en blanc accessorizing 


En Blanc party season is here and your tables aren’t the only thing that need white accessories. 

I decided I would hunt out vintage milk glass jewelry that was popular in the 40s through the 60s and I scored some awesome stuff for pennies and voilà! All I had to do was take the vintage dangle earrings off their screwback tops and add them to a wire back.

Next to the earrings are two bracelets. I already had white milk glass simple beaded necklaces that I think were my grandmother’s. I’m not sure where they came from I have literally had them in a box for years and I remember playing dress-up with them.

Thanks for stopping by!

zoya egan millinery

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#DEB16 For sale!

A photo posted by Zoya Egan (@hatsbyzoya) on Aug 7, 2016 at 4:38pm PDT

 

OPENING DISCLAIMER: Zoya  ( @hatsbyzoya  on Instagram and Zoya Egan Millinery is her Facebook business page) has NOT asked me to write this post. When she sees it, it will be a surprise. Zoya is NOT compensating me for this post. There will NOT be free stuff in return.  She deserves the accolades and is a small businesswoman, and well when possible, I like to support my friends. Especially when they are as talented as Zoya, which makes it a pleasure.

So back to it — One of the great things in my life are my super creative friends. Zoya Egan is no exception. Zoya is incredibly talented, smart, and just a genuinely wonderful gal. Now some have just discovered Zoya the past couple of years, and I have had the great privilege of knowing Zoya a few years longer.

She comes by her talent genetically, as her mother is a dressmaker of some renown in her native Russia.

What sets Zoya’s millinery apart from the herd of hat makers are several things:

  • Design – Zoya’s hats, headpieces, and fascinators are beautiful, almost lyrical. They are elegant and very wearable.  Her design sense is self-evident in each piece she makes. A lot of people will plop a Lucite salad bowl on their head with flowers and silk veggies and call it millinery.  Maybe if you are Carmen Miranda that works but on the rare occasions when I will need the right hat, I for one do not want to look like the side show in the circus, and the wrong hat can do that quite quickly.
  • Elegance– Goes hand in hand with design sophistication.  Think Vogue and Women’s Wear Daily. Zoya’s creations give you that certain je ne sais quois. You feel elegant, and you look elegant in her creations.
  • Fit – Not all hats are for all ladies.  Zoya will fit one of her creations to you, to make sure you can wear it and carry it off.  Her custom designs are created especially for the wearer. She measure and crafts the hats, headpieces, and fascinators to her ladies, taking into consideration their outfits as well.  Her hats will suit your outfit and you, not be a detraction and unwelcome distraction.
  • Quality craftsmanship – Zoya’s hats, headpieces, and fascinators are quite reasonably priced and she uses quality goods to create them. The devil is in the details and she has it down.
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#DEB16 For sale!

A photo posted by Zoya Egan (@hatsbyzoya) on Aug 7, 2016 at 4:40pm PDT

Zoya’s creations are not for the thundering herd, and I am fine with that. I have other friends who have been in the millinery business in the past and there are a lot of people who call themselves artisan hat makers, but ask my friends who were such artisans and crafts people and they will tell you, not all are.

Whichever En Blanc party suits your fancy (Dîner en Blanc – Philadelphia, Brandywine in White, or WC Summer Soirée, add Zoya to your resource list.

And don’t limit Zoya to her En Blanc/White Party expertise. Whatever the hat / head piece/ fascinator occasion is, check her out – Kentucky Derby events, Radnor Hunt, Devon Horse Show, Polo, weddings, ladies events, black and white tie – she can handle them all. Zoya specializes in designing beautiful, statement headpieces for any event using materials and embellishments of the highest quality.

Find Zoya and her hats on Facebook and Instagram!

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#DEB16 For sale!

A photo posted by Zoya Egan (@hatsbyzoya) on Aug 7, 2016 at 4:38pm PDT

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#DEB16 For sale!

