What’s In Your Junk Drawer?

We all have them.  Those drawers where we toss our odds and ends that don’t actually have a defined space in our homes.  Usually, they look a bit like a time capsule of our lives.  Perhaps they should be called a memory drawer rather than a junk drawer?

If I had to guess, I would say that most people’s junk drawers are similar to mine.  They contain bits and leftover pieces of projects from the past, good intentions, unknown items that showed up in the house and might be needed some day, memories of times gone by, and sentimental items that I can’t seem to part with even though they serve no purpose.

Adkin's and junk drawer 058

I don’t usually clean out my junk drawer.  I go through it if I’m looking for something, but about the only time I ever clean it is right before a move.  My last move was five years ago, so it’s been awhile.

When a friend of mine suggested this blog topic…thanks Kathy…I wasn’t sure how to write about a drawer full of things from all different times in my life.  To write, I have to mentally order my topic and my junk drawer did not look like it had any kind of order to it!  In thinking about how to catalog or categorize my drawer of memories so I could write about it, here’s what I came up with:

The oldest item in my junk drawer is an arrowhead.  I don’t know where it came from or how I got it, but it’s been in there for a long time.

The oldest thing of MINE in the drawer has been with me since before I left home at the age of 18.  Some of my younger readers might not even know what it is. It’s a typewriter eraser that I used with the typewriter I received for my 18th birthday right before I left for college.  We’ve come so far with technology since that time!

Tools of the trade

The other thing in my junk drawer that might puzzle my children after I’m gone is an adaptor for a 45 rpm record.  Those small plastic inserts are also sometimes called spiders or middles or slugs, and were used to play 45’s on a turntable meant for 33 rpm records.

junk drawer too 010

The newest addition to my junk drawer is a small metal tin of mints from the table at the wedding reception of my son and daughter-in-law.  They married last October and had a Halloween-themed reception.  The tin still has mints in it and on the top it says, “Alysse and Matt, 10-11-14, Wed or die trying.”

junk drawer too 006

Two unknown items showed up in the drawer within the past five years.  One says “Easton” on it so I assume it has something to do with baseball or softball equipment.  The other item I simply keep around in case I find something with a missing part that it might fit.

Adkin's and junk drawer 054

The oddest thing in my junk drawer is a Catholic Rosary and it’s odd because well, I’m not Catholic.  It was given to me years ago by my friend, Laurie, who is Catholic.  I’m not exactly sure why she gave it to me but it was a pretty and meaningful gift…and it makes me think of her and our friendship from so long ago.

Adkin's and junk drawer 041

A reminder of unfinished projects is the Corian sample chosen five years ago for my new kitchen countertop.  I still like it and I still don’t have a new kitchen countertop.  There are also two small pictures my daughter painted when she was a girl.  I’ve been meaning to frame them.  She’s 21 now.  I wonder if it’s too late?

Adkin's and junk drawer 038

Funny things in my junk drawer include a “first edition” textapedia…a text messaging pocket guide that I picked up years ago at a 7/11 Store.  There’s the pin that says, “Yes, there really is a Kalamazoo.”  I keep it because yes, there really is a Kalamazoo and I lived there for 20 years.  There’s a pocket compass too.  I don’t know where it came from, but you never know.  I might get lost and need it.  There’s also a pack of earplugs I found at the dollar store.  Once again, I might need them.  There’s a reading glasses holder that I’m saving for when I get very old and keep losing my reading glasses.  I’m not old enough to use it yet.

Adkin's and junk drawer 036

There are a few sentimental items in my junk drawer too.  There’s a ring of pictures in plastic holders that my daughter used to love to carry around when she was a toddler.  They were pictures of her and our family and it still makes me happy to look at them today.

There are the three heart-shaped shells and rocks that my children found on beaches in Florida and Michigan and proudly gifted to me.  There’s one from each of them when they were small.  I carried them in my purse when both of my sons got married last year.


