MONTCO & HOMES,GARDENS
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AMBLER’S SECOND RENAISSANCE OUTDOOR LIVING • FARMHOUSE CHIC LANSCAPE ARTIST • DINING OUT
MONTCO Issue 1, Volume 4
MONTCO HOMES, GARDENS & LIFESTYLE
Departments 3 FROM THE EDITOR 4 TRENDS 6 NOTEWORTHY 9 WHAT TO DO 20 ART 22 LIFESTYLE 32 HOME
59 DINING OUT 63 STAYING FIT
Features 24 FARMHOUSE CHIC
Jeff Whitted of Aslan Builders was able to take this beautifully but dated 1887 Harleysville farmhouse and transform it into a bright and aesthetically pleasing home
IDEAS FOR OUTDDOOR LIVING
Hardscaping, outdoor rooms, fire pits and the whole array of trees, plants and flowers could keep you outside more this spring
AMBLERâ€™S SECOND RENAISSANCE
Ambler, unlike a lot of Pennsylvania mill towns that were hit by double whammies, rebounded and is now flourishing like never before
On the Cover Peonies in Creamer is painted by our artist-in-residence Jennifer Hansen Rolli.
PA 610.527.1840 • NJ 609.919.0050 PA Publisher William N. Waite
Associate Publisher Frank Boyd Executive Editor Bob Waite
Art Direction BCM MEDIA CO., INC.
Advertising Director Vicky M. Waite Administration Melissa Kutalek
Calendar Editor Mary Beth Schwartz
Cover Artist Jennifer Hansen Rolli
Contributing Writers Beth Buxbaum, Lisa Minardi, Frank Quattrone, Lori Rose, Mary Beth Schwartz, Bob Waite, Vicky Waite Circulation BCM MEDIA Co., INC.
Contributing Photographers Jess Graves, Melissa Kutalek, Paul Wesley Account Executives Frank Boyd, Lisa Bridge, Kathy Driver, Lisa Kruse Ann Ferro Murray
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MONTCO Homes, Gardens & Lifestyle Magazine, 309 W. Armstrong Drive, Fountainville, PA 18923, phone 215-766-2694 • Fax 215-766-8197. www.montcomag.com. Published quarterly by BCM Media Company Inc., Fountainville, PA. All contents copyright by BCM Media Company DBA/Montco Homes, Gardens & Lifestyle Magazine. All Rights Reserved. Published quarterly. Four-issue subscription for U.S. is $15.95, in Canada $35.00, U.S. dollars only. Standard postage paid at Lancaster, PA. Single-copy price is $4.95 plus $3.00 postage and handling. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to MONTCO Homes, Gardens & Lifestyle Magazine, PO BOX 36, Morrisville, PA 19067. This magazine welcomes, but cannot be responsible for, manuscripts and photos unless accompanied by a stamped, self-addressed return envelope.
From the Editor
use my highlighter pen often when I read. It is a habit from my college days. Highlighter pens are like the spring. When that yellow is brushed over print on a page it stands out in bright contrast to the rest of the page. Spring does the same to the Victorian and Colonial architecture found throughout Montgomery County. Outside becomes visible because something draws attention to it. Swaths of various colors in so many hues, painted with all the nuance and wisdom of a master designer, point us outward. This is in contrast to this winter’s non-snowy gray days that pointed us inward and away from all the natural and architectural beauty of our county. In the Spring 1018 issue of MONTCO Homes, Gardens and Lifestyle, we take you to Ambler. Frank Quattrone, our writer for this article is somewhat of an expert on Ambler, having written two books on the subject, he is our best guide to this beautiful Victorian town. The feature’s title, “Ambler’s Second Renaissance,” speaks to the amazing recovery Ambler made after a couple of economic setbacks that could have wounded it fatally. The civic spirit and its roots that go back to the days of the first Quaker settlers makes Ambler an heroic town. The grand Victorian architecture, shops and restaurants on Butler Avenue and Main Street also make Ambler a great place to spend a sunny spring day. Spring is the season to begin doing those projects that we thought about all winter. Our garden writer, Lori Rose thought about all the landscaping projects that we may want to do and combined those thoughts with her knowledge of new trends in landscaping and gardening, and she came up with a very enlightening article, “Ideas for Outdoor Living.” In the feature, she talks about hardscaping, outdoor rooms, outdoor kitchens, trees and all kinds of projects to integrate our outside with the rest of our home. In this issue we feature an 1887 Harleysville Farmhouse in an article by Beth Buxbaum called, “Farmhouse Chic.” The owners found this farmhouse and loved it, but it was out of date and needed an overhaul in design. So they called on Jeff Whitted of Aslan builders and with his combined design and building skills the renovation turned their home into an updated version without destroying the its farmhouse persona. We also have departments and projects for your information and enjoyment. Please think of them the way you may think about highlighers and perhaps spring itself. Bob Waite Editor
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… looking for a store that's perfect for you? ... to find those perfect outfits, perfect jeans, perfect shoes, a perfect belt or accessory? Come shop Chickies Daughter 2, a contemporary upscale boutique for edgy women’s clothing located at 901 N. Bethlehem Pike, Spring House, PA; 215-628-2277; www.chickiesdaughter.com.
SHADOW BOX FRAMING
INDIVIDUALLY HANDCRAFTED CUPCAKES ... an accomplished Sugar Artist, Gina Costa has been decorating specialty cakes for over 14 years ... and she is a Gold Medal winner of the Atlantic City Specialty Cake Competition.Gina utilizes only the finest ingredients without preservatives or stabilizers. Gina’s delicious, scratch-baked cupcakes are individually handcrafted and prepared fresh daily. Be sure to visit the website http://ginasamazingcupcakes.com. Gina’s cupcakes are available at Costa Deli, 901 E. Butler Pike, Ambler, PA; 215-646-6173.
… you can put almost anything in a Shadow Box Frame and preserve your precious items as an instant family heirloom. Real flooring was used to add to the authenticity of this squash court Shadow box. We are sure to have some meaningful items that could use our caring touch in transforming them into something that will be handed down from one generation to another. Stop in and let’s make some history. No Bare Walls Framing Studio (on Facebook), 13 West Butler Avenue, Ambler, PA; 215-654-9106; 4 MONTCO MAG . COM
STYLISH BREAD BOXES … tired of all that stuff on your counter? These stylish bread boxes not only tidy up but look great doing it. Find these and much more at ROOST Home, unique decor, accessories & gifts, located at 7 west Butler Ave. in Ambler PA; 267-470-4200; www.roost19002.com.
CHOCOLATE PRETZELS … award-winning chocolate smothered pretzels are one of our most cherished traditions. Asher’s Chocolates is a 125-year old, fourthgeneration family company. Available in our Retail Store in milk or dark chocolate. Our retail store is located at at 80 Wambold Road, Souderton; 215-721-3276; www.Ashers.com.
HOME DECOR … welcome to the Antique Garden Cottage! Unique seasonal home decor and holiday decorative accents ... Great vintage finds that will make your home stand out. We offer trendy women's jewelry, stylish scarves, soaps, lotions, cleaning products, candles, gifts for the home & more. Come explore. Antique garden Cottage is located at 22 N. Main Street in Ambler, PA 215-643-7100; www.antiquegardencottage.com.
THINK SPRING! The first wave of ceramic planters has arrived! You’ll find these and more at Ten Thousand Villages in Souderton. These beautiful outdoor quality planters come in three sizes and great garden colors to enhance your garden. They have been ethically sourced. The company is committed to quality, safety, well-being and financial stability of their ceramic workers. Ten Thousand Villages is located in Souderton Shopping Center, 781 Route 113 (Souderton Road for GPS), Souderton, PA; 215-723-1221; email@example.com SPRING 2018 5
What’s Happening in Montgomery County
King Construction Celebrates 40 Years
ing Construction Company, LLC is entering its 40th year in the design-build of timber frames, equestrian facilities, multi-purpose accessory and recreational buildings (some with living quarters), garages of all types and sizes, and skilled restorations. A family owned business founded in 1978, the King organization has grown to more than 100 people. Their highly-experienced crews are recruited from the Amish/Mennonite communities surrounding their office and shop facilities in New Holland, Pennsylvania. King’s has beautiful, highly-functional designs feature fine architectural detail and superior craftsmanship King’s website has photo portfolios from a wide variety of completed projects: www.kingbarns.com. King also designs and builds most of their components, such as custom garage doors and pass doors, custom windows, many styles of horse stalls and grilles, Dutch doors, cupolas, cabinetry and fittings for
their building interiors. King Construction Company LLC is located at 525 Hollander Road, New Holland, PA 17557. For more information about King Construction Company, visit www.kingbarns.com. For help with your next project, contact King Construction Company, LLC, at 888-354-4740.
F Porch System Hybrid
or over 75 years Bergin's Chocolates has been providing quality chocolates to real chocolate enthusiasts in the greater Montgomery County area. The local true chocophiles know that Bergin's Chocolates is the home for handcrafted chocolates (butter cremes, caramels, mint patties, nuts, etc.), party favors, wedding favors, sugar free candies, counter candies (spearmint leaves, gummy bears, licorice all sorts, nonpareils, malt balls etc.), chocolate covered pretzels, truffles, turtles, and more. We offer handcrafted chocolates (butter cremes, caramels, mint patties, nuts, etc.), party favors, wedding Favors, sugar free candies, counter candies (spearmint leaves, gummy bears, licorice all sorts, nonpareils, malt balls etc.) Chocolate covered pretzels, Truffles, Turtles, etc. Bergin’s Chocolates is located 2634 Morris Rd, Lansdale, PA. for more information, call 215699-3420 or visit www.berginschocolate.com.
ixen Hill finally introduces new Hybrid versions of their world famous products. The Hybrid is the result of forty years of manufacturing and evaluation of aging gazebos, porch systems, and cabanas. Vixen Hill believes a lifetime warranty should be more than the standard seven years, so changes had to be made. Rot and insect infestations are now eliminated by introducing special materials and end-grain treatment. Hybrids use composites, cedar, urethane of end grain and other wood species to greatly reduce costs while increasing the product’s resistance to the negative effects of outdoor weathering. The Vixen Hill Porch System was designed to maintain that “traditional porch feeling.” The design was based on old-fashioned wooden screen doors where screens could be exchanged with storm glass. Vixen Hill took the Three Season Porch design further by making porch wall panels that not only accepted screens and glass but also architectural inserts-providing the flexibility of both a screened porch and a true 3 season room. Vixen Hill is located at 69 E Main St, Elverson, PA. For more information, call 800-423-2766 or visit www.vixenhill.com. 6 MONTCO MAG . COM
Creating A Relaxing Utopia
amily-owned and operated since 1973, Carlton Pools pride themselves on staying ahead of other competing pool companies throughout Bucks and Montgomery County, PA by conducting quality residential and commercial renovations and installing the latest innovations in the commercial and residential swimming pool industry. They offer a myriad of options to suit every style and budget. Carlton Pools stands out amongst its competitors with experience you can’t find elsewhere, with 85 percent of our in-house pool construction team of builders that have over thirty years’ experience. Our professional contractors and in-house construction crew make us one of the top-notch pool companies that create designs that will transform your yard into a relaxing utopia. Carlton Pools takes pride in bringing our valued customers the best possible care with eight Customer Support Centers located in Branchburg, N.J., Toms River, N.J., Warminster, PA, Collegeville, PA, West Chester, PA, Trexlertown, PA, Doylestown, PA and Dublin, PA. All of the centers supply chemicals, maintenance accessories, parts and equipment. Free water analysis along with professional chemical advice is available at each of the customer support centers. Pool openings, closings, and customer support centers are available throughout the Pennsylvania and New Jersey areas. Carlton also has exclusivity with its high-performance pool coatings, ecoFINISH®, Rock Partners program, Fire Rings, Waterfalls, Fountains, and more. For more information about Carlton Pools, visit www.carltonpools.com.
Women Owned For 15 Years
athie Parker and Theresa Aldamlouji established their woman owned business in Ambler 15 years ago. Their portfolio includes Fortune 500 companies, local retail, restaurants and residential design. They enjoy the wide range of project types. One day they are opening a new Verizon conference center at 900 Race Street and the next day they are designing a custom table with a local mill shop. Currently they are assisting another women owned business brand and open 3 TerraVida Holistic Centers. The Sellersville facility featured has opened, and Abington and Malvern are on the way. In construction locally is Blue Bell Quarters, a multi complex apartment building for Joe Habboush. The two level units will fill the need for stylish new apartments in the area. On the boards is Ama Ti Salon & Spa, in East Norriton, PA. The team is assisting in the rebranding and renovations of an established facility. They are located at 75 E. Butler Avenue, P.O. Box 386, Ambler PA. For more information call 215-283-1777.
aro’s is committed to offering only the highest quality products selected for their beauty, function, durability and value. For over 50 years, the Marinucci family has been proud to consistently exceed customer expectations with the highest quality workmanship, service and value. They are honored to have the Carpet and Rug Institute Seal of Approval. Their products are customized to fit your home and budget with personal attention given to every detail of your design choices. Whether you’re a homeowner, commercial operation, contractor, architect or professional interior designer, give Maro’s a call or visit out store and they’ll gladly help you with your flooring and window needs. They specialize in carpeting, hardwood, laminate, vinyl and window treatments. The store hours are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 9:00 a.m.¬–5:00 p.m. Wednesday 9:00 a.m.– 8:00 p.m., Saturday 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. Maro’s Floor Coverings is located at 27 East Butler Avenue, Ambler PA. For more information about Maro’s products, call 215-646-8178 or visit www.MarosFloorCovering.com. SPRING 2018 7
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Photos: Valleyâ€ˆForge Tourism & Convention Board
What to do
Spring is great time for canoeing the waterways throughout Montgomery County
AN T I QUES Pook & Pook, Inc. March 24: Antique Toys April 14: The Collection of Ruth Bryson May 12: Firearms & Militaria 463 East Lancaster Avenue, Downingtown, PA. 610-269-4040; www.pookandpook.com. Alderfer Auction March 29: Gallery/Estate Auction 501 Fairgrounds Road, Hatfield, PA. 215393-3000; www.alderferauction.com. The Philadelphia Furniture Show April 13-15: This annual show highlights artisan quality furniture and furnishings to suit all tastes. Admission. 23rd Street Ar-
mory, Philadelphia, PA. www.philadelphiafurnitureshow.com. The Philadelphia Antiques & Art Show April 20-22: This show offers diverse furnishings and decorative arts for both the period and mod-ern American home. Admission. The Navy Yard, 11th Street and Kittyhawk Avenue, Philadelphia, PA. www.philadelphiaantiquesandartshow.com Renningers April 26-28: Antiques and Collectors Extravaganza June 28-30: Antiques and Collectors Extravaganza
September 27-29: Antiques and Collectors Extravaganza Admission. Rain or shine. 740 Noble Street, Kutztown, PA. 570-385-0104; www.renningers.net. Brandywine River Museum of Art Antiques Show May 26-28: Furniture, glass, metalware, ceramics, folk art, quilts and other fine antiques from across the nation are featured at this show. 1 Hoffman’s Mill Road, Chadds Ford, PA. 610-388-2700; www.brandywine.org.
