My grandmother — known as “Nanna” to EVERYBODY — until recently has lived alone in her apartment and filled her days with trips to the senior’s centre to play bridge, cheering on the Toronto Blue Jays, baking cookies, tarts, and the occasional lemon meringue pie, marathon-styled shopping trips (which would make Hannibal’s slog across the Alps seem like a cake walk) and keeping her hands busy knitting tiny hats for preemie babies and crocheting warm vests and toques for children in Afghanistan. Stubbornly independent, she was fussing with her Christmas decorations a few weeks before the holidays, and tripped on a chair leg, fracturing her hip. This is where I should probably mention: she’s 101 years old!
Surgery went surprisingly well – – I’m sure it was an unprecedented success for the young surgeon. But it was clear that she would not be able to return to solo flight in her apartment, and an extremely difficult and emotionally challenging move to a retirement home happened just this week.
All of this has meant that a lifetime of belongings had to be broken up in a shockingly rapid pace in order to empty her apartment and comply with her
demands wishes. In the ‘first round’ of picks, I chose the Pyrex mixing bowl set (which I discussed in this blog post) and in the ‘second round’ I brought home the items pictured above.
I sorted out another box of things that I would like to bring home – though I left it in the apartment with a note that “Nancy would like to have these if no one else wants them”. It includes pieces of glass and china. I’m also hoping to be the one to get the hutch from her dining room. But with eight grandchildren, and uncountable numbers of great-grandchildren, and yes, a burgeoning tribe of great-great-grandchildren, I know that I need to be gracious and share.
There was a very brief and minor squabble over the washing board – not even worth mentioning, except to highlight the extent to which these humble items are precious to us.
Next was the Yorkshire Pudding tins – so called, because nothing else was ever made in them. I have never had a better Yorkshire Pudding than those that popped out from Nanna’s oven. I’m thinking I should probably get the secret recipe while I still can!
The teeny-tiny star cookie cutter in the centre of the photo cut the top crust of itsy-bitsy mincemeat tarts baked every year in the dozens and dozens she would share with her family – a favourite gift being a Christmassy tin full of “Nanna Cookies”. Nanna believes that miniature cookies are more genteel and therefore the optimal size in all cases – which is sufficient explanation for the set of six nearly microscopic cookie cutters shown pictured in their box. She also maintains that there is far too much sweetness in everything – I can’t bear to reveal to my deluded family that the secret recipe for her famous chocolate chip cookies came from the back of a Chip-its package with the measurements for sugar slashed to 50%. And of course, the chocolate chips must be semi-sweet, not full on sweet!
I suspect that these beliefs about cookies have been one of the contributing factors to her longevity – and I’m not referring to dietary restraint here, specifically – no, I think the lesson her is: we should take delight in even very small pleasures, make diligent efforts to share with everyone around us, and to create lasting memories with our loved ones.
I started video taping my thrift store finds recently. Okay – so I’m not all that great at it….yet! I can get better. I figured out how to embed a video into my blog post, so hey! anything is possible!
Something you’re always going to see in my thrift hauls is cookie cutters. I have cornered the market on cookie cutters. I cannot pass by a cookie cutter. Fortunately for me, my compulsion is validated now that I have found that there is a society of cookie cutter collectors, and even a cookie cutter museum! Here’s an interesting article about cookie cutters. I’ll be checking out Pinterest to find ideas to display and enjoy my collection – currently, they are simply filling drawers.
It would be a rare thing indeed if I didn’t find and include some English transfer ware in my videos. They are beautiful little pieces of art! I like all of the colours, but I hope to be able to find some purple pieces one day soon! I’ve only seen photos, never one “in the wild”. I was able to find out some more information about the bowl with the green transfer of the toby jug and pipe: it’s a pattern called “The Old Curiosity Shop” that was produced in the U.S. in the 50s. From what I can determine, it only came in this green colour. Check out eBay for a look at other images to be found on this china. I like the clocks! According to some posts I’ve read on other websites, this china was sold in individual pieces at A&P. It makes me happy to know that these lovely and collectible pieces were so accessible to their first purchasers, which means that there are plenty out there for serious fanatics to find at thrift shops and estate sales and auctions!
In the video, I talked about the mark on the milk glass cream and sugar as being a “WC” – well, what I’ve since learned is that it is actually a “stacked WG” for the Westmoreland Glass company, and indicates pieces produced between the 1940s to 1960s. Collecting milk glass has become really hot recently – though I’m not sure why. Twenty years ago when the Jadite phenomenon happened, it was because of Martha Stewart – she and her daughter have HUGE collections! I wonder if some celebrity decorator has been the spur for the increased interest? Anyway – there’s lots of articles online about milk glass, and how to collect it, and values of it, and how to distinguish old milk glass from new milk glass. I like that it’s still so easy to find inexpensive milk glass, and I’m always delighted to find an unusual piece.
I keep my office supplies in milk glass vessels on my desk at work. Having something especially pretty to keep me organized helps me to feel like I really have got my stuff together!
According the website Pyrex Passion – my Butterfly Gold patterned mugs were produced in the mid 70s. This website provides a comprehensive guide to identifying and dating Pyrex patterns. The blog attached to this website is really interesting too! I recently sold two Pyrex bowls–pink Gooseberry ‘cinderella’ shaped bowls–and here is an article with beautiful photos of examples–to a collector who had to drive some way to cheerfully trade me $40 for two old bowls! I offered to show her some other Pyrex that I had kicking around – but she ONLY wanted pink!