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.
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.
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.
The turkey went into the oven and looked like it was wearing its own shroud of Turin.
The table is set. Little snacks are out until dinner is ready. Happy Thanksgiving.
I don’t have too many thoughts for all of you today other than I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
I will say that as this year draws to a close, that it has been a long year. A lot of ups, and a lot of downs in our communities.
It has also been a time of too many people telling me what I should write about, what I should cover, how I should think, and how I should feel. I got a little tired of that, and I find it presumptive of people. I don’t expect to be everyone’s cup of tea, and no one says you have to read a single word I write.
I help where I can because I want to. And if I can’t help, it’s not necessarily because I don’t want to, but it is because sometimes you all in your communities have issues that you need to figure out on your own. I can’t always give everything a voice.
For example, there is something brewing in the far reaches of Chester County at Big Elk Creek in Franklin Township, Chester County. And now, for some reason known only to the butt heads in Harrisburg, they want to turn it into an RV park/camping destination. I don’t know much about this area of the county but I did a little research and I found an article from 2022:
So again, this was an issue that somebody contacted me about that I don’t know anything about except my initial gut check says don’t let the state turn this into Disneyland but when I try to explain this to someone contacting me at 10:30 PM at night they were first worried that they had offended me and they hadn’t but I tried to tell them it’s Thanksgiving week I have a life. and I also said to them that they are their own best advocates.
And it’s true you can be your own advocate. You have to get out in front of issues and contact media and get other people interested and go to public meetings, and hold public meetings.
But sometimes open space needs to just be open space. It needs to be a habitat. And you can’t be a habitat for wild things when you’ve got an RV campground in the middle of it – that doesn’t work.
Big Elk is home to rare owls, wild orchids, bog turtles, migratory birds of all kinds and more.
So on Thanksgiving, I am asking people to look into helping these people in Franklin Township. People were so excited last year, when the land was becoming a state park. But I feel like they’ve been a victim of bait and switch if this goes through. And my biggest problem is the state and DCNR seems really murky about it.
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.
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:
At Christmas I had a Christmas calamity. I had this beautiful number 3 crock that I use as a planter. I had bought it from the Smithfield Barn a few years ago. It always lived inside the garage against the wall in the winter.
Right before Christmas, when my stepson was pulling one of the cars into the garage, he accidentally smashed it with his tire. I was pretty upset. I love my old crocks.
So I contacted my friends who are in the business of old things that I buy things from and said to let me know if you see an old number 3 crock I’ve had a calamity.
Today I got a text message from one of the folks at Sales by Helen. They were telling me my package was going to be dropped off soon. So I texted back because I hadn’t bought anything. And they said no you’re being gifted something. So then I wondered who was still spreading Christmas cheer right up to the end of Christmas season – well it is not Epiphany quite yet.
Well, it’s John Romani, who owns Sales by Helen.
A perfect old number 3 crock with a note:
I am totally in awe of the gesture of kindness. This is a small business owner in a very uncertain economy and this is why I support local small businesses. No, not for free stuff because they will tell you I am not a free stuff blogger.
This is quintessential of local small businesses. They know their customers, and they remember what their customers are looking for. They are our neighbors and friends as well.
Sales By Helen is a business I have supported since I first went to a Helen sale and met John’s mom Helen, years ago. I have all the things that I bought over the years still today. Not only do they do house sales and estate sales, but they also have online shopping available. And there is complementary delivery within a certain area and shipping.
A random act of kindness on a cloudy day. Thanks John and Company ❤️
Welcome to the first post of 2023. Happy New Year!
But what kind of year will it be? A repeat of 2022? Not quite a repeat, but a spin on the past few years? Honestly, I hope not.
I don’t have anything particularly profound or important to contribute today. Just thoughts.
2022 saw immense disappointment in humankind for me. It was like so many lost what shreds of humanity they had before the onset of COVID19.
Do I wish people would learn how to be nice again? Of course.
Do I wish people would learn to be tolerant of the differences in others, and would learn how to be more accepting of different creeds and cultures and lifestyles? Yes I do.
Do I think this will happen? Honestly, probably not. The everything phobic are too self righteous. To them, basic rights are subjective and if it bothers them that is all that matters. I predict in 2023 they will continue to harass everyone and embarrass their own children, which is sad.
