Excavation 2012 – Day #49 – A Scavenger Hunt Through the Family Tree

So it has been several months since Grandma Luethje passed and I brought home a few pieces of furniture and boxes of momentos, but I haven’t really had a chance to sift through or unpack any of it until now. The rental house was just too cramped to unpack much of anything, and I’m just now uncovering the boxes in the basement.

I gotta say, unpacking tonight was a bit like Christmas. I’d forgotten about a few of Grandma’s things that I saved, so it was a bit of a surprise opening the box to see what was inside. And it’s always a big score when there are books involved…

I remember seeing these old cookbooks in one of the boxes in Grandma’s garage for the estate sale and I couldn’t let them go. If there is anything I’m more addicted to than books, it’s old books. I love the look of them. I love the smell of them. I love imagining how many different hands have held them over the years.

As I began flipping through them, I made a couple of interesting discoveries, such as…

1. At least two of these books belonged to my great-great grandmother Lulu, and she had a really cool stove.

2. Old turn of the century cookbooks have way cooler sections and illustrations than anything you’ll find on the shelves these days. For instance…

Invalid Cookery–with everything from recipes for infants to adults with chronic heartburn.

And whether you’re butchering a pig’s head or the loch ness monster, these books have you covered with detailed instructions and diagrams.

Even more fun than the books themselves were the little treasures I found tucked away in the pages. Here’s a coupon for 10 cents off Butternut Coffee. Too bad it expired in 1928.

I also found this copy of my Grandma and Grandpa Luethje’s wedding announcement hiding away in the Gold Medal Flour Cookbook

And the best yet was little little folded piece of paper that fell out of Grandma Roden’s old American Cookbook…

I’m pretty sure the handwriting is my Grandma Luethje’s, written back when her hands were still steady and precise. I opened it carefully, wondering what was so special about an old page torn from a magazine…

I don’t know why she chose this page from the June 1911 issue of McCall’s Magazine, but folded carefully inside is what I imagine is my Grandma Luethje’s birth announcement, torn from the local newspaper and saved for all these years.

Now that, my friends, is a whole lot of stuff I’m really happy I held onto. 🙂

Excavation 2012 – Day #40 – The Keeper of the Flame

I’ll be the first to admit, I have a strange love/hate relationship with candles. I love the way some candles can leave a room smelling so sweet and fresh. You have to choose wisely though. Otherwise, your house ends up smelling like like a mix of smoke, citrus, and old lady floral perfume. I love the way candles seem to suggest a level of sophistication, but perhaps that notion comes from watching too many romantic comedies. Most of all, I love candlelight because, let’s face it, who doesn’t look good in candlelight?

In reality though, I haven’t actually burned a candle since…oh, around 2003 because, as much as I love the idea of candles, I really hate the thought of burning down my house, and me burning to death inside it. I mean, I don’t really consider myself an airhead, but I’ve been known to get distracted and forget about things…

What’s that? Oh yeah, I was blogging.

In spite of my growing candle burning phobia (which, I will say, increased tenfold when my daughter was born), I still have a hard time getting rid of candles, especially candles that smell really good. Like the lemon lavender soy candle I’ve been holding onto (and not burning) for nearly 10 years. Or the Entenmann’s cake candle my mother-in-law gave me as a gift a couple years ago. Seriously, who can say no to a candle that smells like Entenmann’s cake?

So, I’ll keep holding onto those a little while longer, until I can either formulate a foolproof plan to burn them safely and without threat of igniting myself or my belongings, or until the yummy scent finally wears off. Either way, they will have served their purpose.

The candles I refuse to keep around, though, are these…

The former homeowners left behind a set of four of these iron candle sconces hanging in the dining room, and I can’t say that they have ever really been my thing. First of all, this is just a house fire waiting to happen. This isn’t some medieval stone castle people. In a house that has a perfectly good electrical system, there is no reason to go hanging torches on the wall and igniting them. No reason at all.

I understand some people like to use these types of things as decoration, but I would much rather adorn my walls with pictures and posters and shelves filled with items that mean something to me. So, after moving in and staring at these iron candle sconces for over two months now, it’s time for them to go.

And now that they are out of the way, we’ve already begun replacing them with things that, in my opinion, are a whole lot more interesting. Like this…

This old Roden family photo was taken in 1919, and I inherited it when my Grandma Luethje passed last year. I think it looks great hanging on the wall now that we have moved the old kitchen cupboard (also from Grandma Luethje’s estate) into the dining room as well.

We’re thinking we might put some of our fine china in the cupboard (if it fits, and if our 2-year-old can keep her hands off of it). In the meantime, I pulled out some of Grandma Luethje’s other old collectibles now that we finally have a good place to display them.

I gotta say, I like the look of this a whole lot better than the candle sconces. And seeing the old family photo and some of Grandma and Grandpa’s old stuff makes me feel like I’ve been able to hold onto some of their favorite things even though they’re gone.

Plus, in a house that’s over 120 years old, old stuff as decoration just looks really freakin’ cool.

All of a sudden, I am seriously motivated to do some more unpacking and decorating. Let’s see what we find next!

365 Project – Day 181 – For Sale

It has been a looooong week and we are all exhausted from the housecleaning/emptying marathon, but by God we can finally see the finish line. Barely, but at least it’s there.

Of all the days that we have spent at Grandma Luethje’s house sorting through boxes and arranging the contents on tables and shelves for the upcoming estate sale, I would have to say that today was, hands down, the most difficult of all. Today, my friends, was Avon Day.

