yes this is a rant.

Development should be a four letter word. Nothing has architectural style and human scale is non-existent.

Nothing being proposed on the Main Line or into Chester County and further out even complements the surrounding areas developers want to build in.

Everything is about maximizing density for developer profit.

The problem with that is there are a lot of moving parts and why is it residents can see the holes in the planning process and the zoning process and the development process and the political part of the process yet no one else seems to be willing to?

Everyone always thinks I am 100% against development. I’m actually not, but I cannot stand what is being shoved into our communities today.

The municipalities get all hot and bothered over the short term high of ratables but are incredibly short sighted as to the future. They don’t even look to protect the basics like stress on infrastructure, stress on first responders, stress on school districts which are all getting SO big.

It’s always QUANTITY instead of QUALITY.

And don’t forget the conditions of approval that they could ask for and sometimes they don’t even try. If these developers want to be in our communities then they can build the roads that will support their development. They can help pay for the schools that their future residents will put children into. They can finish the parks the townships don’t ever seem to have the money to either start or complete yet they have the land. And occasionally, these municipalities could learn to say “no give us a better plan.”

And in some municipalities you have to wonder for whom the township staff actually works? For whose benefit do the politicians work?

Years ago several members of the Pennsylvania legislature put forth an idea for a law. That law was simple it would’ve provided a short term moratorium on development. Just enough for Pennsylvania municipalities to hit the pause button to try to get better plans – like 90 or 120 days or something. The lobbyists for parties who objected to this being put forward killed this thing at least twice.

Also the Municipalities Planning Code of Pennsylvania? When was the last time that was comprehensively updated? Wasn’t it either the late 1960s or 1970s?

And here in Chester County why is it everyone thinks the Chester County Planning Commission’s Landscapes is so fabulous? All I see is a blueprint for over-development. We live in Chester County and we don’t live here so we can feel like we live in Bensalem or King of Prussia correct?

And while on the topic of our Chester County Planning Commission why is it our county level planning is being driven by an executive director who does not live in our county? To me that is just nuts and the worst kind of politics. That in my humble opinion is a person not truly invested in our communities and how can he be, he doesn’t live here does he?

We need change or we are going to continue to lose what makes where we live special. I don’t know about you but every time I look at a plan it is homogenous, boring, uninteresting and not community minded in the least for where ever it is proposed. It’s mall architecture. Bleck.

Once open space is gone it doesn’t come back. From Lower Merion in Montgomery County through to Caln in Chester County and everywhere in between, something has got to give.

And the history and historic preservation also doesn’t seem to matter. And it should.

I have never believed in “build it and they will come” as a reason to develop. And I’m not saying there aren’t areas that are in need of sprucing up. There are. Only the planning and vision that is realistic doesn’t seem to exist does it?

And the zoning? Why is everything high density? And all these special zoning overlay districts? Who benefits besides developers?

But everything is the same: ugly apartment buildings, cheap townhouse communities, fake carriage house communities. Density, density, and more density.

And in a lot of areas people are asking about low income and affordable housing. And we’re not talking section 8 here we’re talking about where do the single mothers go if they want to live in a safe community and raise their children? Where do our seniors go who can’t afford ritzy retirement communities? Where do regular people go who can’t afford McMansions?

And is there the economy to support this development? I was talking to somebody last week who remarked about not being able to work close to home. So are the jobs really here locally that will support the development? In my opinion, no.

Yes this is a RANT. And developers aren’t going to like this post, but none of you were being singled out. I am disgusted with all of it.

We deserve better. We need to demand better.

Development is an epidemic and we need a solution.

summer chili

Yesterday since it was rainy, I decided to make chili. I was thinking about this chili that someone who was the father of a girl I knew growing up made.  It had corn in it.  I remember having it on a rainy August night in Avalon when I was in about 6th grade. These people used to rent this house that looked like a red Victorian farmhouse. It had a big, dark kitchen with a rickety wooden table.

So yesterday I decided to make my own summer chili.  The ingredients:

1 pound ground pork

1 pound ground lean turkey

4 chili peppers all chopped up (my were Hatch red and green that I grew myself)

2 red bell peppers chopped up

2 jalapeño peppers chopped up

2 red onions chopped up

1 small bag frozen corn (plain, no “sauce”) or fresh kernels off of 4 ears of fresh corn.

1 lime zested and juice of same zested lime

A good handful of cilantro chopped

A handful of basil and oregano chopped

4 garlic clothes minced

2 large  carrots grated,

1 28 ounce can of tomato purée

1 28 ounce can of strained crushed  tomatoes,

3 15 ounce cans of white beans – Cannellini ,Navy, Great Northern. ( I used 1 can of each type)

1 15 ounce can red beans (Kidney or even Pinto)

And lots of chili powder and salt and pepper to taste.

