have you visited magnolia cottage shop in malvern/frazer yet?

I have written about Magnolia Cottage Shop before, but it really is quickly becoming a favorite place so I thought I would post some photos. I went to pick something up there today and I just love it. It’s nice to have a store that has a wonderfully curated selection of gifts with all sorts of antique and vintage mixed in. 

Magnolia Cottage Shop is located at 288 Lancaster Avenue in Malvern/Frazer. Their phone number is 484- 320-8022.

The owner really goes out of her way to have fun things that you just don’t find every place else. One of the things she carries which I really like are the Wickit Good Candles. They are a hand poured craft candle with Chester County roots but are hand-crafted at the Jersey shore.

Wickit Good Candles have wonderful scents that are not overpowering and overwhelming. I like a candle that gives you a waft of a beautiful fragrance, not something that smacks you in the face and smells like grandma’s old potpourri.

For those planning bridal showers and even baby showers in the spring, this is a great store to pick up presents that are fun and have whimsy. 

They also have monogramming available for things purchased in the shop which I really like because they are bringing in these bags which will make awesome shopping totes or beach/pool bags. I don’t know about you but I’d rather carry my vegetables from the farmers market in a cute bag!

And I am my mother’s daughter in that regard…. I just love monograms and personalization.

So if you haven’t had the opportunity to check out Magnolia Cottage Shop, also keep in mind that they do things like offer small group workshops, classes, demonstrations and even some Young Rembrandts Chester County children’s art classes!

farm boy fresh…hooked

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Today I finally made it to Farm Boy Fresh in Malvern.

“Don’t take my picture!” he said “Look at this apron!”

Oh Chef, the thing is this, pristine aprons to me mean y’all aren’t having fun creating your food.  (Besides, I am the home cook who can kill an apron almost as soon as I put it on!) So a little smudge of something on your apron is a good thing.

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I have been wanting to get to Farm Boy Fresh and as today is Thursday, it was chicken basket day, so instead of just writing about how amazing everything looks, I went for a little look see myself. (I wrote about them earlier this month.)

Yes, seriously, we have a classically trained chef who trained with people like Emeril Lagasse right here in Chester County.  Living his best life with his wife on their lovely farm and cooking breakfast and lunch….inside the Sunoco Station at Routes 30 and 29 in Malvern.  Yes, where Three Crazy Ladies was.

While there, Chef Paul Marshall was telling me about the chicken he uses when he was preparing my order and a couple of others.  He uses Poulet Rouge.  I had not heard of that type of chicken in years.  As in I saw them on a farm once in France when I was like 14. They are a russet red chicken with long legs and a bare neck.  Seriously.  I realized those were the chickens I saw ummm…. decades ago.

I did a little reading when I got home and these chickens do indeed have longer legs and they are less round than some chicken breeds can be.  They are known for their flavor and apparently they have thinner skin.  I actually found a farm down south that raises them and you can buy them and other heritage poultry and meats from (Joyce Farms).

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I am not sure if this is where the chicken today came from, but the chicken I had today was so good it was like a religious experience.  Did you ever have lunch that smelled so good and looked so good that it was like there was no time for social media and food photos and you just ate a meal without taking it’s photo?  You know the way it used to be before we were Instagramming, Tweeting, or Facebooking?

That was today.

The chicken was hot, juicy, and fresh and there was that lovely fluffiness of perfectly cooked chicken that had not only a good dredge with flavor, but buttermilk. And a little bit of a flavor profile that gave it just a little reminiscence of a kick but not spicy.  Super subtle.  Served with the chicken was this slaw that I am guessing was Napa cabbage (my favorite) and I am not sure all what else, but it had Asian influences and seemed to be more of a vinaigrette and essentially I could have dined on that alone it was so good.

IMG_1919I also bought a yummy blueberry chia muffin, chocolate chip cookies,  and a jar of hot pepper jelly.

You know what else I liked?  I got to hang out and talk to the chef.  I have a friend from high school who is a chef (Carlo DeMarco of 333 Bellrose in Radnor), and have met others over the years through friends and family and they are a lot of fun to speak with.

Since I like to cook, I like to learn, and all of the chefs I have met are happy to talk food and share.  Chef Paul Marshall is no exception.  He was so nice and very interesting and I also loved hearing him speak about his wife Julie who apparently grew up in the area.  That was awesome.  You have to totally and immediately appreciate and respect someone who obviously adores their spouse, and their eyes light up when they speak of them.

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My friend Sherry Tillman, who created First Friday Main Line and owns Past*Present*Future in Ardmore can tell you that I am a food geek.  Whenever we were doing out food events years ago like Foodapalooza, she always knew she had someone to go to the participating restaurants and photograph the food and chefs and speak with them. That is my idea of fun.

