You’re Going to Need This Juicer, Honey

As I used my vintage juicer this morning, to create lemon water, a warm fuzzy feeling overcame me. This simple gadget that was commonly found in kitchens in the mid 1900s, is more of a novelty now. There are more modern versions of juicers available.

I love my juicer, however, and I enjoy the homey practice of twisting half a lemon, lime or orange on it, to extract fresh juice. As I considered the source of the warm feeling, I thought of my Aunt Annie, who passed away in March of 2015. This was her juicer.

You’re Going to Need This Juicer Honey

Clear Depression Glass Juicer

I researched vintage glass juicers and quickly located exact matches to the one I own.

Depression glass is clear or colored translucent machine made glassware that was distributed free, or at low cost, in the US and Canada around the time of the Great Depression, which lasted from 1929 until 1939. Much depression glass is actually uranium glass. The Quaker Oats Company, and other food manufacturers and distributors, put a piece of glassware in boxes of food, as an incentive to purchase.

During its years of production more than 20 manufacturers created 100 plus patterns, with entire dinner sets available in some patterns. Common colors were clear, or crystal, pink, pale blue, green, and amber. Less common colors included canary yellow, ultramarine, opaque pale green, opaque pale blue, cobalt blue, ruby red, black, amethyst, monax, and white milk glass.

You’re Going to Need This Juicer Honey

Taking Home a Juicer

Five months after my aunt passed away, my mother, sisters and I met two of my cousins at Aunt Annie’s house. We sorted through memories and items. My cousins graciously allowed us to select keepsakes to take home.

In the basement we opened cardboard boxes and examined items that Aunt Annie had collected over a lifetime. We all chatted and told stories about pieces we recognized. And some items we wondered about. How we wanted to ask my aunt questions.

I was drawn to the juicer as soon as I saw it. I like vintage kitchen gadgets and this one was in perfect condition without chips or cracks. I couldn’t remember ever seeing my aunt use it, but she surely did. I tucked the juicer into my “take home” box, pleased with the find.

You’re Going to Need This Juicer Honey

You’re Going to Need This

This morning, as I made lemon water and thought about my aunt, an image came to mind. I could imagine Annie there with all of us, in spirit, in the basement. She stood among her family, peering into boxes and remembering with us as we pulled items from long sealed cartons. I could hear her soft voice with its southern drawl, exclaiming over old treasures. She smiled as we told stories and added to them, even though we could not consciously hear her.

When I picked up the old glass juicer, I now wonder if my sweet aunt whispered into my ear, “You’re going to need this juicer, honey. Take it home.” In 2015 I had not yet taken charge of my health. That shift would not occur for another 11 months. We operate in linear time. Spirit does not.

Is it possible that my aunt knew that a time was coming when I would not only cherish this juicer but use it every day? Could she have foreseen how important creating fresh juice would become to me, months before I switched to a plant based lifestyle? I like to think so!

This little depression glass juicer, that perhaps came to my aunt via a box of oats, helps me maintain my good health. I am grateful that in the flow of life, that sometimes operates outside the flow of time, what I need comes to me at the perfect moment.

And that warm fuzzy feeling I experienced this morning? Maybe that was Aunt Annie, giving me a hug.

You’re Going to Need This Juicer Honey

This Old Lamp of Mine

With the vintage family pieces that I own, such as the old lamp that rests on my bedside table, perfection is not required. It’s okay if the item has a missing part, or proudly bears scratches and dents, or doesn’t work properly anymore. I embrace the Japanese philosophy of wabi sabi…beauty in imperfection.

The vintage double globed table lamp came to me after Greg’s mother passed away in 1999. Bob Moore gave me two such lamps, actually, with the larger one being a fancier parlor style version. From my research, these lamps was produced in the 1940s and 50s.

Sadly, the bigger parlor lamp was destroyed as a result of the 2011 tornado that struck Joplin. Debris crashed through a window and shattered the lamp. I was heartsick about the loss. As a protective measure, I moved the smaller, more plain lamp away from windows. It has served as my bedside lamp since.

This Old Lamp of Mine

Imperfect Lamp

The double globe lamps have a three way switch. One click and the lower globe lights up. Two clicks and the upper globe shines. Three clicks and both globes turn on, illuminating the area. However, for as long as I have owned this lamp, the lower globe has not worked. It perhaps hasn’t lit up for many years. That’s one of those questions I never thought to ask of the Moores, along with requesting to hear the story of the lamp’s purchase.

