Category archives: Story

Meet Jan, the founder of AHHAH–arts holding hand and hearts.

1. Can you tell us a little bit  about yourself ?

My life has been a winding road full of many wonderful twists and turns that have all lead me to AHHAH.
I grew up in Nashville and was going to major in psychology but was invited to act in a summer theatre program my senior year and was hooked and changed my major to theatre.  I was a professional actress in NYC for 18 years, even was in a a horror film, Mad  Man where I get axed in the chest and my head shot off (that always grabs the attention of youth in detention when I share that tidbit).  
I have a BA degree in Theatre and a Master’s in Education, my thesis was “Does and Arts Infused Curriculum enhance the academic success of children labeled “at risk”?”
I have two children, Ian who is 35 and a lawyer in Norristown, and Caitlin who is  31, an artist, dancer and the most amazing mother of my 2 year old grandson in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.
We moved to Unionville 25 years ago.  I started a ‘Science Alive’ program at Unionville Elementary school when it was a K-3 school when my daughter was in 1st grade and then was hired to bring the program to Chadds Ford Elementary.  After getting my Master in Education, I moved on up to Patton Middle School and  taught English, Science, Life Management Skills and assisted the after school drama program.
My husband had worked at the World Trade Center in NYC.  I had always said when my children were grown and I was a grandmother I would go back to acting.  After 9/11 I realized that if you have a dream, you can’t put it on a shelf and say “one day” but pursue it now.  I finished that school year and once again pursued acting this time in Philadelphia.  
My first day not teaching, I was cast in a show “Snow is Falling” with Philadelphia Young Playwrights. During the rehearsals, when they found out that I had been a teacher, I was asked to be a teaching artist teaching playwriting with children in inner city schools in Philadelphia.  A truly AHHAH moment.  I was a teaching artist for both PYP and the Philadelphia Theatre Company for 8 years.  

I also lead the drama program with the Philadelphia Senior Center across the street from Suzanne Roberts Theatre and was a member of CAAN- Creative Arts and Aging Network.  I was part of the planning committee for a town hall meeting at World Live Cafe in 2002 of the importance of professional arts programming with seniors that was a nationwide movement to get funding for professional senior arts programming. The theme of the town hall meeting was think globally but act locally. 

2. When and why did you start AHHAH? 

I started an intergenerational program called Hands Across the Ages which combined senior citizens at the Kennett Senior Center and teenagers at the Garage to share their stories and break down the walls between the generations.  The teens came to the senior center after school for workshops where we used theatre techniques to build connections.  The next year the seniors went to the high school as part of an after school program.
I brought this program to Philadelphia Theatre Company as part of their “Philly Reality” program.  I worked with the Philadelphia Senior Center and the World Communications Charter School which was across the street.   Fall of 2012 they picked the issue of bullying in school and that we need more arts education not more guards with guns.  The piece they wrote together was, “I AM LIVING”.  December 12 was the Sandy Hook killing.  I AM LIVING was performed to a packed audience at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre.  At the talk back after the performance, young and old shared having been either bullied or being a bully, not realizing the impact of words to hurt a person and became advocates to stop bullying.
Three weeks later I found out that  three of the inner city schools where I was teaching were closing and three weeks after than I found out that funding for the arts of the other inner city schools was being cut.  I said to the director of education at PTC that if the government does not believe that children in poverty deserve an arts education and are just going to funnel them into the prison system, then we need to bring our programs to the children in the juvenile justice system.
The education director said they didn’t go there and I said, ” I guess I have to open my own organization that does.”  I quit my job.
I get up early in the morning 4 am  to meditate ( that’s when my husband starts snoring and I felt it was better to get up and meditate instead of tossing and turning with a pillow over my ears or his head!) and journal.  The day after I quit I journaled and asked  “Ok what do I do now, and as if channelled my hand wrote, AHHAH.  I wrote what does AHHAH stand for and I wrote Arts Holding Hands and Hearts.  I closed my journal and said to myself, “I guess that’s my new organization.”  