A RT Philadelphia Museum of Art Through September 9: Design in Revolution: A 1960s Odyssey March 24-July 15: Jean Shin: Collections April 18-September 3: Modern Times: American Art 1910-1950 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA. 215-763-8100; www.philamuseum.org. Woodmere Art Museum Through June 24: Elizabeth Osborne: Animal Paintings and Watercolors Through May 13: Charles Santore: Fifty Years of Art and Storytelling Through April 8: Jerry Pinkney: Martin Luther King, Jr. and Great American Heroes 9201 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA. 215-247-0476; www.woodmereartmuseum.org. Brandywine River Museum of Art Through June 3: The Way Back: The Paintings of George A. Weymouth Through May 20: Southwestern Son: The Lithographs of Peter Hurd 1 Hoffman’s Mill Road, Chadds Ford, PA. 610-388-2700; www.brandywine.org. Main Line Art Center Through April 15: Annual Betsy Meyer Memorial Exhibition April 3-June 4: Accessible Art Exhibition 2018 April 29-June 2: Art in Action 746 Panmure Road, Haverford, PA. 610-525-0272; www.mainlineart.org. Abington Art Center Through March 24: Paper Awareness 10
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2018 515 Meetinghouse Road, Jenkintown, PA. 215-887-4882; www.abingtonartcenter.org. Cheltenham Center for the Arts Through March 24: Regional Childrenâ€™s Art Show April 8-May 5: Annual Juried Painting Show May 20-June 12: Resident Artist Exhibit 439 Ashbourne Road, Cheltenham, PA. 215-379-4660; www.cheltenhamarts.org. The Barnes Foundation May 6-September 3: Renoir: Father and Son/Painting and Cinema 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA, 215-278-7000. www.barnesfoundation.org. Wayne Art Center May 6-June 30: Plein Air Festival May 7-12: Wayne Plein Air Artists Paint Around Town 413 Maplewood Avenue, Wayne, PA. 610-688-3553; www.wayneart.org. Berman Museum of Art April 6-May 12: Annual Student Exhibition 2018 Ursinus College, 601 East Main Street, Collegeville, PA. 610-409-3500; www.ursinus.edu.
The Gift of
Sugarloaf Crafts Festival March 16-18: More than 250 artisans display and sell their creations in pottery, sculpture, glass, jewelry, fashion, home dĂŠcor, furniture and home accessories, and more. Admission. Greater Phil-adelphia Expo Center, Oaks, PA. www.sugarloafcrafts.com. Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen May 11-13: Rittenhouse Fine Craft Spring July 28-29: Fine Craft at the Chase Center Admission. 717-431-8706; www.pacrafts.org. Lansdale Day June 2: This annual arts and crafts festival will feature a large selection of juried crafters, artisans, and artists. There will be a farmerâ€™s market, petting zoo, childrenâ€™s activities, a car show, and a dog agility
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show. The community day also includes food courts and live entertainment. Sponsored by the Rotary Club of North Penn. West Main Street, Lansdale, PA. www.rotaryclubofnorthpenn.org.
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Buckmanâ€™s Home and Garden
E N TE RTA IN M E N T Act II Playhouse Through March 31: I Ought to Be in Pictures May 165-June 10: Camelot 56 East Butler Avenue, Ambler, PA. 215-654-0200; www.act2.org. Peopleâ€™s Light Through March 18: The Diary of Anne Frank March 21-April 15: I Will Not Go Gently April 25-May 18: Romeo & Juliet: A Requiem June 13-July 8: Skeleton Crew 39 Conestoga Road, Malvern, PA. 610-644-3500; www.peopleslight.org. Steel River Playhouse Through March 18: To Kill a Mockingbird April 7-15: The Emperorâ€™s New Clothes April 27-May 13: Proof May 25-June 10: She Loves Me 245 East High Street, Pottstown, PA. 610970-1199; www.steelriver-playhouse.org. The Village Players of Hatboro March 9-24: Lost in Yonkers June 1-16: Unnecessary Farce 401 Jefferson Avenue, Hatboro, PA. 215675-6774; www.thevillageplayers.com. Methacton Community Theater March 16-25: The Battle of Shallowford April 27-May 6: Shout! The Mod Musical July 13-22: Disneyâ€™s Beauty and the Beast Shannondell Performing Arts Theater, 10000 Shannondell Boulevard, Audubon, PA. 610-489-6449; www.methactoncommunitytheater.org.
WHERE HOME AND GARDEN COME TOGETHER
A Bucks County tradition! Can we create a look for you... Landscaping Potscaping Garden Maintenance 1814 South Easton Road â€¢Doylestown, PA
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Sellersville Theater March 18: Oak Ridge Boys April 22: Los Lobos May 3: Canned Heat June 2: Ricky Nelson Remembered 24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, PA. 215-257-5808; www.st94.com. Keswick Theatre March 29-31: Jesus Christ Superstar
April 7: The Fab Faux April 27: Tenors of Rock May 7: Garrison Keillor June 8: The Best of Doo Wop, Volume IV June 20: Happy Together Tour 2018 291 North Keswick Avenue, Glenside, PA. 215-572-7650; www.keswicktheatre.com. Montgomery Theater April 5-29: Nunsense A-Men June 7-July 1: Last of the Red Hot Lovers 124 Main Street, Souderton, PA. 215-7239984; www.montgomerytheater.org. Mitchell Performing Arts Center April 7: ANC Oratorical Event April 20-28: Shrek the Musical May 5: Finding Hope 2018 May 12: BAC Spring Dance Concert May 20: Bryn Athyn Orchestra Spring Concert June 1: ANC Spring Arts Night 800 Tomlinson Road, Bryn Athyn, PA. 267502-2793; www.mitchellcenter.info. Dutch Country Players April 13-28: Angel Street May 11-13: Treasure Island
June 15-30: Never Too Late 795 Ridge Road, Telford, PA. 215-234-0966; www.dcptheatre.com. Playcrafters of Skippack April 19-May 5: You Can’t Take It With You May 13-June 16: The Gazebo 2011 Store Road, Skippack, PA. 610-584-4005; www.playcrafters.org. The Choristers April 28: Folk Music: The Fabric of the British and American Experience (7:30 p.m.) Trinity Lutheran Church, Lansdale, PA. www.thechoristers.org. Wolf Performing Arts Center May 3-6: Godspell May 19: Hansel and Gretel’s Candy Capers May 18-20: Disney’s Alice in Wonderland Jr. June 7-9: Disney’s My Son Pinocchio Jr. June 15-17: Seussical the Musical 1240 Montrose Avenue, Bryn Mawr, PA. 610-642-0233; www.wolfperformingartscenter.org.
The Colonial Theatre July 13-15: Blobfest 227 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, PA. 610917-1228; www.thecolonialtheatre.com.
EV ENTS Ambler Main Street Ongoing: First Fridays April 21: Earth Fest at Ambler Borough Hall May-October: Ambler Farmers Market May 19: Ambler Auto Show on Butler Avenue Ambler, PA. 215-646-1000; www.amblermainstreet.org. American Consumer Shows March 23-25: Bucks & Montgomery Spring Home Show (Warminster, PA) 888-433-3976; www.acsshows.com. Skippack Village April-October: First Friday Skippack, PA. www.bestofskippack.com.
Create eat You urr H ppy Spa p ce c
Make M k your home h your favorite place to be with a renovation by the award-winning, d i i design-build remodeling team at Harth Builders. 1021 N. Bethleheem Pike | Spring House, PA PA | PA # 0 2 4 9 | Har thBuilders.com m | (215) 654-0364
Ryerss Farm for Aged Equines April 14: Annual Ryerss Run for the Horses June 16: Family Fun Day 1710 Ridge Road, Pottstown, PA. 610-469-0533; www.ryerssfarm.org. Lansdale Events April 21: Lansdale International Spring Festival May-November: First Friday May-November: Lansdale Farmersâ€™ Market Lansdale, PA. www.lansdale.org. Fun in Perkasie Borough April 21: Earth Day Celebration April 21-May 24: Yarn Bloom June 9: Community Yard Sale May 28: Memorial Day Parade Perkasie, PA. www.perkasieborough.org. Bucks County Designer House & Gardens April 30-May 28: This annual show house features the work of local landscapers and designers. It is an annual fundraiser to benefit the Village Improvement Association of Doylestown to support Doylestown Hospital and V.I.A. community projects. Advance
admission. Cedaridge Farm, 93 Stover Park Road, Pipersville, PA. www.buckscountydesignerhouse.org. Mount Hope Estate & Winery May 12: Brewfest May 26-27: Flavorfest June 23-24: Celtic Fling 2775 Lebanon Road, Manheim, PA. 717-665-7021; www.parenfaire.com.
FA M ILY Adventure Aquarium Ongoing: Come with your family and explore the aquarium, complete with a KidZone, shark tunnel, free live shows, a shark tunnel, and Shark Bridge. Admission. 1 Riverside Drive, Camden, NJ. 865-3653300; www.adventureaquarium.com.
Quakertown Alive! May 19: Arts Alive! Fine Arts & Crafts Festival August 18: Upper Bucks Brewfest Quakertown, PA. www.quakertownalive.com. Annual Kutztown Folk Festival June 30-July 8: This event is the oldest folk life festival in America. Celebrating the Pennsylvania Dutch culture, the event features traditional craft demonstrations by juried American craftsmen, the largest quilt sale in the nation, childrenâ€™s activities, homemade food, historical reenactments, an-tiques, and live music. Kutztown Fairgrounds, Kutztown, PA. 888-674-6136; www.kutztownfestival.com.
Please Touch Museum Ongoing: Visit the Childrenâ€™s Museum of Philadelphia, where the key word is play. Families can enjoy over a dozen themed exhibits, theater, art, music, special programs, the carousel, and storytime and character appearances. Admission. 4231 Avenue of the Republic, Philadelphia, PA. 215-581-3181; www.pleasetouchmuseum.org. The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University Through May 6: Crocs: Ancient Predators in a Modern World April 7-8, 14-15: Animal Superhero Weekends May 26-January 21: X-treme Bugs
To learn about more about new construction and active living options at Pine Run, call 800.992.8992 or visit PineRun.org EOE
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777 Ferry Road, Doylestown, PA 18901
Admission. 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA. 215-299-1000; www.ansp.org. Colebrookdale Railroad March-June: Ride the rails of the historic Colebrookdale Railroad. They feature trains for St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, and Father’s Day. Admission. 101 East 3rd Street, Boyertown, PA. 610-367-0200; www.colebrookdalerailroad.com. Elmwood Park Zoo March 17-April 1: Easter Bunny Brunch and Egg Hunt (weekends) 1661 Harding Boulevard, Norristown, PA. 800-652-4143; www.elmwoodparkzoo.org. Linvilla Orchards March 24-31: Hayrides to Bunnyland April 7: Family Fun Fishing Derby June 2: Strawberry Festival 137 West Knowlton Road, Media, PA. 610-876-7116; www.linvilla.com.
Merrymead Farm March 30-31: Easter Bunny Visits May 13: Mother’s Day Flowers 2222 South Valley Forge Road, Lansdale, PA. 610-584-4410; www.merrymead.com. The Franklin Institute March 31-September 3: Game Masters 222 North 20th Street, Philadelphia, PA. 215-448-1200; www2.fi.edu.
