a fresh way to organize

Marian ParsonsKitchen, Miscellaneus, My House151 Comments

I’ve been working on organization for the past year or two, off and on when I have the time.  And I’ve been getting better and more proficient at decluttering and organizing with every pass.  I started with getting rid of the obvious items.  Then, I took it further and got serious and asked myself why I had certain stuff.  I think I just got used to the things around me, so I didn’t even think it.  But, if I don’t really love it or need it, why is it in my house?  Does it matter how much I paid for it or who gave it to me or how nice of a thing it is?  On a very rare occasion, it does.  Most of the time, though, it only dictates how I get rid of it.  Do I sell or donate the item or try to keep it in the family?  But I’ve decided I am not going to feel obligated to keep something that’s just languishing in a closet, drawer, cabinet, the attic or the basement.

I’m really done with that mindset.

So, I’m organizing in a fresh way.  It’s not only about making the things I have look neat and tidy.  It’s not about label makers and plastic bins with dividers, though those things are fun.

It’s about getting rid of anything I don’t use and/or love.  And, preferably, everything I have fits in both of those categories.

I worked on my kitchen this weekend…just tackling one drawer or cabinet at a time, so it didn’t get overwhelming.  It wasn’t the main thing on the Saturday plan, it was just a “hang out at home” day, so I worked on it bit by bit as time permitted.

Cleaning out the spice drawer was hilarious.  There was one spice jar that expired before my oldest son was born.  And he’s SEVEN.  AND A HALF!    Oh, goodness.  So, I went from having an entire drawer full of spices to having eight bottles.  I actually have two empty drawers and two empty cabinets after cleaning things out.  I’m even getting rid of my crockpot.  I never, ever use it and the fact that every American home is supposed to have a crockpot just isn’t a good enough reason for me to keep it.  (Don’t try to talk me into keeping it!)

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And the cabinets I cleaned out that still have stuff in them are pretty sparse.  It’s refreshing to be able to see everything!  I had four cans of cocoa in there.  I think I kept buying new ones when I was baking a recipe that called for it, not realizing I already had two, then three other cans.

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So, I ended up with a lot of trash, a few things to sell in the online shop and a pretty hefty pile for the thrift store.

I wanted to go beyond getting rid of things, though, so I hit the buffet in the dining room and pulled out things that were tucked away.  Things that I use for photo shoots and special occasions.  Now, they’re going to be every day work horses.  We’re using an ironstone plate with a beautiful antique butter dome as our regular ole butter dish.

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And I added the flatware we bought as newlyweds, that I’ve never really loved, to the thrift store pile and filled our daily silverware drawer with flatware from the buffet that makes me happy every time I pull the drawer open.

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Spoons like these beauties just should be used!!   (And, you know what?  I’ve had them in felt for about eight years and never knew they had the beautiful detail on the back until Saturday.)

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And have you ever seen a prettier spork?

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It’s so special as well, that many of these pieces are engraved with the monogram of my mom, grandmother, great-grandmother and great aunt.

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And I’m having a fun time figuring out every day uses for some of the exotic serving pieces and specialty flatware.  Who cares if I’m totally abusing the rules of etiquette by using a demitasse spoon for yogurt.  I’m over it!

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 I know I’ve been talking about this a lot lately, but there’s something liberating about cleaning and organizing like this.  There’s something really exciting about using things you really love and enjoy and getting rid of the things that you feel “meh” about.

I remember my mother-in-law telling me about her great-aunt’s house (I think it was.)  It was a beautiful, old Pennsylvania home that had some very formal rooms and a grand front staircase.  When her great aunt, or maybe it was her grandmother, was alive, no one was allowed to use the grand stairs.  They had to use the back kitchen steps.  When she died, a declaration was made that everyone would use the grand steps.  Every day.  My mother-in-law shared the joy of running up and down those steps that had been off-limits for so many years.

Why do we do that?

There are even some old homes in PA that have two front doors, seriously, three feet from each other.  One was for formal occasions and special guests and the other was for every day.  When did we decide that nice things needed to be in lock boxes, bolted up, stowed away, roped off and reserved?  A few weeks ago, many of you shared stories of relatives who died with homes containing beautiful clothes with tags on them, unused silver, boxed up dishes, etc.  They were being saved and cherished, but ultimately ended up in an estate sale or auction.

Oh, ladies, let’s not do that.  Let’s enjoy the beautiful things we have.

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…because spoons like these can’t be appreciated in a felt wrapper in a wooden box in a buffet.

a fresh way to organize

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151 Comments on “a fresh way to organize”

  1. Oh Marian,

    This was such a great post. My Great Grandmother had some lovely things, that then went to my Grandmother, then to my Mother then to me. I decided some time ago that I would use the linens and beautiful dishes because I do not have children and I am the end of the line! I may as well enjoy these things as often as I can. Hopefully my cousins three daughters will want some of it, but in the meantime, I will enjoy them while I can.


    1. You are so right about the feeling of liberation once you can let loose of all that “stuff!” I can’t really explain the feeling other than freedom!! My husband and I had a custom cabinet shop (2 large buildings and a house full) for over 20 years when we decided to move to another state We sold almost everything and only now are replacing the necessary items. Our home is soooo easy to keep clean, always neat, we live so much easier! You don’t have all that “stuff” to deal with! I have even convinced my mother and sister to start purging!!

      Go ladies!!! It’s just “stuff!” It takes some time and effort but it is worth every minute!!

  2. Bravo to you!

    One of the truly saddest days for me was the day I cleaned out my grandmother’s closet and there were several items that still had the tags on them that she was saving “for good”.I decided right then and there that every day would be a “good” day in my home.

  3. Good words to live by. I have had some spoons with beautiful backs for some time and my mother informed me that designs on the back indicated that they were fairly old. I also use the demitasse spoons for yougurt! My kids started the tradition 30 some years ago.

