Use it Up, Anne with an E

storytelling, thinky face

Years ago, when Jack and I were engaged, there were some older women that were highly concerned that I had not registered for fine china. It certainly seems to be a generational thing. As an avid reader of the entire Anne of Green Gables series when I was little (Lucy Maud Montgomery, you’ll forever hold a place of esteem in my heart, just under the person who invented sweatpants, but right over Snoop Dogg), I love the idea of that sort of living.

“Let me take your cape.”
“How is your family?”
“Are these your aunt’s doilies? They’re lovely.”
“Would you like a glass of raspberry cordial?”
“Oh, damn, Diana Barry, I accidentally gave you wine instead, and now you’re sorority girl drunk, puking in front of the pastor’s wife; your mom’s not going to let you hang out with me again until I save your little sister’s life. #ugh #omg #why #icanteven”

But since I’m not living on Prince Edward Island in the late 1800s, I couldn’t really justify registering for fine china. That, and our first apartment was under four hundred square feet. Thank you for joining us for dinner. No, the plates we use everyday are for peasants. Please stand by while I retrieve our fine china from the under-bed Rubbermaid storage container. 

I don’t really save things for special occasions, which might seem irresponsible, but let’s talk this out for a second. How many of you have a stash of bath products somewhere in your drawer that you’ve barely used? A special skirt in your closet that only sees daylight once a year? A pile of gift cards set aside because you’re waiting for just the right item to buy, and ughhh what if I buy that cute West Elm kitchen thing but a cuter West Elm kitchen thing comes out next month?

I KNOW! It’s anxiety inducing.

Use It Up, Anne With an E || Neon Fresh

[original photo credit]

Jack bought me a candle. Jack bought me a candle because I threw a link in an email with the subject “you can buy me this candle if you want to.” Gift shopping – he admits – is neither his strength nor his favorite pastime, so I help him out and try to eliminate some guesswork.

I love the overpriced candle. I burn it while I write. If I’m working late at night, I light a candle and pull up my slow jams grooveshark playlist (Climax by Usher is on there, highly recommend) and it gives my office the perfect chill vibe for writing.

Jack walked in and goes, “Wow, you’re really burning the candle. Have you thought about using it sparingly?”

And while I am all about simple, non-excessive living, I said no. This candle – this tiny, inanimate object in a jar – brings happiness to my day. It evokes a sense of pleasure while I write. I like lighting it. I like smelling it. I like looking at it. When I’ve used it up, I can either be sad that it’s gone, or I can be thankful for all of the joy that candle brought me. This is not a metaphor for something deeper! I’m actually, very seriously, just talking about my favorite candle.

And so I’ve decided that I’m not saving anything up for a special occasion. I will liberally dump bath salts into the tub on a Tuesday night. I will wear that dress out six times this year instead of two. I will buy that cute West Elm kitchen thing. Everyday living is a special occasion, so if you come over, don’t be surprised if there are 36 crocheted doilies out, waiting for you to admire them.

I promise to not get any fourteen year olds drunk.

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  • Reply Kelly {the Centsible Life} June 3, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    The key is having LESS stuff so you can appreciate and use those special things I think. Like it just doesn’t feel super fancy or special when I have 6 containers of body lotion that are pricey, but 1 makes me happy every time I put it on.

    I decided a long time ago that I should only have things that are functional or special. It’s something I mostly stick by. The kids and husband tend to have their own viewpoints on what is ‘special’ to them so my house isn’t exactly the way I’d like it because of the other people in it. (worth the trade off though I think)

    • Reply Roo June 3, 2014 at 6:54 pm

      I know we had this conversation today since we actually saw each other, so you know where I stand on this, but yes. Agree completely. I keep my wardrobe small, my collection of things small, but ultimately all of those things are special to me. Which is why I openly mourned when my favorite chambray shirt ripped and there was no exact replacement. :)

      • Reply Kelly {the Centsible Life} June 3, 2014 at 7:40 pm

        So the real lesson is buy two of everything you like, right? ;)

        • Reply Roo June 4, 2014 at 8:35 am

          I would have bought four of those shirts had I known how much I’d love it! :P

          • Dayna June 11, 2014 at 5:10 pm

            I feel the same way about jeans – its so hard to find a pair that fit right, next time I need to buy 2 of them!

  • Reply Elizabeth June 3, 2014 at 6:58 pm

    LM Montgomery=greatest novelist in my life. Yes I still have the whole Anne series, yes I just finished reading the last one…again, yes I am a grand old 26 and can’t leave those books behind.

