Happy Holidays!

The next few days I will be busy with family gatherings, holiday parties, and last-minute Christmas preparations, so before things get too crazy, I want to wish all of you happy holidays! I hope you all get a chance to relax, have a delicious meal with loved ones, and a drink or two to unwind. Let’s be grateful for all our blessings and also for our very special town of Ardmore. I know I am!

A cozy fire at home for the holidays

A cozy fire at home for the holidays

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Statements from Lower Merion and Haverford School Districts

Friday was a difficult day for many people as news came of the tragedy in Newtown, CT. As we all deal with our grief, sadness, and questions, I want to share some information that Ardmore’s two school districts posted online in response to the events on Friday.

Lower Merion posted a letter that was sent to parents on Friday, which details its security measures and emergency plans. I’m including an excerpt below; you can read the full statement here.

Excerpt of Lower Merion School District statement

Excerpt of Lower Merion School District statement

Haverford School District posted information about in-school counselors, who will be available to help students cope with this difficult situation.

Haverford School District Statement

Haverford School District Statement

I know this week will be tough for students and parents all over the country, and I hope this information helps for Ardmore parents who have concerns.

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In the Air with Local Artist Deirdre Murphy

One of the things I like most about this blog is that I get to meet people I wouldn’t in my day-to-day life around Ardmore. Who has time to chitchat when you’re running to the grocery store to pick up dinner or dropping clothes off at the dry cleaners? I don’t, and this blog forces me to slow down and get to know my neighbors. And you know what? There are so many interesting people in this town!

One of these people is Deirdre Murphy, a local artist, teacher, and exhibition coordinator at Main Line Art Center, who works out of her home studio in Ardmore. She is an enthusiastic, friendly person I’ve met several times in the past few months, and I recently spent some time with her on a Saturday at her home.


Deirdre Murphy in her basement studio in Ardmore

Murphy moved to Ardmore with her husband, Scott White, who is also an artist, son, and daughter a year ago. She relocated from South Philadelphia, where she’d lived for eight years. According to Murphy, “it’s lovely to walk everywhere” in Ardmore, which is a big reason she loves this town, along with green yards and streets, clean neighborhoods, and interesting people and neighbors.

Her favorite day in town so far happened just a few weeks ago around Thanksgiving. Her family and a few other families had a “progressive dinner party,” where one house had appetizers, another had the turkey, and Murphy’s house had the sweets. They walked between the houses, and Murphy said, “it was the best…it created a sense of community [and] friendship.” Sounds like a great day, right?

Murphy's artwork hanging in her studio

Murphy’s artwork hanging in her studio

With an impressive resume—M.F.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, painting and drawing teacher at Penn, a long list of exhibitions and awards—Murphy creates dynamic, interesting art rooted in a common theme: birds. Birds show up in all her artwork, even though, as she said, “it wasn’t intentional; I’m not a bird watcher, I’m not a bird lady.” Birds for her are like a “character in a play that help convey a narrative.” She draws parallels from her own life as a mother and the birds in her art. As she explained, “I’m such a wanderer, and now I’m so rooted with children” that she becomes the bird: “I’m that character that can see things and experience things.”


“Swarm 1”

One of the inspirations for her latest series of work was motherhood itself. “My work was starting to plateau around the time of [my daughter’s] birth,” she said. As a way of freeing up her artistic creativity, she moved to paper as her artistic medium to give herself more flexibility: she “wanted to have the willingness to risk more, and with paper being cheaper, it doesn’t feel like it’s going to waste like it would with canvas.”

"Convection 1"

“Convection 1”

Murphy’s artwork captures movement and perspective, something you feel as soon as you view one of her pieces. While birds have always been the most prominent feature of her work, there has been a recent change in her art’s focus: “I shifted from a single bird to the idea of migration, swarming, and chaos theory.”

You can see this in many of her recent creations—mixed media efforts using silk screen and acrylic painting methods—which explore “when [birds] migrate, when they flock, how a singular bird moves, and how the rest will follow.” This movement is something that Murphy calls “collective intellect,” which allows her to deal with ideas of density and openness in her work as she depicts the patterns of the birds’ movement. She frequently spends time at the Penn Veterinary Library to research birds to inform her art.