G A RD E N S Bartram’s Garden Ongoing: Visit this National Historic Landmark and House, circa 1728. The grounds are free and open to the public. Guided tours are available of both the historic garden, as well as the Bartram family home. Don’t miss The Bartram Nursery, complete with native plants and those discovered by the Bartram family. 54th Street and Lindbergh Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA. 215729-5281; www.bartramsgarden.org. Chanticleer Ongoing: A 35-acre pleasure garden open to the public. The garden is a study of textures and forms, where foliage trumps flow-
ers, the gardeners lead the design, and even the drinking foun-tains are sculptural. Educational programs are offered year round. 786 Church Road, Wayne, PA. 610-687-4163; www.chanticleergarden.org. Winterthur Ongoing: Founded by Henry Francis du Pont, Winterthur is a museum of American decorative arts. The estate features a research library, as well as a 60-acre naturalistic garden. Winterthur’s 1,000 acres encompass rolling hills, streams, meadows, and forests. Educational programs are offered year round. Admission. 5105 Kennett Pike, Wilmington, DE. 302-888-4600; www.winterthur.org. Longwood Gardens Through March 25: Orchid Extravaganza Through March 25: Winter Blues Festival March 31-May 6: Spring Blooms Admission. 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, PA. 610-388-1000; www.longwoodgardens.org.
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The Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College March 18: Scott Associates Spring Celebration April 28: Arbor Day Open House May 12: Members Plant Exchange and Sale May 18: Selections: Spring Sale Admission. 500 College Avenue, Swarthmore, PA. 610-328-8025; www.scottarboretum.org.
Expo Center, 100 Station Avenue, Oaks, PA. www.sepos.org. Tyler Arboretum April 7: 10K Trail Run May 5-6: Annual Public Plant Sale June 14: Tyler at Twilight 515 Painter Road, Media, PA. 610-5669134; www.tylerarboretum.org.
Meadowbrook Farm March 28: Spring Garden Walk & Tea April 5; May 3; June 7: Family Fun in the Garden April 12; June 14: Gardening 101 April 19; May 17: Tours with a Twist May 24: Garden to Vase May 31: Shop and Stroll 1633 Washington Lane, Jenkintown, PA. 215-887-5900; www.meadowbrookfarm.org.
The Morris Arboretum at the University of Pennsylvania April 7, 14: Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival April 28: Arbor Day Family Day June 30-July 8: Garden Railway Circus Week July 14-15: Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends Admission. 100 East Northwestern Avenue, Philadelphia, PA. 215-247-5777; www.morrisarboretum.org.
SEPOS Annual Show April 6-8: This extravaganza will feature exhibits showcasing orchids in full bloom. There also will be growing supplies, giftware, books, photographs, and a plant sale. Admission. Greater Philadel-phia
Jenkins Arboretum & Gardens April 14-15: Del Val Daffodil Show May 4-6: Annual Public Plant Sale May 28: Del Val Iris Society Flower Show July 21: Del Val Iris Society Plant Sale 631 Berwyn Baptist Road, Devon, PA. 610-
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HIS TO RY Mennonite Heritage Center March 17: Gathering Basket Workshop March 20, 27; April 3, 10, 17, 24: Oil Painting Workshop April 14: Paper Cutting Workshop April 18: Heritage Banquet April 28: Sgraffito Redware Pottery Workshop May 10: Art & Flowers on Tour May 12: Fraktur Drawing Workshop June 1-2: Whack & Roll Croquet Tournament 565 Yoder Road, Harleysville, PA. 215256-3020; www.mhep.org. Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center March 24: Easter on the Farm 22 Luckenbill Road, Kutztown, PA. 610-683-1589; www.kutztown.edu. Pennypacker Mills March 24: Easter Workshop for Kids June 2-3: Civil War Event 5 Haldeman Road, Schwenksville, PA. 610-287-9349; www.montcopa.org/pennypackermills. Daniel Boone Homestead March 31: Homestead Easter April 21: Sheep and Fiber Day May 12: Tavern Night June 16: Evening on the Green 400 Daniel Boone Road, Birdsboro, PA. 610-582-4900; www.danielboonehomestead.org. Hope Lodge April 8, 15, 22, 29; May 6, 13, 20, 27: Guided Mansion Tours June 2: Ales & Petals/Cars & Motorcycles of England Car Show June 6: Ambler Symphony Concert 553 South Bethlehem Pike, Fort Washington, PA. 215-646-1595; www.historichopelodge.org. Morgan Log House April 8: Dusty Attic and Creepy Cellar Open House May 27: Annual Military Might 850 Weikel Road, Kulpsville, PA. 215-3682480; www.morganloghouse.org.
Graeme Park April 19; May 17: Happy Hour with the Historian April 25: Lunch and Learn: The Walking Purchase May 13: Motherâ€™s Day Breakfast May 20: Living History Sunday: Hearth Cooking & Herbs for Food & Health June 17: Living History Sunday: Childhood at Graeme Park & in the Colonies Admission. 859 County Line Road, Horsham, PA. 215-343-0965; www.graemepark.org.
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Peter Wentz Farmstead April 21: Sheep Shearing Day May 12: Native Plant Sale June 25-29: Colonial Camp 2030 Shearer Road, Worcester, PA. 610-584-5104; www.peterwentzfarmsteadsociety.org.
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Valley Forge National Historical Park April 22: Valley Forge Revolutionary 5-Mile Run May 29: Memorial Day Observance July 4: Community Picnic in the Park 1400 North Outer Line Drive, King of Prussia, PA. 610-783-1099; www.valleyforge.org. Pottsgrove Manor May 5: Annual Colonial Mayfair June 16: Gentlemanâ€™s Day 100 West King Street, Pottstown, PA. 610-326-4014; www.montcopa.org/pottsgrovemanor. The Highlands Mansion and Gardens May 6: Faerie Festival Admission. 7001 Sheaff Lane, Fort Washington, PA. 215-641-2687; www.highlandshistorical.org. Mid-Atlantic Air Museum May 12: Airplane Ride Day June 1-3: Annual World War II Weekend June 9: Aircraft Ride Day 11 Museum Drive, Reading, PA. 610-372-7333; www.maam.org. Schwenkfelder Library & Heritage Center May 18-19: Penn Dry Goods Market An-
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ÂŠÂĄÂžÂŽÂ¤ÂŁá€– Â—ÂœÂœÂĄÂ“ÂšÂšÂ‘Â‘á€–ÂœÂŚÂšÂšÂ¤Â¤ÂŽÂĄÂĽÂœÂ?ÂŁ á ťá šá šÂœÂŚÂŚÂ¤Â¤Â’ÂŠÂ“ÂšÂ¤á€”ÂŠÂŠÂĄÂĄÂ—ÂŽÂÂÂŁÂŁÂ¨Â“Â—Â—ÂŽá€‘á€‘á€‘á šá‚ á źá źá ťá ťá‚€ á şá šá ˝á€–á şá ˝á žá€–á‚€á‚€á źá žá€ťÂŞÂŞÂŞÂŞÂŞá€”Â‹ÂŽÂĄÂ‘Â‘ÂŽÂŽÂÂĹšĹšÂœÂœÂĄÂ“ÂšÂšÂ‘ ÂšÂ‘á€”ÂŒÂœÂ˜ ÂœÂŚÂŚÂĄÂĄÂŁá€“ÂœÂšÂ?ÂŠÂŠÂÂá€–ÂŚÂŚÂŽÂŁÂ?ÂŠÂŠÂÂá‚ ÂŠÂŠÂ˜ Â˜á€–á ˝Â?Â˜á€ť ÂŽÂŽÂ?ÂšÂŽÂŁÂ?ÂŠÂŠÂÂĹśÂ’ÂŚÂŚÂĄÂĄÂŁÂ?ÂŠÂŠÂÂá‚ ÂŠÂ˜á€–á‚€Â?Â˜ ÂĄÂ“Â?ÂŠÂŠÂÂá‚ ÂŠÂŠÂ˜ Â˜á€–á žÂ?Â˜á€ťÂŠÂŠÂ¤Â¤Â§ÂĄÂĄÂ?Â?ÂŠÂŠÂÂá‚ ÂŠÂŠÂ˜ Â˜á€–á şÂ?Â˜ tiques Show & Sale 105 Seminary Street, Pennsburg, PA. 215-679-3103; www.schwenkfelder.com.
N ATU RE The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education Ongoing: Come to one of the countryâ€™s first urban environmental education centers. Visitors can study, discover, and explore
nature through their various programs. 8480 Hagyâ€™s Mill Road, Philadelphia, PA. 215-482-7300; www.schuylkillcenter.org. Lorimer Park March-June: Audubon Bird Town Bird Walks April 28: Kids Fishing Clinic and Derby May 13: Motherâ€™s Day Hike June 3: Creek Critters 183 Moredon Road, Huntingdon Valley, PA. 215-947-3477; www.montcopa.org.
Riverbend Environmental Education Center March 16: Our Table, Our Planet Supper Series April 14: Birding and Bagels April 20: City Wide Star Party June 3: Farm to Table 1950 Spring Mill Road, Gladwyne, PA. 610-527-5234; www.riverbendeec.org. Lock 60 at Schuylkill Canal Park March 18: St. Patrickâ€™s Day Hike and Treasure Hunt April 21: Schuylkill River Trail Spreekend and Spring Clean-Up May 20: Wildflower Walk June 6: Schuylkill River Sojourn June 24: Annual Canal Day 400 Towpath Road, Mont Clare, PA. 610917-0021; www.montcopa.org. Norristown Farm Park March 20: First Day of Spring March 25: Eco Egg Hunt April 22-23: Earth Day Project April 29: Full Moon Hike June 17: Daring Dad Scavenger Hunt 2500 Upper Farm Road, East Norriton, PA. 610-270-0215; www.montcopa.org. Green Lane Park March 24: Color Your Easter Eggs Naturally April 21: Earth Day Work Day in the Park May 5: WMGK DeBella Dog Walk May 12: Earlybird Walk June 16: Family Fishing Program 2144 Snyder Road, Green Lane, PA. 215234-4528; www.montcopa.org.
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Upper Schuylkill Valley Park March 24: Spring Scavenger Hunt June 9: Snakes Alive June 23: Frog Frolic 1615 Black Rock Road, Royersford, PA. 610-948-5170; www.montcopa.org. Hawk Mountain Sanctuary March 31: Raptor Egg Hunt April 1-May 15: Spring Migration Hawk Watch May 19-20: Spring Native Plant Sale 1700 Hawk Mountain Road, Kempton, PA. 610-756-6961; www.hawkmountain.org.
Pennypacker Mills continued from page 33
considered “high tech” for the time. The family dressing room is now the site of temporary exhibits, such as the new one featuring Josephine Pennypacker’s watercolors. The master bedroom has been transformed into the museum shop, where visitors can see, behind safety glass, an original embroidery made by Pennypacker’s mother when she was 84 years old, and two summer lawn dresses. Exhibits change periodically. Available in the museum shop are mini jars of honey extracted from the six beehives on the property. Also of interest on the second floor is the servants’ room, where Washington slept in 1777, and an original Singer sewing machine. Site supervisor Ella Alderman says that roughly 15,000 people visited Pennypacker Mills last year. Many are impressed to learn that “ninety-five percent of the objects on display are authentic, original to the Pennypacker family.” She loves talking about the governor, whom she reminds us was also a soldier, an attorney, a judge of the Court of Common Pleas and, after he served his term in Harrisburg, he became an author, the president of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and a Trustee of the University of Pennsylvania. She said he used to take the one-hour train ride into Philadelphia and loved walking five miles a day, collecting oral histories from the Pennsylvania Dutch locals he encountered along the way. Pennypacker Mills offers free sixtyminute guided tours all year round. But its special programs are especially well worth the visit. In addition to the Civil War Reunion, the site will offer a threecourse Victorian Tea on July 15, welcoming actress Kim Hanley featured as Annie Oakley, an expert sharpshooter and, with Buffalo Bill, one of the first international superstars of the time. A proponent of safe working conditions,
Oakley also supported the education of many young girls at her own expense. On August 4, Pennypacker Mills’ annual “In the Good Old Summertime” event celebrates the lazy, hazy days of Victorian summer, where families can play lawn games of the time, dress up in vintage clothing, and enjoy a vintage car show with the Delaware Valley Classic MG Car Club. Three other major events are the All Hallow’s Eve Fall Festival (October 20), featuring hayrides, pumpkin-painting, apple-pressing to make cider, and more; and the yuletide attractions, including Holidays Tours from November 20 to January 6, and the Victorian Christmas Open House on Saturday, December 8, when visitors can enjoy the music of a bell choir, share Christmas wishes with a Victorian Santa, and explore the mansion’s Victorian wonderland of elaborate decorations and clear toy candy demonstrations, and peruse the new holiday exhibit, “The Gilded
Age of Christmas” (November 20 to January 6). A jaunt to Pennypacker Mills offers more than simply living history. Visitors, including large group and school tours, can also enjoy family workshops, lectures, nature walks, picnics, and more all year round at one of the county’s most impressive historical attractions. Pennypacker Mills is located at 5 Haldeman Road, Schwenksville, PA 19473; 610-287-9349; www.montcopa.org/pennypackermills. Hours of Operation: Tuesday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., and Sunday, 1 – 4 p.m. Closed Mondays, as well as Easter, Independence Day, Veterans Day (observed), Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. Guided tours (sixty minutes) offered every hour on the hour (last tour at 3 p.m.). Free. Suggested donation: $2 per person. Frank D. Quattrone is an author, newspaper editor, teacher and freelance writer from Montgomery County who writes about local history, food, art and people.
