wow! those old tricks sometimes work, the furniture edition.

Once upon a time my mother had these mahogany nesting tables. Then one day on a whim, years ago, she got rid of them. She’s been lamenting their loss ever since. So imagine my delight, when a set just like the ones she sold showed up at a local estate sale.

Yes, these are literally the same tables. Not hers, but the same design and same mid century North Carolina manufacturer. So I bought them. At $48 for three in really great condition, it was a steal.

The tables were probably somewhere in this home “nested”, only taken apart when needed. That’s what my mother used to do. So the top table in this set had some condition issues, mainly from plant saucers or wet things leaving rings or marks. At this point today, a lot of people see “brown wood” and think “oh we’ll just paint the tables.”

But seriously, you shouldn’t destroy beautiful tables like this with chalk paint and other kinds of wood paint. This wood is spectacular and meant to be enjoyed. So what did I do? I dragged out my father’s old home remedy: a paste made of mayonnaise and wood ash or cigar ash or cigarette ash left on the tables overnight.

It really works. We have no smokers in the house so I had to use wood ash from the bottom of the wood stove. The crucial thing is it’s just ASH you use, you don’t want any charred bits or you will scratch whatever furniture you’re trying to renew.

So I did the first coat and left it on overnight. The next morning I removed what was left and took a look at the tables. There were still some pieces of rings left. What I did next was try furniture oil to see if that would just absorb the mark. I like orange oil. It helped renew the tables in general, as I did all three with orange oil, but it did not take up what was left of the rings on the largest table. So I did another layer of the mayonnaise and wood ash overnight.

This morning when I took the mixture off that top table once again, it was like magic and pretty much everything was gone. Next I moisturized and polished them with this stuff I discovered that I love. It’s from a company called Therapy Clean. It’s wood and cabinet cleaner and polish. I found it on Amazon.

The tables look fabulous I think now. And they didn’t require refinishing. Just a little elbow grease and patience. People always used to look at my father like he was nuts when he said that mayonnaise and ash took out rings and a lot of stains. But it’s an old-fashioned remedy that really does work. And again if you’re using wood ash, make sure there are no charred bits or it will scratch.

I hope my mother loves her tables and I just wanted to share this little tip with you. Because while painted furniture can be pretty, it’s not for everyone. I really am not a painted furniture person. I am a natural beauty of real hardwoods kind of person.

Thanks for stopping by.

the beauty of historic preservation: back to odessa, delaware.

As I said in the post prior to this, Odessa, Delaware is one of my favorite places. It is literally a jewel of a historic town, almost frozen in time.

I have written about Odessa, Delaware before. I really hadn’t been down there much since Covid, and I realized today how much I missed visiting this gem of a small town.

Located in New Castle County, Delaware, Odessa was founded in the 18th century as Cantwell’s Bridge, her name was changed in the 19th century after the Ukrainian port city of the same name.

Odessa is a National Registry District, home to a National Historic Landmark as well as two National Parks Service Network to Freedom sites.

Odessa like Lewes was settled initially by the Dutch in the 1600s. (Lewes is another favorite place of mine, and it’s a bit larger and busier than Odessa.)

When Odessa was a first settled by the Dutch in the 1660’s (to be more precise), they adopted the Indian name for the area, “Apequinemy”. The Dutch settled here in Odessa because it’s proximity to the Appoquinimink River which flows to Delaware Bay, making it ideal to them for trading. I have been told this was once the shortest route from the Atlantic Ocean to the Chesapeake Bay before the construction of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal.

This was an area inhabited by Lenni Lenape Native Americans before European settlement. The Dutch weren’t actually in this area for very long before the English assumed control of the area. Then land was granted to a Captain Edmund Cantwell, the first Sheriff of New Castle County, under the government of a person we are familiar with, William Penn. By the 1730s there was a town and Edmund’s son, Sir Richard Cantwell, built a toll bridge and toll house and the town of “Cantwell’s Bridge” was born.

For the next century plus, this was a thriving little port town shipping grain and other things (like peaches.) It was a bustling small town…until 1855 and the arrival of the railroad around Middletown, and bypassed Odessa. Like many other towns that thrived on rivers and canals (think Frick’s Lock in East Coventry Township, Chester County), the railroad did a number on the economy of “Cantwell’s Bridge.”