Murphy will be busy in the upcoming year. She will now be displaying her work at Gross McCleaf Gallery in Center City, where she will have a show in June 2013. She was also recently commissioned by Linwood Park to create a painting based on the tree botany in the park, which will be used for fundraising efforts. And in the spring, she will be painting on location at the Shipley School for its Secret Gardens Tour. All this while juggling family life, teaching, and getting out every now and then in Ardmore. Impressive!

Interested in learning more about Deirdre Murphy and her art? Visit her web site and keep an eye out for her around town. She has a portable French easel she takes to Linwood Park and other spots to paint early in the morning sometimes. Check her out today! I hope you enjoy her art as much as I did.

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A Tour of Saint Mary’s Historic Ardmore Church

If you’ve ever gone to the post office on Ardmore Avenue, you’ve probably driven or walked by Saint Mary’s Episcopal Church on the opposite corner. But did you know that the church is one of Ardmore’s most historical buildings?

Saint Mary’s recently celebrated its 125th anniversary, which marks the year the main church building was completed in 1887. The church was designed and built by Allen Evans, an Ardmore resident, active member of Saint Mary’s, and partner of the famed Philadelphia architect Frank Furness.

Program from Saint Mary's Recent Anniversary Celebration

Program from Saint Mary’s Recent Anniversary Celebration

I recently had the chance to get a tour of the church from Lonnie Hovey, a member of Saint Mary’s and a restoration architect at Whitman, Requardt & Associates. It was wonderful to find out about this historic building that I’ve passed many times over the years and knew nothing about!

Saint Mary's Church

Saint Mary’s Church

Saint Mary’s was established as a parish in 1886. Prior to that time, the church community was a mission chapel for the Church of the Redeemer in Bryn Mawr that served the mill workers in the Ardmore. When the parish was established, land was purchased on Ardmore Ave., at the same site where the church is located today. Allen Evans designed and built the church, the Parish House, and the rectory between 1887 and 1889. Saint Mary’s is one of just a few buildings that Evans designed on his own, without Frank Furness’ involvement; Merion Cricket Club is another.

Saint Mary's Front Entryway

Saint Mary’s Front Entryway

Saint Mary’s has a long history of serving the Ardmore community. Rachel Evans, the architect’s wife, was one of the important female members of the early church community and involved in the Women’s Guild, which was established to serve women and poor children. The Women’s Guild set up Saint Mary’s Laundry, which “helped put poor women to work to raise money for their families,” according to Hovey. The laundry ran from the 1890s to the 1950s and was located on Saint Mary’s Road in Ardmore. Another important outreach effort was the Ardmore Bargain Counter, or ABC Shop, which sold “household goods and clothes for the poor.”

Stained Glass in Chapel Room: This collection of stained glass windows records the history of the church.

Stained Glass in Chapel Room: This collection of stained glass windows records the history of the church.

The church also has a longstanding tradition of educating children as part of its mission. It was one of the first churches in the early part of the twentieth century to include children in its services. In 1950, it began a kindergarten program to educate local children, which ran until the 1970s. Currently, it runs a daycare program in its Parish House. It also has a legacy of tolerance as one of the first churches to ordain female priests. Prior to its current pastor, Rev. Michael Giansiracusa, Saint Mary’s was led by a female priest who was in a committed same-sex relationship.

Back of Saint Mary's Church: This section of the church includes bays that were added "in the spirit of [Allen Evans'] design," according to Hovey

Back of Saint Mary’s Church: This section of the church includes bays that were added “in the spirit of [Allen Evans’] design,” according to Hovey

Saint Mary’s is a thriving church community, with 297 members, that continues to serve the disadvantaged in the Ardmore area. It runs a Food Pantry to serve the local Ardmore community. For Thanksgiving, the pantry gave out 68 Thanksgiving dinners, with food for the holiday and breakfast for the day after. Twice a week, 25-50 local families take advantage of the Food Pantry. Donations are welcome during the week at the Parish Hall.

Front of Saint Mary's Church: The rood screen, which separates the chancel from the nave, was designed by Allen Evans and dedicated by his wife Rachel after his death.

Front of Saint Mary’s Church: The rood screen, which separates the chancel from the nave, was designed by Allen Evans and dedicated by his wife Rachel after his death.