JENNIFERHANSENRO LL I ROUTE 2O2 HOLICONG PA
Barbara B. Rosin
A landscape artist, art therapist, and art activist who in her paintings shares the peace she found in the Italian countryside by Frank D. Quattrone
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She should be declared an honorary citizen of Italy. And it might not be a stretch to suggest that Barbara B. Rosin has done more than most American artists to celebrate and memorialize that nationâ€™s magnificent landscapes. Hot Summer, Italy (pictured here), painted in 2010, conveys sensuously the dry heat of an Umbrian summer. With no people to populate the scene, the painting projects stillness, peace, and a panoply of mesmerizing color. Rosin admits that these velvety violets, blues, yellows, and greens represent a composite of the coun-
tryside just beyond Perugia, the regional Umbrian capital, located literally in the heart of Italy and known for its historic medieval walls, its excellent chocolates, and its fine arts festivals. During one of her many visits to this region, she recalls a train ride she took along Lago (or Lake) Trasimeno, outside Assisi, where she was attending an art workshop. Suddenly she spied a light creamy green stream in the distance that took her breath away. “It was a peak experience,” she says. “I was in heaven.” Later, from her sketches and imagination, Rosin feverishly mixed paint combinations to try to re-create that exact image. As vivid as her painting of Hot Summer, Italy might be, she feels she has also come close to replicating the scene that overcame her during that memorable train ride. Essentially a landscape artist these past few years, Rosin rhapsodizes over the sunflowers, mountain meadows, cypresses, and other trees that define the contours and textures of rural Italy. To stay close to her beloved second country, she often rents space at the homes of local residents as she studies the native tongue, plies her beloved art, and, at artists’ and writers’ residencies, interacts with celebrated authors like Tony Kushner (Angels in America) and Frank McCourt (Angela’s Ashes). Rosin’s passion for Italy can be traced to the nearly two decades she has devoted to teaching art at Jewish Community Centers in South Philadelphia. She was especially enamored of the center at Marshall and Porter streets, between 6th and 7th, where “the oldest Jewish building in the system was located, a building I call the jewel in the crown,” she says. “I met such wonderful Italian people in South Philadelphia and just fell in love. I took my first trip to Italy in 1967, made possible by Europe on $5 a Day,” she
laughs, “and I’ve enjoyed returning ever since.” Trees have obviously played a major role in Rosin’s art, and last winter her work was featured in a small group show called Celebration of Trees, an installation of paintings, photographs, and works on paper, at the Old City Jewish Art Center in Philadelphia. Perusing reproductions of her work on the website of the Ocean City Fine Arts League, where she teaches every Thursday, and you’ll discover more of her landscapes, with enchanting names
Rosin’s passion for Italy can be traced to the
nearly two decades she has devoted to
teaching art at Jewish
Community Centers in South Philadelphia.
like Penny Lane, Zembla, Little House in Sweet Valley, and Smiling Blue Skies. A far cry from the Philly-born artist’s longtime residence in Elkins Park and from her charming studio in Chestnut Hill, where paintings on her walls and on her floors create windows into the wondrous world of nature. Why does she paint? “It’s who I am,” she says, simply. “When I was four or five years old,” she recalls, “I would fill in the blank pages of any book I’d find with my drawings. And I’ve never stopped drawing ever since.” After she attended Cheltenham High School, Rosin majored in art education at the University of Pennsylva-
nia. She refined her technique at the Tyler School of Art and the Fleisher Art Memorial, and has had several art residencies, at the Vermont Studio Center and at various studios in France and Italy. Her paintings are mainstays in countless private collections and have been featured in juried shows and nearly a dozen solo exhibits in Pennsylvania and throughout the country. Her work has also been exhibited in France and Italy. Known as “Bobby” to her many friends, she served as an art therapist for fifteen years at the Philadelphia Psychiatric Center and has been an art instructor at various Jewish Community Centers for as long as she can remember. Rosin has also illustrated the covers of several books, including poetry journals, sociological texts, and cookbooks. She has been a featured artist for the last seven years in the Philadelphia Artists Open Studio Tour. An art activist, she also devoted much energy — unsuccessfully, as it turned out — to keeping the Barnes Foundation collection at its original home in Merion. And much of her recent work has been collaborative, including domestic and international projects with Italian-American poets. Recently she participated on a panel at a literary symposium at the University of Pennsylvania devoted to the theme of immigration as expressed through literature and art, a cutting-edge subject in these troubled times. But Rosin’s heart continually returns to the serenity and peace she finds in the Italian landscape, where she and her art have found the perfect inspiration. Frank D. Quattrone is an author, newspaper editor, teacher and freelance writer from Montgomery County who writes about local history, food, art and people.
Photos: Melissa Kutalek
Weaver’s Way Co-op How about owning a share of your grocery store that values sustainability, local sourcing and being more environmental consciousness by Patti Guthrie
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Weavers Way Co-op in Ambler, the newest of three, opened on October 11, 2017. “We’re a communityowned food market open to everyone,” said Kathleen Casey, Deputy Project Manager for Weavers Way Cooperative Association. “We’re like any supermarket except our owners are the people who use the business. As such we’re driven by different values like sustainability, local sourcing and more environmental consciousness. And, we reflect what the local community asks for.” Continuing, she said, “Because we’re relatively small and locally owned, our tendency is toward natural foods sourced from hundreds of local vendors and farmers. For instance, we sell the products of eleven bakeries and so can offer a wide variety of baked goods, from gluten-free breads to calorie-laden cupcakes. Also our food is very fresh. As an example, we work closely with a few farms for our meats, like the family-owned Breakaway Farm in Lancaster County. We cut and grind the meats here. If you’re a meat-
lover, it’s pretty glorious.” Weavers Way is like that with everything, being aware of health, sustainability and the environmental impacts. Their food is high quality, while supporting local businesses. Kathleen said, “Our stores presently have around 9,500 owners. Membership, open to anyone in the region, is by household and is $30 a year, with a cap of $400. Once a household reaches the cap, their membership costs nothing.” She added, “It’s an on-going relationship. We have a Board of eleven Directors, all volunteers. And, every member can vote in our co-op governance or even run for the Board.” Ambler is a one-square-mile “walking town” with about 6,400 residents. In 2009, the Acme Market closed, leaving many having to go outside of the borough for groceries. In the fall of 2011, two women had a conversation over their fence that Ambler needed a community-owned grocery store. They decided to do something about it. Their first meeting, open to all residents, was held in the winter of 2012 and drew 150 people who began organizing the Ambler Food Co-op, which was incorporated in the spring of 2013. In the meantime, Bottom Dollar Foods, an international company headquartered in Belgium, bought a property in the middle of town and erected a large building, opening their supermarket on October 31, 2013. By January of 2014, they had decided to leave the eastern United States, closing their regional stores. In November of 2014, Aldi, another international food corporation, announced they were buying all 66 Bottom Dollar stores, but opened only half of them, leaving the others vacant, including the one in Ambler. By this time, the Ambler Food Co-op was functioning well, nearing 500 household memberships. “In the fall of 2016, we voted to join with Weavers Way if a site was acquired so we could open sooner rather than later. We needed funds to lease the building from Aldi,” Kathleen said. “We raised 1.5 million dollars through member loans, with a minimum investment of $1,000.” She added, “Because they’re locally owned, co-ops have a community connection and commitment not found in large corporations operating from afar.” Their membership of 550 was transferred to Weavers Way in early April of 2017. Soon after, the Ambler Food Cooperative was dissolved. Since Weavers Way is community owned, it truly reflects what the community wants. She commented, “We tend to
have healthy food. Some items are available in all three stores while others are only at the Ambler location.” Because of their method of operation and size, “We get a lot of feedback from our shoppers and can change the store. We’re very responsive to the community, very ‘limber’ with local products. We’re driven by doing right by the community and our owners, as well as providing local jobs and supporting local businesses,” she explained. Weavers Way was started in 1973 in the Mr. Airy section of Philadelphia as a food buying club. Their success led to their expansion into Chestnut Hill with its, “Idiosyncratic tiny stores that do a lot of business,” said Kathleen. That venture has been successful and enjoys widespread community support. “Every Friday, we have our Friday night community dinner from 4 to 8 p.m. It costs $4 per person. We offer both meat and vegetarian meals. All of the food is made in house. You either can take it out or eat in at provided tables. Some examples of what we serve are barbeque pulled pork or barbeque pulled spaghetti squash, marinara either with beef or vegetarian meatballs, and turkey with gravy and biscuits or mushrooms with gravy and biscuits.” “Being a member means you own the store and can help choose what it sells,” she said. “Senior members get a 10 percent discount every Tuesday. Also, you can volunteer six hours per year per household adult to earn five percent off of everything. We offer environmental programs for volunteers like weeding along the creek or neighborhood cleanups. Community service is important to us, although our top priority is customer service. When asked what the future holds for Weavers Way, Kathleen responded, “We still are trying to let everyone know that anyone can shop here. You don’t have to be a member. People are amazed when they walk into our big beautiful store.” With a smile, she added, “We’re really good at providing great food for everyone.” Weavers Way Co-op is located at 217 East Butler Avenue in downtown Ambler. Store hours are 8 to 8, seven days a week. Drop in the next time you’re in the area. Or, for more information, visit their website at www.weaversway.coop. Patti Guthrie is a freelance writer and antiques dealer from Chalfont, PA.
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Farmhouse Chic Jeff Whitted of Aslan Builders was able to take this beautifully but dated 1887 Harleysville farmhouse and transform it into a bright and aesthetically pleasing home By Beth S. Buxbaum
After living and working on a family farm for years, it was time to have a place of their own to call home. In 1998 the owners purchased this 1887 Harleysville farmhouse. Looking for a small homestead with some acreage, this 6-acre parcel seemed like the right place to settle. “We liked the house but the kitchen was dark,” adds the owner, “and the whole house needed upgrading.” During their initial renovation in 1999, their goal was to keep the original look of the house while doing some upgrades. The owner remarks that they liked the original architecture of this centuries-old farmhouse. She talks about how the exterior stucco was originally a painted brick, but when they tried to expose the brick it was too soft, so it had to be re-stuccoed. During their first year in the house they had a local architect re-design the living space, especially the dark kitchen and the bathrooms, as well as adding closets to the bedrooms. They also had an addition constructed to add a new front entrance and foyer, an office, garage, powder room and a new second floor master bath. Now, 20 years later, all their upgrades are dated and they are ready for a refresh. Jeff Whitted, of Aslan Interiors Design and Build Group, in Sellersville, was commissioned for the project. With a fresh eye, some creative tweaks and a lot of unique concepts, Jeff and his skillful team of artisans orchestrated the renovations. “The house was
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Above, a long view of the homestead's beautifully landscaped rear grounds popping with spring florals. Bottom left, a picnic spot on the patio. Bottom right, an angled view of the front of the farmhouse and a side view with a glimpse into the rear landscape.
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dated, but still in good condition and well maintained,” Jeff adds. With his background in interior design, Jeff had a goal in the design of this renovation, which encompassed the kitchen, breakfast nook, foyer and elements of the dining and living rooms. “I was going for a combination of vintage farmhouse and farmhouse chic,” Jeff explains, “to blend styles and mix it up.” Taking into account the age of the farmhouse, its architecture and the owner's personal taste, Jeff worked his concept. One architectural feature that lent to the continuity of design was the first floor's open, airy flow. Added elements were able to be complemented or re-used in different spaces. In his quest to accomplish his desired styling, Jeff and his team employed several techniques, including repurposing and using reclaimed wood from barns, walls, ceilings and floors. Jeff has many sources for reclaimed materials, particularly a demolition contractor he knows. Design elements are just one facet of the renovation. It is not only the aesthetics of the room that is the focus, functionality is an important piece of the redesign. Jeff explains that he begins every renovation with a client questionnaire to discern how they use their spaces, especially the kitchen. “We design the kitchen for functionality and then aesthetics,”
Opposite top, adorning the server above is wall art out made from an old reclaimed barn door in green. For a touch of farmhouse chic, an elegant touch was added with matching antique wall sconces. Above, in this crisply renewed dining room, the wall and fireplace surround colors stand out against the steel black fireplace insert. To soften the space, sconces were added. Bottom, pops of spring colors dance outside this window view of the side yard.
Above, the newly upgraded kitchen is accented with a mix of old and new cherry cabinets. After adding the new porcelain tile floor, a center island was created with a distressed black finish and topped with granite.
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Jeff adds. Along with a room's functionality, Jeff and his team work with the clients to keep any fixtures or elements they wish to re-use. Salvaging and reusing is another goal when Jeff works on a renovation. “I try to be sensitive to a client's sentimentality,” Jeff explains, “and try to work with what they want to keep.” What this owner did not want to keep was the kitchen backsplash. The owner explains how the whole project began with her request for a new kitchen backsplash. Everything snowballed from there, with Jeff and his crew reconfiguring the kitchen and updating the breakfast nook. This renovation began by ripping out the cherry cabinets and removing the ceramic floor. Jeff points out that the tile sizes can date an interior. “We tore up the 8” by 8” inch ceramic tile floors in the kitchen, breakfast nook and foyer and replaced them with 18” by 18” porcelain tile, for a more expansive look.” In this kitchen renovation they re-used one-third of the kitchen cabinets and added new ones to complement the old cabinets. This technique of mixing old and new elements, allows a blending of styles, textures and finishes into the design.” We handpainted a dark brown accent line around the panel grooves of all the cabinets to give them definition and character,” he describes. For a finishing touch they changed the hardware on all the cabinets. Once the floor was ripped up and replaced, they built a center island with a distressed black finish and topped it with granite. In this space Jeff applied his technique of mixing and blending. “I like to mix up materials whenever I can,” Jeff adds. For the counter tops they added a black Cambria leather finish granite with some texture. An added element was the backsplash, applied with a complimentary tile to the floor tiles, in a smaller size. Jeff also designed a square of glass mosaic tiles over the stove to add a touch of vintage farmhouse. On one kitchen wall was a built-in hutch that was part of the original farmhouse kitchen. Jeff transformed this hutch into a coffee station. He removed the wood counter top and added a granite top and then repainted the hutch in a dis-
Aslan Interiors-Design & Build Group Jeff Whitted established Aslan Interiors-Design and Build Group, based in Sellersville, in 1985. Jeff is a man of many talents. He built his knowledge and experience base beginning with his college years when he worked with builders and painters.With his creative nature and entrepreneurial spirit he went on to create his own window treatments and then started an upholstery business with his brother. In 1998 he designed his first kitchen and he also built a few houses. With his years of experience and successes in other enterprises, Jeff started the full-service interior design firm of Aslan Interiors.“I am an interior designer first,” Jeff says, “because with good design principles I can apply them to whatever I am working on.” Over the years Jeff has established a team of highly trained artisans. A good part of his team includes his wife, five adult children and one son-in-law, several of whom have degrees in design. “We work together on the interior design project to create a unique experience for each client,” he adds. He and his team have established relationships with many in the trade including manufacturers and suppliers, an asset to his clients. Their portfolio is varied, from renovating kitchens and bathrooms, to creating entire additions. “Our designs are well thought out, practical and functional,” Jeff adds, “from modern and contemporary to farmhouse.”Aslan Interiors projects encompass those as small as room makeovers, artwork, accessories and furnishings to architectural design, restorations, custom kitchen and baths, and landscape and hardscape. Jeff Whitted and Aslan Interiors can be reached by calling 215-257-2695. You can also reach Jeff Whitted on his cell phone at 215-534-9344. For more information, visit www.aslaninteriors.com.
