Grandma’s Got Mad Skillz

Have I ever regaled you guys with tales of Grandma Von? If I was to summarize her in list form, it’d go something like this:* she quit high school to help raise her gajillion siblings
* she can make a four-star meal out of a shoe, a cup of flour, an egg and one carrot
* she’s traveled the world
* this dress I’m currently wearing (at age 30) she made, and wore, to my parent’s wedding (at age 50 something)
* she’s 89, still lives in her house – alone – and recently announced that she’ll be celebrating her 90th birthday with four (!) parties.

Grandma. Come on now.

That lady has got some chops. And it recently occurred to me that, while I’m a pretty accomplished lady, I can’t even begin to do some of the stuff that she can do. Things like:

Sock Darning

Why is this so oddly hard? I’ve tried to just sew the hole shut but then I just end up with a hard little nubbin of thread and knotted up sock fabric rubbing between my toes. Sock, you have just be relegated to dusting. Maybe I should watch this video tutorial.

Canning

If I have extra produce, I freeze it. And I’m prrreeeeetttty impressed by my ability to put things in Tupperware and put it in the freezer. Home Ec. really intimidated me with all that talk of sterilizing jars and getting E. coli. But my grandma has an entire pantry lined with those gorgeous blue jars filled with pickles and tomato sauce. Here’s how she does it.

Write in Beautiful Longhand Cursive
I rocked the cursive really, really hard in fourth grade. Those capitol Gs? Gorgeous. But these days, I print everything or type things out. I never thought I’d see the day when I could type faster than I could write! Once a month I get a sweet note from one of my grandmas written in blue ink pen, full of gorgeous loops.

Embroidery
Being as deeply anal retentive as I am, it seems that I’d excel at this tiny, exacting needle-pointery. But I suck. Or rather, I wasn’t immediately good at it, and hence, quit. My grandma gave me three adorable, embroidered dish towels featuring a kitteh couple in various stages of cuddlery for Christmas. Awesome!

Pin Curls
I just recently started blow drying my hair on a regular basis, so making your hair cute? with just bobby pins? I totally don’t get it. Though to be fair, I can’t really work a curling iron or hot rollers either. I should probably follow these instructions.

What do you wish your grandma would teach you? Have you mastered any of these (nearly) lost arts?

35 Comments

Southern Girl

Grandma's are awesome and obviously yours is no exception. My Granny has taught me so much about life. I thank God for her wisdom, love and kindness. I salute your Grandma and wish her a big Happy Birthday!

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rachel

YES! I totally want to learn to can/preserve properly and pin-curl my hair…it's like that whole generation was just born knowing that stuff.
Also, mine at least, has awesome crossword superpowers. Especially the cryptic ones that just puzzle me absolutely.

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Starling

Grandmothers are awesome. The only thing on that list I've mastered is embroidery – my paternal grandmother taught me the basics a long, long time ago (she was awesome at it). I didn't pick it back up until I started grad school, though. I needed something that was fun and not at all school-related. Since then, my favorite project was a gift for my best friend – I split-stitched the lyrics to her favorite song for her birthday. I need to start planning my next project, actually.

Also, my maternal grandmother makes the best southern-style potato salad you will ever, ever eat. I can make an approximation of it, but nothing beats Nanny's version 🙂

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Canadian Twentysomething

How to make donuts! By the time I came around she'd stopped, probably because everyone could just get them at Tim Horton's (Canada's coffee shop).
She is 90, and lives on her own in an apartment building full of widows (think wild dormitory!) She is ALWAYS partying. She's never even had a cold and she treated having skin & breast cancer like they were mosquito bites. She would never think anything she did was amazing, but she's quite the lady. 🙂

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Elle Sees

My great-granny turned 94 this past Sunday. Sugar is my heart. She is taller than me and has all of her own teeth still, which she will tell you all about. Sugar has taught me never to give up. She has seen it all and has never worn jeans. She's too much of a lady–maybe a polyester pant suit, but never jeans. There's a million more things I could say about my Sugar but most importantly I'm her Angel Pie #1!

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ChristaLouWho

Dude… my grandma was my bestie. She taught me all the home remedies for any laundry stain you could imagine (Ink comes out with hairspray. Who knew?)and could feed an army with a can of veggies and a bag of fritos.

There are still a few things I wish I had learned from her while I could. I often stop to think, I hope she would be proud of me now. It's kind of along the lines of the WWJD thing, but with my grandmother instead 🙂

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Erin

My grandmother just passed away 6 weeks ago. The woman could do anything.For years all of us tried to learn her recipe for fried potatoes, but we just couldn't get it right. They never tasted like hers. I think that's something I'll miss for the rest of my life.

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RMb

your grandmother sounds amazing! isnt it a joy getting to know someone who's lived through so much history? my husband's grandmother turned 100 in april! she is the most incredible woman i know.

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Amy --- Just A Titch

I spent yesterday afternoon with my Grandma, and was reminded of all the cool things she taught me as a kid: how to cook ratatouille, how to sew, etc. She's been composting since before I was born (well before it was in fashion) and fishes, sets up an amazing garden each year and hikes weekly. She nearly died this year, and I'm so glad she's around to love me for a few more years and to teach me more cool stuff. Grandmas are amazing.