Greg took the lamp apart several years ago and tested connections and added new bulbs, to no avail. I didn’t mind. I still use the lamp every evening. As darkness gathers in my room, I switch on this keepsake, the upper globe providing plenty of cozy light. Before sleep, the last thing I do before snuggling beneath the covers is to reach over and click off the old lamp.

This Old Lamp of Mine

A Light in the Darkness

Last night was no different. Except…lying in the darkness, feeling a strange restlessness, I crawled back out of bed and left the room. I exited a dark room, knowing my house well enough to wander around without benefit of lighting.

Therefore I was startled when I returned to my dimly lit room. To my great wonderment the lower globe of my old lamp was lit, guiding my way back. I sat on the edge of the bed and smiled, staring at it. Because it’s never worked, since I owned it, I apparently turned the switch one too many times without realizing it. The circuit was open. And now…for some reason…energy flowed to the bulb.

This Old Lamp of Mine

Perfect Lamp

I sat for a long time, watching the lamp. The light remained steady. I clicked the switch. The upper globe lit, as it always does. And then both globes shone softly when I clicked a third time. Remarkable. The lamp joins a short list of items that I own that have miraculously “repaired” themselves, without human intervention, after not working for ages.

In my magical life, nothing happens by coincidence or accident. So the question became, as I sat quietly thinking, “Why is this lamp working now? What’s the deeper meaning for me?”

I’ve had distinct themes going on this week: don’t give up on my dreams, and connected to that, don’t be afraid. I was reminded a couple of days ago that I had overcome a lifelong fear of the dark. The significance of this light, glowing in the darkness, was not lost on me.

This Old Lamp of Mine

Be the Light

The renewal of this lamp, which continues to work perfectly today, does more than cast a glow into the room. It’s light reaches my soul. I feel seen, and heard, and understood, by the Divine. El-le (my name for God) hears my deepest thoughts and knows me at a level that no one else can. We have daily, ongoing conversations that often defy logic or tradition, and signs and wonders are part of that conversation.

Spirit is energy. And energy, or Spirit, found a way to flow again through the circuits of this old lamp, lighting the darkness, drawing me to it. My doubts and fears from past this week? They burned away in the soft glow of the miraculous light. I am reminded, yet again, that the universe is bigger and more mysterious and infinitely more glorious than the small stories I sometimes allow myself to get caught up in. And I am reminded to be light, in whatever darkness I find myself in.

There are other connections that I made. Light is symbolic of many things to me. Freedom from fear of the dark, hard won. My heart is whole and full of light. I’m still creating comparisons and analogies from last night’s experience.

Before clicking off the lamp again, I felt the invitation, more than heard the words: Open to Spirit, let energy flow to you and through you and beyond. Be light. Be Cindy, Going Beyond.

Beyond what? Well, that will be the fun part, discovering what’s next on this amazing journey.

This Old Lamp of Mine

Leta’s Curls

Greg’s dear mother, Leta Mae Davidson Moore, passed away in 1999. She was a generous, loving, kind hearted woman who never lost her child like sense of wonder for the world. When I married her son, I became the daughter she had always longed for, and we spent many happy hours together over the years, talking, shopping and simply spending time together. She loved being Mimi to her three grandchildren and my kids carry precious memories of her.

A few years after her death, Greg’s dad allowed me to bring home a set of old curling irons that belonged to Leta when she was a girl. Even though her hair appeared to easily arrange itself into natural curls, Leta must have used these irons often. She kept them into adulthood and although she stopped using them on her hair, she had the irons mounted on a bright pink backing board and framed. I am honored to be the keeper of these vintage curling irons.

Leta’s Curls

Vintage Curls

Curling irons have been used for thousands of years, and not just by women. In Babylonia, Greece, and Egypt men used heated irons to curl their hair and beards. And women have depended on irons to keep up with fashion’s demand for curls for just as long.

In 1866 Hiram Maxim obtained the first patent for a curling iron. These tongs were heated in a fire or atop a stove and hair was wrapped around them, creating curls. By 1890 French inventors Maurice Lentheric and Marcel Grateau used hot-air drying and heated curling tongs to make deep, long-lasting Marcel waves.

Leta’s Curls

Leta’s Curls

Born in 1922, Leta was the youngest of four children and the only daughter in her family. I’m not sure when the curling irons were purchased, however I know Leta used them as a child and teenager. I can imagine her mother heating the irons on the stove and then carefully creating curls in her young daughter’s light brown hair.

