So, what’s with the Chocolate Cake Quilt Designs name?
In 2010 when I launched my first pattern and needed a logo, I wanted it to have a reference to my maternal grandmother, Pearl Elizabeth Dallner. That’s her in the photo in 1950 at my parents’ wedding.
My grandma was a very sweet, kind lady—I know where my mom got her personality! She was born May 25, 1904, married my grandfather in 1925, had a daughter and a son, and took in her niece who was experiencing trouble at home. As a result, my mom and her cousin grew up like sisters.
Sometime in the 1940s (possibly earlier) Grandma went to work. She was the financial glue that held the family together. Grandma worked for years at a downtown department store in the stationery department. Some in our family also remember her working in the candy department for a time, as well as helping to pin price tags onto women’s undergarments. She rode the trolley, and later, the bus to work because she never learned to drive. She stood most of the day to do her job, which was difficult because of her arthritis.
Some of my best memories of Grandma were when my cousin and I would arrange to spend the night at her house.
We followed certain rituals at Grandma’s. First, we would walk up to Reed’s for Reedburgers. Reed’s was a tiny little diner that served the best loose meat sandwiches. Back at Grandma’s we would follow her into the basement when she tended to laundry and swing on the big wooden porch swing Grandpa had bolted to a stringer–was that a real bear skin draped over the back of the swing? Then we would make our way upstairs to explore the partially finished attic, pausing on the peculiar step and wondering why it was so off-level.
Once upstairs, Grandma would dutifully show us my mother’s wedding dress, her Shirley Temple doll, the heavy, thick 78 rpm records that played on the Victrola and the radio in a cabinet as big as a recliner with huge knobs and dials. She always warned us not to go into one of the rooms off the attic because she didn’t want us to fall through the ceiling.
Grandma never much cared for cooking, but when we stayed over, my cousin and I were treated to as much bacon as we wanted for breakfast the next morning. She also made sure Grandpa brought home the good coffee cake from the store.
When I was little and visiting my grandma, she would tie a rope between the fence and a tree in her back yard. She would bundle me up and send me outdoors with clothespins and a tub of old, clean rags to hang the wash.
I would happily pin up all of it, then take it down and begin again. (OCD? I think so!) Sometimes I would look up and see her checking on me from her kitchen window.
Grandma’s favorite color was purple. In the bedroom where my cousin and I slept, she had this treadle sewing machine
with pots of African violets sitting on top.
Outside in a little patch of dirt between the house and the walkway to the back door, she planted petunias: all light, medium and dark purple with a few white ones scattered here and there.
And then there was the cake. My grandma had a to-die-for chocolate cake recipe that she handed down to my mother and my mother to me. We have no idea about the recipe’s origin, but some of us have wondered if it first belonged to my great-grandmother. Unfortunately, we’ll never know.
The chemistry of this cake is unlike anything I’ve ever known; one strange fact is that it turns out better when mixed and baked at low altitude, even with high altitude adjustments. It also tastes better aged one day. In the oven, it rises like a regular cake, but once removed, it falls, and that’s a good thing. Cutting into it, you notice how dense the cake is and also see dark streaks throughout. When turning a slice onto a plate, it lands with a soft thud, another indicator that the cake turned out well.
So when thinking about a name for my pattern company, I considered Purple Flower Quilts or Chocolate Cake Quilt Designs. I decided to go with Chocolate Cake for two reasons: one, because the cake had been such a long-standing tradition in our family, and two, because I love the cake stand block and thought it would be fun to incorporate it into a logo.
That’s the story behind the name. Miss you, Grandma!