Run of the Pepper Mill

Olive wood is attractive….I wouldn’t want stainless steel; it’s too cold and sterile.  Is a ceramic grinder important?  Would it last longer than these plastic ones?  Warmth….copper?  Olive wood.  Definitely those ones, but I like the copper and glass pair with the mill at the top to avoid crumbing up the table and counter.  Plus you can see that you need to refill.  Wait….$170?!?!?  No.

I looked up from my laptop.  What sort of consumeristic wormhole had I fallen into?  I closed the computer and laid it aside.  It was revelatory; how easy and simple it is to create necessities out of luxuries; to talks oneself into the pepper mill that defines you.

I am perfectly capable of grinding pepper in the mortar and pestle in my kitchen.  I have a pepper mill, though it works quite poorly.  What led to this silly journey through page after page of perfect pepper mills?  Shopping.

I make nearly all of the gifts for my loved ones, but there are always some things that lay outside of my expertise, but would be just the thing for particular people, obliging me to brave the wild frontier of retail shoppes.  My daughter was thrilled to go along with me; she has no hangups whatsoever about buying new things, and she fairly pranced along the aisles heaped with goods.

Maybe it’s the lighting that gives me headaches, or the crowds, or the ecological impact of so much packaging waste and overproduction of silly junk.  On my way to purchase the gift of two stainless steel travel mugs I passed by a table laden with gleaming, tasteful kitchen goods.  Ah, salt and pepper mill sets.

I remembered my sluggish and slow pepper mill, how its plastic grinder parts were wearing down and grinding unevenly, and how it made me feel less like a chef and more like a pepper wrangler.  I picked up the sets and examined them, the rectangular florescent lights above me making constellations across their smooth, shiny curves.  I put them down, and I bought what I had come for; gifts for others.

But didn’t it just nag at me then?  The idea of it?  Useful, beautiful, long-lasting, artisan crafted salt and pepper mills?  They’d be on our table for the rest of our lives, a continuing testament to our good taste in quality craftsmanship.  Through all the seasons they would season!  I basically need them!

Except that I don’t, but I thought to check online…maybe there’d be a suitable set for around twenty dollars and I could save for it, and and and…



I don’t want to be defined by my pepper mill.  I want to be Christ’s simple child, learning His love, seeing His way, and orienting my life around dwelling in His Presence, and bringing His warmth and joy to others who need “a timely word, seasoned with salt”.




Everything But What’s On The List

I like life to surprise me.  Not in the sudden-tornado-on-the-horizon sort of way, nor the sharp-wail-of-one-of-my-children-followed-by-a-trip-to-Urgent-Care sort of way either.  More like today, when an impossibly soft houndstooth scarf in black and white caught my eye, folded all nice and neatly on the thrift store shelf.  Impossibly.  Soft.  It’s a Chaps scarf, so of course I imagined myself wearing it while riding a horse through the woods with my long tresses artfully arranged just so.  I did not come to buy a scarf, but $2.99 later I did so anyways.

Photo on 9-30-14 at 2.36 PMAnd then there were the wool gloves with the black bow, and all of a sudden I’m ready for winter.  For six dollars I’ve given my winter gear a cozy make-over.  (My Peruvian knit gloves were becoming a bit of a nappy nightmare.)  Trust me, when I’m nine months pregnant in December, I’ll need all the help I can get to feel feminine and elegant.  (Is it even possible to feel elegant while waddling?)

Anyways, I’d gone to the thrift store to find silicone molds, often used in baking, which are terrific for soap molding.  On average I find one per excursion, being few and far between, and today scored one that was for ice cubes and is perfect for molding our trial bars.  But I came home also with a scarf, gloves, a sturdy mustard-yellow shopping tote, three Taste of Home magazines, one mold, eight hand-dipped candles for our Advent wreath this year, an old mason jar with a zinc lid full of dried berries, a hand-embroidered baby quilt wall hanging, and a cookbook for a grand total of $!4.00.  The price of an average scarf or even just a t-shirt these days.  Fun.

I love thrift stores.  It’s a rare article of clothing for me which hasn’t born a little handwritten price tag.  I love the unpredictability of it all.  You go for kids snow pants and come home with a pasta machine.  You go for a stock pot and come home with wool socks.  This would drive a more goal-oriented person absolutely bonkers; the randomness, the disorder, the hit-and-miss of it all.

But as for me, and my budget, I embrace thrifting.  With a wide smile.  Suddenly my seven year-old wool winter coat will be infused with new life from my stunning new accessories.  I’ll feel special in my classy gloves as I push my babies in the stroller, and every time I put them on I’ll remember that they found a second home with me for 3.00, and I’ll smile again.

This is an inherited thing.  My parents are auction hounds and have been known to bid on a whole table of boxes of things at an auction’s end without knowing what’s in them, for a $1.00, for mere curiosity’s sake.  And they find a pair of sugar tongs that’s worth $85.00 and we hoot and laugh at it all.  I once bought six vintage wool and fur-trimmed coats for $1.00 and my parents were delighted.  We find it the greatest fun, like a grown-up treasure hunt.

And this would explain why I’ll exuberantly tell you the price I paid for something if you verbally admire it.  “What a beautiful dining room table you have!”  “We paid fifty dollars for it!”  “I love your shoes!”  “Three dollars at Goodwill!”  I.  Can’t.  Contain.  Myself.  Because for me, half the joy in having beautiful possessions is the dirt cheap price I paid for them.  So much for so little.

Photo on 9-30-14 at 3.22 PMPart of the wall-hanging; I die of the cuteness!

I love thrifting not only for it’s surprising aspect, but also because things find new life, new use, in a new home.  “Used” is just another name for “pre-loved”.  I actually prefer to buy sweaters second-hand because you can see how they hold up after repeated washings.  I remember buying a sweater brand spanking new from a real store once (yes, it happens that rarely), and finding after the first wash that it was pilled and lacking in all it’s original beauty.  I took it back to return it and explained in a shocked voice that the sweater had deteriorated so much after just one washing.  The sales clerk just gave me a “What did you expect?” look and refunded my money.  Apparently I expect good quality, which I can find rather dependably at thrift shops.

So, how about you?  Are you a treasure hunter?  A compulsive price-teller?  A go-to-the-store-and-buy-exactly-what-I-need-right-now type?

In the meantime, I’ll be gazing at my scarf and gloves and hoping that winter hurries up.