From my research I’ve learned one had to be very careful indeed using these old curling irons. Unlike today’s electric curling irons, there was no way to regulate the temperature. The metal irons could become hot enough to scorch the hair, or worse, burn the hair badly enough that it broke off from the scalp. Leta’s mother must have taught her girl how to heat the irons to just the right temperature and how to test the warmth.

Leta’s Curls

Leta’s Curls

Leta’s Curls

Photos of Leta Mae throughout her childhood and youth reveal her beauty and graceful poise, and also her carefully coiffed hair. She apparently mastered the feminine art of styling her hair.

By the time I knew this wonderful woman, she visited a salon weekly, and allowed her favorite stylist to cut and curl her hair. Leta was the only adult female I ever knew who depended on another to wash and style her hair for her. She had the charming custom, however, of adding small pink spongy curlers just around her hairline every night, before bed. To hold those curlers securely in place, she wrapped strips of toilet paper around her head.

My children still giggle over the memory of Mimi Leta in her robe, with her bedtime curlers and toilet paper wrapped head.

Leta’s Curls

Leta’s Curls

Keeper of the Curling Irons

I am happy to have Leta’s curling irons. I stood many times with my mother-in-law, in her bedroom, looking at her childhood keepsakes hanging on the wall. She spoke fondly of them and the long ago days when they were used.

I wish I had asked her more questions about them. Or that I had sat on the bed or the carpeted floor and asked her to tell me stories of her childhood. I heard a few. But now, with her gone almost 20 years, I’d love to hear more, know more.

I think of Leta every time I look at these vintage irons, and I miss her. I hope she knows how precious they are to me. My own daughters have a bit more wave to their hair than I do, and they have certainly spent time before a mirror, coaxing their long hair into curls. Someday I will pass Leta’s curling irons on to her granddaughters, perhaps breaking the set apart and giving one to each girl! I think Mimi Leta will smile about that, and reach up to pat her shining curls into place.

Leta’s Curls

55 Years Cradling Plants

I use a variety of interesting containers in my backyard garden. Along with standard clay flowerpots, I make use of metal buckets, wash tubs, tree stumps, and even a toolbox. One of my favorite containers is a green and white pot handed down to me from my mom. It has spent 55 years cradling plants.

55 Years Cradling Plants

Container for house plants

I’m not sure what the exact age is, of this vintage container. As a small child the southwestern style flowerpot sat in various corners of our Tulsa, Oklahoma home, and I am 60 now. My mom always grew a species of plant within it commonly known as the snake plant or mother-in-law’s tongue. This tough house plant is easy to grow and thrives with little care.

First cultivated in China, the snake plant was treasured because people thought it bestowed eight virtues on those who grew it. Those virtues include long life, prosperity, intelligence, beauty, art, poetry, health, and strength. The plants were kept near the front doors of the home so that the eight virtues could circulate throughout the house.

I wonder if Mom knew this? Our snake plant most often resided in the foyer.

55 Years Cradling Plants

Cherished flowerpot for my plants

When we moved, this flowerpot moved with us, to fresh houses and new towns in different states. Eventually the container came to me. Mom knew I would keep green beauties growing within it.

And I have.

I switched out the snake plants for colorful portulaca, also known as sun roses or moss roses. These plants are just as easy to grow and care for. For years the old pot sat on my covered front deck or rested solidly among flowers growing in beds around the house.

Five years ago, when I created my backyard paradise, I moved the container to the area just inside the garden gate. It lends color with its spill of blooms and it anchors the area, filled primarily with ground covers such as creeping jenny and phlox. It’s an anchor for my heart and soul as well. Every time I see the now vintage container, or water the plants tucked inside, I think of my mom and my childhood. This pot has stood as a silent witness to many events and changes. It is dear to me.

55 Years Cradling Plants The container’s most recent home. Photo taken before the ground cover filled in the area.

New location new plants

As I watered and pulled weeds this evening, I knelt down next to this vintage container and rested my hands upon it. The setting sun kissed the rounded sides, warming them and creating a soft reflective glow. Energy hummed beneath my hands.

Because of its age, I made the decision to relocate the flowerpot indoors this fall, where it will be protected from the cold weather. And just as suddenly, I knew what to transplant into the pot.

How appropriate it feels to grow snake plants in the container again, bringing the flowerpot full circle. Inspired by my research tonight, I’m delighted to plop my freshly planted container near the front door where, feng shui style, the eight virtues can be unleashed within my home. I’m smiling already, thinking of this change. My old container…55 years cradling plants…and counting.