There’s a brass stamp roll holder that belonged to my mother-in-law and has her initials on it…MLH.  I never knew her, but I’m keeping it to pass on to my step-daughter someday.  The older we get, it seems the less we have to remind us of the beloved people from our past.

And that is why I also have in my memory drawer, the tiny book called “A Guide to Garden Flowers.”  It belonged to my little Swedish great-grandmother, Millie, who sold flowers from her yard in Elkhart, Indiana during the Great Depression.  I didn’t know her well, but in addition to blood, we share a love of gardening and flowers.


There’s a small black and white picture of me with my brother, Jeff.  It was taken in one of those photo booths at the mall when we were kids.  They came in a row of four shots but I have a vague memory of mailing the other three pictures to him in a letter when he was stationed in Korea in the Army.  I love the picture of us and wish it had a date on the back.

Adkin's and junk drawer 048

Something only my children would know about is the small but life-size wooden acorn that I keep.  I bought it when my oldest son was a toddler and used to tell him and his brother and sister that they were like little acorns, but someday they would grow up to be tall and strong oak trees.  I might use that same line on my future grandchildren.

Adkin's and junk drawer 043

Finally, there are some practical pieces in my junk drawer as well.  There’s the old wooden ruler one of my kids used in elementary school.  I still use it sometimes because it’s easier than finding a tape measure.  There are scissors and a pair of pinking shears if I need to cut something in a fun, zigzag line.  There’s tape, both one sided and two sided, two small flashlights, a staple pull, two magnifying glasses (one of them is lighted), a clothespin, an unopened magnetic 4 x 6 picture frame, a calculator, some highlighters, a wallet photo holder, two hole punches, a cordless mouse, some extra leaves from last Thanksgiving’s Thankful Tree, a brand new Master Lock, an inventory list of my Noritake China, and lots of extra keychains…because you never know when you might need a keychain.

For those of you who may not yet have one, there are actually junk drawer starter kits you can buy on eBay, and on Pinterest there are guides to starting your own junk drawer.  I highly recommend having one.  It was great fun going through mine for this blog post.  While doing a little research, I also found two delightful blogs on the subject.  Check out www.thejunkdrawerproject.com and www.junkdrawerblog.com.

So, what’s in YOUR junk drawer?  I’m doing a little fun contest this week.  You have until next Wednesday.  The best response posted in the comment section of my blog, will get a free copy of my book, “The Button Box.”  Just please don’t put it in your junk drawer!

Greenville, MS 006


A Memorial Day Salute To Our Flag

This short history of Memorial Day is pulled from last year’s post.  I think it’s important to remember that our country is only 238 years old and some of our holidays are still fairly new.  Our modern Memorial Day became a federal holiday just 44 years ago.

Memorial Day military figures

Decoration Day or Memorial Day is a United States holiday created to remember and honor those who have died in military service to our country.  It was renamed “Memorial Day” and declared a federal holiday in 1971, but its origins go all the way back to the American Civil War.

Memorial Day

The Civil War began in 1861 when seven states which permitted slavery decided to secede from the United States after Abraham Lincoln’s election in November of 1860.  These seven states…Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas…created their own government in February of 1861 and called themselves the Confederacy.

Rebel Flag

Lincoln took office in March of 1861, and the United States rejected the secession and declared the Confederacy illegal.  The Civil War began in April of 1861 and four more states…Arkansas, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia…joined the Confederacy.  (Later Kentucky and Missouri joined the Confederacy although neither state officially seceded from the United States.)

The Civil War lasted for four long years…from 1861 – 1865…and during this time over 600,000 men from both sides were killed in combat.  Women, in the north and in the south, began spontaneously decorating the graves of their husbands, fathers, brothers and sons as a way to honor their ultimate sacrifice for their country, and as a way of expressing their own grief.

to the Nation's Dead

In 1868, Major General John Logan declared that “Decoration Day” would be observed every May 30th to commemorate all of the soldiers who died in the Civil War.  That first Decoration Day, the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery were decorated with flowers and wreaths.


