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Use the good stuff

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by Tsh

Tsh is the founder of this blog and is currently traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

A few years ago, I read this excerpt from one of Erma Bombeck’s columns, when she discovered she was dying from cancer — it was titled “If I Had to Live My Life Over”:

“… I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage. I would have talked less and listened more. I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained, or the sofa faded. I would have eaten the popcorn in the ‘good’ living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace. … I would have sat on the lawn with my kids, even if it meant grass stains.”

It hit home. As I write this, I’m looking at a bottle of perfume — one that I love — that was a Mother’s Day gift in 2005. I’ve used about a quarter of it. I’m not sure if I’m waiting for the queen to visit, an invitation to the presidential inauguration ball, or just some amazingly romantic date with my husband. But for some reason, I hesitate to use it, as though it’s a precious commodity; that once it’s gone, it’s gone.

That’s true, to some degree. But I can just get more perfume, probably as another Mother’s Day gift. If I love it so much, why don’t I just use it?

Do you have something in your life akin to this? For your wedding, did you register for special china in addition to your everyday dishes? How about certain lotions, or soaps, or articles of clothing? Do you have eleven categories of towel types, like Monica does in Friends?

Maybe you’re in the depths of early childhood rearing, like me. You’re up to your elbows in poop and snot, and you lost count the amount of times you’ve picked up the same blocks off the same carpet. Your day is peppered with breakfast, lunch, dinner, nap times, quiet times, time outs, and story time. If you hear Dora’s map yell “I’m the map!” one more time, you might scream.

The liturgy of our day’s everydayness can be numbing. It’s easy to forget about that good perfume, the bone china, the silk skirt. There’s spit-up to contend with.

Make this season of your life — whatever it is — more special with those special things you’re saving. Break out the good china for tonight’s homemade pizza. Let your kids know they’re special with those special little things, and don’t worry so much about the messes they’ll make. Bring out the “fancy guest” towels for your family. You’ll blink, and this season will be gone. That pudgy hand covered in dirt will soon be holding hands in a waltz with her groom.

Enjoy the little things in life. And make them more special by using the good stuff. Don’t wait for that perfect moment — it’s right here.

What “thing” are you saving for something special?

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Comments

  1. What a fabulous article, Tsh. I can absolutely relate – as I am knee deep in dirty diapers and time outs. My 4 yr old LOVES to cook with me in the kitchen, but it’s just so darn messy. I need to remember how fleeting this time is, and get messy with him.

    I’m far too “Monica” than I’d like to be…

    Angie @ The Creative Mama´s last blog post…The Great Snack Attack.

  2. Absolutely beautiful and striking! I always felt like I’ve been blessed with perspective – I’ve always known that these treasured days will be short… Think about it – how many times do strangers stop you and tell you that your children are beautiful (even when they’re misbehaving) and then inevitably say “Mine are all grown up now. Enjoy this, because it doesn’t last”… That has always touched my soul deeply.

    Would you believe I just got my first set of China after 14 years of marriage? We use it at least a few times a month – it certainly makes everything feel special.

    xoxoxoxoxo

  3. Tsh, thank you for this encouraging post! This line spoke to me the most, “Don’t wait for that perfect moment — it’s right here.”

  4. I’m saving a small jar of raspberry jelly that my grandmother made for me who passed away two years ago. I was just telling friends how I want to use it for “something special” – not just everyday peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, how I want to “ENJOY” it and not have it be “wasted”.

    Would it be a waste, though, to have my 3 year old daughter enjoy some amazing jelly from a great-grandmother that she’s really only seen pictures of? No. Its time for me to get out the jelly.

    Thanks for the encouragement to enjoy today and make the everyday and mundane stuff special.

    • I would be neat if you took a photo of your special snack time for your daughter’s album or journal and wrote a little note explaining about your Grandma’s jelly.

    • avatar
      Brittany says:

      Good for you – I’m sure your grandmother would be THRILLED to know that her jelly was being enjoyed by both you and her great-granddaughter in that most sublime snack of PB&J!