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Soon at Farm Boy Fresh there will be amazing high boy farm style tables so you can eat in and not just take out.  It is totally quirky to have an amazing chef cooking in a gas station, but you know what? That juxtaposition just works. This is fun.

Farm Boy Fresh is a welcome addition to the lunch and breakfast places in Chester County.  It’s so great to meet someone that just loves what they do.

Go get yourself some breakfast or lunch.  Farm Boy Fresh is located at the Sunoco at 7 Lancaster Avenue in Malvern (the corner of Route 30 and Lancaster Ave in East Whiteland Township)

I will note for the record that I was not compensated for this review.  I went in to buy lunch and I will be back! I am Farm Boy Fresh hooked!

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tammany hall style politics?

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Today class, we are going to learn about what passes for politics. In particular Tammany Hall style politics which should have been buried with old Boss Tweed right? Like what you see above. Two Facebook pages that amount to cyber bullying masquerading as politics. Which of course makes it rather rich when you see current local elected officials say:

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I would be pleased as an elected official that she pointed it out, except ummm for this:

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Ms. Santalucia is a Supervisor in West Whiteland.  Her sister Rose Hogan Danese is running against Danielle Friel Otten:

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It’s getting like the Hatfields versus the McCoys with the Chester County Democrats isn’t it? Look who else’s name has surfaced?

I don’t quite get how Danielle Friel Otten is a threat to world order, or Ginny Kerslake is either.  Yes I know both women, and so Supervisor Theresa Hogan Santalucia doesn’t get confused, I do not speak for these women or their campaigns.  I am no one’s campaign operative. That is a tired old has been argument that goes back a few years and even that I was a tea partier  LOL.  (And also so this Supervisor doesn’t get her skirts further in a twist, this is known as opinion.  YOU are an elected official and YOU put certain things out there in the public. If you don’t want people commenting, change your privacy settings.)

It’s always all about the money in the end, so who is threatened the most by those who wish to serve because it’s the right thing to do?

Just like Republicans are divided, Democrats are an even bigger fractured fairy tale.  In Pennsylvania I think it is a simple thing to see: Wolf Democrats who are descended from Rendell Democrats are threatened by anyone and anything that doesn’t fit into their cheerleading squad.

Tammany Hall politics live on because we as the voters allow it.  Stop allowing it.

 

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not telling you who to vote for, but who NOT to vote for

People always ask “Who is State Rep Kristine Howard?”

Good question because really nobody knows. She has been the singularly most INVISIBLE state representative I’ve ever heard of since I first had the right to vote. Considering I’m in my 50s, I have been voting quite a while.

I literally remember when the committee people were coming around when Kristine Howard was running the first time.

I had not seen anything about her, hadn’t seen her physically anywhere, had not even seen photos of her anywhere at that point. NOTHING. She was just a name. The response I got was stunning and it was from her own party “No one really knows. No one has really seen her.” (and that message was delivered with an apologetic shrug.)

The sole image anyone had seen of her at that point is the photo on the left at the opening of this post. Only as we later found out she looks more like the photo on the right.

Even candidates I have not liked over the years got out there to shake hands and meet people and go to one bad chicken dinner after the other.

Last time we were supposed to vote for Kristine Howard just because she wasn’t Duane Milne. This time because she’s not Ginny Kerslake or Wendy Graham Leland. (I will note both of these ladies are out there, involved in the community, and care and have been that way long before deciding to run for office.)

Yet NO ONE knows Kristine Howard still. Is she the most closely guarded secret in Harrisburg or what? Kristine Howard seems to send out the occasional puff piece to let people know she’s around or she voted as she was told, only she’s not around is she? Try being one of her constituents and getting her to respond to you. Try getting anyone in her office to respond to you.

In my humble opinion, Kristine Howard does not show up for residents and constituents. This summer residents affected detrimentally and dangerously by pipelines begged her to come tour their neighborhoods with them. They got no response.

But when Governor Tom Wolf showed up for an insider’s tour basically with the pipeline company inside the fences of the pipeline that have eaten up people’s properties and lives and neighborhoods this summer, there she was for photo ops posing with Wolf and Carolyn Comitta only like magic those photos have all seemed to have disappeared as bad optics are wont to do? (if anyone has copies of those photos that DID exist I would love to see one again wouldn’t you?)

There was also in the summer of 2019 a very important public meeting held at Immaculata that affected her constituents in East Whiteland Township. The issue? Traffic circles, eminent domain, and PennDOT. She sent a staffer who stayed maybe half an hour, and the meeting was more than two hours long. Kristine Howard should have been there herself, could have been there herself, chose NOT to be there. 