Grandma and Grandpa have been avid Avon collectors for years. Some of my first childhood memories are holidays spent at their house in Bertrand, and I can clearly recall the entire basement being lined with shelves that were full of Avon. They’ve been at it so long, my Dad can’t even tell me when the collecting began. But the years and years of it yielded boxes and boxes and shelves and shelves of figurines, plates, perfume bottles, bath salts, powders, lipsticks, books, mugs, beer steins, and much, much more.

Today, Mom, Aunt Vinnetta and I spent hours carrying boxes up from the basement, examining their contents, pulling out collections and arranging them on shelves. Unfortunately, we ran out of shelf space long before we ran out of Avon, and there are still over 20 bulging boxes stacked in the laundry room and garage. My cousin Forrest and I both found a couple pieces that we liked and packed away to take home with us, but we don’t know what we’re going to do with the rest of it, or if anyone will even be interested in buying it at the sale, but we’re hoping that someone will enjoy some of it as much as Grandma and Grandpa did. Here are a few of the pieces we found today…

As for the rest of the sale, I’d say we have some pretty fun stuff that is going to be finding a new home very soon. As I mentioned in a previous blog, Grandma and Grandpa weren’t the type to be wasteful or careless about anything, and they saved, saved, saved. While some of the items in the house may be pretty ancient, I’ll be damned if everything isn’t intact and in pretty good working working order. We’ve got everything you could possibly want on this sale–silverware, silver tea sets, Depression glass, china sets, vintage records, furniture, bedroom sets, old salt ‘n pepper shakers, figurines, yarn and other miscellaneous sewing supplies, tools, old heavy duty rubbermaid containers, an assortment of kitchen appliances, crystal dishes, and much, much more.

Grandma and Grandpa spent a fair share of time and money visiting auctions and antique shops over the years, and they managed to amass a pretty impressive collection. After walking through the house today to take a few photos for the flyers and advertisements I’m going to be making for the sale, I thought I’d go ahead and share a few here tonight as sort of a sneak preview. If you like anything you see here, you just might want to mark you calendar once we set a date for the sale, because there is a whoooooole lot more where this came from.

Tonight’s 365 Project is dedicated to my Grandma and Grandpa Luethje and all the fun they had collecting over the years. All we can hope is that the other collectors out there will appreciate all of this as much as they did.

365 Project – Day 180 – Channeling Indiana Jones

During my childhood, I went through a phase when I wanted to be an archaeologist. After all, Indiana Jones made it look like such a grand adventure, and I thought it would be pretty awesome to run around using a whip to swing across chasms while uncovering hidden treasures in exotic places. And if I couldn’t be the next Indiana Jones, I at least wanted to be a Goonie, and I always kept my eye out for any old maps or clues that might guide me in the right direction.

I never imagined that spending these last few days cleaning out Grandma’s house might end up being  just the treasure quest I spent so many of my childhood days dreaming about. But instead of the “rich stuff” that the Goonies were after, we have managed to unearth quite an assortment of odd and incredible treasures. Of course, you already know about the pantyhose and the six pack rings that Grandma apparently collected for her craft projects, but just wait until you get a glimpse of some of the goodies we found today.

First, I must say, I was pretty excited when I spied the Lay An Egg game box in one of the basement closets. Tonya, Shelly, Lindy and I spent countless hours playing this crazy game when we were kids, and I was totally ready to snag this hot item to pass along to Cadence as soon as she is old enough. But alas, my excitement was shortlived when I lifted the lid on the box and saw this…

That’s right, assorted plastic utensils. Strangely enough, this little collection is only the tip of the iceberg. When we first started clearing out kitchen cupboards and drawers, we found three times as many. Apparently Grandma saved every plastic fork, spoon, and knife she ever ate off of, and then carefully sorted them by color and size to tuck away. We have yet to find any craft projects involving plastic utensils, so I can only guess that she was reusing and recycling them.

Sadly, the Lay An Egg game is still MIA, but we still have a few boxes and closets to empty, so I’m not losing hope just yet.

The next entry in the Discovery of the Day is the creepy porcelain doll heads…

All I can really say about these is that my cousin Forrest and I agree that they are quite possibly the freakiest things we have found in Grandma’s house so far, and we really hope that someone buys them at the estate sale and takes them far, far away from here. I’m pretty sure I saw something similar once in a horror movie and while I don’t remember the plot, I’m pretty sure it didn’t end well.

And last, but certainly not least, my absolute favorite discoveries in Grandma’s house so far have been the letters. Of course you might suspect that the writer in me would have an affinity for the old handwritten letters that Grandma tucked away. With all of her saving and collecting, I am just glad that she held onto them, and that we were lucky enough to find them.

On Saturday, I was helping my Aunt Vinnetta clean out the desk in Grandma’s office, and we found several letters that Grandpa wrote to Grandma while serving in Italy during WWII. And, just today, tucked inside an old manicure set, I found this letter that Grandpa wrote to Grandma in October of 1940…

We think that this just might be Grandpa asking Grandma out on their very first date. Definitely one of the best discoveries in the house so far, and luckily the letter is now safely tucked away with the rest of Grandma’s letters where it belongs.

Today’s 365 Project entry is dedicated to my Grandpa Wayne, and getting the chance to see a whole different (mushy) side of him, and to my Grandma Lucille for all the history she saved for us. So, maybe I don’t have a whip or a treasure map, but I have to say, I’m pretty satisfied with the course of my current adventure. I’m just looking forward to seeing what tomorrow brings.

%d bloggers like this: