Saturday, December 24, 2011

Advent Again: and the Time of Waiting is Over!

           Not many of us are good at waiting (especially in this age of drive-thrus and fast food), no more today than in Bible times.  For years the prophets had reiterated God’s promises of a Messiah; for years the people had asked “When?” over and over again.

          Just as the eager child has his own visions of what might be in that brightly wrapped package, the people had their own visions of what the “conqueror,” the “mighty,” the “savior” would be.  That’s easy to understand after so many years of oppression, of disappointment, of waiting……someone would come and “even up the score”, “make things right,” and “life would be good again!”

          There had been signs of hope and joyful anticipation through the years as well...much like the gaily wrapped big package that looks like it might hold a wanted toy.   None had proved to be the Promised One…the disappointment was great, the waiting began again, and the anticipation would slowly grow…again and again.

          Unlike the happy child who knows from the calendar when Christmas has come, the people were caught unawares when the gift finally arrived.  With no fancy wrappings, with no fanfare, it was difficult to believe the waiting was over.  Sometimes the very best gifts are simple…and what you are least expecting…..

 *   *   *
     Much is said about the “silence” of that holy night.  I find it hard to believe that with that many people who had come to Bethlehem that there wasn’t noise somewhere!  If human nature was true to form, there might have been comings and goings from the inn, or soldiers patrolling the streets; I’m sure there were sounds of passing hoof beats, passing voices.  There was much going on with that many people “in town.”  The stable was probably quieter than a lot of other places.
         The hillside where the shepherds were was probably quiet except for animal noises, a quiet murmur from a ewe to soothe a wayward lamb, the rustling of a sheep or two finding a more comfortable spot.   When the angels appeared it must have been spectacular!  What an announcement!  What glorious music for that small audience.  What a surprise factor!
         Did all the shepherds go?  Did they have to decide who would stay with the flock?  Whatever they did, I doubt that they went to Bethlehem in total silence.  They must have been stunned by what they had witnessed; you would think they discussed this excitedly as they hurried down from the hills!  It would have been easy to hear them coming….
         The quiet came in God’s presentation of His gift.  The quiet would have come when the shepherds arrived.  The total awesomeness of that “surprise” factor…the gift presented in such a simple way…from God’s heart…offered to mankind in that moment, must have surrounded the shepherds in stunning awesome silence as they became the first witnesses to the perfect gift.  
           No mighty general with conquering armies…but with a power far greater than the world has ever known; no avenging one to “teach the others a lesson”…but one who taught profound lessons of love that would be farther reaching than they could ever know; no mighty hand to smite…but a tiny hand curled in his mother’s, which would bear the pain that would touch the world…a simple picture…and in this moment…came the silence.
          It is the simple gift that touches our hearts; it is quite often the most impressive.  The thoughtfulness and understanding that goes into it is so simple, so quiet, that we can often miss it…if we’re not looking within.  It’s when it enters our hearts that the silence is profound, awesome; it’s when our hearts are touched that we realize how much we are loved. 

         When we realize that….the waiting is over…and for all of us Christmas is, indeed, not the rest of the story, but the beginning of the rest of our lives.

         Thank you, God, for that simply perfect gift!         

Advent: A Time of Waiting

          On the first Sunday of Advent the reader was giving an explanation of its meaning…a time of preparation, of waiting, of anticipation.  For some reason my memory picked up on the words “waiting” and “anticipation” and took me back to the years when my brother and I shared the excitement of waiting…not in the liturgical sense, but in the ways that children have gladly embraced the adventure of Christmas with such glee.

           By the time my younger brother was old enough to be both a companion and a bit of an ornery sibling (six years’ difference), my parents had finally been able to buy a home…the first time they could call one theirs, a half acre of fertile bottom land close to the Arkansas River in between Tulsa and Sand Springs.  It had a wonderful yard and trees, but one of the attractions for us as children was the basement.  In bad weather it was a playroom; its concrete floor allowed roller skating (in tight circles).  It was Daddy’s workshop and Mother’s laundry area and storage for canning.