A photo posted by Zoya Egan (@hatsbyzoya) on Aug 7, 2016 at 4:38pm PDT

 

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Look at this beauty! Silk flower, 8×8 inches, would look great on your fascinator for #dinerenblanc 2016

A photo posted by Zoya Egan (@hatsbyzoya) on Aug 2, 2016 at 5:32pm PDT

a special day at west chester growers market

DSC_6911The West Chester Growers Market is the mother of all the locally sourced, outdoor farmers’ markets we know in this area.  (Or that is my opinion.)  They started right where they are now, at the corner of Church Street and Chestnut Streets in downtown West Chester Borough.  They are, save one exception I will get to, a producers only market. As the market says on their website:

Producer-only requires that the fruits, vegetables, herbs, plants, beef, pork, eggs, flowers we have to offer you be farmed by the farmer that you meet at market; that the cheeses, salsas, sauces, pies, jams, pasta, honey, breads be sold to you by the local artisans who make them.

Four of the original families participating in this market are still part of the market. EverGreen Farm (formerlyWindy Acres Farm), Fahnestock’s Fruit Farm, North Star Orchard, and Maple Hill Farm.

DSC_6851I was honored to be asked to be part of the West Chester Growers Market’s July 30th “Know Your Farmer: Chef and Media Event”.  It was great to be among the ranks of local chefs, food writers, and well-known local food bloggers.

Last Saturday was brutally packed, but as I arrived for event check-in a little after 9:00 a.m., the market was already jam packed with customers.  As I walked down a rear alley that T-bones the alley directly behind the market, the happy cacophony of people enjoying their morning, the market, and chatting with the farmers and artisan vendors could be heard floating in the morning air.

I will be honest, parking was a challenge.  That is not the fault of the market, that is a chronic problem with the Borough of West Chester, unfortunately.

DSC_6765My first stop was a place that isn’t yet a place which is new to the market.  The “West Chester Food Co-Op.” They are the non-producer with a place at the market.

Yes, I have been open about my skepticism.  Can’t help it, given the chair of the “co-op” board and her position as Secretary of the West Chester Borough Planning Commission. I mean let’s get real: if it smells a wee bit political, it may well be political, right? I didn’t get when I commented way back when how they were asking for “donations” when they were not a non-profit and that is perfectly reasonable.  If you are asking for money, and you ask for “donations”, it is what people naturally think.

DSC_6769I heard about them seeking a building and location and so on, and more asking for “donations”. So if they are NOT a non-profit, does that make those who invest shareholders with ownership rights in the new business? If the business goes nowhere, are people refunded their investment?  And again, why call it a “donation” if you are in fact some sort of shareholder investing?

Anyway, when I last expressed my opinion on a co-op that doesn’t really exist the knives and scissors came out from some. So, sigh, I expect it again. But I have to ask are my questions/concerns so extraordinary?  Seems to me a lot of people have them.

DSC_6770So, anyway, I thought I would be fair and give them a shot to tell me about themselves and answer my questions.  I wouldn’t be rude, but they are part of the market as of 2016, so I figured why not talk to them? (I will note they did not seem to participate in this market initiative, but benefited from it.) I went up to their table which was in the alley next to Queens Farm.

They had sweet kids as volunteers and the woman in charge of the co-op who is on the West Chester Borough Planning Commission was in attendance.

The kids volunteering couldn’t answer my questions (including how they came to be at the market when they were not well, an actual producer) and I was told she was too busy to speak with me.  The kids were nervous seemingly to tell me that, so I thanked them ans said another time then.

DSC_6859O.K. so I went about my business but will also note that I brought people with me to the market on Saturday who don’t blog, they don’t know about the co-op and one person said when we were in the car leaving that they wished the food co-op luck because the people at their table were rude to them. These are people that were completely unbiased and open to the concept of a food co-op as they have been exposed to them in other stages of their lives.

DSC_6940The make-believe food co-op was the only negative of this whole event. I remember a food co-op from when I was little. It was a really cool place. I like them, I just don’t get these people and what their eventual end game actually is. And Saturday would have been their ideal and perfect opportunity to change MY mind.  They did not achieve that, sadly.

