new life for a consignment store settee

After Christmas in 2013, I purchased the below settee from Consign-It Furniture in Kennett Square, PA. This had been manufactured for Hess Brothers in Allentown. The tag on the bottom of the piece said Hess Brothers. At the time I researched it and found it to be mid-century vintage.

I am not a big pattern person but I loved the settee’s shape and the arms and back in particular. So I lived with it for a few years and grew accustomed to the pattern until this year. I decided I was sick of the fabric and the piece was starting to sway in the middle underneath and get a little bulge.

So I began the hunt for an upholsterer. I did not wish to use the same person I used on a vintage wing chair a few years ago. It wasn’t that the upholstery job itself was bad, it’s that the price I was paying went from being agreed-upon to a moving target without notice. And when I compared notes with people and other upholsterer’s after the fact I paid probably $500 to $600 more for that chair to be reupholstered than I should have. It was a learning curve.

So I start looking for upholsterer’s and took a look at Ken’s Upholstery on Facebook. When I saw some of the work he had done from the bare bones of a stripped down furniture frame to finished piece, I knew this was the person I wanted to call.

We spoke and I think at first he didn’t know what to make out of me. I can be tough. But I kind of want to know what somebody’s about before I do business with them. The owner Ken and I bonded initially over 4th Street in Philadelphia. You see, 4th Street below South is where I went for years as a child with my parents to pick out fabric and sewing notions and trim.

My mother has always sewed, and we would also go into the fabric district there on 4th street for upholstery fabric for furniture and fabric for curtains and draperies. I remember being little and playing under the big workbenches where they would roll out the giant bolts of fabric to measure and cut. It was really kind of cool. Most of those places don’t exist anymore. I have all of these memories including back-and-forth discussion with the fabric sellers about what fabrics had a hard enough finish that would survive as upholstery and drapes.

So Ken came out to visit with sample books of fabrics which had been wiped down with sanitizing wipes. He came with gloves and a mask on. Which made me comfortable because face it, this year has been anything but normal with COVID19.

We discussed what I wanted and he took initial measurements and left me with the fabric books for a few days to decide what fabric I would choose.

I chose my fabric, and my quote was firmed up and emailed to me in writing and I provided a deposit for the fabric cost.

The Saturday after Thanksgiving they came and picked up the settee. I received photos all the way through the process, including when they took it down to the studs and found out that indeed the front legs were loose. So they stopped everything and put the settee frame back together the way it should be, and rebuilt her. Ken literally kept me updated every step of the way. I didn’t have to do the follow up, he just does it as a matter of best business practice.

The finished product speaks for itself. I had no idea such a gorgeous piece of furniture was living inside my consignment store settee! Ken’s Upholstery knocked it out of the park for us!

The settee is so gorgeous to me. The attention to detail and the time they took is self-evident. Oh I have provided a close-up of one of the arms in a photo because that’s very difficult to pull off and the tucks and everything have to be just right.

I will note that I am just a regular customer and the reason I am writing up my review is I think this business owner deserves all the accolades possible for just doing an amazing job and being a super nice, decent person. He’s very positive in a time when it is hard for anyone, let alone a small business owner to be positive.

I recommend Ken’s Upolstery highly! And his pricing is beyond fair.

I have attached a screenshot of the business card to give anyone interested all their information. Lots of interior designers in the greater Philadelphia/Main Line region he has been a best kept secret. But why go through the up-charges when you can deal directly with a craftsman like this?

If any of you out there are looking to get anything recovered I hope you will consider them!

Thanks for stopping by!

further adventures in search of christmas spirit

Today we went to visit our friend Lisa who owns Brandywine View Antiques in Chadds Ford.

Three floors of festive fabulous and Christmas magic!!! Enjoy a sneak peek in my photos and go visit! Masks required and hand sanitizer stations throughout the store.

