Coffee heat rising

Delayed Gratification and the Beloved Dishes: I want these!

I want them. Gotta have them. Want them so much I NEED them!!!!!!!

They are a few Heath stoneware bowls to replace several that have been busted, leaving my beloved set short of its original eight place settings.

Alas, however, my set is so old that Heath no longer makes dishes in the color, a kind of aqua blue. They also no longer make the larger of the bowls that came with the set, one that apparently was once billed as a “salad bowl.” Checked on e-Bay, where I found only one dinner plate in The Color, which I don’t need and which is in a different style from mine, anyway.

Interestingly, prices on e-Bay are just about the same as the prices Heath Ceramics is charging for brand-new pieces. Only trouble is, Heath’s offerings are somewhat limited. But then…so are e-Bay’s. Prices for these “mid-century modern” dishes are, in a word, bracing.

However, they’re almost unbreakable, the style is so pleasing that one never tires of them, and they last a lifetime and then some. M’hijito has my mother’s set, which he uses every day (as I use mine), and I still have the earth-mother green set my ex- and I bought shortly after we married, a ceremony performed by gaslight. I no longer use that set unless an awful lot of people come to dinner, but it’s still unchipped and unwinnowed by breakage.

Okay. Can’t get the color anymore, and for one bowl, can’t get the shape. What to do?

Well, my set is in the style that has a wide unglazed-looking rim. The native color of the stoneware is a kind of taupe, a very pretty shade that contrasts nicely with just about any glaze Heath uses. No law says that every piece in the set has to be the same color—matter of fact, at Heath’s website you see “curated” (yeah) (stop that laughing!) sets that mix & match. Why not get replacement bowls in a color that would pick up the rim on the smoky aqua plates? Like this:

For example, here’s the dessert bowl, of which I need one and would like five, in a color combination called “cocoa fawn”:

That would go exceptionally well with the foggy sky-blue set I have. In fact, it would help to tone down the turquoiseness of the blue. Could be a very desirable choice.

When I got the set, I bought only four of these, because I didn’t expect to use them much. However, as it develops, I use them all the time. I’ve broken one and so need to replace that, but if I’m going to have three in blue and one in greige, then I guess I’d like to fill out the set to eight (i.e., buy five of new bowls), so if anyone ever comes over to dinner and we need to use this size dish, everyone can have the same color.

This bowl comes in a style called “coupe,” which was introduced in the 1960s. They’re only making two bowls in the desired style anymore, one the size above, which I need, and one billed as a “cereal bowl.” That means I can’t replace the larger bowls I originally bought. The available 6.5-inch bowl looks like this:

Note that it’s a different shape. The old “salad bowl” was the same shape as the “dessert bowl,” sleeker and lower. I got them because I don’t eat cereal often and because I much preferred the leaner, crisply-lined design. But if I’m going to get a 6.5-inch-diameter bowl in Heathware, I guess this is what I’ll have to settle for. To make up for the missing bowls, I need three of these.

Let us consider the price: The dessert bowls are $23 apiece. The cereal bowls are $28. So… just to replace the missing bowls:

That’s not too breath-taking. I can afford that this month, with no problem.

However, I really do think that if I’m going to do this, I ought to get eight of each, so as to have eight in the same color to go with the eight otherwise intact place settings I already own. How much would that set me back?

Four hundred bucks. Holy mackerel! That’s pretty problematic, especially at this time of year. The August power bill will arrive this month, and it’s likely to be around $250, as high as it gets all year. And as we speak, my car is at the shop for its regular maintenance, plus I think its battery should be replaced before it craps out in some remote place, and I’ve whacked the front right wheel on curbs several times, and I hit a pothole with the same tire twice, so I suspect it’s out of alignment. And one of the rear brakes is squealing again. These things could add up to a substantial hit.

And we know—we know, because it’s a law of physics—that the instant I pony up $408 for a passel of dishes without which I probably will not die, Chuck the Wonder-Mechanic will come up with $650 worth of repair bills.

What if I bought the replacement pieces (5 dessert bowls, 3 cereal bowls) this month, and then next month, when I’ll have new cash infusions from Social Security and the junior college district, round out the collection with to bring the total up to 8 apiece? It would cost me $199 this month, and then $209 next month.