One thing I wish for 2023 is for people to get more involved in their communities. Constructively and consistently, not after someone has already opened the proverbial barn door.
I do have a true wish for people to find their voices over their local issues. It’s so important, and you cannot just expect me or anyone else to give voice and life to your issues. I hate saying no to people, but I will. Learn to be your own advocates.
In that vein, I hope people take the time to learn about which people are running for public office. A politician doesn’t have to be your political party to be a good choice. Our country is a two party system that works best with balance. Which is why of course the Republican Party needs to get back to who they were, not what the tea party and Trumpublicans turned them into.
I hope 2023 is the year people learn to say no to and stand up to extremist groups and their fake news propaganda. Out of state 501(c)(4)s and budding Elon Musks/Donald Trump types should not be controlling anything.
In Pennsylvania, I hope 2023 is the year politicians get off their asses at the state level and take steps to amend and update the Municipalities Planning Code to protect our communities, not continue to destroy them via rampant overdevelopment. We need real land and historic preservation. We also need meaningful laws to protect our communities from the god damn pipelines and utility companies in general who wish to pay attention to their profit centers and grow their monopolies at the expense of our communities.
Yesterday at the bitter end of 2022 I had dual experiences. Valued time spent with friends and family and one more unpleasant experience with a keyboard warrior who was simply a jackass. These dual experiences reminded me of what and who was important. I expect 2023 will bring me more “fans” hell bent on bending me to their comfort levels. Maybe in 2023 these folks will simply learn to move onto people they are more comfortable reading, but I doubt it.
I guess if I have a wish for everyone in general it’s that 2023 is more peaceful and doesn’t feel as hard as parts of 2022. I also have a wish for Russia to get out of the Ukraine.
My other wish is for people to garden more! It will make you feel better about life to connect with the soil and plants! Cooking does this too. Find your creative outlet. Celebrate your inner child. Connect with friends and/or family. Give thanks for the blessings in your life. Try to find magic in ordinary days.
I promise I won’t suffer fools gladly in 2023. I am also going to stream the new series of Vera today.
About two years ago my friend David randomly (and finally) gave me his grandmother’s poundcake recipe. I hadn’t made it yet until today, and finally did so as I was thinking about him this morning.
We lost David this year to a tragic, and senseless accident caused by a stranger. He was literally hit by a car as a pedestrian. It was a particularly hard lost process, because this was one of my oldest friends. He was also just a tremendous human being, and one of those genuinely good people you feel very fortunate to have known.
I always think of David around Christmas, because we used to go for decades with our parents to the same Christmas party on Christmas Eve. We would congregate in the host’s library away from all the adults and hang out.
We also went to JDA and SDA together, AKA Junior and Senior Dancing Assemblies for those of you Who did not grow up in the Main Line area. I always wondered if they ever found the remains of old stale pretzels we shoved down the heating grates at Merion Tribute House in the lobby. We shared many laughs there as Mrs. Farber in her gold lamé evening gowns, and her aqua net shellacked hair tried to civilize all of us. Mostly for all of us, it was like a bloodsport, trying to make her blow her stack at every dance we went to.
We always stayed friends, losing a connection for a year or two here or there as we grew up and lives took us to different states and locations per-Internet/social media. But as friends, we always found our way back to each other. When social media came around, it made it much easier to stay connected and we would talk or message more often. And then there was the one time he finally sent me his grandmother’s pound cake recipe. She made it with currants and walnuts, which makes it in my mind a perfect Christmas cake.
I did not have any currants left after baking, so I substituted this raisin mix I get from Nuts.com. I also did add 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder, and 1 teaspoon of baking soda. It’s a straightforward recipe and it is not super sweet which I kind of like because Christmas cookies are so sugary.
I will admit, I was laughing when I was making the pound cake because it is a little bit labor-intensive given the nature of the batter. And I was laughing, because as I am creaming the butter, I’m getting stuff everywhere as I’m adding the sugar, then the eggs, and so on, and so forth. And my friend David was one of the neatest people I ever met, so I really was laughing.
I think in the end, it did not take quite two hours to bake this cake at 325°, but it did take probably an hour and a half and a few minutes.
It’s a wonderfully old-school buttery pound cake. For me, the 2 cups of eggs amounted to 9 raw eggs. Yes, you break them into a measuring cup.
