christmas magic…at life’s patina

We walked into the beautiful big old barn and it was truly magical at Life’s Patina today. Beautiful and Christmas festive in every nook and cranny. There are only a certain amount of people allowed in the barn at any one time and everyone must be wearing masks, and there is hand sanitizer everywhere you turn around. It’s a magical and safe experience in a COVID-19 world.

Meg and her merry band of elves outdid themselves! From little balsam wood houses that light up, to Christmas mice in velvet dresses and tree skirts for feather trees it was amazing! Sparkling ornaments everywhere and among my favorites? Very lovely mercury glass pinecones and marvelous modern reproductions of old German Kugel ornaments.

Mixed in with Christmas magic were all sorts of vintage and antique items. One of the things I liked best was downstairs in the barn on the big long farmhouse table was a vintage Grenadine bottle.

We loved every minute we were there, and preview guests were also given amazing gift bags to take home.

I love Christmas, everyone who knows me knows how much I love Christmas and I loved today’s experience. You really should go if you can. Simply magical!

By appointment only. Life’s Patina at Willowbrook Farm, 1750 North Valley Road, Malvern, PA.

a wish and a prayer

What a grey, miserable, damp, dark day. In a year where many of us have too much time alone with our own thoughts, today’s atmosphere makes it a day to hibernate and ponder, doesn’t it?

Spotify has this time capsule playlist. Listening to it has made me reflective and a little pensive. Right now Simply Red “Holding back The Years” is playing.

Lyrics
 Holding back the years
 Thinking of the fear I've had so long
 When somebody hears
 Listen to the fear that's gone
 Strangled by the wishes of pater
 Hoping for the arms of mater
 Get to me the sooner or later
 Holding back the tears
 Chance for me to escape from all I know
 Holding back the tears
 'Cause nothing here has grown
 I've wasted all my tears
 Wasted all those years
 Nothing had the chance to be good
 Nothing ever could, yeah
 I'll keep holding on
 I'll keep holding on
 I'll keep holding on
 I'll keep holding on, so tight
 Well I've wasted all my tears
 Wasted all of those years
 And nothing had the chance to be good
 'Cause nothing ever could
 I'll keep holding on
 I'll keep holding on
 I'll keep holding on
 I'll keep holding on
 Holding
 Holding
 Holding
 Holding
 I said
 It's all I have today
 It's all I have to say

Those lyrics are still profound, maybe moreso. It makes me think of the friends I have lost. Bright lights, but they burned too fast. One overdosing thanks to addictions they would not admit to, another to I think that their body just giving out after years of substance abuse even though they cleaned up their act for decades. One although still technically alive, had her life end when she wrapped herself around a tree one night…very intoxicated. There was even one who “fell” off their apartment balcony in NYC. There are sadly more, but these are the ones who come to mind.

Now the one in the massive drunk driving incident? She is still alive as far as I know but the traumatic brain injuries at the time essentially made her a child once again, with a child’s memories. So essentially, after the accident she didn’t know who I was, it was like she was a kid again and her memories just didn’t exist after a point. And her parents quite frankly did not make it easy for you to visit and she was also a paraplegic in a wheelchair, so I was young and eventually just stopped going. I still think of her often. She was such a good person and so bright. But one night, someone gave her the keys to her car back after they had been taken away. She would have been an awesome mom, I think, and we will also never know what trajectories her career would have skyrocketed to.

Damned if I know why I still think of all of these people, but I do. I think because I don’t think they would have had a easy time living through 2020. I mean, look at the rest of us, right? None of us are perfect, and even with the blessings our lives have, it’s one damn hard, stressful, sad year.

I have written about this before during 2020, but it all seems to be coming to a head again: COVID19, racism, truly ugly politics, and more. If these friends had survived, where would they be?

It also makes me think of people whom I am no longer connected to by my choice mainly, but sometimes theirs. One in particular whom I felt was so alone before 2020. The thing 2020 has taught a lot of us is the sad lesson that although we should have compassion for the struggles of others, we need to be mindful of our own families first. So what happens to these people? Do they just fall between the cracks of life?

