The Straley Family

Hello and Welcome to Nanny Goat Primitives' Blog! I am looking forward to sharing bits and pieces about my primitive adventures with you! Brew a cup of steaming hot tea and make yourself at home.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Solitaire Coffee Jars

I have this thing for Solitaire Coffee Jars. Many reside in my kitchen cupboards and some have found a home in my sewing room. I was at an antique store in Elizabeth, Colorado with my cousin Connie last October when I spotted yet another old Solitaire Coffee Jar. This one now holds my growing collection of wooden thread spools. The jars are a wonderful way to display and organize my rusty jingle bells, old clothespins, rag balls, old cookie cutters and quilting scraps. Sweet cousin Connie understands me in ways my family never will (she suffers from the same sickness).

Solitaire Coffee brand was roasted, ground and packaged at the Morey Mercantile Company located on the corner of 16th Street and Wynkoop in Denver, Colorado. The Morey Mercantile Company was a grocery warehouse and supplier that was started by Chester Stephen Morey in 1884. The company has long since gone out of business but the building is now home to The Tattered Cover (a wonderful bookstore) as well as Dixon’s Downtown Grill.

As I’ve mentioned before, my grandmother saved all sorts of different things, “just in case they could be used someday.” One of the things she always saved was Solitaire Coffee Jars. Grammy Byberg used the jars as canisters and she lined them up on her kitchen counter. They held flour, sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, oatmeal, cornmeal, coffee, tea bags, and one or more were always filled with home made cookies. She always kept a slice of bread in the brown sugar jar. Grammy said it kept the sugar soft (she was right).

Grammy Byberg painted the coffee lids orange. She either loved the color or she found a screaming deal on some orange paint because I remember other items she painted the same color. She loved to paint! She once painted Grampy’s car (with a brush) but that’s another story. Daddy always used to tease her by saying that if any of us stood still long enough, we’d get painted too.

Every 4th of July, Grammy would make an assortment of mouth watering pies. She always made those pretty lattice pastry crusts and she did it with such skill and speed. Her pie crusts were always perfect and she knew from experience just how much flour to toss in her large, yellow Pyrex bowl. My favorites were always cherry and apple but all of her homemade goodies were wonderful. Daddy always used to say that he only liked two of his mother’s pies, hot and cold.

I’ll never forget the Thanksgiving Grammy pulled a kitchen chair for me to stand on in front her stove. I think I was six at the time. She stood beside me and loving taught me how to make her special pan dripping gravy using flour from one of her Solitaire Coffee jars, some water from her tea kettle, and a little sage, salt and pepper.

When my grandparents downsized to an apartment, Grammy brought her Solitaire Coffee Jars with her. How many times did she refill those jars over the years as she baked loaves of bread, cakes, pies and cookies for her family and friends?

When Grampy passed away in 1979, I inherited Grammy’s coffee jars. I use them everyday and they bring me such joy!! The lids are still orange! On the underside of the lid for the oatmeal jar, I found her oatmeal cookie recipe. I’ll have to post that recipe sometime. My family has given me REAL canister sets over the years, but I prefer my Solitaire Coffee Jars. They just don’t understand!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

New Web Site Is Now Open

My new web site is finally open for business! Click on the image below and take a peek! I'll be adding more products in the coming weeks. At the moment, I'm painting our home's interior in anticipation of the new carpet installation early next week. Crazy busy!!

Amy Allen of Amy Bug's Primitive Attic designed the beautiful graphics. Amy's delightful to work with and she's super fast!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Mystery Child

In my family tree, there runs a line of romantic, volatile Spanish blood. No one knows where she came from, but the repercussions of her long ago arrival are still felt very strongly by many members of my family.

On a warm fall day in October of 1869 in Wayne County, Missouri, Thomas Medders was tending his horses when he found a beautiful little Spanish girl about four or five years of age. The poor girl was wandering around, lost, in his horse pasture. She couldn’t say where she came from or who her parents were. She only knew her name, Maria Cordoba. No one ever came looking for her, so Thomas and his wife Tabitha Elizabeth, took her in and raised her as one of their own children. They called her Mary Medders. The rest of the family hated her. This hatred sprang from the same foul source that so many southerners found within themselves in pre-civil war times; a hatred which enabled them to suppress anyone with dark skin.

William Henry Reed holding daughter Emily. Mary (Maria) Cordoba Medders Reed holding daughter Cora around 1886.

In February of 1883, Mary married William Henry Reed. William Henry adored her and together, they had four daughters, Emily Cordoba (my great grandmother), Cora Melverda, Clara Ellen and Margaret Henrietta. Poor Mary became ill after the birth of Margaret and suffered miserably for the next ten years. She left this world in July of 1903 at the age of 37. Her beloved William Henry placed a lovely headstone on her grave. He visited her grave until the end of his days.

