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Treasure Hunting

Posts tagged: CAMillsap

Easy DIY: From CD Cabinet to Linen Chest

    Sometimes, all it takes to completely recreate an object, to repurpose and in that way recycle an item, is to change the way we see it. 


    I recently found a solid pine cabinet at a local antique mall. What drew me to it was the weathered pine finish and the rustic look. It wasn’t old at all, but it was solid, the wood was in great condition and all the iron drawer pulls were still attached. When I pulled out one of the drawers I realized it was meant to hold CDs and DVDs.


    In my pre-war Cape Cod house, the living room, kitchen and eating area are all somewhat open. That leaves precious little wall space for storage pieces, but there is a little slice of space between the pantry, the edge of the tile kitchen floor and a window. I’d been looking for something useful to fit the space but hadn’t had much luck finding anything. I wasn’t exactly sure what I needed, just that I could use more storage space and that’s where I wanted to put it. Whatever it was.


    When I saw the CD cabinet, tall, narrow and with five drawers, I knew it would fit the small space and I liked the height of the piece. I still wasn’t sure exactly what I would use it for but the price was right so I brought it home. 


    It was a perfect fit.


    It stayed empty for a few days while I thought about how to use it. Then, one day, looking at the drawers I realized I might be able to make a small linen chest out of it.


     I have a collection of linen napkins I’ve picked up at flea markets and antique shops all over the world. Some are delicate and very old. Others are sturdy linen or cotton. I prefer these fabric napkins to paper and I use them at the table quite often. Until now they’ve been taking up space in the armoire I use to store my china and serving pieces, but I discovered a dozen folded napkins fit easily into each drawer.


    My friends teased me about the way I decided to use the chest. “Who has that many linen napkins?” one asked.


    I know most people don’t bother with linen napkins and I don’t always. But I find them hard to resist and I add a few more pieces to my collection each year. I like the feel of the fabric and the exquisite workmanship that went into the embroidery and stitching of some of the pieces. 


    But I came up with other ways I could have used the pine chest that didn’t seem so frivolous. Lined with felt, the shallow drawers would be perfect for jewelry. It could be used to store supplies for hobbies and crafts, or perfect in a bathroom for holding soaps, washcloths and hand towels.


    Who knows? I may use it for one of those purposes later. But right now, I’m happy with the project. I didn’t have to paint or repair or change the chest in any way. All I had to do to make it into something new was change the way it is used. And that can be done again.


Details: I found this piece at Vintage Rabbit Antique Mall, 2317 N. Monroe, Spokane


Cheryl-Anne Millsap’s audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at


The appeal of vintage maps



    Recently, going through boxes in the basement, I ran across an old map of the place I once lived. I brought it with me when I moved west, clipping it from a crumbling book that was too far gone to save, intending to frame it one day. But I never did.


    Alone in the room, tracing with the tip of my finger the twists and turns of surprisingly familiar rivers, mountains and geographic boundaries drawn on fine old gilt-edged paper, I could suddenly and distinctly recall the essential elements of my childhood in the South. The the slant of the hot summer sun and the heavy feel of the humid air, the sound of cicadas and Mockingbirds and the heady fragrance of gardenia and jasmine. It was as if I’d stirred the sediment at the bottom of a pond, releasing a wealth of memories only lightly buried. And all this from a piece of illustrated paper.


    In some ways every map is a treasure map. 


    An old map is a moment in history captured on paper. Time passes and people and places change. Rivers are dammed and swallow small towns. War and weather alter the landscape. Political pressures ebb and flow, shifting boundary lines. Governments fail, people rise, and maps are drawn and drawn again.


    There are other maps in other boxes in my basement. Some, like the state map I saved, are markers of another life. Others are souvenirs of places I’ve been or tokens of places I’d like to go. A few have no significance other than the fact that they are beautiful as only a map can be. Elaborately illustrated, beautifully designed, they are time capsules, a link to a place before it became what it is now. 


    Because I am a planner, I am already thinking ahead to the time when my life will shrink to fit a room, maybe two, and what I will carry with me when that time comes. I imagine the walls will be covered by some of my favorite paintings and a photographic timeline of the life I have lived; images of a young couple just married, both of us made beautiful by youth and happiness and love, portraits of the children we cherished and still more portraits of the families our children created. 

    And there will be a map or two, I think. A big world map and another of the United States.


    Maybe I’ll keep a map Paris, too. Why not? I like the idea of finding it again some day, of running my finger over the lines so finely drawn, chasing the memory of my younger self down those beautiful and familiar streets and boulevards, when I am too old or frail to fly.




