31 December 2010

Happy New Year

Now, of course we know that it's too late to order these fun items for the New Year - but wouldn't the bleigiessen be fun for any celebration of change: birthdays, retirements, wedding showers - even divorces! Or, even any time that you just might want to tell a fortune or two or three. And the Blasrohre for just about any time!

Bleigiessen - Fortune Telling Tradition
We just love the different traditions throughout the world. New Year's Bleigießen is the Austrian and German custom of pouring molten lead into water and reading the results as though they were tea leaves - so that you can foretell your next year. When the hot lead touches the water, curious shapes are formed.
Reading the shapes a big chunk of the fun - it's almost like reading the clouds in the sky! For example, if you find a ship or boat, perhaps you are destined for a long journey, probably by sea.

Because these contain lead, there are some safety procedures to follow - but they're included with your package. And children should never play with products involving flame or heat like this!

Blasrohre (Blow-Pipes) for Celebrations
Fun for Oktoberfest, New Year's Eve, Birthdays and more, these cardboard paper blowpipes allow you to shoot soft fabric balls in the air for a festive time! Three pipes and 45 balls are included in this fun German package.

Of course, this is not suitable for children under 3 due to swallowable parts. And, please, don't aim at humans or animals!

29 December 2010

The Bath - SilverCrow Style - Part 1

We've always had a utilitarian bath with appropriate décor, a nice shower curtain, bath mat and towels. But, when we finally moved to SilverCrow's new location, we had to renovate the two bathrooms and here's a bit of what we did. 

Our wonderful sink is traditional Talavera pottery made for a modern bathroom - well, almost! And the tin an Talavera tile mirror fits in nicely. We bought a plain, small (so it would fit) wooden vanity at Lowe's. All of the bathroom fixtures are from Beacon Supply in Belle Vernon, PA - a local business. 

Now the marble top is another story altogether! Of course, I had to make this harder than it needed to be - I wanted special marble. So, our grandson, Bobby (now 14, he was 10 at the time) and I made a trip to Pittsburgh Marble & Granite Company on the South Side of Pittsburgh. Bobby and I were treated like royalty and were shown lots of different pieces of marble and granite and other hard stone. We were lucky to be able to use a scrap from another job which saved us a lot! Just look at the gorgeous piece of marble that Bobby chose! I thought that it really didn't match, but I had already told him that he could choose, so.... And it was perfect!

My Mom just loved the toilet seat - made of acrylic and shells! The décor is pink flamingo, Mexican folk art, shells, vintage paint by number and framed greeting cards and advertisements.

We found a wonderful used claw-foot bathtub at Construction Junction (Pittsburgh's non-profit recycle/reuse construction company). Gypsy thinks the tub is hers. 

More to come....

Diary or Journal?

My Mom, Gladys Balmer Schempp, kept a diary from her 10th birthday until the day she died. She always used 5-year diaries - just to make a few notes about each day.
Glady & Bill Schempp
So many articles have been written about the healing and cathartic power of journaling. But, I think like maybe (a phrase of my Mom's) my Mom was right. Just a few words can trigger memories, feelings and create those broad images in imagination that journals try too hard to narrate. Now, I'm not suggesting that journaling is wrong - only Glady's might be a lesson in a simpler way for busy times.

One of my Facebook friends, Sarah Myers, wants to start a journal. I mentioned my Mom's technique and offered to post some scans of my Mom's diary - when she was in her 20s. What wondrous fun this has been for me. Her stories came back to life. I could almost hear her voice. I understood every abbreviation - almost every name and almost felt that I was part of the activities. All of this was conjured with just those few words.

My cousin, Valerie and I transcribed the pages for those of you who can't read Mommy's writing. A click on the diary pages will expand the picture so you can read for yourself, if you choose.

I'll attempt to explain a few things and save a few for my own memories, too. The years are 1943 through 1947.
July 14-15, 1943-1947
Mother Dell                          JULY 15
1943 Weiner Roast - the four of us.
1943 Pittsburg with Mary, Betty & Kent. Saw Horace Heidt. Ate at 7th Ave.
1944 Cleaned Made clothes press    blinds
1944 Shopped – stopped at Library & Aunt Juel’s. Took Mrs. Wayne a milk shake
1945 Aft. Downtown with Mom. She bought me stockings. Dentists Nite - Downtown with Rita - Saw a terrible show at Palace
1945 Church – Read. all afternoon.
1946 Ride to Wash. Park with Andy & Marion - ate dinner at Sweeny's Nite - Glenn & Bob were down
1946 Washed clothes – aft - with Trudy Nite – to Mother Dells – gave her powder & cologne.
1947 Washed clothes - To Pitts – got Air Race Tickets. Nite - Visited Scout camp to Fire Station
1947 Had a birthday party for Mother Dell – She got rhinestone pin & earrings. Nite – Bill went to a fire parade got stuck in mud Betty – Jane & Mary were down.

