what would charles dickens think?

I have been trying to give these Yuletide at Devon people the benefit of the doubt. Even sent potential sponsor people and others their way. But then on top of the fee just to walk in the gate, I next heard about the parking prices.

Sorry not sorry, my inner Scrooge came out at the parking prices on top of the walk in the gate prices without so much as a complimentary candy cane? Ummm?

And then there was the whole “press preview” because that cracks me up. Influencers, and more benign mommy bloggers were invited. I am laughing because my invitation must have gotten lost, yes? But then again, I don’t ask for or expect freebies, do I? But hey some Russian and India based bot tweeters have it on “X” so I guess that matters?

I have never been an it girl (or needed to be), nor am I an influencer or an overly socially ambitious “therapist” who wants to be an influencer, I just love Christmas and offer an honest opinion.

But my honest opinion after mulling it over is that for $35 just to walk in the door, not including parking or anything else unless you want to ride kiddie rides? I’ve made the decision to skip it. I am not saying don’t go, I am saying for me it’s a shiny Christmas bauble without the necessary luster.

If Yuletide at Devon had decided to offer to donate a portion of proceeds back to a local nonprofit even on just select days, as in doing something that would help people during the holiday season, I probably would have bought a ticket in the end. But what their event is messaging to people in my opinion is Christmas magic at a cost that a lot can’t afford. So sadly, I think for its inaugural year I am giving it a pass. Also the reviews have been quite mixed and everyone has said it’s too expensive.

Christmas should indeed be magical but maybe not another gaping dividing line between haves and have nots. What would Charles Dickens think? I am thinking he might think we need a modern Christmas Carol or something, truthfully.

So what events will I attend that I was delighted to buy tickets to because of a non-profit component? Keep reading….and first two other great giving ideas….

One of my other just giving for good picks this year is Plaid Pajama Project.


And of course you can never go wrong with Toys for Tots.


See below for 3 amazing event picks. I also have heard of another fun shopping event near Christkindlmarkt in Bethlehem but I don’t know details yet. And I will also tell you that all of my picks for vintage and antique things that I love remain true at Christmas:

Now… here are my three picks for fun holiday events with a shopping component to attend in the area:

Holiday Magic for Good #1:

First up will be the preview for the Holiday Barn Sale at Life’s Patina at Willowbrook Farm. The preview tickets are sold out and I am happy to buy them every holiday season because it’s a spectacularly magical and beautifully curated holiday event that ooozes Christmas and the holidays. And a portion of the sales every time go to a nonprofit.

The sale has three FREE public days and free parking as well.

Friday, December 1st, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm

Saturday, December 2nd, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

Sunday, December 3rd, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

LOCATION: Willowbrook Farm, 1750 N Valley Rd, Malvern, PA 19355

Every year I introduced more people to this event, and every year they thank me for telling them about it because it’s such a wonderful experience!

Holiday Magic for Good #2:

When I first heard about this event in its infancy, a year ago, I was so excited. I can’t wait!!!

I am talking about the Surrey Services for Seniors Holiday House Tour and Shop. It is the first real holiday house tour of its kind in the Main Line area since Christmas in the Country, which was the event that Agnes Irwin did for years as a fundraiser!

The tickets for this event at Surrey sold like hotcakes. So the tour portion is actually sold out but they have this amazing set of Christmas shops over in Eisenhower Hall at Valley Forge Military Academy and College. That is free and open to the public on the same day as the house tour! And the vendors are carefully curated and a lot of local faces, that people love among others.

The Christmas/holiday shops are Friday, December 8 from 11 AM to 6 PM. 1001 Eagle Road in Wayne. And best of all there’s ample free parking! And I know who some of the vendors are for this and people will love it!

Best of all, this entire day, benefits, the fabulous nonprofit known as Surrey Services for Seniors, so what is not to love?

Holiday Magic for Good #3:

I guess you’ve already figured out I like Holiday house tours. Especially when they benefit a good thing.

So number three on my list is a West Chester Borough and area tradition.