            Immediately after Thanksgiving, however, we were banned unceremoniously from the basement…Daddy went to work on secret projects and no one was allowed downstairs thereafter (although we would volunteer enthusiastically day after day to tote laundry down, retrieve canned goods for supper, etc.)  Daddy would retire to the basement after supper and we would listen for sounds that might give us a clue as to what he might be up to.  

           One of our looked-forward-to times was when the Montgomery Ward Christmas catalog arrived.  None of the endless supplements that fill the Sunday newspapers or the mindless jingles on TV today can hold a candle to the joy of the festive cover and exciting pages of those catalogs.  Since each of us wanted to peruse it first a truce had to be declared and we would ensconce ourselves flat in the middle of the floor, each armed with a different colored pencil, to make our marks on each and every delightful toy that we felt we could not possibly live without!

            Once through the catalog was not enough of course; something this important required several trips in case we had missed something.  We would then deliver our carefully notated “wish lists” to our parents in the utter faith that all those wonderful things would materialize under our tree.
            As soon as that was done we would start asking when we could put the tree up.  Nebulous answers were never good enough (I think Mother got wiser as time went on and hid the catalog when it arrived just to keep the clamoring down).  Finally a target date would be agreed upon…usually a weekend…and the excitement began.  From then on we offered to stop at every Christmas tree lot, or to go through every tree at grocery stores…our services were dutifully noted….and ignored.

          All would come together of course, we would pick out a tree, gather the decorations and spend hours deciding where each thing should go…I think our parents just closed their ears and let us do it…all but the lights of course…that was Daddy’s job.  (Oh, the wonder of the year we finally got bubble lights!)  At long last the tree would be finished, we would sigh in total admiration for a moment, then begin asking when the presents would appear. 

           We could hardly wait until after school to “attack” the setting, armed with our trusty pencils, shake, smell, and weigh each package (trying to figure out if it matched something on our lists), then number them in the order we planned to open them Christmas morning.
It must have been such fun for our parents to watch the seriousness with which we went through this drill…knowing full well that we would do it all over again the next day when another one or two appeared!
          Some of our packages had their numbers marked out so many times as they lost favor to a newer more exciting one that it became difficult to keep track of!  Finally we would begin the clamor of “could we open just ONE on Christmas Eve?”  That became a tradition along with hanging our stockings.
               The worst part about that morning was that we HAD to eat breakfast first; we viewed that as totally unnecessary.  When we finally managed to get a few required bites down, we were allowed our unbridled attack on Christmas.   We would see everything complete…first of all what Daddy had been making for us in the basement, and then a few last minute presents that would throw all our carefully orchestrated numbering out the proverbial window.  

           I don’t think we ever got very many of the things we had so faithfully marked in the catalog…I don’t think we were ever disappointed about it.  It was years before I realized how carefully our parents had to budget in order to have Christmas for us; that’s one reason the basement became the Santa’s workshop at Bruner Station. 

          One year they built me a doll house complete with electric lights (Christmas tree lights);

my brother got a wooden adaptation of the metal service station that was so popular for boys.   Another year my brother got his train set mounted on a frame that could slide under his bed without taking the train apart.  When I became a teenager Daddy built me a desk, wide enough to work on, study on, and pile endless treasures on.   What thought and planning went along with their budgeting.  

          We might have been quite taken by a new “this” or “that” in the catalog, or in the store windows downtown, but a carefully chosen jigsaw puzzle with the admonishment that they hoped we MIGHT be old enough to work it would send us to the kitchen table to prove we could.

         The magic of Christmas so often seems to get lost in the latest electronic frenzy or the hope of designer labels, of overloading the credit cards to make sure everything on the want list is provided.  I wish somehow that my parents had thought to write a “how-to” book on giving children a memorable Christmas, from time lines to the right gifts…and how to do it without losing sleep!

         I realize now how hard they worked to do what they did; I realize now that they had just as much fun “playing” us along by doling out simple gifts to whet our anticipation.  We never did figure out where they hid the presents…oh, we tried, we looked, we connived!  To this day I have no idea where they kept them!