DSC_6787The West Chester Growers Market event was incredibly positive, so back to that.  Sorry, I just feel badly that actual producers put their hearts and souls into their products that they bring to market to sell. The space that “co-op” takes up could go to another farm. To me that is depriving the general public and taking money OUT of a farmer’s pocket.DSC_6999

Anyway, I had an awesome time at West Chester Growers Market on Saturday.  It is one of my haunts, and I love so many of the producers there.DSC_6823

Some of my personal favorites include Yellow Springs Farm, North Star Orchard, Blueberry Hill Farm, Applied Climatology, A Taste of Puebla, Queens Farm, Lizzie’s Kitchen, Fahnstock Fruit Farm, Big Sky Bread, Maiale Deli and Salumeria, Big Hill Ciderworks, Read Earth Farm, Maple Hill Farm, and Chile Spot. I know, I know that is like most of the market.  But these people are awesome, and they remember their customers which is something in today’s world I personally love. That added personal touch, remembering what you like.

DSC_6889Take Lizzie the Amish Lady from Lizzie’s Kitchen,  who said to me  “You are one of those people too?”  meaning I was one of the writers/bloggers.  I smiled and said yes and then we spoke about what she was preserving and baking. We spoke about Shoo Fly Pie, because hers is one of the only ones I actually like and will buy. My maternal grandmother was Pennsylvania German so I am picky about my Amish/Pennsylvania German Foods.  We had a conversation about canning, something I have taken up again on a limited basis (I know my limits!) and the milk delivery service I use (Doorstep Dairy – they are awesome!)

DSC_6877I also hung out with the North Star Orchard folks. Lisa Kerschner and her staff are as nice as they are knowledgeable.  Their products are amazing, and on Saturday they had their DSC_6863DSC_6868beets.  They grow these multicolored beets which are as spectacularly flavorful as beautiful. These beets are their own home grown/ developed variety. I love when they are in season because I especially love roasting them and serving them in a salad with Chèvre from Yellow Springs Farm.

The salad I made Sunday with what I got from North Star and Yellow Springs!

The salad I made Sunday with what I got from North Star and Yellow Springs!

And yes, one of my next stops was to visit Catherine at The Yellow Springs Farm Booth.  Yellow Springs Farm is one of my favorite places on earth, and I also patronize them at the local markets.  I have known Farmer Catherine for many years at this point – we knew each other before her farming days began and she is one of my favorite people and her husband is such a lovely man.  I not only buy their cheese, but their yogurt, soaps, and many of their native plants grow happily in my garden!  (And they let me photograph the mama goats and the new kids in the spring!)

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I also have to give a big shout out to Vera Pasta. I make a lot of my own pasta but their artisan pastas are divine! Their ravioli in particular!

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And did I mention the most adorable Jack Russel puppy ever? The West Chester Growers Market is pet friendly, so if you are a dog lover, you see some amazing pups.

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And now some photos. Enjoy them. And support the West Chester Growers Market.  It is an amazing group of people.  I look so forward to being a regular customer for decades to come! These are our farmers, and in Chester County we need to support our agricultural heritage. You can’t get fresh produce from a row of plastic McMansions, after all.

The West Chester Growers Market is one of the finest local examples of what the locavore movement is all about.  Know your farmers, know your producers. Support them and shop local.

Thanks for stopping by!!

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dueling white events august 27

Brandywine in White 2015, my photo.


Dîner en Blanc in Philadelphia is a lovely idea, but holds no real appeal because it is for me, a zoo. It is well over 4000 people at this point, and that is just too many to picnic/dine with.  Also, if I am going to do head to toe white and put together a tablescape and wine and food, the last thing I want to do is schlep tables and chairs around Center City Philadelphia in the heat of the summer.

Which is why I was so psyched to discover Brandywine in White. It was lovely to attend last summer. The people attending were marvelous as well. Brandywine in White is an elegant, BYO-everything affair where guests clad in all-white bring a magical touch to an end-of-summer picnic dinner. In other words, a beaucolic and lovely Dîner en Blanc without the maddening crowd and smells of a major metropolitan city in the heat of summer.

