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. It’s a toss-up for me between a tiny metal pan my grandfather made, my grandmother’s glassware, and the white china luncheon/dessert plates embellished with dainty pink rosebuds that my mother gave me. The plates have a little indentation to place a matching tea cup. All have sweet memories for me. The pan my grandfather made was originally used by my mom to warm up my baby food (before the modern food-warmers and microwaves came into being). As the year’s passed the little pan was used to melt butter for popcorn.
    Another treasure is the cookbook published by the ladies of the church where I accepted Christ as a 14 year old. As I look for recipes inside it, I see the names of all the loving people (90 percent of whom are deceased) who were so special to me as I was growing up. My late mother had a few favorite recipes in it too, including a wonderful three-layer red, white and blue Jell-o salad that is still being made by the third generation.

  2. My candy dish passed down from my grandmother. It was always full when she knew I was coming to visit.

  3. My heirloom cookbooks and recipes are my favorites. I have a cookbook that my grandmother bought me as a child. Any time she would come visit, we would bake cookies together from recipes in that book. My mom took a Polaroid photo of my grandmother and I baking cookies together when I was 8, and taped it in the front cover of the cookbook. It is a treasured item in my kitchen, and my children love seeing the photo when we bake cookies from that special book! I miss grandma very much, but her legacy lives on and her love of baking was instilled in me, and now my children too!!

  4. My mothers green glass bowl, is something I will always treasure. She would always hand it to me every Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas to make my Jell-O glass salad for our family holiday dinner.

  5. I have an old hand chopper that my Mom used to chop collards and other veggies. I still use it and I think of her when I do. Precious memories.

  6. I love my bread pans. I use them all the time as I make all our bread. My children are most fond of my collection of crazy little snack bowls.

  7. I have a large cast iron frying pan that was given to me when I got married 49 years ago. The elderly lady who gave it to me must have been 80 when she presented me with this special wedding gift. This pan is one that I treasure because it was given to my elderly friend, by her husband, when they married. This makes this kitchen treasure over 100 years old. I never look at it that I do not think of my wonderful friend.

  8. I think my old canning jars. Some have wire bails and some have the old porcelain lined zinc lids. These are my favorite old collectibles in my kitchen.

  9. My Grandma’s flour sifter makes me tear up every time I see it. She would always let me use it when we baked. It has a red knob…how can it not be fun?! There is something about the rhythmic sound of it–ch, ch ch ch, ch ch ch–that immediately takes me back to her kitchen. How I miss her so!

  10. I cherish the old fashioned “beater” that was my Grandmother’s. I used to play with it pretending to beat egg whites when I was little and then one day it became mine. My kids snicker when I get it out to whip the real “whipping cream” for pies at holidays and can’t believe I still use it. But, I do and will continue to. I now have a grandson of my own and I just know that when he’s a little older (2-1/2 yrs.) he will stand up on the step stool near the sink and beat with all his might the eggs in the bowl. Just like I used to to do. (Plus, I Loved the green jadite batter bowl, my grandmother gave me too….but unfortunately I dropped it and broke it years ago while using it. Which was long before I knew that it was quite the collector item!)

  11. My most prized kitchen gadget is a cheese grater from my Italian grandmother who made cooking for our family such an art. She used it often and the aroma of freshly grated cheese brings back memories of dinners at her house over 30 years ago.

  12. There are a few kitchen things I have that I love – one is a cookbook I got as a gift when we got married and it’s all CHOCOLATE recipes! :) This weekend I will be going to help my cousin with cleaning out our aunt’s home. She passed away a little over a week ago and lived with my Papaw and Mamaw all her life on a farm. When we were there three or four weeks ago, I asked about the meal chest. (If you don’t know, it’s a big box-like container where Mamaw kept heaps of corn meal and flour and she let me play in it when I was a little girl!) So, I hope to bring that home this weekend – I have no clue where I will put it and my husband will not be pleased, but gosh – the memories! :)

  13. I have a flour sifter from my mom. The old ones that my grandchildren had no idea what it was for but love to use it now. I also have some Jewel T dishes. I found some at a thrift store. My mom has some and I wanted them to remind me of her. She loves in Calif and I live in AR. When a friend saw them, she brought me 3 pieces she found in a thrift store so now I have 5 pieces. My mom is 85. I have them all out on a shelf so I can think of her often.
    I know how you feel about Mrs T. I felt that way after attending an auction and came home with a little old ladies orange plastic storage bowls.

  14. I’m blessed to have items from each of my grandmas and an aunt. But I treasure my mom’s handwritten recipe cards and her Kitchenaid mixer. She died unexpectedly at the age of 69 from a heart attack. She’s been gone for 6 yes and the loss is still felt deeply.

  15. A cookbook that has all of my grandmother’s favorite recipes written out in her handwriting. I treasure this above all my kitchen tools!

  16. I too have many wonderful items in my kitchen. Some from my grandmother and my mother, some from my fiancee’s grandmother and mother. My favorite right now would have to be a push between my veggie spiralizer and my kitchen-aid mixer. They are both new and were both given to me as gifts recently.
    I love to cook for my family. My grandmother always cooked and baked pies to show us her love too.

  17. My favorite are some small bowls (different colors) I inherited from my grandmother. I think these used to be in the oatmeal boxes she use to buy, but not for certain. I also have a serving bowl and it has a big sunflower on it. I have never seen one like it anywhere and I try to be careful with it whenever it is used. My grandmother passed at the age of 91, 36 yrs ago.

  18. I love my Mom’s recipe book that I inherited after her passing. It’s a quilted teddy bear cookbook and has pages of her favorite recipes in her own handwriting. With those recipes, come some wonderful family memories around her table that we still talk about today. I will always treasure this book

  19. I bought a handmade thrown clay pie dish a few years ago. I hope to pass it down when I’m old, along with my heavy/giant rolling pin. I have 2 young boys, so i hope i get a great dil or granddaughter who loves to bake and cook like i do!

  20. Been married almost 60 years. When we married, my mother, mother in law and aunt removed many items from their kitchen and shared with us and I am still using all that haven’t broken. I love using them and hope and pray the children will feel the same.

  21. It has to be the three mixing bowls dad gave to me. He used to work in bakery shop before he joined Army. While growing up, he made so many delicious stuff!!!! Now he does not cook much anymore because he has dementia and does not even remember his famous recipes that are forever locked in his brain because he did not write them down. When I mentioned that I would love to have his mixing bowls when he passes away, he walked over and gave them to me right then. He said he wants me to enjoy them NOW while he can see me making stuff. His love for cooking has passed down to me. I am forever grateful to have them.

  22. My Favorite kitchen item is my cookie dropper. It makes a perfect size cookie and the kids can use it without any problems. We have been using it for years and they love showing others how it is used. Been taken to show and tell at school with a batch of cookies to share.

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