Mismatched Me

My dishes don’t match. If you open my cupboard, you’ll see stacks of mismatched plates in a patchwork of colors, often in pairs. When I find something I really like, I might pick up 3 or 4, but mostly it’s pairs. Bowls are stacked in precarious towers, their odd sizes and shapes never nesting well, but it makes choosing a cereal bowl an adventure. (If my kids ate cereal, which they don’t, and if I did, which I don’t)

I think this started with my first apartment in Capitola, CA- it was one of the first tiny fences of “supposed to” that I can recall kicking down. My roommate was the OCD daughter of a Beach Boy, and I won’t go into what a mess that ended up being, but I learned two things living in that seaside loft: Never clean a kitchen floor with Comet, and matching things is overrated.

I like being able to chose the vessel for my food based on how I’m feeling any given moment. I have pretty blue flowered plates from England, terra cotta from Portugal, miso bowls from Japan, whitewear from Germany, chartreuse bowls from Spain, blue speckled stonewear from Poland, and transferware from Italy, France and England. There are a lot of white pieces in interesting shapes and sizes, and blue and green are more heavily represented than other colors.

My flatware and glasses are also quite a garden of choices. This used to drive my mom insane when she would visit, and actually the only sets of matched things I own came from her as a gift on a visit. I went along with it. It was nice for a while to have a full set of plates, cups and silverware- but one day I stood at my cupboard and thought “This isn’t me… I kind of liked that quirky part of me…” And so I got out the boxes I’d packed away of all my pretty plates and mixed them in with the stacks of American Gibsonware.

The one exception: my wedding china. When it was time, and I was wandering around Macy’s with the little barcode scanner trying to pick things for an imagined life, I wanted to register for ten different china patterns. They lady wouldn’t let me. More than anything I wanted to scan one of each 5-piece place setting that caught my fancy, but the outcry from family and the wedding machine was too great, and I caved. I picked Lenox Federal Platinum– a conservative, beautiful, timeless pattern that was sensible and lovely and… so not me. But so help me, I have service for ten, including the recommended salad plate and serving pieces. Maybe someday I’ll have a chance to use it again. Right now, it’s packed in bubble wrap and stacked carefully in a dry corner of the leaky Little House garage.

Today would have been my dozenth wedding anniversary. I’m not sad, not anymore. It just is what it is- it happened, and its a part of me. While its not a gaping wound anymore, it seems apropos to at least nod in respect for what was, and for what now lives soundly and forever in the past… along with matching dishes.

18 thoughts on “Mismatched Me

  1. I never registered when I got married (so not my thing) and my charge’s mother bought me some fun, colorful Pier 1 china for eight. Then I inherited some so-very-me Japanese stoneware that hubby’s granny bought in New Orleans. The most divine silverware from Tripoli goes with it — hand-painted wooden rooster handles. I need to write a post about it.

    Offhand I’ve noticed that when you write a casual post, or a funny one, that you use the first person. Many if your deeply emotional posts are in the third person, as if you are distancing yourself from the feelings. Just a very casual observation.

  2. Good catch Kermit. It’s not something I’ve done intentionally, but I noticed it too lately- it does seem easier to write about the painful stuff when I separate myself- like it allows myself a little more objectivity than if I were again experiencing it. Interesting.


    I’d love to see the Tripoli silverware. Write a post!

  3. I hit post too soon. I also meant to say that I’m jealous – my plates are all white with blue-lines, and I am not really a blue person. They are so “not me” even though I registered for them, and well, they work, so I keep them. I also hate the big plates, we use salad plates for all our meals, the big ones are just….too big.

    If I were to do it again, I’d do what you do -pick random ones that I like. And there are a few of them like that – Jeff is really into square plates right now, so we have some of those, and a few Pier 1 plates that I like. Matching is over-rated.

  4. Wiz, yes! Almost all of my favorite plates are the smaller ones. We eat almost exclusively on the salad plates too. I have a few square ones. 86 the dishes you don’t like and get ones you do- it’s fun, and life is short. 🙂

  5. I love your perspective – on your plates, on your life. I’m glad that today’s reason for commemoration is safely in the past where you can give a respectful nod and then move on with your mismatched, yet beautiful and insightful, self.

  6. I’ve got the Bed, Bath, and Beyond set from when I was married ten years ago. I was excited when we moved into this house because there is a ceramic tile floor in the kitchen. I’m hoping to lose more than a few pieces to the hard floor, so I can add some variety to my cabinets. If the floor doesn’t do its part, I may have to resort to something a little stronger–Comet perhaps.

  7. I have so many set of dinnerware it is embarrassing. When I find one I like (and you can imagine living overseas I find them a LOT) we purchase a set. I need to get of the mindset to purchase a few pieces, not a whole set. But if I love it, and I want to buy extra just in case they break. So I cupboards (and storage to take back overseas) are stacked with Russian, Uzbekistan, Japanese, plate. And I love each of them. I think I get it from my mom though…just the other day she bought a stack of little plates at a garage sale. Because she liked them. She lives with our family…you can imagine our cupboards (her dishes, our dishes). But, you can find whatever plate suits your fancy!
    Love the insight on dishes. It seems to fit what I know of your personality.
    Love you!

  8. oh, so many similarities. not sure where to start. but let me tell you, we can each get our full sets of Lenox Feneral Platinum together and have a luxurious party for 22.

  9. Both my sister and I go for mis-matched china – I think she started it, and I followed. With 7 kids between us, it just made sense. With a set, if someone breaks something, you have “ruined” the set, but if everything is mis-matched to start with, you can have fun going out to find a new single piece to replace the broken one – and we all know that with kids, plates are gonna get broken!!

  10. This would so entirely be my kitchen cupboard were I not married to my utilitarian husband. As it is he A) gets irritated by anything that doesn’t stack neatly in the cupboard and B) doesn’t understand why we might possibly need to spend money or any further pieces of dishware. But it’s my secret passion. I think I might get into food photography just for an excuse to start buying single plates, glasses, linens and cutlery that I fall in love with.

  11. I love going to the houses of friends who have dishes like this. It’s always fun to see what comes out of the cupboard. My mom’s mug collection is a mish mash of sizes and styles and I love it. For my own personal dish collection, though, I’ve found I go a little bonkers if stuff doesn’t fit and match. It’s the OCD side of me coming out. I’ve gone through several sets of dishes and just get tired of them if they’re patterned (serving pieces can be all sort of patterns so it’s just the dinnerware that gives me issues). For some reason the white just works well for me. Funnily, I don’t particularly care for white anyplace else. My walls and furniture are all colorful because I can’t stand the white but for me, the dishes have to be white in my own house. Isn’t that weird? We also eat off the salad plate almost exclusively, too.

  12. HSF, I like white dishes too, even though so many are different in my cupboard, I have a lot of white. I think it’s that I like the colors of the food to show up against the pristine white, and not have to compete with a pattern.

  13. Did you know that Matt and I registered for two different china patterns at Macy’s for our wedding? We wanted to mix and match. Must run in the family. 🙂

  14. Pingback: Inheritance. « Life in Bailey Park

  15. Is that a picture of your dishes? They’re to die for! I just started collecting mismatched dishes last week. I like the vintage ones so I’ve been making trips to thrift stores and antique shops. So far I have 5. I didn’t think they would be this hard to find. Maybe it’s a ‘thing’ and now there’s a shortage. I hate to think that it’s a thing though. Anyway the price has ranged from .50 to 2.95 each. The vintage plates are small which is good; I too have the big ones. Just found your blog; love it.

Comments are closed.