Their oldest daughter, Emily, was always conscious of her dark hair, dark eyes and dark skin. She was ashamed of her Spanish blood and never ventured outdoors without long sleeves and a wide brimmed hat. Emily never uttered her middle name. Emily never discussed her mother and no one dared to broach the subject.

In the mid to late 1960’s, one of Emily’s daughters, Laura Henrietta (nee Brown) Morrow showed her youngest sister Pauline (my grandmother) and her niece, Dorothy (my mother) the Reed Family Bible that she brought back from Missouri after Emily’s death in 1958. Both my grandmother and mother were saddened to see that someone had long ago scratched Maria Cordoba’s name out of the Family Bible. My grandmother knew in her heart that it was probably Emily who did this callous act. The Reed Family Bible has since disappeared.

In 2004, I traveled to Wayne County, Missouri to meet some of my Reed relatives, relatives that descend from William Henry Reed’s second wife, Eva James Barlow. I learned from an Arkansas cousin that Mary (Maria) was buried in Lowndes Cemetery, in Wayne County. She also told me that many years earlier, someone had removed her headstone. The cemetery is no longer active and the burial records were lost many years ago. If I ever learn where in the Lowndes Cemetery my dear great-great grandmother is buried, I and many others in the family will place another marker on her grave.

I cannot imagine my great-great grandmother’s pain. Maria Cordoba was abandoned by her own family at the age of four or five. She grew up in a hostile household in a prejudiced community. She was despised by her own daughter and erased from the family after her death. God rest her soul.

Monday, April 5, 2010

New Web Site Under Construction for Nanny Goat Primitives

Just a quick little blurb . . . I am in the process of setting up a new web site. I hope it will be up and running by next week. Crossing my fingers!

Deanna :)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Morsey The Horsey

My sisters and I moved our mother a few years ago into an apartment within in a few miles from me. She had lived in the same home, our childhood home, for nearly 30 years. Mom’s MS had progressed to the point where she could no longer safely navigate the stairs. Daddy passed away in that house in December of 1991 from colon cancer. He was 59. I must stress here that this is not a job for sissies! It took a physical and emotional toll on all of us.

The five of us moved into the house on the corner of Pomona Drive and Ammons Way in Arvada, Colorado on March 17, 1973. For the first time in my life (I was 8 at the time) I had my very own bedroom; a very big deal for a third grader!! Dawn was just a kindie! Debbie was attending Arapahoe Community College and was engaged to the handsome David Everett. Mom was young and strong then and Daddy was so handsome, happy and healthy. Grammy Byberg was just as excited as the rest of us! She made all the draperies for the new house!

So many memories resided in that house and you never knew what kind of emotional landmine awaited you each time you peeked inside a box or opened a dresser drawer. I’ve often marveled at the powerful memories attached to a particular smell or an object from long ago. With no warning, you are suddenly transported to another time (and not necessary a happy one) and forced to relive a snapshot of your life. We were often driven to our knees with gut splitting laughter or convulsive bouts of tears within an hour’s time.

The basement in our childhood home took the longest to clean out and it had nothing to do with the dusty, heavy furniture. It’s interesting how the past and present can co-exist in the same dimly lit room. There we found the seat cushions for the outdoor swing sitting on top of the old dresser that belonged to Grammy Byberg. Atop the boxes of Daddy's 78's from the 1950's was the roasting pan Mom used every year at Thanksgiving. The top drawer of a dresser contained photographs of family gatherings from the 1910's through 2002.

I remember moving the Christmas tree stand that Daddy had attached to a square piece of plywood that he had painted with white enamel. As a baby, I was fascinated with the Christmas tree. I would crawl under the tree and made a career of knocking it over. The tree crashing to the floor shook the whole house and scared the daylights out of Daddy. He made the stand that afternoon (and we used the tree stand every Christmas until his death).

Behind the tree stand was Mr. Kenmore, the sewing machine and cabinet that Daddy bought for Mom on her birthday in 1973, just in time for her to start creating Debbie’s wedding dress. Mom made so many of our school clothes on that machine. I can still picture her sitting at Mr. Kenmore and trying to talk to us with a mouthful of straight pins.