    • Reply Leah Butler June 3, 2014 at 8:04 pm

      Grand old age of 37 here and I get my Anne books out once a year and read all 8 all the way through. I still cry every time Matthew dies. **fist bump**

    • Reply Bethany June 4, 2014 at 8:26 am

      I’m 28 and refuse to leave Anne behind. I’ve read all the books, but the first 3 are my favorite so I re-read those every couple years. And I read “Anne of the Island” even more often because it’s my favorite of all. Anne fo life.

  • Reply Mary June 3, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    I love this so much! I tend to be a saver of things for special occasions. I’m trying not to be. What’s the point of having it if you don’t get to enjoy it, right?!

  • Reply Brandi S June 3, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    I decided this a couple of months ago. Now I use my silver cake server whenever there is need and the beautiful white platter we got as a wedding gift sits on the table and holds fruit. So much better than sitting under the bed. :P

  • Reply Amanda June 3, 2014 at 8:49 pm


    And I need to reread Anne of Green Gables this summer :)

  • Reply Jess June 3, 2014 at 9:16 pm

    I believe Anne would fully embrace the use of hashtags.

  • Reply Rebecca | Seven2Seven8 June 3, 2014 at 9:54 pm

    When we married (7 years ago yesterday), we decided to register for white porcelain and use it every day. It’s simple enough for daily use, sturdy enough for daily use, and the clean white with scalloped edges is lovely with fancier settings on the odd chance we’re hosting a nicer meal. I do have fine silver, because it was passed down from my Mom’s side of the family, but we also only registered for everyday silver- and glass-ware. No regrets! Our home is small (1100sf) with nice storage in the basement, but I don’t want to store all the things that make me happy. So I wear the pretty jewelry with jeans. I eat off the nice plates, and I haul out the special linens every day. And that fancy skirt? It makes me a lot more sad to pull it out for my special day and realize it’s ruined, doesn’t fit, or has become terrible out of mode, than it would make me sad to wear it out from overuse. So I tell myself just that. USE IT UP. :)

  • Reply Kelsey @ Ramblings of Change June 3, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    Preach it! I love this so much – and I’m starting it TODAY!

  • Reply Sarah C June 3, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    My mom told me a story about a lady who was saving all her good china in her cabinet and then there was an earthquake and it all broke so she never got to use it once. She encouraged me to not live like that (this was probably right as I was registering for my wedding). So I did buy china as we used my parents when I was growing up and we have used it a few times, now that we have hosted Christmas for the family. And I even let my then 3yo son do a tea party with it (it was just me, him and my husband – not other toddlers). Because really, why buy it if you never use it? That being said, I am totally a gift card hoarder. But those are gone forever once used – you are right, definitely an anxiety thing.

  • Reply Stacy June 3, 2014 at 10:12 pm

    I think I do everything you’ve mentioned! Public service announcements to my husband with “suggestions”, no china, and no saving things for a special occasion – let today be the special occasion!

  • Reply Lauren @ Faith and Macaroni June 3, 2014 at 10:43 pm

    Agreed. Over and over. It’s hard sometimes, but since I’ve started buying things that I’m infatuated with, rather than “it’s just okay”, I know that out there, there will be another candle or lotion or pair of just-right jeans or favorite pen. It’s been 2 years since my wedding where we only registered for practical stuff (we had NOTHING at all). I think I will register for china. Even if we just end up eating pizza on it every fortnight. Cuz it will be pretty.

  • Reply Brittany June 4, 2014 at 12:47 am

    I’m with you! I still fight myself on using things only for special occasions, but I’m trying to just ENJOY the little things. I actually posted a picture on Instagram a long time ago of a little card I’d had set aside for years until I found just the perfect spot for it, then I just decided to stop being a dork and put it where I can enjoy it :)

  • Reply Nichole June 4, 2014 at 2:40 am

    Hi! New reader and first time commenter here!
    A lady once told me a story about buying her daughter a fancy dress for her birthday. The daughter begged to wear it just once and then let her mom wrap it. She said no. The next time she saw the dress it was just ashes as their house had burned down. This taught me not to save things because each day is a special occasion!

  • Reply Jillian L June 4, 2014 at 8:31 am

    Yes! Love this. I grew up this way… nothing too fancy to not use (thank god). We had a few different kinds of plates. I would only learn when I was older and saw some hanging in other friends houses that some of the small plates we had in our cabinets were in fact decorative plates- that you’re supposed to hang on the WALL- and not actually use and/or eat from! You know the kind- special sets of 2 or 4 with drawings of iconic fashion dresses (ours), Gone With the Wind characters (a friend’s- what?!), or whatever else… still to this day I think “decorative plates” are the WEIRDEST concept. :)

  • Reply Natasha June 4, 2014 at 8:37 am

    Ahhhh that may have been my favorite part of the book series!!! Especially when Marilla implies maybe Diana shouldn’t have drank so much ;) Gotta love Marilla and her prickly self. Ok, going to read Anne now.
    I agree with you! That’s why, if I feel like sprizting on my ‘good’ perfume, I do it. Or sticking the 2yo in a fancy twirly dress just for the park-why the heck not? #yolo
    Sidenote: we didn’t register/buy china, but my mother already gave me hers, it’s a beautiful thin white edged in silver. Simple, elegant. We use it whenever I feel like it :) along with the real silver passed down from my great grandma :)
    However, the Limoges tea set my grandma gave me a few months ago is carefully wrapped and up high on a shelf, because: toddlers.

