Friday, December 31, 2010

We Can Do It!

I was saddened to learn that the woman who inspired this famous World War II poster died yesterday at the age of 86. Her name was Geraldine Hoff Doyle. She was 17 when a United Press Photographer took a picture of her working at a Michigan metal factory in 1942.

Artist J. Howard Miller, who had been commissioned by the government to create a series of motivational posters for factory workers, saw the photo and created this poster. While the face in the poster is Geraldine's, her daughter says she did not have those muscular arms. According to her daughter, Geraldine was 5'10" tall and very slender.

Over time, the poster has become an icon of women's empowerment. "We CAN do it" and we do. During World War II, women further demonstrated their rightful place in the American workforce. They contributed to this nation's infrastructure and help shape the course of American history. They served their country at a time of great need and demonstrated to the nation that they were and are equal to the task.

As for Geraldine, she didn't last very long at the factory, taking a job instead at a soda fountain because she was worried factory work would keep her from playing the cello. As fate would have it, her future husband walked up to that soda fountain. Geraldine was married to Leo Doyle, a dentist, for 66 years. They had six children, 18 grandchildren, and 25 great-grandchildren. She didn't recognize herself in this poster until 1984, when she saw it in Modern Maturity magazine.

Read more about Geraldine here.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cookie Time At Grandma's! - Day 5

Every year at Christmas, my grandmother made Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls. She'd divide them up and then send them home with various family members. It was a ritual we all looked forward to, and dearly missed after she passed in 1998.

A few days ago, a package arrived in the mail from daughter Dannielle. Opening the box, there were several little bags of peanut butter balls! Believe me, they taste EXACTLY like the ones my grandmother used to make. Then it dawned on me that she had taught Dannielle how to cook.

I don't know the exact recipe that Grandmother and Dannielle used, but I found a fun recipe in Christmas Cookie Jar by Gooseberry Patch that I think you will enjoy.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

1/2 cup butter
18 ounce jar creamy peanut butter
16 ounce package powdered sugar
3-1/2 cup crispy rice cereal
18 ounce package milk chocolate bar, chopped

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Blend in peanut butter. Stir in powdered sugar and cereal. Form into one-inch balls and place on wax paper. Melt chocolate on top of double boiler. Dip balls in chocolate to coat. Arrange on baking sheets to cool and set.

Makes about 5 dozen.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Cookie Time At Grandma's! - Day 4

Our extended family doesn't get together as often as we should, yet we always find time to celebrate Christmas together either on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. We each bring a dish to share. Dad and sister Dannielle can be found in the kitchen baking up delicious Christmas treats.

In years past, we've toyed with the idea of making a gingerbread house. Some years we've made the pieces by hand. Other years, frankly, we "cheated" and bought a kit at the local grocery store. What we've basically decided is that making gingerbread cookies is the safest way to go. They're just as fun to decorate, and there are no catastrophic roof cave-ins to contend with. The recipe we use for Gingerbread cookies was given to me by my friend Mary Ross. It's exactly like the one my grandmother used to make:

Mary's Gingerbread Cookies

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup light and dark molasses
2-1/4 cups sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ginger
1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Cream butter and sugar. Blend in butter and molasses. Sift together dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture. Chill dough for two hours. Roll out 1/3 inch thick on lightly floured board.

Cut out shapes using a six inch cookie cutter. Draw dress details with toothpick and decorate with currants, red hots, or the candies of your choice. Bake on lightly greased cookie sheet for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees F. Makes approximately 15.

Alternatively, the dough may be rolled thin (1/4") and cut with standard sized cookie cutters. Bake on a lightly greased cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes at 400 degrees F. Makes 5 dozen.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Cookie Time At Grandma's! - Day 3

Unforgettable is one of my favorite little cookbooks. Combining American history with favorite recipes from the decades of the 20th Century, this book is packed with interesting information and mouth-watering recipes. It details how cocktail parties emerged for the first time during Prohibition. Meatloaf, chili and casseroles helped stretch food budgets in the 1930s, and food using vegetables from Victory Gardens sprung up in the 1940s.

Tucked in and among the recipes for Eggs Benedict, Meatless Meatloaf and Tuna Noodle Casserole, Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallow topping, Zucchini Bread and Quiche Lorraine, there is only one cookie recipe. Toll House Cookies are definitely a cookie you'll want to include in your holiday baking.

According to the book, Ruth Wakefield of Whitman, Massachusetts created the recipe in 1933. She thought she could save time by adding in bits of semi-sweet chocolate to her cookie batter but they didn't melt as she had hoped. She named them after the Toll House Inn she and her husband owned. The Nestle Corporation, which began selling chocolate chips in 1939, purchased the rights to the Toll House name. The rest, as they say, is history.

