happy place: four dogs tavern/ marshalton inn

Don’t you just love this Chester County treasure? Four Dogs Tavern/Marshalton Inn?

Whenever another development is proposed in any part of the county, I think of places like this. You can’t create this out of Tyvec.

Marshalton is a happy place. Come visit and see the festive decorations and have a meal at Four Dogs!

resellers in frazer closing.

Resellers in Frazer on Route 30 is closing. The shopping center has been sold.

I am sure the warehouse and shopping center will be bulldozed for some form of progress some developer thinks is fabulous but what we are losing are local businesses and what about our post office?

Condos and apartment buildings and chain stores and big box stores will never, ever replace local businesses. Resellers has been one of my favorite businesses in Chester County.

My last purchase save a couple of Santa Lucia straw Christmas ornaments today was my reading chair:

Resellers was one of those places that you could go and find the unexpected and unique. From furniture to art to dishes to shabby chic oriental rugs, from the moment you walked through the doors into the cavernous warehouse space, the possibilities were endless.

And no, places like the Velvet Shoestring in Wayne can’t compete. And besides the Velvet Shoestring in Wayne lost me in the fall at the lack of hello. (There is nothing like being the sole, solitary customer in a store for over 20 minutes with multiple not so busy employees behind the front desk who are seemingly only capable of staring at you but not speaking to you that will permanently turn you off to a business.)

If you love Resellers, their time is limited, so go in before they are gone.

going to france for dinner via chester county

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We have this sort of unofficial supper club with some of our Chester County residing Shipley friends. Last night, we were treated to dinner at the home of one of these friends.  We all went to France via Chester County because another guest at the table was renown local chef, (an actual honest to goodness amazing French Chef)  Sylvie Ashby.

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Chef Sylvie 

Chef Sylvie lives in West Chester. She was born and raised in Normandy, France. She always wanted to share the love and passion for French cooking and comfort food the French traditional way by only using seasonal fresh produce and meats from the local markets.

Last evening’s dinner was one of my favorite meals ever.  I grew up on bœuf bourguignon or beef Burgundy or bœuf à la Bourguignonne is not some ordinary stew, as delicious as they may beef.  It is elevated far beyond that and if done properly like last night, the meat does not disintegrate but melts in your mouth. Last night, it was probably hands down the best I have ever had.

We started with hors d’oevres of belgian endive boats piped with a light and fluffy goat cheese, goat cheese toasts, and one of my favorite purely French treats I have never made, gougères!Related image Gougères are these fluffy puffs of warm pastry made with Gruyère cheese.  (Check out this recipe for gougères from Alain Ducasse.)

After our main course of bœuf bourguignon we had a marvelous salad with fresh greens and a delightful vinaigrette with an amazing blood orange infused olive oil from a Taste of Olive in West Chester. And the bread? Amazing as always from La Baguette Magique in West Chester.

The beef and cheese were also locally sourced.  I forget whose goat cheeses we had, and

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Chef Sylvie Courtesy Photo

I do not know the farm name for the beef but for some reason I think it was from down near Landenberg.

And dessert? Channel your inner Julia Child, it was Floating Island! Floating Island is a light as a feather dessert consisting of meringue floating on crème anglaise.  The crème anglaise is custardy and delicious.  Chef Sylvie finished the dessert with a light caramel drizzle.

This dinner was a true mini vacation to France.  I love when we get together to have dinner with our friends, and we loved being introduced to Chef Sylvie.

And guess what? You too can hire Chef Sylvie to bring the taste of France to your home for intimate gatherings.  Chef Sylvie specializes in French country cooking, bringing France to the comfort of your own home for private dinner parties.  And her prices are emminently reasonable. She also will cater events like birthday parties, Girls ‘night out, Crepes bar party, Book Clubs, Wine Clubs…her website is cuisinedesylvie.com . You can also find her on Facebook Cuisine de Sylvie.

One thing I did not ask her is if she teaches cooking classes.  I think that would be super fun!

Stay safe in the snow and ice!

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decay in black and white

The farmhouse owned by Clews and Strawbridge in Malvern, East Whiteland Chester County. They must be immune to how sad this once marvelous Chester County Farmhouse looks, huh?

How about an adaptive reuse?