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Helen

I miss my grandma after reading this. She was pretty cool actually. Made all her own clothes, could knit, and by God, did she make good cake. I'm learning on my own, but I wish she was around to teach me.
I can actually do most of those things! (Does that make me incredibly old fashioned?) Embroidery and pin-curls I'm down with, and I've got pretty loopy handwriting, if not as elegant as I'd like. I've had a go at canning before, but I'm not that great at it. Yet.

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Rebecca

I can can/preserve. It is actually pretty easy, but it takes a while to do properly. I would love to get good at doing my hair in pin curls, but I am too impatient.

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Chrissy

I found the trick to darning is not to run your stitches so they overlap to pick up the stitch from the sock thread and catch it w/the thread of the sock on the opposite.. don;'t know if it follows the video but its worked for me… Cursive? haven't done it in years, except my sig…
embroidery, omg, love it…

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Sherin

Your granma sounds so cool. Mine taught me how to knit when I was younger. I wish I'd practised it a bit more.

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Erin

My maternal grandmother taught me to knit and cook authentic Irish fare. My paternal grandmother taught me to paint and play the piano. So I've been pretty lucky!

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Zavi

Talking about grandmas always makes me weepy, I miss mine so much. Excuse me while I go embroider, pin curl my hair and work on my penmanship.

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Lovers, Saints & Sailors

Your grandma is awesome!

And so is mine. I remember her telling me that she used to embroider petals around small holes in her clothes so they looked like flowers.

How great is that?!

Aw, Nan.

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Hannah

My great grandma is 91 and completely has her marbles. She's the nicest lady in the world. Plus she's spunky!

She makes huge crocheted quilts for each of her 50+ great grandchildren and now her 10+ great great grandchildren for when they graduate high school.
Plus she makes all of us Christmas gifts from those plastic things with teensy square holes that you sew thread through and make things like jewelry holders and ornaments and book marks.

Serious. Talent. Plus she never taught me 🙁 I think thats mostly my fault though.

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goatygoat

My grandmas died when I was 16 and 19, so I hadn't yet reached my prime grandma-appreciation years before they were gone.

One was a quilter, the other a knitter, and as i've taken up both of these crafts I feel a little closer to them both.

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The Pieces

I wish my Oma could teach me to make her Dutch meatball soup and croquettes and I wish my Nanna could have taught me to make her butterfly cupcakes. I just love old fashioned food.. and them xo

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Poetic Dreams

Wasn't blessed to have my grandmother in my life. Everything I learned from quilting to crocheting I learned on my own. I often wondered what it would have been like to be around my grandma and what she would have taught me. I make sure my Lil Love (who's 3) learns all my secrets. You are truly blessed to have ya grandma in your life. Enjoy every moment and gllem every ounce of knowledge from her hun.

Hugs, Poe

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melina bee

I can't master pin curls either– it's like why can I get into a master's program but not figure out a hairdo?
interesting you should mention her cursive writing, a friend and I were recently talking about how that generation has the best handwriting and it is slowly being lost…

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Alice Elysium

your grandma is badass.

i actually recently bought myself some preserve jars for canning. i'm determined to learn. thanks for the link!

and pin curls. lovely. i have not mastered any of these arts. Another lost art I do want to learn is short hand writing. I loved the funny squiggles of those things. It almost seems like a secret language. Does she happen to know that? It's so awesome. 🙂

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Emy Jo

I am in LOVE with my grandmas, and am getting new tattoos in their honor… soon! As soon as I design them. I love the stuff you're saying about your grannies, ladies. Maybe we should all have a grandma party somewhere and bring all our grannies and just spend the day putting our hands over our hearts and being in love.

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Ana Lore

Your Grandma sounds so cool!
Made me miss mine so much, she lives far away and don't get too see her often, but I adore her.
And I wish she would teach me her embroidery and how to make cheese!

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Mandy

My maternal grandma lives on a farm, so she preserves everything, makes her own applesauce, granola, salsa, beef jerky, bakes her own bread, etc etc etc. She also knits awesome afghans and washcloths. Plus she taught private Spanish into her 70's, volunteered at the local elementary school, and even wrote a local history book! Oh, and she is a huge lover of knowledge and reading the classics, so she was reading Shakespeare and Coleridge with me by the time I was ten. She's pretty awesome.

My paternal grandma is also great. Her AMAZING gardens win local prizes all the time. They're seriously the most beautiful gardens I've seen. She also has a great eye for interior design and antiques.

I really lucked out to have these two women in my life.

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miaomiao

You can definitely see the resemblance! Your grandma looks really sweet.

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alphaandomega

I really look up to my gramma, she is one of the most inspiring people to me.

She taught me how to cook and bake…well she never really taught me, but I learned by watching her as a child.

My gramma has taught me how to be patient with others. In all the time I have known her, I have rarely seen her lose her cool. I love that about her!

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brlracincwgrl

Your grandma sounds awesome! My nana is fantastic! I love her dearly and definitely get my attitude /personality from her! Something I will always cherish and not change for anyone!

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sownbrooklyn

My grandma is a completely kick ass seamstress and I am, currently, the only one who has inherited her skills ;o)
I have taken the "Trail by fire" method of learning and I wish that I had taken the time when I was younger to watch her and be taught by her.

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