Did you know that chocolate chip cookies account for more than half of all the cookies baked in the United States? I know I've sure baked a lot of them. Haven't you?

Toll House Cookies

2-1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine,
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 package (12 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Combine flour, soda and salt. In a mixing bowl, cream butter, sugars and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture, mixing just until combined. By hand, stir in chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets 2 inches apart. Bake at 375 degrees F for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cookie Time At Grandma's! - Day 2

Does your family or friends have the tradition of swapping cookies at the holidays? The way it works is that each person bakes enough cookies to share a dozen or so with other participants. You bake the cookies; then get together to swap them out for others. That way, you have a bigger selection of cookies for holiday get-togethers.

Today's recipe is from The Great Christmas Cookie Swap Cookbook. By the folks at Good Housekeeping, this little book has contains 60 large-batch recipes to bake and share with others. Recipes include Lemon Cranberry Shortbread, Raspberry Linzer Thumbprints, Chocolate Crinkles and Coconut Macaroons, just to name a few. Like our other featured cookbooks, it is available at Grandma's Attic.

The Great Christmas Cookie Swap Cookbook is a small hard cover book with inside spiral bind for ease of page turning. As an added bonus, it also includes tips for hosting a swap and festive blank cards for sharing recipes.

Classic Sugar Cookies

6 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups butter (4 sticks), softened
3 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt until blended. In separate large bowl, with mixer at low speed, beat butter and sugar until blended. Increase speed to high; beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to low; beat in eggs and vanilla until mixed, then beat in flour mixture just until blended, occasionally scraping bowl with rubber spatula.

Divide dough in half, then divided each half into 4 equal pieces; flatten each into a disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. On lightly floured surface, with floured rolling pin, roll 1 piece of dough until slightly less than 1/4 inch thick; keep remaining dough refrigerated. With floured 3- to 4-inch cookie cutters, cut dough into as many cookies as possible; reserve trimmings. Place cookies 1 inch apart, on two ungreased large cookie sheets.

Bake until edges are golden, 12 to 15 minutes. With wide metal spatula, transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough and trimmings.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cookie Time at Grandma's!

This is the time of year when the smell of freshly baked cookies wafts out of the kitchen straight into our hearts. It's cookie time at Grandma's!

If you like baking cookies, you will love the recipes we'll share from now until December 25th, each one from a different book available at Grandma's Attic. Today's cookie recipe comes from Christmas Cookies by Gooseberry Patch. This fun book contains cookie after cookie after cookie. There are quick-to-fix recipes like the one below that start with store-bought mixes, and others that you make from scratch. Recipes for candy and mixes are also included.

Since I couldn't decide which recipe I wanted to use, I had Melissa close her eyes, and randomly open up the book. Super Simple Snickerdoodles is the recipe that she landed on. Outlined below, it sounds totally yummy!. To order the book, just click on this Christmas Cookies link.

Super Simple Snickerdoodles

18-1/2 ounce package Yellow Cake Mix
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
Garnish: cinnamon-sugar

Combine cake mix, eggs, oil and cinnamon in a large bowl; mix well. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees F for 8 to 10 minutes. While still warm, sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar. Let cool for two minutes on baking sheets; transfer to wire racks to finishing cooling.
Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Art of Charlot Byj

Rediscovering the artwork of Charlot Byj was like visiting an old friend. Remembering these images from childhood, I was delighted to find that reproductions of these 1950s-style coloring books were available. One of the ladies who shops at Grandma's Attic told me that she recently cleaned out her aunt's estate and discovered three of the Blue Bonnet coloring books shown here. They were dated 1949, 1950 and 1951. She said that the originals are much larger than the reproductions we carry.

The inside of each of these coloring books, including Beginners Coloring Book, looks exactly like a coloring book you would recall from childhood. There are 32 pages of black and white drawings. The artwork on the cover is what caught my attention, and I began to wonder about the artist.

Fortunately, Charlot Byj signed her name on these paintings, although at first I thought it was spelled Charlot Byi. (Either way, her name is pronounced "Bye".) She began her art career by drawing greeting cards, posters, and other types of advertising in the 1940s. The story goes that one day, after art school in New York City where she lived, she ducked into the doorway of a greeting card shop to escape the rain. Admiring the card line in the window, she noted the name of the publisher and called for an interview. The publisher hired her and she began creating greeting cards that featured redheaded children. Shabby O'Hair, his sister Raggy Muffin, and their plump mother M'Lady O'Hair were among the redheads that became her trademark.

