Blue and white

February 9, 2010 | My Jottings

It all started in 1980 with this mug. I was newly divorced, had two sweet little girls, a job in a large private investigating firm, and an apartment in Orange County, California. I needed a mug to take to the office. So I went to my local Alpha Beta grocery store and bought this blue and white plaid mug. I wasn’t much of a coffee drinker and it was usually too warm outside to drink hot tea, so mostly I drank water from this blue and white plaid mug.

Then in 1981 I married a man I had only met once and moved from sunny SoCal to American Siberia. We bought our first home together in 1984, and early the next year a dear friend gave me this white mug with the blueberries on it as a hostess gift.

Then in 1986 a friend gave me a dark blue speckled mug with a goose on it. Remember in the eighties when people decorated in country blue and dusty rose and had ducks and geese on everything in their houses? I wasn’t doing the pink and blue thing but I certainly had my share of ducks and geese strewn around.

It was with the gift of this third cup that I began to see the pattern. Blue and white. So instead of keeping these mugs in the cupboard, I put them out on the kitchen counter one after another, sort of like little ducks in a row. I have always aspired to have all my ducks in a row. Aspiration is much different than reality, however.

Soon, I received another blue and white cup for a gift. Then another. My daughters saw the beginning of a small collection and they would give me blue and white mugs for Christmas, for birthdays. Michael made three shelves to hang on the kitchen wall and I started keeping my collection out in the open for everyone to enjoy its simple and classic blue and white beauty.

Before too many years had passed, generous friends started giving me pieces of Delft, a lovely blue and white pottery from Holland. I now had darling Delft creamers, windmills, pig salt and pepper shakers, and teacups.

My SAGgy friend Lorna went to Israel and brought back a wonderful tiny cup and matching serving bowl. My daughter Sharon added to the collection with gorgeous blue and white candlesticks. Carolyn brought back a tiny teapot from the Czech Republic. Sara went to Europe and brought back cups from Italy and Spain. They all went up on the shelves on the kitchen wall. And people who came to visit always noticed the blue and white collection and commented on how unique and pretty it was.

My blue and white collection now has pricey Flow Blue items and inexpensive gift shop finds. It has hand crafted mugs from local artisans in northern Minnesota and souvenir-type mugs from underground cave attractions, Scandinavian pancake restaurants and North Shore bistros. There are mugs from Target and TJ Maxx, Poland and Pier One, England and Mexico, Japan and even British Airways. There are egg holders, tiny lamp bases, Dutch shoes and butter pats.

And several years ago a friend gave me a wedding gift she and her husband had received and never been able to fit into their decor, a wonderful blue and white plate made into a clock. That went on the wall as well.

Now we are in a different house, and the collection has grown. We had to add shelving space to display all the blue and white.

The collection takes up a huge space on the largest wall of our kitchen, and it pleases me every day. I decorated my entire kitchen around my blue and whites. I chose the deep red paint color for the walls, the medium blue for the counter tops, the blue and white accents everywhere else, all because of this odd collection that started in 1980 with a simple blue and white mug purchased from the grocery store.

When people come over for a visit and I serve tea or coffee, they know to choose their mug or cup from the collection on the wall. I know what most of my friends gravitate to now, and it’s funny how I’ll think to myself when I’m washing them, “This is Ginny’s cup, this one is the one Diane likes to drink from, Susan always prefers this one.”

I enjoy my collection because to me it’s visually striking, very practical, and represents the love of family and friendship in my life. I like how all the pieces are so different and interesting, yet all go together to make something of beauty.

Do you have a collection? If so, did you start collecting intentionally, or did it begin with one random gift? If you have a photo of your collection, send it to me and tell a little about it, and I’ll post it here on the blog.

And finally….let me know if you’d like to come over soon for a warm homemade scone and a cup of something hot. You could even choose your own cup.


  1. Sharon says:

    I would like to come over for a warm homemade scone.

    Do you know which ones are my cups? I have a couple of favorites. 🙂

  2. Just Julie says:

    How about coffee and scones on March 2, 2010?

  3. Christy says:

    Perpetually being stuck in the 80’s, I will choose the one with the goose…..and I have the recipe for Starbucks pumpkin scones…..oh, yummmm……yearning sounds.

  4. Jessica says:

    You worked for a private investigating company? Not to miss the point of your post but I need to hear more about this please!

  5. Just Julie says:

    Yes, Jessica. I even went undercover one time myself and posed as a person who wanted to get her hair cut at a salon, because the salon owner was under investigation for insurance fraud. I never did have a car that would spray oil slicks or jack-knives that came out of my high heel, though.

  6. layla says:

    i totally remember the whole dusky rose/duck/goose theme. exactly WHAT was that all about? what are the most egregious overly common themes now?

  7. Just Julie says:

    Very good question Layla! Taupe paint everywhere? Black furniture? Orange and turquoise throws and knick-knacks? I see a lot of all three, but don’t know how egregious they are – probably just ubiquitous. My ducks and geese have gone their way, only to be replaced by scores of cardinals. 🙂

  8. Susan says:

    What a neat idea!! I love your collection and the story behind it.

    So nice to meet you! I’ll be back?

  9. Just Julie says:

    Thank you Susan – nice to meet you too!

  10. Alice says:

    Hi there,
    Enjoyed all of your stories..I have four cups with a duck on each one of them and a pitcher for milk and a sugar bowl with a duck on each dish. They were given to me as a gift in the 80’s from a hockey Mother and Dad. I saw my pattern in the pictures you have shown.

  11. Just Julie says:

    Thank you for visiting, Alice. Yes, weren’t those ducks popular in the 1980s! I had stuffed ducks, a wooden duck that sat on my mantle, and pillows with ducks on them. 🙂 Blessings to you….

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