If you love history, you will love the You Tube. It’s called the Harcum Mile. The video is the brain child of a life long friend, Margi Tucker De Temple. She is the wife of current Harcum President Jon Jay De Temple. Now I will tell you I think the reason Harcum still exists is because of Jon. He has worked hard to continue to bring the college through challenging times in education.
Anyway, yes, I know I have a personal connection to this, but it’s also because my family lived east of “The Harcum Mile”, in Haverford. My parents also knew Philip and Esther Klein, and my father was friendly with their son Arthur, who also at one time was head of the board a historic Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia across from Pennsylvania Hospital, Mikveh Israel. I think that is the oldest Jewish cemetery in this country. I have a memory of being a relatively small child and driving with my parents from the city to some kind of dedication at Harcum. I thought at first it was Klein Hall but I’m not sure. As I said to my friend Margi, because I was small I remembered it seemed like such a long car ride from Society Hill to Bryn Mawr.
This compilation of properties along Montgomery Avenue where Harcum is, are fascinating. Not all of the houses still exist today. And one of the reasons I love this little video is the discussion of a couple of my favorite architects of the latter part of the 19th century, Addison Hutton and the Price brothers (William Lightfoot Price and Frank Price, also known for their work in Wayne, PA and Rose Valley.) Addison Hutton of course is also known for Beechwood House in Bryn Mawr and out here in Chester County the architectural jewel, Loch Aerie, which you all know I adore.
I used to love walking my dogs up and down Montgomery Avenue. I would start in Haverford and sometimes I would go East well into Ardmore, but usually I would go west up to around Beechwood House or Ashbridge Park. I love the 19th century houses that you see along the way.
And of course I also went to Shipley, so this is literally where I have spent a lot of years walking around. Which is why I was thrill to find that Margi was doing this project. It started with a lecture that I couldn’t get down to Bryn Mawr for and then she told me she was doing a video. This is that video. Selfishly I think she should do a series of videos because this was so great and it has all the components I love: the history of an area, the history of the homes, the history of the inhabitants. This is a great video!
A special note about how the Main Line got it’s name and where it ends, Paoli. I love that this is in this video, historically accurate.
For more on the history of Harcum College you can visit their website. CLICK HERE.
For more on the history of Bryn Mawr, Bryn Mawr College is a tremendous resource. For one example of this, CLICK HERE.
Enjoy the sun after yesterday! Thanks for stopping by.
Well dayyyyyuummm people, now there’s a headline. Kirkwood Farm AKA the Jackson/Rockefeller farm in Willistown appears to have been sold to M. Knight Shyamalan? So this means Shyamalan accomplished what preservationists in Willistown failed to do? Because as you know this is yet another large land parcel with no conservation easements pre-existing, right? I think people would be surprised by the list of whose big properties do not have conservation easements other than Rock Hill Farm. But hey that is a story for another day.
by Kevin Riordan and Frank Kummer Published Mar 24, 2023
A company traced to an address used by M. Night Shyamalan, writer and director of The Sixth Sense and Knock at the Cabin, has paid $24 million for a 210-acre Chester County property that was associated with generations of the Rockefeller family.
Public records show that Woodkirk LLC sold the Kirkwood Farm on Providence Road in Willistown Township to 944 Providence Road LLC for $24 million on March 14.
The registered address for 944 Providence LLC is on Campus Boulevard in Newtown Square. That is the same address used by the M. Night Shyamalan Foundation Inc., the famed director’s charitable organization.
Shyamalan, who grew up in suburban Philadelphia, could not be reached for comment. He and his family live in Willistown on an estate called Ravenwood.
Conservationists who had feared hundreds of houses would be developed on the Willistown Township site known as Kirkwood Farm are relieved.
“The sale is going to have a conservation-minded outcome,” said Kate Etherington, executive director of the Willistown Conservation Trust. “Kirkwood Farm is not being sold to a developer. And we’re thrilled.”….
A rolling landscape of fields and woods in the center of Willistown — an 18-square mile community of 11,000 — the Kirkwood Farm was listed for $29.9 million, sales agent Lavinia Smerconish said.
Advertisements by Compass real estate described a property that was available “for the first time in 90 years” and offered “endless views” punctuated only by “five charming residences, two barns, a pond, a stream, and spring house.”
Smerconish said the property was sold by descendants of William Rockefeller Jr. who along with his brother, John D. Rockefeller, founded the Standard Oil company in 1870. The farm has belonged to generations of the Rockefeller family and in recent years has been used by members of a hunting club. The farmhouses have been rented to tenants, and two remain occupied, she said.