  5. I love this reminder! I had so much on my to-do list this week, and now that the weekend is almost here I’ve been thinking, what did I get done? But I had some great “conversations” with my two-year old, helped him paint rocks, laughed a lot and spent time gardening with him. Even if I never got around to clearing out the guest room closet or cleaning the bathrooms, I suppose the truly important stuff got done.

    Shannon @ AnchorMommy´s last blog post…Curried Tofu Scramble

  6. Years ago I saw Oprah talk about this very thing. She mentioned that she uses her good crystal every day and talked about the difference between owning things or being owned by them. I’ve never forgotten that, but I haven’t been good at changing my habits either.

    I’m one who routinely avoids using things to keep from using them up/damaging them/losing them or some other form of irreparable material object peril. The list is pretty long; my mom’s china, my grandmothers stemware, the shoes I spent a small fortune on ($40, for me that’s like gold), the little bamboo pampered chef spoons, my favorite perfume that my ex-husband of 5 years didn’t like me wearing because his mom wore it too, the stationery that makes me feel like a queen. Now I’m swimming in stuff that I love but don’t really appreciate, and stop loving because I see it as clutter.

    The kid stuff is easier for me than the me stuff. Thank you for this great reminder. It’s one I could stand to read daily.

  7. Wonderful post – inspiring me to use “stuff” more, and I have also been encouraged to say “yes” to the kids more when they ask to do something fun, and my automatic response is “no”. We Are That Family had a great post the other day about this called “Yes”

    JanMary, N Ireland´s last blog post…Show & Tell and Day 2 of Bristol trip

  8. Love it! What a beautiful post. I wholeheartedly agree. I had an aunt with a “pretty room” and nobody could go in it because they’d mess up the vacuum marks. We’re much happier when we’re living our lives and really enjoying the things that we have at home. Thanks for sharing! Great!

    Heather @ alis grave nil´s last blog post…Counting Calories: FOR THE BIRDS

  9. avatar
    queenstuss says:

    I use all my ‘good’ stuff. Whenever I have people over, the good things come out.
    Though I don’t ever use my Royal Doulton china. My mum bought it for me as a Christmas present one year as part of a family tradition. It’s proudly on display in my living room – the one with the lino floor and the easy-clean couch so that we can eat Sunday night dinner and have friends over for morning tea and not be tempted to worry about the ‘good room’.

  10. thanks for this sweet, sweet reminder. it got me all teary. so needing to enjoy the moments we’re in. blessings to you!

    emily hope´s last blog post…love defined . CAFE MOUNT . 12×12

  11. About 15 years ago, my husband’s paternal grandmother went into a nursing home when her dementia made it impossible for her to safely live in her home. The family gathered to sort the possessions of a lifetime and I was struck with sadness by the things kept “for good” that would never be used by her. Lovely towels, soaps, garments etc all carefully packed away.

    That changed my behavior for life. I buy and use nice soaps everyday. I wear my perfume everyday. I use family pieces of linen etc, even though it will shorten their life (better to give everyday pleasure to this generation that be kept hidden away for future ones).

    You are good enough to use your good stuff!

    YvetteDownunder´s last blog post…A human barometer

  12. This is beautiful, Tsh. Thanks so much.

    Things can get quite crazy around here, raising three children who are practically the same age. So my husband and I have a saying, “It doesn’t get any better than this.” We tell it to each other in moments of extreme chaos, OR joy.

    It helps keep us in the perfect moment, just like you’re suggesting.

    Jamie

    steadymom´s last blog post…Steady Thought for the Day

  13. I couldn’t agree more, life IS today, no point in saving the good stuff for later. You deserve it more than anybody else, use it, enjoy it every day because special occasions are so rare – who knows, they might never happen. Thank you for this simple and beautiful post, SimpleMom!

    Emma @ Baby-log.com´s last blog post…Things you don’t need to know when you’re pregnant

  14. Oh my…what a beautiful post! It’s so easy to get caught up in the every day mundane tasks to remember to sometimes let go…We don’t have good china (we’d been using our wedding set but as it was really get beat up I bought another lovely set that we use every day). What I ought to do is cut more flowers from my garden and bring them inside…I should also allow my girls to pick more flowers from my garden. Last night we did something different- we ate dinner while watching a movie (eating in the living room! ack!) and last night instead of promptly putting my younger to bed right away I took her outside for a moment to watch the fireflies and see the singing tree frogs (who were having a party in our splash pool). :)

  15. Every little event is a special occassion for us. We dress up to go to the doctor, the library, grocery shopping. I don’t save Chloe’s dresses for “special occassions”, we make our own occassions.

