After we got engaged I couldn’t wait to finally get to choose an everyday china pattern and register for gifts. (How in the world was that almost 30 years ago?) I didn’t need to choose fine china; I had inherited my mother’s Malden by Oxford, simple, rimmed in gold, and stunning.
I’m one of those who believes kitchen art begins with pretty dishes.
A spectacularly set table doesn’t necessarily have to be fancy and expensive, but with a little thought and intention – flowers and greenery plucked from your yard, handwritten place cards, a centerpiece created with found objects from your home – you can design a masterpiece. I couldn’t wait to begin our life together, to open our home, and experiment with new-to-me recipes. We didn’t have Pinterest or the internet to mine ideas, but we had magazines and the traditions of our own families, plenty to get us started.
I’ve always been drawn to color, and my first choice for everyday dishes was Villeroy & Boch’s Fruit Basket; predominately green and yellow, it was just so doggone happy. But it was also pricey for an everyday, and sensitive to gift-givers’ budgets, I ended up choosing Poppies on Blue, a popular-in-the-80s Lenox pattern.
We received all the place settings we registered for in addition to serving bowls and platters, the cream and sugar, and I think even the salt and pepper shakers. These were the dishes of our newlywed years, a part of countless meals shared with friends and family, and eventually with our own children.
Right around the time the poppies began fading, my tastes began changing. With a move from South Carolina to Tennessee, I decided timing was perfect for buying new dishes; this time around, I went with a neutral. When I wanted a splash of color, I’d pick up festive placemats. My once-beloved Poppies on Blue was relegated to a box in the attic, waiting for my children to grow up and move into their own home, or the bigger dream, a heart-secret I’ve held close for all these years.
Ten years later we moved to Georgia, and once again, I marked the occasion with a change in dishes (are you seeing a pattern?). Drawn back to color, I picked up some blue stoneware from Pier One.
I’m not sure there is such a thing as a kitchen too big for me. It’s not just dishes over which I grow dizzy with affection, it’s all the things that live there—small appliances, big appliances, gadgets and gizmos, and the right glass for everything you drink. Truly, every beverage tastes better in a glass or cup designed with it specifically in mind. That drives my husband a little crazy, and with a small kitchen now, it’s a challenge to master.
Recently, I enjoyed a girls weekend out of town, and we decided an Airbnb rental would accommodate the space and flexibility we wanted. With many options to choose from, we decided a small, three-bedroom near downtown was best. (If you aren’t familiar with Airbnb, think Uber for homes. Hosts can rent out a room or their entire house. Some people vacate homes they live in to accommodate out of town guests, though some are second homes used for rental income. In our case, I don’t think our host lived in our weekend rental; it wasn’t fancy or high end, but it was comfortable and had everything we could possibly need.)
Our first night there we planned a simple dinner–wine, cheese, fruit and the like, and we began rummaging through cabinets for the dishes we’d need. And then God winked—
The dishes were Poppies on Blue.
It was liking running into an old friend with whom I had shared a lot of life. What a delightful surprise, a sweet indication that I was exactly where I was supposed to be.
And it didn’t stop there. I noticed a different but familiar pattern of dishes on the top shelf, so I dragged a chair over and climbed to the top to investigate. I couldn’t believe what I discovered: a set of Haviland china, the pattern, Rosalinde, my mother-in-law’s fine china.
Telling, the depth of emotion those old dishes conjured, isn’t it? It tells me what happens in our homes, around our tables, is important. When we share a meal with our family or friends, it’s never just about the food, is it? A meal tethers us to one another long enough to make memories, build traditions, and know each other a little better than we did before.
I’ve told you about my dishes, now tell me about yours? If you’re married, did you register for everyday? Fine china? Anything else? Are you still using a set you bought after graduation and still like? Do tell us all the details, and link pictures if you’re able. I’d love to hear the story of your dishes.