Franz Goebel of the W. Goebel Porzellanfabrik company, noticed her work and invited her to his German production facility. Working alongside master sculptor Arthur Moeller, Charlot began designing Hummel figurines. The first one, called "Strike," was produced in 1957. She also helped create "The Roving Eye," "Oops," and "Little Miss Coy".

Between 1957 and 1988, when the series was discontinued, more than 100 different Hummel figurines were created. The figurines featured both red- and blonde-haired children. The redheads were known as mischievous characters. The blondes were portrayed as more serene. Today, Hummel figurines are sought after by collectors all over the world. In addition to figurines, Charlot's characters were also produced as annual baby and Christmas ornaments; a series of decorative plates, art prints, dolls in different sizes, and music boxes with figurines as the center piece. From the 1950s to the 1970s, Charlot Byj images were very popular. If they look familiar to you, you probably remember them from this time period.

Little Miss Christmas and Santa is the name of another coloring book. I originally attributed this coloring book to Charlot Byj as well; however, further research indicates that this coloring book was  created by Elizabeth Anne Voss, also known as Elizabeth Gartrell. You can read about her story and coloring book here. Popular in the 1960s, Little Miss Christmas is obviously a blonde. I suppose that means she was more serene and not so mischievous. (After all, every one knows you have to be a "good girl" at Christmas time.) And just as a matter of confession, my own dear Grandmother was a carrot-top redhead. Believe me, she was mighty mischievous for the times in which she lived! This coloring book consists of 32 pages of Christmas-related scenes.

All three of these coloring books are for sale at Grandma's Attic. In case you think I've lost my mind in all this nostalgia and wonder why we carry coloring books at the shop, I'll tell you coloring books of all kinds can be a great source of inspiration for quilters, crafters, scrapbookers, and grandmothers. You can use them as stencils, for embroidery work, and to create vignettes for scrapbooks. Then again, they're also perfect for keeping children busy and happy. Think of all the "artwork" you can display on the refrigerator!

In addition to Hummel figurines, Charlot Byi illustrated books and created art prints. The Shiniest Star, a reproduction pop-up book illustrated by Charlot Byj, is currently available at Grandma's Attic.

According to the information I have on Charlot Byj, she lived in New York City. She was considered by those who knew her as a "caring and sincere" person. After Charlot became ill in the 1980s, she cut back on her design work. On August 7, 1983, she passed away.

That's pretty much everything I know about Charlot Byj. If you have more information related to her, I hope you will share it with us.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Quilt Market and the Houston Zoo

After spending four days at International Quilt Market in Houston, I felt like I had been to a zoo. Quilts and fabric were everywhere. Tons to look at, loads of walking, and lots of information to try to absorb. Before heading back to Oregon, Amber and I decided to take a little break and visit a different kind of zoo--The Houston Zoo. And what do you know? Even this sweet little orangutan was holding a quilt!

Speaking of orangutans, did you know that the experts believe that orangutans are so endangered, they will become extinct in the wild over the next ten years? Orangutans are our closest relatives. We share about 97 percent of our DNA with them. Originally, it is estimated that 300,000 orangutans lived throughout Southeast Asia. Today, there are only small pockets of them in the wild on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. But as the rainforest is destroyed through logging and palm oil production, their numbers are dwindling fast. In the past 20 years, over 80% of their habitat has been destroyed. With information like that, I'd be hugging a quilt too!

Other highlights at this zoo included a brand new baby Asian elephant named Tupelo, a couple of bears named Boomer and Bailey, some Opaki, a lion named Jonathan, and an amazing assortment of all kinds of other animals including a giraffe, an assortment of primates, sea lions, birds, aquarium animals, reptiles, amphibians--you name it. The weather was 88 degrees with 90% humidity. It was an amazingly wonderful diversion from all the strategic planning we're up to for 2011.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

One Million Pillowcase Challenge Update

We just checked in with the Counter for the One Million Pillowcase Challenge and added even more pillowcases that have been generously donated by our customers! To date, we have added 583 pillowcases to the national total. We are hoping to have donated 1,000 pillowcases by December 31, 2010 and we need your help to achieve this goal.

I noticed when I went to the website that there have been a total of 167,942 pillowcases donated nationwide. Click here to see the current national pillowcase count. Thank you, thank you, thank you to the donors who are helping us give pillowcases to the non-profit organizations in Polk County. We are definitely doing our part to help in this worthwhile effort.

Throughout 2010, Grandma's Attic is asking you to make pillowcases and bring them to the shop where they will be donated to Polk County Area non-profit organizations. Each pillowcase is counted; then sent to the agencies.