55 Years Cradling Plants

Grandpa Bill’s Doll

I grew up disliking dolls, which was peculiar for a little girl. I had my reasons. As an adult I still don’t care for them. So it’s unusual that the subject of tonight’s Vintage Story post is a doll and even more out of the ordinary that she is snuggled up with me as I write. This vintage girl is special however. She belonged to one of Greg’s grandparents and surprisingly, not to Grandma Ruby. This little beauty was Grandpa Bill’s doll.

Grandpa Bill’s Doll

Bill Moore was a two year old toddler in 1900 when he received the doll, making her at least 120 years old. When he first showed me the doll with the china head, hands and feet, he chuckled. I heard how she accompanied him through the years. Grandpa’s family moved often during his childhood and youth, and it is amazing that this treasure survived.

Why oh why, I wonder now, did I not question him more about his doll? Grandpa Bill seemed quite fond of her and indeed, he cherished her because in his twilight years, he still had her. She was carefully on display in his home when I met her. Her original outfit had long ago been replaced by something newer, however the style of the dress was appropriate for her age. What did he call this doll, as a child? Who gave him the toy? Did his two brothers and three sisters have china dolls as well? If they didn’t, why did he have a doll? There are so many questions that I will never have answers to.

Grandpa Bill’s DollWilliam Rolston Moore, age 2.

What I do know is that Grandpa Bill loved his doll so much that he kept her near him throughout his life. Only when he moved into an assisted care facility, after the death of Grandma Ruby, did he placed the doll into the care of his daughter-in-law Leta Moore.

The doll came to me 20 years later, before Bob Moore passed away. I carefully packed her away in a closet, fearful that she would get broken. However, my philosophy about vintage items is to use them and display them so that they can be enjoyed. The doll made her debut in my home as the central piece in a fall vignette, in 2014.

Grandpa Bill’s Doll

Tonight I researched the origins of Grandpa Bill’s doll. I discovered that she is most likely a Hertwig lowbrow china doll from Germany.

The Hertwig Porcelain Factory, located in the Thuringian town of Katzhütte, Germany, made porcelain products from 1864 until the factory closed around 1950. Doll parts were made from 1865 on.The earliest shoulder heads may have been made of unglazed porcelain. Hertwig is most noted for their Nanking-Puppen, or lowbrow dolls, made with nanking (brown cotton) bodies, stuffed with cotton, with bisque or china limbs.

Grandpa Bill’s DollTwo lowbrow china dolls. The blonde ones were created specifically for the American market, around 1900.

Grandpa’s doll looks like the blonde lowbrow model, with the heart shaped mouth, light colored eyes and brown brows. His doll has the brown cotton body with china hands and black painted china boots.

And here is the interesting correlation. I know, from Greg’s recent genealogy research, that Bill Moore’s maternal grandfather came from Germany…the Hesse region. Henry Siegfried arrived in the US by way of New York City, New York, in 1854. Henry’s daughter, Lillian Ida Siegfried, became Bill’s mother.

Is it possible that the doll belonged to her and she gave it to her young son? Or did Lillian or another Siegfried relative purchase the German made doll in the US, because of its connection to their native country?

Grandpa Bill’s Doll Bill and Ruby in 1917.

Grandpa Bill’s DollGrandpa Bill four years before his death. He rode a stationary bike five miles every day.

If only this old girl could talk, I’d have the answers to my questions. And then I’d have to pack her away again, because a talking doll would not be acceptable to me!

She has won me over though. This cherished childhood keepsake has helped me to move past a long held fear of mine. I featured the doll in fall vignettes at first. Gradually she appeared in other groupings all over my house. And when she’s not gathering admiring glances in wooden sieves or old suitcases or Christmas vignettes, she stands on my bedroom dresser.

That’s a big deal for me, to display a doll in my room. I had a chat with her and asked her to behave, or back into the closet she would go. She’s been the perfect little lady and I have an appreciation and an affection for her now.

I hope Grandpa chuckles over his doll still and visits her while I sleep. I want him to know she is cared for and loved. Perhaps he will whisper her name into my ear and tell me more about her in my dreams. Until I hear otherwise, I will call her Lillian, after his mother. Grandpa Bill’s doll…she’s a treasure indeed.

Grandpa Bill’s Doll

Old Handkerchiefs

Tonight’s vintage story, about a collection of old handkerchiefs that has come into my possession, celebrates the people they once belonged to. It also reveals the evolution of this almost obsolete item.

Old Handkerchiefs

I am fond of old linens, from pillowcases and embroidered dish towels, to tablecloths and crocheted doilies. I appreciate the practical functions they provided in the past and how they can still serve me beautifully today. Vintage linens are often featured in my vignettes as a backdrop for a grouping of items.

