redefining “shabby chic”

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Today my friend Abbi came down from North Jersey and we went antiquing and junking through Chester County. We’ve known each other since we were either 14 or 15, so we always have a good time. Today we had a fun kind of Junk Gypsies kind of day.

We started out at the Smithfield Barn in Downingtown (of course !) where I scored a totally amazing (and old) clear glass hobnail cake plate – I needed a taller one and pretty ones are hard to find. I use the cake plates for many foods not just cakes. Cheeses and cookies look fab on old cake plates too, and when I’m setting a holiday table I like having them in different heights. And I’m doing a buffet for family on Christmas day, so this new cake plate will round out my others perfectly.

Of course I also couldn’t resist just a few more vintage Christmas ornaments. My friend Abbi got some amazing depression glass candlesticks and a couple of other cool things.

Then after other stops and a beautiful drive on back roads, we went to the open farm day at Yellow Springs Farm on Yellow Springs Road in Chester Springs. It was fun catching up with Catherine and Al Renzi and buying some fabulous goat cheeses. Check their website, because they have open farm days in December as well. They are producing their own goat milk yogurt now, and I suggest especially try the cinnamon flavored.

After that we made one last stop at Resellers Consignment on Route 30 in Frazer. I have been looking for a small Persian or Oriental rug to put in the kitchen to accompany a larger old Turkish rug I have. This rug is not fancy, it is warm and welcoming. Is definitely shabby chic, and almost threadbare in places. But I love it just the same.

You see that is just a shabby chic thing I love: old and almost threadbare Turkish, Oriental, and Persian rugs in places like kitchens and bathrooms, or scattered about instead of other kinds of interior door mats.

I’m not talking priceless carpets here, I am talking about shabby chic ones with character left that aren’t so filthy you can’t clean them up. I think they make a kitchen especially feel more warm and homey.

So while I looked from one end of Reseller’s to the other I was amused by some of today’s crowd. There were a few Ralph Lauren and Tory Burch younger power couples.

One Tory Burch ballet flat wearing, Hermès Birkin bag toting gal was the most amusing. She had a look of total disgust on her face wandering through. It was totally amusing because you could tell she had a very limited idea of any of what she was looking at , but if an interior designer or antiques dealer bought half of what she was looking at askance and cleaned it up a little she would have been happy to pay the cost mark-up and tell all her friends about how she found whatever at a “darling little store.”

However I am completely fine with that. She can shop at her “darling little stores” and I’ll go digging for treasure where I find it!

And today I finally found my little Persian rug! It has been on the sales floor at Resellers for over a year which meant it was half off. So for $25 I have a very cool rug. And all it was a little vacuuming!

To clarify, when I talk about redefining shabby chic, I don’t mean all pink cabbage roses and floral patterns on wrinkled cottony canvas. I am talking about cool vintage things that might have a comfortable lived in look.

Now some people love the look of things that only scream new. I do not. I think older and vintage items truly have a comfort to them. Don’t know if I’m articulating the charm properly, but maybe that’s a better word for it: charm.

I like mixing old with new. I like a lot of more vintage pieces when it comes to furniture because as much as anything else, the dimensions and quality are often better. The problem I have with a lot of the sofas and chairs manufactured today is they are just so big they are oversized for a lot of rooms. And as I learned with a family room sofa we bought at The Dump, if you can find good dimensions it doesn’t mean the quality is there.

I saw all sorts of cool pieces at Resellers today, including amazing Edwardian sofa that was still in its original horse hair and not too sprung on the bottom.

Even if I’m not buying, I like looking. It’s fun to always have a few new ideas in the back of your head for “someday”.

There are so many possibilities out there to achieve looks literally like you see in magazines. And you can do these things on a budget. And that’s whether you were looking for a country living look or something a little more mid-century modern or even classic meets funky.

And I’m not trying to put interior designers or antique dealers out of business, but face it , this is still a tough economy out there and if you can get a great deal you appreciate your home even more in my opinion.

Besides, there is the whole thing about decorating your own home and achieving your own look. Sure you can pay someone to do it, but if you really want to make your home your own you have to do at least parts of it yourself.

