Welcome to Calico Kym’s….a retreat for vintage collectors


Calico Kym
Calico Kym


At Calico Kym’s you’ll find a collection of charming vintage collectibles from cookbooks and aprons to glassware and figurines.




Ramdom thoughts of Junk

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Some day I will drive around in a truck just like this one!

Some day I will drive around in a truck just like this one!

A day in the life of a junkie


Remember the television sitcom “Sanford and Son”? It was that very show that fueled my interest in being a junkie and awakened a truth within my soul that would surface many years later.

Sanford and Son starred Redd Foxx as Fred G. Sanford, a 65-year-old junk dealer living at 9114 S. Central Ave. in the Watts neighborhood of southern Los Angeles, Calif., and Demond Wilson as his 28-year-old son, Lamont Sanford. Sanford was a sarcastic, stubborn and argumentative antique and junk dealer, whose frequent money-making schemes routinely backfired and created more troubles.

I enjoyed the hilarious antics created by the show’s characters, but it was all the “good junk” Fred and his son had piled up in the yard and all through their house that intrigued me the most.

I am not sure when the fever actually hit me, then again I have come to believe I was born with the love for “junking” and that trait was directly inherited from my daddy and his people.

Daddy has always had several jobs at one time, one of which included making extra money from scrap metal that he would load up and deliver to a junk yard.

One time when my little sister, April, and I were several years younger, we had this idea that we would paint “Sanford and Son” on the door of Daddy’s old tan pickup truck but changed our minds after thinking about the trouble we would get in if we pulled such a stunt.

Truth of the matter is year’s later I would come to realize how much I love junking and would proudly drive that old truck around, only it would have Sanfreda and Girls painted on the side of each door.

Writing has been my real job for these past few years, and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. But as each day goes by, those old thoughts of when I owned a secondhand business keep haunting me.

At this very moment my car is loaded down with “stuff” I have dragged home from the yard sale we had over the weekend.

The whole idea of having a yard sale in the first place is to get rid of things you don’t want, but oh no, not me, I have a totally different mindset.

The common sense side of my brain tells me to purge, purge, purge, the addiction side fights back with Kym you better grab that old kettle up someone may need it one day.

My common sense don’t have a loud enough voice and cannot over rule my pack-rat addiction.

The Spice of Life

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cookbooks-001The Spice of Life

Some came from yard sales, others were borrowed from family members, yet to be returned, some were gifts that kept adding up.


But I never set out to start a collection; it just kind of happened.

When the holidays roll around, and it’s time to start digging out all my favorite family recipes, I am always surprised to discover all the cook books I have gathered through the years.

What started as a way for me to learn some much-needed kitchen skills, slowly “simmered up” a collection I didn’t even know I had.

I am pretty sure it started when Kevin’s aunt Sue loaned me her “Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book.” 

The well-worn pages and side notes give clear indication that I have put that book to good use. I still use that loaned copy and have high hopes that I don’t have to give it back.

I have always loved flipping through the pages of cookbooks and read I enjoy reading them just like regular books.

Among my favorites are the Paula Deen “Lady and Son’s Savannah Country Cookbook” that Tisha gave me for Christmas a couple of years ago; the “Wallingford Christian Church Ladies Auxiliary,” a gift from Debbie; my copy of “Celebrating 200 Years of Fleming County Cooking” that the Extension Homemakers released, the one from the Sugar Grove Christian Church in Owingsville that my niece Stacy gave me; and last but not least, “Homemade Candy” put out by the editors of Farm Journal.

My newest addition to the shelf is a collection of family recipes,” Celebrating the Life of Dixie Marie Blair Helphinstine at Christmas Time” and was given to me by Ginny Reeves.

A very fragile book about housekeeping from the early 1900s that Grandma Kenner gave me is tucked away for safe keeping.

You never know when you need a resource for cleaning and mending hoop skirts or a recipe for lye soap or boiling up some laundry in an iron kettle.

A Book of Favorite Recipes” compiled by the Flemingsburg Evening Homemakers Club in 1962 is my most cherished cook book of all. It is this book that so many handwritten side notes fill its well-worn pages.