    My older friend warned me about how fast they grow and I don’t want to miss the chance for her to wear her nice things…..

  16. avatar
    Valerie R. says:

    That last line brought tears to my eyes. Great post.

  17. Tsh, thank you for this post, and for the recent one about motivation. These have hit home with me, and have encouraged me more than I can say.

    Today we are moving, from the home that we built in the country, to a little house in town. And I have tried to pack just the things I really love. Ran across a beautiful tablecloth that I have NEVER used! …for fear of stains. But I have packed it to take to our new house — and hope to put it to good use!

    Now… off to face the day. :-)

  18. Oh, man… This was great! I think my “good” china is something I could use more… maybe a date might with my hubby every week? Or, maybe as encouragement to have friends and family over more often?

  19. AMEN!! Thanks for the reminder! :)

    Anna´s last blog post…Why should we care if the sun doesn’t shine?

  20. I love this post. This is something I have learned through the bad example of my family. My grandmother passed away with a dresser drawer full of brand new nightgowns. The nice ones that she never wore instead she lived her life in the not so nice ones so not to ruin the nice one! It always struck me as so sad, but we all do it… weather its the bath and beauty stuff, the good china, the nice living room, or the nice nighties! Its a good lesson… if you’ve got the best… ENJOY IT!!

  21. I am in the stage of life with little ones at home. I save all my hood clothes and wear jeans and tshirts around. I think this is something that could change! Thanks for the great post!

  22. Hey Tsh! Well said! These ideas ring true for me too.
    {Honestly, I don’t use the good china b/c it was my grandmother’s and I can’t put it in the dishwasher!! I only use it when I have people willing to wash it!! ~hehe} There are though many things I can think of that I don’t use b/c I want to save it…I’m trying to let go of that…life is just too short and it should be enjoyed!! Thanks for the reminder!! Have a great weekend.

  23. I know you wont believe me b/c I never did when someone told me.
    The days of ” You’re up to your elbows in poop and snot, and you lost count the amount of times you’ve picked up the same blocks off the same carpet. Your day is peppered with breakfast, lunch, dinner, nap times, quiet times, time outs, and story time. If you hear Dora’s map yell “I’m the map!” one more time, you might scream.” will be over before you know it and you will miss them!
    Your right use the good stuff!!!!!!!!!!!

  24. We try to eat one meal a week in our formal dining room. It may seem silly, but I really enjoy having a formal dining room but didn’t like the fact it wasn’t being used very often. So, we make a point to use it. On occasion, we pull out the china as well.

    But this post was a good reminder for me about how quickly time goes by.

    Rebecca´s last blog post…new purpose of the blog

  25. Amen! (Just what I needed to hear today – Thank you)

  26. avatar
    Southern Gal says:

    I keep Erma’s entire list close at hand for moments when I’m just living and not living in the moment. Thanks for the reminder yet again.

  27. I recently returned from vacation in Florida where my in-laws live. It was sad that my kids and their cousins could not go into the “pretty sitting room” because it was not for sitting! I am a big fan of using the “good stuff” … not to sound sad, but we are not promised tomorrow so it is so important to embrace TODAY ! Thanks for a great post!

  28. perfect! i have a delicious smelling bottle of vera wang perfume that i received for my 40th birthday in january from my older daughters. it smells delicious. i use it on occassion. and use the other not so expensive stuff daily. vera wang, here i come….more often.

  29. I have a delicate china bread plate that my grandmother gave to my parents as a wedding gift, as well as a relish plate. The last time my in laws were over, my mother in law brought some bread to go with the meal–not homemade bread, regular storebought. I brought out the bread plate, which i use whenever we have bread or muffins with a meal. I love it because it is old-fashioned, scalloped around the edges and says “Give us this day our daily bread.” It’s so 1960s-era Catholic, in its way.