The Holiday Home Tour will take place on Saturday, December 2, from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm and will showcase eight homes in the Northwest and Southwest quadrants of the Borough decked out for the holidays.

Created as a socially distanced replacement for the Holiday Home Tour during the pandemic shutdown of 2020, the family-friendly Holiday Door Tour was so popular the library now offers it in addition to the Home Tour! Running from Saturday, December 2 through Sunday, December 17, this self-guided tour will feature West Chester doors and porches decorated by their owners in holiday finery. It can be enjoyed at any time of day and by a group of your choice.

get tickets:

All proceeds from the Holiday Tours will benefit West Chester Public Library and the community it serves. Holiday Home Tour advance tickets are $40 per person and may be purchased in the library or online through December 1. Tickets may be purchased the day of the Tour, December 2, at the library for $50 each.


She’s almost ready for prime time. The Jenny Lind in Historic Yellow Springs has been reborn. And she is magnificent.

The Jenny Lind is now the Life’s Patina Merchantile & Cafe located at 1657 Art School Road in Chester Springs, PA. Meg Veno has outdone herself.

The Jenny Lind is restored and transformed. It’s one of the most beautiful adaptive reuses I have seen in years. My other favorite as you all probably know is Loch Aerie mansion in Frazer. And I think it’s marvelous to have both of these lovely places in Chester County!

This was such an amazing experience yesterday that I am still super happy about it the next day!

The attention to detail is something you don’t see every day, and it makes this all the more special. This is quite literally everything you want to see in a restoration and an adaptive reuse, and I sure hope that Historic Yellow Springs Village and West Pikeland Township have deep appreciation of the fact that Meg Veno stuck with this, and is now bringing everyone this gem to enjoy.

This has been a very long and winding road because this was a very intense restoration. And Meg and her team are perfectionists. This is one of those places that you walk into and just stop and marvel. No corners have been cut. The materials and the skill of the craftsman who put the Jenny Lind back together are undeniable.

This is an amazing restoration, and I hope someone gives them an award like Chester County for example. Chester County should be counting their lucky stars that there are people out there that still want to do restorations instead of demolitions. I will go further and challenge every township official in the region and developers who want to tear down historic things and build plastic mushroom housing developments and apartment buildings to go visit this place once it’s open full-time and see the possibilities of just doing the right thing.

You walk in and you feel at home. The beauty of the place envelops you softly and then you get to the café. The chef of the café has an incredibly deft hand with pastry and everything she touches. I have not met her. I look forward to meeting her because the food is terrific. My husband said the mushroom soup was one of the top three best he’s ever had. Because we were there for brunch I had this little bacon, egg and cheese sandwich on a biscuit which was so light and flaky, it melted in your mouth. there are also these salads that are off the hook good and don’t get me started on the actual pastries and sweets. Wonderful tea and coffee. The café is a place where you don’t want to rush. You want to savor your meal and linger.

And then you wander into the Mercantile. The Mercantile is full of all sorts of wonderful things, old and new. The best thing it’s not only the way it looks, but the fact that everything for sale has been chosen with care and it flows together. You don’t walk into this store and wonder why something is there, you walk into the Mercantile and wonder how you can use that in your own home.

One of the other best things about this restoration is it fits. When it was the Yellow Springs Inn, the food was great but the gorgeous interior of this building was hidden by too much Victorian everything. And I am saying that as someone who did really enjoy that restaurant at one time. But this metamorphosis is so remarkable and beautiful and just stunning. This restoration has made me love this building even more. And this restoration will show everyone the possibilities of what you can do with the gorgeous old buildings that are scattered throughout Chester County that need love.

It was a few years ago now that I was at one of Meg Veno’s barn sales at Life’s Patina in Malvern and she said she was looking for another project. I was standing there with my friend and I turned to her and I asked if she had ever thought of Yellow Springs Village because the Jenny Lind house was at that time in foreclosure. And now look at the Jenny Lind. I believe the Merchantile and Café will be open soon for visitors full time, but if you’re going near the village, I hope you at least drive past until she is open full-time to see what a beautiful restoration it is.