To Mrs. Jolly from Marie is written across the top of the front page and stands as a reminder of how Kevin’s grandmother came to be the first owner of this family treasure.

Tattered pages from years of turning to favorite recipes are stained with vanilla or some other ingredients fill my mind with visions of favored treats, recipes that our family continues to turn to during the holidays or for any family gathering.

With a family of fantastic cooks, I am especially partial to all the extra, handwritten recipes that have been added to the pages like Ginny’s Corn Pudding, the recipe that Betty uses for the best-ever Mexican Cornbread and the little notes that say “this one” with an arrow pointing to the recipe.


 A jam cake recipe that has been used by the Jolly sisters time and time again is written down in Mrs. Jolly’s handwriting with  a side note that the recipe is the one Ginny always uses.

Every year at Thanksgiving time I would borrow the treasured cookbook so I could create the same tasty foods for my family.

When Mrs. Jolly passed away a few years ago, the heirloom cookbook became mine, and I guard it with the fierceness of a new mama cat.

To see those handwritten recipes makes me think of special family gatherings, the food and the laughter,  loved ones who are no longer with us and how their recipes will always keep their memory alive.

I think of my own  girls and wonder if they too will lovingly pour over the pages of cherished family recipes I have collected and if they will feel such a collection is a gift worthy enough to pass on to their children.

For me, the gathering of handed-down recipes and cookbooks have become the “spice of life” among my collections.



Bits and pieces of my collective life

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I was bitten by the collecting bug back when I was just a freshman in high school, which is too many years ago for me to mention.

My first collection began with Jennifer Wilde’s book “Loves Tender Fury”.

Then along came the Flower’s in the Attic series by V.C. Andrews and with good prices for a set of those in hardback on eBay, I sure wish I had kept my collection.

Down through the years I have collected everything from frogs, chickens, cookbooks and teapots to vintage linens, dishes and record albums.

I have boxes filled with “stuff” I have bought at estate sales and I am running out of storage room.

But as all collectors know and understand, there is no known cure for the collecting fever.

So I have decided I will sell some of my charming finds here on my blog and at etsy.com where I also have a store.

I am a journalist for a regional newspaper and I enjoy my job immensely because I get to tell the stories of some pretty amazing folks.

I have been married to my wonderful husband for 26 years and we have two beautiful daughters.

I am a finally a grandmother for the first time and my little snuggle bunny will 4 months old in November. My hobbies are collecting of course plus I love books, treasure hunting, and genealogy.  


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Line dried vintage aprons

A pocket full of memories

A couple of years ago I wrote about collecting aprons in my column and after all this time I still get emails from readers who have started their own apron collections.

If you have found vintage linens stored away and passed down from your grandparents, or your great grandparents you are the lucky owner of some highly sought-after cloth and visions into the past.

With each well-worn apron there is an interesting story of a woman, her family and the life she lived woven deeply within the fabric.

My collection consist of aprons that belonged to mamaw Petitt, my great aunt Frankie and Kevin’s mamaw Jolly and some were bought at estate sales.

The pockets on mamaw’s aprons she wore as a janitor at Bethel Elementary held everything from buttons and pieces of string to chewing gum and a dime for each of us kids to spend at break time when we were in elementary school.

My siblings and I all remember the pocket with the comb and how mamaw would grab us as we walked through the school hallway for a quick comb-over.

Those handed down garments that were worn often by family have a certain kinship attached to them and when mamaw passed away last spring it was an apron we each wanted as a keepsake.

With each vintage apron comes a story of a woman and a family and the life they lived.

For me aprons worn by women from an era long past are such tangible pieces of history, a collection of journey’s actually.

I wonder about the person who owned the aprons I find at estate or garage sales, what she was like, how she chose to raise her children, what her favorite activities were, what her home was like and the kind of meals she cooked.

Collectors have found uses for their vintage aprons that go beyond merely displaying them on a few pegs in their kitchen.

Some ladies are opting to make curtains, swags and cozies from their vintage aprons to add a real down home feel to their kitchens, baths, and pantries.

Someday I will figure out how I want to use the aprons have to decorate my kitchen, but right now they are tucked away for safe keeping.

It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that “old-time apron” that served so many purposes.