If you'd like to get ideas for pillowcases that you can make, American Patchwork & Quilting has free pillowcase patterns available. Patterns are updated quarterly so there's bound to be something that catches your interest. You can make your pillowcases from any 100% cotton fabrics that you have or purchase. I think the only requirement is that they be standard size, clean, and something that you yourself would be proud to use!

Thank you for considering this worthwhile cause. Seana picked out a nice Asian style fabric to make a pillowcase for this project. You can order a kit just like it at our pillowcase kits page! Isn't it beautiful? The best part is that right now, our pillowcase kits are on sale--buy one kit, get the second half price. The sale price will not show up in our webstore. All you have to do is enter the phrase pillowcase kit sale in the comments section of your web order and we'll take care of the discount on our end when your order is received.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Let's Have Patchwork Party

Time to celebrate! Patchwork Party 2010 has begun!

Fall Edition 2010 brings you twelve shops with twelve beautiful blocks, all designed by Marti Michell using her beautiful fabric collection Wild Rose by Maywood. This line of fabric is absolutely gorgeous with its old-fashioned roses and charming coordinates.

Our block is called Ladies Sashay, a reference to square dancing. And since this block sort of looks like a traditional Hole in the Barn Door quilt block, the reference to an old-fashioned barn dance seemed appropriate.

The way it works is simple. You visit each of the 12 quilt shops in the party to collect that shops' exclusive quilt block. Each shop has also designed a Finishing Kit that uses all 12 of the blocks. You decide which Finishing Kit you want to make and then you have a fabulously good time making your quilt.

Our Finishing Kit is called Meet Me in the Meadow. If you're a fan of the Twilight book and movie series, then you know that the meadow is where Edward and Bella fell in love. The fabrics in this quilt are so romantic, we couldn't resist the idea of having a beautiful quilt in the meadow. My daughter Melissa designed it; my daughter Seana pieced it; and Linda Perry of Artistically Quilted by Linda machine quilted it. Measuring 83" x 83", this queen-sized quilt is quite eye-catching and attractive, don't you think?

This Patchwork Party uses Marti Michell Templates Set M and Set S. The paper templates you need are included with each quilt block pattern; however, acrylic templates are also available. For added convenience, Marti has put together a combination template set consisting of the templates in both Set M and Set S. Set S is totally new on the market, making its debut at the same time as Patchwork Party Fall Edition 2010.

In addition to the quilt, we have created matching coordinates, including a wall quilt and matching pillowcases.

If you like to sew, you will love working with the fabric, blocks and templates in this year's Patchwork Party.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Shop Remodel

This is what the classroom looked like before we remodeled this summer. Not very inviting, is it?

This is what the back of the shop looked like before the same remodel. This is where we process our mail order and work on block of the month kits. Can you imagine how we got anything done?

This is what the classroom looks like now. It's more organized and inviting than before. Don't you think?

This is how we've organized our fabric for the block of the month clubs and mail order department. It's amazing! We can actually find what we're looking for.

This is what our Block of the Month kit storage area looks like now. It's such an improvement that people don't believe me when I tell them it's only half done.

So this is what we did during the month of August and part of September. My daughter Melissa, who is studying interior design, got together with Amber and I to come up with a solution to our disorganization problem.

In my humble opinion, Melissa did a GREAT job with this. It's totally organized now and so much more efficient moving around and getting mail out the door for customers. It was almost worth all the agony we went through getting it done. I totally LOVE all the room we have. As lovely as the after pictures are, I don't think that the transformation for those of us who work in this space can be adequately captured in a few photographs. Just know that we love our new environment and enjoy working in this completely organized and totally functional workplace as we serve our online customers!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Our Baby Bailey

Our little dachshund, Bailey, went to sleep in his favorite bed last night and never woke up. At 16 years old, the vet says that in dog years he was between 108-112 years old. He had a very full life and died peacefully, yet it's still sad when a treasured member of the family passes on.

This picture was taken 16 years ago by the breeder who gave Bailey to us. Bailey is the little guy at the top right in the photo. The way he came to us is pretty interesting. You see, Bailey was the treasured pet of our daughter Dannielle. At 10 years old, Dannielle was a dog person trapped in a cat family. And believe me, with seven cats on the property, these felines were in no mood to be entertaining a dog!

One day, a customer came into the shop with a basket full of puppies! Cute little things, really, but dogs nonetheless. For Bailey and Dannielle, it was love at first sight. Dannielle really, really, really, REALLY wanted to take Bailey home, but pure bred dachshunds can be very expensive and we just couldn't afford him. Reluctantly, Dannielle put Bailey back in the basket and he eventually went home with someone else.