Handkerchiefs are a bit different, in that they have fallen out of use with the invention of paper tissues. Today I rarely see a handkerchief in use except as a neatly folded accessory in a suit pocket.

Old Handkerchiefs

The old hankies that I cherish belonged to dear women in my family. Some were once carried by Leta Moore, or slipped into her purse. She was fond of the Estée Lauder perfume Youth Dew. That scent clings faintly to her delicate hankies.

Others in my collection belonged to my grandmother Mildred and my great-grandmother Cynthia. I am named after both of these amazing women so it gives me joy to have these little scraps of silk or cotton, knowing they tucked them into a blouse pocket or up a sleeve.

Grandma Mildred favored rose water and I can imagine that subtle fragrance when I press a handkerchief to my nose and inhale deeply.

Old Handkerchiefs

Curious about how these squares of fabric came into use, I researched handkerchiefs.

I discovered that handkerchiefs date back to the 10th century. They show up in many different cultures, serving as head coverings for the Chinese and French, appearing in Turkish literature, and in Anatolia they were used to wrap packages. The British changed the name from kerchief to handkerchief after they began to carry the cloths in their hands. Later men tucked handkerchiefs into their hats and women slipped them into their cleavage.

The handkerchief has long been associated with lovers. A woman sent her handkerchief to her lover to suggest a meeting or as a token of her affection, or waved it to say “I am available.” If a woman dropped her handkerchief purposefully in front of a man it meant “I love you.” If her gentlemen picked it up and put it in his pocket it signified “I love you too.”

Old Handkerchiefs

Handkerchiefs were used for other purposes as well. Knotted in one corner they secured coins or a trinket that the owner did not want to lose. Dampened with water they scrubbed a child’s face or soothed a fevered brow. Handkerchiefs blotted perspiration from a face or wiped away a tear trailing down a cheek. They could be opened to serve as a makeshift tablecloth for a picnic lunch and a white handkerchief waved symbolized surrender.

Eventually handkerchiefs primarily became a cloth to wipe the nose on…and the delicate cloths shifted to sturdier practical squares suitable for sneezing into! As tissues gained in use, handkerchiefs ended up folded away in drawers, forgotten.

I prefer to hold onto the beauty and romance of my handkerchiefs, rather than use them in practical ways. I created cloth roses out of them. It’s easy to do. Simply fold the handkerchiefs lengthwise three or four times and then twist the strip of cloth. Starting at one end, wrap the twisted cloth in a circular manner, forming a rose, and tuck the loose end beneath the completed spiral. I display mine in a simple ceramic dish.

These old handkerchiefs, fashioned into pretty little roses, remind me of three strong, beautiful women who impacted my life, and of another era in time. I smile every time I look at them.

Old Handkerchiefs

A Cupful of Love

After my grandfather passed away in 2007 family members gathered at his home to sort through memories and belongings and keepsakes. My grandmother had preceded her husband in death, 17 years before. As my mother and aunt set aside the items they wanted to keep, they allowed my sisters and me to claim some small mementos for ourselves.

I knew what I wanted, and rummaged through kitchen cupboards to find it. Lost among bowls and mismatched glasses and countless plastic containers, I found what I was searching for. The old aluminum measuring cup was a bit scratched and dented and had not been used in many years. That did not matter to me. No one else wanted it and my family allowed me to claim it. I was thrilled.

A Cupful of Love

My grandfather, Pop, taught me about gardening. My Grandma Mildred taught me two things…how to crochet and how to bake. I have such fond memories of standing on a chair in her homey kitchen, an apron wrapped around me, watching carefully as Grandma prepared a cake from scratch or whipped up a cream pie or stirred together a batch of gooey chocolate chip cookies.

When I was young, I was given the important job of measuring out ingredients such as sugar, flour and Crisco shortening. Grandma would plunk down that metal cup and her big old aluminum shifter and I would get to work. It was so satisfying to measure out the ingredients and magical to my young and curious self, to see flour and sugar and eggs and shortening combine and become something more, something beyond what they could be alone.

A Cupful of Love

Those times spent with my grandmother in her kitchen created a lifelong desire to cook and be creative with food. Grandma Mildred was patient with me, answering my questions and not minding if a bit of eggshell got mixed in with the cookie dough. She laughed often, told stories about being on the farm and taught me that a good cook cleans up her mess after the fun is done.

That measuring cup become more to me that a kitchen tool. I loved to drink out of it, although being aluminum, that probably wasn’t the best of ideas! I liked how cold the outside of the cup got when I filled it with chunks of ice. It made a great container to eat chocolate chips out of, mix flour and water in to make paste for craft projects, and to hold a stash of sharpened pencils ready for my young artist’s hands.