Brandywine View Antiques is located at 1244 Baltimore Pike in Chadds Ford, PA. Wednesday through Sunday 10 AM – 4 PM.

christmas magic…at life’s patina

We walked into the beautiful big old barn and it was truly magical at Life’s Patina today. Beautiful and Christmas festive in every nook and cranny. There are only a certain amount of people allowed in the barn at any one time and everyone must be wearing masks, and there is hand sanitizer everywhere you turn around. It’s a magical and safe experience in a COVID-19 world.

Meg and her merry band of elves outdid themselves! From little balsam wood houses that light up, to Christmas mice in velvet dresses and tree skirts for feather trees it was amazing! Sparkling ornaments everywhere and among my favorites? Very lovely mercury glass pinecones and marvelous modern reproductions of old German Kugel ornaments.

Mixed in with Christmas magic were all sorts of vintage and antique items. One of the things I liked best was downstairs in the barn on the big long farmhouse table was a vintage Grenadine bottle.

We loved every minute we were there, and preview guests were also given amazing gift bags to take home.

I love Christmas, everyone who knows me knows how much I love Christmas and I loved today’s experience. You really should go if you can. Simply magical!

By appointment only. Life’s Patina at Willowbrook Farm, 1750 North Valley Road, Malvern, PA.

finding christmas spirit

Soon little ceramic elves will be peeking from book shelves. Gnomes and Santas too. Maybe some nutcrackers. The tree will come to life with vintage and other ornaments. And Christmas baking season will begin.

But what will Christmas in the year of COVID19? Will we celebrate in tiny family pods? Will we celebrate. And what about that grinch holed up in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC? What about all the people who continue to be affected by COVID19 including now our former Chester County Sheriff?

So yes, finding my Christmas spirit has been a little challenging this year. There has been a little bah humbug in the air. Usually about now we are planning a Christmas party. But not this year. We won’t even see our entire family this Christmas. Too many people from too many places. That bums me out.

All of our Christmas celebrations will be quieter this year undoubtedly. But we do need to find our Christmas spirit!!!

Yes, even though I had recently discovered a couple of cool little Santas for a table, my Christmas spirit has been struggling.

Until yesterday. Yesterday my friend Kristin had her business’s open house. It was very different than previous years. We were timed, it was super small, we had to wear masks, and there was hand sanitizer. But there was still Christmas magic every which way I looked. She said sometimes we just have to believe and she’s so right!

Yesterday at the Smithfield Barn we were treated to a vintage Christmas. Totally magical so keep an eye out for more small, socially distanced pop-ups. Also check out what my other favorite elf Lisa has planned at Brandywine View Antiques in Chadds Ford! And you can’t forget Life’s Patina starts spreading holiday cheer next week and Meg is another favorite elf who always seems to know what I am looking for!

Also things that you won’t see this Christmas would be the open house I usually have for my friends to promote another friend’s business. But as luck would have it my friend Alice has two fabulous websites to showcase her products:

A Single Strand and ABW Designs.

Also to be considered is Past*Present*Future in Ardmore. Owned by my friend Sherry, you can shop safely with a mask in the store or buy things online! An artist by training, she has an amazing I and hers is a store that you go in and marvel at everything she has collected for her customers. It’s a beautiful place! And if you’re more comfortable shopping remotely right now you can do that too.

Another place would be Magnolia Cottage Shop in Malvern/Frazer and the lovely folks at Frazer Antiques. And also Old Soul Decor in West Chester which is re-opening in a brand new space Thanksgiving!

The last three places I am mentioning today are also special to me an run by friends as well. Clover Market has pivoted to online due to COVID19 and Janet has curated an amazing collection of things and they offer free shipping! Shopping Clover 🍀 has never been easier.

Second to last would be King’s Haven in Paoli which is not just an amazing interior design destination, but has a remarkably beautiful collection of art and gifts. All due to my talented friend Lauren.

Finally, there is Framers Market Gallery in Malvern, Newtown Square, and Haverford. Yes Jayne and Dave are friends, but I am a devoted customer and not just for the framing business. They rep some amazing local artists! And to me one of the best gifts you can give anyone for Christmas or the holidays is the gift of art!