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west chester growers market at risk! help save the market!

marketAs shocking as it may sound, the Borough of West Chester might do something exceedingly dumb and horrible where the West Chester Growers Market is concerned.  The buzz around Chester County is that they are purportedly considering selling the lot that the market calls home!!!

How dumb is that?

I have been busy and was playing catch up with e-mail when I all but fell out of my chair last night.  I had received an e-mail from Melissa at Applied Climatology LLC – I buy plants from her at the West Chester Growers Market.  Here is what the e-mail said:

Hello Garden Club members!

We received some very concerning news last Friday.  If you are already on the West Chester Growers Market mailing list, then you may have already received this news via the market newsletter.

The borough of West Chester is entertaining offers for the sale of the parking lot where we hold our market each Saturday morning.

I’ve attached a copy of the official letter that the market vendors have composed for you, our valued customers.

Letter_to_the_Public

We hope you will consider writing to your local representatives to let them know what the market means to you. Even if you live outside of the borough, please consider writing these officials, as they need to hear from all of our loyal customers.  The borough website in the attached letter will provide you with both email addresses as well as a general mailing address.

If you are as concerned about the market’s longevity as we are, please contact the borough as soon as possible.

We are grateful for all of your support – past, present and future!

Thank you very much for your time

wc1

Seriously??  Could the Borough Council and Mayor of West Chester be such whores that they would render homeless one of the BEST things about the town of West Chester in fair weather months?  Would they really jettison the Grande Dame of local farmers markets? The market that inspired so many OTHER markets?

fresh veggies

With all the emphasis on eat local, buy local (you know that little thing called the localvore movement) why would West Chester Borough be so dumb?  Is all the borough wants to be known for something like that college party turned riot from last weekend?

The West Chester Growers Market has been a goodwill ambassador and champion of downtown West Chester since before there was a Business Improvement District isn’t that correct?  Speaking of the West Chester BID, what do they have to say? Are they ALSO that dumb that they would be behind a decision that if made would take feet off the street in a town they are supposed to promote and support businesses in?

jam

For Sale, Free, or Trade Chester County has posted a petition on Change.org.  Please consider signing it and sending it along to everyone you know.

This is what the petition letter says:

To: Carolyn Comitta, Mayor Holly Brown, West Chester Borough Council Member Cassandra Jones, West Chester Borough Council Member Charles Christy, West Chester Borough Council Member Jordan Norley, West Chester Borough Council Member Thomas Paxson, West Chester Borough Council Member Stephen Shinn, West Chester Borough Council Member John Manion, West Chester Borough Council Member Staff, Borough of West Chester

Keep The West Chester Grower’s Market at Church & Chestnut Street!
We, the residents in Chester County, would like to ask for your consideration in keeping the West Chester Grower’s Market at it’s current location.  The possible development no matter how high of a dollar figure can’t replace the community out reach that this market has created and sustained for 19 years.
Keep The West Chester Grower’s Market at Church & Chestnut Street!
We, the residents in Chester County, would like to ask for your consideration in keeping the West Chester Grower’s Market at it’s current location.  The possible development no matter how high of a dollar figure can’t replace the community out reach that this market has created and sustained for 19 years.
As residents and fellow business owners, we ask you to sincerely think about our community. The Grower’s Market brings not only families and locals to West Chester, but it brings residents from all over Chester County.  These residents then stroll the streets and patronize the local businesses around the Market.  Local West Chester neighbors have found a sense of community on that lot like no other.
We ask you to reconsider this decision.  When making the decision, think of how many businesses have not be able to sustain and have had to cave to the economy and close in West Chester over the past 19 years, and then think about what it takes to keep something going for 19 years in a town, the West Chester Grower’s Market has pulled it off!  Please do not stop them from Growing!

Sincerely, [Your name]

West Chester Does is also talking about this.  “Market Faces Possibility of Losing it’s Place in the Community” and they provide a link to West Chester Borough’s public officials contact information.  I like to go to the top so let’s start with the mayor:

Carolyn T. Comitta, Mayor

115 S. Brandywine Street
Tel: (610) 692-6521
ccomitta@west-chester.com
Term to expire 2014

I don’t feel like putting up every e-mail as I am a little pressed for time, but go to the web page where you get contact informationContact the borough council members and the Mayor. Sign the petition.  You can politely remind them that a fair number of them are up in 2014. To me it is never too early to start election issues if they are thinking about things as dumb as getting rid of the farmers market.

people

I have to ask is West Chester Borough really poor or something?  They can’t afford to keep this parking lot?  Or are they just that greedy and short-sighted?