This would leave enough in the September budget to cover moderate-sized unplanned expenses, and then the October budget, which will reflect slightly lower power bills, should be able to accommodate the second order.

What we have here is an example of the frugal principle of delayed gratification. When you want something, wait.

Wait until you have the cash to actually pay for it, rather than racking up the cost on a charge card. Requires some restraint. But it keeps you out of debt, and eventually you get what you want.


21 thoughts on “Delayed Gratification and the Beloved Dishes: I want these!”

    • Yay! You have electricity! How have you made out in the storm?

      Why not switch: My tastes have changed… The avocado-rind green seems downright unsightly today. Ug…leeeee!

  1. Crikey, that’s a lot of money for dishes. (Same response I had when setting up our wedding registry.) How often do you entertain 6-8 people at once? Could you make do with complimentary dishes (either yours in smaller sets or borrowed) at those times?

    • @ Remy:

      Occasionally I do. However, the issue is that I use these dishes every day, and in the course of a day or a day & a half, I may use almost all of them and drop them in the dishwasher. Why shouldn’t I have something that gives me pleasure day by day, given that I can afford it?

      Here’s how I look at this:

      Each day that passes makes me more and more aware that life is short and eternity is long. Each day I become more and more conscious of how much misery I inflict on myself and how much is inflicted upon me, most of it utterly meaningless or unnecessary.

      Not very much time is left. Really, at this point along the journey, there’s no reason I shouldn’t have small things that give me pleasure, as long as I can pay for them without racking up debt.

      It’s not like I subscribe to cable TV or Netflix.

      It’s not like I go on extravagant vacations. Or any vacations at all.

      It’s not like I run the air conditioning at a comfortable temperature in the summer, or turn the heat on at all during the winter.

      It’s not like I drive a decent car.

      It’s not like I go to movies or concerts or plays.

      It’s not like I wear a lot of jewelry.

      It’s not like I buy closetsful of expensive clothing, or even update my Costco wardrobe (such as it is) with the changing seasons.

      It’s not like I have hobbies that aren’t bringing in cash, day by day.

      It’s not like I collect tchotchkies.

      It’s not like I buy books or CDs or MP3s.

      It’s not like I eat out more than once or at most twice a month.

      Now, I’m not saying I “deserve” to have a $28 cereal bowl. But what I am saying is that since I can afford it (largely by dint of frugal living), and since it adds pleasure to an overall very dreary existence, there’s really no reason why I shouldn’t buy it.

  2. Well, that’s a solid financial philosophy. And if I had a dishwasher or a larger number of dishes, I would find myself using a lot more of them, no doubt. I definitely agree that one should wait and pay cash — that’s why I save so much and don’t carry debt.

    I didn’t mean to cause offense — I’m looking at the number of financial obligations that I have (wedding, grad school, house down payment, retirement savings, rent that just increased by 75%) and feeling like I shouldn’t spend money on anything ever again. But you and I are in different economic situations, so if my perspective unjustly colored my comment, I apologize.

    • LOL! No offense taken. 😀

      Holy moley…a 75% rent increase? Wow…I’d be looking for a new place to live.

      I think it has to do with one’s GPS coordinates along the highway of life. I’m beginning to suspect it’s time to rejigger the philosophy, Big Time, and the general hysteria above represents some inchoate thinking about this issue. A fresh crisis has arisen — not mine this time, thank God, but near enough to trigger yet another round of the curr\eent question, WTF do I think I’m doing?

      All of which is meat for another blog post. Watch this space!

  3. Look at all the deprivations you go through. Since you want them so badly get them as soon as possible. Besides, the sooner you get them and start using them the cheaper per usage it gets. Sometimes that’s how I convince myself to buy something.

  4. That is a lot of money for dishes… I have been keeping my eyes open for sets at the thrift stores around here since the Mr and I are still living with our mis-matched sets from college. Luckily our friends don’t mind eating off mis-matched plates when they come to dinner, but we do only have 3 bowls… so I look. and wait. for something to appear in the thrift stores that doesn’t scream 1980’s! Really, just about any decade would match our decor but the 80’s.

    I’m cheap and patient, so would wait and try and get them for cheaper… but I get wanting to just get it done, too…

    • Watch those estate sales! That’s the place to get that stuff.

      La Maya is a Past Master of the estate sale. You wouldn’t believe some of the wonderful things she’s come away with, especially for the kitchen and dining room.