Yesterday I realized part of finding our Christmas magic means #ShopLocal and #ShopSmall as well. So I hope you find lovely presents at some of these places and they are all places I am just a regular customer of. They won’t even know I have mentioned their business until I hit publish on this post. As a customer I like to pay it forward.

So I know this is going to be a holiday season like no other. But we do have to believe in the magic of the season.

Shop local, support small businesses wherever you live!

new eden microgreens: coming to a dinner table near you!

A lot of people will ask what the difference between microgreens and sprouts are. Microgreens are grown in soil; sprouts germinate in water. I love microgreens, sprouts not so much.

Microgreens and sprouts are both baby plants after a fashion. But microgreens are cut off at soil level and are full of flavor and awesome amounts of nutrients. Sprouts grown in water always sort of have a bland dirt taste to me for lack of a better description.

I love microgreens. So when this nice guy Daniel Drew popped up in a couple of local Facebook groups offering trials of microgreens from his farm I volunteered. His business is New Eden Greens. They are a small farming enterprise in neighboring Delaware County.

Now I occasionally get microgreens in my farm vegetable boxes from Lancaster, but Daniel Drew’s product is the most flavorful I have had.

New Eden Greens has two varieties that I tried.

Variety one “Broccoli Blend” contained the following greens: baby broccoli greens, kale, kohlrabi greens, red cabbage, arugula, and mustard greens. This is the more zesty variety. Arugula and mustard greens are in particular delightfully peppery.

Variety two contained purple radish all by itself.

Thus far I have mixed both varieties together because I like all the flavors and use them in my salads with larger greens. I have other friends who used them as accompaniments to fish like salmon.

Others have used them independently by themselves in a purely microgreens salad. I did that as well. I made a salad with a simple vinaigrette out of them with some minced scallions, as well as the salad I photographed below at the bottom of the post.

If you’re looking for the nutritional aspect micro greens are more nutritional than traditional greens. According to the website One Green Planet:

🖌📌 “According to microgreen research conducted at the University of Maryland, the 1-3 inch delicacies were found to pack anywhere from 3 to 39.4 times the nutritional content of the plant’s mature counterparts. Scientists considered the vitamin and antioxidant levels of 25 varieties of microgreens and compared the results to the full-grown versions. Cilantro showed 3 times more beta-carotene, while red cabbage showed almost 40 times greater vitamin E and 6 times more vitamin C.” 📌🖌

To me, when I am cooking, flavor is everything. And these microgreens are incredibly fresh and flavorful. This business has just been launched and if you are a restaurant professional or a home cook interested in trying samplers while they are available, message them via their Facebook page or email newedengreens<at>gmail<dot>com.

As they are a small business, they have a somewhat limited delivery area at present but I don’t know the boundaries of their area so you have to contact them.

Thank you Daniel for allowing me to be one of the home cooks to sample the produce from New Eden Greens! I look forward to being a regular customer! Support your local farmers!

Happy Friday all!

a micro example of issues in our region

Eastside Flats in Malvern Borough. Still don’t like them how many years later, although I do support the businesses. So who owns Eastside Flats now because I am uncertain at this point who owns the development and who manages it? It’s not the original developer.

Does everyone remember a couple of different things that put Eastside flats in the news early on? The amazingly and shockingly low amount of ratables Malvern Borough would receive for approving a development still out of scale and character for the Borough of Malvern? And the other kerfuffle when The Whip Tavern said no to Eastside Flats in Malvern Borough?

But then everyone heard Christopher’s was coming to town. It was like that one thing changed a lot of perception about this behemoth of a development. I have always felt like Christopher’s was a kind of anchor that drew people to Eastside Flats and other people and other businesses quite possibly. I know they are what initially made me personally give Eastside Flats a chance.

