Sunday, November 7, 2010

Back in the Saddle...

Wow, it's been awhile. I seem to have just slipped off the blogging horse to sort some things out but here I am again.

November is here and it is a month where I find myself thinking of my grandmother and my other family members that have left....My grandmother LOVED Thanksgiving and some of my favorite childhood memories are from her big, festive dinners in her tiny apartment.

Over the next few weeks I will dig out some old photos and tell some stories.
These two turkeys were in my grandmother's boxes of cards. I have spent days and weeks gathering her various cards and memorabilia together, sorting and labeling things. Some I will keep but many things will get listed over at my Muna's Treasures Etsy shop.
These sweet little linen books were published in 1927 and for years they have sat in the bookcase in my little office. They are spotted and dirt marked but still so sweet they make me smile. I have enjoyed them for years, now it is time for someone else to enjoy them. Their useful days as actual story books is probably over but maybe someone will want to just look at them and display them....
When I found this copy of Miracle on 34th Street in my mother's things I had to smile. Every year we watched the old movie with Natalie Wood and the old Macy's building. I remember how excited I was to see Macy's for the first time when I went to NYC as a young adult.
It's funny how times of year can bring such vivid memories. Do you have fond memories from this time of year?

Monday, August 16, 2010

My Grandmother's Sewing Basket

Over the years people who sew gather all sorts of materials and my grandmother and mother were no different. After they passed on I kept many of their sewing supplies for I learned to sew from both of them and I didn't just want to throw them away.Recently we helped a friend clear out an estate and in the basement were boxes and boxes of old sewing projects and supplies and I took some home to add to the ones I already had. Last week I sorted through them to see what I had and to see what was worth saving.
I hate to say it, but you should see the piles of stuff I threw was overwhelming and there were boxes of tangled threads and yarns that just weren't the effort to untangle so I tossed them. What I did find were lots of fun buttons and an amazing amount of scissors.
I have started to list these items and kits in the shop and have lots more so please feel free to be in touch if you are looking for something special.

And don't worry, I have kept the things that really mattered to me ;-) You can see some of the listings here

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Memories in a handkerchief....

Did your grandmother have a huge collection of handkerchiefs? Mine did. She had them in all her pockets whether it was the apron she put on when she came home from work, her bathrobe or her house dress. She had plain ones for home and fancy ones for going out on the town or to church.She bought handkerchiefs as souvenirs of places she had visited. She didn't really travel much so some of her souvenir hankies are sort of from the next town over. She was always buying sets of hankies for my mother and for us kids. I don't think my mother ever used hers but she made us carry ours in our little patent leather pocketbooks. My mother much preferred the modern throw away tissues....but she thought we needed to learn how to be little ladies so we got the handkerchief treatment.
Does anyone use hankies any more? I occasionally see old men with them but I have to admit, thinking about what goes into one is enough to make one understand how the throw away version came about....;-)
Will hankies make a come back as we begin to think in greener terms? If you're looking for some fun ones to start your own collection, I have some listed here.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Dolls and Doll Houses

My family loved dolls and doll houses and over the years many wonderful additions were made to the old family doll house. I believe my niece has the actual doll house now but she put more modern furniture in it than what I had that was handed down by my mother.These little dolls were not ours, neither was the blue table set. They belonged to the older woman whose house we just cleared out for the estate sale. I believe the dolls on top are from the early 1980s and the ones below were made in the 1970s since the books that were with them were dated from then.
Most of the clothes are handmade and sewn right onto the little dolls.
This wooden doll house furniture was my mom's in the 1940s, then mine, then my kids. No one wants it any more and every time I see it stored away I think someone should be enjoying it...

I have lots more to list over the next few weeks. It is a bittersweet process to be sure....

Thursday, June 17, 2010

More stickers....

Going through my grandmother's old sticker box is sort of like an archeological dig through my childhood...for example, these stickers take me back, way back, to elementary school....We used stickers all the time on our envelopes, gifts, etc. but especially so at holiday times. Halloween wasn't a big commercial day like it seems to be now so these stickers were a very special treat. My grandmother bought little books of stickers whenever she found them so she had Thanksgiving stickers, Valentine's Day, even Mother's Day stickers...
I thought these were especially cute....