         I realize now how they must have gone over our lists and discussed what they COULD do to make those childish wishes come true (as much as possible).   I realize now how much I didn’t realize how lucky we were!

         It was the anticipation…it was the waiting…it was the exuberance of our youth…it was a lot of cleverness on their part…it was a time of joy always (well…except for maybe the year my brother got an Erector set, left a lot of the little screws on the floor and Daddy walked through his room in the dark barefooted!).

        Most of all though, it was a time of love!  What more could we ask!


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Made in America - It's Not Just for Christmas!

     I've loved looking forward to each installment of the "Made in America" series on the ABC Evening News.  It's been a bit shocking, if not entirely unexpected, to find that most of us are surrounded by "Made Everywhere Else" items in our homes, even to our clothing and grocery items.  The challenge to Americans to buy at least some of their Christmas gifts with an American label has spurred lots of "guess what I've found' ideas.  It's wonderful!
      Anyone who knows me knows I have had a long standing love affair with things from the past, from vintage clothing and jewelry to collectibles, and that is what is primarily carried in all the Galleria stores.  Without doing an inventory, I think I could safely say that the vast majority of the items there will proudly carry labels that are definitely made in America.  The quality and workmanship of our couturiers' designs of the past are evident in the fact that so many of these dresses are still quite wearable today.   There was, as Americans designers came into their own, the same standards of quality that had long been associated with those in Europe.
      Actually, a great many of the early jewelry designers fled to America at the threat of war and were responsible for creating some of the masterpieces, as well as the design standards, that make so many names in vintage jewelry highly collectible today.

      The American dream walked hand in hand with American built products and ingenuity for a good many years.  It's a shame that things changed as they did.   What's been eye-opening has been finding out how many companies, both large and small, are still operating....and are thrilled to find this new spotlight.  Some have been around for years (did you know Crayolas and the venerable Slinky are still manufactured here?)  Others are companies with new and innovative ideas that are quietly (until now) letting us know that they believe in America.

       The Facebook page for the Evening News was filled with requests for lists of American-made goods and the answers have been plentiful.  One that I spent a good while last evening pouring over is  You'll be surprised how many familiar names you'll see...and how many you'll want to bookmark to visit!  (I was delighted to see some familiar Oklahoma names there!)  Try also  

       Most of us are familiar with food specialty companies: fruit and cheese, candies, jams and jellies that have beautiful color catalogs to shop from...but I was surprised to see a lot of unique creations too from syrups and honey, to salsas and sauces...even a Montana company that uses their native huckleberries in a variety of products!  (My husband has assured me that there is nothing quite like the Montana huckleberry...we'll be ordering!)     

        I really loved the Green Toys website although I'm not in the toy buying stage.  They make their colorful children's playthings from recycled plastic (bravo!) that is promised to be BPA/PVC free.   Another company makes a clever item called the "bobble"....dedicated to giving you a"carry with you" permanent water bottle with the reusable filter that lets you purify your own tap water.  (Think of the landfill space that can be saved!!) 

       I've already ordered a couple of things...including our very first pairs of socks from Creekwater, a company in Georgia, made from organic alpaca fleece.   They are said to be comfortable, 3 times warmer than wool (after our Oklahoma ice storms and the 30" deep snow we had last year, that part sounds divine!), and keep your feet dry.   I won't know until we try them how marvelous they are...but I'm willing to simply because I think alpacas are adorable!

      Some of the viewers' ideas are even more thoughtful...supporting your local businesses by giving a local gift.  A gift certificate for a haircut or beauty salon visit...think even a dinner oil change..or a bit of lawn care would be so appreciated by someone who is really stretching a budget!  I was a local business in a small town for a number of years; that type of thinking would have been welcomed by merchants and neighbors alike!

     I was actually getting ready to write an entry reminiscing about some Christmas' past...and started reading about bubble lights.  Although they actually began in Europe, they have been manufactured in the USA ever since the 1940's...there's a track record!  I also read all the printing on some boxes of vintage Shiny Brite and other round glass ornaments that I've been trying to find time to list.  Each and every one of the four boxes was manufactured in America!  Love it!   Maybe I'll get to the bubble lights story after the first of the week....