This whole project is not only a testament to historic preservation, it is a testament to loving what you do. And above all else, you know why this place will be a success? Because it has a heart.

Brava, Meg Veno, brava.

I also want to note because I think it’s important, that those of us who attended yesterday paid for our meals, we were not given anything in exchange for our thoughts on the soft opening. I would like to say we are the right kind of “influencers” as we are the kind who are actual customers and will return gladly with friends and family.

Happy Monday 😊

holiday open house at loch aerie!

Open house at Loch Aerie on Sunday 10, 2023 1 PM to 4 PM – please bring a non-perishable food item for Chester County Food Bank or a new unwrapped toy for Toys for Tots. Loch Aerie is a very special house and this is so awesome they are doing this! If you haven’t seen her since she was completely head to toe restore, come celebrate the holidays and give back.

less development, more eagles please

This eagle lives around W. King Rd. near Immaculata. It will actually hang out in my woods some days. Amazing bird that takes my breath away.

A friend took this video for me and to me this is yet another sign of why we don’t want heavy infill development up W. King Rd. on the Weston property just over the East Whiteland border in West Whiteland.

More eagles, less development please.

This is Chester County. Remember this majestic creature, the bald eagle. This has been our national symbol since 1782.

no is my favoirite billboard word

I have been meaning and meaning to post this but life got in the way. PennDOT said NO to Outfront Media chopping down more trees. Outfront is who bought the Catalyst 202 billboard site in East Whiteland where the tree massacre occurred a while back in 2022. Of course, they can appeal, but hey this is lovely news.

And speaking of billboards, that thing at 29 and 30 is still so bright you need shades even at midnight so….maybe complain to PennDOT and East Whiteland instead of just to me?

Take a bow East Whiteland residents, take a bow. Good things happen when residents get involved and take action where they live. Now let’s work on getting the 29 and 30 billboard turned DOWN.

Nighty night

the eagle has landed: farm boy bbq finally has a place to call home permanently!

Google photo by I.H.

Yes. Farm Boy BBQ has their own beautiful space to call home! 625 N. Morehall Road, Suite 100, Malvern, PA. It’s where Naf Naf was very short lived, but a whole new feel inside and central Texas BBQ.

Today was a soft opening of sorts, and I sent my husband because I am grounded for a few days after a somewhat tricky Mohs surgery for skin cancer. (Which is why I borrowed photos I found on Google and gave credit. However the food we ordered are my photos.)

Google photo by I.H.

My husband described a large and beautiful space, immaculately clean and the aromas were amazing. Wood smokers and grills, and the cool inside grill gave my husband grill envy.

But what can I say other than this is a total rave and The Eagle Has Landed! I’ve already been a fan of Chef Paul Marshall’s food for a few years at this point.

But today, fresh from Farm Boy’s new home the food was off the hook! We had the rib-eye steaks for dinner and it was amazing! Prime beef from the Midwest (Copper Creek Cattle Company) , wood fired grill and no sous vides! Steak houses better watch out! And they already have the best BBQ anywhere! I just hope he starts making beignets again!

Google photo by I.H.

So the steaks. Heavenly and butter tender. Sides were fresh broccoli with some crunch (well who wants it to wobble?), salt baked potatoes. I have wanted a real steak house like they used to be steak for a while.

We went to Chop House in Exton recently and what can I say? The steak (rib-eye, as well) spent too much time in the sous vide, not enough time grilling , and was way too salty but not great flavor. It was a flop.

So when Paul Marshall told me steaks were on the menu for the new menu and on for this weekend I was totally psyched. It was quite literally a perfect steak and I am saying that even as take out this evening it was absolutely perfect, and that actually is difficult to do.