Anyway, I don’t know if I will be posting more before Christmas or not. It’s been a weird year, and I hope you all enjoy your Christmas holiday with your loved ones and friends and family.
We also have our first fire in the woodstove tonight, and it is the perfect evening for it!
I have been going to write this post for a few days. Every time I sat down to begin it, life got in the way, so I decided I just need to start it today.
Why the title of the post? I was going through old photos and it just sort of hit me is that was the title. The photos I was going through were of parties and black-tie fundraisers from many, many years ago.
One of the things I loved best about a lot of those parties were the dresses we had back then. So we’re talking the 80s through mid 90s. And especially in the late 80s, the dresses were pretty. That was one of my favorite era for black tie dresses and gowns. I am not talking the Dynasty-esque dresses, there were just a lot of pretty, well made dresses.
How fancy you dressed back then, was dictated by the event itself. And the events themselves were kind of special. You couldn’t just buy a ticket and subscribe necessarily, you need to receive an invitation to do that. ticket prices for the event but they weren’t exorbitant. Of course back then sometimes they felt exorbitant because a lot of us were just starting out working full-time after college, etc.
Back, then black tie was predominantly floor length as far as the dresses went. Sometimes tea length, it just depended on the dress. White tie was something else again. Perhaps one of my favorite gowns was this crazy beautiful iridescent silk taffeta Victor Costa gown. My mother bought it for me at Nan Duskin in Philadelphia.
There were a lot of stores as in department stores and boutiques to choose from. And they always had a selection of ladies black tie attire. And the dresses were pretty, the fabrics had body to them.
And most importantly, at least for me as compared to the majority of the dresses you see today in photos, Hoochie Mama wasn’t hollering for her dress back. Sure there was tons of strapless, but the dresses left a little to the imagination and they weren’t sliced all the way down the chest bone or all the way up to the pelvic bone, it seemed.
Also back then? Plastic surgery was reserved for something your mother’s friends did, sometimes badly. Today it feels like no one can age gracefully (or otherwise) and plastic surgery and procedures seem to be starting rather young.
The parties, especially at Christmas, were so much fun. The Charity Ball is in the Philadelphia Charity Ball, at that point was December 23. but before that starting in November, there were all sorts of events and Christmas parties. Around Thanksgiving was Pilgrimage on the Parkway.
I remember a few parties that were even held at 30th St., Station. One Christmas party I remember in particular because I had this dress back then that I loved and this party was not formal, it was semi formal. Semi-formal meant short dresses and men wore coat and tie. I had found this dress at John Wanamaker’s when it was still, John Wanamaker’s. The dress was a wonderful red with blue undertones as opposed to orange. It had a halter neck and a regular zip up back but it was the 80s, so the halter collar part was pearls. Not big, huge, Barbara Bush sized pearls, they were regular sized, but that was the entire color. The dress was to the knee.
Back then half of what we wore as far as evening shoes were simple, black peau de soie pumps. The heels were an average height, they weren’t sky high, and the heels weren’t chunky. And if you didn’t have those you had velvet pumps of a similar style. Essentially classic and elegant.
Sometimes we had our hair done in an updo, but not all the time. I have pretty thick hair and I remember one party that I went to in Alexandria Old Town, Virginia. I ended up taking out the up do before the party because the woman had teased my hair into a southern up do and it looked like I was related to Imelda Marcos. I still remember that moment because it was really funny.
And at that time, I had a lot of friends in the Washington DC area. People who had migrated there for work after college and more. And back then when you went to Washington for one of those black ties or Christmas parties, you had to bring your A game. those women in DC knew how to dress. And the dresses were gorgeous down there. So were the parties.
This one group of girls I remember used to do this great holiday fundraiser and it was black-tie edit benefited Toys for Tots. I want to say for a while it was held I think back then at the Ritz Carlton in Washington DC. I remember it was always held on a lower level of the hotel and wherever it was held there were these antique dioramas built into the wall on that level they were kind of fascinating to look at.
And at one of those Washington DC Christmas parties one year, we all met Walter Cronkite. He was in town for something , but retired at that point. I remember how tall he seemed. He had come into DC from Annapolis. He was so nice. He actually did stop to speak to all of us. And his voice in person was just as great as it was on TV. He had been at something at the hotel and literally just stuck his head into the party we were at to check it out. I remember he had such a nice face in person and his eyes sparkled.
