The Good Stuff

I looked in my closet one day last week trying to decide what to wear for the day. I wasn’t doing anything special or going anywhere in particular but was a little tired of the same old jeans and long sleeve T combination. (My default outfit in the cooler months of the year.) Then I spied the lovely velvety olive green jacket that I usually reserve for special occasions. After dismissing the initial thought of “But that jacket is only for good.” I decided, why not! That is just what I needed to spruce up an otherwise ordinary day.

This is exactly what we should do with all our good stuff. Use it just because it is nice and for no reason but to brighten up our day or any regular activity. Use your good china for an ordinary meal just for fun, use that silver plated antique fountain pen for writing your grocery list, spray on a little Channel perfume before going to bed at night, drink that $10 bottle of Chardonnay out of your best crystal glass. Why not!

If you aren’t comfortable about doing this all the time just do it on a regular basis. Once in a blue moon is not enough.

“When a tree falls in the forrest and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound?”

“If your beautiful items are never used or seen, are they still beautiful?”

Items such as the good china, the expensive hand cut crystal, the precious heirloom jewellery and the like are rendered useless simply by the fact that they are viewed as too expensive to risk being damaged. And what a waste that is. All these beautiful treasures locked away in their ivory towers.

I am of the opinion of ~ Sell it if its monetary value is worth more to you than its beauty, its sentimental value or its functionality. And I especially believe that if an item has sentimental value why not take it out and enjoy it to the fullest. Honour the item and perhaps the person who gave it to you.

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. I like this post and agree completely!

  2. Good advice Colleen.

  3. Hi, Colleen. This piece really resonates with me. My mother always saved certain china, crystal and silver for special occasions. When we were gathered together to toast her with champagne on the day of her funeral, we scrambled to get enough of the ordinary, everyday wine glasses. Later, I thought, if there was ever a special occasion and a day to celebrate and toast my mother with her Waterford crystal, that was the day. When I inherited her silver flatware, a gorgeous pattern that I have always loved, I told my husband, we’re going to use this every single day. Every day will be a celebration of our love and our happy marriage.

    Later on, when a friend was helping me in the kitchen for a family Christmas party he said, oh, just use the paper plates and plastic, they’re family and they won’t mind. I replied that these were the most important people in the world to me, so who better to serve with the good dishes and silverware? Love and family are special to me and deserve the best.

  4. This is a brilliant post. I have so many things in drawers that I love that are just not seen or used. This is a good reminder to get them out and use/display them or alternatively get them out of the house. I have thought before ‘Is something beautiful if nobody sees it?’ and this blog brought it home to me again simply. Thought provoking. I will act on this. Thanks Colleen.

  5. My grandmother, unusually for her generation, did not believe in “just for best”. She taught me that if I wasn’t happy to use something just because I loved it then there was no point in letting it take up space in my cupboards. Granted, I don’t do the shopping in a ball gown but I did drink wine out of a crystal glass last night.

  6. I so agree. If you can’t use it let it go because it should be used.

  7. I completely agree Colleen. This is definitely the way I am now trying to live. One small thing I have done is decluttered various purpose-built containers, such as pencil cups, toothbrush holders, cottonwool and qtip containers, and instead I am using nice Wedgewood and other vases or bowls that I already had to hold those things. Now they actually have a use rather than sitting around waiting to be dusted, and I am really enjoying seeing them in the bathroom or wherever and doing something useful to earn their keep.

    • Me too, Christine….except my “Wedgewood” is some handmade pottery from my grandparents, my son, and husband. I had them on prominent display at my other home, but don’t have the room to do it in our new home. So, I am using them as vessels to keep some art supplies in my studio, like paint tubes, buttons, etc. I smile when I see them knowing that I am getting double the pleasure from having them on display!

  8. My husband and I know so many people who have died in the last few years who are in our are age range. Life is short! If you save nice things for “that special occasion,” that special occasion may never happen. “Things” are meant to be used and enjoyed.

  9. Since I began reading this blog–about May of this year–I have been grappling with this subject. When I got married I had everyday dishes and received nicer quality (but not super fancy) white dishes. About 10 years ago I happened on beautiful pink china dishes at the thrift store. Then six years ago my mother gave me her wedding china. I used all of these sets for holidays and tea parties but this year I decided I wanted more space in the dining room.

    So I offered the pink dishes to my niece and to my delight, she wanted them. Then I packed up my everyday dishes (some pieces chipped but overall in good shape), and put my nice white dishes in their place for everyday. If it seems to work out practically, then I will donate my former everyday dishes. So far, so good!

  10. Excellent post. Fortunately I don’t own any china, crystal or silver but that is a result of spending a chunk of my childhood polishing silver and living in fear of touching the china and crystal.

    On the other hand when the kids were little certain clothes were designated for ‘good’ and didn’t get worn as much as they were much too nice to see them damaged or stained. Later they were handed onto my nieces and I was very proud that they were in such good condition, but to my surprise they weren’t designated as ‘good’ clothes for them, they were worn to play in. I had to realise that they were actually second-hand clothes and were given to family to pass on a savings not carry on a tradition or my expectations, which allowed my sis-in-laws to buy something special for their daughters that they loved. My nieces loved having clothes that their big cousins once wore. And what is more, I actually liked seeing these clothes getting good use, finally.

  11. Yep, totally agree. In fact, I let my kids use my beautiful vintage tea cups and saucers when we have family afternoon teas, and I let my daughter use them at her birthday parties (non have been broken yet!) I was talking about this recently with the owner of a vintage shop and she was just appalled, especially over the $150 Shelley brand cup and saucer!! My reasoning is, why keep them just because they’re beautiful? In that case they’re just dust collectors:-)
    Hope you’re having a fabulous holiday Colleen.

  12. Colleen! Nice post! I play my gorgeous guitar every day. What a terrible waste it would be to have it sit silent in a corner or, spare the thought, in a case. Have a beauty day!

  13. Hi! Wonderful post Colleen! As I said here before, I was inspired by Cindy´s post to not let my “best” stuff be used by drawers and cupboards. I have to work on making several other things be as useful. I sometimes hesitate in using a good piece of clothing to do my everyday errands, because it is a “going out” outfit. I know that if I use it up, I can always buy another one. However, as it was wisely written the other day we are very afraid of “going without” stuff so we save it up.

  14. “I waited for good and good never came.” That’s what happens if you save it for good. There’s a photo of me as a wee thing in a highchair drinking milk out of my parent’s wedding crytal water goblet! It’s a great post.

    I also think its fun to mix a fancy jacket or top with nice jeans. I wore a Chinese silk jacket with jeans to a museum last week and got compliments from strangers.

  15. I agree Colleen! I don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to use the stuff I like. When my husband and I were first dating we decided to get all dressed up in super formal attire to go to a diner for pie. It was so much fun! We frequently pull out our pretty wine and champagne glasses and sometimes I just pour juice or iced-tea in them. Why not? When I realized we had an expensive (for us) bottle of bubbly we were ‘saving’ I decided to open it up and serve it with grilled cheese for a lunch on a Saturday with my husband. It’s funny that using special items in an ordinary way does make the occassion special (rather than making the special item ordinary).

  16. Lovely post Colleen!