Interested in checking Saint Mary’s out for yourself? It’s a beautiful church and an important part of Ardmore history! Sunday services are at 8:15 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Although I’m not a member of the church, I had the chance to meet a few of the members and Rev. Giansiracusa during my tour, and they were very nice and welcoming. I’d highly recommend a visit! I’d also like to thank Lonnie Hovey who took time on a Sunday to give me the tour and share so many great details about the history of the church.


Tiffany Stained Glass Window: one of several in the church. Tiffany Studios “played with the thickness of the glass to form deep, dark tones and lighter tones,” according to Hovey. If you go visit the church, be sure to get up close to the windows to check out this technique.

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Holiday Happenings & Info

The holiday season is upon us! I’ll be honest, I can’t believe it, and I have nothing done yet–no decorations, presents, or baking plans–but I get into the holiday spirit when I see all the things going on around town.

Last Year’s Christmas Tree

As you may know, Ardmore offers free parking on Saturdays from Thanksgiving to Christmas. So don’t worry about paying those meter fees, just park your car and get shopping at all the great businesses around.

This Friday, 11/30, at 6 p.m., the annual holiday tree lighting will take place in Schauffele Plaza on Lancaster Ave. (next to Bella Italia). Santa will also stop by! There will be caroling, cookies, and cocoa too. It sounds like a fun way to kick off the season.

Next Friday, 12/7, is First Friday Main Line. I’m giving you a little notice on this one because as part of the December festivities, there will be a gingerbread house contest. Get your batter, gumdrops, and icing together now and start assembling! The contest has several categories for judging, including children and adult, professional and chef, and individual and group. And the best part? The houses will be put on display in the windows of Ardmore businesses.

More events are happening in the next few weeks, so check back for updates soon!

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First Snowfall!

It’s snowing in Ardmore! It’s light and seems to be mixed with rain, but it looks like winter is here. I’m someone who loves living in a place that has four seasons, so a little snow is fine by me.

This is a pic from a snow storm in the last few years on my street. I’m not ready for this yet.

Snowy Day

But I am ready to curl up by the fire with this wintry weather.

A Recent Fire at Home

So my question is:

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Local Artists Participating in Holiday Art Sale at Main Line Art Center

Main Line Art Center in Haverford will again have its Holiday Fine Art Sale this year. The sale features 50 local artists and will run for 10 days from November 30 to December 9. Two Ardmore artists will be selling their artwork.

Sharon Bartmann, a teacher at Main Line Art Center and a ceramic artist, will be selling “everything from pinch pots to large platters and teapots.” Sharon started her 14-year career in ceramics after working as an art director and graphic designer for 20 years. Her goal with her ceramic art is “to inspire, connect and bring a smile to the face of my customers.”

Ceramic Art by Sharon Bartmann

She says her work has been called “whimsical yet sophisticated.” Customers who admire and buy her work range from 20 years old to 80 years old, but the common thread is that they “all have a positive view of life and embrace the theory of wabi-sabi,” a Japanese philosophy that “sees[s] beauty in imperfections and forces you to look at life and your surroundings from a different vantage point.”

Ceramic bowl by Sharon Bartmann

Bartmann counts nature, motherhood, and her role as a teacher as inspirations for her work. She credits her father, who worked as an urban planner, architect, and landscape architect, with giving her creativity. Her father is now in “semi-retirement…working as a wood carver and selling his work.”

After growing up an hour and a half outside of Philly, “in a blue-collar town with a real work ethic,” Bartmann settled in Ardmore almost 19 years ago. The main draw was its close location to Philadelphia and the Lower Merion School District for her three daughters. After making the move to Ardmore, she was “pleasantly surprised that the small pocket where I live is very urban-minded and diverse [with]…an amazing range of professional and creative people who are open-minded and embrace the arts.”

Bartmann’s perfect day in Ardmore starts with a walk on the Haverford College nature trail. She describes Ardmore as “a small slice of the city tucked into the beauty of the Main Line.”

Shelly Rabuse will also be selling her one-of-a-kind jewelry, created from vintage pieces, at the art sale. With over 80 pieces available for sale, customers can find earrings, rings made from vintage earrings and buttons, and leather bands among her handcrafted items.