      Americans are going through some difficult times...a lot of the news stories are enough to break your heart, others that show our innate kindness to others give us hope.  I have a lot of faith in "us"...we're made of "the right stuff" to borrow that phrase.  Tough times will usually bring us together, bring out the best in us...maybe that's just exactly what the "Made in America" message is all about...reminding us to care and help...and we'll survive!

      It's also one of the profound messages of Christmas...touching others with caring and kindness.  After all...the most overwhelming Gift of all times came to us at Christmas.  It's the perfect time of the year!

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Incomparable Aunt Chick --and Those Fabulous Cookie Cutters!!

          I had an incredible bit of luck recently!  One of our premier Tulsa experts on antiques and collectibles held an estate sale recently...for another Tulsa icon who had been quite an artist in the world of cake decorating/candy making.  Among the items at the sale were some boxes of Aunt Chick's Cookie Cutters.  I was lucky enough to get several boxes of them...the original ones, no less!  Not my usual style of collectible, but they were a wonderful link to one of those extraordinary Tulsa women from the past.

          While working on the Oklahoma Women in History project, I read every reference, every story, every tidbit I could find about the women who were prominent in the early years of Tulsa's history.  Some stories were awe-inspiring, some were eyebrow-raising, all were interesting...but none was more delightful than that of Aunt Chick...more appropriately known as Mrs. Sam (Nettie) McBirney.

          One of Tulsa's grand reminders of the oil boom years is the McBirney Mansion, now a most elegant showcase for special occasions.   Sam McBirney was a renowned football coach at TU when it was Kendall College; his family founded the National Bank of Commerce.  Nettie came from Wisconsin to teach home ec in Claremore and moved to Tulsa when she married Sam.  She loved was an art to her..and when she was asked by the Tulsa World to write a cooking column, she agreed. 

          My favorite anticdote in this is that she didn't tell her husband about her new venture...he read it in the paper!  She wrote her column under the name "Aunt Chick", her nickname, and when he saw the new column that morning, he rushed upstairs to confront her, shouting "That crazy woman will start a run on the bank if people think she has to work!"  ( Since my late husband was a banker...and I know how they think...I laughed out loud when I read that!  I still do!)  I decided that she would always be one of my favorite Tulsa ladies!
          There are a number of articles that the Tulsa World (and others) have written on this neat lady over the years in the database of the Tulsa City-County Library:   You'll find her story quite delightful.  I did contact my friend Nancy Schallner, who is a very knowledgable researcher (aka "guardian") at the Tulsa Historical Society to see if she had a younger picture of Nettie.  She did share one with me of Nettie in her probably 40's-50's, but I couldn't get it to copy for me here!  (As a footnote, you would enjoy visiting Nancy's blog that she writes as the Tulsa Gal:   She shares all kinds of interesting stories from Tulsa's past!)
           But....back to those wonderful cookie cutters!  If you've read any of the articles above, you'll know now what a charming piece of the past these delightful designs are.  They were so innovative that they are still in demand today!   
          They were manufactured under the name "The Four McB's" with the address of their later home.  One has had a sticker put over that original label to reflect a later "model."  Nettie's charming style even comes through on the information on the box:
 "Aunt Chick's Cookies"
 Guaranteed Easy to Make

Recipe:  A.  Beat together until smooth and light 1 c. fat, 2/3 c. sugar, 3/4 t. salt, 1 t. flavoring, exactly 1/3 c. eggs (about 2).
               B.  Add 3 c. sifted and measured all-purpose flour.  Wrap in waxed paper.  Chill at least 2 hours.  When using whites only, use 3-1/2 c. flour.
               C.  For light blue or pink dough, use 1/3 c. whites only.  Add coloring before adding flour.  For yellow cookie, use yolks only.  Use pastry canvas for rolling cookies.  It is much easier and the cookies are so much better.
               D.  Bake at 350 degrees, no higher, 325 degrees for colored doughs and do not brown tinted doughs.  They get to an ugly color.  However, brown Santa to a good healthy tint.  Who ever heard of a pale Santa Claus?