We also had chicken that we were looking forward to trying. BBQ grill cooked and lightly sauced. Paul Marshall’s barbecue sauce is amazing. It has zing from a little vinegar twang, but it’s not gloppy and super sweet. It’s a proper accompaniment to the food, it doesn’t hide the food. And that in my mind, makes perfect BBQ. I also like to taste the sauce but don’t want my food swimming in that. I am like that with all sauces and gravies, truthfully.

And of course my husband came home with brisket as well. And as I have told everyone before, the brisket Paul Marshall makes is like a religious experience.

There are plenty of BBQ places around, but Farm Boy which had me first at beignets, will completely blow other BBQ and your concept of BBQ away.

And whatever you order make sure you try the new spicy cheesy corn. It is one of the best corn dishes that I’ve ever had! Also, max & cheese, brisket chili which has no beans and the nachos. Any of the sides are amazing and I look forward to sampling his greens and baked beans and the sensation salad.

Google photo by I.H.

Chef Paul Marshall is also an accomplished baker/ pastry chef (hence the earlier beignet comment.) Any dessert will rock your dessert world. His pies are awesome and how can you not love real banana pudding ?

The new and permanent home is dine in and take out. 5 ⭐️ stars aren’t enough!

What more can I say? I mean it’s a total rave. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for hours as they revv up to their full on opening. I will note that I am an actual paying customer. I’m not an insipid influencer who shows up for an opening and then never again.

This is high end craft barbecue. The sauces and rubs are Chef Paul Marshall 100%. I hope someday he bottles both for sale. And actually I think he and his wife should offer cooking classes down the road.

Have I raved sufficiently? It’s just truly the first perfect meal from a restaurant in forever.

Chef Paul Marshall has worked hard to have his food stay in the community he calls home. The commercial real estate around here is ridiculous enough that he could have left. He is someone who works at his craft and we are lucky to have him around. In an area where too much food is the same, his food stands out and is always consistent and exceptional.

If you go once he is full on open, I vote for steak nights. This BBQ is an elevated art form. Yeah I have said that before about this food. But it is well deserved.

Have a great night!

Google photo by I.H.

love is a flower and you have sown the seed

This is art history for me. The art history of my kid years. My friend Carolyn is selling her parents’ house in Philadelphia as her life is elsewhere. Both her late parents were heavily involved in the arts in Philadelphia. Her mother was “the quilt lady” of my childhood and I loved to watch her at the Head House Craft Fair. Recently, the lovely lady who was handling the disposition of things arrived with a box of treasures.

The first photo in this post is a wood block carving by Margery Niblock. I am thrilled this now lives with me. I think it’s so cool. Next is a poster from the Head House Crafts Fair.

The Head House Crafts Fair. It was such a wonderful event. Even though I was just a kid, i’ve never forgotten it. It’s kind of the thing I used to gauge I think subconsciously craft and community fairs. The artisans were amazing at this fair. And a lot of them were friends of my parents, and my mother is one of the key people who put it together after Margery Niblock said it would be a great idea. And my friend Carolyn’s mom was “the quilt lady.”

So these are amazing gifts and mean a lot. It’s funny how decades have gone by, and I can still see, feel, and hear the sounds of this craft fair in the Head House Shambles in my head. I remember that Margery Niblock, and some of the other artists had their work hung on clotheslines quite literally. And you were just see them a little bit in the breeze. It was very cool. And there weren’t just crafts people and artists there. There were antique dealers with treasures for all pocketbooks, and there were workshops for kids that were really cool and not dumb downed stuff with Play-Doh. And there was all sorts of food, representing many different cultures.

People undoubtedly think that all of us Society Hill kids of this mid-60s to mid-70s era are a little nutty because it was kind of cool to be a kid there then. It was a more innocent an era for kids, for sure. It’s not like life was perfect and that there weren’t kids dealing with crazy family stuff because that’s any era at any time, but there were truly good and fun things like this crafts fair. Or going to Old Swedes (Gloria Dei) for Santa Lucia…and back then they used real candles.