I also would like to know what developer wants this lot.  They should be contacted too.  Is this a developer who has also bought up a lot of land in the borough or a new Johnny Jump Up?

Do you all know that some of this market’s vendors do good things like participate in the Pennsyvania Farmers Market Nutrition Program? This program, the  Pennsylvania Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) distributes checks to eligible seniors and Women, Infants & Children (WIC). These checks can be used at participating farm markets and roadside stands to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables which are grown (or are growable) in Pennsylvania.

This market is also about community, and no developer sucking up to a bunch of politicians can really create that except in the false, made for marketing material sense.

Please help save the market!  If you tweet try a hash tag like #SaveTheWCGrowersMkt

Together we can save this market.  It is a shame someone couldn’t buy the lot from the borough and give the market a 99 year lease or something, right?

The other alternative is if you own land this market could move to close to this lot with parking, please step forward.  The easiest and most properly right thing is for West Chester Borough to sit down and leave the farmers market and that parking lot  alone, but in case that doesn’t happen, it would be good to have alternatives that  could save this awesome market.

Thanks for stopping by. it’s a sin truly the way politics can potentially ruin a good thing and tradition like this…..

more market


happy first day of spring!

goatsToday is the first day of spring.  To some that means a free cup of Rita’s water ice somewhere, but to me it means soon there will be open farm days at Yellow Springs Farm.   In honor of the first day of spring I am posting a photo I took last spring of baby goats a/k/s “the kids”.   How cute are they?

Yellow Springs Farm for those not familiar grows amazing native plants and is a local fixture at many farmers’ markets due to their absolutely fabulous goat cheeses and local honey.

Their open farm days will be in May.    May 11-12, 18-19, and 25.  Visit their website for more information. www.yellowspringsfarm.com

They are located at 1165 Yellow Springs Road, Chester Springs, PA 19425.  They also offer Natural Landscape design consultation and you can order plants online.

I however, suggest going to an open farm day.  Catherine and Al’s farm is truly a beautiful place to visit.  I have been buying their plants for years.

Happy first day of spring all!

 

 

 

oh deer!

Oh deer, indeed.  Never had deer as an almost daily yard critter before moving to Chester County.  And since the Retirement Vatican known as Hershey’s Mill apparently has the largest deer herd in Chester County, I am ever watchful.

Oh Deer!

On the roads.

…and in my garden.

I have until recently found my garden left unmolested.  Then the other day I notices something was making a salad out of hosta leaves here and there, the hosta flowers, and the day lily blooms.  And since I hadn’t invited Morticia Adams to tea, I know I have critter visitors.

So I know that deer really don’t like Irish Spring soap and the scent given off by human and dog hair.  So I have been spreading hair around my plants where not so close to the house and it seems to be working.  I also know dried blood will work (until it rains or a dog discovers it).

I asked a few plant folks I deal with for tips and product suggestions.  Rebekah from Woodlawn  Lanscaping on Paoli Pike at Sugartown Road and Catherine from Yellow Springs Farm on Yellow Springs Road were kind enough to reply.

First Catherine  from Yellow Springs says:

Our big dog, formerly there were two big dogs, makes the plant nursery possible. I find sprays help, and many herbal ideas help, but the big Shepherd/Doberman mix is irreplaceable.

Rebekah from Woodlawn says:

It’s nice to hear from you again!  I’m going to do you one better by asking my managers Max and Sue at Chadds Ford and Malvern, respectively, to weigh in on this since they each have their own favorite recommendations.

Gardening in deer habitats is a challenge we address with our clients everyday!  What we have found is that deer will eat ANYTHING and there really is no plant that is safe from browsing.  They tend to stay away from high fragrant and textured plants but, if they are hungry enough, will nibble on whatever is in front of them. : (

We do sell several deer repellant products such as Deer Scram, Deer Stopper and Liquid Fence.  Woodlawn also carries deer fencing which can be installed and removed when deer browsing is less, in the summer.  Customer favorites vary but the most popular brands of repellents are the ones that we carry that customers seem to return to ask for by name.   There are other products available commercially but so far our local customers tell us that the three brands I’ve mentioned are successful in repelling their deer herds.  That said, each herd does seem to have its own favorite plants to chew, and some will chew on plants that are usually left alone.