When Mom and Dad married, she had an old Morse sewing machine. In the “old house on Newland”, the Morse (my sisters and I nicknamed it Morsey the Horsey because it weighed a ton) lived in my parent’s bedroom. Many a night we would drift off to sleep listening to the hum of that old friend. Mom gave Dawn and me old Morsey when the Mr. Kenmore came to live with us. I remember sewing on Morse the Horse. I made gobs of goodies for Barbie from Mom’s scrap bag but I had to put the power unit on top of a stack of Collier’s Encyclopedias so my foot could reach the pedal. My sisters and I all learned how to sew on Morsey the Horsey.

Mr. Kenmore moved to the basement when I was in college after Daddy bought Mom Miss Bernina for yet another birthday. This was the sewing machine of Mom’s dreams! It had all the bells and whistles she could imagine! She sewed Dawn’s prom dress on Miss Bernina and lots of other beautiful things. In many ways, Miss Bernina comforted Mom’s feeling of emptiness after I married and moved to Lubbock, Texas in much the same way the Mr. Kenmore comforted her after Debbie married and moved away.

Miss Bernina . . . Miss Bernina resided idle and dusty upstairs in my old bedroom that overlooked the now overgrown Japanese garden Daddy used to tend so lovingly. I used to tease Mom that before I had even left the city limits of Arvada (after marrying Rob), she had already moved Miss Bernina into my old bedroom.

MS is a cruel disease. It has robbed my mother’s ability to sew, one of her greatest passions. We moved Miss Bernina to Mom’s new apartment knowing that it would never again hum under the care of my mother’s expert hands. Mom had to let go of so many things when she moved, but she insisted that her old friend, Miss Bernina, be with her in her new place.

The sewing machines we grew up with were like members of the family. So much of our childhood revolved around them. As toddlers, we played at Mom’s feet while the Morsey the Horsey hummed its happy tune. As teenagers, we watched Mom and Miss Bernina create our prom dresses. We watched in amazement as she and Mr. Kenmore created Debbie’s wedding dress. When Dawn married, in 1991, Debbie made Mom’s dress on her own machine because Mom could no longer sew. Life is a circle and in our family, a sewing circle.

I was moving a box of old Christmas decorations in the basement, when I saw my old friend. I dropped to my knees in yet another round of tears as I hugged Morsey the Horsey and yes, he still weighs a ton.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Drapery Board and the Button Tin

When my sisters and I were young, we would spend a couple of weeks each summer with my grandparents. It was the highlight of our summer vacation! They lived in a small, two bedroom house in Denver that smelled of lavender and homemade cookies (and Dove soap). Their basement was finished and this was where my grandmother, Louise Flaten Byberg, sewed custom draperies to help make ends meet. She started her day early and was usually hard at work by the time the three of us stumbled out of bed. In the heat of the summer, we would often retreat to the basement where it was cool (in more ways than one).

My grandfather, Roland Byberg, made her a drapery board from an uncut piece of plywood. Grammy covered it with an old blanket and a flat white sheet. She used pretty brass upholstery tacks to secure the fabric to the underside of the drapery board. It sat on two handmade, hinged sawhorses. During Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas, the drapery board was brought upstairs and placed on top of Grammy’s beautiful dining room table and was elegantly set with her lovely linen tablecloth and pretty china. Her dining room table was too small to seat her children and grandchildren, so she used the drapery board so everyone could sit around the same table during the holidays.

My sisters and I spent many hours underneath that drapery board while Grammy sewed away the afternoon on her old Singer. The luxurious fabric that hung over the drapery board created the imaginary home of our dreams. Grammy often joined us for lunch under the drapery board and taught us the magic of needle and thread. Grammy gave us her drapery scraps and we created our own draperies, doll quilts and linens for our little house. We sat cross-legged, giggled and hand sewed the bits and pieces of fabric from her scrap sack beneath the drapery board not knowing that this was the beginning of a life long passion for the three of us. She also allowed us to use buttons from her button tin to embellish our creations. Her button tin was one of her prized possessions and an object of fascination for the three of us girls.

The tin was black and round. Its lid was embossed with a beautiful rosemaled design in pretty reds, blues, greens, and yellows. Rosemaling (Norwegian rose painting) is a form of decorative flower painting that originated in the low-land areas of eastern Norway around 1750. Most of the decoration is based on scrolls and flowers. It was traditional for Norwegians to rosemale their furniture and homes to add color and beauty. The tin originally belonged to Alma Gresvig, my great grandmother. Alma was born in Norway and she brought the tin with her as a young girl to Menomonie, Wisconsin in 1881. It was filled with her childhood treasures from her homeland.

The tin held a “world of tactile imagination for a little girl allowed to mine its depths”. Many of the buttons were handmade. Some were made from shells, some were hand carved from wood, and others were cut from colored glass. Grammy said some of the buttons belonged to her grandmother, Nellie Andrine Andersdatter Gresvig. She had stories to tell about where many of the buttons came from which inevitably led to stories about her childhood in Wisconsin.