3. Can you share some stories from AHHAH programs?

I teach 6 am yoga at Yoga Secrets in Kennett. That morning after teaching I asked, Can anyone get me into the prisons legally.
There was a new person in class who said she was a parole officer and said I need to talk to Carrie Avery and Joe Frankenstein at the Chester County Youth Center.  I said,”Is this a horror film joke, Carrie and Frankenstein! It wasn’t.  I met with Carrie and Joe and a week later I started a weekly trauma sensitive yoga class.  Three months later we started a creative writing program.  That was in 2013.
The first writing program was with girls in the shelter for homeless and abused girls at CCYC. There were 4 girls, all from Coatesville.  The first girl who shared was Sarena, who wrote, “I am the daughter of a teenage mother who was the daughter of a teenage mother who was the daughter of a teenage mother with no father in sight.”  The next girl who shared wrote about being raped at 12 by her uncle while her mother was in the room and the baby crying that stopped him from taking her again but she forgave him because she knew that she would be in prison in her heart if she didn’t forgive.  I knew then that AHHAH had to make Coatesville our base to see how we could stop the youth from Coatesville entering the juvenile justice system.
Our first grant was a 21st Century Learning Center grant and we facilitated trauma sensitive yoga and after school playwriting classes with students at Scott Middle School in 2014.  We then found out that children in kindergarten were being suspended in Coatesville.  We knew if we were going to be more than a bandaide we needed to reach families with children 0-5.  We started a Family Story Time Yoga program for children 2-5 with a caregiver at the Coatesville Library.
One of the mothers in our first class, mother was a teacher in Early Start a program with Head Start.  She introduced us to the director of Coatesville Head Start and we facilitated Storytime Yoga for free to 5 Head Start classes in Coatesville.  2019 AHHAH brings our Storytime Yoga program to over 400 children in Chester County.
 In my research of why so many children in poverty enter the juvenile justice system I found statistics that children in poverty are exposed to 30 MILLION words less by the time they are five than children in a middle class or more affluent household.
2015 was the City of Coatesville’s 100 anniversary.  I spearheaded a “PULL” (Pop Up Lending Library) Campaign to get 100 both indoor and outdoor PULL Stations throughout Coatesville.
2018 the Longwood Rotary gave AHHAH $1500 for materials to build 10 PULL Stations in Kennett Square. The Kennett Square community embraced the PULL Campaign.  AHHAH partnered with the Kennett Library and the Kennett Culture and Arts group in identifying locations, artists, and collection of books.

Please check AHHAH website for more information:www.artsholdinghandsandhearts.com

Meet Caroline, artist, art writer, event maker.

How do you introduce yourself?
Caroline Roosevelt. 


How did you find yourself in the art world and decide to stay?
My passion has always orbited around art. As I child, I started drawing and was encouraged to do so by my mother (who is an artist!) I excelled at art in high school, entering and placing in competitions, and studied studio art and art history at Connecticut College. After graduating, I moved to Philadelphia and attended Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts where I continued to suss out what I’m trying to do with my art. As an adult, I continue to pursue artistic endeavors while also engaging the community. I write an art column for Chadds Ford Live and Chester County Press called Mixed Media, and have been enjoying that since November. I still create my own work, and sell my cards at worKS, as well as participate in community art events. I recently established a Pop Up Arts committee dedicated to uplifting the arts in the Kennett area through Pop Up Events. It seems that, no matter where I go, art follows me and I’m realizing that’s not a coincidence. 

What are you working on right now? How did the project come to you?

Right now I’m working on a few paintings for the Evening of The Arts. I’m looking to expand into some more fauvist styles of painting. I have also just learned how to frame my own work, so I’m practicing that as well. 

We also have a Pop UP Art event in Kennett Square on June 1st so, stay tuned for more info!

 
Why did you decide to move to Kennett square?
I am originally from the area. After living in dense metropolitan areas for 10 years, I was ready to slow down a little bit and recalibrate, and that landed me back in Kennett which has been a really fantastic thing for me. I work for the Kennett Township, and participate in community events in the borough as well. I love this community!
What do you like most about Kennett Square?
I love how Kennett has grown into itself in the past ten years. It’s changed from a sleepy agricultural town, to a lively community full of artists and entrepreneurs with big ideas. There will always be a part of the community that will long for the past, and challenge ingenuity, but overall, I see Kennett as receptive to change while still respecting its roots, and that’s one of the most attractive things about this town. 

 

Meet David, the owner of Unionville Saddle. David is a fashion designer, after living in New York for a decade he is bring his love of custom garment making back to here.

What sparked your interest in fashion?

