Saturday, May 17, 2014

Family Memories

This morning at the next to last garage sale my children and I stopped at was a lady with a few cookbooks to sell.  I picked up one with some fun pictures of cupcakes.  Starting conversations at garage sales is one of the things I particularly enjoy doing, so I asked the cookbook woman what her favorite cookbook was.  She explained that her favorite cookbook is the one that her mom gave her.  

It is a cookbook with handwritten copies of the recipes from her family.  Some of the recipes are in her grandmother's handwriting--a particular treasure to her.  She recently found the letter her grandmother had written her the Thanksgiving she was cooking the family turkey.  It even had a note about being careful not to let her son near the oven so he wouldn't get burned.  

I have a friend who loves dishes in the same way that this woman loves her hand me down cookbook.  Her grandmother's dishes are precious to her.  I know that when her children are grown, they will remember her dishes and remember that their mother loved them.  Which leads me to my garage sale find of this morning...

A set of dishes.  They actually looked worse than this picture.  But, I recognized them right away.  Pfaltzgraff Gazebo.  I bought a set of Pfaltzgraff Gazebo 21 years ago.  They have moved with me twelve times and have been in six states.  They have been so durable and have lasted so well for me.  But, I had 8 place settings when I started out.  Now, I have 7 large plates (1 was broken last year).  And 3 bowls have been broken over the years. Pfaltzgraff stopped making them years ago and replacements would be crazy expensive.  So, I've never tried to add on.  It would be less expensive to buy new sets of dishes...
So, I was cautiously excited to find these.  There were 2 boxes.  The dishes looked horrible!  I still have no idea how they were taken care of to end up the way they looked this morning.  But, I was willing to take a chance and see if I could fix them.  The price was $1.50, so I wasn't going to lose that much if I couldn't clean any of them.  I brought them home and pulled out the stoneware cleaner I'd bought years ago from Pfaltzgraff.

It did nothing.  Nada.  Zero.  Zilch.  Ugh.

Then, I thought of Bar Keeper's Friend and pulled it out from under my sink.  I don't keep a lot of cleaners on hand. (and I threw one more away today!)  Bar Keeper's Friend is one I like.  It's inexpensive and does an awesome job cleaning stainless steel pans!  Porcelain and Ceramic are two of the things it can clean.  So, I sat down and got to work.  A damp rag and Bar Keeper's Spread sprinkled all over the plate.  I was only able to clean two dishes at a time because of all of the elbow grease it took.  But, it was worth it!  Now, I have 13 big dishes, 16 small salad plates, 8 bowls, and 16 coffee cups.  

As I cleaned these dishes, I realized that someday when my children are grown, they will remember eating on these white dishes.  These will be dishes like my friend's grandmother's dishes.  Perhaps they will be special because they were mine.  I know they are white, but they are special to me.  They've traveled with me and persevered with me.  They've lasted.  

Rabbit trail... Eli broke one a few weeks ago, and I have to admit that I was upset that he had broken one of "my" dishes. Sometimes I say things and I just know immediately that it was wrong.  This was one of those times.  In this case, my thinking was very self-centered.  Yes, he broke a dish, but it was one of our family dishes--not one of my dishes.
After I'd cleaned up all the shards and had time to think, I saw my error clearly.  The dishes could have been considered mine, I suppose, but what I was really saying to my son in that moment was that he had done something to hurt me intentionally.  I was saying, "How could you?!"  This was totally not true.  He hadn't intended to drop the dish.  But, by using the words that I used, I said to him that I thought he had.  That was my greatest error.  The heart of the matter was that I needed to see it as an accident and that it was more about my son than me.  I then showed him what to do with dishes when they came out of the microwave and instructed him.

Another rabbit trail...
Still, they're just dishes.  Yes, they're a treasure and they make me smile because they come from a time when I had nothing, but I spent $30 on a set of dishes that I hoped would last a very long time.  Still, they're just dishes.

It's the memory that's more precious.  The dishes are reminders of meals I've made.  Eating as a family.  Serving meals to guests.  Memories are more precious than things.  I'd rather Eli remember the dishes as the ones we ate on than the one he broke!  I suspect that someday he'll probably remember both...

