a peek inside the fishbowl

02 Nov, 2012

Reno post #47: The quest to find dinner dishes

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Home/reno

I’m quite particular about dinner dishes. Some might even accuse me of being PICKY, although I try not to see it that way.

The last set of dinner dishes we bought were Debbie Travis dishes from Canadian Tire. (I wrote about them here in fact. That’s the great thing about blogs… Every Single Story can be documented in great detail!) I loved the colour – a light robin’s egg blue – and its ever-so-slight asymmetry. But my joy ended there. They turned out to be pretty lousy dishes. They chipped like crazy. The dinner plates were too large and didn’t fit in the dishwasher very well, and the whole set wasn’t suited for the microwave. We’d heat up some soup only to find that the bowl was burning hot and the contents were cold. Same went for hot chocolate in the mugs.

Since then I’ve kept my eyes half-open for an aesthetically-pleasing and practical set but nothing I saw fit the bill, whether it was open stock or pre-packaged in sets. There was always one piece that was off-kilter for my tastes… a too-small mug, a too-big bowl, for example. Quite often the heft was wrong too. I wanted something lightweight, and a mug that wasn’t too chunky or thick-walled. And as much as I admire non-traditionally shaped dinnerware I just couldn’t see myself eating off a dinner plate that wasn’t round.


A few weeks ago I came pretty close. On a whim I found myself at HomeSense when I saw a nice white set with a subtle pattern but they didn’t have enough pieces to make a complete set. A salesperson called around to different stores to see if they had anything in stock but came up empty-handed… and then suggested I buy the remainder of their stock (one bowl, one dinner plate, six sandwich plates, eight mugs etc) in case another shipment of the same pattern came in at some point soon. Er, I don’t think so lady!

I finally found something I liked at Home Outfitters: a 40-piece (!) set of creamy white bone china dishes In fact, it was such a great deal I couldn’t pass it up. For $89.00 we got eight instant place settings that included mugs, bowls, dinner plates, sandwich plates, and appetizer plates. I confess that the set is a little on the plain side for me, but I’m hoping to eventually liven it up with new glassware, and colourful serving pieces and linens.

This will give you an idea of what I’m talking about:


See? Plain. But guess what:

  • The heat well in the microwave.
  • They are dishwasher safe and fit in my dishwasher racks and in my cupboards.
  • They are lightweight.


Goodbye mismatched mugs and plates, hello sleek and new and clean and white. I have missed you so.

Related Home Outfitter shopping story: can someone explain the existence of home bathroom wastebaskets that don’t come with swing lids? Who wants to look at crumpled Kleenex and waxy Q-tips every time they go in to the bathroom? Gah.

Other recent reno-related updates (yes, they are STILL happening):

  • Our office door has finally been installed. (See pic here.) I love it, but it needs a minor adjustment so it can actually close. Sigh.
  • The shed is being worked on right now. Woot!
  • We still don’t have a driveway, and we walk through mucky stuff to get in and out of the house every day. Gah! I hope that’s going to be happening next week.
  • We might actually get our bathroom vanity on Tuesday.
  • Our bedroom and bathroom blinds (Levelor, cordless, top down/bottom up) have been ordered (20% off at Home Depot!) but will take a couple weeks to get here.
  • Piper is slowly adjusting to the dog-washing sink. I am loving it. It’s been so incredibly useful already.

We are slowly continuing to strike things off the list. Now if I can only get those last few boxes unpacked…

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11 Responses to "Reno post #47: The quest to find dinner dishes"

1 | Mary @ Parenthood

November 2nd, 2012 at 11:38 am


Amused by your desire for swing lids! I *hate* lids – either they force you to touch the lid (germ factory!) or the mechanism to open gets gooey. And inevitably someone will overfill the can causing stuff to stick to the lid (if lidless I can see that it needs emptying at a glance)

I prefer the can to be somewhat out of sight, but not difficult to put things in. I guess that makes me picky too :)

2 | binki

November 2nd, 2012 at 12:28 pm


I find with dishes, you get what you pay for. And chipped dishes are so not nice. After many sets of cheap’ish dishes, we got Denby dishes which are unbelievably strong. They are also super expensive. But great price at Costco when they feature them (every once in a while). They had some nice Denby (almond coloured) recently. I would have bought those if we didn’t already have some which we’ve had for years. Not a single chip.