Or some day will it just cease to exist?

kicking off the holiday season life’s patina style

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I love Christmas and was so excited when my friend Amy suggested we attend the Holiday Tea at Life’s Patina on Willowbrook Farm in Malvern.  The tea was today and it was an amazing event! (In all fairness, EVERY Life’s Patina event is amazing!)

Mind you, my day did not have an auspicious start as I locked myself out of the house accidentally this morning dealing with pets.  Not only did I lock myself out, but I was in my nightgown with wet hair.  I had to march myself across the road to my neighbor’s to call my husband to get back into the house.  (Have I mentioned I have awesome neighbors? I do! I am sure the sight of me in my nightgown has scarred them for life, but anyway.)

So after the trauma of locking myself out of our house in my nightgown, I managed to be ready in time to go to the tea.

I love the Life’s Patina events!  The proprietress, Meg Veno, is an amazing woman.  She has the biggest heart, is just so darn nice, and has an eye that gets me into trouble every time I attend a barn sale.  Seriously, the woman has an amazing design aesthetic and is super creative and finds the perfect things.  Her holiday events are among my favorites because, well, it’s no secret I love Christmas!

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This morning when we walked into the holiday preview tea, it was sensory overload.  The holidays were beautifully spilling out of every nook and cranny of the barn.  This was a lovely and exclusive event complete with a delicious luncheon for all of us who subscribed.  I especially liked the Quiche and the little smoked salmon sandwiches and the peach tea.

It was like a little bit of holiday magic in that barn today. People were happy. Holidays are festive times for friends and family, and this was a very nice reminder of times to come.

Another component to today was the charity Meg chose to receive a portion of the sales.  She pays it forward in that way with her events.

Today’s charity recipient was the Women’s Resource Center of Wayne, PA. This non-profit has the mission to help women and girls  successfully navigate life’s transitions and to inspire others to do the same.  By providing resources, tools and support for today, we create hope for tomorrow. The Women’s Resource Center serves Southeastern, PA including Philadelphia, Montgomery, Chester, Bucks, and Delaware counties.

Founded in 1975, the Women’s Resource Center began when five women placed an ad in The Suburban and Wayne Times calling for a meeting on women’s issues. Forty-five women attended the initial meeting, indicating a strong demand for an organization that was dedicated to the special needs of women. The original group established three goals that remain in place to this day:

1) To provide information and referral services to women & families;
2) To offer supportive programming and workshops; and
3) To maintain a physical location from which to serve the greater Philadelphia community.

This is a very worthy non-profit and I was happy to do my part and purchase some really fun things for the holidays.  I will admit I bought some Christmas ornaments and the world’s funniest holiday cocktail napkins.

Also today was the unexpected surprise of running into old, familiar faces at the tea and shopping preview.  I saw someone I basically had not seen in over five years.  We were friends in another lifetime.  It was nice to catch-up and meet her new friends.

I was truthfully amused by all of the Main Liners and city dwellers who made it out “to the country” to attend this preview.  I hope they all saw and appreciated the fall splendor of Chester County today.

Willowbrook Farm is an absolutely magical property with majestic trees donned at present in fiery reds, oranges, and spectacular yellow.  They have a huge Ginko tree which is captivating this time of year.  You just do not see many Ginkos anymore and the only other ones of similar height and majesty are on the path leading to the Haverford College Nature Trail that runs behind the one side of Haverford Friends School.

You too can see the magic in store this season at Life’s Patina.  There are holiday events coming up! Christmas magic doesn’t even begin to describe what is coming up.

Holiday Barn Sale – New Dates (postponed because of flooded fields)

November 16 – November 18 FREE ADMISSION! 10 AM – 4 PM

German Christmas Market at Life’s Patina

December 8 – December 9 FREE ADMISSION but asking for donations to  MainLineFreunde and T&E Care  3 PM – 6 PM  (Follow German Christmas Market on The Main Line HERE on Facebook.)

Willowbrook Farm and Life’s Patina are located at 1750 N. Valley Rd
Malvern, 19355 BUT this is a private residence, NOT a store so you can’t just show up.  The fabulous dairy barn full of magic is only opened to the public for special events.  Feel free to follow them on Facebook .

Here is a sampling of the Christmas magic I found today at Life’s Patina which also included discovering Stony Hill Farm out of Pottstown:

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