A Delawarean Christmas: Holly, Jumbles and… Gunpowder?

One thing became quickly clear after we moved to Delaware. If you live here, you are probably: (a) an attorney, (b) an engineer, (c) a DuPont, or (d) all of the above. This is evident everywhere. Even Christmas.

A Very Longwood Christmas: DuPonts as Conservationists

One of our first holiday outings was a trip to Longwood Gardens. The property has a long history, passing from the Lenni Lenape tribe to the Quaker farmers who first planted an arboretum there. In 1906, when a lumber miller operator acquired the property, Pierre S. du Pont intervened to save the trees. Today, Longwood is one of the country’s leading horticultural display gardens.

The gardens go all out for A Longwood Christmas. The conservatory is decked out for the holiday like Versailles, with topiaries, wreaths, and more than 50 trees trimmed in holiday hues and crystal ornaments. Thousands of floating cranberries, apples, and gilded walnuts create an intricate mosaic styled after a French parterre garden. Fountains dance to holiday music, carolers stroll, and half-million twinkling lights deck the halls, trees, and everything in between.

Unlike California, however, boots, warm coats, scarves, and mittens are not fashion accessories. They are essential. The temperature today? A brisk 28 degrees. I highly recommend frequent stops for hot chocolate. Or a stop by the Beer Garden for bratwurst, a beer, some hard cider, or a nip of Bailey’s in that hot cocoa.

We are now members, so if you are in town and would like to visit the gardens, let me know! (I have extra gloves and hats.)

The Hagley Museum: DuPont Holiday Decorations and Explosives

We also visited the Hagley Museum, another not-to-be-missed Wilmington destination. The 1803 du Pont family ancestral home, Eleutherian Mills, features holiday decorations and interpretations of the French New Year’s gift exchanges and Twelfth Night celebrations.

By Ed Meskens

After touring the house, we stopped at the DuPont: The Explosives Era exhibit. Then on to a tour of the powder yards with their historic stone structures that housed the powder manufacturing process, working 19th-century machinery, waterwheels and turbines powered by the river, and a sixteen-ton operating roll mill. And what better way to wrap up than watching the black powder explosion demonstrations?  Unless its a stop at the site and debris of one of the largest accidental explosions in the history of the yards. Ka-boom!

Holiday Cookies: Jumbles by Louisa de Pont


Jumbles were a classic 19th century cookie. Louisa Gerhard du Pont (1816-1900), wife of Henry du Pont (1812-1889), apparently used rose water in her recipe. The Hagley is giving out copies to all holiday visitors, so I am including the recipe here. I don’t have any rose water on hand. But if any of you want to try some du Pont-inspired baking, let me know how it turns out!

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon rose water

Cream together butter and sugar. Add remaining ingredients. Make cookies by placing about a teaspoon of dough on a buttered cookie sheet and flattening out with the bottom of a glass dipped in granulated sugar. Bake at 350 degrees until edges are slightly brown.

Happy Holidays from Delaware!

Mette K.

#Winter Is Here: Driving an Electric Fiat in the Snow & Other Misadventures

As winter settles in on the east coast, everyone’s question is: “Are you ready for the snow?” We have bundled up in sweaters, gloves, hats as we continue exploring Delaware, our new home state. We thought we were prepared. But as the snow has begun falling, the adventures have started….

Snowblowers, Shovels, and Brine: Oh My!

89305599 - red gas snowblower isolated on whiteWhen we moved into our house, it was empty. Except for the snowblower the former owners left behind with a welcome note before moving to Northern California. It seemed so thoughtful. Now we know better. I have no doubt they didn’t stop laughing until they reached the Rockies, while we are still looking for the instruction manual.