The cup came to represent my grandmother and my childhood. It represented love. I am grateful to have it.

A Cupful of Love

I’ve owned the measuring cup for 11 years now, and I have not really known what to do with it, beyond storing it in my own kitchen cupboard. Because it is made from aluminum, I do not use it to measure out ingredients. And at this stage in my journey, I no longer use refined sugar or white flour or shortening in my cooking.

However, this past week I discovered another use for the priceless cup. Earlier this year I located and purchased a children’s book, in two different versions, that was significant to me when I was a toddler. You can read about A Penny for Candy HERE. In honor of the book, I’ve been collecting pennies that I find on the ground. In the story, the children use their found pennies to buy candy. I figured when I had collected enough pennies I’d purchase a lottery ticket. I’m not actually very good at finding money on the ground, primarily because I rarely look down as I walk. So my stash is small, but growing.

I’ve wondered what to use to hold my penny collection. Now I know. The measuring cup is the perfect receptacle for the coins. I estimate it can easily hold 100 pennies, which would add up to a dollar. And there’s a triple connection to my grandmother. She owned the cup. I have wonderful loving memories of laughing and cooking in her kitchen when I look at the cup. And, the story goes, when you find a penny on the ground, it is a “penny from heaven” placed there by a loved one who has passed away.

I think about the cup as a pennies from heaven holder, and my perspective shifts. Beyond picking up coins to save for a lottery ticket, this has now become a new game to play, between my grandmother and me. I found a penny today and I loved the sound it made as I dropped it into the metal cup. I suspect I’ll find more pennies now and when the cup is full, I’ll ask my grandmother what she wants to do with them. I can hear her amused chuckle already.

A Cupful of Love

Grandma & Grandpa’s Shed

Back in 1977, the summer after Greg and I were married, we were visiting with his grandparents. They lived just down the road from us south of the tiny town of Noel, Missouri. I don’t remember the exact conversation, however two things contributed to what happened next.

I expressed an appreciation for vintage items and, being newlyweds, Greg’s grandmother was aware that we could use some household items. She gestured down the hill to the old shed and told us to help ourselves to anything in there. It was full of stuff she no longer used or wanted. “Just watch out for spiders!” she called out as we made our way to the old structure.

Grandma and Grandpa’s Shed

The shed’s dusty interior was indeed crammed full of a variety of fascinating items. What I wouldn’t give to see all the contents again. Now I would hire a truck and load it all up. Back then I was a bit shy about accepting gifts that were offered to me. On that afternoon, I eyed everything with a practical eye. What could I actually use?

Greg and I spent a happy afternoon, sorting through items in the shed. There were spiders, poisonous brown recluses that can inflict a nasty bite. We tried to ignore them, hoping they would do the same to us. I hauled out items that caught my eye, either because of usability or beauty or both. We received a final approval from Grandma Ruby and Grandpa Bill before we loaded up the car. They waved us on, chuckling over some of my choices.

I still have those items, 40 years later. Many of them are used on a daily basis. The rest are on display or have been repurposed in my backyard garden.

Grandma and Grandpa’s Shed

Many of the items I selected were destined for my kitchen. The blue and white enamelware colander gets used so often, draining cooked gluten free pasta or vegetables, that I almost forgot to retrieve it from the dish drainer, to include in tonight’s display. I also use the colander when I pick veggies from my garden and to hold washed veggies as they dry.

Grandma and Grandpa’s Shed

I don’t use the vintage ceramic pie plate much anymore, although I make a raw blueberry pie with a cashew and date crust in it occasionally. The colorful plates are from Bauer Pottery in California, and were made in the mid 1950s.

Grandma and Grandpa’s Shed

Grandma and Grandpa’s Shed

I used the cut glass silverware holder and the small white ceramic toothpick holder when my kids were younger. Both are display items now. And the tiny wooden butter mold is a keepsake as well. The vintage glass pitchers are frequently used. Years ago they held juice or lemonade or black cherry kool-aid. For months after acquiring the pitchers, Greg or I would pick up packets of black cherry flavored kool-aid from the store. I thought it was his favorite flavor, because he always bought it. And he thought it was mine, for the same reason. Finally one day we both admitted that neither of us liked black cherry kool-aid! We never purchased it again, thankfully. Today those pitchers hold ginger water or lemon water.