After World War I, Decoration Day was expanded to honor and decorate the graves of all who have died in American wars.   When Congress made Decoration Day a national holiday in 1971 and renamed it Memorial Day, the date was moved to the last Monday in May so that people might have a three day holiday weekend.

Memorial Day

In the year 2000, Congress passed the National Moment of Remembrance Act.  Signed by President Bill Clinton, this established a moment for all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3:00 p.m. on Memorial Day and remember the sacrifices made by the men and women who have died in service to our nation.

May 2015 030

On Memorial Day, small American flags are placed on each veteran’s grave at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D.C. and on graves at other national cemeteries.  Many Americans will fly flags on their homes and businesses.

Memorial Day commemoration

We have rules and customs regarding our American Flag that all citizens should follow to show respect for the flag which symbolizes our country and our patriotism. Here’s a reminder of flag etiquette as we head into flag flying season and three federal holidays involving the American flag…Memorial Day on May 25th, Flag Day, and Independence Day.

*The flag may be flown every day between sunrise and sunset but should be illuminated if it is flown at night.

flags 001

*In bad weather such as rain, snow, hail and wind storms the flag should be brought in unless it is an all-weather flag.

*On Memorial Day, the flag should be flown at half-staff until noon and at full staff from noon until sunset.

American Flag at half staff

*Other national holidays when the flag should be displayed are:

New Year’s Day, January 1

Inauguration Day, January 20

Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday, third Monday in January

Lincoln’s Birthday, February 12

Washington’s Birthday, third Monday in February

Easter Sunday

Mother’s Day, second Sunday in May

Peace Officers Memorial Day, May 15

Armed Forces Day, third Saturday in May

Memorial Day, last Monday in May

Flag Day, June 14

Father’s Day, third Sunday in June

Independence Day, July 4

Labor Day, first Monday in September

Patriot Day, September 11 (half-staff)

POW/MIA Recognition Day, third Friday in September

Constitution Day, September 17

Columbus Day, second Monday in October

Navy Day, October 27

Veterans Day, November 11

Thanksgiving Day, fourth Thursday in November

Pearl Harbor Day, December 7

Christmas Day, December 25

Flags may also be flown on state holidays and the date of the state’s admission into the Union.

flags 010

*Flags should be flown on all public buildings and institutions and at schools during school days.

*Flags should be displayed in or near polling places on election days.

*No other flag should be displayed above the United States Flag.

*The flag should not be dipped to any person or thing.

*If used to cover a casket, the union should be at the head and over the left shoulder.  The flag should not be lowered into a grave or allowed to touch the ground.

*The flag should never touch anything beneath it such as the floor, the ground, or water.

*Our flag should be held aloft and free, never carried flat or horizontally.

*The flag should never be used as a covering for a ceiling, as clothing, or as a blanket.

*The flag should never have anything placed on it or carried in it.

*The flag should never be displayed upside down except as a signal of dire distress.

*Never draw on, sign or otherwise mark the flag.

*If necessary, flags should be dry-cleaned, not washed at home.

*If the flag is torn or damaged, it should be destroyed in a dignified manner, preferably by burning, and the ashes should be buried.

flags 004

We recently purchased a new flag because our old one was torn during one of the Texas windstorms this spring.  I must say I favor the flags with the raised, embroidered stars rather than the flat, printed ones.  We are giving our damaged flag to a neighbor whose son is a Cub Scout, so his troop can learn about the proper disposal of an American Flag.

Taxes and spring cleaning 008


The Gift Of Time

On the afternoon of May 1st, (May Day) our doorbell rang.  I was sitting at my computer writing and was startled by the sound that pierced the quiet in the house.  When I opened the door, there was a bouquet of flowers on my doormat and behind them stood a smiling daughter.

Tucker 007

I was so touched that she made the time to come over that day.  Not only did her actions make me feel loved, but I was also delighted that she remembered a story I had told her when she was growing up.

When I was a girl, my mother and I would take flowers to my grandmother every May Day.  We would put the flowers on the front porch of her farmhouse, then ring her doorbell and hide and watch her find them.  I loved seeing the happiness on her face when she first saw the flowers and then saw us.