You'll see Mother Dell at the top of July 15's page - she was my beloved grandmother (Daddy's Mom) and that was her birthday. The other people were school friends and couple friends. My parents were married in 1941 and then Daddy (Bill) was right off to the war. He was severely injured, but hardly anyone knew it! In 1943, Glady was 24.

December 25-26, 1943-1947
1943 Morning – Church with Bill. Then to Marie’s. to home – to Jane’s for a little while.
1943 Had a lovely day - doing nothing. Just company.
1944 Three to Church – Then we visited all the relatives – to Bomita’s!
1944 Ate dinner at Aunt Juel’s – Peg & Uncle Lawrence came over Aunt Mary stayed til 12:30
1945 To Charleroi at 2:30. Jane & Kent were home – exchanged gifts – ate at Mom’s. then Bill went home sick. I went to Donora on 12 bus. Got spice set – cookies for – bed slippers. pajamas, etc.
1945 Bill was sick in bed – Nite - Daddy – Mom, Betty & Aunt Juel came down. Had a lovely time.
1946 To home on 1 bus. All at 2 pm - had company rest of day – Kent & Jane were up. Harold. Mom & Dad brought us home – a fire next door. got a silver service. Moccasins slippers. cups & saucers – vases – jewelry – can opener – glasses    perfume.
1946 Bill got plaid shirt – socks – tie. holder – cologne - $50.00 screwdrivers. Marion & Malcolm were down at noon – then I shopped, helped stuff papers – Went up to see Marion’s gifts. Nite – fixed lingerie chest.
1947 Wonderful – Visited all the relatives. Got silver Tray from Mom & Dad + cologne & ruby ring necklace & wrench – silver & crystal cream & sugar - tea pot – refrig. bowls + Rosepoint plates – diary pinking shears - $50.00 - slip & records. Bill got book & pjs . lotions. Harold & Betty brought us home - Bill has sore throat!
1947 Shopped Stopped at Peggy Dean’s – Sally & Andy were there Nite – Beany & Mary were down   Grandma McCleary & Bill Creesy

My grandfather was responsible for most of the newspapers being delivered in those days - with lots of boys working for him. On December 26, 1946, my Mom helped stuff the inserts (rotogravure, advertisements, etc.) into the papers. All the rest is pretty understandable and probably not that interesting to everyone. But, I could easily tell the story of every line on every page - just from my Mom's stories and these little snippets helped her memory so that she could share them with me

I'm delighted that Sarah started me on this journey. My end-of-the-year resolution has me writing in the last diary I bought Mommy. A few years before she died, she told me that she couldn't live any longer because she couldn't find another 5-year diary. We searched elegant stationers and old five-and-dimes and even eBay to no avail. I finally found a lovely red one from a journal bookbinder in England. She set up her diary - with special events atop their special pages, and the years recorded. She didn't make it through the 5 years. So, it's my turn. I'll keep you posted.

21 December 2010

Last Minute Crochet Flower Scarf Necklace - Free Pattern

I saw my first one on Etsy and then more at Macy's. They were a bit pricey - so I thought I'd try to make one myself. If you can already crochet, these are pretty easy to make. If you can't crochet yet, it just might be worth learning how, just to make one.

I was able to complete one in an evening - about 2 hours while watching television - as long as the dogs and kitty left the yarn alone. 

Use scraps of worsted weight or sport-weight yarn and a size G crochet hook. I only seemed to need a ball as big as a fist - and didn't use it all - I didn't really measure it.

There is no right or wrong when making this fun accessory, so don't worry about your work's gauge - just try to keep it consistent.

The whole thing is done in one long piece. You don't have to sew the motifs together and that means you only have to weave in the beginning strand and the end one! Hallelujah! 

Start and end with a flower motif. Make it as long as you like and as many motifs as you like. We made 10 motifs about 10 inches apart.

Ch5 join with Sl St creating a circle.

Round 1: (SC, Ch5) 5 times. SC. You should have 5 loops. Join to first SC with Sl St.
Round 2: (SC, HDC, 3DC, HDC, SC) in each loop (5 petals). Join to first SC with Sl St.

Round1 : Ch50 (for a shorter connector, just chain fewer stitches). Sl st in 5th chain from hook, creating a circle.