  • Reply Amber Flores June 4, 2014 at 10:00 am

    I LOVE this post. I’m right there with you-I oped to use my grandmother’s china instead of getting my own (a sort of travesty in he South). This post encourages me to use/get/spend on those things that make me the happiest. As we speak I have about 4 litle things I’ve been holding off on @ West Elm…maybe today is the day they come home with me!

  • Reply Brianna June 4, 2014 at 10:15 am

    This is a great post! I get gift cards and tuck them in my wallet, thinking the perfect moment will come along that I can buy something special, but then months later I find it and I realize I could’ve used it a billion times since I got it. I need to live like this, thanks Roo! New motto: if you love it, use it! No one got any compliments on their cute new dress while staring at it in their closet, wishing for the right occasion to wear it.

  • Reply kyle June 4, 2014 at 11:02 am


    ‘Cause you can’t burn a candle when your candle has burned out.


  • Reply Allison June 4, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    I love when you post stuff like this – it’s such a great conversation starter! The comments on here are great and I imagine it’s opened a lot of people up to a type of simpler living that maybe they aren’t used to.

  • Reply Rebecca June 4, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    For sure! I’m all about picking items that I love, no matter what. It changes your outlook!

  • Reply tara e June 4, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    I once bought every pretty candle that I thought smelled amazing and then never burned them because they were too pretty/smelled to good/I spent money on them. How dumb! It took a few years but I finally realized keeping things that I wouldn’t use was dumb and I threw them out. Now once or twice a year I buy my favorite candle from anthropologie (volcano if you were wondering :D ) and it costs $25+ to get it. But I actually burn it til it’s gone and love it every time!

    Also – we didn’t get fine china either. I didn’t want people to buy me things I’d never use. And I hate dusting. Plus I know somewhere down the road I’ll be gifted my mother’s and my Nana’s china/depression glass/dust collectors so I will have enough!

  • Reply Trude June 4, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    Hell yes to my other Anne lovers (I have the whole series stashed somewhere)! :) There are certain things I might use more sparingly, but for the most part I love using what I got. Who knows when else you’ll get the chance? And the emotional payoff is undeniable.

  • Reply Rennie June 4, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    Roo, you could have ended this post after the “Oh, damn, Diana Barry…” sentence and it still would have been a win in my book. I wheeze-laughed pretty hard. Ya got me! XD

    Buuuuuuuuuut, I’m so glad you didn’t end it there! ‘Cause the rest of the post was awesomesauce and I wanted to raise my hands and cry, “Preach, girl!” As the owner of A Beautiful Dress That I Love So Much That I Wear It MAYBE Once A Year with a chronic case of Keep Everything That Isn’t Broken Because It Might Be Useful, this is a mindset I’ve slowly been coming around to over the past *coughLIFETIMEcough* few years.

    “When I’ve used it up, I can either be sad that it’s gone, or I can be thankful for all of the joy that candle brought me.” <– THIS. Thank you for writing this. My focus is so often on the fact that "It's all gone now!" or "It tore / got stained / looks really worn out!" I've gotta confess that I really never made it to the happy side of using something.

    So thank you again, 'cause I feel like it's finally clicked. :) (And I'mma wear dat dress ASAP!)

  • Reply Rachel June 4, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    I was talking about this same thing the other day. My parents bought me a beautiful necklace for my 18th birthday. That first year I wore it on approximately 5 occasions. The prettiest and priciest jewellery I owned was hardly ever seen. So I decided to just to wear it. So for the last 10 (okay, 13) years it has been my ‘default necklace’. I’ve tried to extend this to other areas too, I’m loving the compliments this week on my summer wardrobe that got brought out from the spare room at the weekend – what is the point is saving clothes that make me happy for occassional use? If you have things you like, use them and enjoy them.

    For some reason your post today reminds me of ‘Lucia, Lucia’ by Adrian Trigiani. If you’ve not read it I recommend it. In fact, I’m going to start reading it again tonight.

  • Reply Elli June 4, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    Yes! Growing up, my grandmother had “look” china in a cabinet in the dining room. I bet she didn’t use it her whole life long. When she died, I inherited this beautiful china (which is 100yr old Limoges…which I had never heard of until my friend from the South opened my cabinet and nearly passed out as she exclaimed, “You have Limoges!!!” without having to even look at the bottom if the dish. And I thought about how hard my grandma must have turned in her grave as her look china became my every day eatware that I even let the dog lick.

