When trying to decide on a topic for my articles each week, sometimes I get a mental block that just won’t stop. That’s when I start walking through my apartment and wonder what I haven’t written about for a few years. Then I start researching a few items and finally decide on what I am going to write about for this Sunday’s article.

So, here it goes.

As you can see in my photos today, I use some rather unique items for my backsplash behind my kitchen sink. Naturally, they demand a washing and an oiling every so often, but usually they are easy to maintain. I love having touches of “old” around me — it is a reminder of why I am into the antique field as well as why I love the pieces so much.

Decorating with antiques and collectibles can be a fun experience. You can change them out easily or add to the design. You can hunt for other items to add to it (in my case, just a casual walk through my antique booth every so often), and things can be changed out or at least rearranged. Different can be new.

Naturally, the cute little aqua pitcher with the bamboo plant in it was a gift from my grandkids. The plant has really taken off, headed toward the light in my window overhead. The large darker wooden mold on the far left is a candy mold. It’s a primitive item, made from a dark walnut piece of wood. You could press cookie dough or candy into the different shapes or patterns in the wood and produce some beautiful bits of dessert for the family.

You barely see the oval cutting or bread board as well as one smaller item in front of it in the shape of an apple. It even has a hole drilled in the stem of the apple so it could be hung up out of the way, if necessary. But, it is a very nice size and I do use it quite often for quick slices of tomato or boiled eggs.

The Mullen cutting board was given to us for a Christmas gift from my son and his wife, with a blessing inscribed on it.

The small cookie press on the end of the cookie board with a handle is probably one of my older finds. It is from the late 1800s or very early 1900s, I do believe. One of those things that maybe grandpa made out in his workshop or shed just as a surprise or a gift for grandma one year. So many gifts were handmade back in the early days — no one could run to the nearby hardware store or five and dime to buy a gift.

I left the small white ironstone oval dish for last. It has decals of a young maiden milking a cow while sitting on her three-legged wooden stool, and the words written above “Waldorf Lunch” advertise the Waldorf Hotel, possibly. It’s just a cute and small advertising collectible that I fell in love with many years ago. It has followed me for many moves — and has decorated my kitchen areas for many years. I actually use it for holding my small vegetable scrub brush. It is a very old piece, marked “Vitrified Acme China, Wood & Sons, England, L. Barth & Son, New York.” Ironstone dishes or pottery have become a hot collectible at many different times of my antiquing years. Many pieces would have decals such as this one or it may have a transfer ware pattern where it covers the entire front or top of the plate or dish.

I would guess that this particular piece of ironstone was used for mashed potatoes and gravy as a side dish at a luncheon counter of a shop or hotel. It is still in pretty good shape considering how hard it had been used at one time or another. One thing about it for sure, as heavy as it is, is it would have taken more than just a fall off the tall counter at the luncheonette to break this particular piece of ironstone. Pretty tough stuff. Can you imagine a full serving platter loaded with fried chicken on it, how heavy it would have been for the waitresses or cooks to carry?

But, as you can see, I have loved using my antiques and collectibles to decorate my homes through the years — as well as my apartment home today. Getting an heirloom from a family member or just seeing things in my dad’s aunts’ homes many years ago were some of the reasons I loved antiques so very much. From a few books to a couple of pieces of chipped pottery or a pretty silver-plated teapot — just a few of my special treasures. Knowing a bit about each item also helps to tell the story and keep it interesting for my sons and families down the line.

As most of you already know, I have been in the antique business for about 50 years or so — it can become overwhelming at times, especially when you get lots of phone calls from people who want to sell you their collections or are closing out estates. But I love to hear the stories and I especially love to take a look at the wonderful items someone else may have collected in their earlier years. It is truly an amazing business to be in, for sure.

And just a reminder that I am still selling from the Bushel & A Peck Antique Boutique on 510 E. Sixth St., here in North Platte. Its hours are 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday to Friday and 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. There are so many wonderful booths with a great assortment — antiques, homemade goodies, furniture, collectibles, jewelry and even some new items of clothing. They keep the shop looking different every time I am in there. It is a fun place to shop and definitely a fun place to get some great ideas on how to decorate your home — whether it be a specific spot in your house or a makeover for the whole home. They love to do chalk paint art and furniture, and they will even teach you how to do it.

When you have friends or relations from out of town and you are wondering how to entertain them for a couple of hours, please don’t forget to take them to the shop that has a bit of everything for everyone’s tastes and likes. Also, while you are out and about, please visit the many other shops here in North Platte and the surrounding areas. You can get a list of the other shops from the Bushel & A Peck, at the front desk. Please ask for your copy today.

We are seeing more traffic in our area and we want to thank everyone for spreading the word. In order to keep a variety of shops alive in our beautiful hometown, we need to pass the word as much as we can. And, please don’t forget about my “What’s It Worth” antique classes at Wild Bill’s at 1100 S. Jeffers St. each Tuesday. They start at 5 p.m. with dinner and at 6 p.m. is my antique classes. Please bring one item for me to look at and find more information for you — $5 for one item. We have seen many unusual and very rare items come through my classes over the past 28 years. Please come and join us for an evening of fun and history story telling about your items.

If you have any questions, please give me a call at 308-530-4572. And please remember, that every one of us has a story to tell about a particular item that was given to us or something you found at an auction, online or at a yard sale. I love hearing the stories about everyone’s treasures — and doing more research on them for even more information. Have a good week, everyone, and I do hope to see you at my classes sometime soon.

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