How to Sew a Button
How to Sew a Button

My Feel-Good Resolution of 2010

This past weekend, The Washington Post ran a sweet story about How to Sew a Button and one of the ten grandmothers featured in the book: 94-year-old Beatrice Neidorf, who lives in the DC area. Here she is at age 26 and at present day. Love her style! Oh, that clutch!


On the morning the piece ran, my phone rang. It was Bea. Her first words to me: “You’ve made me a personality! All of my friends are calling!” She was really happy, which made me so happy, too. She, like so many other grandmothers, has lived an extraordinary life, and yet this is the first newspaper story about her. I mean, she’s been volunteering at the Kennedy Center for thirty years! Thirty years! Can you imagine?

Aside from the Washington Post, other great reviews came in, too. How to Sew a Button was reviewed in The Boston Globe, The Detroit Free Press and Library Journal and on a few blogs, too, including My Sister’s Farmhouse, Gladys Tells All, Green LA Girl, Outblush, Non-Toxic Kids, Granny Su, Atlanta Bargain Hunter, Henna’s Place, Well Preserved, To The Max, Magpie Housekeeping, Shore Chic and Umami Girl. Whew!

All of this is absolutely thrilling, of course, but the reviews I’m most proud of came in the form of handwritten notes, delivered to my mailbox. Over the holidays, I sent each of the grandmothers I interviewed a hot-off-the-presses copy of the book, and much to my delight, some have written back.


Sue Ransohoff, who just turned 90, typed her letter and said (hilariously), “I’m sometimes fed up with ‘how to’ books, as though no one could make a decision on her own. But yours is different; it’s light hearted and it doesn’t run on and on. Well done!”

Alice Loft said, “I thank you so very much for sending me your (our?) oh-so-delightful book. One is inclined to read and enjoy the chuckles, instead of cooking. What fun! Love, Alice”

And Beatrice signs her cards (I’ve gotten three of them now), “Love, Bea xoxo”

While seeing my name in print in major newspapers or on new friends’ blogs makes my heart beat faster (OMG, what did they say?), seeing my name in carefully penned cursive on an envelope makes my heart fill with joy. There is a lesson in this correspondence. As 95-year-old Ruth Rowen told me, “Sending a card makes people feel good. There is such a thing as doing something just to make someone feel good.”

So, this is my first resolution of 2010: Buy stamps. Send cards. Most importantly, do something everyday just to make someone else feel good.




6 Responses to “My Feel-Good Resolution of 2010”

  1. I admit it. I LOVE MAIL. My friend Gina mailed me a blue ceramic pie plate today and I jumped up and down. Mail is wonderful…as is this post.

  2. I caught myself the other day wondering just what stamps were good for anymore, anyway–and here, like a gift from the universe, is the graceful answer. 🙂 Thanks for the reminder (and the grandmothers)!

  3. Gina says:

    Pie plate Gina here. These days there’s nothing more powerful or pleasurable (well, that may be overstating it) than sending and receiving old fashioned snail mail thank you notes.

  4. Erin, Of all the NY resolutions I read I am most impressed with yours. This is a heartwarming post featuring a couple of very sweet and smart women. A few years ago, I lamented that people no longer send cards and letters in the mail. At home, I have a neat stack of cards and nice stationary always ready for a personal and thoughtful thank you. I’ve discovered in this day and age, it only makes it all that more special.

  5. Talk about things I learned from my grandma! Grammy Sig would take me to the P.O. to buy stamps and sit down with me after every birthday to write thank yous. In fact, among my gifts were often fancy note paper (from her, natch). And I still do it. I got an *email* thank you for a wedding gift recently and I remember thinking, “Grammy would spontenously combust if she were here to see this!” She would, however, be very proud of this post. 🙂

  6. […] for How to Sew a Button seemed to have a good time with it, and some were featured in their local newspapers. One grandmother’s family even threw her a party, where she signed copies of the […]

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