She often said that when clothing could no longer be mended, the buttons were removed and saved and strung on buttonhole thread. Grammy was a frugal woman as was her mother and grandmother. Perhaps this philosophy was born from economic necessity, but to her, the thought of tossing something out that was still useful was wasteful. She saved all sorts of little things “just in case” they were needed some day.

My sisters and I spent hours stringing (and unstringing) buttons together as a way of thanking our grandmother for letting us explore her treasured button tin. We must have sorted those buttons hundreds of different ways, by size, shape and color. We made up our own games using those buttons.

I have my own button tin now as well as Grammy’s. In my tin, there are buttons that I have snipped off clothing destined for the rag bag and buttons I’ve picked up at tag sales and thrift stores. These are the buttons that often end up in the primitive items I create and sell. Something deep inside my heart, however, keeps me from mixing my buttons with Grammy’s. I know that sounds silly, but there’s an emotional connection between that old Norwegian tin and my sweet grandmother. Every now and again, I’ll sit with that old tin on my lap. Each time I sift through them, I am transported back to those summers spent beneath the drapery board with my sisters. During these quiet moments, I feel connected to all of my grandmothers. Each button has a history and I often wonder what sort of garment it once adorned and who wore it.

I have a dear friend who inherited her grandmother’s button tin. She started a wonderful tradition that I would like to share. As each of her children marries, she gives each one their very own button jar. The jar contains a mixture of her grandmother’s buttons as well as some from her own button jar. She includes a story or two that tells her children where some of the buttons came from, who they belonged to and why they were saved. What a wonderful keepsake to pass down to future generations!

When I make primitives for my sisters, I try to incorporate a button or two from Grammy’s tin. For my sisters, it’s like a gift from me and our grandmothers. Somehow, I think they would approve.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Primitive Shamrocks for St. Patrick's Day

The robins are back! Rob and I enjoyed watching a pair of them hopping around on the front lawn this morning. Spring will be here soon!

I found some time over the weekend to make some St. Patrick's Day goodies. I listed this set of Primitive Shamrocks on eBay this week. I've got some other St. Paddy's Day things in the works. The e~pattern for the Shamrocks is available on Pattern Mart.

If you would like to see the listing on eBay, just click on the picture.

Thank you for stopping by!

Deanna :)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Mountain Grind Coffee & Bistro, Winter Park, CO

Rob and I drove to Winter Park, Colorado on Thursday to meet Susan Volk, the owner of Mountain Grind Coffee & Bistro. Susan is a delightful lady and her bistro is absoulutely charming! Mountain Grind offers not only coffee, tea and expressos but a fantastic selection of homemade soups, sandwiches on her fresh from the oven bread, salads, pies, cakes, pastries, gourmet chocolates, gelatos, a breakfast menu and homemade fudge. Her prices are reasonable and the food is awesome. Rob and I were treated to Susan's homemade chilli and cornbread. We left Winter Park with a pound and a half of her homemade fudge. Oh my is that fudge good!! Diet? What diet?

Susan Volk, owner of Mountain Grind Coffee & Bistro

Scoutmaster, Greg Jameson and his wife Jill, of Boy Scout Troop 469 (in Parker, Colorado) suggested that we organize a fundraiser for the scouts to sell Susan's delicious fudge for Mother's Day. Rob is the Fundraiser Chair for the troop and thought that visiting the Bistro in person would be a perfect opportunity to gather additional promotional materials and to take a few photographs for a brochure.

The place was packed with friendly people when we arrived.

Susan sells a variety of coffee related items in her coffee shop. The cast iron tea kettles are adorable!

Enjoy your coffee in a cozy atmosphere with Big Band music playing softly in the backgroud. Don't forget to take some homemade fudge home with you! We highly recommend Susan's chocolate and walnut but all of her fudge is mouth watering!

Mountain Grind is located foutain side in Cooper Creek Square at 47 Cooper Creek Way, Winter Park, CO 80482; (970)726-0999. They are open for breakfast and lunch year round with limited hours in the spring and fall months. Stop in for a spell before hitting the slopes! Tell Susan the Straley's and the Jameson's sent ya!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Little Thing Called Genealogy

It was the first week of December in 1977. I was in the seventh grade and a little bored. (Redundant, I know). So, I decided to venture downstairs to the basement for some quality snooping time. I know what many of you are thinking . . . but you’re wrong. I wasn’t snooping for my Christmas presents. They were already wrapped and under the Christmas tree.