Cantwell’s Bridge was name changed to Odessa around 1855. It had something to do with hoping that the name change would remind people of the flourishing port of Odessa in the Ukraine and the same thing would happen in Odessa, Delaware.

Now the Odessa area was also known historically for the nearby peach orchards. Odessa remained historically a very active port until the late 19th century when a peach blight ruined crops, one of their larger exports. My research indicates that between the peach virus blight and the railroads Odessa almost died as a town.

However, where a lot of similar little towns have died, Odessa has lived on. It is a great collection of houses and architecture spending 200 years, truthfully. Colonial, mid-Georgian, Federal and Victorian architecture. Another fun fact about Odessa, is there used to be a steamboat that operated out of it from the latter part of the 19th century, up until the early parts of the 20th century, ending I think somewhere around World War I.

A lot of people wouldn’t like Odessa because it’s literally a sleepy historic town. That’s why I personally think it’s so wonderful.

There are different things that go on in Odessa throughout the year. A historic Odessa Brewfest in September (this year September 10th) , lovely Christmas holiday events, tours for all seasons. July 15 – 17th features an event I am interested in called Christmas in July. It’s a special holiday sale in the Christmas Resale Shop in the Collins-Sharp House.

We belong to the Historic Odessa Foundation , and anyone can belong. It’s a remarkable little town and makes a fun little day trip. There are also little bed-and-breakfasts in the area so it also makes a nice we can get away. But if you’re looking for lots of bells and whistles, this isn’t it. Unless of course historic preservation is one of your favorite bells and whistles. This isn’t Disney or Six Flags (thank goodness.)

Enjoy the photos from my ramble and thanks for stopping by.

just another dying farmhouse along 202

When you are headed on 202 south, just before the light at 926, there is a farmhouse or two. The one right on the corner of 926, still looks inhabited but the one before the corner ? It’s falling apart literally.

I thought maybe this old farmhouse was a Crebilly house. My sources however tell me that it is not part of Crebilly but at one time Crebilly did try to acquire it.

I would love to know the history if anyone knows. It’s in really bad shape.

Here is it’s barn or similar kind of structure:

Here are some closeups and other photos I was able to get of bits of the house as a passenger going by:

al stewart at the colonial

Things we forgot we missed, yet didn’t forget we missed during COVID19 was live music. Last night made up for that. We went to Phoenixville to The Colonial to see Al Stewart courtesy of Point Entertainment.

The last time I saw Al Stewart, it was at The Point in Bryn Mawr. The early 2000s. He actually played there a bunch, and it was a wonderful small venue to experience his music. Fun fact is he played at the original Main Point around 1970.

So much time has passed, and I might be in my late 50s, but if the venue isn’t too large I like live music, and I have always loved listening to Al Stewart.

One of the most fun things about listening to him live is he is a student of history. You would think, in a former life he was a history professor and as my husband points out, history has influenced his music. Truthfully he’d probably be great fun to have as a dinner guest.

Also a word about the opening act, which is also Al’s band for his shows: The Empty Pockets. They are really good, and they invited Phoenixville/Philadelphia favorite Cliff Hillis up on stage for a song! Many will know him from Smash Palace and as part of David Uosikkinen’s In The Pocket.

Last night was a terrific night of music. And The Colonial Theatre is such a gem. I always wonder when it’s fully restored, if it gets fully restored, will the silk damask on the walls be restored or replaced? It is one of the relics of the past of this theater that is one of my favorite things.

Before the concert we had dinner at The Black Lab Bistro. It was amazing! Sadly what isn’t amazing is the parking or lack there of in Phoenixville. It’s worse than Ardmore, and almost as bad as Manayunk.

Support venues like The Colonial Theatre!

the devil is in the details

You never know when you’re going to see that unexpected thing that you want to photograph. I found one of those things today when I photographed that segment of wall you see above.

I was in downtown West Chester for the moving sale for the store Dishfunctional on S. Franklin Street. They have been in this old warehouse for a number of years and they are moving soon to Lincoln Court in Frazer because West Chester borough approved Eli Kahn to build like two more apartment buildings.

Now I feel building apartments right there is just stupid because everyone knows it floods. And the other thing is every time you hear of some new ugly apartment building going up you wonder why nobody does adaptive reuse? Do you still see it in the city of Philadelphia in spots (my recent favorite example is The Gotham – look it up.)

