MINE: Bowls n’ Scales

You know what used to be fun? Telling the internet about random stuff I bought. I like stuff. I like the internet. I buy stuff all the time. I’m on the internet all the time. It’s really a natural pairing. Why aren’t we doing this more?

This past weekend I went down to D.C. to visit my parents for Passover. Passover is what Jews were up to while y’all looked for colorful eggs left by a grown adult in a rabbit’s costume to celebrate that time 2,000 years ago when God’s human son was brutally murdered and then reemerged zombie-style a few days later, or something along those lines. I’m fuzzy on the details. Human beings are so bonkers.

SPEAKING OF BONKERS (swerving back into my lane now, forgive me the religion lesson), I drove out to Fredericksburg, Virginia to watch my older, fitter brother play in an Ultimate Frisbee tournament, which was awesome? My tolerance for sports is probably best described as sub-zero, but Ultimate Frisbee somehow makes a lot of sense to me. If I had any athletic ability whatsoever, I’d totally want to join the ranks. Most of the players rock this elusive combo of having the chiseled body of an athlete but the goofy attitude of a stoner hippie, and I feel like you just don’t find that in baseball. Five stars.

On the way home, I stopped at an antique store. Why? Because I passed it on the road. NEED I ANY MORE JUSTIFICATION? GOOD. DIDN’T THINK SO.

I have a bowl problem. I know I have a bowl problem. Once I was with someone who wanted to put a moratorium on bowl purchases, and it might be telling that I’m no longer with that person but still have an impressive surplus of bowls. I JUST LOVE BOWLS. LOVING ME MEANS LOVING ALL OF ME MY BOWLS.

For several years now I have been accumulating antique yellowware bowls. I do not have a reason other than that I think they’re beautiful! Someday, hopefully in the not-too-distant future, I’ll have an actual place to display this collection. For now I just hoard them. It’s totally healthy and fine.

As I’ve matured into the stable adult with good judgment you see before you today, I’ve learned that collections of all kinds can get totally out of hand unless you impose some real boundaries and criteria. One of the easiest rules for me to follow is simply to not hunt for it—I don’t search specifically for it and never look online. Either I come across it while out and about or I don’t. I try to keep it fairly limited to white or blue striping (very often you see brown stripes which I’m not as into), and it has to be legit old, not vintage reproduction. I also impose a price limit of $30, because pricing is ALL over the map. I think yellowware got really popular in the 90s and early 2000s, maybe due to Queen Martha’s famous affinity for it. Now it seems to have fallen sufficiently out of fashion, so consequently sometimes it’s priced as though the trend never died and sometimes it’s super cheap.

With vintage/antique ceramics, you want to be smart because the glazes can contain lead, so you probably don’t want to…I don’t know, serve soup in something like this. Honestly you should just give it to me. I’ll take that hazard right off your hands. It’s safer for everyone that way.

Anyway. $25 antique yellowware bowl, hello welcome home. Go join your friends and I’ll call you when there’s a kitchen.

OH WHOOPS I BOUGHT ANOTHER BOWL DARN IT! Bowls, bowls, all day long—bowls! But this is a special bowl!!!

(They’re all special bowls.)

THIS bowl is enameled steel, and it’s Finnish, and it’s from the 1960s, and it has mushrooms all over it! I’ve long adored this particular pattern, which was designed by Esteri Tomula. The bowl itself (and the whole coordinating line of dishware that might have joined it at one time) was designed by Kaj Franck and produced by Finel. They’re highly collectable and I can’t remember ever seeing one just hanging out in the wild! It was $40, which YES is a tad steep for a bowl I do not need but merely want desperately, but a quick online search confirmed that these typically go for 2-3 times that, so it’s a Good Investment. For what, I do not know. That’s not important.

You know what else is not important? That these little scales ever serve a function in my life, other than looking cool. I bet they did at one time for somebody. Now they’re just so cute and dangly and patina’d and look very homemade and for $10…I mean…

I’m a Libra. That’s the scales, right? How’s that? It’s astrology’s fault.

Also, there’s a good enough chance that they’ll look s’cute in my kitchen or pantry that I just did it.

Also I lack a lot of self-control.


107 Comments

  1. ❤️
    NEED I SAY MORE?

  2. I remember that Finnish bowl! I loved it and I wondered what happened to it… Maybe you somehow got hold of mine! I did grow up in Virginia, long ago… :)

  3. Self-control is SO over-rated.

  4. Could you be any cuter? I love you and your secret little scavenging while out watching Ultimate. (And, blaming your delayed return on all the traffic, huh)?