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Do you remember these?

One of my favorite things about opening my vintage shop on Etsy is getting to look at old things and remember some of the funny and sweet things about my grandmother, my mother and other members of my family that are no longer with us.

These staplers not only reminded me of my grandmother today but of sitting in my third grade classroom hoping I would not be called upon to staple something. Did you have trouble with staplers as a kid? I sure did....they jammed, the staple came out crooked or the paper corner got all messed up. Sometimes the stapler fell on the floor making a huge racket. I just hated them. Today they are among my favorite things but seriously, they needed to give lessons on these things.
Did your family have a set of these little monks? I remember seeing them in lots of houses when I grew up. I lived in a pretty Catholic neighborhood and my own grandmother was raised Catholic although we were not. The Irish Catholics in particular used to have a great time poking a little fun at the priests and the brothers, as they called them and these little salt and pepper shakers were a subtle or maybe not so subtle a way to do that. It seemed every Irish family had a priest or a monk in the mix so the joshing was pretty harmless. These were popular around the same time as Toby jugs....
Are there funny little things that make you smile about your family when you see them?

Friday, May 14, 2010

For the Love of Stickers

My grandmother put stickers on everything that she mailed or wrapped. They came on envelopes, postcards and packages. She bought them everywhere. Do you remember the little sticker books that were about 3 x 5" and had pages of punch out stickers? They came in all sorts of varieties and subjects. Most of these are from the late 1960s and early 1970s.I don't know why, but one day my grandmother seems to have gone through all her little books and punched out all the little stickers and I found them all neat and tidy in an old case for a deck of cards. Fittingly it had a rose on it....
I am keeping some of the stickers for sentimental reasons but am letting the rest go. I have listed a few in my shop but I have tons more ;-)

What would you do with these stickers if you had them to use in a project or two or three?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Bedtime Stories....

Did your grandmother read to you? Mine did. My mother read to us all the time and was a wonderful reader with lots of gestures, expressions and different voices but sitting in my grandmother's soft bed surrounded by old quilts while listening to an old story was fun, too."The Little Rabbit That Would Not Eat" by Edna Groff Deihl was one of our favorite stories to read when we stayed over night with my grandmother, something we did often. We loved the gentle pictures and the story of the bad little rabbit that wouldn't do what he was supposed to do. As children made to sit at the table to finish food we hated, we could relate!
This poor old book just fell apart. I found the pages stacked in the bottom of one of my grandmother's boxes and boy, did they bring me back in time....I may keep one of the illustrations for a scrapbook but I have trimmed off the bent and torn places and will be listing the illustrations in my Etsy shop for others to share and enjoy...
I especially love this one of the grandmother bunny tucking in all the little bunnies. Do you remember this story?

What was your favorite story to read at bedtime with a grandparent or parent?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

I grew up in a family totally dominated by women, a true matriarchy, if you will. My great grandfather left when his infant son died, leaving my great grandmother and her little daughter, my grandmother alone to fend for themselves. This is my great grandmother here in 1936 with my mother who was 4 at the time.My grandmother also ended up on her own but not until the children were mostly grown. I never met my grandfather, though, and in my world, she was the queen of the family. This is a picture of my grandmother with my mother on a picnic. My mother would have been almost 6 and I'm assuming my grandfather took the photo.
My own father left when I was around 8 and for most of my life the dinner table, holidays and vacations were inhabited by women. I grew up thinking that there was nothing a woman couldn't do because in my life, the women did everything that men would have done. They worked, they mowed lawns, they drove through the night and they paid the bills. This is my mom at 21 when I was about 3 weeks old in 1954. Doesn't she look young?
At the ripe old age of 22 here is my mom with me at the beach the next spring or summer. And yes, she deliberately raised us to be beach bunnies.
All these amazing women are gone now, all buried next to each other, in fact at a local graveyard where I am about to go and deliver some flowers. These ladies were strong and funny, smart and caring and I miss them all, especially on Mother's Day. Other families may have shrugged off Mother's Day as a "Hallmark Holiday" but in my family it was a day when the woman of the house got to be celebrated and pampered in a big way. No one loved to celebrate Mother's Day more than my own mother and even though she's been gone 9 long years now we always lift a glass in her honor and tell a few good stories so her legacy lives on.

