Happy Birthday, Grandmother!

I‘m dedicating this post to a very special person in my life.  Today is my grandmother, Carolyn’s, birthday.  She’s my own personal “Martha” and she’s taught me a lot about homekeeping, cooking, and crafting over the years.

Me with Grandmother and Dado

Summer of 2008

Me with Grandmother and my mom

circa 1983

Grandmother gave me my first hot glue gun and taught me how to make wreaths and other crafty things.  She also got me my first perm, and told me, as I complained about the terrible smell and pain from the rollers, “Sometimes it hurts to be beautiful!”



















I question her use of the word “beautiful.” It was the 80’s and I guess she was a little biased.

She taught me how to decorate a Christmas tree and how to beautifully wrap gifts. She always told me, “Little girls should talk softly and carry a big stick.” (I guess I’ve always been loud, but, really, so is she!) She taught me how to properly set a table for dinner and how to make baked brie (who could live without that skill?).  She taught me how to entertain and how to be a good hostess.

Growing up my sister, cousins, and I spend a lot of time with Grandmother (and Dado) and we always had fun.  We went swimming, took road trips to visit relatives, and played dominoes.  Those times are some of my happiest childhood memories.  I love that Grandmother still plays bridge and is a member of a “Women’s Club.”  I love that she shops at both Neiman’s and TJ Maxx.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about everything Grandmother’s taught me and I’ve been trying to decide on a specific thing to share in this post.  There are so many crafts and recipes and lessons to choose from.  I’ve decided on something small and simple, but something I remember, love, and do today in my own home.

I remember that for everyday meals Grandmother keep a basket of casual cloth napkins.  As a child I loved being able to pick out a special napkin for myself and everyone else as I helped set the kitchen table for breakfast or lunch.  I now keep a small basket with basic cloth napkins in my kitchen and we use them everyday.  I feel like it just makes meals nicer and more special.  I don’t iron them (GASP!).  I just wash them, fold them, and stack them in the basket.  Over the past year I’ve amassed quite the collection.  I look for them on sale at department stores and a few of them my mom has even made for me.  I also love that the cloth napkins help cut down on the amount of waste paper (napkins and towels) we produce, and it saves money. I’m looking forward to the day when Lauren is old enough to help me set the table, and I already know she’ll enjoy selecting a special napkin for each family member too.

I hope you enjoyed this post.  (I’m sure you got a kick out of my 5th grade perm picture!) It’s just a small homekeeping tip, but it represents a much, much bigger affection and appreciation.  Happy Birthday, Grandmother! I love you!



  • LOVE this post!! I’m so proud of you for sharing your perm with the world.

  • What a beautiful post! I think I’ll start my own collection of napkins. It’s actually something I’ve been thinking of doing since we started cloth diapering Norah. I do love the idea of selecting a special balking for each person.

  • Wow, thank you for sharing such beautiful story it made think about my grandma, how much I loved her and how much she share with all of us.

    I am thinking to start our own family napkin collection (I have a few that mom has given me already) and I will definitely pass the tradition to my kids.

    Happy birthday to your lovely grandma!!!!!

  • What a beautiful ode to the queen of abode!
    Ms. Carolyn sure can sure host a great party and I love it too that she goes all out for occasion. She is our very own Martha and a lovely one at that. I love that I get so many compliments on my jewelry collection and most of it is her creation. Happy Birthday to a really wonderful person.

  • Georgann Garrett

    September 3, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    Aleah you are so dear to your grandmother and she needed a little boost this birthday with your grandfather in peril. We all in our circle of dear lifetime friends have watched and taken great joy in each
    others children and grandchildren and seeing the lifetime skills we have given passed on in most rewarding. You are much loved by me also and I am proud of the person and Mother and wife you have become .

  • Granddaughters are so special and I can’t think of a better birthday present than to have you tell her how you feel. She is a great cook , hostess and friend.

  • Thank you all for the wonderful comments! I had so much fun working on the post, and I keep thinking of more and more wonderful things I love about Grandmother.

  • What a beautiful blog! Carolyn sent me the link so I could see what you said about her. She is so very proud of you, as she should be! It was good to see you and your family.
    Denise Dawson

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