Hi,

Busy day in history tomorrow. Birth anniversaries include cotton gin inventor Eli Whitney (1765), artist Diego Rivera (1886), musician Jim Morrison (1943), American humorist James Thurber (1894)  and entertainer Sammy Davis Jr (1925).  NAFT was signed (1993), John Lennon was shot (1980), the AFL was founded (1886) and the Soviet Union was dissolved (1991).

HModcloth had their second photo shoot here at The Parador Tuesday.  This photo shoot was to highlight their Christmas collection.  The last time they were here, they named a dress and matching skirt after me.  :)  The Parador collection quickly sold out, I don’t know if it was the name or the the style.  :)

The Fire Escape Coffee and Tea shop (so named because it’s next to the fire station) in Ben Avon has been open for three years now.  Melanie & David Holcomb (and daughter) moved to the neighborhood and saw a need for a neighborhood gathering place and opened up their coffee shop.  Besides a wide selection of coffee and teas, Melanie makes the pastries and other menu items.  (I have spoken of The Fire Escape in a past blog).  Besides being a coffee shop and meeting place for the neighborhood, they keep toys on the lower shelves for kids, paperback books on the upper shelves for the adults, open spaces for meetings (knitting ladies meet Friday mornings) and they have occasional performances. More info on their web site or by calling 412.772.8569.

It’s that time of year again.  Be sure to make time to visit holiday institutions that make Christmas Christmas here in Pittsburgh.  Phipps Conservatory has their annual holiday flower display in full bloom (pun intended).  The Carnegie Museum of Art in Oakland has their annual Christmas tree displays up and their theme runs with their show highlighting the old World’s Fairs.  The show, “Inventing the Modern World:  Decorative Arts at the World’s Fair’s 1851-1939” runs through February 24. There’s the annual miniature train display at the Carnegie Science Center.  And a must see is the Cathedral of Learning’s annual nationality trees in their nationality rooms.  There’s about forty nationality rooms completed and around rooms ten pending.  In case you don’t know, all rooms have to represent a classroom in that country at the time Pitt was founded (1787).  The history behind the Nationality Rooms is in 1920 the Chancellor of Pitt decided to build the tallest educational structure in the world so anywhere in the city, kids could look up and see it and maybe be inspired to stay in school.  Then in the 1930′s, he recognized Pittsburgh was first settled by the French and British and when industry came to town, the Germanics came over first (the Germans, Slovaks, Poles, etc).  So he got the national club to pay for, bring ethnic craftsmen and materials to create a themed classroom.  The first floor has the original immigrants and the newer immigrants are up on the third floor.  As far as having holiday trees in the classroom, obviously the Chinese do not celebrate “Christmas” and don’t have an evergreen tree decorated with lights a bulbs.  But all groups of people have some kind of New Year’s holiday and their room boasts what would be a traditional tree in that culture.

Although the food crisis a few weeks ago has been adverted, the Greater Pittsburgh Food bank still struggles to meet the increasing needs of it’s customers while it’s government assistance wanes.  The Northside Common Ministries right down the street from me is where I usually donate.  If you want to help, it’s much better to set a regular routine, like sending them a check on the same day of the month for say $10, $20 or $100.  Or they are always looking for shelf stable foods (ie canned vegetables, dry cereals, etc).  Again, say once a month, go to any of your big box stores and spend $10, $20 or $100 and just drop it off.  Cynthia at NSCM’s phone number is 412.323.1170.

The Hand Made Arcade is coming to the convention center for the ninth straight year tomorrow.  Free admission, it runs from 11 am until 7 pm and is hosting 150 vendors.  This is not like that show at the Monroeville Expo Mart several weeks ago that had roofers, window replacement specialists, a chiropractor and shop keepers selling items made in China (the did have real crafters there, you just had to look a bit to find them).  The sponsors of the Hand Made Arcade weeded through 300 applicants to arrive at the 150.  Not only are these true crafts persons selling their own wares, there’s a huge green aspect to the vendors and the event.

Changin’ Time Laundry Services is expanding.  Maria, Christina, Michelle and Amanda have been running a home based diaper service and have just opened an eight washer, ten dryer storefront laundromat that also accepts drop off.  With their current thirty customers, they thought it was time to expand.  They are eyeing a grey water recovery system and other green options for their location at 405 W Eighth Avenue.

I know I promised pictures of my holiday decorations, but I need to take them at night and I wanted to get this posted so everyone knew about the Hand Made Arcade tomorrow.  Last year I found the cutest “monster hoodies” for my nieces and nephews.  I will take pictures and do a pictorial post this weekend.

Have a great weekend,

ed