Two old dressers in the basement contained a treasure trove of old letters and photographs. When my grandparents decided to downsize, Daddy became the custodian of all sorts of their things. I loved to look at those old pictures (I still do) of my grandparents when they were courting in the late 1920’s in Superior, Wisconsin. Grammy traveled by train to Denver to marry her sweetheart, Roland Walfrid Byberg. They married in September of 1928 at Central Presbyterian Church on 17th and Sherman in Denver, Colorado. My parents married at this same church in June of 1958 and Rob and I married here in January of 1986. I hope one (or both) of my boys will decide to marry here too.

Central Presbyterian Church

It was on that pivotal December day that I first laid eyes on "It". The “It” was a photograph of my grandmother, Louise Flaten, as a teenager surrounded by several other girls. They were all standing on the stairs in front of a tiny white house. Until that moment, it never occurred to me that Grammy might have brothers and sisters in Wisconsin.

With the photograph in hand, I went upstairs and called my sweet grandmother. I described the photograph to her and she explained that she came from a large family and the other girls pictured were probably her sisters. She promised to tell me all I wanted to know about her family after the Christmas madness was over. At that particular moment, she was up to her elbows in cookie dough and still had to a few gifts to finish making. I told her I loved her and how much I was looking forward to seeing them both on Christmas day. We said our goodbyes and I hung up the phone. That was the last time we ever spoke. She died on Sunday, December 18, 1977 of a brain aneurism. It was she, Louise Flaten Byberg, who taught me the JOY of needle and thread, who taught me the basic stitches of crochet, and it was she who taught me the love of flowers. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about her. I miss her so.

Grammy’s sister, Vivienne (from Superior), came to her funeral but I was so overwhelmed with grief that I didn’t even think to ask Great Aunt Viv about the photograph. My mom told me that Grammy learned to crochet from a brother who served in World War I. Daddy met some of his mother’s sisters and brothers as a young boy but couldn’t remember all of their names. I wrote down the names he did remember and those names proved to be so very helpful years later.

A future genealogist was born that fateful December day. For my 40th birthday, Rob and the boys purchased a family tree software program and a subscription to I’ve been hooked ever since. A few years ago, Rob and I and the boys flew to Minneapolis. (Yup! Camp Snoopy.) We rented a car and drove up to Superior, Wisconsin to visit/meet a few Byberg and Flaten cousins. With that same photograph in my hands, I stood on those same steps in front of that same tiny white house with Richard, my oldest boy. I hope to return soon. The Flaten Family Tree has some holes but I’m determined to fill them all in someday. I think Grammy would approve.

Richard, myself and Dawn Flaten Cich standing on the Flaten Homestead porch in Superior, Wisconsin. Dawn's grandfather, Ole, and my grandmother, Louise, were siblings. I found Dawn on in 2004!! She lives in Superior and loves genealogy just like me!

Loren Byberg and me standing in front of the Byberg Homestead in Superior, Wisconsin. Loren's father, Holger, and my grandfather, Roland, were brothers. Lars Johan Byberg, my great-grandfather, married Euphrosye Anna Boija in July of 1892 (in Superior) and all their children were born in this house. My parents and I visited family here in 1979 and this is where we stayed. That was the last time I had seen Loren! Loren and Dawn Flaten (above) went to high school together and never made the connection!

The point of my ramblings is simple. If you are super lucky and still have your grandparents, ask them to tell you all about their brothers and sisters, their parents and their aunts and uncles, their first cousins, and their grandparents and possibly great-grandparents. Write it all down! Record dates and places of births, marriages, and deaths. Don’t forget to ask about maiden names!!! Ask about the existence of a Family Bible. If one exists, find out who currently has it and have it photocopied. If you have old photographs , ask them to help you identify family members. Share what you learn with everyone in your family.

You may not be interested in genealogy at the moment. Perhaps you will be down the road; perhaps you won’t. In either case, you will NEVER regret learning a little more about where you came from.

Please take my advice. Don’t wait.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Primitive Valentine Conversation Hearts

I've been in the mood to make primitive Valentine's Day goodies. I have lots of ideas stuffed in my head and I hope that I have time to get to some of them. I was up kinda late last night trying to finish up these Primitive Ticking Valentine Conversation Hearts. I listed them on eBay this morning. If you would like to get to know them a little better, just click on the photograph to visit them.

I finished making these stars this morning and listed them as well. The pattern for the Primitive Stars is on the side bar on the right or simply visit me on Pattern Mart.

I was wondering . . . Does anyone else start their "Spring Cleaning" right after the Christmas tree is put away? One thing leads to the next and I'm standing on top of the kitchen counters wiping down the top shelves. It's insane!!!

Crazy in Colorado!! Deanna :)