musings about food, travel, creativity and life

Familiar Pieces of Home

Here we are in Madison, Wisconsin, where the temperature may reach 30 today, if we are lucky. I love coming to Wisconsin when the temperatures start dipping. “Really?” some Wisconsinites ask, as they board their planes for warmer climes? Yes. Really.

First of all, it is the home state of my husband and he loves paying homage to it, in any season. Second, we have a nice community of friends, some of whom John has known since childhood. Third, there is an abundance of interesting food and beverage–remember this is home to some great cheese and beers–and a year-round Farmer’s Market that is a foodie’s heaven.

Over the years, our little place here has become an oasis, especially in the cold grey winters, and I’m so thankful for that. It is also a nostalgic repository of items from John’s family. The wooden table where we have our meals was the same table John’s family used for decades. A cow-milking stool–so Wisconsin–used to be in the family homestead; nowit holds a wooden bowl by a local craftsman. Our silverware was John’s parents’ and I remember seeing the vintage Fiesta and Franciscan-ware pieces (pictured above) in the family kitchen.   We now use them in our kitchen. John serves beer in Schlitz beer mugs that were his dad’s. And then there are all the books, like the one I am reading now called The Art of Living, by Wilferd A. Peterson, 1961. It is sweet to think of this book giving inspiration to John’s parents then, and me, now.

I love using items from times past, especially when I’ve loved the people using them before me. It gives me a sense of continuity, nurturing and gratitude.

And right now, there is a friend’s gift from my heritage: a “Made in Italy” panettone–the sweet bread that one sees being carried by almost every Italian in Italy during the holiday season. So these last few mornings, slices of toasted and buttered panettone have found their way to that family table on small glass plates from John’s Mom. Talk about bringing joy to the table for both of us!

How about you? Do you have any favorite heritage pieces that bring you good memories when you use them? If you feel like sharing, that would be fun. I’m already imagining a virtual holiday communal table with cherished pieces from all of us.


8 thoughts on “Familiar Pieces of Home”

  • Familiar Pieces of Home
    Like you, Lynn, there are reminders of my parents’ home in San Francisco now in my home in San Rafael: a china set thin as silk that when a plate is held to sunlight it becomes transparent, parfait glasses—what is a parfait anyway?—gathering dust on a shelf, a cracked turkey platter rimmed in gold., a shallow glass bowl for clam dip that mom would serve with Triscuits and the requisite stuffed celery, black olives and sweet pickles. I’m loathe to give any of these pieces away. At least not now. They link me to my childhood, to the loving care of my parents who nurtured and sheltered me as I grew into a woman. I’ll bring them out this holiday season and when my granddaughter asks, “Nana, did this belong to your mom?” I’ll answer “Yes, my darling, and someday they’ll be yours.”

    • How lovely, Christie. Thanks so much for sharing this. What a beautiful image of the “thin as silk” china and all the glasses and bowls that bring up warm loving memories
      of family. I, too, have many plates and glasses from my mom and dad’s home in San Francisco and always feel grounded and thankful when I use them.

  • This new posting warms my heart. Like you, Lynn, I love being surrounded by mementos and treasures of my parents. My favorites at Christmas time are the beautiful needle point art of my father Bill Jackson. His Nativity scene graces the top of my bookshelf and his Santa, Christmas tree and Holiday House decorate the top of my mahogany cabinet (which belonged to my mother.) My dad also made Angels for the tops of Christmas trees,. I had one but gave that to my daughter Amy. I hope it is bringing joy to her and her family.

    • I’ve always loved seeing these family treasures in your home. And how lovely that the angel is now gracing
      Amy’s life and home.

  • LOVED THIS POSTING!!! I do get sentimental about certain objects, until “moving day” comes and then it’s all just “stuff.” Downsizing forces one to make tough decisions when it comes to things, and I think that’s one reason that moving is so stressful. You’re parting with part of your past.
    But until then, I stir my coffee every morning with my mother’s Buttercup patterned teaspoon and feel the better for it!

    • I do know what you mean about the stress of making decisions when moving from a larger place to a smaller one. I sometimes take a photo or draw an object that I’m “letting go” so that I at least have a visual of it, but it’s still not easy, though at times necessary, or so it seems. I love the fact that you still have and use your mom’s special teaspoon and how lovely to “feel the better for it!” Thanks for this, Carrick.

  • Ditto: loved this blog post. I’d like to add to our communal table a trivet that my dad made for me. It is a simple one made with scrap wood, molding and colorful tiles. The molding has perfectly mitered corners because my dad was a craftsman, an expert cabinet maker. He owned a cabinet shop in Orange County and made kitchen and bath built-ins for fine homes. I still think of the smell of pine and other woods in his shop. It was my job to sweep the floor on Saturday mornings as he organized his tools and supplies for the next week. I have already passed to my daughter the things my mother left to me: three vintage dough bowls, three Hudson Bay blankets, and a cedar hope chest. My mother stored her wool sweaters and blankets in the chest and the smell of moth balls is forever etched in my memory. Thanks for this post, Lynn. It was nice to remember.

    • What lovely memories, Barbara. I love the addition of your dad’s trivet to the table, and the image of you sweeping the floor of his shop. Thanks for sharing all of this!

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