A few short weeks later, the breeder knocked on our door. In her arms was little Bailey. It turns out that the man who originally purchased Bailey abused him terribly. The breeder found out about it, snatched the dog away from him, and brought the little guy to Dannielle. She told Dannielle she was giving her the dog because she knew that Dannielle loved him dearly and would take good care of him.

So that's how Bailey came to live at our house. The cat people in the family (and the cats) eventually adapted to him being there and decided to trust him. He eventually stopped having nightmares and decided to trust us.

Dannielle and Bailey were constant companions and good buddies. When she went off to college, he missed her terribly. The reunions at school break were always something to see. Yet, when she moved to California, we decided that Bailey should stay with us. We said it was best because this was the only home he had ever known. Secretly, it was because confirmed cat people let a dog into their heart and couldn't let him go.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Color of Peace Challenge Winners Announced

Congratulations to our Color of Peace Quilt Challenge Winners! Beth Shier took first place for her Peace or Piece? quilt and wins a $100 gift certificate to Grandma's Attic. Our second place winner is Brenda Lopez who wins a $50 gift certificate to Grandma's Attic for her quilt A Sign from Above. Deb Sorem won third place with her quilt Flying to Freedom. She will receive a $25 gift certificate to Grandma's Attic. If you're looking the picture, Beth's quilt is the small one with the turquoise border on the left. Brenda's is the water color quilt on the top, and Deb's quilt is the round one at the bottom right.

The Color of Peace Quilt Challenge is a charitable event designed to raise funds for Sable House, a Polk County, Oregon agency assisting survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. Earlier this year, Grandma's Attic provided applicants with entry packets consisting of five fabrics, then challenged entrants to creatively incorporate these fabrics into a final quilt design. All proceeds benefited Sable House.

Voting took place July 20 through August 7. The general public was invited to view the quilts at Grandma's Attic; then vote for their favorites, plus the categories of Best Use of Color and Best Interpretation of Theme. The winners were selected on August 8. In addition to the top three prizes, Best Use of Color Award went to Deb Sorem. Best Interpretation of Theme went to Beth Shier. They will both receive a gift basket of merchandise.

Grandma's Attic is strongly committed to the health and safety of women and children in Polk County and supports various local resources who share these goals. In addition, Grandma's Attic is dedicated to raising awareness of domestic violence and sexual assault issues through the arts and crafts.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Grand Cats

From time to time, our daughter Melissa asks us to babysit her "babies," two of the largest cats in all of pampered captivity. Here's a picture of Carly Kitty. Carly Kitty is about eight years old and has been with Melissa since the day she was born. Carly is a very sweet cat who loves to play with her toys and eat.

Here's a picture of Michael with Boo Boo. Michael says this is the latest in fashion accessories--the cat purse. Boo Boo had a rough beginning. One snowy afternoon some years back, the girls mentioned to me that they thought they had heard a cat crying from the side of the road near our house. This road has a series of "S" curves on it and is on a hill outside of town. Someone, thinking that they were "way out in the country," tossed a cat out of their car and drove off.

The girls decided to investigate so they drove slowly down the road calling for kitty. Sure enough, there was a little gray striped kitten. Melissa opened the passsenger door and Boo Boo quickly jumped in. It must have taken all of his energy because when they got back to the house, Boo Boo was so emaciated he could not even lift his little tail. He just dragged it behind him for the rest of the evening.

Boo Boo has grown to be a very large cat. He is a treasured member of the family and loves to hide in bags. He also enjoys chewing on flip flops if they are left out where he can find them.

When Michael and Melissa are on vacation, Stephen and I have cat duty. We go over to their house to feed the "grand cats" and play with them. Both of these kitties are happy and healthy. And bless his heart, Boo Boo never gets very far away from the food dish.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

26th Wedding Anniversary

Tuesday, July 13, was our 26th anniversary. We decided to drive over to the Oregon Coast for the day. The drive is beautiful; it's not that far away from where we live; and the cell phone reception isn't very good in the Van Duzer Corridor. The Corridor is a highway that has tall, Douglas Fir trees on either side. Ah, the peace and quiet! We had a wonderful drive all the way to Lincoln City.

Once we got over to Highway 101, we traveled south to Boiler Bay and stopped at the wayside there. This is an excellent place to watch the ocean-going birds. There are shearwaters, jaegers, albatrosses, grebes, pelicans, loons, oystercatchers and murrelets. It's also a great place to watch the waves come crashing up onto the rocks, and to see gray whales. The bay got it's name in 1910 when an explosion sank the J. Marhoffer. At low-tide you can see this ship's boiler. Visiting here is always relaxing. The weather and the wind seemed just right. Stephen walked around the area taking photos. I watched the birds and the waves, but I didn't see any whales.

Afterward, we drove to a Chinese restaurant for a lovely lunch. Like every other wedding anniversary, Stephen and I talked about what we've managed to accomplish in our lives over the past year, five years, 10 years, etc., and shared our hopes and dreams for the years to come. Looking back helps us plan for the future. We concluded that we are both grateful for our friends and family, and are looking forward to a bright and shining future both at the Quilt Shop and the farm.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Shop Tour for Home Schoolers

Last Friday, I gave a few of the home schooled kids who attend our Quilt Club a tour of the shop and a sneak peek of next year's session. These kids have worked hard all year making quilt blocks and learning about the 1950s along with the rest of us. In this photo, I am showing them how we put a club together and explaining what goes into preparing for each session.

Then I took them on a tour of the back side of the shop. I showed the web store desks, the mail order area, the cutting station in the back with all the fabric that is getting ready to go out in the mail, and then took them on an explanatory tour of the brick and mortar store.

While I was talking, Georgeann set up a table so she could teach them how to embroider. She found a cross-stitch pattern by Jack Dempsey that was pre-stamped on fabric. Each student got to pick out their own animal pattern, then choose a color of floss to work with. Then Georgeann gave them an embroidery lesson. She showed them how many strands of floss to use, how to make a knot, and how to do the stitches. It looked like fun!

One of the students was left handed, just like me. To make it easier for the student, I showed her how to make left handed stitches. And since you all know that I love to embroider, and do a whole bunch of it with my Grandma Rachel's Redwork Club, I was glad for the excuse to join them!

Next year, I've got some special things in mind for the Homeschoolers who attend the Quilt Club. Sewing and needle skills are an American tradition and I am glad that to see students learning about them as they stitch their blocks.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Mini-Vacation in California

In June, Stephen and I left the Quilt Shop in the capable hands of our employees and headed down to California to visit our daughter and son-in-law, Dannielle and Isaac Stahly. It was really close to their 2nd wedding anniversary, they had moved to a new apartment, and we hadn't seen them for a while. So we packed up the car and off we went.

As we got closer to California, we realized that it wasn't raining! If you live here in Oregon, you know that it rained 19 out of 30 days in June. Everything was green, green, green--and wet! Was summer ever going to get here? As you can see from the photo, though, it was sunny in California. We are both sporting sunglasses. (My children HATE my sunglasses, by the way, but they keep the sun out of my eyes quite nicely.) In fact, in Redding, it was HOT by mid-morning.

We weren't in Redding very long before we decided that we should visit the Golden Gate Bridge down in San Francisco. I had never been there before and, for some reason, I actually had it in my head that the bridge would be painted gold. And, of course, it isn't. When construction was originally proposed, the United States Navy wanted the bridge to be painted black with yellow stripes so it would be highly visible to ships. Instead, it was painted with red lead primer and a lead-based topcoat called orange vermillion, or international orange. The paint protects the bridge from the high salt content in the air, which rusts and corrodes the steel components.

Isaac totally knew his way around San Francisco. We were very thankful for that. Where Stephen and I live, three cars stopped at a traffic light can be considered a traffic jam. (And that's assuming there is a traffic light!) Driving in all that California traffic seemed to me like it could be very nerve-wracking. Hey, check it out. Isaac and Dannielle are also wearing sunglasses! They are standing at a viewpoint above the bridge. It was absolutely beautiful there.

So here's what I learned about the Golden Gate Bridge. Work on the bridge began on January 5, 1933, and was completed in April of 1937. Although every safety precaution was taken, eleven men actually died during construction. The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge that has two main cables which pass over the tops of the two main towers and are secured at either end in giant anchorages. The main cables rest on top of the 746-foot main towers in huge steel castings that are called saddles. Each main cable has 61 bundles of galvanized steel wire. The total length of the bridge, including all of its approaches from abutment to abutment is an amazing 1.7 miles! The bridge itself is 90 feet wide and 4,200 feet long from tower to tower. Each of those anchorages weighs 60,000 tons.

I also discovered that at the time it was built, the Golden Gate Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world; however, when the Verrazano-Narrows bridge in New York City was completed in 1964, the Golden Gate Bridge lost this distinction. Today, the longest suspension bridge in the world is the Akashi-Kaikyo in Japan.

We had other adventures while we were in California. I'll write about them soon!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sew Oregon Shop Hop Starts Tomorrow!

Sew Oregon, Oregon's State-wide quilt shop hop begins July 24, 2010. In its fourth year, this hop just keeps getting better and better. The theme this year is "Shades of Fall." Featured fabric was designed by Jo Morton. It is from her Ravenwood Collection by Andover.