This was of course before the age of social media. So there weren’t many photos. Just memories. Like memories of the parental units going to black tie Christmas parties. Or the Christmas parties we went to as a family. All dressed up, white tights, mary janes, and matching dresses until we revolted finally. Oh and don’t forget the matching Christmas nightgowns!
And all of these parties had great food and beverages served using actual china and glassware, and no plastic utensils.
I remember neighborhood parties. I remember one where every year one neighborhood man would wear his Christmas plaid pants. And sometimes a Christmas vest. The pants were what my one grandmother would have called “high water” pants, or they were a little too short. He would greet everyone at every party with a big grin and say “Howdy, neighbor!” (No it wasn’t Texas, it was the Main Line.)
Back then there were quite a few neighborhood parties. As a general society, we weren’t so transient. People moved into areas and stayed, they didn’t move into areas and then flip for the next bigger house. People actually sang Christmas carols, and knew their neighbors. Even if I didn’t want to be all dressed up and looking exactly like my sister, the parties were pretty fun and festive.
Then there were the caroling parties every year with my cousin Suzy. Suzy lived in Newtown, Bucks County. None of us could sing, but we would still gather at Suzy‘s house. There was a little Christmas party, then we would go around Christmas caroling for a while, laugh like hell, and go back to Suzy’s l house. Suzy was also one of the first people I went hunting vintage Christmas ornaments with. Often that meant getting up at o’dark early to hit the flea markets outside of New Hope.
Then there were the family Christmas parties with my mother’s German friends, Susi and Babette. Those parties were spectacular like out of a movie set, but they weren’t artificial. They were natural and gorgeous and very German. The ornaments on the trees, fresh greens, candle light. We always loved going to their houses. And the fun thing about their parties were the people were so interesting and fun. When I entertain today, I still like to channel them. No pigs in a blanket at their houses, which was always fine because that to this day is an hors d’oeuvre, I don’t understand nor like.
In the 90s I remember being invited to this spectacular Christmas party. It was on Fishers Road in Bryn Mawr. A beautiful little house on a shared driveway. I’m not even sure if the house still exists because so many places have been knocked down for bigger houses to be built.
Anyway, the guy that owned the house had something to do with IKEA and he and his partner lived in it. He did this totally glorious European/Scandinavian Christmas party. The decorations were beautiful. Unbelievable trees and greens and decorations. The house was just decked. Candlelight. There were also so many different kinds of fish. Beautiful oysters on the half shell and shrimp and crab and I don’t even know what else. A true smörgåsbord. Ham, beef, cheeses, fruit. The house was like a jewel box. I think the reason I liked that party so much it was like another version of what my mother’s friends Susi and Babette would do.
These parties I remember were all pretty. The houses festive and beautiful. The decorating done by the homeowners, not a Christmas decorating service. Everyone was a little Martha Stewart on the Christmas bus back then. And it wasn’t party trays from the grocery store, these were planned out menus that the hostess did, and for the most part prepared herself. Yes, these kinds of parties are a lot of work, but they are worth it and your guests appreciate it.
As I mentioned, there were the annual Christmas parties you attended with your family. One party we went to we attended for decades. We watched the changes from the first wife to the second wife. With the first wife, sometimes they would all be there to greet you at the door. The wife and daughters in quasi matching dresses of icy perfection. With the second wife, it was all warmer and more genuine. And every year the Christmas tree was different. The most amusing thing about this party is every year the core crowd was the same. It was a party where I knew every year like clockwork that I would see certain friends. It was never the most exciting party, but it was beautiful and nice.
Then you grow up and everything is different again. And what is so funny is how things change now that we are the age of our parents taking all of us to Christmas parties or fussing about our gowns for The Charity Ball.
Me personally? On one hand, I loved all the fun black tie holiday parties and the annual Christmas parties we went to. But then on the other hand, I love our own Christmas traditions in a completely different time.
Now it’s us. Pre-COVID, we did a few Christmas parties, including one at Loch Aerie before she opened as a wedding and event venue. She was restored but the kitchen was just a shell and the ballroom addition was not built. Duffy’s did the catering with a kitchen in a big truck.