Cheryl-Anne Millsap’s audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at

Share your “Object of Affection”




    The cover story of the December 29th New York Times Magazine was “The Lives They Lived” and it featured profiles of a number of celebrities and luminaries who died in 2013. What I found most interesting were the photos of possessions belonging to some of those profiled: James Gandolfini’s battered Cadillac. Editta Sherman’s tube of red lipstick. Esther Williams’ swimsuit. The gloves Scott Carpenter wore in Space. 


    I especially liked that the Times used the phrase “Objects of Affection” to describe the things people loved. That’s my phrase, too.


    I’ve always been fascinated by the things we hold dear, the things we hold on to. Over the years, in my Treasure Hunting columns and blog posts, I’ve shared the story behind a number of my own favorite possessions, but in November 2013, I started a series on my Treasure Hunting blog featuring the “Objects of Affection” of people in our community. I sent out an email to some of my Facebook connection asking if they’d be willing to share the stories of their favorite objects. The response was immediate and fascinating. Men, women, and even a child, wrote of their love for ordinary objects that ranged from sheet music to paper mementoes to childhood toys to jewelry to heirloom furniture and artwork


    My idea was to give ordinary people a chance to share their fondness for ordinary objects. I was able to post a few before the busyness of the holiday season overwhelmed me—this is a personal project, not an assignment— but in 2014 I’m looking forward to getting more stories up on a regular basis.


    Consider this your invitation to show and tell.  What is the thing you hold onto? Why? Send me an email (subject heading “Object”) at and I’ll do the rest.


    Oh, and the photo above? That’s one of my own objects of affection. It’s the old yellow ware bowl in my kitchen. It was in my mother’s kitchen and my grandmother’s kitchen before that. I’ve written about it a number of times over the years because I can’t imagine living in a house without it.


Cheryl-Anne Millsap’s audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the U.S. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” (available at Auntie’s Bookstore in Spokane) and can be reached at





Object of Affection: Sophia Caruso’s Sound of Music

(Photo by Deena Caruso)


   Tonight is Sophia Anne Caruso’s big night. As part of the cast of NBC’s landmark televised live production of “The Sound of Music,” starring Carrie Underwood, Stephen Moyer and Audra McDonald, she’ll be a part of something that hasn’t been done by any network in half a century. 


   But the 12-year-old veteran performer’s favorite collection—a stack of Broadway musical scores—shows she’s been preparing for years.  She’s learned them all—”Annie,” “Mary Poppins,” “Les Miserables,” “Hairspray” and more— and sings them for both the pure pleasure of it and for the constant auditions that are a big part of any actor’s life. 


    As it happens, one of her favorite shows is “The Sound of Music.”


    “I saw the movie when I was five or 6 and I loved it,” Sophia says. “So my mother got the Broadway score for me and I learned it. I sang it constantly.”  


    Tonight she will perform those familiar songs again, this time for millions of viewers.


    Sophia Caruso has worked steadily since moving with her mother from Spokane to New York City 18 months ago, and will play Brigitta von Trapp in tonight’s live production. She says it’s the role she would have chosen.


   “I love Brigitta,” she says. “She’s a lot like me. We both like to read.”


    Her mother, Spokane business owner, Deena Caruso, is the score keeper. 


    “I always have some of them with me,” Deena Caruso says. “You never know when you’ll need one.” 


    Tonight, when the show is over, she’ll pull out Sophia’s copy of “The Sound of Music.”  “I’m going to have it signed by everyone in the cast,” Sophia says.


   When asked if she thinks she’ll keep the stack of musical scores, Sophia Caruso doesn’t hesitate.


    “Oh, of course, I’ll have them forever. They are my treasures,” she says. “They’re signed and marked in my kiddie handwriting. Years from now I’ll look at them and I’ll always remember how much I loved to sing those songs.”


Watch “The Sound of Music” tonight at 8 p.m. on KHQ-TV



Cheryl-Anne Millsap’s audio essays can be heard each week on Spokane Public Radio. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” which is available at Auntie’s Bookstore in Spokane.


Object of Affection: Gina Freuen’s Portrait of Memories

   I suppose you could argue that an artist, especially someone from a family of artists, would naturally be sentimental about artwork. But ceramic artist Gina Freuen’s love for a particular painting is more about the memories within it than the work itself.

   “The painting was done by my mother when she was 33 years old and I was 5.  Mom is 90 now.  It is a painting of my great Aunt Maggie sitting in a rocking chair, with a curio cupboard behind her, book shelves and a window that looks out at a path that leads away from the house,” Freuen says. “ My mother painted this painting with naive skills.  The rocker floats and the feet sit lower than the chair, but it shows the skills she was developing in becoming a wonderful painter in her mature years.  

