Simple Saturday ~ Keepers from my mother’s kitchen

Stuff comes into our lives and stuff goes but some great stuff remains useful for a long long time.

Today I share with you some photographs of things that have been used in my mothers kitchen for as long as I can remember. Don’t you just love the items like this in your home, the ones that aren’t anything special but are just so useful and long wearing that they have realised their value over and over and over.

Top Left: Dry Ingredient Sifter ~ I think my mum has had this item for the entire 51 years of marriage.

Middle: Airing Rack ~ I know that she has used the same ones for at least as long as I can remember (40years+).

Top Right: Orange Canister ~ These have been around since the big kitchen renovation in the mid seventies.

Bottom Left: Spotted Jug ~ I remember using this when the milk was delivered in billy cans. Mum also still has some of the lace beaded doilies that we draped over the top (probably to keep the flies out when it sat on the table).

Bottom Right: Icing piping syringe ~ I think this item has been around at least since the eighties but the poor old thing is starting to fall appart. Who knows how many birthday cakes it has decorated in its time. Here it is decorating Mum’s great-grandson’s 5th birthday cake.

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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. My Mom has that same airing rack. She has a set of mixing bowls that she got when she was married in 1946 and they are still in good condition and used every day. We also have other things that she has had all her married life. We use them over and over and are thankful we have never had to replace them.

    • Hi Deb J,
      items like this are worth the space they take up in our home and isn’t it great to use them over and over and know that they have served us well.

  2. My mom has a hand-crank sifter like the one in your photo. I love it! I remember playing with it when I was little.

    My rule of thumb for keeping things is: is it beautiful, is it useful, is it better than the same item I already own. If it’s better than an item I have, I sell or give away the item I have to make room for the better one. I’m getting rid of an old desk and hutch that are basically made of pressed sawdust. I’ve had it since I was a child. I’m getting rid of it to make room for an antique pie safe that my late aunt had in her den. The pie safe is more beautiful, has more shelves, and is made of solid wood. The desk wasn’t very useful as a desk, since I was never able to find a desk lamp that wasn’t too tall and would fit under the hutch unit. I’m all for disposing of cheaply made Chinese-factory rubbish to make room for solid wood family heirloom type things. I know you can’t keep everything that reminds you of a departed loved one, but you can keep the stuff that effectively displaces other stuff you have on hand that has no value, quality or memory connections.

    • Hi Vicki,
      I have the same sifter as my mum, it was my grandmothers and it gets used whenever I bake.

      I agree with you. keep the things you love that are useful and beautiful and what could be better than replacing something that doesn’t perform well with something pre-loved and sentimental to you that will be more useful and loved again.

  3. My mother is still using her first set of everyday dishes and a serving tray that were wedding gifts (47 years ago). Only last year did she retire the Singer sewing machine she also got as a wedding gift. She’s STILL making her way through all of the hand decorated pillow cases she received – 16 sets of them! I think she and I have the last two sets that are in existence. Mine have lilacs hand embroidered on them. So pretty. You can be darn sure than none of my girl friends hand embroidered any table clothes or pillow cases for me when I got married!

    • As for me, I have a radio/alarm clock and crock pot that I rec’d as wedding gifts the first time I got married still in service. That would be about 23 years ago, and I have a paring knife that I inherited from my grandparents with a smooth worn handle and a blade that’s misshapened from being honed by my grandfather so many times. I frequently think I should display it somehow, but I just keep using it.

    • Hi Cindy,
      the thing I received most of when I got married was wine glasses. I have decluttered many of those over the last eighteen months. At one stage though I had at least thirty face cloths and at least twenty hand towels all hand crocheted by my husbands grandmother. As much as I appreciated them at the time it really was a case of too much of a good thing.

      I also remember this quote from Bridget when I did a post like this about five things in my own home that are old and useful.

      Bridget ~ I almost fell over when I saw the photo that was next to this post when it came up on facebook. It was the one of the skillet from grandma and I thought you’d gotten rid of it. It’s honestly the greatest skillet known to man..and the rest of those items are all some of my favorites. A little bit because they’re just really useful and good items to have around the house but also because through all the moving that we’ve done over the years, they’ve always been with us to make each new house feel like home.

