Home Tomagrams Objects of My Affection: Trash, Treasure, and Thrift Store Finds

Objects of My Affection: Trash, Treasure, and Thrift Store Finds

Objects of My Affection: Trash, Treasure, and Thrift Store Finds
You know how I feel about pie.
Pie Plate Shadowlawn Pottery Delavan Wisconsin
You know how I feel about pie.

My apologies to California, but the Pacific Northwest is being blessed with another gully washer. Bedazzled with raindrops that quickly channel off the panes, my windows are artful reminders that it’s nice to be on their good side.  High and dry at my desk (the kitchen table), I’m enjoying the company of two snoring, farting bulldogs along with a more welcoming (albeit misplaced) campfire fragrance — the result, a perfumed pairing you will never find in the scented-candle aisle.

Thanks to a couple rambunctious log rounds that could not be contained by poor placement and worthy andirons, my house smells like the smoldering embers from a beachside salmon bake. Fortunately, the firescreen and fender stopped the logs fiery escape, but not their spewing fumes.

Being a willful shut-in on a rainy day is not so bad. I tried dusting. And while that lasted all of six minutes, I did find the tedious cleaning attempt inspired me to write about a few objects of my affection — objects that still could use some dusting.

And if I may qualify, the following items that caught my eye and still move me by their simple beauty and presence. They rarely cost much, many were just found, and others I ferreted from a thrift store or garage sale sweep. And while, I have been blessed to receive many beloved gifts from friends and family, and I will save the show-and-tell for those keepsakes for another post.

Beauty Is Where You Find It

Pretty from any angle
Pretty from any angle

This little porcelain pod is no bigger than a goose egg and moonlights as flower vase for my garden’s most diminutive stems. The vessel smiles or frowns depending how it’s positioned, and the low-sheen glaze drenches the surface like chocolate. Freed from the thrift shop, this $3 floral canteen has found its forever home.

Mother Nature's handywork
Mother Nature’s handiwork

Called a wishing rock by some, this small stone was plucked from a crescent beach in Southeast Alaska. Sea, wind and glacial grinding sculpted a gem so visually pure and simple that it caught my eye and subsequently my heart — a keepsake a million years in the making.

The bold and beautiful
The bold and beautiful

Colorful and very much a statement from the artist who carved and decorated it, this tray reflects a bravado not often seen in Japanese lacquerware. And when tilted in the light, the painstakingly-applied lacquer reveals a few secrets in the grain of its wood.

Gracie appreciates old English stoneware and a good fruit compote.

The bluebird of happiness landed on this platter and in my hands many years ago in an antique store in Seattle’s Pioneer Square. While I’ve humiliated it with chips and dip, piled it high with brownies, and loaded it up with Easter’s deviled eggs, the plate is most at home propped up in my cupboard for me (and all) to see.

As the crow once flew...
As the crow once flew…

When I broke into the aging walls of my breakfast nook (on yet another home improvement project), I found a cache of treasures in the wall. Correction: The treasures were more on the trashy side, and the collector likely a discerning four-legged creature. In any case, one artifact stood out, a crow skull. While I dispatched the other less-appealing bits to the shop-vac, I kept the skull as a fond reminder of the stories this house could tell.

A pie plate from the bottom of my heart Shadowlawn Pottery
A pie plate from the bottom of my heart (pie recipe here)

If pies are art, pie plates are their pedestals, and this next little object joyfully exalts the art of baking with a salt-glazed, ceramic nod to pie love. Yet another thrift-shop find, this pie plate simply makes me smile.  And while I may not always wear my heart on my sleeve, it can always be found in my pie.

Vintage Parker Fountain Pen
Man does not live by keypad alone.

True confession: I’ve always looked down my nose at ballpoint pens. For me, fountain pens are the magic wands of the written word. Merely holding one makes me want to write a hundred letters and a few big checks (with lots and lots of zeros). The last time I held this vintage Parker pen to paper, I believe I heard it purr.

What are some of your favorite  “objects of my affection?”


  1. Hubby and I LOVE antiquing and most of the objects in our home are from antique shops. It’s so nice to use a plate or a bowl and remember where it came from. That means so much more than something bought at a big box store.
    We also collect pine cones from our travels —I have them ranging in size from penny size to the GIANT Colter pine and Sugar pine cones. I wish I had figured out a way to mark where we found them. Antiques, I remember. Pine cones, not so much so.