Christopher’s made Malvern more of a destination, which in turn benefited other businesses and the borough itself. And if there was a community event, Christopher’s in Malvern was right there for the community the way Christopher’s in Wayne always has been.

And for years Christopher’s did things like featured local artists on their walls. And they had wonderful staff. If you told one of the Christopher’s waitstaff you had a particular food allergy or a series of food allergies, they all knew the menu so well that they could bring you a flawless order that wouldn’t make you sick. They did this for a friend of mine one time when we went in for lunch. She had a lot of food allergies and they took care of her so perfectly. (it’s because of all these things that I will continue to go to Wayne once life returns to a more normal pattern.)

Recently, Christopher’s closed their Malvern location thanks to the COVID19 of it all, to return solely to a Wayne which leaves a giant, gaping, empty hole in the streetscape,and also, well they will be missed. In addition to being a wonderful business, Christopher’s offered food that wasn’t formula pub food and you didn’t just go there because it was a bar. You went there because it was a restaurant and it was a nice experience for all ages. It wasn’t huge or cavernous and cold as a space it was kind of just right. But can you imagine what the rent nut was to cover in Eastside Flats?

COVID-19 has caused America’s hospitality industry from coast to coast to take a direct and brutal hit. The largest in history for that industry. Restaurants and other hospitality industry businesses are closing left and right from coast to coast. And I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that not only are they getting no assistance, it’s the rents they are being charged.

But I have to ask, what kind of rent do these commercial landlords think they will get? After all, we are in a struggling in the present economy at a minimum, and nobody wants to look at what the other potential downside is, correct? I also think overall the economy has not been as strong as we have been led to believe. And people will argue with me about that but that’s just how I feel.

Malvern’s charm is in it’s history and size, much like the village portion of Berwyn and similarly scaled small towns and villages. Berwyn is in Easttown Township and a present is suffering from potential development implications of its own, but I think they need to look at what’s going on in Malvern Borough right now.

These new developments come in and even with old developments they will offer a lower rent to get somebody in the door. Then those rents get jumped over time to the point that the businesses have to look at their own financial viability and decide if they want to put food on the table of their families and staff or food on the table of whoever the commercial landlords are.

I know plenty of people who have over the years owned other restaurants or brick and mortar stores in various communities who had to make the painful decision to close because after their initial honeymoon when they first came to town and did business with their respective commercial landlords, they couldn’t justify the rents any longer.

And commercial property owners don’t really necessarily care about the empty storefronts in our communities, it’s about what they can make. So they won’t look at continual lease turnover the same way a community might. If one of their property sits empty, I am told they apply those losses to the bottom line of profits from other properties, so for them, it’s business as usual if a place is empty, right? Greedy is as greedy does right? And a lot of these commercial landlords aren’t local. So they don’t get what happens locally nor do they really care do they?

So now we are here in 2020. In October 2020 which has to be one of the most stressful and heartbreaking years a lot of us have experienced in our lifetimes. And a global pandemic known as COVID-19 is bringing the economy down like a house of cards, card by freaking card isn’t it? Drive Route 30 alone from further west to east to the city line. You really see the empty store fronts. This is no joke.

When it comes to local restaurants, not all of them have the space to put things outside and not all of the communities have the wherewithal to let the businesses put tables outside. And because this virus is not under control, and there’s no shot for it, everything is two steps forward and seven steps back is what it feels like. We are in the midst of additional outbreaks now. Which of course then makes businesses fear they will have to shut down again.

Someone said to me that essentially politics is driving all of this. And you can’t just blame it on one party or the other. Especially out here in these smaller municipalities. They don’t really have political savvy or Wiley Coyoteness. And yes, in Philadelphia they do (cue Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and the giant mess there), but out here? The politicians don’t necessarily run much, they are kind of run, aren’t they?

