Another Grandmother Project con’t

April 30, 2010

This is the second in a series of posts about the items I inherited from my paternal grandmother. She didn’t leave much behind, so I cherish the items I received, but at the same time I am trying to figure out just what to do with them.


This is a beautiful beaded handbag, but unfortunately, it’s falling apart. The other side is in even worse condition. I would love to get it repaired but have no idea where to do that. Any ideas? I love the style of this. My mom has a close friend who had an old heirloom handbag preserved in a display box and I would love to do something like that if it could be repaired.

pin cushion

Next up is the pin cushion. My aunt says this used to be on Gram’s dresser, but I am not sure I really remember seeing it there.  My aunt says that the hat pins belonged to Gram’s mother Rose, my great-grandmother. Rose was quite a woman, from the stories I’ve heard. She took in foster children before there was a real foster child system, and despite her family’s lack of wealth. Because of this, there is an “aunt” who was raised by her who is not a biological relative, but was always considered a sister to my Gram and her two biological sisters. I love the pin in the center with the rhinestones, even though many are missing. I would love to get that repaired as well. Stick pins were in fashion in the late 70s – maybe they’ll make a comeback and I could wear it as one!

There were some costume jewelry pins my mom chose for me to have.  The two that are identical are actually a belt buckle I think. I like the little one at the bottom the most. It’s pretty and delicate and would be something you could just pin on a collar for a little extra fun. I know it’s not exactly in style at the moment, but it appeals to me.

My mom also gave me an assortment of rings. Some I passed along to my daughter. I kept three for myself which you can see on my finger (which looks incredibly old and wrinkly in this photo for some reason!). The top one is missing some stones (rhinestones I presume) and I would love to get it repaired and sized to fit me. It’s a cute little ring.

The second one is missing the stone (I assume the stones were sold or reset at some point). I LOVE this setting. What is really, really strange is that it is very similar to the ring I received from my other grandmother. You can read that post here. My other grandmother’s ring was her engagement ring. The stone was reset for an anniversary. My mom gave me that ring and had an aquamarine stone set in it for me. This ring from

Comparison of two rings

Gram is very similar. It might have been the style of the times – however they weren’t the same age. Gai married in the 30s and Gram married in the 40s (she was a WWII bride), so I’m not sure what to think.

I’ve included a photo of the two similar rings together. In this photo, you can see that the ring from Gram has a blue stone on the side (it’s missing on the other side).

The third ring is also missing a stone, but again I am in love with the ring. The setting is quite high – it sticks out quite far and I love the delicate detailing on the ring itself. I really want to get all three of these rings repaired and reset so I could wear them.

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Another Grandmother Project

April 29, 2010

If you’ve been following along with me, you probably remember the Grandmother Project. After my maternal grandmother passed away almost a year ago, I inherited boxes and boxes of things (my entire dining room was filled) and spent a lot of time trying to make sense of them and put them to good use. I posted many times with photos of some of the more interesting finds and uses.

My paternal grandmother passed away several years ago, but there was recently a family pow-wow to divide up what remained of her belongings. Gram was not a woman of material wealth and didn’t leave much behind. I had nothing of hers though, so I was happy when my mom brought home some things for me. Today and tomorrow I’m going to share some of them with you.

My aunts say that this piece of lace was my grandmother’s parochial school collar from her uniform. It’s actually quite beautiful and is 23 inches long. I’m not sure what to do with it though! Any suggestions are welcome. I could frame it I suppose.

Lace collar

Next up is another collar, but this one is for a baby or child. And since it is blue, we think it must have been my father’s, or possibly the other son my grandmother had who died as a baby. I’m not sure what to do with this either! It’s an interesting piece of family history to have though.

These gloves are very tiny – I can’t get my hands into them at all and neither can Teen Martha ( I think we inherited a scaled down version of my mother’s giant paws), but Gram had very small hands. It’s possible these are from her wedding, although her hands are not visible in the wedding photo I


have. They have tiny little pearls at the edge and are quite pretty, if  a bit yellowed. Again, I’m at a loss as to what to do with them and the only thing I can come up with is framing them. I also am not sure how to get the yellowing out without damaging them. Any thoughts or suggestions for any of this is welcome!

Tune in tomorrow for another installment of this project.

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The Grandmother Project: Christmas Version

December 3, 2009

At this point, dear reader, you must be scratching your head and thinking “What else could she have inherited from her grandmother? Her house must be full!” But, as I’ve been doing since my grandmother passed away in May, I continue to find ways to use, display, and enjoy her belongings with some inspiration from Martha.

It should be no surprise that now I’m working through the Christmas items I got from her. My grandmother’s Christmas tree was always filled with blue ornaments – blue was her signature color. My own tree is pink (which is my signature color!), so her ornaments don’t work on my tree. I do have a lot of blue in my house, so I gathered all of the blue ornaments I received and put them in a Heise glass bowl she gave to me. It’s on the coffee table in the family room and looks very pretty.