3 | fdoctoroff

November 2nd, 2012 at 2:04 pm


I like stoneware dishes like denby. We have a plain light green set that has lasted 9 going on 10 years so far. I beleive it is Mikasa. What I remember being challenging was finding a set that had 3 sizes of plates, in the end we had to settle and we use the saucers as small bread plates. We (I)really wanted to have medium sized plates in addition to large. Seemed not that easy to get at the time. Also, hard to find plates that come with matching serving plates, etc. While it’s great to mix and match with pottery, etc. I still like having a few matching peices like a large oval plate. Those are my gripes and how I am picky about such things. I don’t like swing lids on garbage cans, seems from time to time someone shoves something oversized in the bin and the swing lid gets caught, etc.

4 | Stefania

November 2nd, 2012 at 4:05 pm


I’m with Mary @Parenthood re: garbage lids. Now we have two garbages in every bathroom for noncompost and compost waste. Garbage day is fun, fun!

5 | Lisa from Iroquois

November 2nd, 2012 at 5:16 pm


Our household is full of Corelle, works well in microwave and dish washer. I had a set when I moved in with my hubby, he had a set, and now that we live with his mother (she has Alzheimers) she had a cupboard full. And then his sister dropped off a set because she was changing her pattern. Of course none of the sets are duplicates so I’ve stashed most of it in higher cupboards and it will eventually get moved along.

6 | Sara

November 3rd, 2012 at 8:02 pm


We need new dishes but we’ll be going the route of Corelle until the small people stop dropping things

7 | Carla

November 3rd, 2012 at 9:37 pm


We had some Corelle, until the little people broke a couple and that was it, we went back to regular porcelain. Corelle breaks into a million like sharp sharp shards. Although I swept and then cleaned with a wet rag (that went into the trash) thoroughly, we kept finding little needle type shards for about 3 days. We keep breaking the porcelain still (such is life) but at least the porcelain break in a few largish chunks and it’s much easier to clean it up.

8 | andrea

November 6th, 2012 at 10:15 am


I still maintain that lids on bathroom garbages are the way to go! You can find ones with a step-open lid if the swing lid isn’t your cuppa tea. :)

9 | valerie

November 7th, 2012 at 9:41 am


I’m with Mary and Stefania on bathroom garbage lids. Okay, it’s not nice to look at old kleenex, but I hate looking at dirty lids even more and with a sticky-fingered 6 yr old around, it’s nice to have something open that they’ll use. And hey! I thought I was the only one anal enough to have two (at least in one bathroom). Glad to hear Stefania is like me with compostable and non. :)

10 | Marianne

November 8th, 2012 at 9:52 am


I hate bathroom garbage cans with lids. Especially with two small children! I empty the powder room garbage can frequently, so we aren’t looking at stuff in the one that guests use, and in our ensuite it’s tucked away between the toilet and soaker tub where it’s not too visible. My children’s bathroom garbage is generally full only of barely used tissues and scraps of toilet paper that have been used for things such as bandages for dolls, or puppy tails tucked into the back of my 5 year old’s waistband …

I haven’t moved to 2 garbage cans in the bathrooms yet, but I’ve been thinking about how to make that practical.

11 | andrea

November 8th, 2012 at 9:56 am


The answer is definitely to not overfill, and empty the cans frequently (or attach them under the cabinet) to avoid staring at used Kleenex and other yucky stuff! Not sure why there’s so much hatred for lids though. They can be wiped down just like any other bathroom surface, right? :)

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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