Happy Mother's Day to all who celebrate it today!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Vintage Scrapbooks

What would you do with these vintage scrapbooks from the early 1940s? They belonged to my mom and have pictures of movie stars in them with captions in child's handwriting beneath most photos.

One book has mostly cartoons, jokes, riddles and other little anecdotal type clippings.
I am going to list these in my shop but am curious to know what people might use them for. I've had them knocking around my basement for a long time. They are not in great shape--pages are yellowed, some are torn but overall I think some creative person is going to have a blast with these....What would you do with these?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Garden Memory Walks

Are there certain flowers or gardens that take you back in time? I always think of my grandmother when I see apple blossoms. I remember being with her in the backyard and watching the petals of the apple blossoms fall like pink rain upon the ground. She used to pick them up and toss them back in the air and giggle like a girl as they fell back around her head.When I was quite young my mother discovered a church garden that was full of daffodils each year and every spring she and my grandmother would go to the fancy daffodil tea that the church held in the garden. I walk there every spring in their memory though the garden is not what it once was.
Both my mother and grandmother loved narcissus flowers as well and always had them in their gardens so I do too. I like to put them in the various pewter vases they collected each spring as well.
Our daffodils are beginning to fade as are the apple blossoms....
but one of my very favorite flowers is just about to bust out all over....but more on that later! Do you and your family have a favorite garden to visit?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Book of Roses and Grandmothers' Gardens

Did your grandmother garden? Mine did. She had a victory garden during the war and later she grew mostly flowers and few herbs but also tomatoes and radishes. Don't ask me how that particular combo came to be. By the time I knew her my grandmother lived in an apartment upstairs from a couple that also had a garden out back and they grew just about everything, including roses.If my sister and I were behaving ourselves out in the yard we would get a tasting tour of the garden which was especially fun when the strawberries were ripe. What I remember most though was the pride that accompanied growing the roses.
Years later my mother would attempt to grow roses but she never had the success my grandmother's landlady had. Mrs. Richardson had a super green thumb because her roses were spectacular. They came in all sizes and colors and were everywhere in her tiny yard. I don't believe she used pesticides because you would often find her hand picking Japanese beetles and other bugs from the leaves.
I found this book on one of my meandering travels the other day and was knocked over by the gorgeous pictures. It was published in 1936 and is packed with color photos on almost every page! It is also in fantastic condition inside though the outside shows a little wear and damage and I was leery at first.
When I bought the book I thought I might take it apart and sell the prints but I just can't. The binding is pretty tight though the front page is trying to escape from the cover....this is an awesome book for someone who really loves roses. If Mrs. Richardson was still around I would give it to her for Mother's Day....

I have listed the book in my shop here.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Sweet Lady and her Violets

My grandmother and mother continually told stories and some of the stories were told so often they became family legends. This little vase is one of my favorite pieces that used to belong to my mother. She got it when she was 12 years old and had broken her leg in a toboggan accident. She was bedridden for several weeks and had many visitors including a young man who brought her this little lady filled with violets.

Every spring my mother pulled it out of the vase cabinet and filled it with violets and retold the story. After she died I continued the tradition and since it is violet time in my back yard, here is the little lady once again, all decked out in her spring time regalia.

I actually use her more often than just in the spring since she feels like a little piece of my mom in the room. She has been known to hold lilies of the valley, small roses and holly among other things...