First I sautéed the garlic and onion a few minutes in olive oil.  Then I added the peppers (all of them) and cooked everything down a few minutes more.  Then I added the carrots, ground pork, ground turkey and some salt.  As the pork and turkey started to look cooked through  I added the beans, and cooked that all together for a few minutes, then added the chili powder (I have no idea how much I added, I kept dumping).  After that I added the tomatoes, the zested lime and juice of one lemon followed by the fresh herbs and the last ingredient: the small bag of frozen corn.

I then bought my pot to a simmer and it just simmered low and slow for probably a couple of hours.  I stirred every half hour or so, and remarkably nothing stuck to the bottom of the pan.

I can tell you that my husband and son ate SO much of the chili that there was only two 1 quart bags for freezing and 1 quart container left over. I made this chili in my 8 quart Great Jones “Big Deal” pot, and it was 2/3 full as you can see from photo at bottom. As a related aside, I absolutely LOVE this pot and highly recommend the Great Jones company.

Thanks for stopping by!

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!

a wine tasting on a lavender farm

I wrote about visiting beautiful Mt. Airy Lavender earlier this summer. The place is amazing and their products awesome. It is also a bucolic and lovely event venue.

We returned yesterday evening to the farm located in Wagontown for a wine tasting. We went to meet the lovely Gretchen Voelcker, owner and creator of Luna Hart Wines.

Our winemaker Gretchen

Founded by Gretchen Voelcker, Luna Hart Wines is a boutique wine company specializing in small batch, handcrafted wines in the Santa Ynez Valley.  Gretchen makes select wines in which she explores the techniques and nuances that continue to stoke her passion for wine.  

Nancy Saha, Gretchen’s grandmother (whom I adore)

Santa Ynez is part of the Santa Barbara wine country and home to other vineyard like Fess Parker. It is an amazing area, and as per my research each year over a million cases of wine are produced in the Santa Ynez Valley. The area features I am told well over a hundred wineries, most of them are boutique operations and family owned and operated. I prefer small businesses and have tasted many lovely wines from one of the most beautiful regions of California.

Why Luna Hart? Other than the wines are quite good? Because her proprietress and winemaker is from Chester County.

Gretchen Voelcker, the winemaker and creator of Luna Hart Wines grew up in Europe and right on the farm hosting the wine tasting event.  

While she and her family lived in Europe during her high school years and continuing with summers during her college years, she visited many different wine regions in France ultimately falling in love with the craft of winemaking and developing her own passion for wine.

When you speak with Gretchen as I did, you can see the passion for her chosen profession right of her face. She completely lights up while discussing how passion for wine began while living in Europe and visiting the many wonderful wine regions and vignobles in France.  Another passion was fueled by her love of nature and all things outdoors bringing her to California where she has had the fortune of working with gifted winemakers, mentors and role-models. 

After studying Business & French at Georgetown University and earning a degree in plant science from University of California, Santa Cruz, she moved to Santa Barbara County.

Gretchen worked at Rideau Vineyard for six years, starting as an intern and eventually became the assistant winemaker.  Now she is with Martian Ranch and Vineyard where she is the winegrower, producing minimal interference wines from biodynamically grown Estate grapes.

Gretchen has definitely produced some fabulous high quality wines and last evening we sampled four. Our favorites? A 2016 Cabernet Franc and a 2017 Grüner Veltliner.

The 2017 Grüner Veltliner was my pick because I am allergic to most red wines, and I prefer varietal whites over a bland Chardonnay. People laugh when I entertain because I don’t include Chardonnays. This wine is reminiscent of three wine styles to me: Alsatian, Austrian, and German.

My husband’s pick was the 2016 Cabernet Franc. It was a bold wine and lovely at first sip, and even better as it opened up. He is not a Merlot or Syrah guy generally, although he also said the 2018 Syrah presented was quite nice and fresh and fruity.

I also sampled the 2018 Sauvignon Blanc which was nice, but as I said the wine that hooked me was the 2017 Grüner Veltliner.

We purchased and bought home a few bottles of the 2017 Grüner Veltliner and 2016 Cabernet Franc.

You can order from Gretchen’s Website for Luna Hart and like many boutique and family vineyards, there is a wine club as well.

There is a lot of pretentious and not so enjoyable wine out there. Luna Hart is a label to watch. Gretchen is a talented winemaker and I look forward to tasting and purchasing more of her wines. Another one which interested me but sold out was the 2016 Aurora White. It uses in part a viognier grape and one of my all time favorite white varietals is a viognier.

Many thanks to beautiful Mt. Airy Lavender for hosting this event and a special note about how lovely the place looked and the food was terrific especially the salmon. A lot of times people skimp or do not truly bother with food at a wine tasting which I find to be a mistake. Wine is an experience generally paired with food so if you do a proper tasting the food should be sufficient and complementary.

If you are interested in hosting an event there, go to their website for further information.