  5. Candlesticks and vases, especially ceramic vessels and vases are my crutch when antique shopping! I love me a candle and who can resist a pretty thing to put that candle in? I have a few of these taper style holders and maybe one day I’ll have a big collection because look how pretty they are all displayed together! via the book Collected: Living With Things which I really want to get! (https://hips.hearstapps.com/toc.h-cdn.co/assets/cm/14/43/544514ff8787d_-_tnc-collected-book-page-183-by-sang-an-lg.jpg?resize=980:*)

    • Candlesticks and vases are weaknesses of mine toooooo. Including a couple of those little dansk taper style ones, although I’ve had such a difficult time finding candles that fit in them! But they’re such cute objects that I kinda don’t care, haha!

  6. Love that mushroom bowl. I’m from Europe and just about every one had one. Great find!

  7. I have that mushroom bowl! I got it at a church garage sale super cheap about 20 years ago. But it’s definitely worth $40. Because is a great bowl. A few months ago I decided what I really needed to cozy up my home was a wooden bowl. A week later I had three. I also have a bowl problem. But, bowls are awesome. So are chairs, but bowls are easier to hoard.

    • Exactly!! I think my bowl habit might have helped curb my chair habit a little? (let’s be honest, I just haven’t come across a good chair for a while)

    • I have managed at last to curtail my chair habit. I still look and admire but haven’t purchased one in a while.

      But bowls? For me it isn’t just bowls. I am a dish whore. I admit it. (That is step one, right?)

      I loooove dishes. Sets of dishes, individual dishes, serving bowls, platters … you name it. If it is a dish – a good dish – it calls to me.

  8. Oh, I understand the need and passion. Trust me. I just bought a cow creamer just before coming to this site. Because my grandparents had a cow creamer. Need.

  9. I love you and your blog and I adore all your house posts and I love your stuff posts! More of all of it! Anything you write is entertaining to me and I’m sure all your readers! If you ever sell out and do a Target line, I’m there for it. Or A book? Xoxo

  10. I’m the same way with boxes/lidded containers. I just LOVE them.
    The $10 scale brought your total to 75 which is a much nicer number than 65. :)

    • The boxes! I used to collect boxes as a kid. I’ve gotten rid of most of the collection at this point, but I like keeping a few around. Weirdly I don’t ever remember putting anything in them as a kid, but they were just nice to have? Ha!

  11. A Target line – yes! A book – yes! Bowls – yes! But oh my gosh, the scales – yes, yes, yes!!! Love it all and more but my house gets smaller each year.

  12. Those bowls? Yes, please. I loved your description of Easter. Hilarious! As a mixed-religion family, we gave up Easter about twenty years ago. However, every year, at least one of the kids begs us to hide Easter eggs. My husband, who was raised Jewish, feels guilty (as many Jews do), so he agrees to do it. When he first started hiding eggs, I had to advise him that the eggs were meant to be filled with candy, not practical jokes. He was putting gravel and paper clips in some of them.

  13. My weakness is pewter. My oldest piece (a very beat up stein) is early 1800s and my favourite piece is an old whale oil lamp. It’s pristine, so hopefully no whales died to light it. I don’t seek it out either, but my collection is far too big. Now I just need to find the perfect old Welsh dresser where I can display it all.
    Your posts consistently make me laugh, except when I was crying over Linus (RIP, sweet boy).
    Can’t wait to see where you put the scales.

  14. Family members say I have a “chair problem”. I call them projects.

  15. Libra – me too! Obsessed with bowls – me too! To the point where I have to put myself on bowl restriction.

  16. Love the look of the two bowls setting together.

  17. Love all of this, well purchased, sir! I love bowls, too. But I’m not fancy like you, I like bowls fresh from the crowded and bizarre shelves of Home Sense just as much as an antique. I have put myself on a bowl diet, though, I admit.

    The only thing I currently collect that is old is brass animals, but only if I run across them in a thrift store or antique shop. I am really bad about spotting brass animals on a decorating blog and feeling extremely jealous, until I try to soothe myself with the thought that, if anyone saw my brass animals, they would also feel jealous, so I should just be thankful. That sometimes works.

  18. I grew up with the Finnish bowl! My parents got it as a wedding present. One of them still has it, I think. It’s been serving us salads for almost 40 years – quite a bit longer than the marriage lasted. It’s always been one of my favorites. You will not regret it!

  19. I have eight sets of 12 of more place settings because food looks different on different colors and you never know who’s coming to the party.

    Bowls are fine. Great find!

    • Eight sets of 12 place settings? Sigh…. serious dish envy from the gal who has only four. Two are Wedgwood, one quite old and the other of mid century vintage.