  4. I agree 100%. That silverware is like a piece of art. Keeping beautiful possessions wrapped up is almost as tragic as keeping a masterpiece in a vault. Such a waste to own something aesthetically pleasing if it’s merely as an investment, instead of enjoying it every day.

  5. BRAVO!
    I have been trying to live with this intention as well. Just recently, I decided I wanted to hang a swing from our old tree. My neighbor said that eventually a swing would damage the tree… I sure it might, but it’s a big tree and would take years! … I’m going to enjoy my yard, my tree and a swing. As my teenager would say.. YOLO. (you only live once).

  6. There’s a wonderful short story by Alice Walker called “Everyday Use” that has just this theme. (The short story is easily found online.) She dedicates the story “For your grandmama,” and the story reminds us that we most honor our heritage by putting our heirlooms to “everyday use,” making them part of our lives even at the inevitable risk of wear, of cracks, stains, and tears. I think of it when I”m tempted to keep own fragile heirlooms tucked safely away in drawers.

  7. When my grandmother passed, I found that she had a lot of “special” china I never knew about. We use it all the time now, and I have to admit, it hasn’t held up well in the dishwasher (the delicate gold rimming just wasn’t designed for today’s dishwashers), but I think about her EVERY time I open the cabinet, and I think the kids do too. My mom struggles with it, but honestly, the real value is in the memory, not the actual pattern, so why not?

    1. If your treatment of the china is bothering your mom, perhaps you could continue to use them every day, but hand wash them. They really aren’t meant for the dishwasher. Just a suggestion, of course.

    2. The dishwasher thing keeps me from using my silver for every day. Silver doesn’t hold up well in a dishwasher either. But… I use it often. I’m not saving it for that elusive future date. But kudos for you for using that china.

  8. You and I share the same mindset! We are in the process of renovating a much smaller townhome and downsizing to only what we need and LOVE. If something is going to take up real estate in our home it has to be worthy of it. Also, those lovely spoons and china? Used every day. Why can’t a pb&j feel like a fancy dinner out? Every occasion is special and deserves to be treated as such. Glad to see you are breaking out the lovely pieces 🙂

  9. I see this every weekend at estate auctions. Boxes of linens, serving ware, dishes, etc. that were barely used because they were “special.” And they sell for next to nothing. Sad.
    I am a HUGE proponent of keep ONLY what you need, use and/or love!
    The crock pot…it is my winter “go to.” I have 3-4 in varying sizes! I probably cook in it 75% of the time during the winter months…can’t imagine my life without them!
    s a mother with two small kiddos it could be a God sent if you collected some “go to” recipes for it!
    Toss the stuff in them, turn them on and forget it! Salad, bread, meal!
    Funny, you would think I would use it more in the summer when you shouldn’t turn on your stove. But the first nip in the air, that thing gets filled with all types of yummies and is used continually!
    My daughter is a vegetarian so I have learned to make many veggy meals in it! Mostly soups and stews! Sometimes I will have one for her and one for the rest of the family with meat!

    1. Since I work at home, it’s just as easy to throw things into a pot and let them simmer. I find I do that more than use the crockpot. I don’t think I’ve used it in at least 2 years.

      1. Then out it should go!!! Two years is too long to hang on to stuff you don’t use unless it is a family heirloom. Even then, I got rid of my grandmother’s “hot plates.” Seriously, who even uses those any more…lol!
        I just don’t know how anyone cooks chili or brown beans without a crock pot…I probably should try using that high dollar large stainless steel pot for something other than soaking my toes 😉

      1. I work from home too and use my crock pot often. I really like dried pintos in the crock pot after soaking them the night before…not that I’m trying to talk you out of getting rid of yours or anything. Ha..Ha…but I have a tendency to get caught up in my latest project and lose track of time to start dinner so getting it in the crock pot first thing in the morning is a help.
        This was such a good and timely post! I like using some of the mismatched silver flatware that belonged to my mamaw and also some of my mom’s things. I recently came across her silver punch bowl and I’ve got it on my kitchen table as a catchall for keys, sunglasses, etc.

        1. I use my crock pot mostly for pinto and black beans too. So easy! I use it almost every week. Not to mention great for broths, but it feels so good to get rid of things you don’t use. Plus, if you ever want one again, you can buy one on CL. That is where I found mine. Here are two great quotes, “The thrift store can be your (nearly free) storage unit.” and “Maybe the life you’ve always wanted to live is buried underneath everything you own.” These motivate me!

  10. What a delightful article. It is refreshing that we would treat family as we would treat guests. I, too, grew up in Pennsylvania, in a small town named Boyertown. My grandmother would be so careful not to use certain items. Save them for special occasions. Why? This is so silly, I thought. Then, I reflect on her life. She was born after WWI, had babies during the depression, and filed propellers for planes during WWII. Her oriental rugs were thrown over the washline and beaten with a wire rug beat. Her washer was a ringer washer. Wash was hung on a washline. Chores took so much time and energy. She never could afford help. So, she was diligent on keeping things from getting soiled, as much as possible.

    My mother learned from her. I learned from my mother. But, I broke the cycle. I used China whenever i wanted to do so. Egads! This comment is too long. I am ending now. Thank you for letting me express my thoughts.

  11. I came to the realization just a few years ago that keeping stuff just because I “might” use it one day simply made no sense. It truly is liberating to just let things go. I also stopped using things just for company. I had a drawer full of very nice stainless steel flatware that just didn’t thrill me but I had the ENTIRE set! I would much rather use the old sets of silverplate flatware that I had been displaying but not using. How goofy! Out went the stainless steel. Now if I can just convince my mother to start letting go of things she uses rarely or that were wedding presents 63 years ago and she never uses any longer. Pass that kind of thing on to grandchildren or great-grandchildren. Seems to me there would be much joy in seeing someone use your treasures!

    1. Yes, that’s exactly what I just did with the silverware. So silly that we use something we don’t really like and stow away the things we really love!