    • Reply Kathleen May 1, 2016 at 11:00 am

      I think your grandmother would be pleased you were using her china instead of just looking at it. Your pleasure would bring her joy

  • Reply ShelbyDee June 4, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    I LOVE this! I moved into my very first actual house last weekend, and finally finished unpacking the kitchen last night. Before my grandmother passed away, I received half of her china. I believe so much in not saving things for “some day” that I placed Grandma’s china on the shelf right next to my every day Fiestaware. (Also we are kindred spirits. Anne and Di are my literary BBFs.)

  • Reply Valerie June 4, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    I want to confess so many things.

    My mother saved ALL THE THINGS for special occasions she didn’t even know were on the horizon. She’s not a hoarder, but she has a hard time parting with sentimental things (please note: to her, it’s all sentimental). I, on the other hand, am trying to change that in myself SO BAD. I recently had to downsize and it was refreshing to own so much less. I want to be able to buy the special candle and enjoy it. About 2 years ago, I read an article that encouraged people to quit documenting everything with your phone and through social media and be present where you’re at. I snap maybe one or two pictures when I’m doing something that I want to remember. They aren’t artistic, they’re just so I can revisit if need be. Beyond that, I put my phone away. When I’m having lunch with a friend…I want to LISTEN and enjoy the time, not be glancing at my phone every 20 mins to see if I have some life or death text. I’m working on the simplifying part…baby steps.

  • Reply KNatGU June 4, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    I saved a set of sheets and comforter for 7 years while living in our condo, for the guest bedroom I imagined we would some day have… we moved in October, bought the guest bed, pulled out the sheets put them on, a week later I was like WHY did I save these they are so not what I want and since then the dog tore a hole in the comforter.

    However I am more of an easy come – easy go person. Sure we can try this or that, but if I/we don’t like we can gift it away.

  • Reply Jen June 4, 2014 at 4:21 pm

    Oh, Roo. I love this. As a recovering hoarder I try to remind myself of these things every day.

    Sad as it may seem, it was my THREE YEAR OLD that broke me out of my “hold on to absolutely everything until the PERFECT situation presents itself” rut (spoiler alert: that situation never presents itself). I literally found stickers from when I was about 10 in a bin in the basement. Meanwhile, pint-sized girlfriend uses stickers with wild abandon, emptying sheets like it’s her job. One day I was watching her and I was just like, you know what? THAT is how it should be done.

  • Reply Franny June 4, 2014 at 10:32 pm

    YES. If we are always waiting for special occasions then we spend so much of our life waiting and not that much of it is special!
    This post reminds me of the picture I saw on Insta a few months ago that said “Stop living for Friday.” Don’t we all just wish away the whole week waiting for Friday and never live it up on the other days? I need to remember these!

    As always, you’re the coolest. Thanks!

  • Reply Rachel June 4, 2014 at 10:42 pm

    I try to live this way. It started out when I realized I had a couple bottles of my favorites scents in lotion and perfume that I was “saving” for special days. Each day is a gift from God and is special as such! Plus, its the little things that make the memories

  • Reply Ginger June 5, 2014 at 7:11 am

    I always encourage newlyweds to register for the china! I’m all about not having things that you don’t use, but circumstances change and china is expensive. Chances are, we won’t go drop thousands to get a full set for yourself if later in life you want to have Christmas/Easter/The Boss over. I am so glad I found a space in my first teeny apartment for that china. Realize, we won’t be young and poor/toddler-ridden/consuming takeout over grad school books forever!

  • Reply Anna June 6, 2014 at 11:16 am

    Thank you, THANK YOU, for bringing Anne of Green Gables back into the light. I’ve tried several times over the years to talk about her and that time she floated herself out to see in a canoe to reenact her favorite part of a story only to nearly sink and make all her friends think she was dead. I am REALLY paraphrasing that scene but you know what I mean :) Also, thanks for the inspiration to do and love and burn (ahem, candles) whatever the heck makes me happy!

    • Reply Anna June 6, 2014 at 11:17 am

      I meant to add to the ol’ Gables comment that no one ever knows what I am talking about. I am holding out faith here that you do!

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  • Reply Jen July 3, 2014 at 11:37 am

    This post makes me smile. I’m a regular reader who lives in Prince Edward Island, but I don’t have doilies or fine china. There are a lot of people dressed like Anne and Diana here in the summer, though :)
    You should absolutely add an Anne gif to the “This is How I Feel” series.

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  • Reply Lauren September 17, 2014 at 11:52 am

    You are so wonderful! I love this! We have China (bc the previous generation insisted) and I keep wanting to pull it out to eat take out on.

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