    My mother in law said, “Oh, my, that’s a fancy plate, I wouldn’t want you to get it dirty just for us,” and i said, “If not for my family, then who?” I don’t have “special” and “everyday” plates. We use the same plates for every meal.

    I thought it was a little sad that my mother in law didn’t think her company “worthy” of the use of a china bread plate.

    • Your post reminded me of a similar thing that happens to me all the time. We use cloth napkins at our house because it is frugal and earth-friendly. I can’t count the number of times we’ve had people over for dinner and they’ve said “Oh, you don’t have to use cloth napkins for us.” It’s amazing the “value” our society puts on “nice things.”

  30. Bravo, Tsh, this post couldn’t have hit closer to home–I’m blinking back a few tears now…

    I’m on board with everything. This month I am celebrating 10 years in Quebec and am living it up. My hubby & I are going on a weekend away even though my youngest has separation anxiety, it won’t kill him, right?
    we’ve got a few other things planned to live our summer to the fullest–NOW!

    Thanks for this post.

    Aimee´s last blog post…Irresponsibly Yours with Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake

  31. I wear clothes my mom bought for me or my sister handed down to me around the house. It’s usually stuff that doesn’t fit perfectly or that isn’t really my style. It’s ridiculous that the people I spend most of my time with – husband and daughter – have to see me in the worst of my wardrobe, but I dress up for strangers. Thank you for helping me recognize this so I can work on changing it.

    • avatar
      Johanna says:

      Oh my, you’re right!
      I wear the stupidest clothes in the weekends at my parents home, my mom was so happy I found some cheery summer stuff in my closet that wasn’t appropriate for the outside world maybe, but certainly nicer than the baggy stuff!
      My fault: I have been saving up quite a lot of soaps, bath foam etc. too… I should have used it, because now I don’t want too anymore (don’t like the chemical mix…). Maybe I should give them away so someone can enjoy them.

  32. Great reminder! I was watching my oldest son eat last year when he was about 3. I noticed that he always ate all his favorites on his plate first, leaving his least favorites for last. I noticed that I always ate my least favorites first, leaving the good stuff for last. Except there were times when I got too full to really enjoy the good stuff, or even eat it all.

    I’ve been trying to live ‘eating the good stuff first’ since then, and life is much more enjoyable!

    Jennifer´s last blog post…Little pleated pouch

  33. oh, this is exactly what i needed to read this morning. with a 4 year old, 2 year old and 3 week old, i’m in the thick of spit up, breastmilk, poo, pee and snot! if i can orchestrate a synchronized naptime, i’m going to take a shower and use my fancy lotion i’ve been keeping for who knows what? thank you for this beautiful post :)

    effie´s last blog post…remember…

  34. Thanks for this reminder. I’m also a SAHM to little ones, living in a cramped, temporary apartment. But I just sprayed on some perfume that my husband and son love. I don’t know why I don’t wear it more often. Can’t wait to get “the good stuff” back out of storage and start using it more often!

  35. you made me cry… a good cry… loved the article… thanks for sharing…
    heather

  36. Oh how I loved this post! It’s so true and Erma was so wise to write that. I have lovely dishes that stay in my cabinet. What am I waiting for? I’m going to try to change that before I get too old to enjoy. Thanks for posting this one.

  37. What a fantastic post! Thank you for this very important reminder. I’m reminded of this as my baby girl outgrows her “special occasion” dresses & outfits before she even has a chance to wear them. Now I’m redefining “special occasion” as a trip to the grocery store. Why not? Pretty things are meant to be used and enjoyed.

    Amy at The Red Chair Blog´s last blog post…Fun Ways To Welcome House Guests – DIY Chalkboard Tray

  38. Great post! And a great reminder to us all. I do use my ‘special’ things alot though. What’s more special than our families. But the ‘every dayness’ of most of our days sometimes overwhelms us and we forget to use our good stuff. Ironically, that’s probably when we need it the most.
    Thanks!

  39. avatar
    Catherine says:

    Thank you for this! I’m between feeding the baby, snack time for the older two, and trying to get the sheets washed today. Time to go spritz on a little Chanel No.5!

