Tuesday, November 29, 2011

top ten Tuesday: things from my grandmas' houses.

Grandparents are awesome. When you’re a kid, it’s a huge treat to go spend the day with your grandparents. As you get older, you learn more and more about your grandparents – sure, there can be a certain amount of “back in the good old days” stories, but my grandparents are really quite interesting. Plus: they have really neat stuff. You never know what you’ll find when you go digging around in boxes at your grandparents’ houses. Both of my grandfathers have passed away, but my two grandmothers are still alive: my mom’s mom, Lorraine, is 92. My dad’s mom, Sheila, is 80. 
Here we are at my sister's graduation. From left: Darrah,
Grandma Lorraine, me, Grandma Sheila.
They were growing up during the Great Depression, and they were young women during some of the most incredible periods in modern history. My grandmas have given me a ton of amazing things over the years, and there’s always a story. This week’s top ten list is about the top ten things that have come from my grandmas’ houses!

Bird apron – Grandma Lorraine

Grandma Lorraine is one of those grandmas who never throws anything away. She has at least one shoebox full of paper bookmarks, for crying out loud. Quite often, though, we find some really cool things in Grandma’s house. She used to wear this apron in the 1960s, when she was teaching elementary school and raising four kids. My grandma and the apron have long since retired, but now the apron is back in action. I’m not wearing it – you don’t need an apron to cook hot dogs and grilled cheese sandwiches – but you can find it hanging in my dining room!

Horn rimmed glasses – Grandma Sheila

These glasses are fantastic. I’m not sure if my grandma ever wore them, but I’ve seen pictures of my great grandma wearing them. I wore them as part of my schoolmarm costume this year, and they really pulled it all together. And honestly, they didn’t look too goofy. Maybe I’ll go ahead and get some lenses put in these babies and wear them every day.

Cribbage board – Grandma Lorraine

Cribbage is a huge deal at my house. It’s not considered a successful family gathering if you don’t spend at least a couple of hours playing cribbage. This cribbage board belonged to my Grandpa Harvey, and it’s the cribbage board that my mom learned on – my mom, in turn, taught my dad, and the rest is history. 

Pink flamingo – Grandma Sheila

For the longest time, I’ve loved flamingoes. They’re so weird looking, yet so graceful. This pink flamingo belonged to Grandma Sheila’s mom, who was also an incredible lady. We called her Grandma Shorty, though she was anything but short. Grandma Shorty could sew anything – she once sewed a dress for my aunt after seeing the dress on TV. I can only hope that I’ve got some of her creativity – for now, I’ll stick with the flamingo!

Owl napkin holder – Grandma Lorraine

I’m not sure what it is with grandmas and birds, but this is the third bird thing on this list. But they’re all cool vintage birds, not creepy Alfred Hitchcock birds, so it’s all fine. I found this funny little napkin holder at Grandma Lorraine’s not too long ago. I never thought that a napkin holder was something I’d ever actually want, but the owl has proved me wrong. It’s adorable and practical; what fun!

Chair – Grandma Sheila
The chicken wants you to sit by him.
Shortly after I got my first job, I bought my first TV. It had a VCR built-in and weighed about a million pounds, but I bought it from my parents, so the price was right. When you’ve got your own TV, you need a chair to put in front of it, right? Grandma Sheila had this old chair in her basement, and she let me have it to fix it up. With a little new foam and lot of new fabric, it’s as good as new. If you’re ever at my apartment, sit in this chair. You won’t want to get up.

Vintage rings – Grandma Lorraine

Grandma Lorraine has always had all sorts of great jewelry. A lot of it came from her visits to Norway, which makes it extra cool. A few Easters ago, Grandma let me go through her jewelry box and pick out whatever I wanted. I had a GREAT time. I wear Grandma’s rings all the time, and I always get compliments. It’s always fun to say, “Thanks; it was my grandma’s!” Not everyone has a grandma as stylin’ (yes, stylin’) as mine.

Batman keychain – Grandma Sheila
Batman protects my keys.
There are some things you just don’t expect to find at your grandma’s house. A Batman keychain from the 1970s is one of those things. I’m not sure who this originally belonged to; certainly one of my uncles. Many items came and went, but this keychain hung around all those years until someone from the next generation (me) scooped it up. And now I get to tell people that my grandma gave me a Batman keychain. Not everyone can say that.

Norwegian outfit – Grandma Lorraine
I wish I could tell you that the Norwegian
costume is the one on the right, but we all
know that's not true.
Like many people here in the Great White North, Grandma Lorraine is 100% Norwegian and proud of it. She and Grandpa Harvey (who was 100% German, but somehow ended up as the president of the local chapter of the Sons of Norway) would go Norwegian dancing all the time, and they would wear Norwegian costumes. I wore this costume once to give a speech to the Sons of Norway about my time at Norwegian camp (which is a great story for another day), and then again for Halloween 2008. This is my best Halloween costume to date, and I’m seriously considering breaking my “never wear the same costume twice” rule for next year. I loved it THAT MUCH.

The magic cookie tin – Grandma Sheila
Grandma Sheila loves to bake, and she is GREAT at it. Bread, cakes, bars… whatever treats you can imagine, Grandma Sheila will make them. All the way through high school, I had easy access to Grandma’s cookies: just stop by, and she’ll have them waiting for you. College, of course, would change this. Since my school was two and a half hours away, my visits would have to become fewer. A few days before I left for college, Grandma presented me with a tin full of chocolate chip cookies. It was my “magic cookie tin,” she said. Whenever it was empty, all I had to do was bring back to Grandma, and it would “magically” fill with cookies before it was time for me to go back to school! It’s been more than six years since I got that first cookie tin, but the magic still hasn’t worn off! Something tells me it never will.


So those are the ten most fantastic things from my grandmas’ houses. I don’t get to see my grandmas as often as I might like, so it’s been really nice to have a little part of them with me in my apartment. (That’s not as creepy as I made it sound, I promise.)


  1. Aww! I loved this post! Grandmas are great, especially the Norwegian ones :)

  2. you're absolutely right! I know of a few more wonderful Norwegian grandmas :)