Friday, March 15, 2013

A Woman's Love of Dishes

Do men love pretty dishes as much as women do? With a passion that they seem to reserve for football or NASCAR?

Do they fall in love with as many patterns as we do or would they not notice if their dinner was served on the same plate since 1973?

I can't picture them squealing with delight at Goodwill upon finding a dozen hand-painted French plates taped together on a low shelf, not unless they're professional pickers. Do men have the patience to hand wash old delicate dishes instead of sticking them in a dishwasher?

I have never met a man who loves pretty dishes as much as I do but then I've yet to meet every man.

R.H. and I are in the midst of some repairs and repainting in my bathroom and dressing room due to damage from the old shower leaking, and the only main room not stuffed now with building supplies, tools, and items from those two rooms is our kitchen. I decided to bring a spot of spring prettiness somewhere in this cluttered house and set the supper table as if we were company.

It was one of those days I forgot to take meat out of the freezer for supper so this is a pantry meal, mostly soup and salad with homemade buttermilk biscuits, but it all tasted so much better served on some nice dishes found at Goodwill rather than our everyday Fiesta dishes. The table lifted my spirits and I think even R.H. enjoyed it.

Here is a poem by Grace Noll Crowell, a Poet Laureate of Texas who understood my dish love.

And yours?


Men may love their horses and their dogs,
Their guns and games, but since the world began,
And homes were built of clay or sod or logs,
Women have loved a dish, a bowl, a pan.

Have set them on high shelves to catch the gleam
Of sunlight through a window or a door,
Bright symbols of an ancient lovely dream,
Dreamed by women centuries before.

A dream of home, and of a table spread
In some dear spot made sweet by wind and sun
Where a family could be gathered to break bread,
After their simple daily tasks were done.

A woman's love of dishes is as old
As roofs or sills, or firelight on a hearth.
They are her emblems, her receptacles to hold
The fibres and the essences of earth.

Grace Noll Crowell
The Farmer's Wife Magazine
January 1936

Everyone has a favorite biscuit recipe and the soup is simply Mr. Campbell's Beef Consomme mixed with his Tomato, some sherry vinegar and onion powder. The salad I almost hesitate to name lest you make that guttural sound in your throat that my husband utters when he phones home to ask what's for supper and I say, "Pasta-Sardine Salad." See there, I knew you'd make a face, but maybe you would do like my husband does every single time after he takes a few bites. He says, "This is good!" 

Surprise is written all over his face.

Lots of Omega 3s there, friends, and crisp organic celery for crunch along with the pretty green celery leaves chopped, olives, champagne vinegar, bell peppers, jalapeƱo, Old Bay Seasoning and any others you like, cooked pasta--Rotini is my choice-- frozen green peas, and after it all chills add some mayonnaise. There you are, somewhat of a recipe for those of us who like sardines and even for some who think they don't. And since there are biscuits to go with it, reserve some hot buttered ones to make individual strawberry shortcakes for dessert. Our whipping cream can was on its last gasp and as much went on the vintage tablecloth as on our desserts.

Do you see this padded envelope that came in our mail? I have never had mail delivered by Royal Mail and I was thrilled!

This came from my friend Maureen at Random Distractions here and is a result of my name being chosen on her blog for a year's subscription to a quarterly literary review magazine called Slightly Foxed. Thank you so much, Maureen! I read the one by your son Andrew about J.P. Donleavy's The Wild Ginger Man first thing. Maureen, your brilliant son's review of The Wild Ginger Man convinced me that I'm better off sticking with his review only and not risk my tender emotions with Mr. Donleavy's book. I bet you're not surprised at my reaction even though you're bound to be extremely proud of your talented son! 

However, I do want to read Ysenda Maxtone Graham's The Real Mrs Minerva after reading another review in Slightly Foxed. Jan Struther's Mrs Miniver is a well loved book of mine and Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon as Kay and Clem Minerva were my dream Hollywood film couple. I'm sure there will be many surprises in Struther's granddaughter's biography of her.

Slightly Foxed is a beautiful magazine from cover to cover, including the pretty yellow ribbon that was wrapped around it and the gift card accompanying it.

Here is what Alexander McCall Smith was quoted as saying about Slightly Foxed:

'The arrival of Slightly Foxed makes me drop everything.
I read it from cover to cover and it immediately sends me off
to order a number of the books that it features.'

I am going to be in such good company reading this magazine! I wonder if this author of some of our favorite books loves nice dishes? Surely he would have to since he brings such beauty to his readers.

I'll think of Alexander McCall Smith as I read Slightly Foxed and especially of Maureen who lives in lovely coastal Devon and blogs at


  1. Dewena-I love dishes, too, I think it is a sickness! lol The only time MyHero notices dishes is when I bring some new ones in-I can't sneak them by him.
    I don't think I would try that fish dish...I don't do fish..but someone

    Lovely Royal Mail there-what fun! Hope you have a great Friday- xo Diana

  2. Oh, Deweena, I have always wanted a walk-in pantry where I could have dish after dish... and guess what? Mrs. Miniver was on this week, and I cried all the way through... how many wonderful times did my mother and I watch that good movie... they made it seem so real, somehow!

  3. I really should make more of an effort to set a lovely table. I always enjoy seeing the pretty dishes on some of the blogs I read, but I don't often take the time to make my table special. Maybe tonight......

  4. It is really nice to make the evening meal special, isn't it? Your table setting is beautiful. I must confess that I tend to keep my nicest plates in the dresser until we have company but we always have dinner by candlelight, even when it is just the two of us.