Brandywine in a White is set to make it’s return August, 27th, 2016. Only this year it has competition out of West Chester. Last year Brandywine in White raised funds for the Sunday Breakfast Mission I. Wilmington, DE.

A new event is debuting the SAME date at Brandywine in White and it is called WC Summer Soirée . It is ALSO August 27, 6:30 pm to 10:30 pm. They also have a Facebook page. They are very clear on who they wish to help, and one of their charities is Chester County Food Bank. Another is a Chester County Family Academy and Saint Agnes Day Room.


Like Brandywine in White, this event provides tables and chairs. Tickets are moderately priced for both events (Brandywine in White and WC Summer Soirée ).

The location for WC Summer Soirée will be released prior to the event and will be within a five mile radius of downtown West Chester the event planners say.

Last year Brandywine in White was at Chadds Peak Farm. It was truly beautiful and a wonderful event. But sigh, the newcomer event is logistically more appealing. 

I can’t be at two places at the same time, so this is going to be a difficult choice!

provenance

When you buy an antique or vintage or collectible item, people often speak of the “provenance” of the item. Provenance (from the French provenir, “to come from”), is the chronology of the ownership of an object. The term was originally mostly used in relation to works of art, but is now used in similar senses in a wide range of things and fields.

I like to know the provenance of things I buy, even if it isn’t an antique or true collectible. These things all have a story, and sometimes the back story or journey is more wonderful than the item.

Today, I had that happen.

I went to an estate sale in Malvern, but in Charlestown Township.  It was magical.

I drove up this beautiful little road that was deeply wooded, and so quiet save for the early morning song birds. I parked and walked down the driveway. It was a pretty house. Modest in size, it was lovely in its surroundings in the woods.

I greeted the estate sale people whom I like a great deal and have dealt with several times before – Caring Transitions of Chester County. When they run a sale or an auction they are so wonderful to deal with. They research what they are selling, price fairly if they are doing an estate sale, and the sales are neat and organized and easy to navigate with items priced clearly. They have staff in the majority of the rooms and it is always just a pleasure to deal with them. 

And they are legitimately estate sales when they hold them, as not all sales that call themselves that are. And while some estate sale companies seem to create states of chaos where people are just grabbing and often stealing things while nearly destroying the homes, Caring Transitions doesn’t operate in that manner. They are nice, knowledgable professionals.  They run a nice, tight ship.

I walked into the house and the first thing I noticed was how happy the house felt if that makes any sense. It was spotlessly clean, but just had a nice vibe. I had come for nutcrackers and Christmas ornaments I had seen advertised but found other things.

The woman who had lived there had been an amazing embroidery and needlepoint and petit point artist. The needlework took my breath away. An estate sale professional in an upstairs room told me the lady of the house had been German. I asked her if she had been a war bride. “How did you know?” said the employee. I pointed to some of the World War II uniforms hanging in a closet.

I have been to estate sales where old military uniforms were sort of tossed in piles in corners. Not these. Lovingly hung in closets, and neatly folded in opened footlockers or trucks. These uniforms meant something. Looking at them was like a history lesson.

I wandered into what had been the master bedroom and saw this completely lovely framed sampler, just lying displayed on the bed. I love vintage samplers. To me they are the ultimate in folk art. I have several little ones scattered around my house. 

I bought the sampler. 

I drove home thinking how warm and happy the house had felt.  When I got home I hung up the sampler. The woman who made it in 1988 had stitched her name in it. Annaliese Nagel.

I decided to Google her obituary to learn more about this needlework magician to give my sampler more of a provenance. I found it and learned more about Annaliese Nagel:

ANNELIESE NAGEL OF CHARLESTOWN Anneliese Nagel, 89, of Charlestown, was taken by her Lord on Friday, September 7, 2012. She was the wife of Harry W. Nagel, with whom she shared 66 years of marriage. Born in Heddesheim Germany, she was the youngest child of the late Katharine and Johannes Scherb. She moved with her family to Westtown where she lived for 17 years before moving to Charlestown. She attended schools in the Heidelberg area of Germany and later took courses at the Technical University in

Hannover, Germany where her husband was studying under a Fulbright grant.