Jewelry by Shelly Rabuse

Rabuse started creating jewelry ten years ago as “a creative hobby [to get] away from my computer where I spend a lot of time as a graphic designer.” After one of her design clients sold some of Rabuse’s pieces in her store, Rabuse was encouraged to continue. Because her jewelry is made from vintage pieces, she doesn’t have a “fixed vision” for her jewelry; instead, “the vintage piece dictates the final design.”

Jewelry by Shelly Rabuse

She finds vintage pieces, usually at thrift stores and flea markets, that she can break up to create something new and unique. Her favorite thing about making jewelry is “when someone returns to my tent or jewelry show and tells me that they wear one of my pieces all the time.” Her work appeals to a wide range of ages. Young women frequently like her silk cord necklaces, and older women often like her chunky beaded necklaces.

Originally from Ambler and Blue Bell, Rabuse moved to Narberth after college and never left the Main Line. She moved to Ardmore in 2002, after finding the house she and her husband eventually bought when she made a wrong turn trying to find a garage sale.

Her perfect Ardmore day starts with a walk to Suburban Square for a Starbucks, a stop at the Paper Source and Free People stores, a great day of [jewelry] sales at Clover Market, and an end of the day beer along with the “fabulous bread” at Tired Hands Brewery.

Rabuse describes Ardmore “as the best of the Main Line without any pretension or attitude. We have great small businesses, a very nice shopping mall, good restaurants, historic homes, reasonable taxes, and some of the best schools in the country. Who could ask for anything more?”

I agree!

Holiday Sale Details:

  • Location: Main Line Art Center at 746 Panmure Road, Haverford, PA
  • Dates: Nov. 30 to Dec. 9
  • Hours: Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Special Events: A preview reception for members on November 29 from 5 to 8 p.m., and a Bubbles & Baubles Shop & Sip, a free cocktail reception open to the public, on December 5 from 6 to 8 p.m.
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Ardmore Resident Runs the Philadelphia Marathon

As you may have seen if you read my post earlier this week, Ardmore resident Michael McKeeman won the Philadelphia Marathon last weekend. Another resident, Cathy Hilliard of South Ardmore, also completed the marathon.

Cathy Hilliard wearing her keepsake shirt from the Philadelphia Marathon

Hilliard is a Senior Research Toxicologist at Merck Sharp & Dohme, and this marathon was her third. She was joined by a friend from San Antonio, and her goal was “to break my time from last year at the Rehoboth Beach Marathon.” And she did. Last year, she ran the marathon in 4:20, and this year she ran in 4:16.

She first ran the Philadelphia Marathon in 1996, and it’s changed significantly since then. At that time, there were just a few thousand runners, and this year, there were more than 30,000 runners participating between the marathon and the half-marathon.

Her favorite part of the experience was the 60,000 spectators lining the course: “they gave us really good support” through signs, and even a serenade of Taps at one point. The funniest sign she saw read, “If you were Paul Ryan, you would have been here an hour ago.”

She also enjoyed the camaraderie between the runners. When she was close to the end, at mile 26 with just 200 meters to go, exhausted and trying to push through, a man in front of her stopped, and “people helped pull him along, so he could finish.”

Originally from the Carlisle, PA area in Central Pennsylvania, Hilliard has lived in Ardmore for eight years. She chose to live in Ardmore because she “liked the neighborhoods, the mix of people, the many things to do, good restaurants, and a good movie theater nearby” [Bryn Mawr Film Institute]. She also liked its proximity to Chester County, where she can ride horses, a lifelong passion.

Her favorite thing to do in Ardmore is to “spend a warm Saturday working in the garden and have a chat and a beer with my neighbors.” She thinks Ardmore is a great place to live because it has a “very close knit community where people help people out.”

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Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you all have a wonderful, relaxing, and delicious Thanksgiving! On this day of thanks, I’m grateful that I live in a town I love and that this blog gives me the chance to find interesting people and things going on in Ardmore. Thanks to all of you who read. Have a great day.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Free Kids Meals at Local Restaurant

A quick post about a deal going on at an Ardmore restaurant. If you have kids and want a break from cooking the day before Thanksgiving, head over to John Henry’s Pub at Cricket and Athens on Wednesday, 11/21. They are offering a free kid’s meal for each adult sandwich or platter purchased.

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