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tressed sage green with a brown glaze. Finishing touches to this space included new appliances, a farm sink and built-in refrigerator. Extending out from the kitchen is the breakfast nook, which at one time was an outside porch. This area was created during the 1999 renovation. It overlooks the grounds and is brightened by a wall of windows. In this space, Jeff worked to upgrade and transform two architectural elements. He transformed a set of wood columns, that softly delineate the kitchen and breakfast areas, by wrapping the columns in reclaimed barn wood. “I was trying to bring in a little bit of a barn feeling here,” he explains. The other architectural feature that was given a facelift was the slanted wood paneled ceiling that was a pickled pine. “We refinished the ceiling in a darker stain to bring warmer tones into the space,” he adds. Topping off this space was a newly created tea station to satisfy the owner's love for tea service. Perched on a side wall, in between the kitchen and the breakfast nook, is a distressed finish cabinet they built to serve as a tea station. Just off of the breakfast nook is the foyer and the stairway to the second floor. Jeff rebuilt the stairs, after removing the carpet and exposing the original stairs, then adding new wood steps and railings. In addition to the new stairs, the foyer was also re-floored with the same porcelain tile floor in the kitchen and breakfast area. For that added flair of farmhouse chic, a server was added and refinished with a distressed texture to appear old and weathered. Above, for accent, Jeff created wall art out of an old reclaimed barn door that is partially green, to bring a green accent into the space. In the center of the door panels he hung mirrors. He placed antique sconces on each side of the server. “These Caldwell sconces came out of a 1895 mansion that was being torn down, that was owned by a vice president of the PA railroad,” Jeff adds. He mentions that the sconces were from the same time period that this original farmhouse was built. Jeff's goal in this space was to add that touch of farmhouse chic with an elegant flair. Jeff added new touches to refresh the dated quality of the decor in the living room and dining room. Repainting walls and new window treatments were part of the facelift. He redesigned the fireplace in the living room, removing the original wood bead board and replacing it with reclaimed attic flooring of hand scraped pumpkin pine. He also added new veneer bricks on the hearth and inside and finished the fireplace with Mercer tiles, with animal tile ac-
cents as a reference to the homestead's farm life. Part of this new fireplace surround was the addition of a pocket above for a TV. While renewing and freshening, Jeff and his team also create comfortable living spaces. Designing and defining living space is an art. Jeff and his team work diligently to artfully accent a home. It is important to find what works. “I am always looking for the right stuff,” Jeff adds. In addition to the interior design and building services, the team will assist with the light fixtures, furniture and window treatments. Jeff refers to Aslan Interiors as a full, one-stop shop. “We do the whole thing,” he adds. Beth S. Buxbaum is a freelance writer from the Philadelphia area.
Union reenactors firing blanks at Confederates
Pennypacker Mills This Montgomery historic site, now a museum, has both Revolutionary War and Civil War connections that are offered to the public in dramatic and educational ways by Frank D. Quattrone
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Yes, General Washington slept here, at Pennypacker Mills, in the autumn of 1777, before and after the Battle of Germantown. His troops, needing rest and bread, made camp adjacent to the original stone grist mill, dating back to around 1720. Aside from its foundation, the once busy old Pannebacker mill, felled by flooding and fire, no longer stands. But the sturdy fieldstone mansion, now nearly three hundred years old, does. Samuel W. Pennypacker made his home here while he served as the twenty-third governor of Pennsylvania (1903 – 1907). Although no battle was fought near the historic site during the Civil War — and Gettysburg is a full twoand-a-half-hour drive from Schwenksville—its Civil War connection is very real, as Samuel Pennypacker, then a twenty-year-old private in Company F of the 26th Pennsylvania Volunteer Militia, fought in the skirmish at Witmer Farm, north of Gettysburg, on June 26, 1863. And during the first weekend in June every year, Confederate cannons boom and Union rifles fire, as Pennypacker Mills plays host to a major Civil War Reunion.
This year’s event takes place on Saturday, June 2, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, June 3, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. As many as three thousand guests are expected to witness an exciting reenactment of a Civil War battle each day, as well as artillery demonstrations. Even children get into the act as they learn to march and drill during the “Be a Soldier Kid Enlistment Program.” Men and women followed the soldiers as they camped out before and after battles, providing needed food, medicine, and other supplies. Museum Educator Linda Callegari says, “You learn the human side of the war at Pennypacker Mills. Few people are aware that 140 members of the family fought on both sides during the war.” The main speaker at this year’s event will be Paula Gidjunis, a retired history professor who will address women’s domestic roles during the Civil War. But it would be a mistake to consider Pennypacker Mills, administered by Montgomery County, a museum dedicated solely to the two major wars fought on American soil. Far from that, this handsome Colonial Revival mansion, redesigned and enhanced by architect Arthur Brockie in 1901 to reflect the lifestyle of a country gentleman and his family, provides rare insight into life in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Noteworthy in the so-called “Year of the Woman” is the current exhibition at the site, featuring the artwork of Josephine W. Pennypacker, Samuel’s daughter. Running from March 1 through October 31, the exhibit, which also includes some of her musical instruments and framed leaves, explores how drawing and painting, during the ascendancy of the watercolor, became an increasingly important means for women to express their creativity and to open up a new career path. Our first tour of this graceful mansion in about six years reinforced our recollection of Callegari as one of the most illuminating and entertaining guides we’ve ever had, and it underscored the technological changes of the
late nineteenth century as well as those that are reshaping our time. Although she admits that some guests might be disappointed, Callegari says that “phones are off here. It’s the best way to experience the site and to appreciate the lifestyle of the time.” In the kitchen area, for example, we learned that the coal-fired cast iron Abram Cox stove not only heated the family’s food but also the entire house. It would take two hours to heat up the home, so the staff (during Pennypacker’s time, that included a full-time cook, a maid, and a gardener, plus plenty of part-time help) had to be about their business early — and that the family would use up to 350 pounds of anthracite every week because it burned so well. Callegari explained that “the ebb and flow of the seasons determined what the family would eat,” but that butter and milk came from the Pennypackers’ own cows and that canned goods (done in house) would ease the family’s winter fare. Receipts on hand indicate that the family made several purchases a year from the Reading Terminal Market. There’s also a replica of a Kellogg’s Corn Flakes box — a sensation at the time because it was America’s first cereal and signaled the beginning of nutritional health consciousness. Be sure to check out the family’s fire extinguisher, one of the earliest examples of its type. And in the laundry room, don’t miss the cast iron laundry stove, where ten irons could be heated simultaneously. An ironing board would be spread across the sink, with a washboard and wringer standing by. The Pennypackers could boast indoor plumbing, which Callegari calls “high tech for the time.” Washing would take place on Monday, ironing on Tuesday — a full day’s work for four to six people. We learned that most of the maids were unmarried African-American women, many from Richmond, Virginia, who would be more than willing to tackle the hard work tending a household would entail.
One of our favorite stops on the tour was the library, where Callegari showed us a letter by a Pennypacker ancestor expressing excitement about the earliest medical lecture ever given in the Colonies; it was to take place at the University of Pennsylvania in 1765, eleven years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. On the walls of the library are two framed orders signed by General Washington during his 1777 sojourn at the house, and an attractive photograph of Governor Pennypacker in his Harrisburg office. Laptop lovers will also marvel at the family’s tall, open typewriter from 1884 (the invention was introduced during the 1876 Centennial), where we saw a letter that had been typed, uneasily, by Josephine Pennypacker. Also in the library are several family bibles, including one dating back to the American Revolution, with a handwritten note by a Pennypacker elder indicating that the British Army was approaching the home — a grim reminder of the precariousness of domestic life during wartime. Before our tour took us upstairs, we paused in the foyer to enjoy listening to some music of the time, which our guide kindly played for us on the charming hand-cranked music box that dates back to 1895. On a cold winter morning, she also took me out to see the governor’s unheated private “man cave,” perhaps one of the earliest of the time, where Pennypacker would smoke cigars and share shots of whiskey with friends. On one wall is a poem engraved into a wooden frame celebrating General Washington’s brief stay at the mansion. On the second floor are the expansive guest bedrooms, brightened by mica inserted into the wallpaper, graced by sitting areas and desks, space-saving chest-on-chest units, and fireplaces in every room. Water in the bathroom (take note of the now familiar ball-andclaw tub fixture) was provided by a nearby well powered by a windmill, Continued back to page 19
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IDEAS FOR OUTDOOR LIVING Hardscaping, outdoor rooms, fire pits and the whole array of trees, plants and flowers could keep you outside more this spring
O BY LORI ROSE
utdoor living is in, and indoor living is out. The trend of creating garden rooms has taken off, and we've been spending a lot more time living outdoors. The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) recommends that homeowners invest at least ten percent of their home’s value in landscaping. That includes not only trees, shrubs and flowers, but also driveways, walkways, decks, patios, outdoor rooms and architectural elements such as fire features and gazebos. According to Blue Tree Landscaping in Skippack, when we talk about hardscaping, we’re talking about the portion of your landscape design that is not alive—not your plants, trees and shrubs. Instead, we’re referring to the hard materials that are used to construct a patio, pool deck, walkways, and similar structures. You might choose pavers, bricks, tile or wood to construct hardscape elements. To create outdoor living spaces, you can use high or low walls to create boundaries, define areas and create rooms. Hardscaping is invaluable on sloped properties to create steps, terraces and raised beds, making the property more useful, livable and beautiful. Hardscape elements also include pergolas, gazebos and outdoor rooms. Think about adding a roof over an existing deck, or shading a deck or patio with a pergola. Pergolas
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and gazebos also create specific rooms and add shade and structure to your outdoor living space. A pergola can be the perfect combination of hardscape and softscape design: light and airy on its own, or covered in flowers or foliage. Gazebos of any size add a lovely architectural element to the landscape. Whether as a focal point, an oasis away from the house for reading or daydreaming, or a secluded space to serve dinner to guests, gazebos are practical and romantic. What rooms in your house would you like to migrate into the great outdoors? If you choose the living room, you can go beyond two plastic chairs and a table. The trend has been to use our outdoor areas both day and night, and the choices of outdoor furnishings prove that we really enjoy living outside. Look for outdoor lighting, space heaters, and ultra-comfy furniture for relaxing with friends. Look for furniture that is weather resistant such as wicker-look outdoor living sets that may include sofas, coffee tables or even matching hammocks. The cushions for outdoor furniture can be made of breathable, fade-proof fabrics that dry quickly and resist mildew. And if your favorite room is the kitchen? Bring the camaraderie of cooking and entertaining outdoors. Outdoor kitchens have become one of the hottest trends in continuing the enjoyment of our outdoor spaces. The kitchen has always been the heart of the home. Creating a complete outdoor kitchen or just adding a simple bar island will become a focal point to entertain friends and family. The location of an outdoor kitchen should preferably be near the house. An existing backyard patio can become a great foundation for your kitchen and help you avoid making structural modifications. You could also use a backyard deck. The look and feel of an outdoor kitchen depends on your needs and how you would be using it in the long run. Just as in an indoor kitchen, the shape of the workspace will form the core of your outSPRING 2018
door kitchen. Here are the three most common setups: A basic island features a grill, a sink and space to prepare food or store supplies. It works well for occasional light cooking but can become cumbersome if you do heavy duty cooking or make recipes which require a lot of chopping and simultaneous preparations. The Lshaped configuration allows separate spaces for cooking and preparing food, and can accommodate more than one chef. In a U-shaped kitchen, food can be prepared, cooked and served in the same space. An advantage of this design is that the chef can socialize with guests while preparing the meal. According to Environmental Landscape Assoc, Inc. in Doylestown, introducing fire into your outdoor living space creates a destination and gathering spot. Whether for heating or shedding light into the dark of night, the attraction of fire is undeniable. Depending on the size of your yard, choose a portable fire bowl and some comfy chairs to bring the magic of fire to your landscape. Use a fire bowl to burn wood on a stone patio, or choose a gas fire pit that won't throw sparks that may ignite a wooden deck. Built-in fire pits are an affordable and flexible way to add a fire feature into your
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landscape. The traditional in-ground ‘campfire’ type fire pit can be a very low cost and fun destination for the entire family. Or take it up a notch and build a raised fire pit that gives a bit more of an architectural element to the feature. Regardless of which type of fire feature you choose, it will extend the backyard season from early spring right into late fall or early winter, allowing you to enjoy more time outdoors in comfort. From holiday lights on deck rails and umbrella ribs to elaborate whole-property lighting systems, anyone can add outdoor lighting to create a soothing, magical atmosphere. Bucks Country Gardens in Doylestown suggests using light to illuminate a path, enhance the beauty of a stone façade, or cast shadows to add intrigue in the evening garden. Done properly, landscape lights meld into the landscape allowing effects of the lighting–and not the fixtures themselves–to be seen and enjoyed. Candles, strings of lantern lights, and Tiki-torches are also effective ways to add lighting outdoors. “Bluetooth and app-based control is where it’s at these days for landscape lighting,” says Wes Carver of Wes Carver Electric in Lansdale. “We now have Bluetooth capability when installing a new system so that the customer can control their new
lights from their Smartphone. Normally, we set up the lights to turn on at dusk and off at a specified time. The app knows when dusk is every day in your area so no need to constantly change the timer programming; now it happens automatically.” With today's technology it is easy to add quality outdoor sound. Audio systems can be run from your phone or tablet. Choose a simple Bluetooth speaker for small areas, or install weather-proof speakers disguised as stones or containers around the landscape. The great outdoors presents a different listening environment than inside a home. Here are some tips to make outdoor speaker setups successful. Once you determine where the main listening area will be, plan to place speakers about twelve feet away from that listening area and about ten feet apart from each other. For example, if you want to listen to music on your deck, you can place one speaker at each end. But what if you need to cover a larger area? Think more speakers, not higher volume. High volume could result in uncomfortably loud music in parts of your listening area. If you will not be bringing your speakers indoors at night, be sure your outdoor speakers are weather resistant, and are in a protected location like under the eaves of the house. If you do need to put speakers in a fully exposed lo-
