What I Found at Mrs. T’s Estate Sale

Not too long ago, I went to an estate sale in a sleepy little town about 15 minutes from my house. It was a glorious, sunny fall day. My friend and I threw caution to the wind and decided to go “sale-ing” and out to lunch when we were finished.

What treasures we found that day! My favorite sale was the one being held for a woman in her 90s who had recently passed away. Mrs. T. left lots of things behind. Furniture. Appliances. Clothing and tools. But I was most fascinated by her kitchen trinkets. These items had been collected over decades beginning with her days as a new bride in the 1940’s.

I quickly loaded a box full of what might seem to be random and common things found in one’s kitchen. A glass candy dish. An old tin cookie-cutter. A frosting knife. Several cookbooks. And my personal favorite––an old wooden rolling pin.


Kitchen gadgets and decades of love. What I found at Mrs. T's estate sale. {karenehman.com}I didn’t pay over $.50 for any of these items, But that day I felt like I had hit the jackpot. I needed a frosting knife and have been meaning to buy one. My rolling pin is over 25 years old and, although it still works fine, when my daughter is home baking with me, we have to share one. And I am always up for a new vintage cookbook. I find so many fabulous recipes within their pages. And so I squealed with delight to my friend as I loaded my box high with these culinary treasures.

But something in me also felt a little sad at leaving that day. Didn’t any of Mrs. T’s family members want these kitchen items? Had the candy dish at one time held bright colored treats for her grandchildren? Had she used the frosting knife on birthday cakes for her loved ones over the years? Had she baked pies from scratch with that old rolling pin for her family’s Thanksgiving each year? Didn’t anyone in her family want these items?

Three well-used cookbooks from my kitchen. One from the bank my Aunt Patty worked at when I got engaged. The top one my mom gave me when I got married {it is the same one she's had since 1960} and the third I found at a yard sale when I first had kids.
Three well-used cookbooks from my kitchen. One from the bank my Aunt Patty worked at when I got engaged. The top one my mom gave me when I got married {it is the same one she’s had since 1960} and the third I found at a yard sale when I first had kids.

When my sister-in-law passed away in October, I helped my niece and nephew to clean out her home. It took us several weekends and we all both laughed and cried at some of the items we found.

Cleaning out her kitchen cupboards brought back many memories for them. And for me. Seeing her springform pan that made her famous raspberry–white chocolate cheesecake so many times made us all choke up a bit. We found her cheese knife that was well-used over the years. {Ehmans have never met a cheese they didn’t love!} It made my heart smile to see both my niece and nephew delighted to repurpose so many tools and treasures from their mom’s kitchen. And they were so generous with me, giving me some of the items as well.

I wonder what it might be like someday when I am gone. What things from my kitchen will my children want? My big cast iron pan that fries eggs for my boys on so many Saturday mornings? My red soup kettle that has made so many homemade soups over the years? My pastry blender that forms the crust for my chocolate-pecan pie? My cookbooks, all stained and splattered from years of loving use? And I’m sure they’ll be a fight over my cheese board and knife! {my kids all have Ehman blood, you know!)

What treasured kitchen trinkets might your family want from your kitchen someday? An Heirloom Kitchen giveaway from karenehman.com
The giveaway. An heirloom Cookbook from Southern Living. {Pic of my husband’s family and antique kitchen gadgets not included, of course}

Today I want to give away in heirloom cookbook to one of you, along with a few of our family’s favorites recipes, handwritten on some recipe cards.

To be entered in the giveaway, simply tell me your most treasured kitchen item: Either one you now own or one that a loved one passed down to you.

The winner will be announced Monday.

In the meantime, whip up something for your loved ones this weekend. Whether it is a homemade pie for a sweet treat or a healthily main dish made with love.

Whether it is 1945 or 2015. Nothing says lovin’ like something from the oven.

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  1. My most treasured item is my Czech grandmother’s large stoneware bowl that has seen many, many batches of kolache dough over the years. The women in my family still meet every year the Saturday after Thanksgiving to make kolaches for the holidays, and I always use this bowl for the dough.

  2. That’s easy! I have a small old stainless steel mixing bowl that my grandmother used to use to make me my very own guacamole. She would make a special batch just for me without tomatoes, but with lots of onion! Oh, I smile every time I remember that. She made me feel so special! :)

  3. I have many items that belonged to my mother or grandmother. But my favorite is my mother’s potato masher. It’s really sturdy & shaped differently than any I’ve ever seen. I wouldn’t trade it for anything! I also have the glass pedestal cake plate that my mother always put our birthday cakes on. Lots of memories of the homemade cakes she always made us.