Growing up I always had an interest in fashion, I remember reading GQ or sketching what my favorite pop stars’ were wearing but I was always more interested in fine arts.  I grew up painting and drawing and didn’t begin to sew until I was a senior in high school. I really got interested in fashion when I went to Parsons School of Design in NYC.  While I was studying I realized that fashion was a way to communicate  concepts while exploring traditional construction techniques and making people feel amazing.

What is your brand philosophy?

My brand philosophy revolves around the concept of Your Body Infinite Options.  Studying and working in the fashion industry for a decade opened my eyes to some major flaws in the current fashion system.  From not providing adequate sizing in stores to crippling runway and production costs I have decided to approach the business in a much different way by creating single pieces specifically to a client’s needs.  I believe that clients are looking for something that is made just for them, in the past women would have clothes made for them by dressmakers, working one on one to create something completely original and with a perfect fit for them.  My goal is to make every client feel at home while working with them to create pieces that will flatter every part of them, last, and look modern for years to come.

How do you describe your fashion and style?

I like when there is a mix of minimal clean lines and rawness, I love when frayed edges contrast the perfect fit.  There always needs to be a balance comfort and elegance, weight and lightness, color and texture.

What are you fascinated by at the moment and how does it feed into your work?

Currently, I am working with the concept of my transition from a city life in NYC to life in Unionville.  I have always used personal experience in life as my inspiration for my collections and this transition has been the most shocking and rewarding process of my life.

Talk us through the process of creating a garment. How long does it normally take to create a dress? what’s the procedure like?

Making a garment can take anywhere up to a year, particularly for bridal gowns.  The process always begins with a conversation, what do you need, when do you need it, what will the function be?  Then I will show a client some fabrics that may work with what they need and we begin to sketch. Once a design is selected I drape the piece, make a pattern, fit a muslin, and order the final fabric.  Once the pattern is corrected I cut the garment in final fabric, sew it, and fit the final piece. Depending on how complicated the garment is it may need more fittings to get the correct the fit.

Check David’s website and instagram for more information.

 

Meet Robin, the owner of Brandywine Botanicals. ” Robin’s experience in floral design contributes to an appreciation of artistic balance. She has always had an interest in unique fragrances and has spent the last several years researching products and learning about ingredients sourced from around the world. “–http://www.brandywinebotanicals.com


How did you become a perfumer?

I seem to change careers like most people change jobs and a natural fragrance business brings me full circle to my first job as a floral designer.  Both floral and fragrance design are creative outlets that are based on design principles; they are a wonderful blend of art and science. One of the shops I worked at had a large garden center where it was easy to learn about plants, their care and their fragrance.  I lived in the San Francisco Bay area for a while and the plants are amazing. There were rosemary shrubs and lemon trees growing in the yard and nonstop color all around me. Gardening was, and still is, a joy.  

 

Perfume is a blend of art and science.  Years as a critical care respiratory therapist required a background in science to understand our bodies and therapies used to treat injury and illness.  This ties into the chemistry aspect of fragrance.  We smell essential oils because they evaporate and that rate of evaporation is based on the size of the molecules and how they interact. Fragrance has an effect on our mood and often has therapeutic properties, something I am learning about through aromatherapy training. Experience in the corporate world comes in handy for running a small business.  Anyone who is a small business owner understands that you wear multiple hats and often do it all.   

 

So how did I become a perfumer? Blending essential oils and their beautiful scents was a hobby that grew after taking a single aromatherapy workshop. That workshop was followed by training with a very successful natural perfumer in Rhode Island.  The last several years have been spent trying different blends, learning about the essential oils and enjoying an olfactory trip around the world.

 

Do you have a particular style or approach to creating fragrances? 

The concept for a fragrance can come from several directions but blending always starts in my mind.  I may find a beautiful scent, like orange blossoms, try a new essential oil or simply read about a new ingredient or perfume that starts the creative process. The next step is similar to cooking. Just as you have an idea of what seasoning will work in a recipe, I consider what essential oils or botanicals will work together. For instance, will a blend need the spark of a little citrus?  Perhaps a nice sandalwood as the base?  Following design principles means using specific fragrance ‘notes’ together so you can smell a top note after applying the fragrance and experience a smooth transition to middle notes and the final base notes that last the longest for what is called the ‘dry down’. Then the fun really begins as I place a drop or two of each ingredient onto a test strip and try different combinations. Because natural fragrance does not contain preservatives or longer-lasting synthetic fragrance chemicals, it rarely lasts as long as a synthetic.  The natural perfumer must carefully blend the fragrance notes and use essential oils that have fixative properties that help the overall blend last a bit longer.  Creating a beautifully balanced blend is the artistry of natural fragrance. 