My own daughter was continuing the family tradition that I had so loved from my childhood.  After my surprise, she came in and had coffee with me and we visited.  She came over for no reason at all except to see me and to bring me flowers.  Now THAT was a good day.  Did it make me feel loved and important and special?  Yes, all of the above!

Mother's Day weekend 001

Time is not an infinite resource.  When we give our time to another, whether in person or on the phone, we are telling them, “You are important to me” and “I value you and our relationship.”

Almost 20 years ago, my grandfather was dying from cancer.  Our family knew he didn’t have long to live, but we didn’t know how long.  He lived an hour away from me at that time.  One Friday night after my husband came home from work and could take care of our three children, I made the hour-long drive to see my grandfather.  We spent the entire evening alone together, talking and laughing and listening to music.  He told me stories from his childhood and we even sang a little together to the old time country music CDs I had brought with me.

I returned home late that night and less than a week later, he slipped into a coma and was gone.  I was devastated by the loss of my adored and beloved grandfather, but even through my grief, I recognized and understood that I had been given such a precious gift of time with him that final Friday night.  It is one of my most treasured memories.

Grandpa and me (2)

My husband has a similar treasured memory from 1988 of an enjoyable day he spent with his great-aunt Geneva who never married and was like a grandmother to him.  She was a poet and was in her 80’s at the time.  He was driving her the 45 miles from Pine Bluff to Little Rock to attend the annual meeting of the Poets’ Roundtable of Arkansas.

gift of time 011

After her meeting, she thought it was really funny when Jeff told her they were going to take the “scenic route” home.  They stopped at Pinnacle Mountain State Park which is off Highway 10 just west of Little Rock.  They pulled over at the scenic overlook and he said she seemed to really enjoy seeing the view with all the trees and rolling hills.  Afterward, they went inside the museum and gift shop where she bought him a beautiful walking stick which he still has to this day.  Later, she would tell him it was “the best day she ever had.”

gift of time 006

I’ve enjoyed seeing all the pictures on Facebook from Mother’s Day of people spending time with their moms.  Most people put forth a great effort to make their mothers feel special on this annual moms’ holiday.  According to the National Restaurant Association, Mother’s Day is the most popular day of the year for eating out in restaurants.  (In case you were wondering, Valentine’s Day is the second most popular.)

According to a survey conducted by the association in 2011, 58% of people take their mothers out for dinner, 32% take her to lunch, 24% take her to brunch, 10% take her to breakfast…and 19% of the respondents said they would go out for more than one meal with their moms that day.  This not only gives moms a break from cooking, but it also gives them time to enjoy the undivided attention of their family.

gift of time 002

To steal a line from Oprah, here’s what I know for sure.  As a mom and as a woman, nothing means more to me than the gift of time from another…especially a person I care about.  Don’t get me wrong, I adore the Mother’s Day gifts I received.  But what I loved even more, were the phone calls and the text messages and the daughter who tracked me down at grandma’s house on Sunday to hug me and say “Happy Mother’s Day!”

Day 8, Gift of Time

When is the last time you gave someone the gift of your time?  When did you last give someone your complete, undivided attention and make a decision to be in the moment and there for that one other person?  It doesn’t cost anything and it doesn’t require tissue paper or gift wrap.  It’s the easiest and best gift in the world.

of uninterrupted bliss!

It’s How We Roll!

When Jeff and I married a little over a year and a half ago, we knew we were fairly compatible but we also knew we would face some challenges as we got used to living together.  One of the challenges we’ve faced as a newly married couple, is having very different ideas about what is “acceptable” toilet paper.

Jeff is a pragmatist on the subject of toilet paper.  He likes large rolls that last a long time and cost as little as possible.  He likes to buy in quantity and to know that we won’t run out. Think industrial-sized bales of hard toilet paper with or without the splinters.  He also likes multi-purpose functionality from the products we buy.  If the toilet paper can double as sandpaper, or kindling for the fire, even better!

