Sunday, March 16, 2008

Registry Retrospective - Kitchen Edition

When I first got married, I was told I should start a registry at several department stores to help others know what to get us for a wedding gift. Having lived frugally as a single person for all of my life up to that point, I honestly had no idea what were good or necessary things to have. My mismatched random collection of small appliances and hand-me-down dishes and cutlery seemed sufficient for my needs, so I never really paid attention to what constituted "quality" goods. As well, Hubbs and I had not discussed nor held a vision for what our kitchen might look like, from colours to general look-and-feel.

The end result of this was that Hubbs handed over the reins to me when it came to setting up our wish list. I remember reluctantly registering for fine china, because apparently this is what people ask for at weddings, even though I saw no purpose in paying $50 for a sugar bowl. I also registered for a juicer, since Hubbs thought it would be great to have freshly-squeezed apple or orange juice for breakfast. Then there were the Henckels knives, which cost a small fortune but I was told were among the best knives to own. We also registered for a toaster oven, food processor, and other such counter-top appliances, as well as for linens and towels (which was a smart move, since these are used daily in our household), Corningware, wine decanters, and cutlery.

Well, in hindsight I wish people would have advised me more effectively (or that I would have sought out advice) before I signed up for all of these kitchen goodies. Many of these items, though nice to own, have not proven themselves to be very useful for our present lifestyle. At the same time, we've had to learn the hard way that sometimes cheaper is just, well, cheaper. In the case of things such as pots and pans or drinking glasses, there *is* a difference between a quality item and one that is cheaply made, and at the end of the day we would be better off to spend more and get the well-made item from the start, than have to spend an equal amount of money replacing a poor one down the road.

In the end, I also learned that I didn't need any fine china at all; instead, my needs were better met by owning a full set of functional, practical, ceramic dishes (with mugs, small and larg
e plates, bowls and serving dishes for 12 settings all sold in one large box) that weren't made by Royal Doulton or Wedgwood. I also learned (the hard way) that I should have ordered 2 sets, since the daily wear-and-tear of using these dishes renders them a bit battered and bruised by the end of a year, and we will likely have to replace these eventually with another hardy, economical set.

It also occurred to me that I should have upgraded those already-pricey Henckels knives, which I discovered come in different levels of quality. We ended up with several standard pieces, which perform relatively well but sub-par to other custom knives I've since purchased.

My grand goal to drink wine out of ornate decanters was also frivolous and impractical; we tend to keep our wine in the bottle rather than pour it into crystal anyway, so our gorgeous wine decanters continue to remain in their lovely box.

I also found our juicer and food processor to be more hassle than handy. Though we loved using both appliances, cleaning them turned out to be nightmarish and time-consuming, and thus we rarely pull them out of the shelves these days. Likewise our toaster oven, though in theory a handy thing to have, proved to be mostly unnecessary given that we already have an oven, a toaster, and a microwave. Our counter-top hasn't been massive enough to house all of these pieces, and so the fantastic brand-name toaster oven remains barely-used in our cupboards.

Conversely, we found that we had missed registering for several useful gifts. As a result, we have had to purchase these things post-wedding; some I still have yet to buy! Had I known then what I know now, my registry would have looked vastly different, and some of the items (by no means an exhaustive list) I would have included are:

* a quality coffee maker^
* a crock pot / slow cooker^
* a powerful blender^
* a non-stick roasting pan
*a KitchenAid Artisan mixer
*a high-end salad spinner
* stainless steel electric kettle with a hidden element^
* a higher-end dish-drying rack with a drainable mat
* nice matching drinking glasses and wine glasses^
* more linens!
*tea towels and matching oven mitts and hot pads
* a wooden cutting board
*a polyethylene cutting board^
*a Dyson vacuum cleaner
*quality cookware
*2 sets of good cutlery (a set for guests, and one for daily use)
*2 sets of nice dishes (a set for guests, and one for daily use)
* Tupperware / air-tight food storage containers
* stay-sharp knives with at least 2 Henckelmen on them
* serving dishes in a variety of styles and shapes
* a lightning-fast wine bottle de-corker^
* a fondue set
* a large-capacity stainless steel garbage can^

Luckily, Hubbs and I have had the fortune of being able to slowly accumulate these goodies (marked with a ^) even though we failed to register for many of them originally.

It just goes to show, however, that there is something to be said for getting advice from seasoned married couples, which we did not do. Sometimes, the experience of living as a cheap singleton really does not prepare one for life as a spouse trying to set up a functional, fabulous home. Luckily, after nearly 3 years of marriage, Hubbs and I have finally concluded that we want a kitchen filled with stainless steel items and dusty blue and light green colours. Now we just have to slowly build our collection of goods to fill it that way!


Hurene said...

that is a great list for newlyweds Helen! Would have come in handy when I registered...although I did return the popcorn cart, chocolate fountain, and various other weird things we registered for just because we were having fun with the registering gun.

tejanamama said...

LMFAO...popcorn cart? insane! Yup girl....hindsight is something else. I don't think I could have registered for most things on your list, but then again, I read your list after having been married quite a few years already. I am sure you'll love having some of those lovely things down the road, but you can register for what you lack when you are pregnant! LOL People will think it odd, but who are they to question the hormonal pregnant woman???? ;)

Natalie said...

Love the new look! I don't know what I would do without my food processor but other than that I agree with your list to a t. Now I just need to have a wedding and get stuff.

Mrs. Loquacious said...

Hurene - chocolate fountain?! LOL. I guess it makes sense for a woman whose wedding theme was "candy - sweet love" ;)

Tej - you know me well, girl. Half this stuff will be mine the moment I conceive; I will consider it part of my "push present"...though in this case they would be presentS....

Natalie - Weddings are great for getting stuff, provided that you have generous friends and family. Some of our guests didn't even get us a card, and you have to expect that you won't be blessed with gifts from everyone that comes. Hubbs had an aunt and uncle who *only* gave us a total of $10 for our gift. Yes, TEN WHOPPING DOLLARS. And these are blood relatives.