Here is a link to PSU’s recommended deer resistant plants.  http://pubs.cas.psu.edu/FreePubs/pdfs/xj0020.pdf

Woodlawn sells most of these and anyone can call to check on availability.  610-459-8788 in Chadds Ford or 610-647-1300 in Malvern.

Finally,   I’ve gardened in three high deer density states, CT, NJ and now PA, where I’ve found that the solution is a combination of approaches.  There is no magic bullet to safeguard your landscape plants that are in deer habitat, aside from an 8 foot double fence with a driveway cattle grid.  I’ve literally tried everything.  I’ve tried electric fencing my beds, coyote pee, a radio playing, bars of soap, sparkly old AOL CDROMs hung from trees, a large barking boxer dog, a small yappy JRT mix, bb guns, Milorganite, homemade hot pepper sprays, a motion sensor water sprayer,  and every imaginable product available.  I’ve settled on dealing with deer browse when it happens by pruning and replacing, not planting heavily browed plants, and companion planting.  I’ve personally found that planting Egyptian walking onions (sold at Woodlawn Malvern) among my hostas keeps the deer from munching on them.  I leave Cleome seed volunteers and marigolds.  I plant Fritillaria Imperialis, Crown Imperial, near my tulips.  These are all highly aromatic and seem to keep deer away.  I also poke several sticks among my hostas so that when a deer bends down to take a bite it gets poked in the nose.  These approaches have all worked well for me and enabled me to plant many ornamentals that I would otherwise be feeding to the deer in my gardens near Valley Forge Park.

Thanks for asking and as soon as I hear back from my managers I’ll post their recommendations on our Facebook page too.

Happy Gardening!

I also asked a couple other places I patronize, Del Vacchio and Somerset, but they haven’t gotten back to me yet with their approaches.

I figure there is no one magic bullet (pardon the pun since many communities cull the deer herds and I have NO problem with that as face it man has eradicated a lot of their natural foes in the animal kingdom and development has gobbled up habitat), and you never know what will work.

I like to try more natural alternatives with things, when possible, but that is just me as a breast cancer survivor – I am much more aware of chemicals and interactions now. I hate to say it, but I do try to think pink and live green.

I would have asked Waterloo, but remember a while back when I made a comment about Waterloo in a post?  Where I said Devon did not look up to normal stuff in the spring?  Someone from Waterloo posted a reply, and interestingly enough June 1st brought local gardeners the news that Waterloo was closing.  I don’t know much about Exton, so if someone from Exton reads this post, or any other nursery I have missed reads this post and wants to add tips on keeping Bambi and his tribe at bay, the more the merrier.

I will close with a question: does Hershey’s Mill do anything about their deer population, or do they just leave it to other people outside the compound to deal with?  (I have found, however, that some of their residents are as dangerous on the road as deer.)

the kids are all right

I had SO much fun this afternoon!  It was an Open Farm Day at my friend Catherine’s Yellow Springs Farm in Chester Springs, PA.

(Incidentally, tomorrow, May 13th is another Open Farm Day and Native Plant Sale day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. – the address is 1165 Yellow Springs Road.)

She has awesome goats, so yes I was a little obsessed with the kids in the herd – they are super cute and very sweet.

We also bought some fabulous artisanal cheeses – a couple of chevres, Red Leaf, and Nutcracker….and one more I forget the name of right now.

I got my plant fix – the Renzis’ plants are awesome.    This is  the third garden I have added them to.

But the other thing is this – the farm is a little slice of heaven.  The setting is utterly bucolic, and the staff friendly.

So if you were going to pick a farm to try, this would be my pick.  Check them out on Open Farm Days and other Open House events.  Or find them at a local farmers market, or sign up for their goat cheese CSA.  You can also call or e-mail them for an appointment, and they look for volunteers and interns too.

