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 moms rolling pin, which she used to make us homemade flour tortillas.
    My 5 children would line up by the stove & grandma would give them a warm tortilla with butter…,after 20 years my kids still remember there grandma… Now Im rolling out flour tortillas for my grand babies . Thank you for your giving heart in the giveaway project.

  2. I have items that were my mothers. one of my favorite and most used is a nut chopper I gave her years ago at Christmas. I probably paid 50 cents for it then. Also some handwritten recipes that she wrote of back about 1970. She has been home with God for about 10 years now, so these are extra special!

  3. This might seem a bit funny but one item I have not been able to part with ismy Granny’s Rubbermaid cutlery holder, which probably dates back to 1970 or earlier. When she died in 1979, her Will designated me as the inhertor of all her kitchen stuff. Shee didn’t have much money, so instead she designated certain possessions to be assinged to each of her 11 grandkids. I still use that cutlery tray in my kitchen drawer today; it reminds me of her in a sweet simple way.

  4. My most prized and favorite kitchen item from my mother is the Shirley Temple small blue pitcher she used to serve her home made hot fudge sauce in (over ice cream, of course). I now carry on the same tradition of serving that same recipe and using the same pitcher to serve to my family, friends, and “grands”.

  5. When I saw your picture my eyes went directly to the rolling pin and my mind went directly to my grandmother. I could not believe it when you posted the rolling pin. I was brought up by my grandmother who was a great cook and baker. I have her rolling pin and every time I use it or my eyes fall on it, every time, I remember her and miss her. I treasure her rolling pin and her memory. My grandmother died in 1969 just before I graduated (2 weeks before) from high school.

  6. I love my ceramic mixing bowl! My grandma gave me this bowl before she passed away. Grandma always used this bowl to make her famous angel food cake. (Grandma always made angel food cake for birthdays!) The day that she gave me the bowl she taught me how to make angel food cake and the light frosting that she added to it. After the cake was baked, Grandma handed me the bowl and asked if I would take over the the tradition of baking cakes for birthdays. I was honored!

  7. My favorites are recipes from my mom and grandma who have both passed away. I love seeing their handwriting when I bring them out. I love the meat marinade recipe that my grandma made and each time she would tell me not to tell Grandpa that garlic was in the recipe because he thought he didn’t like garlic, but he did!

  8. My mom now lives in an assisted living home. When we sold her home, I got her old wooden rolling pin. She made many biscuits over the years with it….

  9. I have several but one of my very favorite gadgets is my pineapple corer!!
    It made life so much easier.


  10. Oh how I love looking at all the things I have received from my Mama D and my mommy. Both ladies have been gone for 11 years and I miss them so much. I have my Mama D’s recipes and how I love that little black box full of handwritten cards. I also have my mommy’s own recipe cards and love them just as much. One of my most favorite treasures is a simple bowl (red in color and part of a mixing bowl set that each one is a different color) that my mommy used to make biscuits in. I knew how far up the bowl to add the flour, milk and lard. Oh how I loved watching her make biscuits.
    Your post today brought such happy tears to me….I loved sitting here thinking so much about my mommy and Mama D.

  11. My grandmother’s China hutch, filled with the china my parents gave her and Grandad for their 25th wedding anniversary in 1954. Lots of memories of special family gatherings, even though most of the time those pieces weren’t actually used, but they witnessed lots of love and laughter between folks who are now long gone. (My mom is still living, but her brothers and my grandparents are no longer with us). That and my recipe box bring memories flooding back.

  12. My most treasured possession in my kitchen is my family recipe books. My sister in law went back and made a book of all my husbands family’s favorite recipes including photos throughout the years.

  13. My mother’s and grandmother’s handwritten tried and true recipes.
    Their best recipes were ‘measured’ by hand – a pinch of this or a handful of that. They knew just how much liquid or flour to add to make a dough the right consistency. Their best recipes were ones they carried in their memories. But, before each of them passed away, I made sure they wrote down a few of their (and my) favorites, including their tips and tricks for measuring and knowing the right consistency. I’m nearly ‘spot on’ with most of the recipes, thanks to the added details.

  14. My Nana’s 1960’s turquoise GE hand mixer. I can remember her making brownies and mashed potatoes up at the cottage on Lake Huron with it. Thought it smells ‘hot’ when I use it, it still does the job when I do! What a fun post. :)

  15. I know it may sound silly, but I love my garlic press. I use garlic on almost everything because it not only has great flavor, but it also has natural healing properties. Because of the garlic press, I save time and energy that can be put to use in something more important :)

    Have a blessed day everyone!

  16. A handwritten recipe from my grandmother for her famous chocolate pie. I laminated it so it can be passed down to my daughter. So sweet to still see her handwriting many years after she passed away.

  17. Love this Karen. I found amazing aqua champagne flutes once at an estate sale. Too hard to narrow down to one prized possession. (I’m the girl who has trouble ordering off the menu…) I love the blue Le Creuset pot my mom passed down to me when she down-sized, the aprons my kids sewed in middle school home-ec, my red Kitchen Aid that helps me bake cookies to mail to my young adult kids and the hand written recipes from my Mom, deceased Mother-in-law and grandma. I sold Southern Living at Home one season; I would LOVE to win the cookbook!

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