So when I heard about Christopher’s closing, I mentioned it to a chef in search of a space. And they didn’t want just any space they wanted the right space. And this is a chef who will blow a lot of culinary minds. They have the international and national credentials, they have the knowledge base and experience. So I told them about Eastside Flats. Selfishly, I want them to open a restaurant in our area. A lot of people do. They are also the kind of person who would bring people to the community just the way Christopher’s did and say Alba and General Warren do. It would be win-win to our communities and existing fine dining.

I asked this person the other day whatever had happened with them investigating Eastside Flats. And I think suffice it to say, unrealistic rents on the part of the commercial landlord happened. Did I mention this is a person with business experience? They essentially told me that what was being quoted for rent wouldn’t be sustainable during a normal period, let alone a global pandemic. Essentially, a business needs to sustain itself and with what whomever over there at Eastside is currently thinking, it just wouldn’t happen, that they wouldn’t even be able to break even. It’s a typical commercial property dilemma, and the dilemma is the only party who would be making a profit would be the commercial property owner and what small business in their right mind wants to assume that risk?

I am not an economist, but I remember hearing somewhere once that most restaurants only start to turn a profit in the 3 to 5 year mark if they are lucky and survive that long. Profit is revenue minus costs, both fixed and variable, right? Starting a restaurant is fantastically expensive correct? Also what fits into the equation is also not confusing profitability with revenue generating, yes? Even if a restaurant is generating high revenue, they’re not necessarily reflecting a similar profit, correct?

So I think Malvern Borough and other municipalities need to wake up. Stop just bending over for absentee commercial landlords and developers. Recognize that compromise is something that they have to negotiate so we get quality non-formula and not just chain or franchise businesses in our communities. We need a retail mix that has better planning, essentially. In a lot of other areas municipalities have retail coordinators who help recruit businesses to the communities in which they work and help the negotiation process between potential businesses and commercial landlords. Even business district authorities and business associations will do this. And the simple reason for that is nobody is as invested in the community as the community itself.

Eastside Flats is kind of looking like a ghost town. And they just let a huge opportunity for our community and for them walk away because of unrealistic rent expectations. They might not like my opinion but the first amendment allows me to have it.

So that is your food for thought so to speak for the day. How are your communities being impacted by commercial landlords during COVID-19? And how will the hospitality industry survive and what will it look like after this? And when you are formulating your response try to leave the politics out of it because politicians and political parties come and go but these are our local businesses.

Also if you are interested Bon Appétit Magazine has a terrific article from the end of September on how you can help those in the restaurant industry.

Thanks for stopping by.

days gone by…frazer

Sometimes it’s just lighting. But it sets a mood.

I stopped to take pictures of the laundromat and car wash in Frazer, East Whiteland that are now closed and frozen in time. Eventually the wrecking ball will come a calling, but right now I can take some photos so one day when someone asks what was there, we remember.

A car wash and a laundromat. Things people still use. But not sexy enough when it comes to development and the future, right?

Enjoy the photos.

when smoked brisket is like a religious experience…

So it’s no secret I love Chef Paul Marshall‘s food at Farm Boy Fresh. But seriously? His BBQ brisket is like a religious experience. I never understood why people love BBQ brisket until I tried his.

And even in the rain, the brisket sandwich is off the hook. I like mine messing with tradition on a brioche bun. My husband prefers old school white bread.

Farm Boy Fresh is located at 7 Lancaster Avenue in Malvern at the Sunoco Station. You can place an order through Toast Tab and pay in advance if you like. I recommend that because this barbecue is extraordinarily popular and they do run out.

If you go don’t forget to taste the little pies. My new favorite is the mini pecan pie! Oh and I hear he might be smoking his own turkeys at some point.

And what you see in 1st photo above? That was my sandwich today!

lovely life’s patina

One of the things that COVID-19 has done is it has disrupted our every day lives and our routines.

My friend Amy and I have our “Fran days” named after her mom where we put everything aside and do something together and have lunch. A lot of times we schedule those days to support Meg Veno at her lovely Life’s Patina events. Until today, this was one of the things that COVID-19 had interrupted for us around here.