   Freuen rescued the painting from her parents’ garage sale many years ago as they prepared to retire and move to the Oregon Coast.

   “They had visions of a new, fun, retirement life and all of this old stuff had to go,” she says.

   To Freuen,  the history of four generations of women in her family is captured by her mother’s brush strokes and she couldn’t let it slip out of her hands. She brought it home with several other special pieces.

   “My Great Aunt Maggie lived in the original homestead up in Almira, Washington.  Our trips up there as children were looked forward to for weeks,” she says. “The path leading to the house (is) imprinted on my mind.  When I picture the house, I picture the path.  I picture      Great Aunt Maggie standing at the door.” 

   The house still stands and now Maggie’s daughter, Eileen, lives there. The curio in the painting is still there. The bookshelves are still there. The path is still there.

   But the painting holds a deeper significance in Freuen’s eyes.

   “As mother moved into her Alzheimer years she lost her ability to paint, so having one of her early paintings is very important to me.  She has never recognized the painting as one she values because she only sees skills that needed to be better,”Freuen says. “It could be said that memories are the most important to us not objects; this painting holds my most cherished memories.”  

     “If my house were to catch fire, I would grab it and run.”


Cheryl-Anne Millsap’s audio essays can be heard each week Spokane Public Radio. She is the author of ‘Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons’ and can be reached at










Once Upon A Time with ‘My Book House’ stories

   Some of my favorite childhood memories are of the hours I spent sitting sideways across my grandfather’s big reading chair, one padded chair arm at my back, the other under my knees, and a book under my nose.

   We had an old set of My Book House books, a classic collection of stories edited by Olive Beaupre Miller. They may have been my mother’s when she was a child, but for as long as I can remember they were on the bookshelf by that chair and I read them all. I liked the old-fashioned Nursery Rhymes and I was intrigued by the myths, but my favorites were the Fairy Tales. As a young girl my head was filled with the elaborate illustrations of tall castles with moats and towers, dashing knights in armor and fierce horses draped in colorful blankets and bridles.    

   The day before I left for a recent trip to France, I dropped into The Vintage Rabbit. I’d been upstairs at the public radio studio to record audio essays for the upcoming weeks and although I was pushed for time, I couldn’t resist.  I walked through quickly and was turning to go when I saw the distinctive green-to-blue “rainbow” covers of the books I’d loved as a child. The mixed-edition set was a bargain at only $28. Sold. I gathered the books, paid and left.

   I knew what would happen if I opened one so I put the set on a shelf near my favorite reading spot and didn’t go near them again until I was packed and ready to catch my flight the next morning.  Finally, worn out from all the work that goes into preparing for any trip, keyed up and a bit stressed, I sat down and looked over what I’d bought.

   It was like going back in time. The stories and illustrations were so familiar to me I knew exactly where to find my favorites.

   A few days later I was walking down the narrow, curving, cobblestoned streets of Carcassonne, the beautiful medieval fortress city in the south of France. As I climbed up to walk along the stone walls, I thought about the little girl who’d buried her nose in fairy tales. The lucky coincidence of finding the books again was particularly sweet.

   Then, a week after my return from France, a friend and I drove down to the little town of Rockford to shop at Hurd Mercantile. One space was filled with vintage French items, including books. One 1907 book, ‘A Spring Fortnight in France’ was particularly intriguing. The cover was illustrated with an old photograph of the French countryside and it was about the travels of two young women who’d visited southern France more than 100 years before I’d set foot there. The chapter on Carcassonne had photos of the city as it had been at that time. Sold again. I brought it home and read most of it that night.

   I traveled on a modern Air France jet.  I carried an iPhone, a digital camera and a credit card, but my trip was even more memorable because as a child my imagination had been fired by the illustrations in a set of story books. Then, when I returned home, I was able to contrast my trip with the words of a woman writing for other women more than 100 years ago.

  My own experience was bound with words and pictures from long ago.

Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a travel writer whose audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of ‘Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons’ and can be reached at

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About this blog

Cheryl-Anne Millsap writes about antiques and collectibles and the love of all things vintage. Millsap's Home Planet column appears each week in the Wednesday "Pinch" supplement, and she is The Spokesman-Review's female automobile reviewer. She is a regular contributor to Spokane Public Radio and her essays can be heard on Public Radio stations across the country. Cheryl-Anne is the author of "Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons."

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