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
Hearing fabulous jazz bands at the Blue Note. Rediscovering Caffè Reggio on MacDougal.
All of the various street fairs, and flea markets, and art markets. Dusty old bookstore, antique stores, thrift shops.
A lot of what I liked at the time was down around Greenwich Village. There were so many cool stores and places to check out.
And then there were all of the artists you would see hawking their wares outside of various museums all over the city like the Metropolitan Museum of Art. A lot of this still goes on, incidentally…in between the knock off designer handbag stands and so on.
I was young and well when you are young your salary doen’t go far and funky shoes from a boutique on the Upper West Side was likely to win out over art because well…you couldn’t wear a painting to happy hour, right? But here and there there were artists I would see and just liked for whatever reason. Not necesarily them personally, but their work.
There was this one artist named Anna Tefft Siok whose work I had seen somewhere one time that I liked, but had then forgotten even her name. It had been a bird watercolor. An owl. Sort of abstract but I liked it. And that was saying something because abstract is not really me.
I had not seen work from this artist again in the intervening years until a piece popped up on eBay a year or so ago. Dishfunctional in West Chester had this woodpecker for sale in their eBay store. It was that artist from long ago. I remembered the owl. Her name was Anna Tefft Siok. Only I did not want to pay what Disfuntional was asking for something I would have to definitely re-frame.
So I watched the woodpecker print and waited…and over a year later I pulled up the Disfunctional listing just to see. The print had not dropped in price but when I put in the artist’s name another copy of the print showed up with an antique dealer in Maine. At less than half of what the other exact same print was listed at. That seemed more reasonable to me. (I have found the Disfuntional prices to be a little high at times, sadly.)
Today I took my newly found woodpecker to be framed. Framers Market Gallery in Malvern is who I use for all of my framing. As a related aside, they also represent quite a few Chester County artists. I will have to take something off of my walls when the woodpecker comes home.
I love the process of finding the perfect mat and frame. Framers Market Gallery is very patient with me when it comes to that. And the owner Jayne has impeccable taste.
We ended up with a double mat and a frame which will pick up the texture of the woodpecker’s tree:
The frame my print arrived in was older and while in o.k. condition, the print had never been properly framed and you could see some yellowing on the edges – nothing which was properly acid proof was in the frame with the print and when we took the old mat and paper away from the print we could see the damage from inexpensive framing, sadly. When it is finished, the woodpecker print will be framed properly and last a long, long time.
Curious about the artist, I went a Googling. I discovered she had gone to RISD in Rhode Island and had taught for years at Greenwich House Pottery and the 92nd Street Y.
I found her obituary, which told me more about her:
Courtesy of Greenwich House and the pottery staff the following sentiment from them was shared with me about my rediscovered artist:
Esteemed faculty member Anna Siok taught children’s classes at Greenwich House Pottery from 1958 to 2009. Throughout this period, Anna’s generosity of spirit enriched many lives. We established the Anna Siok Award in her honor in 1995, which honors her life of creativity, nurturing support and enduring presence. We continue to give out this award annually to an artist at Greenwich House Pottery who displays excellence in handbuilding.
I will note I also contacted the 92nd Street Y. Sadly, they had absolutely nothing to share. What I got was “Unfortunately we don’t have her bio on file. Good luck in your ongoing search!” Anna Tefft Siok taught at both places for over 50 years. I know she died in 2010, but seriously? They had nothing on file? It’s like she never existed.
I am glad Greenwich House too the time for me. I urge people to check out Greenwich House Pottery. It seems really cool.
In the obituary online, I found photos of my artist:
I know people probably think this is strange, but it’s part of the provenance of the piece: who created it. Now do I think her work is going to be worth tons of money? No, but I like it. Or I like this piece.
And once again that is the thing about art: buy what you like. It does not have to be expensive. It does not have to be a famous artist, although Anna Tefft Siok was respected and was well known throughout her life in New York.
Art brings me joy. I have core things I will never part with (my Margery Niblock wood cuts for example), but I will replace art pieces I discovered with other pieces I discovered. Tastes change, we evolve in what strikes a chord with us at different stages of our lives.
Art brokers and gallery owners alike probably wouldn’t like me saying art doesn’t have to be rare or priceless to hold huge amounts of monetary value. But art should make us happy, evoke a memory, provoke a memory, cause a new memory to happen. Or when all else fails, you just like something. And no one else has to like it. Only you.
So many people love art yet live with blank walls. Sometimes I think it’s because they do not know what to buy. Or are afraid. To them I say: what do you like? What would make you happy?
For me it makes me happy that I stumbled upon an artist once again I had seen long ago. And living in the woods, having a woodpecker print is kind of appropriate, I think.
I will close with one last photo of this artist from her 2010 obituary. Painting in the summer. I now have a cool provenance to go with a print I just liked.
Explore art. Support local artists wherever you live. Life is too short for bare walls.