 

Tell me about your favorite in the collection?

Almost Summer is a favorite because it was one of my first blends and it is a simple, beautiful orange blossom fragrance.  It reminds me of driving along orange groves when the trees are in bloom.  Everywhere you look you see the small white blossoms and their sweet, warm fragrance is carried by the breeze. It is a nice warm-weather fragrance and is uplifting during the colder months.

 

What projects are you currently working on and where do you want to take your business in the future? 

This spring is a big turning point for Brandywine Botanicals.  I will complete aromatherapy certification training in July and plan to offer an aromatherapy collection. This is likely to include a fragrant oil for massage or moisturizing and an aromatherapy spray that can be used to fragrance the home, linens and the skin.  That is the beauty of natural ingredients: they can serve more than one purpose with less concern than something made from petroleum products as many home fragrances are. Certification also opens the door to starting a small practice where custom blends can be offered to those with a specific need.  I work from my home studio so sell online and at local events but would like to find a small studio/retail space to offer fragrance, host workshops and support an aromatherapy practice.  Location is challenging for a small business but I am always on the lookout for unique opportunities so stay tuned!

 

Meet Shannon, Mother of two beautiful girls, owner of  Penny  lane emporium.

Can you tell us about yourself?
 
I live in Chadds Ford with my two daughters, Lily & Quinn, and my husband, Rob.  I grew up in Chadds Ford and we moved back a few years ago to raise our family here.  I love this area so much.  It holds a lot of personal history and happy memories and I’m so grateful we came back.  I worked in corporate retail for 17 years, most recently at Urban Outfitters Inc, where I spent 14 years working in Merchandising in the Planning & Allocation department.  I recently left my corporate career to venture out on my own and chase a life long dream of opening a retail shop.  My family is my biggest Joy.  I think good girlfriends and good wine are an essential part of life.  I love to travel,
be silly with my kids and believe that life is truly what you make of it.
What made you want to open a children clothing store? 
As I was exploring what I wanted to do with the next chapter of my career, I knew I wanted to open a local shop in the community.  In the end, I put together the elements of what I believe I know best:  Retail + Parents + Kids.  I use my own daughters as inspiration and follow their lead on what they like in their personal lives.  I like the fun, whimsical nature of children’s retail.  I felt that was missing in Kennett Square and I wanted to bring something unique and fresh to the town.
Where did the name Penny Lane Emporium come from?
Penny Lane has a whimsical feel to it.  To me, it feels like a warm and welcoming location, a place I would be curious to visit.  Emporium also feels very fun and magical and helps communicate the variety of items we sell.  Clothing, accessories, gifts, shoes, novelties, ice cream, etc.
What makes your store unique?
Penny Lane Emporium offers a engaging retail experience for parents and kids.  I really wanted to create a space that kids would want to visit.  As a parent, I am very familiar with the challenges of shopping with children.  If I can engage the kids in the retail experience as well, it’s a win win for everyone.  We have a small, but cheerful kid’s area with chalk board and coloring activities, a Little Free Library that serves as a community book exchange for kids, a Mouse Hunt riddle for kids to solve for a prize and of course, Mochi Ice Cream.  I hope kids, as well as, parents will want to come back again and again.
What do you think about Kennett Square?
 
I have always loved Kennett Square and was really excited to become a local business owner in town.  Little did I know how amazing it really is!  The community feel of Kennett is fostered by the amazing merchants, business owners and borough government.  Everyone has been supportive, helpful and welcoming to Penny Lane.  It truly is a unique and wonderful place and I feel very fortunate to be fulfilling my dream in this community.
For more information visit website here:https://pennylaneemp.com
  1. Janet Cook and family said:
    Best of luck Shannon in your new endeavor. We wish you all the best.
    June 7, 2017  1:14 pm
    Reply

Meet Nat– a fine art photographer in Kennett Square. 1.Tell us a little bit about you?