Public records show the property was associated with Almira R. Scott, daughter of William G. Rockefeller, once treasurer of Standard Oil. Notably, it was also associated with Hardie Scott, a former Republican U.S. representative who married into the Rockefeller family. Scott died in 1999 and appointed M. Roy Jackson, also a scion of the Rockefellers, and the Glenmede Trust Co., as executors. Jackson was a grandson of William Rockefeller Jr., who died in 1922.
Goodness the Inquirer sure scooped the rest of the media, didn’t they? And two of my favorite writers. Riordan and Kummer seem to be writing the stories that matter, the ones that people want to read. With the oddness that is print and television journalism these days, Chester County doesn’t get the same coverage it used to. Of course I remember when The Philadelphia Inquirer had a Chester County Bureau in West Chester, and The Daily Local News had a whole fleet of reporters covering Chester County from all angles. But the state of print journalism is an entirely separate conversation as well. But the only other people to cover it was Philadelphia Business Journal. Of course when they shared it on their Facebook page lots of comments ensued:
Heavy sigh. I am always amazed at what people don’t know about how government works either on a local level or state level. Yes I agree wholeheartedly that we need to have less development but people have no idea what has to happen to make that happen.
Local development is ruled by The Municipalities Planning Code of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania AKA the “MPC.” The MPC requires an act of the State Constitution to comprehensively change and update it. It has not been comprehensively updated since I think either 1968 or 1969. Interesting to note for Chester County residents the gargantuan development known as Chesterbrook was allowed to be built because of this code, correct public officials? For a little background on Chesterbrook read THIS.)
When the MPC was created, suburbs and exurbs looked different and were defined differently. But because this is the Bible that guides all the local zoning in the state, when elected officials literally tell you they can’t do things a lot of the time it’s because they can’t do things a lot of the time. But your state elected officials can indeed do things like enact an act of the state constitution and update the MPC. If they actually did that then we could have better and more meaningful historic preservation, land preservation, land conservation and possibly even some restrictions on development and as far as how much we have to have and what communities can say no to.
As it stands, property owners don’t (IMHO) have that much that makes historic preservation and land conservation appealing. If it was more appealing and if there were more tax breaks then maybe more would conserve and preserve. No maybe these are just my opinions but I don’t think so. All you have to do is literally look at the parcels of land in Willistown (and elwhich are not under conservation easements. One of the comments mentioned a place called Sweetwater farm. I didn’t even know that was for sale I thought that had sold a while back. (According to RedFin in 2021.)
So back to 944 Providence Rd in Willistown. So if M. Night Shyamalan has bought it, he achieved what no one else could and beat out developers. I remember when this place got listed it went under agreement I thought fairly quickly and then I never heard anything else about it. So I had forgotten about this, truthfully. Wonder what the fence protesters of Willistown think of him now?
It isn’t a pretty fence, but M. Night Shyamalan gets to keep it!
A judge in Chester County, Penn. has ruled that the “Sixth Sense” director can keep his 123-acre property wrapped in this yucky 8-foot high green mesh — much to the horror of his neighbors. I see pissed-off people!
Residents of Willistown Township complained that the plastic netting was an eyesore, but local officials ultimately sided with the filmmaker, who argued it was the only way to keep deer from decimating a network of floral gardens on the property he purchased in September 2006.
Hopefully they just thank M. Night Shyamalan and leave him alone this time, but pro-tip to him: it’s Willistown so don’t try to have a flower farm and avoid conversations about sewer sales and miles of concrete sidewalks…..
Willistown, Willistown, Willistown it’s always entertaining to learn your news.
Recently I unplugged and took time for myself. I wanted to try something artistic I had not done before, so I took a stained glass class. It was so much fun!
I had learned about the class from a stained glass artist who has studio space in Gallery 222 in Malvern. Her name is Jill Huentelman and her business is Huentelglas. I actually know her a bit and one of her stained glass Christmas ornaments has hung on my Christmas tree a few years.
I love stained glass. I have since I was in elementary school and we took a field trip to a glass blowing and stained glass place. I wish I could remember where it was. I bought a pear stained glass light catcher that I still have today. I have light catchers all over. A bunch from my childhood that my mother gave me, some I found, and a bluebird that belonged to a mother of a friend once upon a time.
Before we started to work on what I was going to create, I learned about a bit of the history of stained glass. Then in with the history came to safety aspects of how to behave in the studio, and how to act around the glass for lack of a better description. Jill is a wonderful instructor and I loved every minute of my time in her studio.