      I have a thing for silver plate too. I blame that on the gorgeous antique chased tea pot, cream and sugar that came to my mother from my dad’s family when they married. It has pride of place in my china cupboard.

  20. Your bowls look super cute just sitting there. I know we will see them again.

  21. I love the way you write. I could read endlessly about you talking about bowls or drywall or any other crap. Anything and everything just sounds kinda brilliant. Keeep it upppppp please.

  22. Oh my word! Yellow Ware envy! Zipping through email trying to empty the mailbox and you had to stick that photo of yellow lusciousness at the very top. My unending. I always look, but I have never seen one in that lovely of condition. My beautiful Mom in law had one that fresh salad was served in, but when we moved back after her death someone had taken it. So for now I’ll stare longingly at your find.

  23. Heavens to Betsy, a bowl moratorium? I’m a sucker for bowls. Some people are all about throw pillows or whatever, not me. That mushroom bowl is killer!

  24. I loved this post. ❤️

  25. So here’s the thing….I don’t remember signing up to receive your blog posts. So I see something in my email from manhatten-nest and I think to myself “Who the hell is this? And why are they in my inbox?” and then I said ” Well Self, you won’t know until you open it, now will you? “. “But what if it’s something icky like those things that the spam catcher missed that we opened that made us blush so hard that we thought we’d burst a blood vessel in our face?” Hmmmm. So I screwed up my courage (with Me and Myself standing bravely….behind me?) And opened the email. Lol! Lots of all-out ensued! I’ll be looking forward to seeing manhattan-nest in my mailbox on a regular basis! Oh, and Me and Myself at looking forward to future posts as well! Three for the price of one! :)

    • Ha! Is it possible that at some point you clicked that little box below the comment field that says “notify me of new posts by email”? Nobody should be getting subscribed if they don’t want to be! But glad it’s a welcome addition, even if unexpected! :) :)

  26. Great find, the mushroom bowl I mean. The bowl’s name in Finnish is Tatti, so not just any mushroom, but Boletaceae family of mushrooms. Mrs Tomula wanted to be specific I guess.

    Great writing as always. Enjoyed your description of easter.

  27. I think you made the right thing bringing those items home. Sure, as a fellow (semi-)hoarder of certain items (books, tea, owls and Nuutajärvi-bowls mostly), who am I to judge… ;-)

  28. An ex-partner set a moratorium on BOWLS? Bollix to that! Both those bowls are lovely, and I too remember the black and white one when it was the height of table fashion, it appeared in every kind of magazine. I like bowls too…. I have several that could contain salad for 10 even though there are only 2 of us: who cares anyway?! Enjoy!

  29. I love the bowls, got a few myself! All of this is leading up to awesome kitchen posts, I can’t wait but I do have to admit I drew a very deep breath when you moved the laundry. Good decision BTW, the back hall function was getting complicated! Keep posting your stuff, I never get tired of it. Thanks.

  30. I loved reading this post! I too have a dish habit. Whether I need them or not a new little something something makes my home feel a little more homey. It’s good to know I am not alone. Reading your post made me smile!

  31. Your lack of self control is our win. Yay for cute bowls!

  32. Please tell me about all the things you buy. For real.

  33. That Finnish mushroom bowl is amazing. You absolutely needed it.

  34. I have that mushroom bowl too! I took it from my dad’s house. I keep extra bags of cat and dog treats in it on a top shelf in my kitchen — so it’s my pet’s favorite bowl. :)

  35. I’m a bible thumping Christian…. and that explanation of Easter made me laugh so hard my morning tea sprayed out my nose.

  36. one word: pyrex.
    (sigh)
    …but that mushroom bowl? I totally would have sprung for it!

    • PYREX! I know. I’ve largely broken my Pyrex/Fire King addictions, but that didn’t stop me from passing up the set of 12 jadeite fire king salad plates I found not too long ago….I mean what was I supposed to do?

  37. I also have no self-control. I have to have a separate checking account so that I can limit my “oooh, tchotchkes!” impulse with the threat of overdraft charges.

    • HA I do the same thing! I don’t know how anybody manages to avoid overspending without multiple checking accounts to keep things separate. It’s called RESPONSIBILITY, OK? (to cope with a lack of responsibility, admittedly)

  38. I just bought that same Finnish bowl, too! Except I paid $50 for mine. Totally worth it. That sucker looks fabulous. I love that a blogger I adore just validated my purchase and taste in bowls.

  39. We have the same bowl obsession, lol. I don’t know why, but I’m very attracted to them. I love each and every one!

  40. YESSSSS. I am a total tray hoarder. I cannot, for the life of me, thin the ranks of my tray collection.

  41. I just needed to tell you how very happy your post made me today. You brought a smile to my face (as your posts typically do).