Last week the roads were covered with clear ribbons of – something – glistening in the morning sun. After a little investigating, I learned that de-icing with rock salt only helps in temperatures over 15 degrees. But a salt water brine applied before it snows works immediately and is more effective. I am now practically a de-icing expert.35325164 - fresh beet juice with mint leaf in a glass Did you know, for example, that alternate sources of brine, including agricultural by-products such as beet juice, are also being used in certain states?

And when the first snow arrived, my husband purchased a snow shovel and asked our teenager to clear the driveway. The look we got was something between “Whaaat?” and “Huh?” But to be fair, it’s not just him. I have been barraged with helpful lists of things to carry in my car, and have responded with that same, glazed-over look. Snow scrapers, packable shovels, flashlights, first-aid kits, tool kits, cat litter… What? Cat litter?! Apparently this is a real thing. Traction.

And speaking of traction….

About Car Shaming, Traction, and Snow

You may recall that we brought not one, but two, all-electric Fiat 500e’s to Delaware with us. They are adorable, environmentally friendly, and fun to drive along windy, sun kissed California roads.

Fiat Transport

As we pull up in front of St. Mark’s every morning, flanked by Jeeps and Subarus in various shades of black and grey, our jellybean-colored electric vehicles are… distinctive. We have shrugged off Spencer’s tales of car shaming, however, as parents do. “Character building!” we say. But after running into another St. Mark’s parent this week and watching a light bulb go off – “Oh, you’re the parents of the California kid, the one who comes to school every morning in that weird little car all the kids tease him about!” – perhaps he has a point.

Fiat Snow 2

Anyway. After driving home in the snow last week, I have to finally admit that my cute little Fiat may not be the most weather appropriate vehicle for Delaware. To put it in perspective, the 500e weighs in at 2,900 pounds, delivers 111 horsepower, and comes with virtually traction-free tires designed to minimize friction and maximize range. The Jeep Wrangler, in contrast, weighs in at around 5,000 pounds, has 285 horsepower, and comes in all-wheel drive with optional extreme terrain tires. As I skied my way home along the snow covered Delawarean back roads, my little Fiat performed, well, precisely as you would expect. My tips for driving it in the snow? Don’t.

Arctic Blasts v. Fire Storms: Snow Is the Clear Winner

Even as the occasional arctic blast shakes our house while we research snow tires, this year’s fire storms keep things in perspective. Having experienced the increasing heat, drought, and fire threats in Southern California, I will gladly choose arctic blasts over fire storms.  To put it in perspective, picture a Category 1 hurricane barreling up the coast. Now replace rain with fire. More on that later this week.

Meanwhile, let it snow!


Mette K.

Epic Food Adventures: Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia

During our move, our broker eagerly rattled off Delaware’s virtues.  “The best thing,” she effused, “is it’s only 30 minutes from Philadelphia, 90 minutes from New York, and 2 hours from DC!”  We hear this a lot.  (So…. the best thing about Delaware is it’s easy to leave?)  But now that we’ve started to settle in, it is time to explore!

Earlier this month, my husband and I took my youngest – a high school sophomore playing for the St. Mark’s football team – to Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia for a food adventure. On an empty stomach.

Reading Terminal: A Historic Landmark

Being a mom, I began with a history and cultural lesson.  Established in 1892, Reading Terminal is the nation’s oldest continuously operating farmers’ market. Today, the market offers a colorful selection of local produce, fresh eggs, milk, meats, poultry, seafood, handmade crafts, jewelry, and clothing from more than 80 merchants. With 100,000 Philadelphians and tourists passing through every week, it is LA’s Grand Central and Farmer’s Market all rolled into one spectacular foodie mecca.




None of this impressed my teenager. Then we arrived, let him loose, and ran amuck until, like Templeton at the fair, we collapsed into a food coma.

Appetizers: Fried Mac & Cheese Balls.

To stave off hunger pangs before jumping into the serious food, we started with the fried mac & cheese balls at Beck’s Cajun Cafe.  I was expecting something more akin to a risotto ball, dried and bland.  But these scrumptious balls of mac & cheese are gooey, melt-in-your month deliciousness. The are ginormous, and served with a spicy creole tomato sauce for dipping. Yum!