              Decorations.  These cookies are lovely undecorated.  However, Santa is much more human with raisin eyes, cut as directed.  Directions for coloring sugar in each box.
              Colors.  There is a great difference in vegetable colorings.  Blue, green and yellow vegetable coloring of any brand are satisfactory.
                             However, red coloring often makes a lavender shade which is not right for Santa's cheeks.
                             If you can find Dr. Price's red coloring in your market, buy it.  If not, send 25 cents for a bottle of Christmas red coloring which is especially blended for us.   ""

           There are inserts in some of the boxes that are written in the same chatty informal style as the feel as if you are visiting with Aunt Chick in her kitchen and she is sharing her tips with you.   These delightful cookie cutters make you think you have stepped back in time to a warm kitchen with youngsters in over-sized aprons (probably standing on chairs so they can watch mother roll out that incredible dough), picking out which cookie cutters they want to use for their personal creations...and debating who will get to lick the spoon!   You can almost smell them baking in the oven!   The best part of course was deciding how those special treats would be decorated...those young hands creating their very own works of art!
            It was a simpler time perhaps, but maybe...just long as Aunt Chick's splendid cookie cutters are around, those sweet traditions will be recreated and be passed on, again and again.

           Am I going to make these for Christmas this year?   You bet!!

Monday, October 24, 2011

39--and Holding! Broken Arrow ESA Chalks Up Another Hit!

        What a record!  The Broken Arrow chapter of Epsilon Sigma Alpha had its 39th annual fall craft show and bazaar last Saturday and it was another resounding success!  These dedicated women, most of whom I've known for a decade or more, are educators, professional women, and artists who believe in helping their community.  

         I've seen their work from the Margaret Hudson Program for young women in BA to Hope for Heroes and the St. Jude Children's Hospital nationwide.  Over the past four decades this Broken Arrow group has given almost $234,000 to various charities!  Amazing!
         Being a part of their craft show (the oldest craft show in Broken Arrow!) has become almost a given for me...they have the system for running a show this large down pat.  There were approximately 100 crafters on board this year...and many sign up before the show is over to be sure they have a spot the next year.   I missed last year... and it was certainly good to be back this time around!
   For the two days on the 4th weekend in October, these gals move non-stop!  That's not counting all the months of behind the scene planning that goes into making those two days go smoothly.  You get accustomed to see them going at warp speed up and down the corridors, through the gym, and back again...always ready to help a vendor by minding their booth while he/she takes a short break,  keeping the restrooms supplied and tidy, answering questions, giving directions...all this after they have been at the school from Friday afternoon onwards to mark off and tape the spaces, mark the booth numbers, put a direction signs, set up door prize tables, stock the snack bar, and be ready to greet each crafter with a smile and hand them their packet.  Then at the end of the show, they have to get the school back in order before Monday classes!

          They wear denim vests with the ESA logo and the "broken arrow" symbol on the back...come to think of it...I don't think I've ever seen one of those vests moving slowly!!
    The only ones who were standing still for very long were the ones right next to me...they were selling raffle tickets for gift baskets for Hope for help the Blue Star Mothers as well as others aligned with our military.  If there is an important place to be of service, these gals are probably helping. 
           I'm hoping that this week each and every one of them is taking a well-earned deep breath and is relaxing...but I doubt it!   I am so proud to call these women my friends...they are a fabulous group!

          Well done,  my friends!  You're the best!!

Monday, October 3, 2011

A Tidbit from the Roaring Twenties!

        A break in our dreadfully hot summer heat has been a chance to do some much needed garage cleaning and re-organizing.  Along the way though, I've been amazed (and amused) at how many visitors the blog has had on that last entry...the story of the "whatever it is"!  I think a lot of the visits were to see if anyone ever came up with an answer!  Sadly this pristine undergarment is still anonymous and will probably remain that way....