The way the hop works is simple. Visit any participating quilt shop (including us!) to pick up a Sew Oregon passport. Each store you visit during the hop will stamp that passport to help you become eligible to win fabulous merchandise prizes. The more shops you visit, the more chances you have to win a prize!

In addition to stamping your passport, each shop will give you a quilt block kit for a 9" quilt block. (That's the pattern AND the fabric!) The block kit for Grandma's Attic is the Milky Way. We chose this block so you can remember what good friends you have at Grandma's Attic. (Can you see the friendship star in the block?) Putting nine of these blocks together and adding a small border gives you a nice little wall quilt measuring 30" square. You can also purchase a Sew Oregon shop hop bag for carrying your blocks as you collect them, and a shop hop pin to commemorate the occasion.

Grand prize is a Koala Treasure Chest Plus IV with Outback Leaf Extension and a Sew Comfort Adjustable Height Chair. There are also three sewing machines as prizes plus 12 additional gift baskets. These are absolutely wonderful prizes--and to think that you are eligible to win them simply by doing a little "shopping therapy" at your favorite quilt shops!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Flag Day - June 14

On August 3, 1949, President Harry S. Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14th of each year as National Flag Day. This was the culmination of efforts dating as far back as 1861 to have an annual day dedicated to celebrating the American Flag.

Over the years, there have been 27 official variations of the American Flag. Each modification occurred when additional states were added to the Union. The Flag as it flies today was adopted in 1959 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. It includes 50 stars for the 50 states, with the last one added for Hawaii.

Although the colors on the American flag were not given any meanings at the time the flag was created, meanings were given for the colors of the Seal of the United States, which is also red, white and blue. Red stands for hardiness and valor. Blue stands for purity and innocence. Blue is for vigilance, perseverance and justice. The House of Representatives issued a book in 1977 which stated that the stars and stripes had further meaning. According to this book, the stars represent the heavens and the divine goal to which man has aspired from time immortal, and the stripes are symbolic of the rays of light that emanate from the sun.

Each star on the flag has five points. Legend has it that Betsy Ross showed George Washington how to make a five pointed star with one snip of her scissors. Whether this is true or not, it's an enchanting story, and one that I discussed in our blog post about Betsy Ross on July 1, 2007.

You can make a five-pointed star just like the one Betsy Ross did. Click on the words five pointed star above and it will take you right to a page of instructions for making these stars.

If you are inspired to make your own patriotic project this summer, you'll find some fun patterns by clicking the link for Patriotic Patterns. You can also find American fabrics by clicking this link for Americana Fabric.

To learn more about flag etiquette and the proper way to fly a flag, go to the website of the U.S. Flag.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

We are participating in the One Million Pillowcase Challenge. Make a pillowcase, made a difference. Join quilters from around the nation today by making a pillowcase and donating it to charity. Click here to learn more.I just went to the official website and added our donations to the total for the One Million Pillowcase Challenge!

I am very pleased to report that we have had a total of 365 pillowcases donated as of June 6, 2010. This week I will be taking them to our three non-profits that we've chosen to receive them. I will post photos as soon as I have them. Thank you very very much for making this project possible. I know that it brings a ton of joy to the recipients!

The three area non-profits chosen to receive pillowcases returned to Grandma's Attic are Sable House, the local domestic violence shelter, the Ron Wilson Center for Effective Living and Partnerships in Community Living (PCL). We will definitely be adding to the list of non-profits that we donate pillowcases to, based on your generosity and willingness to participate.

I noticed when I went to the website that there have been a total of 93,078 pillowcases donated nationwide. Click here to see the current national pillowcase count. Thank you, thank you, thank you to the donors who are helping us give pillowcases to the non-profit organizations in Polk County.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with our Pillowcase Challenge, throughout 2010, Grandma's Attic is asking you to make pillowcases and bring them to the shop where they will be donated to Polk County Area non-profit organizations. Each pillowcase is counted; then sent to the agencies. I'll put photos of the pillowcases donated to date on the blog this weekend--just as soon as I can get Stephen or Kyle to stop in with a camera to take photos.

If you'd like to get ideas for pillowcases that you can make, American Patchwork & Quilting has free pillowcase patterns available. Patterns are updated quarterly so there's bound to be something that catches your interest. You can make your pillowcases from any 100% cotton fabrics that you have or purchase. I think the only requirement is that they be standard size, clean, and something that you yourself would be proud to use!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Amelia Comes For a Visit

Meet Amelia, an exotic shorthair that my daughter Leah adopted at the Humane Society. Being a cat person, I think Amelia is just the sweetest thing. She's inquisitive but polite, and I swear to you that when you ask her to do something, she totally understands what you want. If she feels like it, she'll cooperate--move off your quilts, come say hello, let you pet her. If she doesn't, she will hop over to a comfy chair and dare you to ask again.