So in the end, I decided I wanted to make a bird instead of a pear. Jill will choose a pear with people to make because that way it is a simple design and not extraordinarily complicated for the first time working with glass like this.
I drew my pattern. Next came choosing the glass.
Jill has so much glass and it’s so cool. There’s plain glass and glass that has pattern and almost texture to the top of it. The glass I chose was reminiscent to me of slag glass I have seen in church windows in Chester County.
Wow, I was learning to cut glass for stained glass! First, I learned how to cut straight lines. Then I learned how to cut curves, and then I was ready to cut out my pattern. It was fun! (And nerve wracking because I didn’t want to make a mistake!)
After I cut out my glass, we did the grinding to smooth any sharp edges and make the design look more like what I wanted. After it was cut out and ground, it got a quick wash off.
Next comes this copper foil. Wound and worked around the edges and rubbed smooth with a special stick which has a name- I think it’s a burnisher, but I think it also has other names.
Next comes the soldering. And soldering involves this stuff that looks like dark Vaseline called “flux.” It makes the soldering stick.
After the soldering and the gluing of the bird’s little eye came another bath and rubbing it down and shining it up with a finishing compound. It keeps the soldering silver and made the glass shine more. It’s a shine and buff.
My class was actually a few hours long and it flew by so quickly it seemed like it was half an hour.
The classes are reasonably priced. You can find everything on her website. The price of the class includes all your materials and there is also a waiver to sign before you enter the studio. Another thing that I should’ve mentioned before is that at various times during this creative process, you rinse your hands off with a special soap that pulls metal and things out of your skin because we’re touching things that contain metals like lead.
It was SO much fun and I think my bird turned out great! So far the classes are just a one off, but if Jill did a series, I would totally sign up! If I took another class, I would like to learn how to make those cool stakes that you can put in your flower pots.
Also, while I was there, I got to see what was hanging on the walls of Gallery 222 in Malvern, which is such an awesome place.
Having art in your life, and the ability for creative outlet is something I’ve always found to be important. Much like gardening, it’s just good for your head and soul.
Happy Valentine’s Day! Instead of just talking about Valentine’s Day I thought I would talk about things that I love, which include vintage Valentine’s cards.
I also love old pewter porringer bowls. Nobody seems to want them anymore, and I use them all over the house. The bigger ones make great coasters as long as their bottoms are flat inside. I use them to put hair ties in and loose change. They even act as coasters for wine bottles, I use one for the bottle of Madeira I keep for cooking. They are also a great dish for candles. If you like this idea, you can pick them up for a minimum amount of money at garage sales and flea markets and church sales.
Other things I love (and use)? Old gardening books and cookbooks.
I also love the story of my friend Lynn’s engagement years ago as written by John Grogan for The Philadelphia Inquirer. The funny thing was, I read this article before I even knew who she was, and then we met over time in Ardmore and became friends.
I also love old German tea strainers….
And then there are things I love like old crocks which I use for all sorts of things. As planter cache pots in the garden, toilet paper holder in the powder room, to hold my spoons and things in the kitchen.
I also love to clip things occasionally from my magazines. Recipes, ideas, things I like. In recipes:
In the not physically clipped but sharing- other things I like (and some I use): Transferware, egg cups, old trunks, hat stands, books. I also clip ideas like dressing your porch like another room, or hanging trays or plates like art:
The Frazer Diner on Route 30 in Frazer has closed. I am honestly concerned about this site, which has been written about a slew of times and is actually in a book about diners.
I love old school diners. Sorry not sorry, it’s scrapple and eggs for me, or a diner burger and a fountain coke. Remember the diner days of years gone by where you would see the lemon meringue pies with their high hats of meringue in the cases with other desserts? I remember that from the original Minella’s in Wayne and this cool old diner in North Jersey
Anyway, the Frazer Diner is a truly cool example of an amazingly intact diner. And now they have closed. Research indicates the Cavalati family still owns it, the owners live in Mechanicsburg, PA. So they are far removed from this now, will they sell? Find a new tenant?
Why am I concerned? We hear the continued whispers of developers sniffing around East Whiteland and the Route 30/Lancaster Ave corridor. West Whiteland is a hotbed of bad development and neighboring Easttown is not much better along Lancaster Avenue is it? Just look at that new construction gargantuan and hideous apartments or whatever dwarfing the Berwyn Pub.
Originally manufactured in 1935(though some sites reference 1929), it was purchased by Frances and Sylvester Cavalati in 1957 and moved to its present location at 189 Lancaster Avenue, Frazer, Pennsylvania in East Whiteland Township. In 1972, while retaining ownership, they leased it to others to operate and the name was changed to the Frazer Diner.