Adult Beverages: Evil Genius on Draft

As we scanned the cacophony of food surrounding us, it was obvious that my husband and I were going to need more fortification for the adventure.  So off to Molly Malloy’s for one of two dozen local brews on tap — how can you say no to the Evil Genius on draft?  As a bonus, Molly’s will conveniently provide your beer in a to-go cup so you can continue to wander the market.

A Brief Detour:  Whoopie Pies

While searching for sandwiches, we discovered that Spencer had never had a whoopee pie before.  Clearly that needed to corrected, so we detoured by the Flying Monkey for  two classic whoopee pies.  The pumpple –  a cake that combines chocolate cake, vanilla cake, pumpkin pie, and apple pie into a single mega-dessert – was tempting.  But it was important not to loose focus here.

Doughnuts… So Close, Yet So Far!

After jumping back into the fray, we found ourselves at Beiler’s on a quest for their famous, maple bacon, yeast-risen doughnuts.  Sadly, they were closed. We left empty handed.

Lunch! An Italian Roast Pork Sandwich


By now, we had really worked up an appetite. So what better place to stop than DiNic’s for the roast pork Italiano, voted “Best Sandwich in America” by the Travel Channel?  Thinly sliced, juicy roast pork, a long roll with sliced sharp provolone, and bright green chopped broccoli rabe to top it all off.  We had two.  Heaven!

Dessert: Leave the Gun, Take the Cannoli

After a quick recap of the Godfather for Spencer (more cultural history!), it was time for dessert.  Because how could we possibly leave without getting some of the best cannoli in Philly?  That required a stop by Termini Bros for fresh made cannoli — the shells stuffed individually as they fill each order ensuring a perfect, crunchy exterior, and the interior packed with creamy, sweet, chocolate chip ricotta filling.  Perfection.

A Snack for the Road: Peking Duck & Roasted Pork Noodle Platter


At this point, a lesser family would have given up.  But, undeterred, we pressed on and picked up a light snack for the trip back home.  The roast duck and roasted pork noodle platter (because, really, who can choose between the gorgeously burnished Peking duck and the deeply flavored roasted pork hanging on display?) at Sang Kee Peking Duck House.  Although Jeff kept holding out for the Muffaletta back at Beck’s Cajun Cafe, it was here that we finally tapped out.

Stay tuned for my review of the Hockessin Athletic Club, where we will be spending the rest of the month recovering…!

Mette K.



Making Bankruptcy Sexy Again, and Of Delawarean Chickens…

Yesterday my journey through Delaware’s bar admission process took me to Day 1 of the 2017 Pre-Admission Conference held by the Delaware Supreme Court.  Here are a few of the more memorable take aways for those of you who are following along.

A Home to Corporations… and Many Chickens

Of fewer than 7,000 lawyers admitted to the Delaware bar since 1913, roughly 4,000 lawyers practice here today.  Over 900,000 people call Delaware home.  Over 1 million companies are headquartered here, representing roughly half the corporations in the country and 2/3 of all Fortune 500 companies.  What I bet you didn’t know is that over 200 million chickens live here. Fortunately, they are a very friendly and collegial population. And so are the attorneys!

Bankruptcy Court Is the Place to Be!

27708353 - silhouettes of concert crowd in front of bright stage lightsAs soon as I stepped into Room 119 for Workshop 3, I knew I was in a special place. Newly minted lawyers jockeyed for a seat with all the enthusiasm of millennials at a Justin Bieber concert.  “I told you this is really the place to be!” one young woman squealed. The topic?  Bankruptcy Courts, lead by the Honorable Judge Brendan L. Shannon.  I haven’t seen this much enthusiasm in California about the prospect of spending an hour curled up with the local bankruptcy rules since 2009.  Folks, I am in my happy place!!  (And did I see Judge Shannon giving out autographed copies of the Bankruptcy Code as I left?)

