my inspiration

My grandma.

You can read through this little bit if you want.
But it's mostly for me.
And I won't even do her justice by what I can squeeze in here.

My grandma was an amazing seamstress, hostess and person. 
She reminds me a just a tad of Betty White.   
That cute little smile and the shoulders that kind of scrunched up when she smiled.
She always had a hanky stuffed up her sleeve.

She always wore a dress. She could never just say "No"- it was always No-ni-no.
And she always wore perfume.
I liked how she said lasagna with a soft 's'.
La ssssssanya.
She made four formals for my school events.
(I'd show you, but my huge 80's hair would overrun the photos!!)

Well....ok, just one.

OK, are you done laughing now?
Compose yourself.  Got it all out of your system?
Ok. On with the rest of it.
My grandma was a homemaker. 
I remember seeing it written often as her job description. 
I don't know why, but it seemed to be written with confidence. 
With pride. 

My grandma is the one who got me sewing. 
Oh, I took the prerequisite Home Ec class in Junior High....I made my totally awesome surfboard pillow.  (Hey, it was better than the hamburger pillow....)

But I was interested in really making something. 
Something cool. 
Like, a denim skirt for my freshman year of high school. 
My grandma raised her eyebrows a bit when she saw that not only was I going to attempt to sew a heavyweight (read that as hard to sew through) denim skirt, but I had drawn up the picture of what I wanted it to look like. 
 As in, no pattern.

We had several dates of cutting out fabric, measuring, and sewing lessons. 
And when I finished it, I was pretty dang proud. 
So was my grandma.
I felt a little bit like Molly Ringwald in my high school years, ala Pretty in Pink- of my all time favorite movies, I might add...
I went on to make several other outfits in my high school years.  Some great, some- not so much.
I eventually got my own sewing machine as a birthday present.

The same one that I use when I make curtains, pillows or other things for around our house.

   I loved the familiar smell of my grandma's sewing room / guestroom.
Since I was always the odd ball kid in the mix of cousins- they were either a lot older or a lot younger- I found ways to busy myself, by my self, at get togethers at grandma's.

One of my favorite things to do was ask grandma if I could go through her buttons.
She kept them in the bottom drawer of her sewing table.
It was in a big old tin that was heavy with all of her saved buttons.
I loved to run my fingers through them.
Inspect and look at all the different kinds. 
Big ones.
Teeny tiny baby buttons.
Giant coat buttons.
Sparkly wedding gown buttons.
And one particularly unique one- a big waxy feeling button with a carved image on it.

My other favorite thing to do was to try on all of my grandma's clip on earrings, necklaces and bracelets.  Nothing was expensive- it was mostly costume jewelery- but it was fabulous!!
I would come out and model it for her as she played Scrabble or Rack-O with the aunts and uncles.

When my grandmother passed away in 2003, there were only two things I wanted to have....
her button tin-
and a piece of the jewelery I loved to play with.

Somewhere along the way the familiar tin had been discarded.  But I do have many of the buttons that reminded me of my grandma.

And, much of her jewelery was divided up among family. 
The piece I got was a red bracelet. 
Sparkly.  Vintage.  ♥

Before she passed away, she began giving things away to us. 
So she also passed on a pearl and ruby pin to me- she loved rubies.  My grandfather gave her a couple special gifts with them.

My grandmother was an accomplished seamstress. She made 22 wedding gowns in her lifetime.  Mostly for family, but some were for others.  She had retired from making wedding dresses by the time I married. I know there was a tiny part of her that wanted to make one more for a grandchild, but I'm glad that she didn't. It would have been a lot of work at age 86!
She also made the majority of her own clothing. And only in her later years did I see her with more store bought outfits.

I also have 3 of the quilts she made, and some scraps of fabric she passed down.
What I remember most about my grandma was her hospitality.  She was always incredibly gracious, and seemed most happy when she was able to have someone in her home.
I think of her every time I have people over.
We come from humble means, my family. 
There are no inheritances to be had. 
No dreams of family fortune. 
Just love and great memories. 

One of the things we saw at every holiday and get together were the hobnail glasses with the good china. 
Somewhere along the way, the glasses went.....somewhere? 
Goodwill?  The garbage? one really knows- I prefer not to think of the unfortunate fate they met,
but guess what my mom got for me last Christmas?

One of the other special memories I have with my grandma is one that not many grandmothers and granddaughters get to share.


My grandma remarried a few years after my grandpa passed away, and we were both dating our future husbands at the same time!  They married a year before us, and it was pretty fun to be all giggly and sappy over our guys.

Here's a picture of my grandpa and grandma together:
and grandma with Jack:

I could go on and on about my memories of her-
but sometimes you just have to know somebody to really care about those little things.

 I love how my day to day life makes me think of her so often. 
I am grateful that I have an inkling of an idea of how to sew.
I sincerely hope to be half as joyful and gracious as she was.
 I hope to be as Godly as she was.
And I wear perfume- every day.


  1. Hi Denise,
    Your grandmother sounds like a wonderful woman.
    How lucky you are. I really enjoyed reading your story, my grandfather just passed in June so I am still in the day to day struggling part of losing him and reading your story made me feel better for some special reason.Thank you for posting it.
    Have a wonderful day.
    Heather H.

  2. I can relate to your story 100%! I had a grandma who was much the same...I don't think there was anything she couldn't do. So fun to think of those wonderful memories...

  3. Aww Denise, what an incredibly sweet post. I have been so close to my grandmother my whole life- she is more like a mother to me. Even though now she has dementia and doesn't know me anymore a lot of the time- I feel so blessed to be able to sit and hold her hand and give her a hug. Thanks so much for sharing. :)

  4. Denise you made me cry...what a beautful tribute to your grandma. She sounds very similar to mine. I am so happy that you got to share such special memories with her and spend quality time together. I miss my grandma every day as well and sometimes see glimpses of her in my daughter. Oh, and I loved going through her buttons and jewelry as well. I did take her bucket of buttons and some of her costume jewelry that she loved.

    Thank you for sharing your sweet story and brining wonderful memories of my grandma into my heart again.

  5. What a wonderful post! My grandmother is the only crafty person in my family. And though we live 10 hours away, I love sending her pictures and seeing the ones she sends me of her projects. Its very special to me to share that with her.

  6. Hi Denise,
    I just found your blog through Cindy's and I'm so happy I did. I love this post of your beauitful Grandma...I find myself tearing up as I read all your wonderful memories of her...I find myself thinking back at my own memories with my grandma...I do miss her so. Thank you for sharing such a special part of your life. Have a wonderful day.

    Hugs and Smiles,
    ♥Ana~A Petite Cottage

  7. Such a sweet, beautiful tribute to your grandma :) I'm glad you shared, Heidi

  8. This is one of the most beautiful posts I have ever read... I have tear in my eyes... How precious to have those buttons... My grandmother is a big part of my life and at 94 she is a bit fragile. I posted a while back about a chandelier she gave me... if you would like to read it, it's on my blog.


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