  12. I think this is my most favorite post you’ve ever written. We all have those things that we use only for special occasions… clothes, dishes, formal rooms full of furniture, etc. For what? Guests? They could care less. These things only collect dust instead of collecting memories. Memories are what matter.

  13. Wonderful post, Marian! Do you happen to know the name of the pattern of the spoons with the floral designs on the back side? Or can you read the maker’s name? They are absolutely gorgeous and I’d love to try to find some for myself 🙂

      1. ok….give it up…..whats it called? you must be an expert ‘sluether”! 🙂 I couldn’t find it…

  14. Love this post! I read you everyday and have to share – When I was a child my grandmother had a beautiful tall glass cookie jar; heavy and with a lid. She kept oatmeal cookies in it for all the grandchildren. When she left this world my mom put the “too beautiful to be used jar and put in away in her house”. It wasn’t used for 30 years as she didn’t want in broken. When mom left this world the cookie jar came to live at my home – first filled with dog treats and now in the master bath filled with soaps (used for every day) since we don’t have things that can’t be used. Can’t take it with you has always been my thought process, enjoy it while you can.

  15. Oh Marian, your post are always so spot on. Why have some many “special” items if you will never use them! I love your philosophy and hope to use it when we establish our new-to-us home.

  16. Marian,
    I so enjoyed reading this post and can relate to everything you are saying. Since my hubby and I retired, we have been busy de-cluttering, cleaning out and getting rid of things we never used that were just sitting around in our attic and closets collecting dust. You mentioned getting rid of your crock-pot and for me it was a big bread maker taking up space. We bought it years ago and rarely used it.

    One of the first projects we tackled after retiring was cleaning out our master bedroom walk-in closet and installing a closet organizing system. My husband designed and ordered it through a on-line company and did all the labor which saved us big $$. It was the best money we ever spent.

    I am so happy that many of us are breaking the “old rules” of previous generations and are using the good china, silverware and linens on a regular basis instead of just hiding them away and bringing them out on holidays or special occasions. Also, thank you for answering a question I often wondered about when I would see older PA houses that had two doors side by side. Now I know the answer.

  17. It is so freeing to change the rules, isn’t it? We use linen napkins everyday and crystal wine glasses whenever we want! Why not?

  18. I am using my grandmother’s good silver for everyday meals and gave my stainless set to my daughter. It goes in the dishwasher – I polish when needed and love the patina created from everyday use.

  19. Yes, I agree!! Slowly, we have been doing the same as we continue to bring in my Hubby’s Father’s stuff…..to keep and use or to donate….We are giving ourselves time to sift through it but being brutally honest in what we will use.
    Use the silver…it saves polishing….
    Use the china, that is what is made for!
    Donate what you won’t use and not keep it just because it was his Mom’s or Dad’s…..
    It is hard to do, but the world has changed in how it works and we don’t have maids or Carson…..

  20. Such an inspiration and so much freedom. I’m not sure where we get this mindset. Maybe from people that grew up very poor and they just treasured something special? I’m not sure…but I love things that are worn out and completely loved. That can only come through use. I just bought a new leather purse…and cannot wait until it has a few miles on it…to bring out the true beauty. I love the way that you are growing and stretching. Such a blessing to those around you! xx k.

  21. I enjoyed reading your thoughts on using cherished items everyday. It is silly to keep beautiful pieces of art hidden in closets, buffets etc. I always wondered why my farmhouse from 1908 has 2 entrys, one faces the road and the other about 5 feet away faces toward the porch and not the road. We have 2 front porches. I just found a place near me that sells your paint, I am going to try it on a small piece of furniture….can’t wait. I live in Northwestern Pa, between Erie and Pittsburgh, although closer to Erie, snowbelt country. Have a great day! Mickey

    1. Hey there – I just read your post and I too am from an area between Erie and Pittsburgh – Where is it that you live? WHAT A SMALL WORLD!

  22. Love the idea of using the “good” for “every day”. My daughter will love this too, she loves all things old and vintage. Due to our recent move, I have found lots of old saved for “good” things from my mother and grandmother. My daughter would love to use my mother’s silver for everyday, how often does it need cleaned? or does the regular use keep it clean? I have never used it because I don’t know how to care for real silverware. Love your blog, thanks for taking the time to share with the world!

    1. That is the beauty of using silver everyday. With frequent use, it won’t tarnish! I use mine just like any other flatware and it holds up fine in the dishwasher.

  23. Good post and I love your silverware, but I would love to see a full picture of your embroidered napkin or towel!

  24. Do you all put your sterling silver flatware and silver plate in the dishwasher? I have lots of both. When I married 45 years ago, I registered for Chantilly silverware and Minton China, Stanwood, which was discontinued years ago. Rarely use either, and I know better! Thanks Marion, for the reminder.

  25. Oh Marian, it’s okay…I have a spice that expired in 1977! I know it came from my mothers as I was only a child then. I love this whole idea of getting rid of all the stuff, now I just need to do it! Wish me luck.

  26. I totally agree with using the pretty things we love. The older I get the more I use my pretty things. I laughed out loud as I was reading this though because dinner is in the crockpot as I am typing this. LOL

  27. I totally agree that we should treat our family like quests and our quests like family…I have always used my nice flatware and dishes ..As a result I don’t have a full set of either,,,and am in a place now that I can’t replace them… I do like a mismatched table so it’s not heartbreaking.LOL

  28. Amen! With the landscape garden chores pretty much behind me (besides watering annuals), and with the heat & humidity outside climbing, I am ready to go to the basement to do exactly as you have begun. I have miles to go before I sleep, but really want to get through my stuff down there. That flatware you have is simply outstanding with the design on the back!

  29. I remember my Home Economics teacher telling us, don’t save those dishes for special company. There is no one more special than your own family!!

    Awesome post.