        Before we travel on from the world of strange underpinnings, I have one more item to share with you.  This time I can tell you what it is although when I saw it at first I just thought it was rather peculiar.   This item is one of the many lingerie pieces of every description that came from the estate auction of the woman who had had the shops in the far west and had reputedly dealt with many Hollywood celebrities.  (Some of the items are being listed in our eCrater store "Lingerie Treasures"....with some of the more eyebrow-raising ones put into the category "Things We Don't See Anymore...Thank Goodness!")  This item certainly belongs there!

        When I unfolded this, I thought it was some kind of is....sort of!  It has straps anyway.  The only problem was...I couldn't figure out just exactly where the front was!  There were hooks down the back but the opposite side where the bra should be.....wasn't!   This was too old be considered the world's most elaborate early training bra...certainly a bit overboard if that was the case. 
        Fortunately our late entrepreneur had tags on most of her is a 1920's bra binder!  Oh, my gosh!!!  It's a flapper bra!  Or at least a flapper non-bra!!

I have always read of the desire of the roaring 20's gals to flatten their chests to achieve the most boyish look possible.  I'd always wondered just how they did we know!!!

        The fabric is a slightly stretchy mesh, a bit of stretch still but more than likely long past "binding" and defintely beyond controlling any "bounce."  There are seams in strategic places around it that look much like the encasing seams for boning that you would find in the long-line bra of subsequent years.  There isn't a sign anywhere, however, of the seams being used for anything except a bit of body shaping.  Well...there had to be something to shape to that girlish figure that wasn't just a long wide wrap-around band...think how totally uncomfortable (and impractical) that would have been.
  On the hook and eye closure there is an odd attachment...two narrow strips of elastic that were probably originally a loop and a tag of some kind that was most likely a label (how I would love to know what that said!!!!)  Was the tiny elastic loop to hold this binder down...or hold something else "up" and in place?  I'm sure there is a knowledgeable person somewhere who would have the answer to this little tidbit. we know how the flapper era miss achieved her desired look.  Isn't it amazing what lengths we gals have gone to over the years to be in step with the times!!!  Oh, how I wish this little "un-bra" could talk......

        What do you think?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

You Would Have to See This to Believe It! Want to Try to Guess?

         I never thought I'd be blogging on an item like this...but I'm hoping that one of you all out there knows the "proper name" of a strange item I found when I was doing some listings this week.  I have a collection of things that I've kept putting aside over and over...I just really wasn't sure what to do with them.....  Finally this week I took a deep breath and jumped in!
        These items admittedly are more curiosities than anything else...those pieces of the past that we're certainly glad to say have fallen by the wayside!   There's a rather imposing girdle (not listed yet) that looks as if it were patterned after an Iron Maiden, various undies with hooks and snaps and straps in peculiar places that defy analysis, and assorted other accoutrements of the damsels of the past that can only produce raised eyebrows and uncontrolled giggling!

        Putting all these in the Lingerie Treasures store, I started with some rather bland items...just for fun.  I even decided that someone with a sense of humor might want some of these items for once in a lifetime "white elephant" gifts!   In fact, I titled the category "Things We Don't See Anymore...Thank Goodness!" 

        Tongue in cheek I sorted and wrote and decided on just one more item that was new in the package.  Some of these items came from an estate south of here, a family in the oil business, whose matriarch bought whatever she wanted in magnificent quantities (you should see how many pairs of granny panties there were!!)
        This was still in its sealed package (which I photographed for authenticity) and assumed this was some kind of panty girdle or brief.  When I got it out, I was sure it was the panty brief.  It had the pre-requisite shape, done in lycra/spandex for that necessary control of course and looked quite innocent, neat, and tidy.