  4. My favorite kitchen item has to be my Red Wing crockery bread bowl.
    Handed down to me from my mom and my Grandma.
    For an assignment in my senior year home ec class we had to go home and make something using yeast as or short class period did not allow enough time to do a recipe. Some girls went home and their moms did it for them . My mom escorted me to the kitchen . Got out the famous bowl and guided me in making Grandma’s cinnamon rolls. I had no recipe to work with ! Mom walked me through each step . She would turn her back and would say I am not mixing the dough right as she could tell by the sound the wooden spoon made with the dough. Forty five years later I am still using the bowl . I have developed a recipe to keep it to the right consistentcy. I have had fun making a few tweeks like adding cocoa. Sometimes if I have leftover oatmeal from breakfast the oatmeal goes into my cinnamon rolls. Two weeks ago when I made the oatmeal cinnamon buns I just happened to have oil in my cast iron dutch oven. Some of the dough became oatmeal raised donuts ! Thanks to my Mom ,
    I now know how to delight my husband and myself as well . What a great feeling to work with that dough and see it transform into something delightfully wonderful.

  5. My favorite item in my kitchen is Bertha. She is a huge covered skillet that I got from my late husband. It reminds me of him everytime I use it.

  6. I guess I would have to say that my collection of cast iron skillets is one of my favorite things! I, too, like collecting old kitchen gadgets. And I love Southern Living recipes. But, please tell me, what is the gadget at the bottom of the giveaway picture? I’ve got one, and don’t know what it’s for!

  7. I have always felt that the kitchen is the heart of the home. Have loved having a little eating spot in the kitchen. I love to cook and have a very well equiped kitchen. My Kitchen Aid mixer and Quisinart food processor are two things I would hate to do without. Still cook from scratch and love my many cook books. Very old fashioned.
    Use an old food grinder to make pimiento cheese spread and ham salad. Yum. Making myself hungry.

  8. I love my pie plates. I have 4 that are different colors. I love them because I love to make pies and I love to share them. Our favorite recipe is one handed down through the years, French Silk Pie. My girls have learned the recipe now and make a delicious pie, too.

  9. I have two favorite things in my kitchen. The first is my grandma’s chair. When she passed away I made sure to get the chair because I wanted to remember her in a happier time in my life. She had it right next to the stove in her home. We have so many pictures of her sitting on it or just being in the picture. My first picture in her house when I was a newborn in my highchair it was there. The other is my mother-in-laws cookbooks. I use them all the time. She was such an inspiration to me. She helped me cook my husbands favorite family meals. I loved them an miss them so much. I hope they are looking down at me and liking what I am doing with their things.

  10. I have two items in my kitchen that I treasure most. The first is the mixing bowl that belonged to my grandmother, the best baker in our family. She died less than a month from her 100th birthday in 1992 when my oldest daughter was just a toddler, and I still miss her. The second item is a decorative ceramic cookie jar, which my mother gave to me for Christmas in 2002. It turned out to be the last thing she gave me before her death shortly afterwards.

  11. My favorite KITCHEN passdown is from my Grandmother: an old butter mold….never have used it…but perhaps one day I should try it out. I can just see her in her old apron out on the porch, working with the cream and milk. My favorite part….the little design that the mold left on the fresh butter. Long ago memories. Another favorite…but not kitchen is this same grandmother’s old straw round sewing basket!
    Really enjoyed this piece today…wonder what MY children will want???
    Thanks for sharing.

  12. I have my Granny’s rolling pin that she used to make countless amounts of dumplings. I grew up only just down the road from her, so I stayed with her and my Papa as often as possible. My own mother did not enjoy cooking, but my Granny loved to cook and cooked 3 meals daily. I can remember she always set the table and had enough food for anyone who chanced to stop and eat. She was the most generous and gracious hostess, and always made everyone feel at home. She was my greatest role model. She passed away last Febuary in her 90s. I’m so grateful my own boys got to meet her and love Granny!

  13. My folks passed on when I was in my twenties, I was their only living child… I moved around a lot after their deaths, sold a lot of the ‘stuff’ I was left with. But every move has me packing my mothers big pyrex salad bowl that I watched her mix cakes in, her pie plates, my grandmothers hardwood roller. And tucked in my sewing gear is the remains of an apron that is falling apart, that I ma going to renew. Miss those two ladies.

