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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

I love what I use, and I use what I love

I think of this as luxurious frugality.

I own a few sets of dishware. I use each set for different seasons and occasions. Some pieces were handed down to me. I have part of my grandmother's first set of china, a set that she and her mother, together hand-painted. And I have what remains of my parents' china from the 1950s.

Some of the sets of dishware were gifts to me. One set, our everyday dishes for spring and summer, was given to me as gifts spanning a few occasions, by my mother before she passed away. Another set was given to my husband and me, by my father, as Christmas gifts, for many years.

These last two sets, given to me by my parents, have needed some "filling out" of missing pieces, and a couple of replacement pieces, over the years. We do use these dishes daily. I keep a watchful eye for them when haunting the second-hand shops.

How is this frugal, to own so many sets of dishware? I've been using one set of these dishes for 34 years. I have never tired of this pattern. And just as I feel a need for a change with our tableware, a new season falls upon us, and I switch out one set of dishes for another.

You see, I don't think frugality means having few possessions. I think frugality means having the right possessions for ourselves. I don't buy things just to own them. I only settle my money on the things that truly bring joy to my sight.

I love what I use. And I use what I love.

On Sunday, as the leftover chili was reheating for lunch, one dear daughter and I took 10 minutes to put the spring and summer dishware away, and retrieve the fall and winter dishware. This is our fall and winter set. It's called Friendly Village by Johnson Brothers. Each piece has a different scene, most of them winter scenes. As I set the plates, bowls, cups, saucers and mugs on the dish dresser, I took a moment to gaze on each scene, and a smile washed across my face.

Yes, it's luxurious. And yes, it's also frugal.


Anonymous said...

Good Morning, Lili,
When my hubby and I got married it was a normal thing to pick out dinnerwareat a store strictly fpr that. People bought settings for us until we had 8 total. I didn't know any better and if I did it today I would never had my guests buy that. We rarely use that set. It's heavy, though plain but pretty just not user-friendly.

I do have an 8 piece corelle that I use daily. It's light, pretty and it has a very unique piece that you never see anymore. It has a dinner plate, sandwich plate, mugs, small dessert bowl and cereal bowls. But it has what is known as a soup bowl that is the size between the dinner plate and sandwich plate with raised edges though not as raised as a cereal bowl.

When the kids were younger they were best able to scoop their food out of this bowl and so we used those as dinner plates and still do today. They are smaller for portion control. Corelle doesn't make this style plate anymore but we love those the best.

I have often thought about picking up something else at a resale store (never would I buy a set new) or garage sale but there really is no reason to do that. I don't have room in the cupboard to store them and we already use what we love. I have however, put some some placemats and fabric napkins out to change out our decoration. They don't even match our dinnerware but I don't really care.

My mother-in-law has a set that belongs to me from when hubby and I bought an elderly lady's home furnishings when she moved out to an assisted facility after her children picked what they wanted. We bought the rest not knowing what we would find. This was just before we married 30 years ago. We had two beds, a refrigerator and washer and dryer, all kitchen utensils, dishes, and I don't even know what else. I still have many of those things today and one is a set of dishes that my MIL wanted to have with the promise I would get them back. I'll have to ask if she still has them.

I loved this post as I am of the same mindset as you are, Lili!


Unknown said...

You and I are on exactly the same page! I love dishes and I love the pieces that I have fallen heir to! I love your blog and all your fabulous ideas and musings, Lili. Thank you for all you do for so many!

Lili said...

Hi Alice,
Corelle does last forever, doesn't it? When our church went to outfit the kitchen with supplies to handle weddings, luncheons and dinners, the lady in charge bought Corelle, knowing that they would be extremely durable, and a wise purchase.

The soup bowl you mention, sounds like what's known as a "soup plate". They have that raised, wide rim, which makes them look plate-like, but a well in the center, deeper than a plate would have. (In my younger days, I worked as a manager of the home division in a department store.) I can see how this type of soup bowl would be so much neater for children to eat from.

What a lovely story of how the elderly lady's belongings were put to such good use, by a young couple starting out.

Lili said...

Hi Connie,
Thank you for your kind words.
I know you must feel this way, too. With the inherited dishes, I love to think about the history of the different sets, of the family that sat around the table together. Or, with my parents set of china, their hopes and dreams as a young bride and groom. And I truly treasure the sets that my parents gave to me, as neither one of my parents is still with us. I know it's the memories of those people who count, not things. But it's those things which evoke the lovely memories.

Have a wonderful day, Connie. And thanks for your comments.

Anonymous said...

Alice-- That Corelle Wear soup bowl is also PERFECT for egg-washing french toast! LOL I initially split the two soup bowls we had left with the son that got the rest of the Corelle Wear, so he and I could each use one for that purpose. LOL But I've finally given him the other one, too. :) Sara

Anonymous said...