I am originally from Brooklyn N.Y. We moved a lot when I was a kid which always made me feel like an outsider. I think that helped me to be a keen and objective observer of my surroundings which has served me well when I hold a camera up to my eye. After spending many years on the F Train to Manhattan where I worked as a commercial photographer, my wife and I decided it was time to make a change. We set our sights on the Brandywine Valley and ultimately ended up here in Kennett Square, where we raise our two daughters. My day job is in the Exhibitions department at Winterthur Museum in nearby Wilmington. When I’m not at work I spend just about every minute making or thinking about making images. It’s an obsession really. I can’t not do it.

2.How did you get into photography?

I was very visual when I was a child. This might sound strange but I would arrange images of my surroundings in my head in ways that would aesthetically please me. During my middle-school years I received as a gift my first 35mm camera, a Nikon FM. It gave me the opportunity to get those images out of my head and into an actual photograph . When I got to high school I really immersed myself in the craft of photography. I spent every minute I could in the darkroom. The obsession became so great that I would accidentally cut classes because I’d lose track of time trying to get that perfect print. After graduating high school I attended a very intensive photography school and quickly landed an assistant’s job in the studio of a small advertising agency in NYC. I started out like most assistants do—sweeping the studio, developing film, painting sets, and changing the cat litter. I soon worked my way up to staff photographer, doing mostly still life work for catalogs and ads for big name clients in the NY giftware and toy industry. As a way to escape the monotony of photographing merchandise I started to shoot people. I fell in love with portraiture and it’s what I love to do most now.

3. What’s your favorite subject?

My daughters, without question. They are the most expressive, generous, and patient people. If I ran out of anything else to photograph, I’d be very happy to photograph them everyday. I’m not sure how they’d feel about that though.

4. What do you think about film vs digital?

I’m kind of two minds about this. Film will always be special to me. Artistically speaking there’s a certain soulful quality and warmth about film as well as the tactile aspect of the materials that’s very exciting to me. I like how it forces you to slow down—to be more thoughtful, more deliberate. I attended an alternative process workshop last year that reinvigorated my interest in making old-school, hand-crafted images. However, compared to digital sensors, film can be limiting in terms of speed, color temperature, workflow, and that sort of thing. Not to mention the cost factor of film and development. Despite all that there seems to be a resurgence of film in the marketplace at the moment. I’m not sure if it’s nostalgia or a real honest-to-goodness backlash to our overly digitized world. Time will tell but what I do feel very strongly about is whichever medium best expresses your artistic vision is the right medium to use.

5.Where do you get your inspiration?

That’s the kind of question I could answer for days! I like finding the extraordinary in what would otherwise be considered very ordinary subject matter. I look for the beauty in the imperfection of things. Also, since I was very young, I’ve been quite fascinated and maybe even obsessed with the passage of time. I like fleeting moments. The moments between moments. I’m not sure if it necessarily comes through in all my work, but it is always on my mind.

6.A photographer who inspires you

When it comes to the great iconic figures of photography, Irving Penn has probably had the greatest influence on me, especially when I was a younger photographer. He blurred the lines between art and craft. He treated street trash with the same care and attention to detail as he would the finest examples of haute couture. What I love most about Penn is how he focused in equal measure on the dignity and humanity of his portrait subjects, whether they were artists, celebrities, common workers, or indigenous peoples.

Having said that though, I’d regret not adding that in the past few years I’ve become friends with several like-minded photographers, some who I’ve only met through social media, who are generous, supportive, and constructive. Photographers who create and share amazing, meaningful, and very personal work. Work presented without ego. Work that inspires conversation and exploration. That kind of inspiration is hard to beat.

To learn more about Nat’s work check his instagram: https://www.instagram.com/natalecaccamo/

One day I was shooting outside of Talula’s table, a lady walking towards me with a big warm smile : ” Hi, you must be Jie? I’m Bri from Fig Kennett.” That’s how I met Brianna, Director & Managing Editor of Fig Kennett Magazine.

 

What did you do before you joined Fig? 