  42. It sucks when someone with a normal life is driving. They don’t even LOOK for antique stores.

    • And those people drive blithely RIGHT PAST ESTATE SALE SIGNS without even thinking about slamming on the brakes and turning around. Even in posh neighborhoods! Makes me suspect there are two species of H. sapiens on the planet: hoarders/thrifters, and the rest.

      • That’s because our hunter-gatherer genes are still strong! Probaly we are Neanderthaler (is that a word?) than most.
        BTW it should be gatherer-hunter apparently (those in the know say that gathering was way more frequent than hunting – and it makes sense, actually). So… yay for us! I think :-D

  43. I. LOVE. BOWLS. I have a (un)healthy obsession with stoneware mixing bowls from the late 1880s to early 1900s. If they’re some sort of white-ish shade? Even better. With any sort of simple monochromatic pattern carved or built onto the sides or rim? EVEN BETTER. They’re never especially valuable or fancy, but I just can’t have enough of them. I have all kinds of pinterest dreams of wall of shelves or a beautiful antique hutch to display them all in someday.

    I also have a bit of a thing for vintage brass tchotchkes (my all time favorite from my collection is my little brass grasshopper – it’s apparently good luck, something about always moving forward or some such, doesn’t matter because he’s wonderful regardless). My grandfather was notorious for spending all his spare time browsing any and all auctions in our area, and he could always be counted on to buy anything even remotely brass-colored. I think he started out thinking they might be worth something someday but then it just turned into habit and then (sadly) dementia issues of just not realizing how much he was collecting. When he passed away and we culled through most of it, I gathered some of the most unique and sentimental to take with me. They still make me happy looking at them and thinking of my grandpa wandering around thousands of auctions, having a ball. :)

  44. Fantastic post, as always. I agree with posters at the top: you need to write a book. Fucking hilarious.

    My weakness is milk glass (tho not the grape pattern, which seems most popular). Also, I look for vintage paint-by-number paintings (tropical) and it is my dream in life to have faux bamboo Chinoserie fretwork dining room chairs but $$$$$$.

  45. I actually gasped at the mushroom enamel bowl! My parents had a couple enamel Scandinavian pieces just like that (but with big red hearts clover pattern) and and I’ve hunted for similar ones. 40 bucks?! You totally scored!

  46. Love bowls…love you my Jewish brother,but please leave out the religious comments.

  47. Hi, I’m Maria and I’m a bowloholic.

  48. Fredericksburg!!! Man. I have lived in Brooklyn for a million years now….but went to Mary Washington College (when it was named that)….also LOVE THE MUSHROOM BOWL OMG

  49. I love that you just love old yellowware bowls, even if they might have lead. Isn’t there a certain color of china that is radioactive? I bet there are similar souls out there who are just love them despite their radioactivity. Unconditional love. It’s a beautiful thing.

    • Katie – there’s some shades of red/orange pottery from the early 20th century (like Fiesta ware and its ‘cousins’ Harlequin and Riviera) that got their red color from uranium. Personally, I control my dish-collecting habit by only going for the green, yellow and turquoise, you know, for health reasons (not just because I can’t afford it!)

      And there’s “vaseline glass” which is the yellow-green color of Mountain Dew, and glows under a black light!

  50. Hi Daniel:
    Erin Dean recommended that I follow your blog. I’ve been enjoying it for a number of months. I’d like to sign you up to the Saskatchewan Craft Council’s bi-weekly eZine called Talking Craft. I know you spent time in Saskatchewan so I thought you might like to keep in touch with our world of Fine Craft. We have online shopping available as well, so you can fulfill all your passions. Let me know if you’re interested.

    Looking forward to your discoveries.
    Carmen

  51. May I just say that I love you and any damn thing you want to write about any damn day? Nice bowls, cute scale, stellar storytelling. Wonderful to see you back in fine form, fettle, or whatever.

  52. Bowls? Scales? My dear, I have you beat. I have, ahem, nine – yes, nine – manual typewriters. Because I LOVE them, that’s why!

    When I see a yellow bowl, I will think of you and your fabulous blog. Daniel, I just realized that I’ve been reading it since you actually lived in Manhattan and built the desk that led me to you!

  53. Look at slide #25 of this Apartment Therapy home tour! Holy Bowls, Batman!

  54. Oh how I miss these kind of posts! You are so clever and funny. Buy more bowls please—or chairs—whatever it takes. The world needs more of Daniel’s humor. I know you have those other talents — —ok not ⚾️⚽️ —BUT DAMN CAN YOU WRITE. More please.