Good morning, Lili!

"I think frugality means having the right possessions for ourselves." I love this! It's so true. You could even take it farther and say that frugality means finding what works for ourselves.

I smiled reading how much joy you had in putting out your fall/winter dishes. It's wonderful when we know the things that bring us that joy, and know how to frugally include those things in our lives. Thank you, not only for providing ideas on how to live frugally, but for always reminding that frugal living can be joyous and beautiful!


Anne in the kitchen said...

As a fellow dish junkie I understand. I have 8 sets of dishes that I use regularly

Kris said...

I'd kinda like to ditch my Pfalzgraff for white dishware, but I have so many matching serving pieces, I'm hesitant to do so. My pattern is old but I still like it--but it's heavy and takes up a lot of room, which I don't like so much. I have a set of china from our wedding (gifts), I have white plastic patio plates that I bought years ago and which we use almost daily (because ... plastic, lightweight, and kids just go together) and I have 4 plates that I bought for $1 each at Pier One many years ago that we use frequently (cream-colored, with blue teapots bordering the rims--fits into my "tea" theme). When we have lots of people over, it's been very helpful to have lots of tableware. I think you should go right on enjoying your plates--it's the little things, after all, that bring the most joy, isn't it?

TG said...

I am currently looking for a set of dishes for my oldest as she prepares to move out. I too have inherited some lovely dishes , unfortunately they either will not stand up to a dishwasher or have features making them unusable in a microwave.
I frequent a consignment shop run by volunteers who are mostly older. They have stopped accepting bone china sets as there is no market.

Anonymous said...

We use an older Corelle set too, actually two sets, since the 90s. I wish I thought to buy plain white for my first set because 1) I like bright white dishes and towels and 2) it is easier to find Corelle replacements since white seems to be a constant offering. Same for towels...and more importantly I can bleach white towels without worrying.

I guess frugality is a tool to help us bring greater joy and security to our lives. Lili, your appreciation of beauty (art history major no less) is the end goal perhaps and frugality is the tool that affords you such luxury.

Since I am not a "sensing" person (Myer Briggs personality definition), which means I am "intuitive" instead (8 of the 16 types are intuitive), I don't enjoy decorating much. I was reading on the internet how different MB personality types approach decorating (, and INTJs (myself) prefer organization and function in our homes over warmth and beauty.. Which is why when we return from our trips, we undergo a kind of culture shock. Ahhh the comforts of our hotel room....funny how obsessed I am about making things, the latest being rugs for the home??? Such a mystery, I have resigned to calling myself just a "maker", never an artist even if I would love to have been one.


Live and Learn said...

"I love what I use, and I use what I love"--perfect. It's okay to have things that you use, but not have things just to have them. That's my philosophy anyway.

I like the idea of different dishes for each season, but that is far from the way I do things. I'm just happy to have clean dishes. I know you are a real person Lili with all of the ups and downs and strength and weaknesses that other people have, but it almost seems as if you are super woman sometimes. Dishes for each season is another example of this. That goes with varied and healthful meals all time, frugal decorations, planned gardens and landscaping, special treats for each holiday, extraordinary frugal shopping, and the list goes on. You are truly an remarkable person and excel at making things work well for your family.

Anonymous said...

To avoid myself from being too contradictory...I'll just mention that the "art" I want to do doesn't require feeling/sensing (strange I know). I don't know why but I'm obsessed with reading energies since I was a kid. It didn't phase me that I liked color until the 90s. I took some art studio courses in college, like drawing and color theory, and it didn't seem that interesting (perhaps more about how it was taught than the subject). I knew back then that I wanted to learn more about art but just couldn't zero in on what about art that I liked. I took fashion design in college for two years too, and knew it wasn't about creating fashion for the market. At this point, I feel the need to "write" my energy code (for lack of better words) into what I make, and rug making at this point seems to fit the bill. Maybe color energy is a language I feel needs to be expressed. I also have visions of wanting to pass this on to my children and hopefully their children and so on. Maybe years later, when I'm gone, the reason for my obsession will be clear. Frugality to me is a tool that will enable me to do this.


Kris said...

Hmmm, I swear I left a comment earlier, but it seems to have vanished into the mists of the internet. Brief summary ... I have an old Pfalzgraff pattern that I like but is heavy and takes up a lot of room. I'd like to replace it but I have a lot of the serving pieces for it. We primarily use my white plastic patio plates that I purchased several years ago, or my four Pier One clearance for $1/plate plates. Sometimes we make a point of pulling out the china, but honestly, I don't know if I would bother with china if I had to do it all over again--I'd probably buy one of those porcelain sets that come out at this time of year for "dress" and call it good. I understand the appeal of different dishes for you, I just don't know if I would want to change them out seasonally.