    I am so happy that the Slightly Foxed subscription was won by such an appreciative reader. I hope you will enjoy each issue and all the books that you are tempted to read afterwards. Let me know if there is anything that you would really like to read but can't get in US and I'll try here,

  5. I was thinking this week how much I love dishes and how thrilled I am at just going to Goodwill to look through them all. I get so excited! It is a happy sickness.
    Enjoy your new subscription~

  6. I have the dish disease too. There's always a prettier plate out there. I've filled all the shelves in my small house and my husband just shakes his head when I come home with a few more. (See the pasta set in my blog But don't we love setting a pretty table. Even is I was alone I would eat on good china.

  7. I think you know I am obsessed with dishes...any tableware for that matter. I enjoyed this post so much Dewena!

  8. ah. minimalist that I am you would think I don't care about dishes. wrong!
    I always have been drawn to 'having special dishes for breakfast' then lovely luncheon dishes for ladies to lunch . . . to discuss the latest books we're reading . . . then different fine little dessert bowls and plates to hold the delicate sweet heaven after a meal. my mother and grandmother ALWAYS served strawberry shortcake with biscuits. NEVER the sponge cake type. I could eat nothing but that for every meal! can never get enough.
    this post was simply beautiful.
    but I am a minimalist. so do not indulge. HOWEVER it doesn't mean that I don't enjoy visiting beautiful homes like yours and people like you who do! who do?
    who do know the value of creating a gorgeous table for a lucky husband! xo

  9. Congrats on winning the subscription Mom! I want to try that salad sometime Mom, Im sure I would like it too. I bet it would be good with kimchi :)

  10. Dewena, I cant tell you how much I love, love dishes... I love different shapes and sizes bowls for serving.. I wish I had a room just for them! Marshalls has amazing ones...

  11. Dishes AND linens -- and I'd love to have more china cabinets and linen closets to keep everything in order, too! As Marissa says, I could use a room for these things....
    Thank you for the verse on Dishes. I'm saving that!

  12. I would absolutely love to have my favourite dishes out all the time rather than just special occasions. The poem is right, the gleaming dishes and the memories of centuries of women. I often go into second hand shops and see all types of dishes and think of the history that surrounds each one. Well done on the subscription and your meal looks really delicious! Take care. Chel x

  13. Ha ha I would never notice a tire or wheel and my sons would never notice
    a dish: ) Actually they probably vaguely notice at the holidays that some china is out but that's about it :)

    Such lovely photos and post! That poem is wonderful!

  14. Dish love. Two apt words I've never seen together before! Yes, I have dish love and do adore finding a piece here and there at thrift shops. Dishes give me a reason to go into these places. I still have a memory of a stack of ironstone plates I once purchased to prop a photo shoot. I got them all for $1 and they were wonderfully plain white. I had every intention of keeping them for myself but the homeowner demanded that I leave them with her!!!! I did. But now the memory of that lost stack hits me every time I return to that store.
    I have a penchant for white dishes, old English ironstone for my "abbey style" tables for my northern home. For my winter home in Florida, a mix-and-match of blue and white dishes with free-form patterns~~usually Japanese~~are collected in a small dentist's treasures.
    Yes, dish love. I have it :)

  15. Dewena,

    I love fact, my hubby built in special shelves in our laundry room to hold my overflow of dishes. Right now, eating off paper plates, with our remodel, is making me nuts. I cannot wait to return to real dishes. Wishing you many blessings with your remodel. It is much like having a herd of elephants coming into your home, isn't it?

    Your posts are works of art!


  16. Dewena, your post today was wonderful about a woman's love of dishes! You have such beautiful dishes, too! I can remember even as a little girl loving the dishes in the cupboard. And it was interesting about Slightly Foxed. You will have to tell us more. Dewena, I hope you have a great St. Patrick's Day today!

  17. I love your dishes. They are just beautiful. I bought my favorite dish set at a rummage sale in my grandparent's mobile home park. It was called "Trash & Treasures". My step-dad made me get rid of them after he tested them for lead:(

  18. Dewena, I loved seeing all of these wonderful dishes. I love that pitcher too. And oh, how I know what you're talking about. Finding a stack of French dishes at GW would be glorious! No, I don't think my husband cares what dishes I serve his food on, but I think he feels the atmosphere that is created by certain dishes, and I think food tastes better when served on pretty dishes. (Well, at least my cooking does!). What a nice giveaway. Congratulations! My list of books to read is so long now that, I think I'd go crazy if I had a subscription to that magazine! laurie

  19. Dishes are my weakness, Dewena. Always have been. I've had as many as six different sets at a time, but now having downsized I only have three. I'm constantly tempted to reacquire, however. Congratulations on winning Slightly Foxed. Hope to hear more about it, and see more of your pretty tableware. Cheers. :)

  20. What a great post. I just stopped by having read your thoughtful comment on Claudia's Mockingbird Hill Cottage blog. I appreciate what you wrote.

    Your dishes are simply wonderful. I, too, have caught the bug...I haven't had the heart to tell my hubby that I just bought another set of dishes this past week. I was thrifting and spied a lovely set of green ivy on white a few weeks ago but walked away. I just happen to return this past week and whallah.....The entire set was only $4. I couldn't resist. Next year they will be the dishes I use for St. Patty's Day.

    I hope you have a great day, my friend.

  21. I love sardines and would eat them with you anytime! Beautifully described, as always!

  22. Oh you have a heart for writing, thrifting, decorating. Goodness you are a Jill of all trades aren't you? Love your sweet share today.


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