         When I turned it inside out to get the maker's name and the size, I got quite a surprise!  Starting with narrow panels at the waist both front and back it was lined completely with the kind of plastic that makes you think of the lined bottoms of generations-ago baby outfits.  From there it widened until it covered a wide area down the hips, through the crotch, and up the front.  Attached (discreetly of course) about 6 or 7" up either side were elastic strips stitched into place. 
         My first thought was that it was some kind of creation for "those days"...but why the plastic running all the way to the top on each side.  Or could it perhaps be a primitive version of the widely advertised Depends?
         Aftery studying this contraption for awhile I decided to check with two of my friends who are about my age (mature) to see if they knew exactly what to call it.  We decided that it certainly wasn't an efficient version of an early Depends; my "saltier" friend stated that "whatever it was it had to be hotter than .... to wear!!!"  On that part we all agreed!
         I finally listed it as a "new in the package whatever-it-is" and am turning to you to see if any of you can tell us what it is.  No prize involved...just a moment of glory for being the first one to figure it out!  I'm sure we'll all rest better when we know.....

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Website After the Galleria's Own Heart!

       My MSN home page held a great treat the other day...some very clever ideas from a website called Real Simple.  That really piqued my interest as a Galleria Gal.  One of the primary ideas behind the Galleria, since we love collectibles, is to re-use, re-purpose, and find new usefulness for older items.  To our grandparents this was a way of life...things simply weren't thrown away...they were adapted if possible.  It's a good habit; we based the Galleria's whole theme on using treasures from the past.

       This great website covers a wide range of ideas...the category touted on MSN was "new uses for old things".  A lot of the ideas were children-oriented but so-o-o useable and practical! 

       For instance:
       Use a pair of dice and make finishing dinner a game: decide how many more bites of dinner your child has to eat before being excused. Let your child roll so he’s the one controlling his fate. You'll end up with a more peas-ful family meal.  (My child psychology-oriented mother would have loved that one!!)

       Use plastic Easter eggs year-round (and save on resealable bags) by filling them with snacks like crackers or Cheerios.

       Use glow-in-the-dark stars to create a well-lit path your child/grandchild can follow from his room to the bathroom. Line up stars near the baseboard and make sure they get plenty of light during the day. You'll get fewer bumps or cries in the night.   (This would be ideal for grandchildren who would not be as familiar with the route at grandma's!)

       Pour a little paint into an empty baby food jar.  Simplify paint touch-ups by pouring a few ounces of each new wall paint into a jar for when those times it’s needed to cover the inevitable nail holes and scuffs.   (This makes so much sense I wish I had thought of it first!)

       Use a binder clip to keep a windowblind cord out of reach of little hands (or paws). Just gather the cord up at a safe level and clasp.  (This will disappoint your cats of course!)

       Whip up a dog toy from three old towels. Cut an inch wide strip from a short end of two of the towels. Use one strip to tie the three towels firmly together at one end. Tightly braid them, then tie the other end with the second strip.  (Nuff said!  Although with our two German Shepherds I'll bet the toy would have a short life span!)

       Use a ketchup bottle as pancake batter dispenser.  Portion pancake batter with precision without the usual mess of transferring batter from the bowl. Squeeze out baby-size or plate-size rounds, or add Mickey Mouse ears to a batch of silver dollars.  (I don't do the MM ears anymore, but this one makes sense any time!)

       The web address is  I thought it was a great find...I hope you'll mark it and drop in occasionally too!

       Keep watching...some new items coming soon to the Galleria!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sweet Silhouettes Have a Bit of History!

       One of the items we took to the Antiques Roadshow was a pair of silhouettes that I found at an auction in Missouri.  I was after a pair of penguin scissor cuts, cute little fellows that no one else was showing any interest in.  (OK...I love the movie "Happy Feet"!!)  When the auctioneer got to them he picked up 2 more framed pieces and said that these would sell as one item.  No problem...I got the penguins plus a silhouette of a young Thomas Jefferson ("by Nan Maury Lightfoot" printed at the bottom)  and of Elizabeth Monroe, the fifth president's wife ("by Marietta Minnegerode Andrews" at the bottom).    My thought was "that's nice" and we took them home.
        It wasn't until that evening that I looked at the brown paper backs...they were old and crumbly, both written on in a barely legible script:  

                                                     Lenore Cornwell

                                                    Jefferson Memorial Pilgrimage
                                                    Paris 1925

                                                   Marietta Minnegerode Andrews

                 That made me curious enough to forget the little penguins for awhile!