Lyrics
 Has anyone ever written anything for you
 In all your darkest hours
 Have you ever heard me sing
 Listen to me now
 You know I'd rather be alone
 Than be without you
 Don't you know
 Has anyone ever given anything to you
 In your darkest hours
 Did you ever give it back
 Well, I have
 I have given that to you
 If it's all I ever do
 This is your song
 And the rain comes down
 There's no pain and there's no doubt
 It was easy to say
 I believed in you everyday
 If not for me
 Then do it for the world
 Has anyone ever written anything for you
 In your darkest sorrow
 Did you ever hear me sing
 Listen to me now
 You know I'd rather be alone
 Than be without you
 Don't you know
 So, if not for me, then
 Do it for yourself
 If not for me then
 Do it for the world
 Poet priest of nothing
 Poet priest of nothing
 Source: LyricFind
 Songwriters: Stevie Nicks / Keith Olsen

Yesterday I posted “A lot of people are struggling right now. This has been a crazy tough year. Send up a prayer to mankind so that people know they are loved.

I mean that. But where I am conflicted is some people I know who are struggling have to find the inner steel to climb out of the hole they have dug for themselves, all by themselves…as in we can’t do it for them or enable them in any way. And for so many people right now that seems an impossible feat. Why? Because 2020 is the year the unimaginable is happening…every damn day.

And then there are the people who want to climb out of the self-dug hole but say “It’s hard, I tried.” No sugarpuffs, life can be damn hard. But please, do it for yourself and those who love you. But will they? I don’t know. I hope so, but I don’t know.

2020 is the year of self-conflict (in a sense and I will explain.I think. I hope.) Human beings are not stand alone beings necessarily. We need each other. But COVID19 is isolating a lot of us. Some of us could really use a hug or just human contact. But there is the whole virus thing. Today I gave a friend a hug. I kinda know where she has been and what she was up to. She needed a hug. Maybe I did too. Not sure.

I have days where I just marvel at people. Especially on social media. It’s like normal social media has morphed into this whole virtual mean girls platform on steroids. People are just online assassins some days, and often you have to wonder for what? Because you are different from them?

And then there are the people who in the face of 2020 seem to have to post additionally how marvelously their lives are….and you know their lives are anything but happy, and wonder why can’t people admit when they are having bad days or a series of bad days? Would it be so bad? To me it’s preferable to living the grand illusion.

And the people who are struggling? Sadly now you can start to recognize it. So much of our life has become virtual, that you can see far more easily when the cracks are showing. So what do you do? You try to be there…but this is a year we also have to be there for ourselves and our own families.

There are people you would never think suffered from depression…who are. And people who prior to this kept their issues to themselves, but because of COVID19, life is just extra scary. And then there are yes the people who are milking 2020 to get as much free stuff out of people as possible. That really bothers me. And no, not being jaded, it is happening quite a bit.

There are many people I know who are sick or who have been sick. No not COVID19. Just other horrible stuff, like the ever popular Russian Roulette of step up and pick a cancer.

It feels like every day you hear something crazy. I just heard about the barn fire in West Pikeland Township on Yellow Springs Road. It had all of the sets, tools and supplies for the SALT Performing Arts. They do wonderful things and the arts are so at risk thanks to the economic downturn because of COVID19, and prior changes to tax codes that affect charitable donations. If you can give SALT Performing Arts a donation, please do. No homes were lost and no one was hurt, but wow what a blow. Do they do old fashioned barn-raisings anymore? I hope they do because I think that was probably a historic barn too. And don’t forget your local volunteer fire companies and first responders. They are our heroes in ordinary time.

We all just need a break from 2020, I think. Except I also feel 2020 has made us pause for the self reflection that makes us appreciate what we do have. I feel very grateful for my life and family…yes even when they are driving me crazy. (Like the one playing video games loudly a room over from the home office I am typing this in.)

2020 has just been one exceptionally crazy year for the annals of history. It will be the year we all remember with far more detail then the future will want us to. But what will we learn from all of this? I mean we certainly won’t forget the year from hell known as 2020.

I hope you appreciate I made it through the post without mentioning a certain malignant narcissist occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Like all narcissists he hates when things aren’t about him, so the parting shot? #VOTE like your life and country depends upon it…because it does.

Stay safe out there and check in on people.

chester county landmarks and a chester county artist

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.

Ok so how cool is that to stumble across thanks to one of my readers? I am also including an article about the Stephen Moylan Press.

We are nothing without our history.

I am also including links embedded here because sometimes people have a hard time with Scribd.

