Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What We Did in West Chester, PA

Last weekend, Frank and I went to West Chester to visit Lillian and Matt, who live just 4 blocks from each other and work in the same building. Isn't that nice? I wish Frank and I lived that close to each other!

We drove there after work on Friday evening. We brought along a girl named Katherine in the car -- girlfriend of Lillian's and Matt's coworker. Poor Katherine was subjected to a raucous singalong in the car (our favorite hobby on road trips) but she was a good sport and joined in the singing.

We hadn't had dinner and we were pretty hungry upon our arrival. Luckily, Matt had whipped up a delicious meal. I was so impressed I had to take a picture.

A brother-in-law who cooks is definitely a great addition to our family. :)

Frank had to finish writing a paper for class on Friday night (I edited it for him -- hurray for marrying an editor!), so we didn't stay up late. But on Saturday morning, the boys showed up bright and early to make us pancakes.

Doesn't Matt look charming in Lillian's apron? Frank laughingly insisted that Matt had to wear it while cooking. Lillian was wearing her Yale sweater (Matt's alma mater) while Matt was wearing her apron, so I declared it "opposite day" and took a picture of them "pretending to be each other."

Matt's "Lillian face" was nice and amiable, but Lillian's "Matt face" was somewhat unconvincing.

Frank and I had two reasons for visiting Westchester that weekend.

1. Lillian and Matt were taking their engagement photos on Saturday, courtesy of our lovely friend Emily, and they wanted us (well really, Lillian wanted me) to help them get ready and pose them for shots. Also, Emily generously offered to also take some photos of Frank and me while she was at it (those turned out awesome -- but more on that later).

2. Lillian and Matt work at the best educational institution in America (no bias here, of course). Besides masquerading as a conservative matchmaker (seriously -- Lillian and I both met our fianc├ęs through the honors program), this organization is located on a gorgeous campus and its printing house publishes super awesome books. We were excited to check it out!

After breakfast, Emily and I got Lillian ready for her photo shoot.

We had a great time playing around with hair styles and make-up. It was a joint effort, as you can see.

West Chester has a really cute little downtown area of shops and restaurants. We spent the afternoon wandering through it for the engagement photo shoot.

Frank and I explored the shops while Emily took pictures of Lillian and Matt -- which turned out darling! I'll feature them tomorrow.

First we got coffee at Fennario. They had the most amazing and delicious flavors! Lillian said it's one of her favorite shops.

I laughed at this sign:

While I got coffee, Frank explored the Irish shop next door. You couldn't find a man more proud to be Irish than Frank. I joke that he makes me the most "Irish" non-Irish person out there!

He picked out a stuffed animal for his little sister (who asked for "something fluffy" on her Christmas list) while I eyed this cute children's jacket:

The shamrock zipper pull -- perfect!

Then Lillian, Emily, and I moseyed into the ladies' thrift store across the street.

Lillian visits this shop so much that they know her by name. It's a great place to score cheap vintage dresses.

We didn't buy anything this trip, but I did admire their vintage hat selection.

It made me think of my friend Kelly, who collects vintage hats.

They also had a glorious array of vintage jewelry. I don't wear jewelry much (except for my engagement ring) but the pink cameo was tempting... maybe someday I'll give jewelry more of a try!

After walking through downtown, Lillian and Matt took us to see their beautiful church, St. Agnes.

I can't believe they get to walk to church every Sunday. Frank and I have to drive 15 minutes each way. What a dream life!

Attached to the church was a little school and this sweet convent.

There was even a little replica of the grotto at Lourdes!

You might remember that Frank and I got engaged at a Lourdes grotto here in DC, so grottoes hold a special place in my heart. I was thrilled to see this one.

An action shot of Emily, Lillian and Matt... not very well lit, unfortunately. (That's why Emily took the pictures, not me!)

A sample of the adorableness:

To honor the belief that Catholic marriage is a sacrament and a holy covenant, Lillian and Matt chose to take some of their engagement pictures inside the church.

And what a perfect setting -- the church was gorgeous!

I couldn't get enough of the lighting and the decorations. It felt like stepping into a European cathedral.

And that stained glass! Don't you just marvel at the artistry?

Emily took some pictures of Frank and me in the church too -- more of those tomorrow.

We noticed a restaurant called "Saucey" and Frank concluded that they named it after me... I can't imagine why.

Then Lillian took us to the very greatest place in the whole entire world ... THE BOOK BARN!

Five floors of used books for sale ... a gigantic labyrinth of literature!

It's *literally* a barn.

The family who owns the Book Barn lives over here, on the first floor. Frank said, "What a perfect retirement job." I completely agree.

Entering the Book Barn felt like a trip back in time.

Imagine stepping into an antique barn with hardwood floors and rafters of books lining the walls...

Rows of shiny, beautifully-bound classics (that inspired me to create a new blog header)...

Room after maze-like room of floor-to-ceiling knowledge...

Darling vintage books with quaint titles...

Twists and turns and secret passageways...

Vintage prints and curios (which Frank adored)...

Delightful old-fashioned artwork adorning the walls... and most of it for sale!

Helpful signs above your head...

And funny signs too:

All the way up to the 5th floor attic.

We were in heaven. Frank bought an armload of books, of course.

After that we went to visit the place where Matt and Lillian work.

It was beautiful.

Frank, Matt, Emily (our intrepid photographer!) and Lil.

Lillian at her desk. I'm so proud of the work she does!

That night we went to a party with Lillian's coworkers and played a rousing game of Charades, ate cheese and meatballs, and drank lots of Yuletide punch. Sunday morning, we went to Mass and brunch, and then Frank and I drove home.

It was such a good visit. We loved visiting them, and we can't wait to go back.


  1. Their pictures in the church are gorgeous! I love that idea! Free books? Amazing. Looks like a wonderful trip!

    1. Thanks Caitlin! Isn't it a sweet idea for engagement pictures? We had a lot of fun!

  2. Beautiful pictures! Wow, I about died laughing when I saw the one about men and coffee. Can't wait to see more pictures!

    1. I'm glad you liked it - it made me laugh too! I'm hoping to get some more pictures up tomorrow morning. :)

  3. I love the idea of taking some engagement pics at church! Did some small part of you and your sister want to have a double wedding like Jane and Lizzy in Pride and Prejudice? (Well, at least the BBC miniseries version of the story.)

    1. Caitlin, it's so funny, a bunch of people have asked us that! My mom was actively encouraging us to do that for a while.

      A double wedding would definitely be fun, but since we got engaged several months apart, realistically it would be hard for my sister to plan her wedding that quickly - plus there's something nice about each getting our own "big day" after having to share our birthdays for so many years. It would be darling though! Thanks for asking!

  4. Oh these are great! I have a bunch of family in/around West Chester. (And, yes, I just went through about a month's worth of blog, Tess. Whoops.)