So you have here this perfect section of old brick wall. What was it from? Where does it go because doesn’t it look like something is bricked up?

I have no idea what the latest behemoth apartment building will sprawl across but I don’t think that wall will survive somehow. So I decided to take its picture because I think it’s just so cool.

The new construction we see today is without depth, human scale, design, imagination, and sometimes you wonder about the quality of the whole project. They certainly don’t do brickwork like this anymore.

Thanks for stopping by. Off to watch A Discovery of Witches.

discover more in ardmore

I do have to give a shout out once in a while to one of my favorite stores, Past*Present*Future in Ardmore, PA. They are in the heart of the historic business district at 15 W. Lancaster Avenue. They are next-door to Merion Art and Repro.

You can shop in person at the store, you can shop online, and you can shop and do curbside pickup. Masks are a requirement in the store, but I don’t mind businesses that take every precaution for their staff and customers.

The owner Sherry is a long time and very dear and close friend. My favorite present from her ever was shortly after I received my breast cancer diagnosis and she gave me this funky cool sculpture that was an F bomb literally.

I have a pillow in my living room that everyone loves of foxes. All hand embroidered it. It came from Sherry and her store. The store when you go in is a feast for your senses because there are so many cool things to look at. If you go to visit her I suggest you take a couple laps around and then focus on areas that you like. She has amazing fair trade crafts from around the world, and she also reps independent jewelry designers who have some of the most fabulous stuff out there. And things you can wear every day not things you have to lock away for safety.

Mostly I shop from online and off her Instagram page these days because I just don’t get to Ardmore very often. But her shipping is always reasonable, and like I said you can do curbside pick up. I encourage in person visits because she has a tremendous and unique card section that you won’t find any place else – there are lots of cards out there for every occasion but it’s hard to find ones that are quality or when you want one that’s funny, to find one that’s actually funny.

And yes this is a place that when I mount and frame some of my photographs I sell them here. Take for example this one you see in this photo below👇

But I am not posting this because I have a photo for sale there. I am posting this because she has so much fun stuff and I love her store. This is a great store to find something really unique and special for Valentine’s Day and any other special occasion you might have. It is also a store used for corporate gifts and in the back there is a section of old fashion children’s toys that are among my personal favorites.

And I will state for the record that I am not being compensated for this post, I was not asked to write this post, I am writing this post because I want to and it’s my friend’s business and I have been a happy customer for a couple of decades. And the fact that this store started originally in Center City Philadelphia many years ago and has been open for so many years tells you about the quality of the items being sold.

Thanks for stopping by!

magnolia cottage shop in malvern is looking magical and holiday bright!

Last year none of us were out much because of COVID19. This year we are taking baby steps. It is sometimes disconcerting being out because face it, we are not used to it. I think that’s why I appreciate the small businesses in our area even more.

One of my favorites, Magnolia Cottage Shop is all decked out for Christmas and Kathy the owner has gone out of her way to make it so wonderful and welcoming. The shop is full of so many fun things right now, I could have stayed far longer than I did!

I found a few things I loved including this little vintage Annalee white elf. I don’t know much about these Christmas collectibles, I have a couple of friends that love them so I have gotten a few here and there over the years and I think this one is a Frosty! He looks really cute on my tree!

Magnolia Cottage Shop has something for everyone and one of my other favorite things were the vintage Pimpernel Santa placemats:

Magnolia Cottage Shop is located at 288 Lancaster Avenue Frazer/Malvern PA 19355. They are closed Mondays. See website and Facebook and Instagram for more!

december 1st musings

Well dear readers, it is December 1st. 2021 is in the home stretch.

And what a year it has been. More crazy politics and the COVID-19 of it all still lurks, now with a new variant just in time for Christmas: “Omnicron”. (Who names these things? The hurricane namers?)

In some regards it has been a good year, in some regards rather difficult.

For me it has been a year of personal loss. A friend I had since 7th grade left this earth literally right after we did the memorial service for another friend I had since the 10th grade and lost during 2020. They were tough losses for me. Then almost too close together two friends from adulthood, and I wouldn’t have ever met one, had I not known the other. Then a favorite cousin, and two of the ladies who were part and parcel of happy memories of childhood and Society Hill…and whom I had seen throughout adulthood. The older we get, every now and again the fabric of our lives snags and pulls at our heart and memories.