  40. I loved this post. It’s a wonderful reminder. I try to remind myself that I don’t need a reason to dress nice or use the good stemware. Never seems to help however. The one thing I really need to remember is that I don’t need a “good” reason to have some ME time. I always feel like I need to have a really good reason to leave the girls with a sitter and have some time to myself, as if me time isn’t a good enough reason.
    Thanks for a great post.

  41. You made me cry. I’m going to go home tonight and paint with the kids. I don’t care how messy it is or how much laundry I have to do. I’m going to get down on the floor with them and be a mom. To hell with housework and filing. I can do all those things after they fall asleep.

  42. Beautiful post. thank you.

  43. love it.
    i have collected china tea cups from my travels around the world. they have spent most of their life in the glass buffet.
    just this winter we started having tea time when my 3 yr old awakes from his nap. we use the special tea cup, have a snack on the tea tray, and practice our manners.
    he hasn’t broke one yet, but i realized i’d rather be using them, sharing them and have one break.
    and, we are preparing for a mossiac project, so we can use any broken tea cups!

  44. This post epitomizes the excellent writing I’ve found on your blog. Brava, Maestro! Well done!

  45. Thank you for this post! It made me cry. So so true, and I need to remember it!

    Sarah´s last blog post…Let’s Go Fly a Kite!

  46. Oh did I need this one! Tears for me too. I am the worst at using the “nice” things that I get given as gifts. Just this afternoon, my son dug a bottle of perfume (nearly full!) out of my bathroom drawer and I scolded him for getting into “mommy’s things.” Why didn’t I just let him spray it on mommy, so we could share the smell together? He’s curious. I’m worth it. Maybe we’ll explore that drawer again when he wakes from his nap. Thank you.

    Alissa´s last blog post…Friday Field Trips – Rock Garden

  47. this is such a great perspective. and i want to treasure these days and make the most of them. thanks for the reminder!!

  48. I think this is great advice!!

    I’m a true believer of using everything I have. No one else will enjoy my stuff the way I do.

    SoBella Creations´s last blog post…Polka Dot Mom ~ Giveaway

  49. Thanks so much for this reminder. I had a few meetings this week and my 5 year old had a sitter (a teenager from one of my classes this past year). That night he cried because he wanted her to come back the next day. He said she had played all day – “something you never do, Mommy.” Did that cut to the core? I’m always so busy with just one more load of laundry and one more drawer to declutter and one more blog article to post and one more bill to pay and one more… I am going to sit down right now and make myself a schedule so that I make routine play time for us. Now, I’m the one crying. Thanks again. I needed that reminder once again to get my priorities straight.

  50. avatar
    krickledoo says:

    I feel like I’m 1/100 to comment on this post, but it really struck a chord with my heart. I’ve been doing the spring clean slowly, and although I’ve never been a fan of clutter, there is more in my house than I would like. I want to get rid of the stuff that’s in the way so that I can enjoy the things I have and most importantly the beautiful family God gave me. What a waste to have the good mixed up with the bad, ugly, or not useful. All my time is bogged down with moving the crud out of the way and then I don’t have time to use the good. Thanks for sharing!

    Krickledoo

  51. I’m on a mission to rid our home of the clutter that confines us. Thanks for the message I needed to hear today!

  52. thanks for sharing this, it’s all too true. I have been waiting to ‘start’ life. ISn’t that crazy? It right now.

    Lee-Ann´s last blog post…pink

  53. This is a great post! I can’t think of anything I’m saving for special occasions (other than expensive contacts), but there was something that I wasn’t using until six months ago. When my son was born, we received a silver spoon engraved with his initials and birth date from Tiffany & Co. It cost well over $100 (for a spoon!), so I thought I would save it as a keepsake. But then it occurred to me – why not use it? It’s such a lovely spoon and the quality is such that it will withstand abuse and still be a keepsake once he’s done using it. He’s now 13 months and has been using it to eat his breakfast every morning for the past six months. In fact, now we rarely use his other spoons! We could all use a little luxury every day.

    rachel´s last blog post…10 things that frustrate us about Massimo (at 12 months)

  54. What a great post. I worry way too much about what people will think of the level of order and cleanliness of my home – so much so that I don’t have my friends over often enough. I guess you could say I’m “saving” my house for the moment when it’s perfectly clean before I “showcase” it. With three children under the age of three years, my house is only perfectly clean in my dreams. So, I need to stop being unrealistic, and start enjoying my friends!