But mostly, even before COVID hit, it is us, at home. Those are our traditions. Not as formal, never as dressy. These days it’s more about how will I display my vintage Christmas ornaments and where on my tree will my wool felted Christmas mice will go. But the Christmas dishes and real glasses and silverware still come out.
I remember years ago, before I was married, and I was with someone else, we would go to their relatives for Christmas sometimes. The brother and sister-in-law took the time to do a beautiful meal with real plates and silverware and glasses, and then there was the other sister, and it was a lot of plastic cups and cooking things in disposable tinfoil pans. Obviously, you know which house I liked better.
A friend of my mine and I were talking about all of this yesterday. She texted me a photo, all bundled up underneath an umbrella in the rain waiting for Santa to come by on a fire truck where she lived. She says to me “this is me, no more Charity balls.” And then we both laughed, because I knew where she was coming from exactly. My friend’s parents also threw these amazing holiday parties and her mother’s house was one of my favorites. And like my own parents, everything was decorated and beautiful at Christmas.
And then there are other things that you remember about the season as a little kid. The Sears Wishbook. That catalog was huge and I remember a year after year turning down the corners of pages where there were dolls and toys I wanted. No kid ever got their entire wish list but thumbing through that catalog was kind of a Christmas tradition in and of itself.
So now we are all decorating our own homes. Sometimes my friends and I wonder how our mothers did it all. But as we all decorate, we all remember our ghosts of Christmas past. There aren’t nearly enough photos but we remember the feelings, the sound, the smells. Every year some of the images in our memory fade a little bit, yet many still remain. The echoes of people talking in rooms that no longer exist, with festive music playing in the background. Even some memories of Christmas sleigh and carriage rides. I still hear the jingles of sleigh bells, which is probably why I have some hanging in my house all year round.
Continue to create your Christmas memories. They are so important. And for goodness sake, no paper plates and plastic glasses. The season comes but once a year. Make it special.
So this turned out to be an un-Thanksgiving for me and I actually sent my people to my mother’s without me. I have had a 3 day mystery headache…NO I DO NOT HAVE COVID! (Already neurotically tested as we all still do these days.) But today, after 2 Advil, 2 Tylenol, and French Press coffee I am up for a little while with the headache doing a dull roar in the back of my head. I really love Thanksgiving, so I was bummed to pretty much sleep through it.
But headache or not, I am thinking about the Christmas decorations. I watched a Christmas movie last night that had way too much fake garland. It was everywhere. Enough to make you dizzy, and I love Christmas decorating.
But I have only one chunk of imitation Christmas garland. It goes outside on a bench. I do not use real garland any longer, inside or out. It gets dried out too fast. I also just don’t like imitation lit garland inside. Maybe in other people’s homes it works, but definitely not my own. It is just not my aesthetic. What I do use for garland, is a little more old-fashioned. Some say home spun. Wool felted garland. I happened on this quite by accident a few years ago. I just love the old fashioned look of it.
I also love giving wool felted and quilted ornaments as gifts. They are durable, festive, and kid friendly.
In addition to felt garland, I also like rag garland for Christmas. Bits of fabric and burlap. It’s fun! It’s also simple and evokes a happy Christmas simplicity.
Where have I sourced this garland, both wool felted and rag? Everywhere. Locally at different places over the years. And on Etsy, Ebay, Wayfair, and more. It’s gotten popular again and this year I have seen it on Food52’s website, Pottery Barn Kids, some on Amazon, but unless they say what country it’s made in, I don’t buy it. I try to stick to US made. I also like the UK made wool felted garlands, but they can be more expensive.
Why do I like these wool felted garlands? And the rag garlands? They are warm. They aren’t standoffish, untouchable Christmas decorations. They kind of draw you in. I also like the “flag” garlands. My friend’s mom and aunt used to make those. I like a pretty Christmas, not an untouchable ice queen Christmas. I like the nostalgia of Christmas, and love vintage ornaments, so these garlands accomplish that quite nicely.
As I said, I want to decorate each Christmas so that it is warm. I want you to remember a happy echo, not something just randomly and decorator inspired. I think you achieve that each Christmas by collecting what you love. My friend does this in part with all her Christmas putz houses and her very vintage Annalee Christmas decorations. She also shares a love of German kugels with me.
Now something else I love? Wool felted Christmas mice. I seem to have accumulated a bunch of them. Life’s Patina always has amazing ones for their Holiday Open House (which has sadly passed already) and the Smithfield Barn. As a matter of fact, the Smithfield Barn has them at Gas Works in Frazer, PA right now.