Amy and I have been friends since high school and we even grew up in the same neighborhood, so I feel really blessed to have her in my life all these years later. So when we heard that Life’s Patina was going to open by appointment for their Fall Barn Sale we decided to make our appointment and go. Our slot was today and it was just wonderful!

Sensory overload, so much to look at! Something for everyone! And how lucky were we to also have such a beautiful day to be there…and guests today also received an awesome goody bag!

It was so nice to see friends and acquaintances and to see what Meg and her team had done. I love the Life’s Patina Barn on Willowbrook Farm and actually the very first time I was in it was during it’s renovation that led to Life’s Patina.

Being at Life’s Patina today made this surreal life we have all been living seem a little more normal. I actually liked the feel of a smaller, more intimate shopping experience with less people. Everyone was socially distancing and everyone was wearing masks and there were hand sanitizer stations all over the place. They did a great job!

Enjoy my photos of the day and if you go you need an appointment it’s not just open as normal this year. A lot of the time slots are sold out, so check the calendar and stay tuned for other opportunities to visit Life’s Patina this fall. And you can also shop online!

a tasty experience

When I was little one of the things I loved doing with my great aunts who lived in South Philadelphia at 11th and Ritner was go to not only the Italian market, but to the little grocery store on the corner a few blocks away called Alberts.

Albert’s wasn’t a large store, it was literally a little corner grocery store. But because it was in Italian neighborhoods they had many things you couldn’t find a normal grocery stores. And it was so fun to go in and look up down and sideways as a little kid to see everything they had. I kind of had that experience again today as an adult.

My friends have been telling me to go check out George McLoughlin’s Tasty Table Market and Catering at 10 Leopard Road in Berwyn. Now George never knew it until today but back in the day I had been a patron of another business he owned. And back then that business had catered events I went to including Shipley reunions. The food was phenomenal then and truthfully it’s only gotten better!

I went in to pick up some things for dinner and ended up getting myself lunch. I had this chicken sandwich that was transformative. It is the Chicken Pickle Brioche Sandwich. It was a lightly fried yet super moist chicken breast and Swiss on a brioche roll with this fabulous purple slaw with just a little bit of bacon and pickles. I think everybody should try this sandwich!

For dinner I got a steak salad, a salmon, and a chicken entree. I also picked up fresh guacamole and this lovely artichoke dip. But of course because this is also a little market I got some other goodies like a fig balsamic vinegar and fabulous olive oil. And a honey comb and Le Bus bread—-I haven’t purchased bread since March I’ve been making it. Oh and a lovely espresso! I couldn’t pass that up!!

The store is clean and neat and pretty. My friend Lisa who owns Brandywine View Antiques in Chaddsford helped with the interior. And outside there are cheerful red awnings which I love!

And one of the things I liked best about my visit today was speaking with George the owner. It’s been so long since I have spoken with anyone who was excited about anything. George McLoughlin is happy and positive and psyched about the challenge of re-thinking his business. It was so awesome to spend time with him. His positivity is infectious.

And his food is so good. And fresh. And the staff is as nice as George is! And they know the food they are serving. Because what I find very frustrating especially when I visit a new place is you ask a question and they make a face and say “well I don’t know“ and you’re thinking to yourself how can you not know you work here? But there is NONE of that at Tasty Table. You can tell everyone likes being there and that speaks volumes.

Now that I’ve been to the delightful market being created, I will be back. They even carry my favorite sugar cubes for coffee and tea, La Perruche. I haven’t been able to find them locally in a very long time so I am psyched they carry them!

Oh and don’t forget to try the peanut butter cookies and brownies. 😊 And there are gluten free options as well!

Tasty Table Catering and Market 10 Leopard Road, Berwyn, PA 19312

Tel: 610.251.0265 info@tastytablecatering.com

I hope my readers will #ShopLocal and give Tasty Table a try. I had a very tasty 😋 experience. Thanks George!