Toilet paper 031

Me on the other hand, I’m all about softness and comfort when it comes to the tissue issue…and I’m willing to pay for it.  I grew up in a Charmin household and I loved watching Mr. Whipple tell everyone, “Please don’t squeeze the Charmin”.

Toilet paper 040

For those of you who don’t know or those who may have forgotten, George Whipple was a fictional grocery store manager for Proctor & Gamble’s Charmin print ads and commercials from 1964 to 1985.  He was known for sneaking around the store trying to catch people in the act of squeezing the (oh so soft) Charmin toilet tissue.  And when he thought no one was looking, he liked to squeeze it too.

Mr Whipple: Please don't

Mr. Whipple appeared in 504 Charmin commercials and was played by Canadian character actor, Dick Wilson.  Mr. Wilson earned a whopping salary of $300,000 a year for just 12 days work as Mr. Whipple.  He was also a recurring character on the television show, “Bewitched” starring Elizabeth Montgomery.  According to a 1970 survey, Mr. Whipple was the most recognizable face in America.  In appreciation for his iconic work in their commercials, (and for helping them sell lots of toilet paper) Proctor & Gamble gave Mr. Wilson a free lifetime supply of Charmin.

But let’s get back to our personal toilet paper debate.  One night in the paper aisle at Wal-Mart, we reached a bit of an impasse.  Jeff wanted the large rolls of single ply cheap stuff and I was holding out for the soft and comfortable rolls that cost a bit more.  We stood on either end of the shopping cart…him with his arms full of “great value” (hah!) and me hugging the soft and comfortable stuff…and neither of us budging.  So, we compromised and bought them both and I told him to make sure HE used the stuff he chose!

Toilet paper 051

Toilet paper as we know it today is a fairly recent innovation and made its appearance in this country after our American Civil War (1861-1865).  Before toilet paper was invented, people used any number of items for water closet hygiene.  Some of the items used were:  leaves, grass, hay, stones, sand, moss, straw, sticks, water, snow, ferns, plant husks, fruit skins, seashells, corncobs, seaweed, coconut shells, sponges, wood shavings, rags, the neck of a goose, and the smooth edges of broken pottery.

Ancient Romans used a sponge on a stick which was placed in a pail of vinegar or salt water after use for the next person to grab.  Poor people used their hands to clean themselves after defecating in rivers, while wealthier people and royalty wiped themselves with hemp, cloth, wool, animal furs or lace.

The first written reference to toilet paper in history was by Chinese scholar, Yan Zhitui in 589 A.D.:

“Paper on which there are quotations or commentaries from Five Classics or the names of sages, I dare not use for toilet purposes.”

The paper predecessor to actual toilet tissue was paper from newspapers, catalogs, pages of books, or almanacs.  Almanacs used to have a hole in the top corner for running a string through so they could be hung on a hook or nail in the outhouse.  Perhaps this is where the habit of reading in the bathroom originated?

The old Sears and Roebuck catalog pages were a popular toilet paper choice as well until the company switched to a slick glossy color printing and consumers complained that they could no longer use them for this purpose.  The problem with using these printed sheets of paper was that the chemicals in the inks could be irritating and could cause sores and hemorrhoids.

Amazon.com: 1897 Sears Roebuck

The first “official” toilet paper was introduced in China in 1391 for the Chinese emperor’s family.  It was a soft fabric produced in 2’ by 3’ sheets and was perfumed.

In the United States, the first packaged toilet paper was sold in 1857.  A man named Joseph Gayetty from New York started producing and selling Gayetty’s Medicated Paper for the water closet.  This first toilet paper product consisted of 500 pre-moistened flat sheets that were medicated with aloe and sold for $.50 a package.  It was available for purchase in the United States as late as the 1920’s.


The idea for perforated toilet paper was originally patented by inventor, Seth Wheeler’s Albany Perforated Wrapping Paper Company in 1871.  Rolled toilet paper was invented by the same company in 1877 and patented again in 1891 in the roll form that we are familiar with today.