Grandma and Grandpa’s Shed

Grandma and Grandpa’s Shed

The old glass canning jars with side wires were made in the 1920s – 1930s, before metal ring lids were common. I’ve used them to hold a variety of dry goods or tea light candles. Greg was able to figure out the age of the Ball jar by the style of the lettering. And the vintage milk bottle and cream bottle still have their original cardboard toppers.

Grandpa Bill worked as a milk delivery man when he was a newlywed and living in Kansas City about 1918. He drove a horse drawn wagon, filled with his customers’ milk orders. He used to tell the story that he would hop out of the wagon to drop bottles of milk on doorsteps and his horse, who knew the route well, would walk on around the corner and wait patiently for him there. Grandma Ruby laughed at me for wanting those bottles…but those old containers are now 100 years old, and I love the story that they represent. These items are for display only.

Grandma and Grandpa’s Shed

This afternoon, as I thought about these items, in preparation for writing this post, I realized that these were “wedding gifts”, of the most precious kind, for a young couple who didn’t have much. I’d rather have an old item, even one that is practical, that has a story attached to it, than something new from the store.

Which made me wonder…what did Grandma and Grandpa Moore give us as an actual wedding gift? Money? Dishes? Oh, I remember…they bought us a bed, with a nice set of mattresses. And then I remembered something else. Grandma Ruby made us a tablecloth, for our little second hand dining table that I repainted. Greg reupholstered the chairs. Ironically, my grandmother made us a tablecloth too as a wedding gift, and she was the one who gave us the dining set. I rummaged through my storage chest upstairs, another vintage piece that I will write about soon, and I found both tablecloths.

I haven’t used the tablecloths in many years, but they are still in great shape. The one from Grandma Ruby became the backdrop for the vintage pieces tonight. I can hear that beautiful and grand woman laughing with amusement over my display of items from her old shed, resting on a now vintage tablecloth that she lovingly made. She would be so pleased to know I’ve kept it all. These pieces give me pleasure as well.

Grandma and Grandpa’s Shed

Hand Décor

If you Google the words “hand décor” you get images of hands…in different poses, made from various materials. They are artistic, for sure. However, years ago the words were used to designate that an art piece was made “by hand”. Often those very words were written across the backing board on a framed work of art or a pottery base, along with the artist’s name and a date.

My feature items tonight, for a Vintage Story, are two hand décor pieces that I have hanging together, although they are very different styles of art. These pieces came from the home of Greg’s parents, after Bob passed away and the house was being readied to sell. I call them the Butterfly and the Rooster.

Hand Décor

Because they came from the Moore’s home in Arkansas, I thought both pieces were made by Greg’s mother, Leta. This sweet and endearing woman possessed a very artistic soul. She was always creating something. Having watched her complete many needlework or crochet projects over the years, it has been my honor and my privilege to bring Leta’s art into my home.

Hand Décor

I witnessed the creation of the crewel embroidery butterfly. The date written on the back is 1985, well after I joined the family. I have several embroidery pieces made by Leta. She seemed to enjoy this kind of detailed, intricate work. Crewel embroidery uses a heavier wool thread, creating a nice textured look. This type of needlework has been around for at least 1,000 years.

I love the butterfly. It was my symbol several years ago and I feel a connection to this piece. The colors are still bright and I’ve lately cycled back around to appreciating warm vivid colors.

The rooster is a fun piece, made from a variety of seeds and beans. I believe my mom made something similar to this when I was a child, so I knew this art piece was older. Dried beans and seeds, some painted, are arranged on a board and glued down. The finished work of art is then coated with shellac to protect the beans. I estimated she made this fine rooster in the 1960s.

Hand Décor

I could easily read the name and date on the butterfly. However, age had faded the writing on the back of the rooster bean art work. Standing near the window to catch the evening light didn’t help however a powerful flashlight did. I realized the name on the back was Ruby Moore, not Leta Moore. Ruby was Greg’s grandmother, and Leta’s mother-in-law. The date was barely legible: January 1964. More words were written next to Ruby’s name. Frame handmade by Bill Moore. Bill…Greg’s grandfather, Ruby’s husband.

Although I was surprised to discover the rooster wasn’t made by Leta, I love the unwritten story that this vintage piece tells. I believe the bean art must have been a gift to Leta, who collected chickens and roosters. Because both the artwork and the frame were hand crafted, it speaks to me of love and affection expressed to a daughter-in-law.

Hand Décor

I like being the keeper of these art pieces. They remind me of the artists…two strong women with very different personalities, who held in common a love for art and creating. I’m glad that I had the opportunities to watch them as artists. Ruby Moore was still making things and stripping furniture up until her death in the early 90s. Sadly, Leta Moore had Alzheimer’s the last nine years of her life. As her world shifted, she created less and less.