Do you have a special piece handed down from your family that is worth more for the story and the memories than the piece itself?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Raggedy Ann and Andy

Oh how Muna loved her dolls. She kept many of the dolls from her childhood, some of which I now have. She also made dolls and tons of doll clothes so when my mother and her sister were little girls they had quite the collection of well dressed girls. My mother had many stories of fancy tea parties with her dolls and when I was a little girl she and my grandmother would set them up for me and my dolls, too.
I think my grandmother's favorite dolls were Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy. She owned many of the old story books which were and still are among my favorite children's stories. They were so much fun and so imaginative that I spent hours arranging my own dolls and toys so they could join Ann and Andy on their nightly adventures. I tried desperately to stay awake to catch them all coming to life like they did each night in the stories but I never quite made it.

Over the years Muna made many little Raggedy Ann's and Andy's and I still have the ones she made for my daughters. This one dates back quite a bit and if memory serves correctly it was actually made by my great grandmother. I say this because it doesn't have the little heart that my grandmother always carefully embroidered on their chests. My great grandmother didn't always put the hearts in on hers.

In any case, these will remain in my own collection but I thought you might like to see them. Do you have any toys or dolls that were special from your grandparents?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

For the Dogs....

For as long as I know everyone in my family has had dogs, at least on my grandmother's side of the family. My grandmother often talked about her own dog growing up, a happy little mutt named Barney. I believe there is even a picture of him somewhere but I can't put my finger on it right now.

What I do have are these pictures of the dog they had when my mom was a little girl. That's my grandmother holding the puppy and my mother is the little girl. The handsome guy in black is Mike himself, dog of fame and  legend, at least in my family. He is the one and same pup being held by Muna. He was supposedly half Shetland sheepdog and who knows what else.

The man below with the tiny pup on his shoulder is my grandfather, Jack. There's a whole book that could probably be written about him but for today let's just say he loved his little dog, Mike. After Mike's death (of old age) my grandfather was so broken up he couldn't go to work for a few days and he would never have another dog. He said it was just too darn hard to lose one....he wouldn't go through that again. And he never did. My grandmother never had another dog, either but doted on all the ones my family had.

When I found this awesome book I couldn't help but think of all the dogs in my family and especially my grandmother's. She had lots of these little books all about birds, flowers, insects, etc. The dog book was not hers but one I picked up along the way....It is illustrated by Ole Larsen, a well known and well loved dog artist and I have other pieces and another book by him that I am keeping.

You can find this book here.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Ultimate Scrap Book Queen

My grandmother saved everything. And when I say everything, I mean everything. She kept photos, cards, menus, playbills, tickets, matchbook covers, napkins from restaurants, everything. She had boxes of scrapbooks and journals. Unfortunately her journals were terribly dull, just noting the weather and things like that, nothing personal or historical....
She kept history alive in other ways, though. Her scrap books document every card event from the time of her own marriage through the raising of her children. She kept things later as well but most didn't make it into formal scrapbooks. Unfortunately she didn't use good materials and many of the items she saved are in terrible condition, have water marks or even mold on them so we have had to throw most of them away. Some never made it into the basement, however, so were spared the damp and the mold. These cards are some of those.

Most of these cards actually date to my own birth in the mid 1950s. They are signed and used and most are showing some age but in a way that makes them even more precious, don't you think?

I am hoping someone will use these to celebrate their own mom and or baby or that of a friend, sister, cousin, aunt, whoever. You can find these in my Etsy shop here. What would you use these for?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Margaret Smith Carr

This was my grandmother, born Margaret Smith but known throughout her childhood as Margaret Carr. She was born in Pittsburgh PA in 1906 to Margaret and Thomas Smith. Her great grandmother came over from Ireland during the famine of 1849-50 and her family was centered in the mining town of McKeesport PA. Her little brother died of pneumonia when she was very young and after his death her father left, never to be heard from again. Her mother went to work as a cleaning woman in a hospital in Pittsburgh and her sister, Mary Carr and her husband raised young Margaret as their own. 

These pictures are from her own album and show a bit of her life as a young woman. The top picture shows her with her new "bob" for her graduation from the 8th grade, her last year of formal schooling. She didn't travel much but did get to NYC as seen in the second shot. The third picture shows her (Peg) with one of her best male friends and some of her "flapper" friends.

If you are of a certain age, were any of your relatives flappers?