  30. Agree with your post 100%– except about the crockpot! We use ours all the time and love it. (But I won’t try to talk you out of it…. 🙂

  31. Amen! I, too, have been on a “cleansing” journey this past year or so. I’m pulling things out and making decisions…..and it feels so good. I’m using things that I am certain have never been used, even by the folks who handed those things down to me. It is my hope to stay on this path of gifting things out and enjoying the things I choose to keep until it’s time to past those things along, too. The feelings of freedom is soulful and prayer-like. Love, L

  32. Your post was lovely, a reminder to use the things we love. I do have a couple of questions. Are you going to put your silverware in the dishwasher? Did you line your silverware drawer with the non-tarnish felt?

    I ask the first because my sister does put her silver in the dishwasher and it has really discolored and isn’t as beautiful as it was.

    The second is from experience…. silverware not kept in tarnish protective coverings gets… well.. tarnished.

    I do use my silver fairly often (though not for day-to-day meals). I happily enjoy it then hand wash it. It is worth the extra time to have something so lovely in front of me.

    But… just checking in on your logistics.

    Bobbi Bullard

  33. Ahhhh! what a great post! And a good reminder we should all do the same!
    I have antiques & linens and silver handed down to me and even when my kids were little, I made a point of using them…china too! We only had a few mishaps with the lil’ ones using and being around things like this. The bonus: my kids could be taken anywhere and would be careful around ‘good’ things and antiques because they lived w/them and had a respect for them. After all, they were going to be theirs ‘someday’! Just like pretty shoes on our feet, we feel that much better using the ‘good’ stuff! Live each day …with those we love and things we love! 🙂

  34. Yeah! Just what are we saving all those beautiful things for? I’m all for using and enjoying them now. But, what if I break something? Oh well! Whatever is left, my children and grandchildren can enjoy when I’m gone.

  35. Great post. Its true that we get that urge to save and protect from earlier generations when at a time it was hard to get nice things. We have great opportunities to be able to acquire beautiful things as they didn’t. Even if we try and save them indefinitely and put them away safely, mother nature can play a roll and take those the things we hoard. We have to enjoy things while we are able too. Family first then possessions.

  36. What a timely post Marian. I remember reading Heloise’s hints years and years ago, about using pretty stuff for daily use, such as the brillo pad etc. Why should the next wife get to use it she said!
    Recently my father in law died, he had nothing, but his wife had boxes and boxes of stuff from decades. Now at 94 she didn’t even recognize her HUGE crystal set! And a box of not cheap china never used. Or any of the other antiques she has. Why leave this horrendous job to family to take care of when we are gone. We are so frustrated, a lifetime of stuff, so many decisions to make; donate, sell, a pile here, a pile there. Like you, many of my friends are now rethinking what we have in our house. It took 10 ladies over 4 hours to pack most of her stuff! That’s a full week’s work. What will we get at a yard sale???? not worth a weeks work by any means. and PROCEEDS should go to her , but WE did the work. Some beautiful things in all this “stuff” unseen for decades. Declutter now friends….and use your pretty things. Great post Marian.

  37. Marian, I love this post. Your “sporks” are actually ice cream forks. Your sterling may be OK in the dishwasher now but it won’t be for long. The heat will eventually make the knife handle separate from the blade. Also, if any of the sterling touches stainless steel there will be pitting/damage. Please wash it by hand not in the dishwasher.

  38. Last year I came to the same conclusion as you, I am using my Mothers and my sterling silverware for every day as well as my mother-in-laws white Wedgwood china for every meal and it makes me feel so elegant. What sterling I couldn’t use is being boxed up for the eldest Granddaughters wedding present, 8 place settings and will tell her to use it every day too.

  39. This is one of your best posts EVER!! I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to read that someone is thinking like I have been of late. Too much “nice stuff” in boxes and time to share the beauty with others. Be that donating, selling, or gifting. I want the things that I treasure most and love to see and use. YOU ARE SPOT ON! Thanks, as always for your inspiration….

  40. I absolutely agree! I’ve been trying to clean out just like this because I’ve done the same thing. Holding onto things you just “might” use but really in complete honesty, don’t. Your butter dish and silverware make me go weak in the knees, what beautiful stuff!!! lol I’m so glad you’ve taken them out because they deserve to used 🙂

  41. I agree it is a good thing to get rid of things you are not using, Marian. However, crock pot would not be going anywhere from my house. I find it very useful in winter time, when I can have the dinner started in the morning, before I am off to work, and have a hot meal ready when both I and my husband are off work in the afternoon.

    On a different note, I love, love, love that butter dish, and the flatware with floral motif handles and backs is so beautiful, too!

  42. When my daughter bought her first home I helped her buy a bunch of stuff for her kitchen. She wanted things like Mom has. Fast forward 12 years and she is moving to Florida, getting rid of everything she hasn’t used. Like everything we bought for her kitchen. I visited her and tried to cook and ran to the Dollar store every day. PS I have 4 Crock Pots and use them all!! I work outside the home and have Crock Pot Monday every week.

  43. if it wasn’t for my slow cooker, I’d never eat in the winter. we do tend to save stuff aside. I can’t tell you how many things I’ve unwrapped from my MIL and Dave’s first wife. They were saving…for a special occasion and both died before that happened.

  44. This is a wonderful post and so true. Why have lovely things if you aren’t planning on using them? We can’t take these things with us ….who has ever seen a hearse with a U-Haul attached? It is important to live life to the fullest everyday. 🙂

  45. What a wonderful philosophy. As a girl that loves to find beautiful things at yard or estate sales that have never been used or are still in the original box – it’s always made me a bit sad. I really try not to buy anything I won’t use – no matter how fragile or special. Every day is a special occasion!