I have a background in Corporate Marketing and spent my early career in the Banking industry doing Online Advertising. When I had my first baby, I wholeheartedly stepped away from full time work and became a stay-at-home mom. It was such a beautiful and fulfilling time for me. I cherish those years and consider them integral to shaping me into the person I am today. It was during those years at home that I decided to switch careers and pursue something creative that would make my heart skip a beat. I fell in love with photography & graphic design and started my own photography business just before joining the Fig team. I love that new seasons of life bring new opportunities. It is my current job with Fig that feels so full circle for me. I can apply all my previous skills and passions into one role. More than that, it feels incredibly rewarding to play a small part in helping the economy of this town that I love. It’s truly a privilege to help showcase all the talented business owners and community members that make Kennett so special. 
 I  love the Fig’s new issue–the hospitality issue, where did your idea come from? Do you have a theme for each issue?
The idea for the Hospitality theme came from my everyday simple interactions with people around town, especially the small business owners themselves. I was inspired by the teamwork and encouragement I saw among the business owners. Everyone helps each other out. Everyone wants the greater good for Kennett Square. And I was also inspired by the simple kindness of people around town. Doors are held open for you. Tables are shared among strangers. Recently someone offered me their parking spot because their meter had been paid up for an extra hour. I felt like this Spring issue of Fig needed to celebrate the homey, small town hospitality that I’ve experienced. 
Yes we do have a theme for each issue and we publish four times a year. Fig’s main pillars are local Dining, Shopping, Arts & Events. So our themes drill down on one of those areas each time in a fun and creative way. 
What makes Fig Magazine different from others on the market?
We are a hyper-local publication whose mission is ultimately to help Kennett Square thrive. We feel strongly that communities can be transformed through powerful design and creative communication. So Fig acts as a lookbook for Kennett Square. Our goal is to lift up the independent small businesses that give Kennett its personality and make it unique. If you live on the Main Line and you read Fig Kennett, we want you to get excited about visiting. Or if you live on Meredith Street in the borough, we want you to be proud that you live, work and entertain here. There are no other publications in this area that have this “love local” mission so prominently in mind with each issue.
What do you like most about Kennett Square?
I’m a small town girl. So I love that I can walk into Philter and see three people I know on any given day. I also love that Longwood Gardens is practically in my back yard. May I never take for granted all the beauty that surrounds me.

What is you typical workday look like? 
A typical day starts by putting my kids on the bus and then heading in to work at my State Street office. I turn on some music (probably Sia, Chris Stapleton or old school Michael Jackson if I’m in the mood to sing) and I’ll work on content creation, advertising proposals, design approvals, and meet with my advertisers. And everyday includes a walk around town to chat with business owners, grab something to eat, and snap a few photos for Fig’s social media channels. I like to end my day by making a list of to-do’s for the next morning because this job requires a lot of thoughtful planning. I feel like every task is an investment in Kennett Square, and that’s what motivates me! 

 

Meet Maike– a professional dog trainer. She came from Germany and has lived in PA for twenty years.

 

I heard you came from Germany. Can you talk a little bit about that? 

Yes. I grew up on the outskirts of Heide in Schleswig-Holstein, about an hour North of Hamburg. My childhood in Germany was amazing. My grandmother had dachshunds when I was a child, which led me to longhaired dachshunds as my breed of choice today (they remind me so much of home and childhood). Dachshunds may not be for everybody, since they are very independent and can be a challenge to train, but I enjoy their personality and adventurous spirit. My dog Lucy had her first litter of puppies in the spring of 2016 and I kept a girl (Ruby Sue) as a companion for her. I am rarely seen without my dogs.

What did you do before you become a dog trainer? 

I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and a Master’s degree in Teaching English as a Second Language. I have worked with ESL learners in adult language programs as well as elementary schools. I found the perfect balance to my scholarly pursuits in working with large and small animals around Chester County Pennsylvania. To balance my studies I have managed Eventing stable and quiet country farm boarding operations. Through my equestrian connections, I then became a dog walker and pet sitter (in my experience every horse person generally has at least one dog). Overall, I find the work with animals endlessly rewarding and it is ultimately best suited to my quiet nature.

Why do you want to be dog trainer? 

My interactions with dogs challenge me in ways that keep me continuously exploring and growing as a person. I enjoy helping people and want to see dogs and their humans learn to communicate as a team. Personally, I am most interested in the canine behavior aspect of dog training. Since understanding dogs has always come naturally to me, I feel like I have knowledge to impart that can bring people closer to living in true harmony with their canine companions. I am currently enrolled in the Victoria Stilwell Academy for Dog Training and Behavior to further my education.

 

What was your first dog training experience? 

My grandmother’s dachshunds always found me as a child, but my parents did not allow my to have my first dog until I was 18. Jeannie was a Golden Retriever/Collie/Chow Chow mix and my first true dog training challenge. She came to me at 8 weeks and was my shadow in all my adventures outside of school. She was fiercely loyal to my family, but reactive to strangers. My parents ultimately kept her when I moved to the US, but I have since worked with many dogs that mirrored her “take no prisoners” attitude.