Around 1983, the diner was leased to Tam Nguyen and his wife Hao (law school graduate and nurse, respectively) who had fled communism in Vietnam and moved to the Main Line in 1980. They operated it as the Linh Diner, specializing in Vietnamese-Chinese food, and it became a regular lunch stop for nearby high-tech companies in the Great Valley. After five years building a successful business, they were running out of space and looking to move to a new location that was to be built as part of a new shopping center nearby. Before that happened, the Cavalati’s served the Nguyens an eviction notice, and noted there was a buyer who wanted to move the diner to Hollywood.
The Nguyens did eventually open the Linh Restaurant nearby, but the diner was not moved to California, and eventually re-opened, once again as the Frazer Diner.
Diners have a place in our hearts and communities. It doesn’t have to be haute cuisine. It’s a community gathering place historically, and some diners were just breakfast and lunch, some did 3 meals, some were open 24 hours.
I find today especially out here in Chester County, we lack a distinct variety from the most humble through to fine dining. We are a lot of formula food, fast food, sushi, brew pubs, quasi steak houses. The only good BBQ is Farm Boy, and they are a gem (hope they re-open soon!)
There always were historically good diners in Chester County. And one by one they are biting the dust. DK still holds court in West Chester. The West Chester Diner used to be pretty good, but the last couple of years it has sadly gone downhill. But West Chester Diner was always too big. Frazer like DK had that little joint feel, which I think is part of the whole diner experience.
The funny thing about the Frazer Diner is how often it has been written up in diner articles. I am putting into this post what I have discovered. I am putting this out there in the hopes someone saves it, or in the hopes that anyone is interested at all.
We need fewer crappy apartment and townhouse developments. How about adaptive reuse of literally a historic diner? Thanks for stopping by.
One of my favorite magazines is Country Living. When I have time, I read it as soon as it hits my mailbox, cover to cover.
But it has been a busy few months, and the magazines ended up in a neat pile next to my reading chair in my bedroom on the footstool. Until today when I decided to dig into my overdue periodical reading pile.
Well guess what business and who are right there inside the September, 2022 issue of Country Living magazine? One of my favorite Chester County businesses and owner. Yup, Malvern’s own Life’s Patina and the creative dynamo behind everything , Meg Veno.
You know how much I love Life’s Patina because pretty much every time she has an event, you can find me there shopping and taking photos! And my husband gets me Life’s Patina gift certificates for Christmas.
Part of the reason I love Life’s Patina is it’s simply put, beautiful. Every time I visit. But it is also because of Meg and her team. They are seriously the nicest. And Meg is just positive and kind. In the chaos of today’s world, this makes a huge difference. Also? They make everything look so effortless and magical. You can’t help but get a good feeling every time she opens her barn!
Also worth mentioning is how lucky is Historic Yellow Springs Village and West Pikeland Township that Meg Veno and Life’s Patina are sprinkling their magic on the Jenny Lind house? They have stripped her back to the beginning and done an incredibly painstaking renovation that is almost there. I feel that her renovation,when finally completed, will bring new life and renewed energy to Historic Yellow Springs Village which it needs.
I mean seriously, how lucky is West Pikeland Township to have both Jeff Devlin and Meg Veno taking an interest and putting businesses that celebrate Chester County and her history right there in this small Chester County municipality? So lucky! Adaptive reuse of the best kind totally loaded with heart and talent and effort!
And the funny thing is I was one of the first people who suggested Jenny Lind to Meg when she was saying she wanted a new challenge.
I have however almost regretted suggesting Jenny Lind and Yellow Springs to her at times because of the duration of the renovation, the obstacles and challenges of truly restoring the Jenny Lind. However, the renovation has survived COVID and all that this time in the world and supply chain issues that every renovation everywhere has suffered. When the Merchantile & Cafe opens it will be truly amazing!
So to say I was thrilled when I saw one of my favorite magazines featuring one of my favorite businesses and business owners was an understatement…even if I am a few months late.
So Meg & Company, I am so terribly sorry I didn’t open my magazine sooner! So well done and deserved. Lots of places are inspired by what Meg creates at Life’s Patina. Make sure you check out one of their sales when you can!
I think the article below is a really cool story. People who know me, know that I don’t drink so much. And it’s not because I’m an alcoholic, I just don’t drink that much, and I’m also allergic to different kinds of alcohol like red wine, for example.