Wool felted mice are also all over eBay and Etsy. They are fun and have whimsey. I tuck them into my trees. I have also found them this year on Amazon. And a website called Craftspring which I have never tried, has some wonderful felted ornaments. Even Target has some squishy felted ornaments, although I am only finding a few worth buying. The German Christmas Shop USA has some terrific felted ornaments.
Today I went back to Historic Yellow Springs. First up was the herb sale in the big field held by the Philadelphia Unit of the Herb Society of America.
The herb sale had not been held since before COVID19 invaded our lives. The sale was a rousing success and they basically had sold out but just a little after 11 AM! The tables were picked clean like locusts had descended upon the field!
After putting my plants in the car, I went onto the Yellow Springs Art Show. I had also not been there since before COVID19. The show was glorious, but some of the artists’ pricing were eyebrow raising.
One of the things I noticed the most was how alive the village was today. That doesn’t happen often enough. The Historic Yellow Springs Executive Director did not seem to be around and I was there for a few hours. I do not wish to be critical of the woman, but today was the kind of day that you get opportune moments. You never know where your next donation is going to come from and two seconds of conversation with visitors to the village means people come back to the village. I also know of people who have wanted to volunteer that somehow are never chosen to volunteer. And I’m not referring to myself because they don’t want a mouthy blogger volunteering there, and I know that.
For this amazing and living and breathing piece of history to remain viable into the future they have to be less insular. Their volunteers are amazing and helpful and nice, but the people that actually run the show (board and others) need to be more visible.
While I was walking the village today I thought of an event that Meg Veno does at Life’s Patina. As part of Life’s Patina’s holiday events she does a German Market. It’s hugely popular as most German Markets during the holidays are. So I got to thinking since Life’s Patina/Meg Veno has breathed new life into the Jenny Lind House, and is nearing completion of an extensive and expensive restoration (and boy do I hope West Pikeland and Historic Yellow Springs are appreciative, don’t you?), why not pick you one of THE most creative brains in all of Chester County and take full advantage of the fabulousness coming to an amazing historic village?
What am I talking about? It’s simple: when I was walking the village today and I did it a couple of times first with plants and then going to the art show and buying some art it occurred to me that this life that was in the village today is so important for her survival. And I thought as I stood in front of the Jenny Lind house about how much I enjoy what Meg does every holiday season. And I thought that Yellow Springs should really pick her brain about doing a German Christmas village THERE.
Historic Yellow Springs is extra lovely on the outside during the holidays, so why not capitalize on new blood and fresh energy? Today in my mind’s eye I could see a German Christmas village up and down Yellow Springs Village. Christmas carolers and musicians strolling back-and-forth, a cart selling warm chestnuts and brown paper sacks, a vendor selling gingerbread fresh from the oven, and more. Couldn’t you just see someone with a beautiful little booth outside selling hand-painted German Christmas ornaments and nutcrackers ? It would literally be SO perfect!
I mean I don’t know why their Special Events Director, Executive Director, and board haven’t thought of any of these things. I know they don’t want the village to look like Disneyland, but I’m talking about things that are old-fashioned, historically appropriate,wholesome,pretty, and fun.
Other ideas? Bring back an updated version of the fall antiques show. There are enough dealers and high-end crafts people in Chester County that do such fine work including right in the studios of Yellow Springs that you could do this no problem. Why not make it a version of not what it was, but more of a blend of high-end crafts and art as well as antiques and collectibles?
Other things would be more children’s events like hayrides through the fall and pumpkin carving. Maybe a Halloween parade with old-fashioned Halloween games for kids?
There are more than enough garden clubs in Chester County so why not ask them to do their plant sales all on one weekend in the spring or early summer in the village? Or invite garden groups to do plant swaps in the village?
The possibilities are endless for this beautiful piece of Chester County history. But they need to extend themselves so people know they’re there a little more.
And all of these events should have membership tables with people asking are you a member of Historic Yellow Springs? Would you like to be a member of Historic Yellow Springs?
Today I was also treated to the clop clop of horses hooves as riders rode through the village. There is just something so nice about that sound.
Just my thoughts. If you can catch the art show before it closes at the end of this weekend, I highly recommend it.