I will admit parts of this year just got to me. Sometimes for different reasons. Yet here we are, entering into the Christmas season, one of my favorite times of the year. It makes up for me missing all the months of mad gardening, which still make me look out of the window to wonder what everything will look like when it comes up next year.

2021 was a year I definitely marveled at people…like the woman who posted the photo of me on Facebook in a hospital gown during October (AKA “Breast Cancer Awareness Month”). The photo was from either right before my 2011 surgery or just after but before I started treatment. More recently, is this rather obsessive and wound guy who is running around social media calling me a “shill for CVS” because I had posted information I had learned because I had the initiative to go to CVS corporate and tell them how bad things were here and ask what they were going to do about it. Once again I have to say, I am not paid to do these things and am not a compensated blogger.

2021 was us getting back to trying to feel normal and see friends and family. But I have to ask, who else almost has a panicky feeling if they are somewhere where a lot of people are? Or even if it is not a lot of people it feels like a lot of people? Of course now we are getting into corporate Christmas party season. I do not miss those days and wouldn’t be going if I was still a teeny cog in a large corporate wheel.

2021 is a year where the hangover of 2020 politics haunted us all year long. I expect these politics will haunt us for a very long time. I miss some whom I consider friends, but who don’t seem to have time for me now that they consider me ” super liberal” which I am still truly not. But I can’t and won’t conform to Stepford Wife style politics or herd mentality and follow the sheeple. Simply not my jam, and those who truly know me have no problem with that no matter what their politics are. I wonder will we ever be able to have civil political conversations again some day?

2021 was feeling like I was under siege as a blogger at times. I have been blogging long before it was commonplace and I will never understand why I am so, shall we say, “fascinating” to some? I am not so unusual, I actually quite ordinary. Is having a point of view that doesn’t have to be crowdsourced first on Facebook so unusual?

2021 was a year I cherished my family and friends even more than ever. But there for the Grace of God, go I. When you look at what others are going through, you do quite literally count your blessings. Life is not a Hallmark Christmas movie with a hero at the end and a happy ending, but it’s not so bad, and I am blessed. A phrase I don’t use often like tossing bits of popcorn into the air. But this year marks my 10th year surviving breast cancer among other things.

For all of us, it has felt like an eternity since our world went upside down in March of 2020 due to COVID-19. And honestly, I don’t feel we are out of the woods yet. And please, save your conspiracy theories like the one I heard last weekend when someone said to me that the people spreading COVID-19 were all the people who got their shots. And that, friends is one of the more irritating as hell aspects of 2021: it has been the year of the anti-masker/anti-vaxxer. By all means, keep protesting in front of malls and such, just stay out of my way. And don’t tell me I am wrong if I wear a mask somewhere. I hate wearing masks, but sometimes you just have to.

Now I am going to turn my attention towards getting my decorations up for Christmas. I am excited to be able to share this holiday season with some of my family. Nothing huge, but it will be Christmas.

I am, however, amused by somewhat extended family whom I have not heard from since way before COVID -19 hit inquiring as to Christmas plans. I would be offended, but that would require more head space than it deserves. Yes, it’s Christmas but umm where have you been? Some people sadly have no sense of their own optics based on behavior. You can’t always ask, sometimes you have to give.

Today I marked December 1st by having a photo taken with Santa. Nope sorry, that is my photo for my Christmas memories, but he was a rather marvelous Santa as you can see in the photo.

Seeing a Santa today really made me believe in the magic of Christmas. Here’s hoping we all have a magical season sprinkled with happiness. (And if you use Spotify listen to their just released list of what we listened to in 2021 – I like my list so far!)

Ho ho ho and thanks for stopping by.

reimagined wonderful

Today was a fun day that started out at an open house at the Reimagined Style studio. I had the best time.

When you walk into Tracy’s studio it’s a fabulous glimpse into her creative process as an artist. It’s also a wonderfully curated collection of antiques and vintage collectibles including some fabulous vintage and antique textiles. I came away with some fabulous vintage ornaments, and other ideas for gifts.

Reimagined Style will be around during the holidays and be sure to keep an eye out. If anything in my photos catches your eye, message them via Instagram or Facebook.

I am a happy customer. I have not been asked to write this post nor have I been compensated for this post.

#ShopSmall