Because Leah was having major repair work done to her apartment, Amelia needed a place to stay where she wouldn't be in the way or freak out over loud noises. We didn't want to take her up to our house at the farm because Amelia is shy and we were concerned that the "cat politics" there might be too much for her--especially since our Edward is a little brat. We didn't want him beating up on her or calling her names because her face looks a little "pushed in." Being an exotic shorthair, Amelia is a cross between a Persian and an American Shorthair. She is very dainty and has a gentle personality. Edward, on the other hand, is a spoiled rotten gray tabby who thinks he's the omnipotent ruler of anywhere he happens to be.

So while the old heating system was torn out and a new heating and air conditioning system was installed, Amelia stayed in the back office of the shop. Within no time, she was "helping" me. If I was working at the computer, Amelia wanted to play with the mouse. If I was sorting quilts, Amelia wanted to take a nap. If I talked on the telephone, Amelia wanted to join the conversation. And because she's so darned cute, all of us had to stop and play with her. This proved to be quite distracting when there's a lot of work to be done!

Here's a photo of Amelia attempting to process the mail order. Her version of processing is to sit on the orders. Amelia and Leah are both back home now. If it ever quits raining here in Oregon, I know they're both going to love that new air conditioning unit.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Block of the Month Club 1/2 Price Special!

Joining a Block of the Month Club is a fun, creative way to try new skills or practice old ones. You can use them to make an entire quilt one block at a time, or for quick wall hangings, pillows, or gifts for family and friends.

The best part of joining a Block of the Month Club from Grandma's Attic is that we get to visit you one a month right at your mailbox! The postman brings you the package; and you get to open it up and see all the goodies you just got from Grandma--a Block of the Month Kit, the Grandma Gazette, and a Free Quilt Pattern. Fun, fun, and more fun! And because we know our customers enjoy working on our Block of the Month programs, we've decided to offer a Summer Special. Purchase any one of our other Block of the Month programs and you can also receive Nifty Novelties or Flirty '30s at the special rate of Half Price!

Who would know that these two quilts are made from exactly the same blocks using different fabric colorways and settings? Nifty Novelties uses bright, bold colors in a double sashing of blue and green. Flirty '30s is made from 1930s-style reproduction fabrics with lavender and yellow borders. Both of these quilts are easy to make and look gorgeous when completed.

Each month of our 12 month program, you receive rotary cutting instructions, plus the fabric you need to complete a 12" quilt block. After you've collected all 12 blocks, we send the Finishing Kit consisting of the sashing, posts, and border fabrics. The finished quilts measure approximately 57" x 72".

You get to decide which of these quilts you want to make at Half Price! As an added bonus, if you can't decide which one of these quilts you like the best, you can always sign up for two other Block of the Month Clubs and get them both!

Like the rest of our Block of the Month Clubs, you can start or stop at any time. Take a look at what we have to offer. Your clubs can be in your mailbox before you know it!

Monday, May 17, 2010

What I Got for Mother's Day

Traditionally, on Mother's Day, a mom can expect her older children to show up with flowers, and cards, and maybe even get taken out to lunch or dinner. And while the kids really did do all those lovely things for me for this Mother's Day, they also made the mistake of asking me what I would like to have.

Silly kids! They should have known I would come up with something that would require them to do just a wee bit more than purchase flowers, and cards, and take me to dinner. What I asked for (and received) was a remodel of parts of the quilt shop! And to take it even a step farther, I asked Amber and her children to help us out. Stephen helped out too.

It was total chaos at first! I wanted peg board hung up on a wall that was solid concrete. (Don't bore me with the details--I just wanted it done!) I also thought it would be nice to add a wall over near the books and blenders--something that would show off our patterns a little better. By that evening, the pegboard and walls were in place; the furniture had been rearranged; and the fabric was ready to be moved back into place.

Autumn painted pegboard and cupboards and a little bit of the back of one leg. Seana and Leah hauled fabric around until we got it put back "just right." Michael, Melissa, Kyle and Jeremy showed up to help out too. Amber sorted, and stacked, and lifted, and climbed up on the ladder. And then she climbed back on it again when I changed my mind.

I spent most of Monday making everything look pretty again. Kyle has promised to take some photos so we can add them to the blog next time. But for now, if you can possibly make it in, you should come and see what all we managed to accomplish in two short days.

I love the way the shop turned out. It's brighter and more open, and generally more "user-friendly." One thing is for sure. Next year, no one will ask me what I want for Mother's Day. I'll go back to receiving flowers, and cards, and dinner out, and I will love that too!