Friday, November 16, 2007

Buying teacups on deadline

One of the prettiest sights in the world was waiting by the front door when I got home last night: a blue and white USPS Priority Mail box. Thank you, postal service, and thank you, nice eBay seller in Maryland. You see, weeks ago my friend Ashly mentioned she was getting ready for her church's annual Christmas Traditions dinner, one of these fancy affairs where women each decorate a table with their prettiest china and Christmas decorations. Their friends are invited to come enjoy a meal (prepared by men of the church) and hear an inspirational speaker to get them in the holiday mood. I've been a guest at her table many times, and because Ashly is such a talented stylist (she also happens to be my favorite shopping partner), I've seen her table decorated with many different china patterns. This year, she wanted to go pink and figured I probably had some dishes she could borrow. Certainly, I said, and e-mailed her a picture of some of the Johnson Brothers Rose Chintz stuff I've collected.

My maternal grandmother found some of these plates and cups and saucers for 25 cents at her local Goodwill. When I admired them, she packed them up and sent them home with me. Over the years, I'd add a piece or two when I found it cheap at a yard sale or, in recent years, at T.J. Maxx. My mother splurged and bought me the teapot brand new one year as a birthday gift, but other than that, everything has been a real bargain. These are actually my everyday dishes, and because they're not expensive to replace, I don't fret when I chip or break the occasional piece. Loaning them out wouldn't be a problem at all, except ...

Last week, having finished a major deadline project at work, it suddenly dawned on me that I never told Ashly I had only four cups and saucers! Yikes! I checked and found she needed eight, but I'd seen them at lots of T.J. Maxx stores in recent weeks and didn't see a problem. Then, I began power shopping. T.J. #1? None. T.J. #2? None. #3, #4? None. I was starting to panic. Good old eBay had a set of five ending last Saturday, but could they get here in time? The seller assured me she would post them first thing Monday morning if I won. (The good news is, they were only $9.99, which is even cheaper than I would have gotten them at T.J. Maxx.) The bad news: Monday was a federal holiday, and I was getting a teensy-weensy bit worried. So when I got home last night, ripped open the package, and saw that these cups and saucers had safely arrived, I finally began to relax. I'll drop the dishes off with Ashly today, go to the dinner tomorrow night, and enjoy seeing what my stylish friend has done with these Goodwill (and eBay, and T.J. Maxx) finds!


  1. Hi there! it sound fun to host an event like this at our church. Can you explain more how it works? How do the men cook? Do they just bring in the food or cook it onsite. How do they clean up all the tables of beautiful china. Doesn't the facilite have just one kitchen? Thanks for your ideas and inspiration as always. I am glad you will be able to enjoy such a beautiful event. Have fun :)

  2. Well, it so happens that my friend's father has been the one in charge of the cooking at their church's event in the past, so here's what I've heard they do:

    The men arrive early in the day and use the (large) church kitchen to cook a meal that usually consists of a salad, rolls, a nice entree (stuffed chicken breast or pork medallions, for instance), plus a few side dishes (baked sweet potatoes, something like that), and a nice rich dessert such as a cheesecake. The ladies of the church decorate their tables with place settings of china, but the actual food is presented and delivered by the men on those plastic liner plates, so the salad, entree and dessert can be served and then plates removed without food ever actually touching the pretty china, which makes cleanup a breeze! All the hostess has to do is rinse out the teacups afterward.

    Oh, and they sell tickets for each attendee (something very reasonable like $10 each) to cover the food expenses. I gather their aim is to make this an outreach event, not a fundraiser. And I have to say, I always LOVE going around seeing all the pretty place settings everyone has created. They have some very creative hostesses!

  3. Angela,

    That is a beautiful pattern. Glad the cups arrived in time. Enjoy tomorrow.

  4. I love this pattern,
    and just saw it our T.J. too!
    It's beautiful!

  5. Thanks for answering my question. It is a great idea to raise some funds for our church. I agree with you it would be so fun to see the actual tables. That is the best part!

  6. Oh, you are a woman after my heart! I love the thrill of trackign down just the right piece -- tho I am at max capacity these days and try to limit myself. Thank you for allowing me to shop vicariously. These are so lovely.


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