                 First of all I looked up the name "Minnegerode".  First up was Charles Minnegerode, who had emigrated from Germany and become the minister of a large congregation in Richmond, VA.  Wildly popular, he attracted many dignitaries, most notably Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis, and stayed Davis' confidant during the Civil War and his subsequent imprisonment.
                Then came Marietta, Charles' granddaughter, who became quite an accomplished and recognized artist in several media as well as a poet, illustrator, and author.   She had quite a dignified career, lived in Washington, DC, but that's as far as I got.

                On to Lenore Cornwell.  All I could find on her at first was that she had graduated from high school in St. John, Kansas and college in South Dakota.  Her father was a newspaperman; her mother encouraged her girls to study music...Lenore sang and played the piano and cello.    The only other mention was her being in the ensemble of "Castles in the Air" on Broadway.
               When I decided to take the silhouettes,  I decided at the last minute to do a little further research on my two mystery women.  I had really wondered how a young girl from Kansas and an established artist in Washington, DC could have crossed paths.  That night was "pay dirt"!!!  It's amazing how new material from archives and such, when made available on the internet, can help!  This time I found a series of newspaper articles on Lenore.

               It seems that there was a movement in the early 1920's to buy and restore a fading Monticello (oh, boy!...I'm hooked now...Jefferson is one of my heroes!!).  One of the fund-raising ideas was to have a person or group "sponsor" a girl and to get people to "vote" for her at 10 cents a vote.  Arthur Hammerstein (uncle of Oscar) sponsored Lenore with his Broadway cast of "Rose Marie" behind her; Senator Capper of Kansas endorsed her as well.   It seems that the top vote getters would make the Jefferson Memorial Pilgrimage to Paris!

              She was a winner (her native Kansas contributed a lot!), sailed to Paris, was even interviewed by a newspaper there.  One article mentions that she had a further career:  singing Mimi in a production of "La Boheme" and the lead in the debut of Xenia...... so she must have had a great deal of talent and a beautiful voice!

              The information on Nan Maury Lightfoot who did the silhouette of the young Thomas Jefferson is still scanty at best outside of the fact that she married John B.Lightfoot of the Lightfoot family of Civil War fame and wrote the article on the Bloomfield plantation garden in a book "The Historic Gardens of Virginia."  She lived during the same period as Andrews.

              Back to Marietta:  the Revolutionary War Collection in U. of Virginia Archives lists silhouettes she did of various notables of that period:  the Washingtons, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe.   Elizabeth isn't mentioned.   I wonder if she did Elizabeth Monroe as a special item for Jefferson's centennial?  Still a question there.  (I love the silhouette of Elizabeth...the tiny lorgnette is so perfect!). 
              Is it possible these 2 silhouettes were created just for and presented to the "Jefferson Memorial Girls", as they were called, when they made their Paris trip? 
             At least this gives a little something that could tie the two women together, even if indirectly...the common ground of the Jefferson fund-raising and pilgrimage?   Or with a common background in the arts, did their paths cross to the extent they became friends?  We don't know.
              The last entry that I found for Lenore was that she (and either her sister or mother) endowed music scholarships in Kansas State University.   She obviously stayed with her love of music throughout her life and was financially able to create a legacy at KSU!  Brava!

              What I finally found was two women in the past whom I would have loved to have known...both artists and both leaving a legacy of excellent work behind them.  I think there's more to both their stories, so I'll keep looking.   I'm delighted that these two little "pieces of the past" found their way to me to cherish!  As a musician and a writer I can appreciate both of their accomplishments, so they couldn't have found a better home!     
             For now... to Lenore, who was a beautiful young and talented soprano who participated in a historical undertaking, and to Marietta, who devoted her extensive artistic talents to so many areas and obviously participated somehow in this same undertaking... a  warm thank you from me....almost 100 years later!

            PS:  The appraiser at the Roadshow didn't even look at the short provenance that I'd written out for him, but he appraised these two charmers quite nicely...enough to make me smile!! 

            And that's good enough!!