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.)

Now a plug for Chester County Day. This is a beloved Chester County Tradition. COVID-19 forced them off their normal routine and they have done virtual tours (CLICK HERE TO TAKE THEM.) They also need our donations to keep the tradition alive. CLICK HERE TO MAKE A CHESTER COUNTY DAY DONATION. I will be doing so before year end.

Happy Sunday!

another west chester ramble

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Today we went old school and headed to D&K for breakfast.  It was as good as it always is, and we wandered on our way through the Borough Of West Chester.

I have always liked West Chester.  What I don’t like however is all the infill development.  Why? Because what is going up now is not in the least complementary of the borough, which has little brick houses of more of a colonial style through to grand Victorian mansard roofs and gardens with wrought iron gates.

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See above.  Another Kahnification of West Chester (blue and new going up to the right of Kildare’s).  That used to be the Mosteller Department Store  which truthfully from it’s early history morphed into something quite unattractive. But what is replacing it is also unappealing to me because it just doesn’t jive with the area.  I am not saying people have to build imitation Williamsburg, but if they are going modern, why does it have to be ummm…jarring and unattractive and out of size and scale with the surroundings?

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I really started to explore West Chester in the 1980s when one of my best friends came out to West Chester to go to college.  I used to visit her and explore.  In those days I did not have a car so often I took a train to Paoli and a cab into West Chester if I could not get a ride.  (I will note where you wait for cabs on the westbound side of Paoli station is still creepy.)

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West Chester is one of those towns where I always find something to look at. Now these are newer townhouses in the next photo, and I actually don’t mind the design even if I don’t quite get the height and bunker like quality of the wall in front:

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GPS took us down a street that really wasn’t a street to me, but the rear of a development.  Here I saw once again what I dislike about most townhouse developments:

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This is an actual street and look how narrow. And Look at SUVs and trucks NOT being able to fit in their own driveway.  To me this looks like a street in Sea Isle or Ocean City, NJ.

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One of the things I also have always liked about West Chester are the alleys and side streets.  Always something cool to see there as well. A lot of old stable structures still exist, among other things.

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West Chester is just fun to wander.

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It’s also fun to check out old postcards to see what has changed and to see what still exists.  Take for example (and thanks for rambling with me):

 

life in black and white…at life’s patina

Once upon a time in 2012 in the summer I was asked to photograph beautiful Chester County properties for a historic house tour. The Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust’s Annual Historic House Tour.

On this day, for the first time I saw Willowbrook Farm, which most of you know as Life’s Patina. At this point in 2012, the barn where so many go to enjoy special events and charity shopping days was being restored. I had not even met Meg Veno yet.

I fell in love with this farm on that day many years ago.

The restoration and adaptive reuse of the barn and the restoration of the property is an amazing thing to behold. It’s just so beautiful.

The care, the love, the attention to detail. And I have loved all of my many subsequent visits ever since.

Meg is inspirational to me. She is endlessly creative and has an incredible eye. She is also one of the kindest people I have ever met.

I was going through old photos and came across these and thought I would share them.

Life’s Patina is also expanding. They are restoring and renovating the Jenny Lind House in Historic Yellow Springs Village.

Now Yellow Springs is one of my very favorite places and has been since I was much younger. I used to come to Yellow Springs with my parents. My father loved the village and we used to come for the art show and sale and the antiques show they used to host (which I always thought was fabulous by the way.)

I took these next two photos of the Jenny Lind House last May 2019. I was in the village for the Herb Society Plant Sale. It’s so wonderful to see the house come back to life!

Anyway, enjoy the photos and celebrate those who chose to restore and renovate and find an adaptive reuse for old structures. We need more of that around here!

Make sure you check out Life’s Patina on their website and Facebook page. They often have terrific events. And the bonus is you also get to see a property that’s a slice of heaven in Chester County!

scenes from the tredyffrin historic preservation trust house tour

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Here are some photos from the 15th Annual Historic House Tour that is courtesy of the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust.

I only take exterior shots. You can’t take photos of inside people’s homes and I am fine with that because it is so gracious that they open their homes to begin with.

I am a sponsor of this tour and I really love it.  I am sharing my three favorite homes from 2019.

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life’s patina fall barn sale is this weekend!!

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.

Life’s Patina is packed to the gills with so many cool things! And we also had a chance to chat with Jeff Devlin of Schoolhouse Woodworking.