Lili said...

Kris, the other comment was sent to the spam folder. Blogger has been doing that lately. I usually catch it, if I'm home. But I've been out all day today, and just now got back, and "found" it. So sorry! (you are not losing your mind)

Lili said...

Hi Angie,
I think your extension of the idea is spot on -- making the choices that reflect our own desires.

As I was putting out the fall/winter dishware, it took me back to my thoughts about fall and winter holidays, back when I was first married -- what I thought holidays and everydays would feel like with my own family. This was before children. Changing the dishes gives me a moment to revisit all of those holidays, the meals with family gathered around the table, and the everyday family suppers.

Lili said...

Hi Anne,
a fellow dish aficionado! Well, now, 8 sets tops me! If the dishwasher breaks down -- there will be clean dishes for days to come!

Lili said...

Hi Kris,
little things, indeed!
I love that aspect, that when we have a large crowd over, I have plenty of dishes. There's no need to use paper plates. (And real dishes balance on your lap so much better than paper plates, when you have a buffet set-up.)

My mother put together a picnic basket for me, when I was 21. In it, she put 4 white melamine plates. We used those with our kids, when they were small, as they were break-proof. We also have taken them on road trips, so as not to have to use paper plates. And we've even used them for a couple of picnics, as my mom intended! They've been very handy.

Lili said...

Hi Theresa,
Entertaining has changed dramatically over the years. No one wants the hassle of hand washing the dishes afterwards. And foods that are served at dinner parties has changed, as well, favoring simpler meals, using just a couple of dishes per person, instead of the whole place setting. I can certainly understand why there would be little resale market for fine china.

Best wishes in the hunt for a set of dishes for your daughter! Craigslist might be a place to check. If you have a community facebook page, or bulletin board at your work, or spouse's work, you could post a "wanted" listing.

Lili said...

I like white towels for the same exact reason. When they get dingy (or in our area, washcloths and bathmats get mildew stains, as they stay damp for so long), then I can run them through the wash with some bleach, and they look great again. I choose white dish cloths/bar mops, too, for the exact same reason.

I chuckled when you called your Corelle "older" from the 90s!! I keep forgetting that the 90s were so many years ago.

You're right. Frugality is the tool that allows me to have choice in this life. It's given me many opportunities that would not have been available or possible, otherwise. I am glad that frugality is doing, and will continue to do, this for you!

Lili said...

Hi live and learn,
You make it sound as if I am something greater than I truly am. This is just my season for home-centered things. There are many, many things/jobs I don't do. Maybe I'll have time and opportunity to do those things someday in the future. But thank you for the kind words!

Lili said...

You know, sometimes we're just drawn to something. That's what spurs collections. My dishes just happen to be my collected pieces. I have no idea why I notice dishes as much as I do. So when I change my dishes with the changing seasons, I do really enjoy seeing the different patterns. It pleases me. And I've reached the point in life where I don't care if no one else in the family notices. This is for me. (I used to make sure I asked everyone if they noticed the fall dishes out, or the spring dishes or special Christmas plates and mugs. Now, I'm happy that I notice!)

Anonymous said...

That is a wonderful tradition, Lili. I had Corelle all through my son and daughter's childhood, then it followed my son to his first "college house". I had always admired Fiestaware, and bought an 8 piece set on sale and with coupons. I bought 8 different colors to mix it up, telling myself that these would be my forever dishes because if any broke, it was a variety of colors, so it wouldn't matter if I was missing one or more pieces. Five years later, none have broken and I have added a few spares in random colors that I have found at thrift stores.

Lynn said...

Okay, count me in as a dish lover:) It seems to run in my family. I don't have 8 sets like Anne, but close! Like Lili, I have seasonal dishes I swap out-Christmas dishes, summer seashell dishes (I live at the beach), fall dishes and melamine for cookouts. Several years ago, my sister and mother gave me some Fiesta ware like Mary's, which at first I resisted. But I must say, with cold and dreary weather, when I use them, those bright colors just make me smile. I cook all meals and those different sets of dishes keep the cooking from being a chore. So I too " love what I use and use what I love". Thanks for a great post. It's good to know I'm not alone! Lynn

Lili said...

Hi Mary,
How fun and festive! I love Fiesta dinnerware. You thought that all through, too, with buying different colors. If you should ever break one, your replacements will blend right in!

Lili said...

Hi Lynn,
Another dish lover! No, you are not alone, apparently. Dishes are fun, and add interest to the table and kitchen.

Your Fiesta ware must surely bring cheer to dreary days, and make meal prep colorful -- literally! And I just love the name chosen for that pattern, "Fiesta". What's not to like about a fiesta?!

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