    • Hi Sue, I’m with you on the treasure hunt! And as for the pine cones you mentioned. I looked them up. Holy moly, those are some seriously big and beautiful pine cones. I may have to plant a couple, if they can take our rain. Happy hunting, and safe travels.

  2. I grew up seeing giant sugar pine cones on the ground around our family cabin in the high Sierra, but didn’t realize until I grew up and started gardening, and hiking elsewhere, how extraordinarily huge they are! We kids used to observe people stopping along the road to pick up the cones. I wonder how sugar pines are able to reproduce at all, anywhere near humans, since the cones are so universally collected and removed. I have my doubts you could grow them on Vashon, Tom, as they like it high (elevation) and dry ….. but hey, my Sunset Western Garden book says they ‘thrive around Puget Sound’ — huh. Coulter Pine is more of a southern California thing, maybe less successful. I have a very clear memory of the three truly pathetic specimens of Ponderosa Pine trees I saw struggling to survive in the rain-soaked Dawyck Botanical Gardens in Scotland. They sent me a message: ‘take us home!’

    As for beloved objects …… I have many, but am in the process of evaluating all of them, as my husband and I prepare to move out of our home of 37 years, into a smaller dwelling. Not only are we out of practice with moving, we have a lot of Stuff, and our new house doesn’t have the storage space we have here. Every item is getting eyeballed, weighed (emotionally as well as physically) and judged worthy, or it is off to the thrift store. What a huge endeavor! But one well worth doing. I am finding that the memory of many things is enough, and that I am content to let many things go, on a physical level. Others — a small ceramic child angel, dressed in pajamas that my mother bought in the 1950’s (probably reminded her of how she wished we would behave) ….. a round blue and white porcelain box that I keep matches in that belonged to my grandmother ….. stones picked up on various beaches and mountain hikes …… a few ‘retro’ cooking and serving dishes inherited from my mom….. and one fabulous, old-fashioned wire gravy-making whisk she loved….. these will move with us and find a spot in our new digs. I loved seeing your treasures, and am glad you had a rainy day to fondle them with us.

    • Kathy, I love to read what you write. I’ll do a little more research on the sugar pine, as I do have some seriously well-drained areas of glacial silt awaiting a new tree or two. I may plant some Garry Oak, an uncommon native oak that needs a little reviving, in my opinion. And it sounds like some special treasures are making the move with you. Here’s to your new digs and some fine new memories; I’m sure it’s not easy (on many levels) to leave your roomier homestead of 37 years. Best of luck and well wishes.

  3. My favorite ceramic pie plate just broke in half when it slammed into a subway seat as I quickly entered the subway last weekend. The pie I had made was fine, ( and yummy, if I might say!) but I was sad to have to part with the pie plate. Love yours! I hope I can find one similar.

    • Lawrence, I’m so sorry to hear about your pie plate. You must be a master juggler to have saved the pie in the rush of catching a subway car. I looked closer at my heart pie plate (readers and bright lights do wonders), and it is from Shadowlawn Pottery of Delavan, Wisconsin. That may help you in your search. Emile Henry also makes a mean pie plate, and then again, my old reliables are Pyrex. There’s a new design that is great, called easy grab, which keeps the crust in place when baking and only 8 bucks. Here’s to more pie!

  4. I have a little wood bunny who sits companionably but discretely on the bathroom windowsill. No remembrance of where it came from, but I’ve had it forever and makes me smile 🙂

  5. These are just a few of my favorite things (when the dog bites, when the bee stings) 😉
    I share your passion for fountain pens. I have a few Sheaffer Balance from the 1930s, among others. I love the way the nib glides across the page. Some of my favorite inks are Noodler’s Burma Road Brown of the Vmail collection (an olive drab), and Rome Burning. My wood mounted rubber stamps. A ceramic garlic keeper that has the word “Aglio” written on the front, that I picked up in Sorrento, Italy. My cast iron frying pan, inherited from my mother. Every time I cook with it, the memories of childhood waft through the house. A ceramic cup that my father used to have his afternoon tea. On the days that I have my tea in it, it’s as if he were joining me in this afternoon ritual.


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