cation, like on the ground by the pool, be sure they are fully weather-proof speakers, and use speaker wire designed for outdoor use. To cover the broadest listening area, mount your speakers up high, between six and ten feet up. This will help disperse the sound over more of your yard. Planting a tree is one of the easiest ways to beautify a landscape. Flowers, leaves, bark and fruit change with the seasons, creating a colorful and textured tapestry. Choose trees native to the United States to prevent introduced species from taking over native woodlands, and to provide winter food for native birds. Native trees are just as beautiful, if not more so, than their non-native counterparts. The sugar maple tree is one of America's most loved trees. Its shade and fall beauty are unparalleled in home landscapes. Medium to dark-green leaves turn yellow, orange and red in fall. It tolerates shade and likes well drained soil; however, do not plant it in confined areas as it can grow to 75 feet tall with a 45-foot spread. A smaller native tree, the dogwood has showy white, pink or red flowers in spring, and is an excellent landscape choice for all four seasons. Dogwood leaves turn redpurple in fall. In winter, the gray stems and checkered bark contrast with snow. Native from Massachusetts to Florida, and west to Texas, dogwoods have been a favorite in America for centuries. George Washington planted it at Mt. Vernon, as did Thomas Jefferson at Monticello. Container gardening is the perfect way to add color and create focal points around the yard. Because theyâ€™re portable, you can place containers anywhere in your garden that could use some brightening up. Choose a variety of container sizes and shapes, and get creative with the actual plants. Choose a collection of different-sized pots that look good on their own, but also complement each other. A group of different-shaped pots is fun to look at. Combine the tall and slim with the round and fat or short and squat. How about containers of a different color? Try replacing terra cotta with verdigris, or white with glazed cobalt
blue. Outdoor pots can be landscaped just like the rest of your yard. Arrange the pots at different heights to produce a layered effect that shows each plant to its advantage. Place pots of plants, whether alone or in combinations, among the flowers or shrubs in a bed. Containers and pots on the market today are more portable and aesthetically pleasing than their older counterparts. Container gardening is a great option for anyone who wants to grow vegetables and herbs, or simply add a splash of color with annuals and perennials on a patio or deck. Plus, you can redesign your garden anytime simply by rearranging containers or opting to change your plants with the seasons. Grow plants like the moon vine, with white flowers that glow in the moonlight. It looks and grows just like its cousin the morning glory. Let moon vines and white morning glories climb a lattice screen for privacy and twenty-four hour flowers. Gardeners in the know are using colorful foliage plants to super-charge landscapes and containers, to fill in when perennials
are out of bloom, and to compliment annual flowers. Look for elephant ears, hosta and coleus for shade, and brightly hued ornamental grasses for sunny areas. Large plants are architectural elements themselves. Outdoor rooms are so popular because they are so enjoyable. Enhanced with native trees and lovely plantings, they will also increase the value of a property. Start with a comfy outdoor couch and coffee table, and see where your imagination takes you. Lori Rose, the Midnight Gardener, is a Temple University Certified Master Home Gardener and member of the GWA: The Association for Garden Communicators. She has gardened since childhood, and has been writing about gardening for more than fifteen years.
Photos: Melissa Kutalek
A Victorian Ambler house with arches over the porch and spires. 00
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Ambler’s Second Renaissance
Ambler, unlike a lot of Pennsylvania mill towns that suffered economic problems, rebounded and is now flourishing like never before By Frank D. Quattrone
ot so long ago, Ambler was a quiet borough, recovering from a historical double whammy. The first was losing its dubious cachet as the “Asbestos Capital of the World.” The second, by the middle of the last century, was the washing out of many small businesses as the first wave of shopping malls crashed onto the scene. The first whammy occurred when Ambler’s premier employer, the Keasbey & Mattison Company, went belly-up during the Great Depression. Since its arrival in Ambler in 1881, K&M had literally been, for better and worse, the world’s primary manufacturer and supplier of asbestos and a host of supporting products and industries. By the turn of the twentieth century, its co-founder and driving force, the formidable Richard V. “Doc” Mattison, had transformed Ambler from a sleepy milling center into the quintessential company town. The mills were established shortly after the
Harmers, a Quaker family seeking freedom from persecution in England, settled along the fertile banks of the Wissahickon Creek in 1682, on land purchased from William Penn. Ambler’s first industry, in the town then called Wissahickon, lasted exactly two hundred years. It was about that time that the visionary Mattison, after whom an Ambler street and school have been named, imported stonemasons and builders from Italy and all across Europe, as well as African-American laborers from West Virginia, to construct the streets and homes of the town, not to mention his own impressive twentyfour room mansion, called Lindenwold, modeled after Windsor Castle. By most estimates, roughly three-quarters of the four hundred homes Mattison built still stand and are comfortably lived in. A civic-minded pioneer and community leader, this progressive icon paved the streets, improved the water supply, introduced electric streetlights, built the borough’s first library and opera house, and took
reasonably good care of his employees. Those homes he built — grand Victorian stone mansions for his top executives along Lindenwold Terrace, sturdy stone twins for superintendents near the stunning Trinity Episcopal Memorial Church (which he also built), and row-homes around town for his blue-collar workers—established the pattern for today’s Ambler. As Liz Kunzier describes it, “Ambler is a microcosm of a big city. We have rich, middle class, and poor people living here, a wide range of older citizens and younger people. And everyone gets along so well.” Her words echo the sentiments of William F. Foley Jr., chief of the Ambler Borough Police Department, who recalls growing up in his Southern Avenue neighborhood, populated by volunteer firemen and families who cared for each other, as if they had “thirty sets of parents.” And all the families —Italian, Irish, African-American, and more—had each other’s backs and remained friends. “And there’s something for everybody to do,” Kunzier continues. True enough. With the county’s first professional playhouse, a resurgent art-movie house, a symphony orchestra, a pulsating restaurant row that welcomes food lovers from near and far, and a host of exciting new as well as long-standing shops all along and adjoining Butler Avenue (the borough’s main street), Ambler has become a magnet for everyone from baby boomers to millennials and Gen Z’ers. Countless descendants from the Italian and African-American families who built Ambler at the end of the nineteenth century still live here. They love
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it so much that it’s still a challenge for prospective newcomers to find a place to live in this thriving borough. unzier, by the way, is the manager of Ambler Main Street, the civic association founded by longtime borough booster Bernadette Dougherty in 1996 to beautify Butler Avenue, to encourage local business enterprise, to purchase significant properties in danger of falling fallow (like the Ambler Theater and the Trax Restaurant site at the SEPTA station, now the busiest on the R5 rail line), and to serve as the borough’s unofficial sounding board. Kunzier is also one of the daughters of Charles T. “Bud” Wahl, the beloved, big-hearted civic leader and self-styled “worker bee” who was elected to serve as Ambler’s mayor for three consecutive terms (2001 to 2013), as the first renaissance came into its own. Like her father and mother, Mary Jane Wahl, who’s also been active in community affairs for years, Kunzier is in love with Ambler and waxes ecstatic over what she sees as Ambler’s “second renaissance.” But first—the first. The first wave of revitalization began in earnest in the last few years of the 1990s, when courageous restaurateurs Steven Waxman and Kevin Clib opened their restaurants Trax Restaurant & Café (Waxman, at 27 West Butler Pike) and KC’s Alley (Clib, at 10 West Butler Pike) in 1998 and 1999, respectively — both still offering great New American cuisine (the former) and inspired comfort food (the latter) for a town starved for
Opposite, Dettera, on Butler Ave., is a restaurant that is popular in Ambler is situated next to a fitness center that is using and old buiding that it refurbished. Top, on ButlerAve., The Beauty Institute. Bottom left, Ambler Savings Bank is a beautifully restored buiding for the townâ€™s homegrown bank.
Top left, the outside of the Ambler Theatre, which has been refurbished and is a small theatre that attracts people from throughout the area.Top right, inside the Ambler Theatre. Bottom right, the original movie projector used when small town movie theatres were in their heyday. Opposite, stores in downtown Ambler.
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good places to eat. In the spring of 1999, Ambler received another huge boost when Act II Playhouse 56 East Butler), founded by its first artistic director, Stephen D. Blumenthal, became the first professional theater to be built in the county—ever! Act II’s first play, the comedy My Laughing Years, brought tears of laughter to Butler Avenue. And since then the theater has produced a succession of successful and acclaimed dramas, comedies, and classic plays, culminating in the always entertaining antics and original one-man shows of present artistic director Tony Braithwaite, one of the region’s most popular and beloved comic talents. Apart from several other fine restaurants that began to open on Butler Avenue, the first wave of revitalization came to a head in 2003, when local cinéaste John Toner, who had already opened Doylestown’s art-house County Theater, reopened the long-shuttered, lovingly refurbished the Ambler Theater. By 2007, the immensely popular, now three-screened cinema was attracting happy moviegoers from miles around, showing acclaimed art-house fare such as Loving Vincent, Call Me by Your Name, and A Fantastic
ater, along with the Ambler Symphony, performing an array of classical music favorites since 1951, have proven to be positively magnetic. It seems that theater and cinema have always been in Ambler’s DNA. Here’s where actress Rosalind Russell came to film several scenes of her popular film The Trouble with Angels, in 1966, and its sequel, Where Angels Go, two years later, at St. Mary’s Villa, the orphanage established by the Catholic Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth after they purchased Doc Mattison’s Lindenwold from the retiring tycoon in 1936. It was here, at Ambler’s highly regarded Wissahickon High School, that actress-director-writer Melanie Mayron got her first taste of theater, at the school’s drama club, propelling her, ultimately, to her Emmy Award-winning role as Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, thirtysomething, and a successful Hollywood career in front of and behind the lens to this day. It was here, at nearby Upper Dublin High School, that Ambler native Josh Singer got his start as well, as a reporter for the school newspaper and member of the drama club. Singer won an Oscar in 2015 for co-writing the script for Spotlight, and was nominated again in 2017 for cowriting the script for The Post, two great films celebrating the critical role investigative journalism plays in our lives. Today, according to Liz Kunzier, the new key to revitalization has been the repurposing of existing spaces—older factories and stores long shuttered that have been reimagined with new energy and purpose. “The whole town is booming,” she says. A perfect example is the Ambler Boiler House on Maple Avenue. Long dilapidated and abandoned since the mid-seventies and one of the few remaining Keasbey & Mattson structures, the old factory has been completely redeveloped and now houses eight offices, bringing new people and new energy into the borough. One of the exciting newer businesses 46
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is Megan Sullivan’s Roost Home (7 West Butler), a vibrant home furnishings shop where you can “feather your nest” with everything from baby clothes to bedroom cabinets. Roost Home, filling a longempty space across the street from KC’s Alley, opened, it should be noted, on Small Business Saturday on November 28, 2017. Also new, at 22 North Main, is Antique Garden Cottage, where Reen and Tom Litizio offer antiques, repurposed furniture, and original craftwork created by Tom, a carpenter, stone mason, and artist. Bridal parties still come from miles around to shop for wedding gowns and pick up their tuxedos at old standbys Arielle Bridal Shop (139C Butler) and Tony Laguda Formalwear (48 E. Butler), then hop over to Wild Lilies (103 East Butler) for “high fashion style” jewelry at affordable prices. It’s this mix of the old and new that accounts for much of Ambler’s vitality. Take, for instance, the food and dining scene. Steve Waxman, chef-owner of Trax Restaurant, has also been instrumental in bringing into being the Ambler Farmers’ Market (39 West Butler), the first of its kind in the cozy borough, in the SEPTA parking lot adjacent to his charming restaurant. Open for more than five years, it boasts close to twodozen vendors selling the area’s freshest produce and some cutting-edge products every Saturday from the first week of May to the end of November. Like all of his neighbors, Waxman also speaks highly of the new Weavers Way Cooperative Association, located at 217 East Butler. “Finally, a major supermarket right here in the borough. I love shopping there. Good product. Good people.” And right next door to Weavers Way, in the old Ambler Beverage building, is Jim Carter’s resurgent Ambler Beverage Exchange (239 East Butler), filling the borough’s need for a great walk-in beer distributor. And there’s more. New on the scene are the Pie & Plate Café (43 North Main),
where homemade sweet and savory pies are delighting customers each Wednesday through Sunday; Vida & Comida (131 East Butler), a Spanish BYO owned and operated by Spanish-born chef Manuel Jimenez; Gypsy Blu (34 East Butler), the latest venture by The Conshy Girls — namely, entrepreneurial restaurateurs Marianne Gere (who has also fallen in love with Ambler) and Kim Strengari, with relatively new partner Michael Golden — a marvelously eclectic restaurant at the site of the historic Wyndham Hotel; and the Forest & Main Brewing Company (61 North Main), the popular brewpub that recently opened a live entertainment annex at the site of the former Gerhart Antiques & Cabinet Shop (55 North Main). Foodies from across the region still flock to Ambler’s unofficial restaurant row to enjoy the cuisine of their “old” favorites, including the inspired contemporary fare of James Beard Award-winning chef Jeffrey Power at sumptuous Dettera Restaurant & Wine Bar (129 East Butler); great barbecue at The Lucky Well (111 East Butler); authentic subcontinental flavors at Saffron Indian Kitchen (60 E. Butler); Mexican taqueria at El Limon (38 East Butler); Italian food at From the Boot (110 East Butler); Old World Italian deli food and real milkshakes at Costa Deli (901 East Butler); and steaks andseafood at Bridget’s, A Modern Steakhouse (8 West Butler), Kevin Clib’s second restaurant in Ambler. Oh, and let’s not forget Rita’s Water Ice (100 East Butler), which refreshes Ambler in season. The magnetism of Ambler is also felt several times each year, when annual festivals draw big crowds to its main street. Among the most notable are Ambler Restaurant Week (twice a year, in late January and in July), the Ambler Auto Show (May), Ambler Arts & Music Festival (June), Dog Days of Ambler (August), Oktoberfest and Halloween Parade & Extravaganza (October, naturally), and (in December) the Holiday Parade and Santa Arrives by Train.