  55. I was scream-laughing at your explanation of easter. Perfect.

  56. Everyone is commenting on your bowls (which are for sure great and pretty and I’m jealous of your finds) but more importantly I WAS AT THAT TOURNAMENT!!!! I play ultimate frisbee and traveled down there from Ohio to play. It’s the greatest sport (imo) and I think you nailed the description of the type of people who play. You can play on my team anytime!

  57. Absolutely love your bowls, Daniel. And I’m so glad you’re blogging again. If there is such a thing as a natural writer, you’re it. Thank you.

  58. I feel the way about floral frogs that you feel about bowls.

  59. Pillow problem and a budding/latent pom pom problem. My youngest is graduating from college next month and after the summer is over moving into an apartment with her cousin. It was super sad thinking of her never living in her room again until it occurred to me i could move my office in there and with the addition of a daybed a glorious opportunity to buy, yes!, more pillows and a big Moroccan blanket with big ass pom poms around the edges that my husband would never want on our bed (plus dog hair) Suddenly…not so sad!

  60. Adding bowls to the list of things-i-send-daniel-when-i-clean-out-my-garage-of-things-i-thought-i-wanted-but-don’t-actually-need.

  61. Things I shamelessly collect: green or turquoise McCoy planters, Mexican paintings of birds made with feathers, souvenir pillows, the metal trays with ‘state’ flowers printed on them (ideally from a state I’ve never visited) aluminum kitchen canisters… I keep it under control money and space-wise by sticking to only two or three colors.

  62. Just always love ya, and I love this post, talking about bowls and scales is good!

  63. As somebody who has unhealthy obsession with Correll bowls, I concur that loving a person means loving their bowls.Also? If you want a cheap and easy way to display bowls, keep an eye out for those old wooden bookcase style headboards.. People are happy to give away these headboards and you can easily cut/trim them and then stack the shelves on top of your existing bookshelves or cabinets (especially if the top of your bookcases or cabinets are recessed).

  64. That mushroom bowl is sooo good. I got way to many bowls, because every summer we drive up to Sweden and there are löppis everywhere. Some years we don’t take the ferry which means we have to drive thru Denmark so it gets even worse :)

  65. I totally understand the bowl thing. I have ceramics problem. It doesn’t have to be a bowl, just fired mud in some form or another. I have a small West German pottery collection, some 100-year old transfer printed bowls and plates, modern Pueblo pottery, heavy farm stoneware that belonged to my great-grandparents, etc.. I would have some Johnathan Adler pieces if I could afford them. At least you have restricted your hoarding to a single form.=)

    Also, visits to antique stores never require justification. ;)

  66. You do NOT have a problem. I, who have collected so much West German Pottery (the fat lava kind), teak furniture, 70s glassware and vintage kitch that I just paid a moving company 6,500 bucks to move me within the same city — I might have a weensy problem.

    But as long as you don’t have to buy another house to put it in, you’re okay.

  67. *SQUEE!*

    Mekko is featured in today’s Desire to Inspire Pets on Furniture! :D

    http://www.desiretoinspire.net/2018/04/09/mondays-pets-on-furniture-230/

  68. I grew up in Minnesota in the 60’s, the decade during which the mushroom motif was emblazoned on absolutely everything, and I have to say I have never seen that bowl. Maybe it never made it West past the Mississippi? It sure looks better than the yellow/orange/brown ceramic version my mother (and the mother of everyone I knew) had. Never mind the money spent. The heart wants what the heart wants.

  69. GAHHHHH!!!! I’m just so glad you’re back to blogging! I’m a first time commenter, long time reader. I just couldn’t contain my excitement any longer and this post made me lol the whole time. Soooo, thank you. Thanks for being you. You are s’cute! <3

  70. Ohh, your posts, any posts, make my eyes light up and my heart happy. Thanks Daniel!

  71. I total understand you! Haha – I have a bowl problem, too! And I am some years older than you…….so guess how many bowls I have……
    Btw: I love you and your blog!

  72. Bowls….restaurant ware bowls in particular. Only regret the ones I leave behind….so stopped leaving them! Enjoy!

  73. hey I don’t if you know this but the viglink script you have installed on your site is hijacking all your links and clicking out to weird viglink merchant pages so they don’t actually go to the link you’re trying to send people to. surprised no one else has said anything…or maybe people don’t click your links? I also work in affiliate so I think I just see what’s happening here and know to tell you that its an issue!

    • Thanks for letting me know, Zoe! I thought that had been fixed, sigh. If you happen to see this, can you let me know what browser you’re using?

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