  14. Thank you for this blog today…..brought tears to my eyes. We have lost both my mother and mother-in-law and I have many items from both of them that mean so much. I have an old turn-style hand blender that I don’t use but have on display because I remember when it was used by my mom. I also have pottery cookie jars, one from my mom and one from my mother-in-law, that match except they are a different color (1 brown, 1 green) and these hold many sweet treasures. Iron skillets, bowls, etc. that every time I use them I think of the times they were used by these two dear sweet ladies, lovely preparing food for their families. I’m a very nostalgic person, more so the older I get. And my daughter is following, already told me things that were her grandmothers and mine that she would cherish in later years. The Lord gives us these sweet memories, and I’m so thankful he does.

  15. I have several items from our mother’s home and over the years have given pieces to my younger sisters as they began their homes. An old beat up colander strained pasta for many dishes, the Orange juice squeezer now gathers dust but is fondly remembered when I come across it, and a pizza pan, now used for broiler duty, is my last piece. Hanging on to this dented treasure!

  16. I spend most of my time in my favorite room-my kitchen. My prized kitchen possession would have to be my band cookbook that my school’s middle school & high school band created in 1994. It has so many yummy hometown recipes that I use time & time again.

  17. My favorites are from my grandmother’s. A cookbook with a letter in it written by her, recipes (in her handwriting and then my grandpa’s when grandma became blind) and a pie plate of hers. She taught me to make pie, but mine still do not taste nearly as good. This post had me tear up in a good way, reminding me of many hours in the kitchens of my grandmother’s. I was blessed to be able to do this.

  18. My most treasured item in my kitchen is a spoon that my mother gave to me. It has a flat edge on the bottom. I remember Mom stirring fudge with it. Mom’s fudge always turned out perfect. Everything that my mom threw together turned out deliciously. It is a talent that I don’t have, but I will always be thankful for the time I spent with my mom in the kitchen. Mom always made enough to share, she loved giving to others. I miss her.

  19. Good morning .. My most treasured kitchen item is a Better Homes and Garden cookbook … Red checker board .. Received as A Christmas present in 1972

  20. I have several! My kitchen aid mixer passed down from my mother since she doesn’t need it anymore…so many memories of using it while baking with her. i have a butter knife and a very small pan my mom gave me which she used often while I was growing up. I have a cheese slicer and 2 extra-long handled spoons handed down from my grandmother. And recipes…oh, the recipes! From grandmothers, mom, aunts. Treasures, all of them!!

  21. I loved this!! This is exactly how I feel about kitchen things and sewing baskets. They are so personal to the lady who once owned them. When my sweetheart’s Grandpa died the family were going through the house, they found he had never gotten rid of the Grandma’s kitchen things. ( Ruby had died 24 years before him.) My sweetheart’s mother brought me boxes upon boxes of rolling pins, cook books, crocheted table cloths, salt and pepper shakers, 1940’s gadgets, vintage Pyrex, aprons and on and on the list goes!! And as well all the crochet hooks she had used to lovingly make these table cloths that adorned her home. I was brought to tears over it all ; my sweetheart and I were not married but lived together and had a child together. Surely these wonderful family heirlooms should go to Ruby’s daughter or one of the female cousins?? No one wanted them was the reply. Unbelievable! I use these beloved items everyday. I now adorn MY table with her handiwork. ( Which is her’s as well – no one wanted the grandparent’s china cabinet and dining room set, with seating for 12 – we had just build a log home and the leather stitching on the chairs looks like cowboy boots – so it was perfect!! Not to mention in brand new condition!!)
    I have been to many yard sales where they are “getting rid” of the mother in law’s or grandmother’s things. I have many judgements in my head …..wondering if these poor women were as disrespected in life as they are in death…..but of course I say nothing as I fill my arms with these treasures….give them a few dollars for their “worthless” items and hurry off to my vehicle ; eager to get home with my NEW favorite things.

  22. An old cookbook that belong to my Mom. In addition to lots of pictures of delicious recipes there are photos of how to set a table to different events (tea parties, outdoor summer bbq’s, Easter dinner, etc), there are also hand written recipes that I just love looking over.

  23. Love so many things…mostly those passed down by my mother… Her cast iron skillets, her “yellow ware” mixing bowl. Probably my most treasured, however, is my Kitchenaid mixer. I’d always wanted one. It was on my Christmas list every year. In late 2005, Mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and lived with us until her death in September 2006. Christmas that year would be difficult, but I decided I would try to make things as festive as possible. I made my usual Christmas list and then I started to gather my Christmas cookie recipes in the end of November. Late one afternoon, my husband and nephew Chris (who lives with us) told me that they wanted to talk to me. We sat in the living room and my husband said, “I told Chris that I was going to buy you your Kitchenaid mixer for Christmas this year and his face went white and he said that I can’t”. Chris then walked out of the room and returned holding a big box with a Kitchenaid mixer. My mom had purchased it for me before her death and had asked Chris to hide it away until Christmas.

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