Can you give people 3 tips about dog training? 

The best advice I can give people is to:

 

–       Take the time to understand what your dog is trying to tell you.

–       Use positive reinforcement when training your dog.

–       Have patience in your training and always treat your best friend with kindness.

Maike Singelmann can be reached at  Email: maikesingelmann@yahoo.com  Phone: 267-902-9433

Miriam is a Moroccan-American Mom. She loves cooking and baking.I met her through my friend Estelle’s  instagram, we chatted  online about this photo shoot, finally we had made it happen. The Moroccan almond cookie and Mint tea were served to welcome me at her house. That’s my first time to try them, I have to say I absolutely love them.

In Kennett Square, I have met people from all over the world. It’s such a wonderful place to live.

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Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m a wife a mom of two very busy kids, a Moroccan cuisine foodie and a lover of  everything and anything Moroccan. I’m very passionate about Moroccan cuisine and  culture. And love to share my passion with everyone.

I was born and raised in Casablanca Morocco and since I can remember cooking was a very important aspect in my life. My moms made sure I was always present along side with her and my late grandmother in the kitchen. If I wasn’t cooking I was watching and learning. Most of the  authentic dishes I learned and I can say I master now is because of her. I still call her to ask about how to make this or what spices I can add to a specific dish.

In 2008 I moved to the United States to marry the love of my life and my cooking fan  number one, and ever since it has been a life full of adventures and lots of food. It  wasn’t easy at the beginning leaving everything behind and starting a new life thousands of miles away, and there are still times that I get home sick but I always find comfort and refuge in the kitchen. Baking and cooking are for me more of a therapy for  the soul than just fuel for the body. But I can say now that I’m so lucky and proud to call two different part of this earth HOME. Living in the United States has also influenced my taste in cooking. I enjoy a good burger or a Philly cheese steak from time to time, I  would make a Moroccan koufta (well seasoned ground beef) into a juicy burger and there I have the best of both worlds.

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What’s your favorite Moroccan dish to cook and why?

It’s very hard for me to choose a favorite Moroccan dish; it always depends on my mood and what I crave at the moment. Sometimes it’s the sweet and savory chicken pastilla: a festive dish served on special happy occasions. On Fridays I like to make the Moroccan national dish which is Couscous with lamb or beef and veggies, my kids love it. On cold days I like to make hearty dishes like Rfissa: a dish made with chicken, lentils and tons of onions on top of shredded crispy, flaky break) and sometimes a simple lentils soup or harirra soup can do.

But I really have a soft spot for sweets. I love baking and there are a lot of varieties of cookies and a mix of ingredients is used in Moroccan pastries, for instance: the orange blossom water, rose water, dates, almonds and all sort of nuts and just the right amount of sugar.

I like to make the Moroccan almond (ghriba) cookie. it is one of my favorite, It’s soft, chewy and full of flavors.

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Can you give us the recipe of this Moroccan cookie? 

Moroccan almond cookies (ghriba dellouz) 
2 1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder 
1tbs butter at room temperature 
1 whole egg and 2 yolks 

2tbs flour
1 tbs apricot jam
Zest of 1 orange or 1 lemon 
1/8 tsp salt

     1 cup powdered sugar for coating.

      And some orange blossom water to coat our hands

Preheat the oven to 375 f

In a food processor mix the almond flour with sugar and salt until well blended.
In a large bowl combine the almond sugar mixture, flour, the baking powder, lemon or orange zest, the butter and the apricot jam, mix very well with a spatula or your hands. I love working with my hands. Coat your hands with some orange water blossom and form balls about 1inch each.

Coat them generously with the powdered sugar. Place in a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, press slightly with your thumb. Don’t flatten them just a slight push.

Bake for 10 to 12 mins the cookies are done when they form a nice crinkles and take a round nice shape without browning.

 Remove from the oven and let cool before transferring to a cooling rack.

Enjoy with some freshly made Moroccan mint tea.

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How long have you been living in Kennett Square?

