Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Stuff that lasts a lifetime? Or a lifetime of stuff?

The other day while skiing with AB, we were sitting on the ski lift (because our children were in ski school – yay ski school!) and he commented that all his ski gear was getting old. We had purchased nearly it all in Reno, which was 9 years ago. I looked at my stuff and felt a fondness.

There have been lots of articles out there lately about how purchases are not satisfying, they don’t fill ones soul, basically. I think in the down economy it is an attempt to make people feel better about not having the cash-oh-la to go out and buy buy buy. There is a lot of talk out there about reusing and what a wasteful society we have become. Disposable is bad.

I like shopping. I like stuff. I admit it.

My family likes stuff. My grandmother REALLY liked stuff. This last summer we cleaned (I use the term “we” loosely here) out her house as she went into an Alzheimer’s care facility. As a kid I thought she had loads of treasures. Turns out? She bought the cheapest stuff she could find. I found a little crystal tea service set that I loved – I don’t remember seeing it as a kid – it was stashed away in a secret spot. Very retro and fun looking, but missing a cup. I went to and was a bit disappointed to find out I could only order the entire set, not just the missing cup. But then again, the entire set was $14. (And yes, I do still love it.)

This is the type of stuff my grandmother had. Depression era mindset, never spend money on luxuries for yourself, save everything. My mom, a few years ago, went to my grandmother’s house to help her clean stuff out and found an entire cabinet full of all the lotions and soaps she had ever given her for Mother’s Days, Christmas, her birthday.

“Why haven’t you used these?” my mom asked picking up the dusty, cruddy old bottles.

“I am saving them,” was her reply.

“For what?” my mom asked.

“To use,” she replied.

And I expect my mom rolled her eyes and left the conversation there. No one ever won arguments with my grandmother.

Lately I have been looking through my stuff with a bit of a critical eye given the articles and general opinion out there about buying new stuff, as well as combined with my recent experiences “helping” clean out my grandmother’s and my mom’s belongings.

My purchasing habits have changed over the last few years. I do still find joy in my older purchases though – the common consensus out there that purchases won’t fill your soul is a bit flawed I think.

My ski bibs and my ski gloves are two of these things. I truly believe that these two items will last my lifetime. High quality, good fitting and timeless items. Clarification, they will last my lifetime at my current level of commitment to skiing and cold weather activities, which is that I am a fair weather skier living in a warm-ish climate that is 2 hours 45 minutes drive to ski.

I bought my grandmother a good set of stacking stainless steel mixing bowls just like mine after she visited my house and commented a few times, “I wish I had a good set of bowls”. I love my stainless steel nesting bowls. They will be with me for life.

My kitchen items – I have a ton of kitchen stuff. But instead of replacing my $4.99 Woolworth special hand mixer that my grandmother bought for me with another of its type, I plan to get a Kitchen Aid hand mixer (in cocoa silver, in case you were wondering) and never ever have to replace it again.

This blog topic has been floating around in my head for a few weeks. And as I have walked around my house I have made mental note of the things I have purchased that will last a lifetime. What do I believe I have bought or been given that I will never have to replace?

And it isn’t always the most expensive things.

My ski bibs, for example. I think I bought them for $28 on clearance at Sierra Trading Post in Reno. But they ARE fabulous.

A few shirts/sweaters I have may go the distance. I have a few of those chunky wool sweaters that were so in style in Boulder in the 90’s. I love those still (shhh, don’t tell) and I expect they will go the distance if only because I don’t wear them currently – I would roast and well my colleagues might mistake me for a hippy. But a weekend in the mountains? Yes sir!

My hutch. Yes. My shelves that AB built me exactly 8 years ago. Yes. NOT the crappy dressers from Furniture Row. (I need to work on the furniture aspect of this mindset in my house.)

My All Clad griddle, my Le Creuset pieces (have I sung enough praises lately about my Dutch Oven and Skillet?), my Kitchen Aid Professional mixer has made it 10 years with no sign of decline.

My beautiful, lovely purse will last – especially if I continue to stop by the retailer I bought it from to swoon at other purses and random sales people continue to clean it and massage it with lotion for me.

Years ago as a shopper I sought quantity. I need to outfit a kitchen, what do I need? I want a new work wardrobe, what should I buy?

Now as a shopper, I seek quality. I don’t always want to pay the prices for quality, I am a danged good sale shopper. is my best friend in online shopping.

I wonder if it seems morbid to ponder if something will last my lifetime? But I plan on living a long, long time.

Age 108 here I come with my Le Creuset and Coach purse!

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