  46. Love this inspiring post! Thank you so much for put it into perspective! I have many of the same items as you that have been handed down to me from my mother,grandmother and even great grandmother. They are put away. That’s how I was taught. No more!! I’m so excited to bring it on! I’ll send photos. You’re blog is popular for many reasons, but mainly because you are like the fun friend next door. thanks again, Sue

  47. Growing up we were not allowed in the living or dining room… I am 1 of 6 kids and 2 WHOLE ROOMS in our house were off limits! My mom would even measure foot prints and compare them to our feet/shoes if someone was bold enough to walk in there! About 10 years ago, my parents re-did the kitchen and turned the dining room into an office/secondary TV room and turned the formal living room into the dining room. It is much larger and accommodates our ever-growing family MUCH better. Thankfully, my mom changed her tune before it was too late. Now she embraces the chaos and welcomes the craziness of kids, spouses, grandkids, friends, etc…

  48. What a wonderful post! I have been wanting to do the same for so long. I want to use my good china and my sterling silverware; but then I worry that someone will chew up a spoon in the disposal or break a good plate…yikes…what to do?

    1. Yes, and they might, but I’ve been using my stainless steel flatware from Wal-Mart for 15 years and only 2-3 pieces have become victims of the disposal. I think it’s better to use it and chance that something might break instead of keeping it in a hutch/box where it isn’t enjoyed. Otherwise, what’s the point of having it? Turn that sterling into a Disney vacation or something! 🙂

    2. I hear you Sandy. Perhaps when my son is a little older we will but in the mean time one could Set a nice table once a week.

  49. I love this post Marion. I just finished going through my late father in laws attic and I found two beautiful chandeliers that have never seen the light of day! What a shame, so they will now get their chance to shine out where everyone can see them. I’m also going to take your advice and bring out the ‘good stuff’ for everyday use, my family deserves it!

  50. Here! Here! Well said. My little boys have been eating out of little glass bowls and using tiny juice glasses since they started eating (some plastic here and there is inevitable). I fully intend to start using my “special” dishes and silverware daily. What am I’m waiting for? No one is admiring my dishes in the cabinet but me.

  51. My great aunt used her silver everyday. She believed the same way you do. I now own it and use it only on special occasions. I’d love to use it daily, but don’t you have to hand wash silver? With three kids, I love my dishwasher too much 🙂

    1. Laura.. I can see your kidlets hand washing the silver, cant you? what a fun chore to do , and you can always remind them why they are doing this special chore. They get to participate and appreciate where they came from and why they are special. Put everything else in the dishwasher..silver / tableware doesn’t take long.

  52. Thanks again Marian for inspiring us all! I am in the process of “purging” my house of all the things that I don’t love or use. You are right, it’s senseless to have “stuff’ if you don’t love it and enjoy using it!!! Bravo my friend! And by the way, that silverware is absolutely stunning! I love it!

  53. Absolutely love this article!! I use real crystal glasses (yes even my 3 & 8 yr old grandsons do too), why keep them in a cabinet to use once or twice a year. I say if you own it, use it! Life is way too short~

    Thanks for sharing more inspiration to help me de-clutter those items that take my time from what matters most!

    Great read!

  54. Yes, let’s!!! I don’t have a lot of fancy things, but neither do I keep things squirreled away, afraid to use them. And I TOTALLY would have swapped out that flatware, too! It’s beautiful. (And the older stuff seems heavier than what they’re selling now.)

  55. You made such a great point. My parents also saved things. When my mother died we also found clothing that had never been worn, pajamas that were kept just in case they ever went to the hospital etc etc. To you young brides out there, use your good things, don’t save them, what you treasure your children might not want when you are gone.

  56. Do you know where I might find spoons like those?! It sounds like they are family heirlooms, but just wanted to check to see if you’ve seen anything like these in a department store or somewhere… they are beautiful!

  57. I understand where you’re coming from…had that change of mind about three years ago when we downsized. I haven’t missed anything that I trashed, gave to charities or sold at auction. Love to use all of my beautiful things even when it’s not a special occasion. You go girl!

  58. I retired last year and we moved to another state and into our “last home before heaven.” Even though I’m only 60 and hope we have many more decades to come, I’m now looking at all “my stuff” as if it’s time to use it up. In addition to using the things you mentioned, I’m also using those pretty gift bags and ribbons I’d been saving. What good do they do socked away in a big plastic bin?

    We had a maid back during my childhood and my mother often gave her gifts of new bath towels or a bathrobe, etc., just every day good, useful items. When the maid died, her daughter found all those gifts packed in a cedar chest as she always felt they were too nice to use.

    I say use your best stuff. If something gets broken, so what. It wasn’t really doing any good hidden away behind a glass door.
    Sue P.

  59. Years ago Erma Bombeck was the voice of humor for the home. One of her sayings that always stuck with me was the idea of using your good stuff and not just saving it for that “special” occasion. I use my antiques and collectables unlike my mom who was very much for saving everything for later.
    Your flatware is lovely and especially paired with your “new” butter dish…

  60. I am 88 years old, and moved around as a Navy wife for nearly 30 years. I have collected Daisy & Button patterned antique glassware for more years than that. I use it all . people say “Oh what if it gets broken?” I answer “That could happen but it would happen while I was enjoying using it” Stuff can always be replaced , moments can not. When Erma Bombeck found out she had terminal cancer she wrote a column about the things she wished she had done..one thing sticks with me to this day,”Why didn’t I burn that scented flower candle?” Why indeed.

    1. Actually that is not true. She said that in 1979 when she was asked what she would do if she could live her life over.

  61. Your monogrammed spoons, with the design on the back, are to-die-for!!! Do you kno the maker and/or pattern? They are absolute treasures! I’m a big believer in using my favorite things every day. I’ve used my sterling flatware every day for 40 years.

  62. Some days I don’t think my family would eat w/out the crockpot! Especially when the kids were little and the entire afternoon was spent helping w/homework & driving this one to horseback, that one to Cub Scouts, and the third one to ballet—it was so nice to have dinner cooking in the CP while I was driving all over Atlanta! And now that they are older and can drive themselves, it still makes me feel great to prep my dinner & get it in the crockpot while they are in school, minimizing what I have to do when they are home.