She was a homemaker in the fullest sense of the word, an expert cook, baker and a gracious hostess who truly enjoyed people. She was also expert in many forms of needlework, through which her memory will live on in many of the homes of friends and family .

Now I wanted to know about her husband. So I Googled again. I found her beloved husband,  Harry Nagel. I hope his family is not upset, but I am sharing a big chunk of his obituary. He wrote it himself, and he was part of the Greatest Generation and theirs was such a love story, and what a life he lived!

 

Obituary for Harry W. Nagel

Hi everyone! It’s me, Harry. I’ve decided to create my obit myself prior to the actual event. I thought this might make for more interesting reading. The two photos illustrate the toll time takes on all of us. One was Harry at 20, the other is Harry at 82. 

I had hoped to survive until stem cell technology or some other medical procedure might enable once vital organs to be reproduced, therefore, extending life. However, should dementia or Alzheimer’s intervene, life extension would be a questionable goal.

I was born in Union City, NJ on 21 January 1925, the first child of Anne Elise Christine Nagel (nee Von Spreckelsen) and Harry Conrad Nagel. I grew up during the ‘Great Depression” in, strangely named, West New York , NJ . Upon graduation from Memorial High School in 1942, I was accepted at Columbia College (Columbia University), class of 1946. However, December 7, 19 41 changed America’s and my destiny. As most of my former classmates were already in the armed forces, I volunteered for the Army on my 18th birthday.

After training in lesser known vacation destinations in Alabama and Louisiana and having been introduced to such denizens as coral snakes, armadillos, wild boar, chiggers, heat rash and fellow Americans who could neither read nor write, we embarked for England on the army transport, George Washington, in the midst of a 100+ ship convoy.

While in England, we engaged in the same type of exciting training which we had done in Louisiana, substituting cool rain for heat and humidity. Then, that mysterious hand of fate loaded us onto ships, and, the next we knew, we were stepping off of LCIs (Landing Craft Infantry) into the mud and wreckage of Omaha Beach , France. The beach landing was required as all of the French ports were still incapable of accepting ships.

Life as a PFC (Private First Class), rifleman, infantry, was about as grim as it got. During WWI we were called ‘Cannon Fodder!’ Our division was employed in combat in Holland , Belgium and Germany . The Battle of the Bulge began on 16 Dec. 1944 . We were there on 17 December. It was there I earned my first Purple Heart medal (first of two). This got me out of the snow and a happy stay at a huge hospital in LeMans, France. There I was patched up and returned to my rifle company as ‘fit for duty’.

After crossing the Rhine we fought our way across Germany (Purple Heart #2) to link up with our Soviet comrades on the Elbe River . Shortly thereafter, as the territory we had bled for was to become the Soviet Zone of Occupation (later East Germany ), we were moved to the Heidelberg area. It was there I was to meet my future wife, Anneliese. As Americans were prohibited from marrying Germans at the time, I was returned to the US in November 1945 and discharged from the army in December 1945.

Resolved to return to Anneliese, I joined the Merchant Marines, signing on the George Washington (the ship which took me to England as an infantryman) as an engine room oiler. The ship was being used to return German soldiers who had been US prisoners of war to Europe. On one voyage to LeHavre , France , I jumped ship and, disguised as a German POW, made my way into the city of LeHavre , dressed as a seaman. From there I traveled by train to Strasburg via Paris. There, disguised as a French soldier, I was able to cross the Rhine back into Germany and back to Anneliese.