I have plenty of friends in the “program” whom I support, and applaud because I know it’s hard, brutally hard work at times to maintain sobriety, and I really respect them for it.
As a matter of fact, it was some of my friends in the program helped me look at breast cancer very differently when I was first diagnosed. They told me to look at it as my own 12 step program, and to simply take things one day at a time.
There are some people I know of who aren’t particularly sober at this point in their lives. Sadly, some of these people just haven’t been able to keep it together. I’m not here to judge them, but there are a couple in particular that I really hope get their acts together because every time they go down the rabbit hole of a bad slip or a binge you wonder if they are going to crawl back out alive.
The sad thing about gaining sobriety and maintaining as per what my friends in the program have told me, is that there’s just a lot of work you have to do by yourself, and they’re are just a lot of people who don’t want to do the work.
I have seen too many people over the course of many many years completely tank their existences because of drugs and alcohol.
As a person who doesn’t have to be in any kind of an alcohol or drug related program, I am actually all for supporting a SOBER New Year’s Eve.
As a matter of fact, when all these developers are looking for their new business models, or they want to fill out their new shopping centers, apartment, buildings, or whatever, why don’t they consider an establishment like this out here? How many breweries and pubs do we need? How about a place where you can go and get a good Mocktail?
The weather outside was frightful, but the warmth of the Main Street bar was so delightful, that one after the other, merry revelers came out of the cold Manayunk night last week to share some season’s cheer at The Volstead.
From the cozy, edgy-chic space arose the sounds of laughter, the chatter of holiday plans, and, of course, plenty of happy imbibing: a seasonal Partridge in a Pear Tree, swanky Manhattans, and, being Philly, the requisite down-and-dirty Citywide Special.
All the festivity you’d expect at a holiday gathering. Except for one thing.
None of those drinks had alcohol. Not a drop.
The Volstead is Philadelphia’s only zero-proof bar. Since it opened last March, its patrons have cheered on the Phillies and the Eagles while hoisting sober brews. They’ve dined from its modern vegan menu, toasted birthdays, and struck up acquaintances.
This Saturday, The Volstead will host a Zero Proof New Year’s Eve Party, ringing in 2023 with nonalcoholic sparkling wine and the kind of high spirits that onlycome from within. The restaurant will be open for dinner and bar snacks, there will be NA drink specials, and no reservations are required. Closing time is 12:30 a.m.
So this is Chester county. Do we want to preserve her or not? Because we’re running out of time if we do wish to preserve her. If we do wish to preserve her history, her great open spaces (what’s left of them), her farms (what’s left of them) , her architecture (what hasn’t been replaced by endless fields of McBoxes.)
This isn’t a Republican or Democrat thing, this is the people coming together and working to save Chester County kind of thing.
People drive me crazy when they say “Oh but if you only elect this Republican or this Democrat that change will happen.” No it won’t. When did all of you get so dumb about community activism?
All of these politicians bring YOU to them. That’s not the way you do it. The way you do it is every time you have an election, the politicians take on your issues as their issues. Because if you just continue out there to take their issues on as your issues, you will always end up the loser.
No, often it is not nice. It’s hard. It’s a slog. You have all sorts of people screaming and yelling at you and calling you names. You know, kind of like my average day being a blogger. But you have to work if you really want to save something. You can’t just say oh let’s put up a Facebook page and save something. You actually have to do the work behind it. Look at Crebilly. Those folks did not give up. And they did it.
There have been countless groups who have put up private groups and Facebook pages proclaiming their issue. But the thing is they never really get off the social media pages, do they? They don’t go to meetings. They don’t take meetings with elected officials of all levels. It’s like they expect the world to come to them. I have to bite my tongue and not say how’s that working out for all of you?
If they do have loosely held “groups“, often these days you find different members of sad aforementioned “groups” are going in different directions with slightly different objectives that are often counterproductive. It doesn’t work because you all need to come together.
It doesn’t matter what political party you belong to when you’re working for a common goal and a greater good, you leave that bickering at the door. You need to forget the whole thing about oh if we just do this one little thing for this politician then they’ll help us. No they won’t. The goal of them and their campaigns is to make all of you come around to see their perspective. As we learned years ago fighting eminent domain mean in Ardmore, you have to flip that perspective.
And if the politicians make hollow promises, then you vote them out and you start all over again. And you keep repeating the process till you have government that you can work with, that works for the people.