Also in the gift box of memories were a whole slew of unframed Margery Niblock prints, and a couple of the prints were framed. And there was a poster of the craft fair and the marvelous poster of a slightly later vintage designed for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society in 1989. This was the year Margery also won a garden contest of theirs. A couple of years ago, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society discontinued their home gardeners gardening contests, which I think it’s a pretty poor decision, and it kind of has made me lose interest in them along with some other factors.


Related: https://societyhillcivic.org/foundation/wp-content/themes/BoilerSplatV2/newsletter/1976/1976-12.pdf



This was a beloved time capsule entrusted to me as the next steward of it. I accept that responsibility with a glad heart. It’s art and memories I love and the work of an artist that means something to me.

Another amazing thing included with what was gifted to me was a small quilt made by Carolyn‘s mother. It’s a pattern similar to what I was photographed watching her make that day all those decades ago.

Also included? An amazing piece of an old quilt framed. I am sure this was a quilt that Carolyn‘s mother discovered somewhere that was too old to repair so she took the corner of the quilt that had the signature on it and framed it….from 1843.

In a time when people just throw good art away, I am both lucky and grateful that one of the former league of original Society Hill- St. Peter’s kids. And the thing about art is it doesn’t have to be priceless, it just has to resonate with you. If you go to charity sales, or flea markets, there is a lot of art that needs adopting. Adopt a piece today!

Thanks for stopping by.

fair deal of the decade

Ok ok I think at the 50% off sale today at St. David’s Fair in Wayne I got the deal of the decade! I finally found new everyday flatware.

I have been looking for flatware for such a long time that was just the right look for me.

I have had my old every day flatware for over 20 years. I like it but I was tired of it and I wanted something new that was preferably vintage that also had weight to it. And that’s one of the things I find important in everyday flatware because the handles have weight. That sounds rather picayune perhaps, but it’s just something you like the feel of a certain way, or you don’t. I think that’s probably why I also am a fan of old hotel silver which really isn’t silver. It’s got weight to it.

Yesterday at the top of a shelf in the back of the flea market sheds at St. David’s was a flatware chest that was dusty and I couldn’t reach it. It was also SO crowded that I couldn’t get to it even to really see.

When I came back today, it was still there. And I came back at the very end of the 50% off sale, and there it was. Service for 16 with the hostess set and was originally $74.00. At 50% off it was $37!

I just did a little bit of research and what I found is it is indeed very heavy, vintage flatware from Oneida. The pattern is called “Royal Flute”. And rather amusingly, it’s collectible! I was looking on eBay and the prices are kind of all over the map for it and people seem to like it.

My flatware is stamped Oneida Community. According to what I looked up, Oneida Community started production of silver-plated flatware and hollow-ware in 1899 using the “Community Plate” mark. The Oneida Community purchased the Wm A. Rogers company in 1881. In 1929 the merged company began producing a somewhat lower-quality line of products using those companies’ marks. In 1935, Oneida Community changed its name to Oneida Ltd.

So I don’t know? Maybe I think it’s stainless steel and it’s silver plate? Whatever it is, I don’t think it’s actually ever been used. I bought service for 16 with the hostess set for $37!

I washed up my new old flatware and dried each piece by hand. I swapped out my former everyday stuff and put it in the old flatware chest that the Oneida came in. I will hang onto that for buffetware or something. Or some day when someone’s kid has their first apartment, I will just gift them all this flatware.

I also bought some wonderful old books that I have to go through at my leisure. When I came home, it was time to move the tropical plants from the patio back inside for the fall and winter, so I didn’t get to everything today.

Anyway, this was a fun and lucky purchase, and that’s why I love flea markets in general.

I can’t wait until next year‘s fair!

Have a good night.

steamy friday treasure hunting

Melangell Antiques

Melangell Antiques – House & Garden – 1133 Pottstown Pike West Chester PA – open Tuesday they Saturday 11 AM – 6 PM – Magical !! 610-624-4577

But wait…there is more….

Surrey Consignment Shop today – always treasures waiting! Tuesday – Saturday 10 AM – 4 PM. 810 Lancaster Ave Berwyn PA 610-647-8632