Among her things we also found some pink ornaments – mostly hot pink, which doesn’t quite go with my tree. So I took these and put them in a glass container to display. They look great in my dining room.

Since everything on her tree was blue, she had a few interesting items you wouldn’t normally find in blue. The most memorable for my kids and me were her blue Santas. She had two blue Santa ornaments she bought in Japan. Every Christmas we would talk about these with her. She was so proud of them. “You never see a blue Santa!” she would say. Since there were two, each of my children got one (and fortunately they are identical so there was no squabbling). The Santas are hanging on the kids’ tree in the family room. They’re a bit old and falling apart (after all, she went to Japan probably 40 years ago)

She also had some elves, very 1960s elves, which are of course blue. I tried to put these in my kitchen, but the green color clashed with the sea green of my tile, so instead I gave them to the kids and they hung them on their tree.

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The Grandmother Project Continues

November 14, 2009

ring3As I’ve written before, my grandmother passed away this year (6 months ago now) – and clearly since I keep writing about it, it had a huge impact on me. Since she left us, I’ve been working through what to do with the many things I inherited from her. For a lot of them, I’ve looked to Martha for inspiration – finding ways to display things and repurpose them. Today I added another item to my list of items I’ve reclaimed. The ring in the photo (without the stone) was the engagement ring my grandfather gave to her, back in the 1930s. When they had their 25th anniversary, she had the diamond reset – my mom inherited that. I got the empty ring, which I fell in love with.  When my mom found it in the jewelry box, it was very dull looking. My mom was wonderful enough to have an aquamarine set into the ring for me so that I can wear it. The ring itself cleaned up amazingly well and now is shiny and beautiful. I love the antique setting.  I feel so close to her, wearing it today.

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Another Installment of the Grandmother Project

August 23, 2009

earringsSince my grandmother passed away in May, I’ve been sorting through the things I inherited and looking for ways to use and enjoy them in as Martha a way as possible.

I have a lot her costume jewelry, including clip on earrings. I took 7 pairs of earrings to the jeweler, including the 5 pairs of ivory she brought back from Africa (ivory is illegal to import now and the jeweler told me she wouldn’t even know how to value it) and 2 rhinestone pairs, and had them change them from clips to posts. In the back of the photo, you’ll see an ivory carving of three elephants. We think this was a brooch or a pin at some point, but the back must have come off. I had the jeweler make this into a tie clip for my son, so that he could have a piece too. I was surprised that all this work was relatively inexpensive – $77 for all of it.  I’m happy to have taken a box of pretty things that were unusable and turned them into things that I and my children will be able to use and enjoy. I think my grandmother would be pleased.

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The Basket Project

July 14, 2009

I’m continuing to work through what I call the Grandmother Project, as I seek out ways to use, preserve, and enjoy the special items I inherited when my 99 year old grandmother passed.



Two items that came home with me were baskets. The first is a very old two-handled, hinged picnic basket. My mom remembers my grandmother using this for family picnics years ago. It was a really hideous yellow (and I discovered there was a layer of green paint underneath that!). This basket seemed to me like something Martha would have great ideas about using. I posted about this a few weeks ago, asking for suggestions. So many of you sent me great ideas – thank you so much for inspiring me! The first thing I did was clean it. I took a damp cloth and thoroughly wiped it all over. It was dirty!



Next, I spray painted it white. It took an entire can of white spray paint and honestly, I probably should have ran out and bought another can to give it one more coat, but I didn’t have a chance.  I put the basket on my front porch, next to my white wicker furniture, with flowers in it. Next year I’m going to buy a nice oblong planter that will completely fill the basket and fill it with flowers that will grow and drape over the side, but for now this geranium brings it to life.

plant basketNext up is another picnic basket. This one is from my childhood. This is the basket my grandmother used to take on picnics with me. We often went to the park to have lunch. This is also what I think of as The Kitten Basket. My grandfather and his brother ran a greenhouse. Every spring the mama kitty that lived in the greenhouse had kittens. My grandmother would bring this basket with a towel in it and walk me over to the greenhouse. My grandfather would have already scoped out where the mama kitty was hiding her babies (often it was behind the boiler) and he would climb into wherever it was and get them out for me. We would put them in the basket and carry it back to my grandmother’s house where I would put the kittens out on a blanket in her sunroom and play with them. I can only imagine what the poor mama kitty thought about this!

So, as you can see, this basket has great sentimental value to me. I wanted to find a way to make it a part of my house. I decided to use it as a plant basket. I layered the bottom with plastic to protect it, then I set a plant pot in it. I’m going to carefully water it so that the basket does not get damaged.  It makes me happy every time I look at it.

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