Have a great Saturday!

happy 25th anniversary to the west chester growers market!!!

IMG_6363I missed all the political fanfare early this morning, but I did make it to the 25th anniversary of the West Chester Growers Market.

State Senator Andy Dinniman and Chester County Commissioners Michele Kichline and Terrence Farrell were there at the opening of today’s market to celebrate with everyone and present citations and proclamations.

But where oh where were the officials of West Chester Borough? Borough Council? I mean it is NO SECRET they have been discussing the lot on the corner of Chestnut and Church Streets again right?  And what developer and hotel owner want in on whatever is discussed, hmmm?  Oh the irony that they just discussed this again, what? This past week?

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And no one from the Borough could come to the West Chester Growers Market in an official capacity to celebrate their 25th anniversary? The County and State felt they should be there, so why not the Borough?

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Photo courtesy of County Commissioner Terrence Farrell’s Facebook Page.  He and Chester County Commissioner Michelle Kichline presenting a County citation to Paul “Bud” Hauser, an inspiration behind and one of the four original growers who founded the West Chester Growers Market 25 years ago. I think this is fabulous that they did this!!

Oh and my opinions are my own, by the way.  And sadly I think West Chester Borough needs to appreciate the organizations which bring people into the Borough weekly for 25 years, don’t you? The West Chester Growers Market brings people and farms and small food producers together. In a world filled with ugliness, this is something genuine and nice.

Today the market was bustling in spite of the crazy heat.  And the vendors were nice enough to have lots and lots of water on hand for customers. And ice cream!!  And balloons and face painting for kids!

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I love the West Chester Growers Market and it is pretty much the only one I patronize at this point since East Goshen seems to have given up on their farmers market which I think is a huge mistake since they have one of the most awesome locations.

The photos I took today were my own.  I am not compensated in any way for posting about the market. I post about the West Chester Growers Market because I love it and think it’s fabulous.

And if West Chester Borough Council gets their knickers in a twist because I do not feel in my opinion that they appreciate the market in all it’s fabulousness, tough noogies and am I wrong?

HAPPY 25TH ANNIVERSARY WEST CHESTER GROWERS MARKET!! 

WE LOVE YOU IN CHESTER COUNTY!!

 

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who can tell me about this house??

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This is back in the Coatesville area. Valley Township maybe or Caln but I do not know for sure.  Maybe Wagontown? Maybe on 340? I remember passing a Turkey Hill and there is some pub place near it. It was not long after getting off 30 bypass.

You know me and boarded up houses.  They have a tale to tell so help me tell it.

Thanks!!

Post addendum:

Noted local historian Catherine Quillman tells me the following:

I will send you a photo but I believe it’s the house next door (which someone mentioned as being restored). I just gave a lecture to West Caln and people were sort of vague about it. Your photo shows more windows than the one in my photo from the historical society. Anyway, before the Lancaster Road took over the main Lancaster-Philadelphia route, the King’s Highway (route 340) had many pre-American Revolution taverns along it.

The road was actually developed by Peter Bezellon, the Canadian French trader whose trading log cabin was reportedly what is now the famous Downingtown log house. The early court at Chester (Upland) asked Bezellon to develop the road since he knew several Indian dialects (he was later accused as being a spy during French & Indian war).

Anyway, the road was called “Peter’s Road.” There is a marker near Coatesville that calls him the “founder.”….These photos are from Carstairs Pierce collection at Chester County Historical Society….she was a “Chester County rambler” back in the 1950s and 1960s and she took photos of every former tavern she could find. She calls this tavern the “Sign of the Wagon,” which gave the West Caln Township hamlet its’ name Wagontown….

….Note that this tavern looks slightly different than the house you posted. However, it’s really strange that two 18th-centure “Georgian style” with the windows above the penteve would be right next to each other….

 

Here are the photos:

This is the  house being restored on this road people are talking about:

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It looks amazing!

Here is the sad house again:

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visiting mt. airy lavender

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About a month ago I wrote a post called when good conquers evil eminent domain you get lavender fields.  It was about the new adaptive reuse of the Saha Farm in Valley Township (Coatesville/Wagontown). The farm is now Mt. Airy Lavender!!

I went to one of their open farm days in June, and will go back again when they have another one.  Mt. Airy Lavender is so worth the drive!  And I am hooked on their lavender based products! My big favorites are the Lavender Peppermint Body Butter  and Lavender Water and Lavender Essential Oil Roller!

You can buy their products online or when they have open farm days.  They have fun events too! (Including a wine tasting in August.)

For me, this was a special experience to finally visit the farm the Sahas fought so hard to save from eminent domain for private gain from Coatesville all those years ago.

I hope you enjoy the photos I am sharing and I hope you will visit the farm or consider it for an event.

I received nothing for writing this blog post.  I went to the farm because I wanted to see it and I buy their products and lavender plants because they are awesome.

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