      It warmed my heart to receive this comment and I was glad that it was the funny little useful objects that made her feel this way.

  4. Colleen, I loved your post today and the photos. It’s not clutter if it gets used. I still use my grandma’s iron skillet on a regular basis. By the way, you mentioned you don’t get as many comments this time of year, but I look forward to your blog every day. Thanks!

    • Hi Anita,
      thank you for dropping in o say hello and add your voice to our collective. I have written a post like this one previously about five things in my house that are old faithfuls you might enjoy…heres a link. Although the laptop in that post has since been replaced because it just couldn’t keep up with new technology but all the other items are still being used on a regular basis.

      Thank you for becoming a regular reader and leaving me your comment to let me know you are out there and enjoying what I have to say.

  5. I had a flour sifter from 1956 that was great. & I wish I still had it, as I haven’t seen a flour sifter that’s worth a darn since that one got mislaid, 15 or 20 years ago. Enjoy the older things you have as it’s hard to find quality items in this day and age, & usually impossible to find.

    • Hi Jane,
      thank you for dropping by with your comment. It is always good to hear the responses that my post evoke whether they be positive or negative. Sorry to hear you misplaced your sifter because I am sure you would still be using it if it was still around because they just don’t seem to wear out. I think a lot of things these days are designed to wear out so that the manufacturers can generate more sales.

  6. I have a china cake server that I got 22 years ago when I was first married, sadly the matching slice didn’t survive but it is so pretty I love to use it

    • Hi Cathryn,
      my mother bought me a glass cake keeper on a pedestal about 14 years ago and I have hardly ever put cakes in tupperware since. I love it and am always extra careful not to break it every time I use it.

  7. I smiled to see the hand sifter and the airing rack. My mother is still (59 years since marriage) using her originals – and I …. am using her mother’s (my grandmother’s) sifter and rack (the exact same as in your photograph)!

    • Hi Ann,
      Like you I am using the sifter that belonged to my grandmother. I think I may have bought my airing racks but they are the same ones I have had for 24 years.

  8. Smiling here … I guess I have kept my own stuff for so long that it’s antique now!! (over 30 years) – measuring cups and spoons, the cooling rack, pots, china, vases, etc.

    Love the spotted jug. It still looks like new.

    • Hi Jo,
      it just goes to show that we all have plenty of useful stuff to bring back fond memories without having to store useless stuff that is hidden away and never really looked at.

  9. Karen (Col's Sis)

    Hi Col

    Just loved seeing those photos from our Mum’s kitchen (by the way everyone, it was my beautiful grandson turning 5) and have to tell you that I still use our grandmother’s laundry trolly everytime I do the washing! It is looking very dishevelled and when I see them advertised I think maybe I should buy a new one, but then I think “no” while it is still usable and makes me think of Mamma each time I wash, it will stay in my possession until the wheels fall off. It is definitely not clutter!

    • So when you think of Mamma do you remember the day back in Granville when we were doing the washing for mum and Mamma was visiting, she wanted us to go to the shop to buy something for lunch but we insisted that Mum said we were having banana sandwiches and wouldn’t go. We were so naughty because we knew she didn’t want banana sandwiches and we wouldn’t play her game. Perhaps that is why my children ended up being fussy eaters, it was her getting God to punish me for being so naughty. 😆

  10. I have two of those items. The hand cranked sifter I found in a Thrift Shop not long after I got married. I love that it reminds me of “olden times”….I don’t remember my mom ever baking, but I know her mom did and my parents older friends (when I was little) did.
    I have a drying rack from Pampered Chef that I use whenever I bake…not that often, but perfect….especially given I found out the HARD way what happens when you don’t remove the cake from the pan while still hot. Oy!

    • Hi Gen,
      I love items that do what they are meant to well and last forever. That sifter belonged to my grandmother who actually was a baker. My mother also had one and baked all the time. I don’t bake so much anymore because my hubby eats low carb every day except Saturday, and that makes it hard for my son and I to get through a whole cake or batch of something on our own before it gets too old and not at its best. I go out for coffee and cake with friends instead.