Gayettys Medicated Toilet

About the same time that Seth Wheeler was inventing rolled and perforated toilet paper, three men in Philadelphia were working on a similar product.  In 1879, Edward Irvin, Thomas Seymour, and Clarence Wood Scott founded the Scott Paper Company. They began selling toilet paper in both rolls and stacked sheets in 1896, and by 1925, the Scott Company was the biggest toilet paper company in the world.

Vintage Roll of Scott Tissue

In the early days after toilet paper was invented, people in the United States were embarrassed to ask for it by name.  Bodily functions were not discussed back then and it took a long time for there to be widespread use and acceptance of toilet paper.  As technology progressed and more homes were built with indoor plumbing which couldn’t flush corncobs, toilet paper became more attractive to the American consumer.

In 1935, the Northern Paper Company invented splinter free toilet paper. Softer, splinter free toilet paper then became a reality for consumers and provided the advertising slogan:  Quilted Northern Bath Tissue…Soft and 100% Splinter Free!

In 1935, Northern Tissue

Toilet paper has had quite a variety of slang names since its invention.  Depending on the time and place you lived, it was called bumf, bum wad, loo roll/paper, bum wipe, bum fodder, bog roll, toilet roll/paper, dunny roll/paper, bathroom/toilet tissue, TP, arsewipe, sh** tickets” (used informally by soldiers of the United States Army), sh** paper, a** wipe, poo paper, and also simply “tissue.”

When I was growing up, toilet paper was available in colors to match your bathroom and was perfumed or scented. Colored toilet paper in pink, beige, lavender, light blue, light green, and light yellow was sold in the United States from the 1960s until 2004 when the production of colored paper was halted when consumers stopped buying them because of fears that the dyes were hard on septic systems.  Colored toilet paper remains available today in some European countries.

Do you remember Colored Toilet

Even now, toilet paper isn’t used in parts of the world without plumbing for disposal or where it simply isn’t available.  Some countries such as India, consider it a cleaner and more sanitary practice to use water for cleansing rather than toilet paper.  In those cultures, bidets, which were invented by the French during the Middle Ages, or other water means are used. In Japan, the Washlet, which is an electric toilet that comes equipped with a bidet and an air-blower, is popular.

Today, in the United States, more than seven billion rolls of toilet paper are sold every year and Americans use an average of 23.6 rolls per person.  Toilet paper is available in white with one to four plies (or layers) and is usually embossed with decorative designs or patterns.  The size of a sheet of toilet paper is roughly 4” x 4” although there is some slight variation depending on the brand.

Toilet paper 049

The most recent innovation in the world of toilet paper is from the Kimberly Clark Company who now owns Scott Toilet Tissue.  They have recently introduced a tubeless toilet paper roll called Scott Naturals Tube-Free.  You can go to their website at www.scottbrand.com and calculate how many toilet paper rolls your family uses a year, and how many toilet paper tubes you will save by using their tube-free toilet paper.

Toilet paper 021

Here are some interesting toilet paper statistics from www.toiletpaperworld.com:

*Men use more toilet paper than women but women use it more frequently.

* When it comes to using toilet paper, women are more apt to be grabbers and wadders, while men tend to be folders.

*A standard roll of toilet paper usually lasts five days in the most-used bathroom in the house.

* On average, people use 8.6 sheets of toilet paper per trip to the bathroom – a total of 57 squares per day.

*72% of people hang their toilet paper over while 28% prefer to hang it under.

The most common toilet paper debate is the whole over/under preference.  Those who are for the “over” orientation say it looks nicer, it’s easier to find the end, and it reduces the chance of passing germs.  Those who believe in hanging the toilet paper “under” say it has a tidier appearance, and it’s harder for a small child or pet to unravel the roll.

At our house, we both prefer that the toilet paper hang  over rather than under.  This is supported by the original patent for perforated toilet paper from September 15, 1891 which says the proper way to orient toilet paper is over…so the debate is now over.

Author’s note:  After doing all the research for this blog post, I can say that I am so happy to have been born in the twentieth century when toilet paper was already invented!

Toilet paper 014