Making Way for Beautiful: Using the Nice Stuff

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Not long ago, a friend complimented me on the boys' toothbrush cups. She didn't know she was bringing a William Morris thing to my attention. (Crrrrck - can of worms being opened.)

Those are pewter stirrup cups, which I'd never heard of until we became customers of a local store. Apparently they originated in the English fox hunting tradition, which seems completely inappropriate as a baby gift, but this is the South - if you can engrave it, it makes a great baby gift. So, years ago, we picked out stirrup cups for our boys and gave them as Christmas gifts. 
I thought they would stay in a cabinet with the rest of the "baby silver" until my mother-in-law made an off-hand comment that made me reevaluate. When she gave me some of my husband's baby silver, it was clear that it had not been safely tucked away. The little bowls and cups had dents, teeth marks, and an imperfect polish. My mother in law explained, without realizing that she was shocking me, that all of it had been used: chewed on, dropped, washed, filled with food and drink. Used. And yet, it still looked beautiful. It actually felt more valuable. I'd never thought about that before. I had assumed that nice things like silver should go in the cabinet with my other nice things, saved for an imaginary future when my house would look like a magazine and I would throw fancy dinner parties. (Outside, no less.)

I don't know why I thought that. My own mother uses her nice things. I suppose I just didn't feel grown up enough to do it myself. Ridiculous.
Epiphany: I should use our nice things now
Sure I used plastic (BPA free, don't freak) items most of the time with my kids, but I also used the silver spoons, cups, and bowls that they received as baby gifts as - well - spoons, cups and bowls. We used them, and they are just fine.
Now that the boys have graduated to full size utensils and dishes, the baby silver is resting in cabinets. But looking back on their use has inspired me to revisit the "nice things" cabinet and see what I can use now. I've pulled little spoons out for the sugar and coffee stirring. I've found places for candlesticks, and a vase or two as well. If I've got beautiful things, they should be in the rotation, not saved for the day when everything in my house is beautiful. 
Thanks for the reminder, toothbrush cups.

Maybe you can pull some of "the nice stuff" out of storage and find a way to use it this summer? Do you already? Would love to hear about it.

I am enjoying the William Morris Project at Pancakes and French Fries. You should visit. This summer, I am making way for beautiful, by:

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13 Responses to “Making Way for Beautiful: Using the Nice Stuff”

  1. Rita@ThissortaoldlifeJune 21, 2012 at 10:06 AM

    Love the idea of this post. I believe we should always use the good stuff now. Besides, a mix of "good" and everyday makes a space more interesting (I think). That place setting is beautiful, but too beautiful for me to feel really comfortable. I suspect I'd have a much better time at a dinner party at your house!

  2. I completely agree! We use our silver baby cups in the bathroom to hold Q-tips and cotton balls!

  3. Stirrup cups?!  Who knew!  I think you have found the perfect use for them.

  4. This entry reminds me of that episode of Friends where Monica didn't want anybody to touch her nice china.  Haha.   We dream of the perfect time to break out our pretty things and that perfect time rarely comes.  Hurray for your epiphany. Enjoy your [fancier] day!:)


  6. Cute idea!  For the longest time, I was reluctant to use "the good stuff" - whether it was glasses, or makeup, or even a pretty scented body lotion.  I finally convinced myself that it was more wasteful to let it, well, go to waste, than to use it & enjoy it.  Now I stir my coffee with great-grandmother's silver spoons, lay out the good linens for any occasion, and use every drop of my favorite lotion.  Good reminder!!

  7. I think its a great idea.  Most of our "nice" stuff is out; there is very little that we have tucked away. It makes for good memories :-)

  8. I love this! I totally agree--we have nice things to use and enjoy! I'm sure that it will make those things much more special since you and your children will have memories associated with them :)

  9. Rita - I'd love to have a dinner party with you :) And I agree, a "good" and everyday mix makes it interesting. Thanks for stopping by!

  10. Oooh - love that. You just gave me a new idea!

  11. Oh my - Monica and the china. Yes. Exactly!

  12. Amy - You are right; this carries over into many areas. Using our "good" makeup, lotion, shoes, etc. The truth is that "good" items are made to last and we should use them. Glad you pointed out ways to expand that notion. 

  13. I completely agree with this! In fact, I just wrote a post last week about how I actually WEAR my real pearls and my grandmother's diamond necklace (GASP) because, sure they could be lost or stolen, but then at least I would have had the pleasure of wearing them first, right? Well done to you!