Buy fresh, buy local…in Chester County!

down on the farm

ysfroadnativeplantIf you have a yen for fabulous cheese, cute goats, nice people, and awesome native plants, then visit my pal Catherine Renzi at Yellow Springs Farm.

This farm is the real deal, and the products they produce are worth the trip…and well they have the cutest goats.

I have purchased Catherine’s native plants and had her cheese and I can’t say enough positve things about this farm!

Here is what they have coming up:

LAST CALL–2012 YSF Cheese CSA Final days to subscribe Buy a share today for one of our area pickup locations Visit http://www.yellowspringsfarm.com; Call or Email for assistance ——————————
YSF Goat Cheese platters make great gifts for Easter, Passover, Weddings, Graduations and more… Order today– call us, email, or order online at http://www.yellowspringsfarm.com
——————————————— Open Farm Days NATIVE PLANT SALE Cheese tasting, visit the goats, and ..

Join Us!   Girls Just Wanna Have Suds- Beer and Cheese Ladies Only Event
Monday, April 16; 6 pm
Victory Brewing Co. Downingtown, PA
Call 610-873-0881 for tickets today!
       NEW                Buy YSF cheeses at Farmers Markets in 2012:
Collegeville, :  most Saturdays; 9 am -1 pm; begins May 5
West Chester: 1st and 3rd Saturdays of each month beginning in May; 9 am to 1 pm
Lansdowne: 2nd and 4th Saturdays each month beginning in May 9am -1 pm 

renzis

If you are planning a new garden, or just can’t get enough native plants, come select native species of wildflowers, grasses, ferns,shrubs and trees.
WHEN: Saturday and Sunday, May 5-6, May 12-13 and Sat, May 19, 2012
WHERE: Yellow Springs Farm; 1165 Yellow Springs Rd., Chester Springs, PA Free admission; Rain or Shine; Please leave your pets at home– thanks!
Our award-winning goat cheeses will also be on hand for tasting and for purchase!
For more information, visit www.yellowspringsfarm.com or call 610-827-2014
bgcheese          ysfnativeplant 2 SPECIAL OPEN FARM DAYS EVENTS Sat/Sun, May 5-6–Meet local artist Cara Graver, and see her beautiful, whimsical pottery. Cara will offer great gifts for indoor and outdoor spaces Sat, May 5, 10 am to 2 pm- Sample and buy bird-friendly, organic coffee from Golden Valley Roasters Sun, May 13, 10am–Mother’s Day Bird Walk with Vincent Smith. Join us for this family-friendly event to see birds, butterflies, beneficial insects and native plants in the YSF landscape Sat., May 19, 10 am  to 2 pm-Sample and buy Bird-friendly, organic coffee from Golden Valley Roasters *************–—————————————————–*********** YSF offers landscape design, consultation, delivery, installation, and maintenance services Ask about our expertise in naturalistic landscapes, butterfly gardens, meadows, woodlands, and rain gardens Call or email today to get more information *************–—————————————————–*********** Remember,  we ship plants and cheese via Fedex Ground

 

things are starting to happen down on the farms in chester county!

Two farms I think are awesome are Yellow Springs Farm and Stratton’s Wynnorr Farm.

At Yellow Spring’s Farm they have just announced their 2012 Goat Cheese CSA, open farm days on Sat/Sun, May 5-6; May 12-13; Sat, May 19; 10 am to 4 pm.  They also have the most amazing plants they raise.  I have actually purchased plant material from them in the past and can honestly say their plants are amazing and healthy.

Yellow Springs’s Farm is located at 1165 Yellow Springs Road in Chester Springs.  Their phone number is 610-827-2014 and they have a website. They are by appointment only if you care to visit the farm, and it is a little slice of heaven.

Moving over to Westtown, Stratton’s Wynorr Farm has announced their 2012 CSA .  In addition, did you know they offer small farm consulting services?

Much like Yellow Springs, Stratton’s is a beautiful working farm.  I love visiting there.  They have in the fall, pretty much my favorite corn maze.  Their phone number is 610-399-9080.  They have a website. They are on Route 926, East of Rte. 352.

Another fun thing here is the yarn they sell out of their own sheep.  So if you are a knitter, check out their yarns. I am not a knitter, can’t crochet, but am perfectly happy to receive…..