We have been living in Kennett Square for almost 7 years now and we love it here. It’s is very safe and diverse and I feel very welcomed and accepted. I made so many friends here and I’m happy our kids are making childhood memories in this town.  Kennett square keeps getting better year after year. New shops and restaurants have opened, incredible coffee places, wonderful houses and neighborhoods, and a great school system. Here in Kennett square I really feel the sense of community and belonging and I couldn’t have asked for more.

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How’s the life in Casablanca different from that of Kennett Square?

There is no way to compare the two. They are different worlds and each one of them holds a special place in my heart.

Casablanca in a sense represents my past that I will never forget. Living and growing in Casablanca among my family and friends is what shaped the person I’m today. It is sure a big city in progress with its own idiosyncrasies and challenges but to me it’s perfect the way it is. Every time I talk about Casablanca I get an emotional melancholic feeling because it’s where my family is, where all my memories and adventures are stamped in every corner and every street.

Kennett Square is home now. It’s my present and it’s where I’m making memories with my kids. It’s for sure a smaller town compared to Casablanca which is the biggest city in Morocco, but it has its own charm and history.  Casablanca is a coastal city. I lived fifteen minutes away from the beach and I used to go to the shore at least once a week. I remember my dad taking us for breakfast every Sunday in one of the so many coffee shops and restaurants in the shore followed by a long walk to admire the ocean and get a nice breeze away from the polluted city.  Now instead of going to the shore I take the kids to The Longwood gardens in Kennett square and it’s just a piece of heaven on earth. The scenery is just amazing and that’s something we lacked in Casablanca. There are almost no green spaces in the city.      

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What do you think of Kennett Square?

I love Kennett square and we are so happy that we chose to purchase our first home in this town and to raise our family in a safe place. Kennett Square is very pretty with rolling hills and lots of farms where I can find a lot of local products to use in my cooking. There are Lots of local amenities and very diverse restaurants. What I like most about Kennett square is all the talented people that live in this town and I’m so happy that I got to know them either via Instagram or Facebook or met them in person, like my sweet friend and blogger Estelle stacy. She was one of the people that encouraged me to follow my passion for cooking and I thank her for featuring me in some of her videos posted on her blog.

You can follow Miriam’s instagram: @everything_moroccan

 

 

  1. Iza said:
    What an awesome representation ! Stunning beauty!! Inside and out!!
    Bravo!!!
    December 15, 2016  5:35 pm
    Reply

Ellen is an artist who works with designers and their clients to create custom art.

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What is your earliest memory of creating art?

My first memory of creating art was when I was in Kindergarten.  I don’t remember the details, but I made a little cat sculpture out of (and this is going to date me) the little wax bottles that had colored sugar water in them…like little soda bottles…Well, I formed a little cat out of the wax, and I remember my teacher, Miss Kathy, put it on display and made a big deal about it to my mother.
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Why did you choose acrylic as your medium?

When I first started painting, my children were little.  I needed a medium that dried quick, cleaned up easily, and did not smell toxic.  Now that they are older, and I have more time, maybe I will experiment with other media.
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What is your creative process like?

 There are two different versions of my creative process…but, since I paint on wood, they both start with a trip to the Home Depot.  I pick out a nice piece of Birch plywood, have it cut to size, then purchase 1 x 1’s to build out a frame.  There is glueing, nailing and sanding that follows! Then I get to work!
When I paint for the sake of creating…anything can inspire me…a photo, the sky, my pets, even just a color I see that day can trigger the creative process.  I try to have canvases built….but if I don’t….I must make a run to the Home Depot…I build…and then I immerse myself in the painting.  Nothing else gets done, and the world could be falling apart around me…I continue on.  I really never know what I will create…I have a bit of an idea…but am always surprised when I am done.
When I am painting for a client…the process is a bit different.  There is at least one, if not multiple conversations with the client (and their interior decorator if they are using one). I go to their home with some paintings I already have, so they can get a better feel for my style, and to determine size, color likes, dislikes…etc.  I like get to know them (my paintings are like my babies…I want to make sure they are in good homes!).  Once in their home, I get a sense of their style….do they want an abstract, more of a landscape….anything else that inspires them….what colors will work with their decor…etc.  Once we decide on all that…..I make a trip to the Home Depot…and the process begins!!!
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What’s been your greatest artistic success? 

 I consider every time someone says they love my work, to be a great artistic success! 
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Do you ever experience creative blocks?
Yes! I find that if I think too much about how the piece should look…I hit a wall. When I just let me gut guide me, I am always pleasantly surprised!