The residents of the 167th Legislative District deserve someone who shows up for them, interacts with them, responds to their concerns. Kristine Howard is sort of being seen now because she’s being primaried. That is so insulting to constituents.

Think of politics in terms of fashion. Kristine Howard and Harrisburg need a makeover. I think the Harrisburg makeover is time better spent.

I can’t tell you who to vote for, but I will tell you who I think you SHOULD NOT vote for, and that’s Kristine Howard. She’s a fashion trend as tragic as hobble skirts, which literally impeded a woman’s ability to walk in the early 20th century.

the end of the ball era?

I have remarked before on what society was in Philadelphia and what wants to be society today and the fact that it all seems to be going kerplunk. Well I think this article that broke news everywhere and I saw first in the Philadelphia Inquier is yet another example.

End of an era? The Academy of Music Anniversary Concert and Ball will go on hiatus.

by Peter Dobrin, Updated: February 14, 2020- 12:06 PM

The Oscar de la Renta and James Galanos gowns can take the year off. White-tie and tails may stay in the garment bag. Next season’s Academy of Music Anniversary Concert and Ball has been canceled, organizers say.

Instead, leaders of the Academy and the Philadelphia Orchestra, which owns the historic venue, will take a year off to rethink the concert and ball. It is not clear when, or if, the ball will be back in the format that made it the city’s premier society event for decades.

“We are going to take this pause and evaluate,” said Academy chair Caroline B. “Cackie” Rogers. “Our net and our gross have been going down, and ticket sales have gone down a bit, and costs, like everything else, have gone up.”

Also, Academy and orchestra leaders are aware of how philanthropic priorities have shifted toward social causes over pure arts and culture.

“The younger generation tends to be sticking a little bit more close to home in the suburbs and supporting their children’s school, which is fabulous, and supporting their community and hospital,” Rogers says. “So we have to make people understand what we are. The Academy is above all a community gathering place, a community center. We support education. And somehow we need to get this message out in a stronger format.”

Rogers said that a working committee would begin considering the ball’s future at a meeting in March. At this point, she said, she cannot say whether Philadelphia will see another Academy Ball.

I think this is indeed quite possibly the end of The Academy Ball. People have changed and the grande dames of society are growing older and so many have passed away. Truthfully there is my generation as one of the last generations to just remember what it was like, but real society doesn’t truly exist anymore in Philadelphia does it? (And many can plunk hats and fascinators on their carefully and not so carefully coiffed heads but does it make them society or just wannabes?)

Philadelphia Inquirer, 1970s – what the society page looked like

I remember when I noticed that Opening Night for the Philadelphia Orchestra was getting too “corporate” in nature. I remember when people started bringing in drinks in plastic cups into the boxes and the seats and that was never done before. When there was intermission, you mingled in the hallways of the Academy of Music and you got drinks from the bar but you didn’t bring things into the theater space like you were at a movie theater.

The world continued to change. Society reporters began to fade away, retire, move, die. Society photos changed to and suddenly it was acceptable to shove your way into a photo or say you wanted to be in a photo, versus waiting to be asked. And everything, even if it wasn’t, was suddenly called a “ball”.

I grew up with my parents attending the Academy Ball, and for a bunch of years my mother was on the committees. It has been too long to remember if it was for the program book committee , invitation committee, or whatever. But what I do remember is all the bustle surrounding my mother and her friends finding their perfect gowns and getting ready for the big event. I liked that part of it a lot. Visits to Nan Duskin, John Wanamaker’s, and elsewhere.

What I also liked is the years they were all in the program book (Academy Ball Book) with their friends. That program book for the Academy of Music Concert and Ball was awesome every year. It was a look book of Philadelphia society and fashion. I loved going through it. Somewhere I have a stack of them from my mother, I went to look for them when I was thinking about this post but I have not unearthed them yet. It was always a really big deal to be invited to be in an Academy Ball Book photo.

There was one year in particular my parents were in it that I remember distinctly. They were photographed in black tie on the steps of City Hall in Philadelphia. My mother had a different haircut for her and I think it was the 70s when she had this haircut, it was sort of pixie like for lack of a better description because my mother has very full hair. But I remember my mother had this amazing ball gown on and it was sweeping over the steps with my father at her side. (I really have to find that photo because it is one of my favorite photos of my parents together.)

Then around 1998, I had my turn to pose in a photograph in the Academy Ball Book. This mother of a friend of mine back then used to buy a page for their business as a donation in the program book. So this one year, I was invited to be in the photo. It was a lot of fun we got our hair done the morning of the shoot and professional make-up and then we went to Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Philadelphia where the shoot location was.

