Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Penny Saved... is a Missed Opportunity

What are you saving your china for?

or that secret box of gourmet chocolates?

The tablecloth that comes out once a year?

The quilt your grandma made?

When will you use it?

Are you hoping to pass it down, in pristine condition, to your children...

who won't use it?

I collect Spode Blue Italian (oh, and Royal Doulton Norfolk pattern too if you're keeping tabs for next Christmas).

I USE it.
We eat on the plates and even my gardener drinks from my cups. I don't freak out when I hear them clink a little roughly when being put away.

In 2008 I sent my mother a Spode tea cup and saucer.

When I was a young adult and she was a young-ish widow, we'd sit in the morning sun and have a hot drink together. We'd joke that we were "celebrating the moments of our lives".

I wanted her to use that cup and imagine we were not only on the same continent, but in the same kitchen.
She said she loved it.

This year I happened on a Blue Italian Tea for One (little tea pot with cup). I was thrilled because Spode went under about a year ago and stopped making anything-- of course that sent people into a panic and they shopped until I dropped (they have since been "financially assisted" by a different company and have resumed producing my pattern, but so far it's mostly the basic pieces, nothing like candle sticks).

I saved that tea pot and cup for 5 months and then lovingly wrapped it and mailed it to my mother for Christmas.

When I asked her about it... she said, "Oh yes, it's beautiful! I had (my step dad) put it up with all of my other tea pots for me".


I clarified that she had placed this gift up high where she couldn't reach it and truthfully, can't even really see it without straining. I'm willing to bet she even kept it in the box.

I could cry.

I would have used it. I would have let my children use it.

Thirty or forty years from now, I can envision my children sitting around their own tables with a mismatched, chipped or cracked dinner set remembering the times we had used it as a family. Long after I am gone, my children will know which quilts my Granny made for me because they see them now on my bed. I don't allow them to drag them around the house like the other blankets, but her quilts are lovingly used.


save a child from neglect,

save your friend from making a terrible mistake.

save the harsh critisism even though your husband has set himself up for it,

but for Pete's sake,

USE your treasures while you're here to use them!

At least use the ones your daughter sent you.


  1. ha, I have both of my grandmothers' sets of china, one is in a china cabinet and the other is still boxed. If I could use them in the microwave they might get more use but they have the foiled edges. Though I would probably use the tea pot you have pictured. Maybe I'll have to pull out a piece or two.

  2. I have about 50 teacups and saucers from my mother. I don't use them everyday because I don't think the cups are big enough for my coffee but I do help host a huge tea every year at Christmas and they come out then. I love having them...they remind me of my childhood!

  3. When I was first married I saved the "good" stemware for a special occasion. One day during the semi-annual cleaning I knocked one on the floor and it broke. I learned my lesson that day. Enjoy the good dishes and glasses. They can always be replaced, and you will have the special memories of using them.

  4. We have special mugs that we use every Christmas... Not at the age yet where I need china for myself and a family. But I see your point :) Hope you are loving the snow!!

  5. I believe in using the pretties EVERY DAY! My children learned to sip soup and spoon porridge from Wedgewood Beatrix Potter nursery sets and graduated quickly to Blue Willow, Blue Italian, Blue Tower, and even Pink Tower (oh so rare, it seems and I think I just confessed to having an affinity for buying old blue and white beauties and pink ones too) and rarely has anything been chipped in the slightest. My young ladies sip with delight from great-grandma's teacup collection whenever the mood hits. It's a good thing. I'm on board with you . . . USE IT and enJOY!

  6. Sweet!
    If I had pretties to use, I would--I hope (but I'm sure I'd fly off the handle everytime one got broke). I love the blue and white china. So pretty!!!

  7. My mum, bless her, wanted a crystal vase. I was about 20 at the time, and saved up hard throughout the year, buying her a piece of royal doulton crystal tall enough for most flowers.. on her birthday I gave it to her with a big bouquet of flowers which she promptly put in a plastic container.. when I asked what about the vase, I got told that it was too good to use and might get broken if she did.. she never used it and now I own it and do use it as I believe in using things, that way when they break you have the memories of it being used. I just think that her generation had to have things for best, today we are much more consumerist.

  8. A very valid point. Too often we're obsessed with collecting things just to say that we have them. I love that you use your treasures!

  9. This just might be my favorite post that you have ever written! I use my china on a regular basis, I wear the fancy nightgowns, and I burn the beautiful candles - what are we waiting for? And I have a feeling my mom has done the same as yours - I just don't ask because I am afraid of what her answer might be !

  10. The philosophy of using the "fine" things everyday and enjoying them is one that my mother passed on to me. Why wait until some mythical "special event" to use your nice plates, cups, tablecloth, whatever? Life is too short not to enjoy everything you have!

  11. I knew I adored you for a reason! I don't use the good stuff every day, because I don't put it in the dishwasher. Washing it all by hand is a chore. But I have company over as often as possible and break it all out for them. I use everything I have at every opportunity. Did you know that if you don't use fine china it gets brittle?

  12. That's such a good piece of advice. If I had some I would use them. :) It does seem very silly to have them and never get to enjoy them.

  13. That's why I can't let go of coke..truly a treasure and soon to be taxed extra;0)


  14. I learned that lesson about 15 years back when my first husband's grandmother died. When they went through all of her things (to give them away) they found SO MANY UNOPENED BOXES of towels, lingerie, clothing, shoes, craft items .... all things that she was saving to use eventually. For a special occasion.

    She never got to use those things.

    We USE our wonderful goblets from the Madonna Inn. Don't have many other treasures ... but we use them. If they break, they'll break *loved*.

  15. Amen! I couldn't agree more! :)

  16. What a beautiful post! Some things I will take to heart.


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