I wasn’t kidding when I said I was knee deep in china. But, I probably should qualify that statement a bit, as what I’m knee deep in are actually dishes. Mid Century dinnerware to be specific.

Lately, I’ve been noticing a disturbing trend with our everyday china,which is actually pottery and I adore it! It’s chipping. Badly. To the point that several pieces have just broken in our hands for no apparent reason. I picked up the set for a song three years ago. It’s not quality by any stretch of the imagination—but I liked the fact each piece was just a little different from the next making the dishes seem handmade, nicer than they truly are. They may have deceived the eye then (I caught lots of friends tipping over my plates to catch a glimpse of the maker.) but with all the chipping, their lack of quality is starting to be obvious. Not to mention they are a real risk. Last thing I need is to serve a cup of something hot to a friend and have the cup come apart.

However, I’m in no position to be buying high quality replacements. Something about discretionary income going into a new bathroom floor. Even if I could, I can’t make a decision. (remember the house paint? Have you forgotten already??) I’m afraid of making a terribly expensive mistake—I want to love what I pick and know that it will be timeless. Something I won’t be bored with in a few years’ time, something that can stand my urge to repaint our space every few years. Something that can withstand my fickleness.


Like most nearing marriage, we picked out lovely fine china and registered for it. The pattern suited my 19 year old self, but I quickly grew tired of it after a few years. It was too, uh, sweet for my rapidly modernizing taste-buds. Yet, too nice to jettison. I packed it and moved it and packed it again for years. Fortunately, I was able to gift it last summer to a young niece who married recently and picked the same pattern. Seventeen years does a number on everyday china, so we’ve been through a number of sets in the years. Now, with the everyday china chipping and breaking, and no fine china to fall back on, it is becoming clear I need to be making some sort of decision.

The two sets you see above are the stand-in solution. I figure they should hold us over for awhile. I found both of them in Coupeville on the same day, but in two different stores. Mid-century china can be found in any thrift store, but usually just in random pieces. It’s a bit of boon to find this much. I now have service for 12 if I mix and match, service for 8 and 4 if I don’t—in both cases I’m short a creamer and I have a feeling that might cause some consternation in the future so I will need to give some thought to remedying this. I had a bit of a giggle when I discovered both sets have a complete sugar, but no creamer. What are the odds?

Neither set is really worth anything and as such, not expensive decisions to make! I’m attracted to that. I don’t know about you, but eating off of fine china unnerves me—especially if it’s someone else’s fine china. I want my guests to be comfortable eating in my home, not worrying about chipping my hand-painted Limoges. I’m also attracted to what this china represents. Most likely, both sets were purchased by the saving of points for some promotion and collected piece by piece. I can just imagine the women who ordered them. Modern women with modern kitchens. Carefully collecting points, addressing envelopes, and neatly affixing a stamp to the corner. I can imagine them sitting at coffee together, musing about their choices, wondering when their hard earned dishes will arrive. I can see them wiping their hands on their apron some morning to answer the door for the post. Each woman opening up crates of china, standing in their kitchens examining their newest arrivals. Pleased with their choices and frugality. Pleased to have dishes that match. I can hear them calling each other on the phone, excited and ebullient, “Why don’t you come to coffee, I’ll use the new china!”

Now if I could only imagine where they put those creamers!