Doing that shoot, is still to this day, hands down one of the most fun things I ever did! (Of course it’s amusing that I am posing with a glass of red wine in my hand because I am very allergic to red wine.) I still have a tiny 3 or 4 inch black-and-white test photo of this shoot in a little frame. My friend and I were temporarily glamorous.

I did not ever actually go to the Academy Ball as an adult because I married later in life and it always has been a very ridiculously expensive ticket prospect if you were single. I did go a couple of times as a kid with my sister to the concerts because my parents wanted us to hear whatever the concert part of the ball was. One of the years was when Pavarotti played the concert of the 118th Academy Ball. I still remember that. My parents had a car and driver and someone who came to escort us down.

We sat stage left up in the second level or third level boxes on that side. I remember peering down and watching Pavarotti sing. It probably should have meant more to me at the time than it did, but I was a kid. However, it was so fun to get all dressed up and then look around the entire inside of the glittering and glowing Academy of Music and see all of the people in their white tie and tails and ballgowns.

Every year until a few years ago, truthfully I loved looking at the Academy Ball photos. As the crowd changed and a lot of the familiar faces faded away for whatever reason, it became less interesting to me. The past couple of years I have taken a cursory glance every now and again at the photos and there are people in the photos that wouldn’t have even received an invitation years ago, and then there are the people we just weren’t dressed correctly. There are even people with short dresses. This was a real actual ball which meant white tie and tails and ballgowns.

I took a peek at a program book in the last year or so and one of the things that surprised me is there was somebody that was in two photos in the same book. They never used to do that! They never had repeat people in photos in the same book during the same year.

It makes me sad that events like this are becoming nonprofit dinosaurs. But I guess too much is changing in the world around us, and it’s not going to stand still for events like this. So this event will either evolve and change, or remain mothballed. I am thinking mothballed.

But this was a big event for the Academy of Music’s benefit. So it had to give you pause if you think about it as to how they are going to make up the money that needs to be raised. The Academy of Music is a national historic landmark but I’m told it needs work. A lot of the titans of philanthropy that used to support the Academy are dead.

I have to wonder in the age of selfie sticks and Insta stories if there is enough interest to really see the Academy of Music into the future? Do people today really care about the arts in Philadelphia in the region? Or is what they care about more selective, more localized?

Time will tell.

another west chester ramble

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Today we went old school and headed to D&K for breakfast.  It was as good as it always is, and we wandered on our way through the Borough Of West Chester.

I have always liked West Chester.  What I don’t like however is all the infill development.  Why? Because what is going up now is not in the least complementary of the borough, which has little brick houses of more of a colonial style through to grand Victorian mansard roofs and gardens with wrought iron gates.

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See above.  Another Kahnification of West Chester (blue and new going up to the right of Kildare’s).  That used to be the Mosteller Department Store  which truthfully from it’s early history morphed into something quite unattractive. But what is replacing it is also unappealing to me because it just doesn’t jive with the area.  I am not saying people have to build imitation Williamsburg, but if they are going modern, why does it have to be ummm…jarring and unattractive and out of size and scale with the surroundings?

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I really started to explore West Chester in the 1980s when one of my best friends came out to West Chester to go to college.  I used to visit her and explore.  In those days I did not have a car so often I took a train to Paoli and a cab into West Chester if I could not get a ride.  (I will note where you wait for cabs on the westbound side of Paoli station is still creepy.)

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West Chester is one of those towns where I always find something to look at. Now these are newer townhouses in the next photo, and I actually don’t mind the design even if I don’t quite get the height and bunker like quality of the wall in front:

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GPS took us down a street that really wasn’t a street to me, but the rear of a development.  Here I saw once again what I dislike about most townhouse developments:

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This is an actual street and look how narrow. And Look at SUVs and trucks NOT being able to fit in their own driveway.  To me this looks like a street in Sea Isle or Ocean City, NJ.

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One of the things I also have always liked about West Chester are the alleys and side streets.  Always something cool to see there as well. A lot of old stable structures still exist, among other things.

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West Chester is just fun to wander.

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It’s also fun to check out old postcards to see what has changed and to see what still exists.  Take for example (and thanks for rambling with me):

 

one of my favorite roads

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This is (I think)  part of the old mill structures on Hershey’s Mill Road in West Chester (East Goshen). It looks like it is  getting a new lease on life. It is the landmark for Hershey’s Mill Road off of Greenhill Road.

This is also one of my favorite roads.

Probably because it hasn’t been torn asunder by development.

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We have had so much rain that the pond that had been drained is back.

But this is a road where you take your time, meander, and exhale. It’s lovely.

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