      You can get yourself on an email list for estate sales. Go to and when you open the page a pop-up surfaces, offering to sign you up for notifications of sales in your area. Fill in the blanks! Then check out, where you’ll find an interactive map allowing you to check on current sales in your state.

      These things are amazing — many of the businesses that run such sales feature photos of upcoming sales, so you can identify stuff that you might actually like to have. It’s well worth the time to keep an eye on the announcements and go to the sales that seem to have something you might want. Get there early…like, before dawn cracks. The dealers start lining up about a half-hour before the door opens — they know what they’re looking for, they move fast, and they can clean out a really good sale before the hoi polloi show up.

  5. Wondering if you have checked Might not be a cheaper way to go, but maybe worth a look?

    • @ Deedee: has always been too rich for my blood, even back in the day when I was married to a corporate lawyer.

      Right now Replacements seems to think all its options in Heathware are out of stock. However, in the past when they have had things I wanted, the price was enough to pop your eyeballs right out of their sockets.

  6. I am clearly uninformed about quality dishware since I had never heard of this brand! I used to have ceramic dishes for years, then when I moved into this house 11 years ago they became problematic. The issue was my kitchen sink and lack of a dishwasher. The sink was one of those massive Kohler ones that are cast iron covered with a ceramic finish. When I hand washed my dishes (which I had to do every day since there was no dishwasher) it was very easy to chip them if I was the slightest bit tired or sloppy moving dishes from sink to strainer. I go so sick of breaking/chipping glassware and dishware that I finally replaced all my dishes with plain white Corningware from the outlet store. Now that I’ve replaced the heavy Kohler sink with a stainless steel one and put in a dishwasher, I guess I could switch back to ceramic dishes again, but I’m OK with the Corningware.

    Sounds like your plan to split the purchase up is a good one. And who knows, by next month you may have changed your mind.

    • @ Linda: Corningware…that was a smart idea! I’d prob’ly have been looking at plastic. Back in the Cretaceous, there used to be stuff called “Melamine” that everyone who had kids would buy, ’cause it was practically unbreakable. …OMG! It’s still around: Amazon and Target have the things! So spectacularly hideous they come out on the other side and are kinda cute.

      Hmmm…. The pure white Corningware Corelle is actually pretty attractive — the mug is nicely designed with a handle big enough for a man’s hand, and the dishes and bowls are pristine and handsome. Price is definitely right, too.

      This Heath stuff would probably hold up to hand-washing, because it really doesn’t chip or break easily. You really have to give it quite a whack… But it’s awfully heavy. I think if you had a family and so had to wash a lot of dishes at a time, it could get pretty tiring.

  7. OMG, when was the last time I heard of Melamine. My sainted mother gave away our blue willow china to a poor family and bought a set of pastel, square shaped Melamine. This was in the ’50s.

    Anywaaaaaaaaaaays, I vote for you spending the smaller amount this month for just the replacements. Then in the next month or two you get the rest of the set if you still want it.

    I’m with you, life is short and getting shorter. But then I’m in my 60s.

  8. I’d buy one set of eight now and the other set of eight later. It’s better to buy complete sets of each bowl type, IMO.

  9. Lovely ceramics. Thanks for helping me discover them (I think…). They do have sales or free shipping offers periodically, at least it looks like some deals are mentioned on their Facebook page. Maybe you can keep an eye out for those and get some kind of discount.

    • If you ever get to San Francisco, Heath has an outlet store that sells seconds. I’ve never been able to find anything wrong with the pieces they’re trying to unload, except that you can’t walk in there and buy a whole set of whatever you crave. However, they do have incredible deals in that place. Right now it’s located in Sausalito; I understand they’re moving the outlet store into the City, though. It’s well worth a visit.

  10. That’s pretty dratted expensive but as you know, while I agree with you on the delayed gratification, I’ve come around on prices on things that are good quality and you know you’ll use.

    • @ Revanche: They’ve arrived, and I love them. They two shades of cocoa are very subtle, and they perfectly complement the other Heathware–they look like they go together. The cereal bowls, which are indeed larger compared to the old salad bowl thingies, actually are perfect for the ad hoc diet: if I cook a bowl of spaghetti instead of a plateful, it’s a lot less food. And pasta topped with fresh tomato, herbs, and Parmesan looks very pretty in one of the things.

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