The fall barn sale is this weekend September 20th through September 22nd! 10 AM to 5 PM Friday and Saturday and 10 AM to 4 PM on Sunday. 1750 North Valley Road, Malvern, PA.

It’s a fun sale and the barn is also full of decorating tableaux for lack of a better description. Meg has an amazing eye, and I am always inspired!

barn again: adaptive reuse on swedesford

See? Preservation does happen once in a blue moon and so does adaptive reuse.

This property is on Swedesford in East Whiteland and has the Battle of the Clouds historic marker out front.

I have zero clue who is doing it or what is happening exactly. They deserve a big thank you for caring enough to take on an adaptive reuse in lieu of a tear down.

Barn again. 😊

cool summer pop-up you DO NOT want to miss this sunday, august 11 in glenmoore!

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.

Sun Tea with fresh herbs and flowers!

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!

for the love of goats

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One of the New Kids on The Block at Yellow Springs Farm

Ha! That title caught your eye, eh gentle readers?

Good! I love my Yellow Springs Farm goats! Well they aren’t really my goats but I love them. And every year, this time of year Yellow Springs Farm has open farm weekends :

Sat, 05/18/2019 – 10:00am to 4:00pm
Sun, 05/19/2019 – 10:00am to 4:00pm
Yellow Springs Farm Native Plant Nursery and Artisanal Goat Cheese Dairy, will be having our Springs Native Plant sale over 2 weekends in May. Originally a dairy farm 150 years ago,the farm and nursery consists of an historic farmhouse, dairy barn, a springhouse with pond on 8 acres of land. We grow native plants, design and install native landscapes and produce over 25 varieties of fresh and aged artisanal goat cheeses. So come on out and take a picture on our Open Farm day weekends(May 11th/12th and May 18th and 19th) with our Nubian Goats, sample cheeses, and see our blooming wildflowers! Plant experts will be available to help you select plants for your garden or landscape plan.

It’s a little slice of heaven. The goats are total characters. The plants are awesome – I have planted three gardens with them now. And the goat cheese and yogurt? Award winning for a very good reason – totally delicious.

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People visiting with the goats this weekend.

I have known the farmers Catherine and Al Renzi for years.  I remember back to circa 2001 when they decided to start their farm and when they bought it.

Over the years a well-deserved following has developed and the event has grown…as in the number of visitors increases every year. And this is where I am going to open my big mouth because it is a distinct privilege being able to visit Catherine and Al’s farm. And no, I don’t work or speak for the farm, I am speaking my mind based upon what I saw out of guests this year that I thought wasn’t the best behavior ever considering these farmers open up their farm (where they live and work) to all of us. 

Let’s start with parking.  They know their farm and their road so they tell you quite politely where to park.  That doesn’t mean the road and it doesn’t mean parking in roped off areas of the farm or blocking people in or even taking what amount to multiple spaces. Be polite, you are a guest.

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This is a farm. Not a dog park.

Pets.  This weekend people bought their dogs. Yes their dogs like it was a dog park.  It’s not a dog park, it’s a working farm with valuable animals including the farm’s own dog.  It is simply not fair to presume YOUR pets are welcome.  Keep them at home. Please. That’s like bringing uninvited guests to a sit-down dinner party.

The goats.  The goats are lovely creatures who are independent minded.  So listen to the goat herders. They know their charges.  And please do not feed their charges.  They have plenty of their own food.  Yes, they look at you with those big brown eyes but resist LOL, resist!

The plants. The plants are awesome!  Around 200 varieties of native plants. From all over the Mid Atlantic and Northeast.  I bought my first witch hazels ever here years ago.  On Saturday I had an impulse buy: one of my favorite kinds of oak trees, a Chestnut Oak. It was here at Yellow Springs that I discovered one of my favorite native perennials called Indian Pinks. Also flame azaleas.

And the cheeses? Mmmmmm mmmmm mmmm.  I recommend the goat cheese with mushrooms that was recommended to me this weekend. I can’t remember it’s proper name but it was delicious.

Yellow Springs Farm is located at:

1165 Yellow Springs Rd  
Chester Springs, Pennsylvania 19425
 (610) 827-2014
 www.yellowspringsfarm.com

Enjoy the goat photos and thanks for stopping by.

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