    I have also discovered some great cookbooks on prepping/freezing meals in advance in ziplock bags and freezing them w/out cooking — a lot of those recipes go straight into the crockpot–great for days when I know I won’t even have a minute to cook. I do usually do a fresh veggie and/or a salad with my crockpot creation, but it is truly my one kitchen gadget that I would not part with:)

  63. My sisters and I have just finished dividing up all the lovely things that my mother collected over her life time. She used it all – entertaining just so she could. As we filled the tables with her treasures, we were transported back through time, remembering how she loved beauty and used it in her life and ours to make so many days almost magical. The result is we sent very few things to the yard sale pile, and most is going to one of her three daughters’ homes to continue life in a new setting. Because of her love of making life worth living, we too cherish a beautiful plate, vintage linens or a special thimble used in countless needlework pieces. We will, like her, use it all. And when we cast a glance at anything that was hers, it is as if she is still here. But it is because she USED her beautiful antiques that we have precious memories of them and want to do the same. It is such a blessed heritage she has left us with, and a connection to her that brings comfort until we see her again.

    1. This was so beautifully put–gave me chills and almost tears. Thank you. We never had anything especially beautiful or even special when I was growing up. And it wasn’t packed away somewhere, we just didn’t have much of anything, let alone nice things. I’ve been married 20 years and slowly finding beautiful and special things to use and enjoy and though they may be few, they make all the difference. It would be lovely if my children felt the same way about those items as you and your sisters when I am gone. I think using them everyday certainly is the key. I’m always trying to purge the “unloved” and replace with “loved”. It’s usually a longer process than I would like, usually involving selling the “unloved” and “who cares about this” to help with acquiring the “loved”, but it is soooo worth it. It makes the daily norm more of a treasure than drudgery and I love it. Here’s to treasures blessing our lives and bringing that special magic to the everyday!

  64. Amen Marian! My MIL has brand new towel sets I bought her years ago tucked away in a cabinet and uses her thread barren ones for daily use – what up with that! I have to admit though I gasped at the slow cooker thing…but hey, someone out there who can’t live without one will be thrilled when they get yours. Your cutlery is so pretty.

  65. I totally agree, get rid of the stuff you don’t need/like. We inherited my husbands grandmothers stuff, 50 years of a house and basement full of stuff a few years ago. (unfortunately I didn’t know about the decorating I do now) We auctioned off a lot, but filled a U-Haul with a lot too, we finally had a garage sale and got rid of the stuff we didn’t want. I still have stuff that probably needs to go to auction but I felt like I was moving piles of things I didn’t like and didn’t need from place to place in my house. I have something of hers in every room but it’s not overwhelming now. The accumulation was a burden, it kept my home from being a home. I tell people be careful about saving stuff to pass down to your kids. Your kids may have special items they want, but for the most part, they will have their own style and tastes. And some of the things that were valuable in her day is not valuable now. So it’s what YOU like, makes your home feel like a home.

  66. That sandwich looks delicious!!
    I like using “good” things. My everyday china is Noritake. I bought a full set of dinnerware for 8 for 80 bucks at an estate sale. I don’t feel too bad if a piece breaks, and besides, there are replacement stores on-line.

  67. Marian, what beautiful silverware you have. I would love opening that drawer everyday also. I agree we should all use what we have and enjoy it. My mother was pretty good about using her good dishes and kitchen things because she hosted so many holiday and family dinners but my mother in law has an entire china cabinet and many kitchen cabinets full of beautiful china, goblets, wine glasses, etc. that are never used. She even has towels and linen tablecloths still in the original boxes from her wedding 64 years ago! As far as a crock pot goes I have 3 friends who all have new kitchens without dishwashers and one of them doesn’t own a microwave either so if you don’t use that crock pot why have it. I think you have inspired me to make a trip down to my basement and get my George foreman grill and donate it!

    1. LOL… The Foreman Grill. Yep, I bet there are a bunch of those hanging around in basements! In our last townhouse, we had a small kitchen with very limited counter space, so I decided not to have a microwave and we lived just fine without one for two years. I would just heat everything up in the oven or on the stovetop AND I didn’t own one piece of tupperware.

  68. LOVE IT! Can I ask what the pattern on those pieces of silverware is? Who is the maker? It’s absolutely gorgeous! I’ve only been married 5 years and most of the stuff we got as newlyweds is gone b/c I don’t like it anymore. Great to declutter!!!

    1. It’s called Repousse by Kirk Steiff. My mother, grandmother and great-grandmother all had the same pattern, so I have pieces from all of them.

  69. Amen – I couldn’t agree more. Why in the world purchase something and not use it. Does that make any sense at all to anyone? Also, we should not buy anything we don’t love or that we don’t need or won’t use. Bottom line, stay focused on what is important. Clutter (no matter how pretty or how expensive) just clutters our minds and keeps us stressed. I am not doing this yet but I am determined to implement the rules of MMS. It will make life so much easier and enjoyable.

  70. Amen. And Hallelujah! Bring out the silver girls and let’s eat (I have three daughters and a granddaughter in my home. And yup….we like the pretty stuff also!)

  71. but truly, you need the crockpot especially for a vegetarian like you! cook up some great beans, any type, pinto, peruvian, black, red…..soak them overnight, drain, replace water, throw in onions, tomatoes, green pepers, chiles, garlic, even carrots & celery, a bay leaf or 2, spices & let it cook. Nothing tastes as good as a fresh bowl of beans with maybe some chopped onions, tomatoes, avocado & a little bit of salsa & chips & fresh cheese sprinkled on top. Enjoy with a quesadilla! Honestly – good for you.

    My husband’s cousin just gave me her beautiful sterling silverware that hasn’t seen the light of day since their grandmother who used it every Sunday. I will use it frequently, if not every day, and I promised her I’d will it back to their side of the family unless one of her daughters wants it before then (at this time, they both said not interested – can you imagine!).