And I have to say after doing the whole thing in Ardmore, also gave me some of the most amazing friends as an adult. I remember the first event I attended that the Save Ardmore Coalition did years ago. I entered a room a stranger and left with new friends, Friends I still have almost 20 years later. I did not start at the very, very beginning. I heard what they had to say, and I knew I wanted to be part of it. Oh and one election cycle we flipped half of the Board of Commissioners in Lower Merion Township to politicians of BOTH political parties who made our issue theirs. And they kept their word and ended eminent domain for good a few months later. As opposed to that eminent domain circus in East Goshen recently , it didn’t take a year to unwind. That my friends was BS, just like the self-aggrandizing Libertarian “award” , “honor” or whatever was bestowed upon supervisors or one supervisor in general, like the day before their spouse became the head of the Chester County Libertarian Party. That was no better than a publicity stunt. And it made me very sad.
So now that the elections are over, it’s time for communities across Chester County to come together to save what’s left of their character. Yesterday because we were going to visit friends further out in the county from us, we had this gorgeous drive back and forth. It made me think. It made me appreciate all over again the beauty of where we call home.
This also means that we have to start getting busy with our state elected officials, the lame ducks and the ones poised to take office in January. They need to start helping us preserve where we call home. And that means changing certain laws so that is possible.
One big thing requiring change is the Municipalities Planning Code. It hasn’t been comprehensively updated seriously since like 1969. And the last time it was comprehensively updated, do you know what one of the developments was that happened as a result of changes? Chesterbrook. We need fewer developments and that means we have to lobby for these people to get off the rear ends and enact an act of the state constitution. We need to redefine suburb and exurb. We need more meaningful historic preservation and land preservation with built-in components to make it more attractive so that more people are interested in doing it.
This isn’t my job to do this. I am a curtain raiser, and I am once again drawing attention to this very important issue. We live in a beautiful place that is not that far off of being completely ruined forever. And those of us who come from the Main Line can tell you all about that because once upon a time the Main Line was truly beautiful and somewhat magical with amazing homes and properties. Now it’s just a suburb with too many people with misplaced senses of entitlement.
And that suburban sprawl continues to move west, or should I say march west because it’s not flowing, it’s attacking. Every time you turn around there’s another development planned. Or land getting gobbled up now by things like data centers and worse which we don’t know enough about here in this area, but in other areas of the country they’re fighting tooth and nail to get these things out of their communities.
We also don’t have to scream to be heard. When we scream we’re no better than those people that annoy the crap out of us at every school board meeting because they are undoubtedly uncomfortable with their own sexuality, so everything they perceive as different, is bad.
Anyway, it’s not just t-shirts and post cards and endless lawn signs that are going to bring us change. It’s involvement in our communities. And it’s consistent involvement, not involvement when the horses are out of the proverbial barn and nothing can be done.
Since the onset of Covid we have the ability in a lot of places for hybrid meetings. They are both virtual and in person. And most meetings are recorded now, and if you are in a municipality that does not record their meetings, start there. You have a right to have your meetings recorded, and/or you have the right to record the meetings in their entirety and broadcast them on YouTube or Facebook live or whatever.
I think the beauty and character and history of this county are worth preserving. That’s all I have to say. But people have to be willing to get involved and stay involved.
I am a realist. Not every old house can be saved, not every old farm can be saved. But I think as an extended group of communities, we can ask better of our elected officials all the way to Washington DC when it comes to this. But we all have to put the political BS aside and try.
On Thursday evening, we made a rare venture into Philadelphia to see Nigella Lawson at the Kimmel Center. We don’t often go into Philadelphia these days, as it is somewhat of hot mess. And yes we saw that last night, and the sidewalk was actually torn up right in front of the Kimmel Center.
An Evening with Nigella Lawson was originally scheduled for November 10th at the Miller Theater, and was moved to the Perelman Theater inside the Kimmel. The Miller (formerly the Merriam) is under renovation. I am actually glad they moved it to the Kimmel, and the space is gorgeous and so clean! And my friend and food blogger Marilyn was two rows behind us!! Marilyn is the genius behind Philly Grub.
It was an amazing experience and some very amusing people watching. In front of us to the left was a woman who literally massaged the top of her companion or husband’s head the entire time. In front of my friend to the left of her there was a person who took off their socks and shoes and put their bare feet up on the seat in front of them!
Overall, it was not a bad audience at all, and we had super nice people immediately around us.
Nigella Lawson is warm and personable. Friendly, funny, self deprecating in the most amusing and human way. I have seen other personalities whom I admire “live”, and seriously I walked away thinking how truly nice I think she is. Of course part of it is I am sure is the fact I am an Anglophile.