Clearing her house I found projects that she started and was never able to complete. I have unfinished embroidery and needlepoint pieces that still have the threaded needle slipped into the fabric, mid stitch. Although I feel sad when I hold these hand décor pieces, there is a stark beauty and a poignancy contained in the art that bears witness to the passing of time.

I felt inspired tonight, holding the Butterfly and the Rooster in my hands. I could imagine the two Moore women, one standing on either side of me, smiling and expressing joy that I delight in their hand décor. I could feel their enduring love and those twin sparks of creativity that burn brightly and never die.

I think it’s time for me to create something new.

Grandma Cynthia’s Washstand

I had the opportunity to work on my family tree for a short time today. As I looked at the hints that Ancestry.com provides, and cleaned up profiles, I was delighted to come across photos of my great grandmother, Cynthia Ann Blevins McCool. My first name comes from this petite woman, creating a strong connection between us. Happily, my name is not the only thing I have of Grandma Cynthia’s. Her washstand is tonight’s Vintage Story.

Grandma Cynthia’s Washstand

The oak washstand, which my mother estimates to be at least 100 years old, has served in several ways through several generations.

Mom remembers the heavy piece of furniture being in her grandmother’s house when she was a young girl. At that time the washstand stood taller, on longer legs, and was pressed into service as an ice box. Back in the 1940s it was common to have a wooden cabinet that was used to hold perishable foods and a huge block of ice. Mom said Grandma Cynthia’s son would fetch the ice and place it in a metal container that was then stored in the ice box. Apparently the young man was somewhat forgetful and would often wander back home, after being sent to fetch the block of ice, empty handed.

Grandma Cynthia’s Washstand Benjamin and Cynthia McCool, early 1900s, with their son Rufus. They would eventually have 8 children. Their daughter Mildred was my maternal grandmother.

Grandma Cynthia’s Washstand My great grandma Cynthia as I remember her.

Later, after Grandma got an electric refrigerator, the washstand was used to hold towels and linens. By the early 1960s, my mother had the cabinet in her possession. I remember the washstand, which was looking a bit battered by then, occupying different rooms in our Tulsa, Oklahoma house. During the 60s and 70s there was a home decor trend called antiquing. A dark base coat was used to cover a piece of wooden furniture, and then a top coat was applied. Using a sponge or a rag, the second coat of paint was partially wipe off, giving the furniture a “distressed” look. Mom antiqued the washstand, and for many years it was a dark green color.

In the mid 70s, Greg actually refinished the chest for my mom, using the same antiquing process, and changed the color from green to gold. When Mom and my stepdad moved to Arizona for a few years, the old washstand came to me, since I was Grandma Cynthia’s namesake. By then the drawer was falling apart and couldn’t be opened, and one of the doors on the front had broken in two. I was thrilled however to have a piece of furniture that belonged to my great grandmother. Fearing further damage, I covered the gold antiqued chest with a small table cloth and used it as a low table in various rooms in my house.

The fragile paper label on the back of the washstand, indicating it was part of a three piece suit of furniture. Unfortunately, there’s no company or manufacturer name. I couldn’t find any additional info about this piece online. The name JL Parker is also scrawled across the back in black ink. Mom does not recognize the name.

In 2010 Greg surprised me by completely stripping the old washstand and staining it with a dark finish, returning the chest to its original look. He repaired the drawer so that it opens and closes and rebuilt the damaged front door. I was beyond excited to see the finished washstand looking much as it must have when Grandma Cynthia owned it, other than being approximately six inches shorter. The washstand has a place of honor in the corner of my bedroom. I use the base to stash linens and lightweight blankets. The drawer is filled with small keepsakes and pieces of jewelry. I frequently change the vignettes on the top of the chest.

I think of my great grandmother whenever I dust the washstand surface or create a new vignette. Grandma Cynthia passed away in 1974. She was a life loving woman, with an infectious laugh and a fiery temper. She loved her family and going on adventures. That desire to travel and see the world has passed down to my mother, and to me, and now to my children and grandchildren. I think Cynthia Ann Blevins McCool would laugh with glee about that.

I love this vintage piece. What a history it’s had, as a practical washstand, an ice box, a funky antiqued chest, a simple table and now as a linen cabinet. It has passed through the women in my family and I will someday hand it on to one of my daughters, a sturdy reminder of the strength of love and family and endurance.

Grandma Cynthia’s Washstand