  72. First I have to say I love you so much! You are my inspiration! Thank you! Second I am sure my 10 month old is trying to eat the dogs food while I am typing this so I’m going to make it quick..
    Do you by chance know the name and manufacturer of your amazing silver? I am in love! I would love to find some! Thank you!
    Again, you are amazing. I cherish your every post!

  73. Three years ago my Mom passed away unexpectedly. She had quite a collection of serving pieces, bake ware, and pretty plates and bowls. Her house had burned 20+ years before and she lost everything. I don’t know why that once she started collecting so many pieces again she didn’t use a lot of them. Most pieces found a new home with my daughter or me. I use the pieces as often as I can. I also take all of the serving pieces out for the holidays or other special occasions. It may look like a mismatched bunch of dishes but we feel as though she is with us celebrating. I love to remember stories about how she acquired different pieces.

  74. Thank you for sharing. I have been thinking of reorganizing and geetting rid of stuff. Our blessings have become a burden so to speak. Time to get back to the simple life and enjoy the simple things. I just finished reading your book a few weeks ago. Loved it. Thanks for all the inspiration.

  75. Amen to getting rid of your crock pot! I have had one in the house for 14 years of marriage because I was told I NEED one, and I have maybe used it 1-2 times in that WHOLE time. It makes me cringe thinking about how many times I have moved that thing (we are a military family) I’m pretty sure that one of those two times I even ended up pouring the contents into a pot on the stove, so that I could cook the meal faster (I’m maybe not the best planner.)

    But somehow I can’t seem to make myself get rid of it, because I am supposed to have it……. I’m definitely going to have to give it a second look!

  76. I agree completely!! I enjoy using my husband’s grandmother’s silver and a dear family friend who left me her’s because she had no grandchildren. My ironstone dishes and Ruby Red glasses these are meant to be used not packed away for someone else to enjoy or to be treated like they belong in a museum.

    1. Yes, I do. It’s quite a hot debate, though, if it’s okay to put it in the dishwasher. I’ve seen cases where people have been doing it for 40+ years and other people have had issues with the knives breaking, discoloration, etc. I’ve been putting them in the dishwasher. If a problem comes up, then I’ll address it, because I don’t imagine all of it will disintegrate all at once! 🙂

      1. Thank you! You’ve just given me the courage to go forth & enjoy my grandmother’s beautiful Buttercup silver. It takes me back to her and her wonderful lemon meringue pies, the darkest chocolate cake this side of heaven, the sounds of her white metal cabinets closing as she rustled up a wonderful dessert, and many more memories. I’m not going to worry one iota if they start to spot. These pieces will never evoke the same memories to anyone other than me.

  77. Amen to everything you said…..except the crockpot! However, I did unload my fine china. I haven’t used it in years, and it just moved in and out of moving boxes, in and out of my hutch. I did ask my daughter if she wanted it, but since she has her own china, she only took the serving pieces. When you mentioned the silverware, I thought…..mine is all lined up the a drawer in the dining room. I have to start polishing it and my Grandmother’s silver and start using them. Thanks for the “gentle” push.

  78. I am going to my Guest Room closet to dig out the beautiful Crate & Barrel wine glasses from my bridal registry 21 years ago. I don’t drink, but I think my diet pop will taste just fine in them!

  79. Bravo!! I will certainly start to do this immediately! You just gave me permission! Somehow I had been following the unspoken rule learned from my mom. This will make every day life that much more lovely!!

  80. You are so right Marian! We have just finished clearing out our much loved Grandma’s house – it was so sad to see everything kept for best…. I just love your saying from a few weeks back, that “special things are for special people, not special occasions” and have used it often ever since! It is just lovely to enjoy beautiful things with those you love most in the world!

  81. I really enjoy using pretty things every day and I do believe things taste better when eaten with some of my special forks and spoons.One of the things I love about thrifting is that I am able to buy the herlooms that my family didn’t have and I like to think that the former owner is happy that I am using and enjoying their treasures.
    On a different note- if your absolutely BEAUTIFUL silverware goes missing…it wasn’t me! OMG, the backs of those spoons are just the prettiest pieces I have ever seen!

  82. I made this change a few years ago. I had beautiful crockery and cutlery (flatware) on display in a glass cabinet (which was also beautiful!). It really suited our previous home, and I often just stood there, looking at it all, admiring it as if it was art. … which it was really, on display like that. But the cabinet didn’t suit our new home, so we sold it, which then left the issue of what to do with all this beautiful stuff. Bingo! Epiphany! USE IT! Now every day I open that cutlery drawer and see this gorgeous, ornate cutlery, and I use it. I absolutely love the idea that I deserve to use it. I do. You do. We all do. Don’t save the best for special occasions. Every day can be made nicer. Why not?

  83. I just visited a friend in Purcellville Va and got her to take me to Lucketts!!! I was so excited and felt like I was in heaven! Next time I will bring a truck!

  84. I have been putting heirloom silver in the dishwasher for years – the secret is that it MUST be in the silverware section of the dishwasher alone – only silver – when you wash it. If there is a piece of stainless mixed in, it will discolor and pit. I have to disagree about the crockpot – though two years ago, I would have agreed with you. I FINALLY invested some time in finding some great recipes for the crockpot (love Christy Jordan’s stuff because it is so easy) and it has changed my life. SO great to arrive home late in the afternoon from a day full of errands and dinner is ready to be served by just making some rice and one veggie!

  85. Nina You are correct. I am 88 and just mixed up the timing, but I hope I got her message right. I stand corrected.

  86. Amen, well said…
    We should use the silver, good china, whatever has been our family treasures and passed along. Thirty years ago my mother gave me beautiful pieces from her cut-glass collection and made me promise that I would use them. And when I do, I smile and lovingly think of my mother!
    Marian you’ve written such a beautiful blog.
    Thank you.