I took notes while Nigella was speaking. I wish it had been recorded! She is as lovely in person as we see on our television screens. And I don’t mean just beautiful, because she is drop dead gorgeous. I also mean lovely as in the nice person you meet whom you want to have over to your house for dinner.
To follow are the notes I took as she was speaking. You will note her program wasn’t a cooking demonstration, it was also the woman outside the kitchen. And she is not a classically trained chef, like Ina Garten whom I also admire and follow, she’s one of us just elevated. She’s a home cook.
Michael Klein from The Philadelphia Inquirer was the moderator. He was excellent. He and Nigella had terrific chemistry and rapport. Michael’s manner also helped make this a memorable event. Not that any of us should be surprised if you have followed his columns for years.
So here are my Nigella Notes:
When she was 9 she wrote a play on the meaning of existence. Terrapins were the characters.
At 10 she penned a self-described “very bad” murder mystery.
Originally Nigella thought she would be a novelist.
She spoke about finding her voice in writing. Nigella’s voice evolved from writing about food. I guess that goes along with something that one of my friends and writing mentors who is a retired journalist has always has said to me which is “write what you know.“
Writing – find your own voice. Nigella touched on that again. She also noted her experience when writing about food that people are more connected, almost nicer. As a blogger I can appreciate that, because when I post a recipe everybody loves it and no one complains. But if I write about a politician or politics/political issues, the keyboard warriors salute (and charge.)
Funny little Nigella notes include how she feels about fruit bowls- she doesn’t mix her fruit. Every kind of fruit has their own bowl.
Regarding her first book How to Eat– wasn’t sure at first if she would have recipes. She wasn’t sure she knew how to write about food.
“Life is full of unexpected turns.”
Nigella remarked how inspiration comes to us in odd ways, as we “lurch” through life.
She found it fortunate in her work as a journalist to live through her words.
Nigella started with TV at 38 or 40. She had two small kids, a husband who had cancer. His name was John Diamond, and he was also a journalist. He was 47 when he died. On a rather personal note, this resonated with me because my sister became a widow at 43, when my brother in law, then 49, died of a swift moving cancer. So I respect what Nigella went through and was dealing with back then.
Nigella spoke about what her terms were back then in order to do TV. If she could do TV, she wanted to do it from home but unscripted. Wanted to speak naturally. And with two small children and an ill spouse, it was an early work from home arrangement, and good for her for getting that.
I always have loved Nigella programs because she is relaxed and has fun in her kitchen. Her own dishes and pans, and not everything is perfect, much like our own kitchens. And one of my favorite parts of her shows is when she would go into her kitchen late at night for a snack. It’s so human and real.
Oh did I mention her pink boots?? Seriously an important note, they were truly fabulous!
When asked about writing her books, she prefers to do her books as they evolve, not as a “churning out machine.”
This: a cookbook from the ingredients she loved that was an essay, reflecting on ideas, then recipes to follow.
Home cooking because of COVID seems to have inspired this book in part.
This book, Cook Eat, Repeat are essays with recipes, like a companion piece to How to Eat. For that reason, on my own book shelves, these books are together.
On making or creating a book with food- the feeling of creating something.
The practical can make you feel you achieved something- the dizzying feel of achieving from the blank page.
Cooking for one in book because of COVID but she’s done it before. But cooking for one is important- you can concentrate on process of cooking and learn.
Lockdown caused her to spend more time on Twitter. Also notes recipes for one are important. I agree. I have always cooked for myself, even when it was just me.
Nigella hates the term “guilty pleasures.” It “blinks to snobbery” as in liking the “right” things and being afraid to say that you like something.
Essentially she remarked the hell with you shouldn’t be eating something, just try it. Life is too short. Don’t be counterproductive. Guilty pleasures with food doesn’t really work. Feel grateful not guilty.
When asked about things that she can’t live without or would prefer not to live without, there was bread and butter. “Life would be poorer.” She says she definitely needs lemons and salt in life. She remarked about a chips sandwich and referred to it as an English delicacy. As near as I can grasp it, this would be a sandwich of french fries or chips in between two slices of bread with butter.
She loves English mustard. Coleman’s, specifically. I always have Coleman’s dry mustard in my spice rack, and when I can get the actual jarred mustard I do. It has a bite. I use Colemans mustard in deviled eggs along with curry powder.
Now she and Michael Klein chatted about “brown food.” She said she wants to write about not just bright food and color. Not everything has to be high octane in your face. Or Instagram worthy. There is a need in life for the quiet bits. Food might not always blow your mind, sometimes it has a quiet kind of dignity, comfort. Lasts longer. “ A stew doesn’t shout for you to come to the table, it whispers.” (I loved that description.)
