Don’t put off using the good stuff

Recently, as I was placing squares of blueberry cake on salad plates from our everyday dishes, I realized the proportions were off. We aren’t big dessert eaters and the small portions that I had cut looked tiny and sad surrounded by the empty white of the plates. I made a mental note to search online for some smaller options.

As you can probably imagine, the googles were full of opportunities for me to spend my money. There were solid-color plates, plates with flowers and stripes, round plates, square plates, and even triangular-shaped plates. I was trying to decide between several options when it occurred to me that I may already own just what I was looking for.

In addition to her everyday dishes, my mother had a set of Russel Wright American Modern dishes. They were what we now call mid-century modern: sleek and non-fussy, and the most luscious shade of teal blue called “seafoam.” They were brought out for holidays and celebratory occasions and occupied a special place in the heart of our family. Because I am the only daughter, it was always understood that I would inherit the set when she passed away (sorry, dear brothers, but they are mine).

I have dinner plates, salad plates, cups, saucers, salt and pepper shakers, serving platters, soup bowls, and bread plates. These dishes are beautiful, functional, warm reminders of my childhood… and I seldom use them.

It turns out that the bread plates are the perfect size for desserts.

All this got me thinking: why do we squirrel away the good stuff—dishes, silverware, jewelry, clothes—waiting for a special opportunity in the future to enjoy them? If we love these things shouldn’t we use them more often?

I understand why some items are put aside for special occasions; we think that if we use them regularly, they’d lose their specialness. On the other hand, if there are things that we love and give us pleasure, doesn’t it make sense to enjoy them more frequently?

Set your table with your favorite dishes more often. Wear that necklace you love even if you’re only running errands. Those plush towels you provide your houseguests? Use them (or better yet, buy a set for yourself). Break out that good bottle of wine you’ve been storing before it turns to vinegar.

Don’t put off using the good stuff because, at some point, it will be too late. 

Do you still think you need a special occasion to indulge yourself? Don’t forget that tomorrow is National Dogs in Politics Day. If that doesn’t work for you, certainly National No Excuses Day this Sunday is the perfect day to celebrate with your good stuff. 

Author: Janis @ RetirementallyChallenged.com

My blog is about travel, relationships, photography, and whatever else pops into my head (even, sometimes, issues surrounding retirement and aging).

139 thoughts on “Don’t put off using the good stuff”

  1. I am crazy about that sea foam set and glad to hear you are leaning towards using them more. You ask good questions, why do we leave our nice stuff squirreled away? The years go by so fast that at the end of our lives, will we say? — “I’m so glad I didn’t bring out the family China!” 😉

    And by the way when I go into a fancy restaurant and they serve a small dessert on a large plate the empty space is filled with a luscious sauce and berries and/ or shavings of chocolate or other delicious and tasty nuggets.

    1. I’m afraid that the best I usually do is cut out a square and slap it on the plate… no fancy drizzles (although my blueberry buckle had a lovely lemon sauce) or chocolate shavings. Perhaps I need to up my game 🙂

      I don’t think any of us will look back and be glad about the extra time we spent at the office or that we didn’t use the good stuff as much as we liked.

  2. Excellent advice, Janis. Use the stuff that makes you smile. I absolutely love those dishes. Enjoy them.

  3. I wholeheartedly agree with you about using “the good stuff”. When my mother passes away, she had lots of clothes that she had bought and had never worn because she was saving them for something special. When they were given away, they still had the price tags on them. I hope whoever got them, enjoyed them. Differently enjoy what you have!

    1. How sad that she didn’t have the opportunity to wear those clothes! It must be something buried deep in our DNA that won’t allow us to use or wear items that would give us joy. Life is way too short to keep waiting for a nebulous special occasion that may never come. Make it up!

  4. I recently made this same decision. I came across a fancy tulip-shaped soap that my mom gave me. It was still wrapped up in its packaging and had been for years. I saw it hiding away in a behind-the-mirror bathroom cabinet and wondered when on earth I would use it. Suddenly I thought, “Why not now?” It seemed too fancy for every day use, but when would it be an appropriate time? Perhaps with guests? Would I really unwrap and rewrap that soap every time we had company? Hang it all! I’m just using it now in the every day and really enjoying it–myself–every day! Thanks, Mom! 🙂

    1. What a great story! And, maybe when it’s just a sliver of its former self you can buy yourself another 🙂 Too often, we deny ourselves the good stuff (maybe we keep it for “later” or we give it to others) when, really, don’t we deserve to be pampered now and then?

      1. I didn’t want to mention this earlier, but I have a really nice razor that I also kept in the cupboard and instead have been using the super cheap plastic disposable ones. Nope. The new me pulled out the nice one and is using it now. Sorry for the tmi! 😛

          1. What a great SIL! 🙂 Very few of my actual friends and family read my blog, though I’ve greatly enjoyed making so many virtual blog buddies. I’ll just take what I can get. 🙂

  5. Hi Janis, Love those dishes! Your mom had good taste. My mom left me the fancy kind of china with gold, tiny flowers, etc. so they only get used on holidays. Maybe I need to rethink that. I’m afraid neither of my daughters will even want them so I might as well. I also read your questions about blog sharing. I’m not there yet but am so excited to have you as a reader!

    1. I had one of those fancy sets, handed down from my grandmother, but they really weren’t my style so I got rid of them. I’m in the “use it or lose it” season of my life. If you love your dishes, enjoy them! I’m glad to have found your blog. I hope you get to the sharing stage… this community is wonderful!

    1. Your comment makes me wonder how many sets of china are sitting on shelves, in cabinets, or stored up in attics, unused and unloved. The whole set doesn’t need to be brought out, but wouldn’t it be nice to enjoy a few pieces more often? Thank you for your comment!

  6. I was just mentioning to He-Man the other day that I miss using my Thanksgiving dishes because we’ve not been hosting for a couple of years now. Baby Girl is hosting since she and the Handsome Surveyor have 6 kids between them so it’s easier for us to go to theirs for holidays now.

    I am going to get out my Thanksgiving dishes and use them this month! We may even eat at the dining room table! 😀

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