Help, I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up

34561100 - woman portrait, staircase accidentAfter all the excitement of the bankruptcy program, naturally, one could be expected to be a little lightheaded. So as I returned to Vale auditorium and scanned the isles for seating for the final lecture, its hardly surprising that I might miss a step.  Or two.  Or several, as I slid down a few rows, papers flying. As I watched the horrified faces of the 20-somethings surrounding me – Oh my god! Is that old lawyer okay?! – all could think of was the ruckus at my uncle’s funeral a few months ago when my 98-year old Great Aunt Barb fell in the middle of the isle just as the service was starting. I am pleased to report that Aunt Barb and I are fine.

But today I will be arriving early in hopes of switching out name tags at the registration desk and avoiding recognition.

The Fine Print

Yes, this means that I passed the Delaware bar exam this summer!! But, least there be any confusion, I have not yet completed the application process and been approved for admission.  MPRE results are pending.  The clerkship is still in process.  I need to procure an original transcript for a study abroad course that I took in Austria back in the summer of ’89….

Road trip!!!!

Mette K.


A California Attorney Arrives in… Dela-Where?!

Six months after announcing my move to Delaware, I have settled into The First State! Along with my husband; a teenager; a grumpy, old dog; two electric Fiats; a truck; and a Harley.  Here are a few of things we have learned along the way.

Question #1: Dela… Where?

53986263 - usa map with magnified delaware state. delaware flag and map.A few people (I won’t name names) have asked: “What state is Delaware in?”  More often, I’m asked: “Um… Where is that?”  Or just thrown a puzzled look.  So, for my geographically challenged friends, fly to New York, then drive south through New Jersey.  Stop.  If you hit Maryland, you’ve gone too far.  And pay attention, because Delaware is only 90 miles from top to bottom!  (Yes, it takes longer to get to a Dodgers game in rush hour traffic than to drive through the entire state of Delaware.)

Lesson #1: East Coast v. West Coast Stucco

One thing Californians take for granted is stucco.  We are surrounded by stucco in every possible color and texture.  It is cheap, versitile, and requires virtually no maintenance in a desert climate.  It photographs well with palm trees.  So naturally, Jeff and I immediately fell in love with a stucco covered home in Wilmington.  Moth.  Flame.
What we quickly learned is that Delaware’s average annual rainfall is 46 inches.  Los Angles, 7 inches.  And stucco is porous, so it loves to absorb all that water.  Suffice it to say that we are now veritable stucco experts.  If any of you have questions about stucco testing, flashings, drainage or other stucco/water related questions and have a few spare hours, give us a call.

Surprise #1:  Wineries…. In Delaware!

44215589 - red wine pouring into glassCalifornia accounts for nearly 90% of all American wine production.  We have been producing wine in the state since the 18th century, when the Spanish missionaries first planted vineyards to produce wine for mass. Wineries are everywhere.  Napa.  Sonoma. Temecula.  Malibu.  We celebrate our wines and our wine culture in movies like Sideways or Bottle Shock.  We recycle wine bottles and turn them into handcrafted soy candles.  We worship wine.

One thing I’m fairly certain Californians have never done with wine before is to put it in a paint can.  So you can imagine my surprise when I stumbled across Paradocx Vineyard in Kennett Square.  Their signature product?  A line of 3.5 liter pouches packaged in, you guessed it, a decorative paint can! And when you’re finished with the wine, you can recycle your paint can as vase or perhaps a decorative wedding centerpiece. No, really, I did not make this up. You can visit their website here.  In fact, Paradocx is only one of six different wineries and historic landmarks along the Brandywine Valley Wine Trail… and you can bet we will be visiting all of them as we continue our epic Delawarean adventure!

Stay tuned for the next exciting episode…

Mette Kurth