Quiet food, comfort food, has equally rich rewards.
It’s not all about the “shouty look at me.” Not everyone needs to be the same. (Amen. I wasn’t destined to live in a beige, beige world for one.)
We evolve our ideas, but your cooking evolves the way your life currently is. “I bumble away” referring to being a home cook. The more you cook the more you know.
“If you can’t deal with a cracked cake in life, life is going to be more difficult.”
What do you want to eat ? People have different palettes.
Recipes express the nature of cooking. Recipes express the nature of the chef.
Then she and Michael took a few questions from the audience. We were all asked to write a question down and basically put it in a little wicker basket when we were checking into the event.
The event actually went over the time allotted, and I could have listened to her for a couple of hours more. It was delightful. It was such a nice change from the obnoxious world we’ve been living in recently.
This was a really cool experience, and well I didn’t particularly enjoy the City of Philadelphia because it’s just so dirty and the streets and the sidewalks are such a hot mess these days, but the Kimmel Center was really nice.
Today is just one of those days that makes you think. I had to be home today, so I used Instacart. I will be honest I like this as a service. And for the most part I also really like the people that work for them. Today my person was a woman new to the area. Why and how she’s new to the area gave me pause.
This woman is here because of Hurricane Ian. Her husband has a job that requires a lot of travel. He spends a lot of time in this part of the Northeast. But they were living in Florida. Until hurricane Ian took everything. So she and her husband have relocated for at least the near term. His job is based out of the suburban Philadelphia area at this point, and well they just lost everything in a hurricane.
So as we’re sitting in our houses, apartments, townhouses, condos, wherever we need to pause a moment. Forget about all the hate and vitriol, think about people that go through things like this. And they go through it with a smile on their face and a positive attitude.
Also today I got to spend a little time with a friend of mine I don’t get to see very often. Life kind of intervenes and there are people that you just don’t see it as often as you would like. But again this is a person who has had quite the year, and is still positive and smiling and happy.
Today I also got to meet a Brazilian artist. She also has relocated to this area. And another person who just radiates niceness and positivity. The artist is Fer Caggiano, and I was introduced to her through a mutual friend. For this post I borrowed a photo of one of her paintings because it’s kind of how I’m feeling today, right or wrong. The link to Fer‘s website is embedded in the caption of her painting above.
The painting you see above made me check out a video of one of her shows, a show called “Like a Girl.”
Fer Caggiano is now calling Chester County home. It is kind of amazing that she is here. Her work is interesting, thought provoking, imaginative. I am not an art critic, I am just someone who likes things which strike me in some way The portraits in her Dare to Dream are cool. They aren’t traditional, they aren’t abstract, they are an interpretation of life and the essence of her subjects. Fer is also part of the NFT artwork movement.
What is an NFT artwork? NFT art is a digitalized piece of artwork that a person has tokenized onto a blockchain. Admittedly, that is not my jam as I like to look at art more traditionally. But Fer is multi talented, so she is an artist you can buy actual physical pieces from.
Fer is based out of Malvern now and Hands In on King St. They are located at 346 E. King St, Malvern. Now this business is owned by my friend Susie De Rafelo. Susie and I became friends because of a common love of gardening. Susie is amazing, (truly) and so multi talented and artistic. We are very lucky that this Chester County born woman returned to her roots and brought her business and imagination with her.
Hands In is a fair trade business. I am a fan of fair trade, as my long time friend Sherry Tillman has always practiced this through her business, Past*Present*Future , which is in Ardmore, PA.
Today started out like more of an average day. I also had hate mail in time for election day from some woman (a Stepford Wife for Totalitarianism) who should be ashamed of herself and her lack of intellectual ability, but she won’t be. She is a bless your heart and move on. You can read what she sent to me in my post this morning.
As humans, we are not designed to be mirror images of one and other. But in today’s hate and vitriol filled world, if you aren’t exactly like someone, you are bad. Ok, so to people like this morning’s fan, I am bad. If I don’t agree with someone on social media, I am bad. But I am tired of these people, and increasingly intolerant. I wasn’t born to live in a beige, beige world. I like color. I accept life can be messy, yet glorious. If you can’t, I am sorry, but that’s on you. These people are far too plentiful these days. And that is sad. But today, ugliness was once more balanced out with good. I appreciate that divine intervention, so to speak.
Thank you to the unintentionally inspirational women with whom I interacted today. You guys make life and the world a better place.