After a couple romantic months, with me disguised as a German civilian with a German ID card, I decided to turn myself in to the US authorities and try a legally approved approach to remain in Germany. This approach saw me incarcerated in the 19th century Bermen City prison. After my trial I was permitted to re-enlist in the US Army. I was assigned to third Army Hq. (General Patton) in the intelligence section in Heidelberg . Anneliese could not believe our good luck! As I was fluent in German, one of my more interesting assignments was to interrogate ex-SS personnel and war crimes suspects at the former concentration camp, Dachau . While there I also sat in on the trial of Ilsa Koch who had been the wife of the commandant of the concentration camp, Buchenwald. Ilsa, known as ‘The Bitch of Buchenwald ,” was accused of having inmates with interesting tattoos killed and skinned. She allegedly then made lamp shades of these skins.

In December 1948, Anneliese, our two children and I left Bremen on a tramp steamer bound for Mobile AL , and then on to Leonia, NJ to stay with my dad and two younger brothers. From there I commuted daily to Columbia where I had been re-admitted. Motivated by my family I earned three degrees in five years, receiving an AB, BS and MS in Chemical Engineering, topped off by a Fulbright Grant to do post-graduate work at the West German Petroleum Institute in Hanover , West Germany . While there Anneliese and I traveled widely and the children stayed with relatives and went to German schools. Upon returning to the US, I resumed work at Sunoco where I had already worked summers while at Columbia, retiring in 1983.

My second career! While at Columbia, the Cold War with the Soviet Union was intensifying. Having been an NCO (Non-commissioned Officer) in the Infantry, I was convinced, should war break out, I’d be right back at my old WWII job. As a result, I took advantage of an existing law and applied for a direct commission as a second lieutenant as I knew my family would be better off if something happened to me. At this time I had no further interest in the Army. Fate intervened! I met a fellow officer at Columbia who convinced me to attend an Army Reserve meeting with a group of ex-WWII infantrymen. I was hooked! 

At this writing I am a retired colonel, having completed the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and the Army War College at Carlisle, PA , with over 36 years of combined active and reserve service.


What a life they had! What quite literally,  a love story.  My sampler has its provenance. And I learned the happy house I visited today had as part of it’s history, it’s provenance, and amazing love story. 

Thank you Annaliese for my sampler. I will treasure it and remember your story.

just doing god’s work?

After the Inquirer article appeared on the ruin of Ebenzer AME in Frazer, I contacted  Rev Dr Mark Tyler via e-email with a few interested folks on the e-mail including local historians.

Three times.

Why email? Because also included was information to help them make an informed decision. I stupidly thought maybe if they could see what we’ve been looking up, and see photos of the spot over the past few years, they would be interested in working together to clean this place up. 

When not even a simple acknowledgment of what had been sent to him was received after three attempts, I took to Twitter. Why did I take to Twitter? Because I learned that they respond to Twitter. 

But the lesson I learned again is there not particularly nice about anything if you aren’t one of their “flock”.

So I will call the good pastor but I’m not expecting much. Because the continued message I received from any level of this church is they aren’t interested in preserving their history. They also aren’t interested in communicating or speaking with me. 

They can pony up the money for fancy bicentennial celebration which must have been super expensive to put on, but they can’t clean up one small church yard and secure one small ruin?

I don’t even know where to go in my head with this. 

And what a horrible thing to think about any church. It’s so terribly sad. They all want to speak about and preach about their marvelous history, yet when their marvelous history needs saving they don’t want any parts of it?

I guess they might not want to respond in writing because then they have wiggle room for potential deniability down the road or something? 

Wow, what a take away lesson.

I do not like to think the worst of anyone, let alone a religious organization, but it’s been over three years at this point of my trying to get this place saved and it just gets more disappointing for everything of effort I expend.

The phone number is 215-925-0616.

I just phoned and I left a detailed message and who I was and why I was calling. I don’t expect a call back. I don’t expect an acknowledgment.

I really want to save this place but at this point in time I am just thoroughly disgusted.  I thought doing God’s work meant you tried to save places like Ebenezer AME. You do it for future generations, you do it for ancestors living today, do it for the history and the fact it’s a sacred place, and you do it because it’s the right thing to do.

Apparently I have been operating under a misapprehension all these years. Is no wonder that people step away from organized religion.

No I’m not disappointed in God, just the people representing him.