Friday, May 9, 2014


I've gone garage saling three times so far this spring.  When I came home last Saturday, my husband cautioned me to really think about what we need vs. what we want.  Every once in a while, I purchase something that doesn't work out.  It's part of the risks that come with garage saling.  Over all, it doesn't end up being that much, but it does happen.  I try to inspect things closely, but it's surprising how often people wittingly and unwittingly will sell you something that doesn't work at their own garage sale. 

A few weeks ago, I pointed out to a man that there was crack in the bottom of a container he was trying to sell.  It was a BIG crack.  I did end up buying a boombox at that sale and thought I'd looked closely at it.  Turns out it was missing the volume knob!  I missed it!  I felt bad.  My mom set the volume to what she normally listens to and it's still useable, but I felt foolish.  The same Saturday morning, I bought a bread maker for a friend.  I looked at it and bargained with the lady for the price to be $3 instead of $5.  I'm glad I did.  It only made 1 loaf of bread for my friend before quitting.  At the same sale, I looked at a teapot that seemed to have some rust inside.  I questioned the folks at the sale and the lady commented to me after a few minutes to stop giving her a hard time.  I didn't think I was, but I was concerned and couldn't make up my own mind.  I didn't get it.  Two big clues that I shouldn't have bought things at those two yard sales.  

But, I've had pretty good luck on the whole this year (two nice dresses for me, a rug for my girls' room, several cds for my husband, a pack 'n play for a friend, a roasting pan with a lid, a pasta maker for another friend...).  Still, my husband's advice is wise for me to heed.  I can call him if I have questions and need a second opinion.  I need to remember I have a smart phone!  

The idea of having enough is an important one, I've realized and it has a lot of applications in my life.  Someone asked me this week if we could add on to our house.  We could refinish part of our basement eventually, but that would involve a lot of work and expense.  Since deciding in February that we weren't going to move, I've felt convicted to strive to be content with our home and our yard.  Our yard is on the small size, but our kids make the most of it.  More importantly, it is enough for me to take care of.  There is enough room for flowers and a garden and for them to play.  I went through my basement last week and did a big purge.  Now, I feel comfortable down there again when I go to look for things.  

I've come to believe that making things stretch is as much about finding ways to save money as it is about not spending in the first place and seeking contentment.  I haven't posted many things lately about ways I've found to save money.  My mind hasn't been on it.  I've been dealing with a lot of life stuff.  But, I've also been thinking about not spending when I go to a store.  I've really wanted to buy a few new plants at Home Depot, but I've put it off.  I have some seeds for perennial flowers and I'm going to plant them instead.  We had a late frost after I'd put 6 plants in my garden and yard--and I didn't protect my plants. (I have to admit that I was tired that day and a bit lazy! ;) )  I wondered if they would die.  2 had no damage because they were in sheltered spots.  The other 4 did experience some damage, but they're coming back from it.  I'm thankful.  I didn't want to spend more money on plants.  

But, for me, it all comes back to the word: "enough".  God knows what we need.  He is so generous and I need to always remember that and remind myself of that truth.  Having "enough" and not "too much" should be what I consider important.

There is a twisting that can come with "enough" though.  The thinking can follow the lines of "just 1 more will be--enough".  Enough starts with what one already has, I think, and carefully considering whether 1 more is actually a need or a want.  I find I have to be very careful--especially when it comes to garage saling.  Many items are very inexpensive, so it's easy to get "just 1 more".  But, I just went through my craft supplies last week to organize them and I became very aware that I don't need any "just 1 more"s.  It's good to know what you have and make sure you're using it before purchasing 1 more.  

My kids wanted to sew and it frazzled me because over the past 2 years my crafts supplies had ended up in multiple spots.  They weren't labeled or organized.  So, we pulled everything out and organized it.  I labeled every bin.  I want to make sure we use what he have and I don't end up with two 18 year old girls and tons of craft supplies never used!  The point of having something isn't to hold onto it and let it sit, but rather to use it and enjoy it.  As soon as it was all labeled, the kids and I sat down to to do a sewing project (it's from the book Sewing School).  Here's Sami's stuffie:

My goal this spring is do more instead of buying more.  It felt good to do this project.  It felt good to use what I had and teach my children how to sew.  

So, those are my thoughts this morning.  Rambling, jumbled, meandering... as usual!