COME VISIT HISTORIC AMBLER
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Personal Care • Memory Care Short-Term Rehabilitation • Skilled Nursing 877-232-2990 250 N. Bethlehem Pike • Ambler, PA 19002
www.ArtmanHome.org/planning Oh, and how did Ambler get its name? I thought you might ask. It came by its pleasant name by accident—actually, it was “The Great Train Wreck,” which took place on July 17, 1856, one year after the North Penn Railroad began chugging into the quiet town of Wissahickon. At the time it was the greatest train disaster in American history. The northbound Shackamaxon, carrying passengers from Philadelphia on a picnic excursion to the suburbs, collided head-on with the southbound commuter train Aramingo, leaving fifty-nine persons dead and another eighty-six injured. The sickening din could be heard from miles around and drew many volunteers to the site. One of them was a frail but civic-minded Quaker woman named Mary Ambler, a miller’s wife, who walked two miles to the crash site (by one account), bringing medical supplies and blankets. Her calming, healing presence contributed mightily to the rescue effort, and her quiet heroism did not go unnoticed. When the community finally incorporated as a borough in 1888, it changed its name, in her honor, to Ambler — one of the few towns in America named after a woman. A fitting tribute, to be sure — and one more reason its citizens take pride in their bustling little borough. Frank D. Quattrone is an author, newspaper editor, teacher and freelance writer from Montgomery County who writes about local history, food, art and people. SPRING 2018
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BERNARD F. SIERGIEJ Attorney at Law Serving AMBLER and the Tri-County Area for over 50 Years ! Practice focuses on: Estate Planning, Estate Administration, Real Estate, Wills, Trusts, and Taxes
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400 Maryland Drive, Fort Washington, PA 19034 (215) 646-6000 Fax (215) 646-0379 BSiergiej@timoneyknox.com Available 24 Hours a Day by Email and Voice Messaging Service and – YES, I do make House Calls!
Fort Washington, PA | 215.646.6000 | www.timoneyknox.com SPRING 2018
Rain Gardens, What Are They?
he dictionary definition goes something like this, “A rain garden is a planted depression that allows rainwater runoff from impervious surfaces, like roofs, driveways, walkways, decks and patios, to slowly infiltrate back into the soil as the plants, mulch and soil naturally remove pollutants from the runoff”. The working definition goes more like this, “You want to build a deck or patio but the township requires a drainage solution to offset the additional impervious space.” A rain garden can be the solution. There are alternatives. You could choose a gravel pit with drains, but rain gardens are a lot cheaper, easier to install and certainly more visually appealing. However, rain gardens can be aesthetically challenging. The best method is to integrate the rain
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garden into an existing landscape. The project shown here started with a new deck. The rain garden is part of the larger landscape and captures water from the pool decking and run-off from the roof. The property had a lot of mature, formal plantings that had to make visual sense with the naturalistic vibe of the rain garden plantings. To get started, we used transitional plants to meld the styles. Hydrangeas in the foreground are effective with both moods and a sturdy, green backdrop of evergreen Viburnums also helps to screen the pool equipment. The shrubs provide a structural framework for the perennials and ornamental grasses, keeping everything looking surprisingly neat. The rain garden added fun splashes of color and made the pool area feel like a vacation property. The colorful variety of native perennials thrive in the rain gar-
Top left, rain garden with view to pool. Plants across the pool area are Perovskia atriplicifolia, Amsonia hubrichtii and Geranium macrorrhizum ‘Bevan’s Variety’. Foreground plants include, yellow Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’, orange Helenium autumnale 'Sombrero' and red Lobelia cardinalis. Bottom right, another view of the rain garden featuring Hydrangea ‘Endless Summer’ and low growing Isotoma fluviatilis near the pool deck. den environment and add summer color and seasonal interest. The gardens’ plants also attract birds, butterflies and pollinators. Natives have the added benefit of being deer resistant. Rain gardens can be added to your property at any time and are great for the environment. You might find that you’re a rain garden convert! For further information contact GL Designs, Ambler, PA; 215.628.4070; www.gldesigns.net. SPRING 2018
Choosing Renovation Over Relocation
espite its charm and ideal location, the owners of this hundred-year-old Victorian in Fort Washington were contemplating listing their house and relocating. With three small children, they questioned whether they had the capacity to manage a large renovation. Nonetheless, they began researching contractors and ultimately chose Harth Builders, a design-build firm in nearby Spring House, for help with their project. Their goals were to open up the space to improve traffic flow and visibility, renovate the kitchen, relocate the powder and laundry rooms, and create more storage space. After reviewing several different options, the homeowners elected to build a 105 sq. ft., two-story addition which added a mudroom and powder
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room, as well as a second story laundry room. One of the keys to this renovation was opening the wall between the dining room and the kitchen. This change opened the space visually, and improved traffic flow between the areas. The layout of the kitchen was flipped, and a bench seating area was added. The kitchen was given a transitional look incorporating elements of old and new. Custom cabinetry was installed with concealed hinges and soft close drawers. The doors were distressed to give them a slightly age worn look. A farmhouse sink with an apron front was used. To carry that farmhouse feel through the space, they incorporated oil rubbed Venetian bronze finishes on the faucet, cabinetry hardware, and on the elongated pendant
light over the island. Insulation was improved throughout the kitchen and heating was brought up through the toe kick to enhance the comfort of the space. On the floors Harth installed a pre-finished 5-inch engineered maple hardwood in a dark finish called Dutch Chocolate. The addition where the mudroom is located offers a side entrance to the house. This area has become the designated drop zone for the kids and all of their gear. The powder room was located in this area as well, providing the family with convenient access to restroom facilities. Harth Builders is located at 1021 N. Bethlehem Pike, Spring House, PA 19477. For more information, call 215-654-0364 or visit www.harthbuilders.com. SPRING 2018
Third Generation of Guidi Brothers
ver six decades ago Guidi Brothers Construction was founded. Today, the third generation of the Guidi family continues to build on the rich heritage of the Guidi name in the greater Philadelphia area, crafting homes of uncompromising quality, beauty, and functionality. Guidi Homes has earned the reputation of delivering many of the area’s most prestigious custom homes and communities having built in Lower Gwynedd, Blue Bell, Whitemarsh, Villanova, Haverford, and many other communities in the Counties surrounding Philadelphia. In 2008 and 2009 Guidi Homes was selected by Philadelphia Magazine to build the magazine’s Design Home supporting local charities. Guidi Homes is currently finishing the last six carriage homes in the one-hundred-unit de-
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velopment known as The Carriage Homes at Haverford Reserve in Haverford Township. Peter Guidi, the President of Guidi Homes, is dedicated to continuing this tradition. Guidi Homes’ unique approach to homebuilding continues to combine the company’s old-world craftsmanship with today’s state-of-the-art materials and methods. In every case they take time to listen to their homebuyers’ wishes in order to fully understand their vision. With their Buyers’ goals in mind they can then apply their expertise to achieve their Buyers’ wishes. These photos show some of the custom homes built in the Gwynedd Valley and Blue Bell areas. 925 Harvest Drive Suite 220 Blue Bell, PA 19422. For more information, call 215-641-9280 or visit www.guidihomes.com.
n an industry dominated by creative and talented men, two local women have quietly established themselves as premier restaurateurs and deft practioners at the art of hospitality. Dubbed The Conshy Girls, Marianne Gere and Kim Strengari have made their mark in the bustling borough of Conshohocken, where they own and operate two popular dining destinations — Gypsy Saloon, a funky fun spot with Italian flair, and the Southern Cross Kitchen, where southern classics and comfort food tastefully meet. Until the beginning of this year, they also owned Conshy’s more upscale Stella Blu, now a virtual restaurant where menu favorites can still be ordered online and picked up at Gypsy Saloon or delivered to your home or office. The Conshy Girls also provide a host of catering services at their restaurants and off-site. But the big news for these warm, gregarious entrepreneurs is the success of their most recent dining haven, Gypsy Blu, in the heart of Ambler’s ever evolving restaurant row. Opened in June 2015, the eclectic Gypsy Blu combines the best flavors of Stella Blu and Gypsy Saloon, entrusting the kitchen to The Conshy Girls’ Laotian-born longtime executive chef, Niphone Simamountry. 58
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Photos: Paul Wesley
–by Frank Quattrone
Gypsy Blu, lovingly refurbished by The Conshy Girls’ “new” partner of three years, marketing guru Michael Golden, and decorated by Gere and Strengari, has long been a hostelry. Opened in 1893 as the Wyndham Hotel, one of Ambler’s most popular overnight inns — it once had stables out back that could accommodate forty horses — it has served the community for years in various restaurant guises. But this one just might be the best. Our appetizers were sheer knockouts! I tasted Eve’s Lamb Chop Lollipops (a Stella Blu standout), served with mintcilantro yogurt, mint chili oil, and sautéed spinach, and agreed with her that they were among the best I’ve ever had. Not hard to believe Gere, assuring me that they are the restaurant’s bestselling item. Even more delightful was my appetizer — a unique blend of sautéed Mussels and hot Italian Sausage, served with creamy corn meal polenta, broccoli rabe, and tomatoes, topped with shaved Parmesan. Next we shared a refreshing, flavorful Grilled Hearts of Romaine Salad, enhanced with caramelized apples, bleu cheese, and hazelnuts, kissed with a champagne vinaigrette. On our radar for our next visit were starters such as Philly Cheesesteak Eggrolls; Sautéed Brussels Sprouts served with Applewood
MINADO JAPANESE SEAFOOD BUFFET RESTAURANT
fter chatting with ebullient assistant manager Ashley Nave, I don’t think it’s a stretch to call Minado Japanese Seafood Buffet Restaurant a lively reflection of some of the best principles of yoga. Evolving from a Sanskrit word, yoga is a unity of mind, body, and spirit. While dining at Minado might not exactly be a spiritual experience, those who frequent this spacious sushi buffet rave about the mind-boggling array of satisfying, sensuously presented Asian foods and the welcoming way they are greeted by staff. Ashley, who supervises the front of the house, takes special pride in Minado’s service. At weekly meetings, everyone is reminded of the healthy triad that has kept Minado in the forefront of the region’s best sushi restaurants — a balance among customers, kitchen, and service. “It’s such a warm and friendly environment,” she says. “The staff really do care about our customers, and they help create a family feel.” Although Minado features an impressive array of cold and cooked seafood dishes, there are also salads and chicken and meats galore for those hesitant to try sushi. Should they ask, “Where do we start?,” the staff is ready and willing to assist. “We
might recommend the Salmon Deluxe, the tuna, or the eel sushi because they’re meatier and meat lovers would respond well to their taste,” says Ashley. “Or they might enjoy the Spider Roll, because it’s cooked, with teriyaki.” There is literally something here for every taste, including vegetarians and vegans. Eve and I have been taking our granddaughters to Minado since it opened twelve years ago. It’s their happy place — the restaurant they choose to brighten their moods or celebrate some special occasion. General Manager James Pyo, who has been here since day one, says, “On weekends, it’s more like a party. That’s because we have so many parties here. Guests love our great casual environment. We can seat six hundred, so we’re able to accommodate parties of a hundred people virtually any time!” James is responsible for quality control and brings in deliveries of fresh fish and other produce every single day. Guests enjoy watching the smiling sushi chefs at work, replenishing the rapidly chosen favorites. Minado closes for at least two hours every day between lunch and dinner to further ensure the freshness of the buffet. And in the evening, Minado’s teppan-yaki chefs will promptly prepare your hibachi selection of chicken, beef, or vegetables while you wait.