    Thanks for you blog. I’ve been visiting for a few months now and have gleaned a lot of great ideas and encouragement. :)

  55. Thanks for this article Tsh. It is just what I needed this week! Loved seeing your face in Better Homes and Gardens this month! I hope it brings many more readers to your amazing site.

  56. This is a truly inspiring article. We should cherish the things we love but also make use of them. Otherwise, why did we buy it in the first place?

  57. Thanks for the great reminder. This was my new year’s resolution. One day I opened my linen closet and realized that I had a problem with saving candles for special occasions instead of just using them.
    I also resolved to let my toddler wear her Sunday pretty shoes to the grocery store instead of making her change into play shoes. She’ll out grow them in no time and I want her to enjoy them as much as possible before that day comes.

    Nikki´s last blog post…Thankful

  58. Hi! Came here from Vered’s.

    For me it’s stationery. I have some of the finest in the world, all kinds of linen laid stuff embeded with pressed flowers, gorgeous cards on good cotton paper from Bermuda, France, Ireland, etc.

    I write real letters as well as blog. I need to bring out that good stuff more.

    Yet, I want to use some of it too, to write letters to my daughter when she is older. What a quandary!

  59. Thanks for the beautiful post! I too, struggle with this issue as well. My husband and I were in a horrible car wreck about 5 years ago that changed our lives. We realize that we are not invincible or infinite, but we do get stuck in our everyday lives. I just happen to be wearing my silk robe that he gave me years ago as I read this post, and wondered why I don’t wear it more often.
    Thank you. Have a beautiful weekend.

    Megan´s last blog post…CSA report

  60. Great site- my SIL just introduced me to it and it is great! I think your readers would really enjoy a site that a friend of mine has, http://www.frugalcouponliving. She cut my grocery bill in half (at least!).

    For any of your readers who enjoy political debate- check out my site at http://www.mrsrightpolitics.com.

    Thanks! Autumn

  61. I’ve been saving my favorite fabric to make something special, but I’m starting to just use it to make things for around my house. I know, use my favorite fabric for me, instead of waiting for someone else to have a special occasion . . . crazy.

    I also often wear wool sweaters in the winter, even when I have a newborn. I don’t care that I have to hand wash them every week. I love them too much to give them up for 10 years until everyone can manage to eat jam without getting it on mom.

    jill´s last blog post…Dear God:

  62. I long ago copied that quote onto my computer, fancied up the font, printed it, framed it, and hung it where I can see it every day. It’s been a rewarding and freeing motto to live by.

    bdaiss´s last blog post…Creeping closer

  63. I’m a huge Erma Bombeck fan and remember this from years ago. I loved it now as much as I did then.

    Thanks for a wonderful post!

    Vicki´s last blog post…Happy Homemaker Monday

  64. Thank your for this article “use the good stuff ” It really hit home! I’m a 50 yr old mother and my kids are teenagers now for some reason I’m waiting for the kids to get alittle older or for the right moment. Life is very short we do need to enjoy those moments now!!

    Colo Junkett

  65. Thanks. That was just what I needed to hear. Life is too short NOT to…..use the good stuff.

    Rebecca´s last blog post…Spoon Adventures

  66. I enjoyed this post. The message was clear, and the sentiment was unshakable. Around here we do not have many material things, but I am guilty of sometimes putting off great, creative ideas for activities for a day when we don’t have to rush, or I’m not tired. I have been trying to do much better with seizing the day as the blessing it is.

    Tia´s last blog post…30 days before my 41st

  67. I’m in the middle of the spit up right now. Thank you for these words. Kelly

  68. avatar
    Joyce C. says:

    I have a very wise friend who has been married 50+ years and every Sunday she set her table with their fine china. After church they always ate off the china, she said they may have picked up burgers from McDonald’s or had a well prepared home cooked meal, but they always ate from the china. She said life was meant to enjoy and live, not for waiting!

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