Repeat Motif-Connector-Motif until your scarf necklace is as long as you want it to be. Fasten off. Sew or weave in the two end threads.

Ch = Chain
DC = Double Crochet
HDC = Half Double Crochet
JT = Join Together
SC = Single Crochet
Sl St = Slip Stitch

18 December 2010

Kitchen Candles

Try as I might, I can't identify when I fell in love with devotional candles. I guess it was long before my First Communion. The gorgeous display of red and clear glass full of wax burning all at once in church stole my imagination. The flickering flames lit for special devotions and memories of loved ones conjured such thoughts in me that I thought they must all be saints and that they were all there to protect me.

Then I discovered these wonderful specialty devotionals. The first one I bought was the glass Our Lady of Guadalupe on the right. After that followed La Mano Poderosa, Saint Dymphna, Saint Michael and even the Santisima Muerte. They line the kitchen shelves my Dad made for my first apartment. I had no storage space, so he decided that I should display my food and staples.

Long since needing such storage, and seven residences later, the shelves still store popcorn and some other dry goods, but they are mainly there for my candles and other treasures. Those treasures include the memories of my Dad, the good times and friends in the other living spaces, the good and bad times gone by and all the saints who are still there to protect me.

13 December 2010

Star Search

Plastic Nativity Sets (No Longer Available)
I just got a new computer - how wonderfully fast it is. It came with Windows 7. I was excited about that because of all the My Windows - My Idea commercials.

OK, so it took some practice - after so many years on XP. And, then I was looking for a picture of a product that I wanted to sell on our SilverCrow website: Vintage Plastic Nativities. I knew the picture's file name had the words


in it, but I just couldn't remember the name. So I searched for PLASTIC in my pictures. The only pictures that surfaced had names like this:

Charm Plastic Fish

Alas, I was told in the documentation and by Dell (the manufacturer) and even by a $59 phone call to Microsoft**, that the only files that could be found must have PLASTIC at the beginning of the name or after a space or hyphen (-) or another separator. I was told that this was an improvement to previous searches.

My 5-year old beat-up PC with XP could find my file in a second. I felt betrayed.

While I was on hold with Microsoft, I thought I'd try something from my old mainframe days (yes, I'm that old). So, I typed in the search box:


It worked! My search found every file on my computer with PLASTIC in it!

So, if you want to find everything, use a STAR SEARCH - the asterisk, or star(*) and then your search string.
**Microsoft did not charge me the $59 after all as I solved my own problem while they were researching an answer! And, the search does now look inside text files, word documents and emails, among others.

12 December 2010

An Awarding Life

I wanted so very much to write this back in August - when it was more timely - but my old computer wouldn't let me. So, I thought this might be a good time, too. I lost my wonderful Daddy, Billy Schempp, two years ago Tuesday (December 14, 2008). I miss him so every day.

Daddy was a volunteer firefighter in Donora for most of his life - and for a while, Assistant Chief, in Donora. He loved everything about firefighting and he was so proud of his fire engine, a 1947 American La France 750 Pumper. I'm quite proud to be the owner of this today. Throughout the years, Daddy maintained The Truck (as I call it) to keep it in perfect condition - as it is now. It pumps and it could get to a fire if need be. I can even drive it, but not so well.

He developed macular degeneration and was unable to drive the last few years. He had some great friends drive to the local (and not so local) parades. We still participate in the local parades, but mostly just in Donora. And we're proud that Bobby Bettinelli (Sr) drives in every event for us now. He, too, was a Donora firefighter.

Over the years, The Truck won many awards, including best pumper, longest distance traveled, judge's choice, people's choice, oldest truck and best open cab pumper. There are trophies in every room of the house.

Nowadays The Truck is just about the only open cab pumper in the parades. At the Donora Fire Company Street Fair this summer, just look what I won:

11 December 2010

Captain Miaow - Bummi

This is Captain Miaow, the pirate. We fell in love with this postcard and have been selling it on SilverCrowCreations since October 14, 2009. He's a pretty popular guy, indeed. Just recently we came to find that his real name is Bummi.

We received a lovely email from the photographer, Cora-Mae and her 6-year-old male cat, Bummi. Bummi and Cora-Mae are both from Germany - as is the company that publishes the card. We are told that the true caption should be: Käpt'n Silver.

They wished us here at SilverCrow "nice days auf allen sieben Katzenmeeren (of all seven cat seas). And, we wish them and you the same.

Kapitän Silver (aka, Captain Miaow & Bummi) is available on our website.