smoked bacon in a truffle cheese sauce; and Roasted Beet Salad, laden with arugula, prosciutto, goat cheese, and pepitas in an herb olive oil. After such superb starters, we were pleased to say that our entrées did not disappoint in the least. I had The Conshy Girls’ classic Chicken Marianne (named after Gere and introduced with the ladies’ very first restaurant, the long-closed Bella Luna), a generous arrangement of sautéed chicken breast, served with mushrooms, tomatoes, garlic, and artichokes, splashed with white wine and served with mashed potatoes. Eve fared even better, with Salmon in Parchment. Inside the parchment was a delicate aromatic salmon fillet, cooked with tomato, lemon, cilantro, parsley, and mint in a ginger herb citrus sauce, complemented with jasmine rice and perfectly steamed asparagus. Other appealing menu items are Short Rib Gnocchi; Mushroom & Pesto Flatbread; Steak Pot Pie; and the restaurant’s understandably popular signature dish, Lobster Mac & Cheese, laced with a blend of asiago, Parmesan, and goat cheese. Finally, we got to enjoy two of Pastry Chef Evan Schoettle’s delightful sweet treats — Pecan Pie Bread Pudding, served
with vanilla gelato and salted caramel, and Apple Pie Spring Rolls, served with vanilla ice cream, a streusel cookie, and Crème Anglaise. Because The Conshy Girls have discovered how truly family-oriented Ambler is, they have tweaked their original menu, adding sandwiches such as “Frank the Bartender,” an entrée-worthy arrangement of chicken cutlet, prosciutto di Parma, sharp provolone, roasted red peppers, broccoli rabe, and Italian long hots on a long roll, and entrées like Mama Mary’s Meatballs (made with traditional, authentic veal, pork, and beef) & Spaghetti. Gypsy Blu, with ten tables outdoors (plus a sitting area surrounding a fire pit), also features Saturday and Sunday Brunch; specials virtually every evening, including Nonna’s Sunday Night Kitchen, Taco Tuesday, Saucy Wednesday (three courses for $27), Thursday Steak Night, and live light rock music on Friday and Saturday starting at 8:30; a well-stocked bar; and a dog menu, with offerings such as Grilled Chicken & Carrots and Doggy Ice Cream (really yogurt shaped like a dog biscuit). All proceeds from doggie items go to Home at Last Dog Rescue. Be sure to check out the cozy nooks
To avoid sensory overload, diners, be sure to pace yourselves. On our most recent visit, for example, Eve and I began our meal with a huge plate of beautifully prepared sushi, which included everything from the familiar, like Salmon Crunch Roll (smoked salmon, onions, tempura flakes, and spicy mayo), to the less so, like Black Spider Roll (crunchy softshell crab, cucumber, avocado, chef sauce, and eel sauce). We also tried the Osushiya Nishin, a seasoned herring sushi with capelin (in the smelt family) roe. Perennial favorites, among the nearly three-dozen varieties of sushi and sashimi available every day, are the Philadelphia Roll (salmon, cream cheese, avocado, and masago) and other colorful hand rolls with descriptive labels, like Rainbow Roll, Volcano Roll, Double Shrimp Roll, and Crunch Fire Roll. The ingredients in every single roll or dish are clearly identified. But the hot entrées also intrigue most guests, including us. After we finished our
sushi, enhanced by soy sauce, wasabi, and ginger, accompanied by hot tea, we perused the other half of the restaurant, where we enjoyed, among other dishes, Scallop Ceviche Salad (spiced with tomato, red onion and yellow bell pepper in a lime sauce); Green Mussel Salad (with peppers, red onion, and cilantro, served in a mussel shell); Tempura Maki Roll; and various nicely prepared tempuras (shrimp, carrot, sweet yam, squash, and string bean); plus some BBQ short ribs. Try not to overdo any one dish. The fun of a buffet is to return to the selections several times to just sample what you know you will like, but also to experiment with dishes whose strong colorful presence or intriguing aroma just might appeal to your taste. Eve and I also had room for the popular succulent Snow Crab Legs and some Blue Crab with tofu sauce. A refreshing cup of green tea ice cream rounded off our meal. (Made-to-order crepes and fresh fruits are also available.)
upstairs, including special balconies overlooking Spring Garden Street and Butler Avenue. And do visit The Conshy Girls’ website to learn more about their other restaurants, their extensive catering operation, and specialty items for sale, including Conshy Girls’ tee-shirts, wine glasses, dinnerware, doggie toys, and more. Speaking of other eateries, around Valentine’s Day, co-owner Strengari recently teamed up with partners Erica Young and Gabby Wallace to open Pretty Tasty Cupcake, a sweet treat nook in Conshohocken. Meanwhile, Gypsy Blu, a warm and friendly find in the center of familyfriendly Ambler, beckons all comers. Gypsy Blu is located at 34 East Butler Avenue, Ambler, PA, 19002; 215-283-6080; www.gypsyblurestaurant.com and www.conshygirls.com. All-Day Menu. Open for dinner: Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m –9 p.m. and Sunday, 2 p.m. to close. Brunch Sunday & Sunday: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Open Table. Happy Hour: Monday to Friday 5–7 p.m. Closed Monday. Live music weekends. Specials most nights. Catering available on- and off-premises.
MINADO JAPANESE SEAFOOD BUFFET RESTAURANT
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After such an incredible dining experience, we left happily full but not stuffed. The dinner buffet (all-you-can-eat) will run you $32.99 for adults and a sliding scale for children, based on their height, from $6.99 to $19.99. Lunch prices, of course, will be less. Those whose check totals $100 or more on their birthday receive a $20 gift card to encourage a return, which is highly likely. Minado is clearly the ultimate sushi buffet — a place where laughter can be heard from all corners as guests revel in the restaurant’s abundance and warmth. Minado Japanese Seafood Buffet Restaurant is located at 2917 Swede Road, East Norriton, PA 19401; 610-277-7375; www.minadopa.com. Lunch: Monday - Friday, 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.; Saturday & Sunday, 11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. Dinner: Monday – Friday, 6 – 9:30 p.m.; Saturday, 5:30 – 10 p.m.; Sunday, 5 – 9 p.m. Last seating 45 minutes prior to closing. Closed major holidays.
D I N I N G OU T GU I D E Costa Deli, 901 E. Butler Pike, Amler, PA; 215-646-6173. Costa Deli has been served the best local cheesesteaks, hoagies, and homemade foods since 1950. Our Philly-style hoagie and cheesesteak traditions have remained in tact since the beginning, and we NEVER cut corners.We carry DiBruno Brothers Cheeses,Talluto's Pasta and Raviolis, and gourmet Italian speciality foods.Let Gina's amazing gourmet cupcakes make your next event an extra special one.We fill orders small and large. Perfect for all occasions, including weddings, special events, parties or just a scrumptious daily treat....you deserve it! Panache Wood Fire Brick Over Grill, 602 Skippack Pike, Blue Bell, PA; 215-622-9000; www.panachewoodfiregrill.com Panache proudly offers thoughtfully sourced products, created with a new modern sensibility. Our fresh seafood arrives daily and complements our chop house selections as well as our signature Napolitano pizza.Authentic Wood Fire Pizza . Healthy Salads . Soups . Entrees from Land and the Sea . Fresh Made Pastas and Risotto . Gluten Free Dishes . Delicious Desserts . Childrenâ€™s Menu . Sandwiches . Cocktails . Beer .Wine and more.
Rising Sun Inn, 898 Alllentown Road,Telford, PA; 215-721-650 Rising Sun Inn, nestled in the rolling hills on the border of Bucks and Montgomery counties, is situated on the East Branch of the Perkiomen Creek. Built in 1739, it began its history as an inn when Peter Gerhart and his wife Elizabeth rented it from George Esterly in 1752.Today the Rising Sun Inn continues the tradition of superior hospitality that began with Peter Gerhart. Its newly renovated dining room retains its warmth and the big stone fireplace that has the distinctive character and charm of colonial days. The bar has a cozy, neighborhood feeling with its wood floors, walls, oak bar top and unique "bison theme" decor. It offers entertainment every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night. The Liberty Bell Room, located on the second floor, offers an intimate setting for special parties and functions. Larger gatherings are welcomed in our 18th century newly refurbished barn that comfortably allows for 100 guests.
Ristorante San Marco, 504 Bethlehem Pike, Ambler, PA; 215-6545000; www.sanmarcopa.com. Dining in a 19th century schoolhouse on a small hill. San Marcoâ€™s regular menu emphasizes traditional dishes from Southern Italy and Sicily.There is a beautifully appointed piano bar featuring nightly live music. Private parties for special occasions. Open Mon.-Fri., 11:30a.m.â€“3 p.m., 5p.m.â€“ 10p.m., Sat. 5p.m.â€“10p.m., closed on Sundays.
Joseph Ambler Inn, 1005 Horsham Rd, North Wales, PA 19454;215-362-7500; www.josephamblerinn.com. Exquisite cuisine, attention to detail, and an award-winning wine list combine to make Joseph Ambler Inn one of the most popular places to dine in Eastern Pennsylvania. The restaurantâ€™s random-width hardwood floors, handcrafted cherry tables,Windsor chairs and original, exposed stone walls create the ambiance for savoring a fine meal.Joseph Ambler Inn has earned a well-deserved reputation for its eclectic lunch and dinner menus, which offer many creative flourishes. Featuring only the finest quality fresh meats, fish, and produce, and seasonal herbs and vegetables, every dish is a delight. Hours. Lunch: Mon.â€“Fri. 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Lite Fare Luncheon: Sat. & Sun. Noon to 4 p.m. Served in the JPUB-No Reservations Necessary. Dinner: Monâ€“Sat 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Reservations suggested. Accepts all major credit cards. Ristorante Castello, 721 Skippack Pike, Blue Bell, PA; 215-283-9500; www.ristorantecastello.com. Experience the authentic taste of Northern Italy in Blue Bell. Delicious fish, fresh from the Mediterranean.The finest wines, crisp and light like a new romance. Remarkable menus that transport you to Milan and beyond. Everything just as it should be.Youâ€™ll enjoy yourself so much, you may forget youâ€™re in Blue Bell.Reserve your table for your special occasion. Celebrate your events in our beautiful dining room.
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Staying Fit at Any Age
THE INCREDIBLE FERRIGNO
was glancing at my Fitness magazine collection dated back to the 80’s. And, fast forward, I can honestly say there may be just a handful of people still showing up in those Fitness magazines today. Lou Ferrigno is one of them. I followed Lou Ferrigno over the years and learned about his story. He lost 80 percent of his hearing due to a series of ear infections he had as an infant and bullying he suffered at a young age. And he threw himself into body building and weight lifting at the age of 13. Recently I had the opportunity to interview Lou Ferrigno. You may remember him as playing the The Incredible Hulk in the 1978-82 TV series. Lou now is 66 years old and still in fabulous shape. He told me he’s worked out for 54 years, and nobody is in as great shape at 66. In our interview, he said it really doesn’t matter what age or body type you are, you can improve your lifestyle and fitness. Lou was Michael Jackson’s personal trainer and he won Mr. Universe and Mr. America in the same year too. He still provides the voice of the Hulk in the latest Marvel movies. And, Lou now and his daughter Shanna Ferrigno have developed a Website Ferrignofit.com. The mission is to improve lives through health and fitness. Lou told me that the average person should do 30 minutes of cardio and about 30 minutes of weight training at least three times a week along with a balanced diet to watch calorie intake. He said the 30 minute cardio puts your body in the burning fat mode. I asked Lou what would be the focus of those who want to be fit and trim but not have the bulky muscles used in competitions. As a trainer he likes band exercise and mixing in lighter weight training along with a cardio program. The combination of all three is needed. Lou believes you can start a program at any age even if you have arthritis and knee problems. He likes the Arc Trainer for cardo workout and the use of band exercise. Resistance bands are inexpensive and can be purchased online or at any fitness store. With bands you can do back, leg, glutes, and more. The Arc Trainer is a cardio machine that eliminates shock caused by running. Something I may review in a future column. Most importantly Lou believes everyone is different and programs fit people with specific needs. Lou says it’s all about consistency. You respect the word and live by it. Many people can’t afford a personal trainer. He now offers a 12-week program called Incredibly FIT. Lou says they help people right on their Website Ferrignofit.com. They worked with many people to put together a program that will improve 62
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your life and health. And they offer one on one support with diet and exercise. Their trainers work with you every step of the way to improve your health and getting fit. This excellent program is so affordable. I found Lou to be fun and interesting, and at 66 he is in great shape! My husband Bill who is 66 also keeps coming around me now flexing his muscles, “Hey Vic, what do you think?” Well, let’s just say he still has a way to go. With any exercise program, always consult your physician before you begin.
Above, Lou Ferrigno when he startded in body building. Left, Lou is still very fit today at age 66.
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Hidden Glory A Sparkling luminance, a reflection like sunlight in a young forest, is the hidden glory of Someone whose beauty surpasses a thousand springs and whose light is unapproachable.
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Ambler's Second Renaissance, Outdoor Living, Farmhouse Chic, Landscape Artist and Dining Out.