  87. Amen, sister. Keep on preaching it to us. I need the inspiration and clarity of thought. It is liberating and RIGHT.

  88. I have always held this philosophy dear to my heart because I hate having a bunch of stuff I would never use! What’s the point! I love that you are embracing this too…and thank you for the reminder to USE what we have that we love and get rid of the excess we just “put up with”…because it’s not breakable or special. I’d rather risk breaking a few things i love than have to stare at things I don’t love on a daily basis that will never break- haha! So much irony! Anyway, great post! You go girl!!!
    Earlier this year I started decluttering like crazy too…with the same questions of “do I love it & will we use it?” It’s been so freeing and now I have so much more space and it’s just awesome. Good luck to you as you continue this journey!!

  89. Two years ago we relocated from one state to another. I still have a garage full of boxes that have yet to be unpacked. I think the best thing I can do is use everything I love and get rid of the rest. I need to go through at least a box or two a day and then I could park my car in the garage in no time!

    What success that would be! Using all our lovely things daily and sharing them with others!

  90. Crockpots are great for soaking and removing paint from door and cabinet hardware without chemicals – it really works! Does that change your mind? ; )

  91. YES! I love it! Those spoons are stunning! I used to run receptions for a large organization and they had silver very similar to those beautiful spoons. I’ve always hoped to find some when I browse antique stores, but I haven’t yet. I think that using our pretty stuff can add a lot of delight to the simple things we do every day. What point is it to have them if we don’t use them!

  92. i’m on board with this – but I know I’ll have a problem with the “I need to keep this [whatever] because I do use it, even if infrequently”. How often is often enough to warrant keeping something? I fear I will find a reason to keep everything!

  93. Enjoy all the beauty at your fingertips…:) I do this way of decluttering and reusing things for the past couple of years. People dying and leaving things behind made me think that “why? Am I going to take it with me to the other side?”. Last year when I pulled my fine china out of boxes (we don’t have china cabinet or buffet) into the everyday cabinet in the kitchen and started using it every day for myself, my mom had almost a heart attack. I have never regretted though.

  94. Love this post and agree with everything you said, as usual! One bit of advice that I learned from selling sterling and other flatware as a bridal consultant for years….if you are going to put it in the dishwasher be sure to NOT use citrus scented dishwashing liquid. It can cause pits and discoloration.

  95. My Grandma used to tell me that you should never have anything you don’t use. When you save your ‘good china and silverware’ for special occasions, who is more special than family and what is more special than dinner with your family. So, my boys grew up eating on our prettiest dishes with our sterling flatware and decorative glasses, with embroidered lap napkins. When my family comes over for dinner (parents, sisters, aunts, etc), they all get tickled because I use the ‘good stuff’ and not just paper plates and paper napkins – they joke and say they feel ‘special’. And in my world………..they are!!!

  96. What a wonderful post. This was a great motivator for me to get to gettin’ in my kitchen cabinets. While I don’t have an online store, I’ve decided to rent a booth at a local fair and sell what I can then donate the rest. I’m such a dishaholic that getting rid of any dishes is painful, but you’re right, sometimes it’s just necessary to do a purge through our homes. Thanks.

  97. Marion.

    AAAAAAAAMMMMMMMMEEEEEEENNNNNNNN. 🙂 You tell ’em, girl. Oh, how I wish we could just hang out together for a spell… blessings!

  98. I remember an old lady once telling a story of the beautiful expensive dinner set and glasses that was a wedding gift. When her husband died years later they had never, ever been used. So she gathered all the family and had a wonderful picnic by the river with all the very expensive unused crockery and glassware. They had a wonderful time and created rich memories which she wished she had have done when her husband was alive. Life is too short to save things for special occasions – every day is special.

  99. When my father died, my brothers, my sister and I all went through his things. I was shocked by all the unused items that he was saving because they were “special”. Those things went completely unused and now he would never be use or enjoy them. Since then, I do not save anything because it is “special”. If it gets ruined or broken, at least it was broken because it was being used and loved.

  100. That spoon in the photo is soooooooo gorgeous. I love the Pottery Barn flatware too. and Isn’t getting organized like the best best feeling in the whole wide world!!! When your perfect new home manifests you will be so organized and ready to grab stuff and go!


  101. Thank you for the post. You are correct in all you said. I plan to read it every morning to keep me motivated as I work my way through my very full house.

  102. thank you for this challenge…& for clearing up the question i’ve had in my head as to why our house has 2 front doors right next to ea. other! =)

  103. Well said MMS !!! My Grandmother would always tell me: Don’t stash the beautiful special pieces away – use them and enjoy their beauty everyday!! I have to admit – it is hard at times but then i hear my Grams words and i say: Yep ! Why NOT?!! So glad you are doing the same 🙂 and the flatware that you have pictured – just beautiful!

  104. The lovely pattern with the floral pattern on the back side of the spoon is Durgin’s 1893 Chrysanthemum. One of the loveliest spoons in the Art Nouveau era of sliver.

  105. Hi Marian!

    This brought tears to my eyes!

    Before the hubs and I got married, his mom kept telling me not to worry about registering for silver. She told me no one ever uses it or wants to clean it and it was too expensive to ask for as a gift. She reminded me they had plenty to hand down someday. A couple of years later, his sister was getting married and her mom insisted she registered for the same pattern she had. She then received all of her mom’s flatware – two complete sets of 8 place settings plus two complete sets of all the serving pieces!

    Thankfully, an aunt said she wanted to give us a spare set of flatware.
    I had no idea what it would look like but I really appreciated the thoughtful gesture.
    I am so grateful it was your same lovely floral Repousse pattern by Kirk Steiff! It’s simply stunning!

    Thank you so much for reminding us to enjoy beautiful things everyday!

    P.S. I don’t have them but someone told me the sporks were Ice Cream spoons. 😀

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