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The Family Plate

We did something on our family vacation this summer that I never told you about. We visited one of those paint-your-own-pottery places. It was not a planned visit, by any means. We had been out to dinner for our last night of vacation and we were walking by and the kids begged to go in and paint something. They had begged for this last year, too, but this year I had just had 2 martinis and I was weak. So, in we went.

Dale and I made the Executive Decision that we would choose ONE piece and we would all work on it together. I found a chip ‘n dip plate and that seemed like a good idea – 5 sections, one for everyone. Here we are, listening intently to our instructions, choosing colors, and sketching ideas.


Looks like fun, right? And it was, truly, a blast. We laughed and joked and had a great time. But when it comes to artistic ability, well, we might be lacking a bit in that area. In our defense, they told use about 10 minutes after we started that the place was closing early and we only had 10 minutes to finish. So, we were pressured. Also, in our defense, the brushes they gave us to use were crap and you have to go over each thing you paint 3 times, not an easy task.

Of course, the real kicker was when we finished and I brought the disaster thing plate up to the counter to pay for it. Between the ceramic piece itself and the studio fees and the shipping costs it was almost $80. Oy. I thought Dale was going to fall off the chair when I told him the price. But, I told him, it was our vacation and it would be a great memento of the trip, crappy artwork and all.

So we went home and went back to work and life and school and in the midst of all of that I sort of forgot about it. Until I called home from the airport in Salt Lake City to tell Hannah I had arrived safely. And she screamed into the phone, “The family plate is here! The family plate is here!” Naturally I made them promise not to open it until I got home. After all, we needed to be together for the great unveiling. Are you ready?


Pathetic, yes? Jessica’s flower is actually pretty good but Hannah’s musical notes? And Dale’s shooting star? And Patrick’s skateboard? And my green “07” in the middle? Not so much. $80 for a family heirloom that looks like it was painted by a bunch of monkeys. Or, in our case, a bunch of Swedish monkeys.

Nevertheless, at this week’s family dinner we had tacos. And all the toppings went on the family plate.

It doesn’t look so bad when the sections are all filled up. Heh.

And it looks downright okay when it’s surrounded by my smiling family.

So that’s our new heirloom. Some families have jewels. We have a plate. Go figure.

This Post Has 52 Comments

  1. Just think, years from now, everyone of you will be wondering- “Ok, who gets to keep it?” I bet you will all want it!! What a great vacation memory!!!

  2. I would have gasped at the $80 – but it IS adorable and precious. I’m a sentimental sap, so it would instantly become my favorite thing. We’d have to have compartmentalized dinners every night.

  3. Wow – $80 is a bit much! Imagine if you had all got your own individual projects? You would have had to take out another mortgage!

    You probably won’t remember the $80 in 20 years. You’ll just remember the fun you guys had painting it.

    A good family memory………

  4. Well, the price and the place are kind of pathetic but the plate and the family time are pure fun, and a delightful memory you all get to keep.

  5. That really is a cool idea. And it looks even better with all that food in it. (I’d fault the store for not telling you in ADVANCE the closing time and the price.)
    But, hey, maybe you could plan in advance for next year, and start designing NOW? Consider this one a practice piece.

  6. Fun!! We did the same thing one time, only we bought a mug and it came to a pretty high price too! Sorry to say…mug broke!
    Family riches are measured in more than jewels!

  7. I think it’s a great Family Plate! I’m sure you had fun making it (you did say you had 2 martini’s first) and it looks like your family is enjoying using it. Sounds like $80 well spent 🙂

  8. I loved the way you told the story – very funny. And it’s a great thing to have. I know what you mean about the brushes. My daughter has had the same experience and it’s frustrating.

  9. We’ve done the “paint your own” thing a couple of times and some results have been aesthetically successful, some have, er, been NOT, but it’s been fun each and every time!

  10. All I see is the love written all over that plate. (Do I win a prize for World’s Cheesiest Comment? No? Well, cheesy it is, but also true.)

  11. I bet it’s the sort of thing that the grandchildren all fight over when you’re gone because they have such good memories of it.

  12. You know? $80 is cheap. That is downright adorable, fun, good family memories…I can’t think of a single better way to spend the money!
    (remember the ad….$so much for this and that…this great family memory? PRICELESS!)

    And it’s perfect for tacos!

    My grandson’s are coming home – to stay. I’m going to check out this kind of activity…to celebrate!

  13. I think it looks nice and a sweet sentiment. And it looks darn good without food and even more appealing with chips and dip, yummy!

  14. Great story! We have quite a few paint your own creations at our house… including an egg plate that is various shades of green, brown, black, and a few splashes of dark yellow. It is quite the conversation piece, but when it was painted by a 4 year-old boy who was going for “camo,” what should we expect? He’s 6 now and takes great pride in the fact that we use the plate every Easter to serve eggs. Priceless.

  15. It’s your very own VISA commercial. Priceless. Stories are what family’s all about. As Margene always says, it’s the process. Blue skies!

  16. Ah..swedish monkeys. What an odd species. Them and their Dala horses and that strange blue flag. 😀 My mother is Norwegian, my step father is Swedish, and I’m Norwegian and Swiss. It’s all lefse, ludefisk, uff da’s and beer.

    I think the plate is great! It sure is one of a kind. 😀

  17. You know, the plate might not be the most beautiful plate in the world, but you can’t put a price on those kind of family memories. I actually think it’s cute – each person’s personality is evident in their section. And as always you tell a great story.

  18. Actually, I think it’s adorable. And my guess is that someday Hannah will say – you know that plate we made that summer Mom, well can I have it?
    Some of the best treasures are the unplanned ones.

  19. I’m a sucker for those places. My most recent creation (after my two children manipulated me into going on a Sunday afternoon) was a cereal bowl that I use to hold my balls of yarn when they’re feeding into my knitting machine. Works like a charm, I must say! Unfortunately for me, my 6 year old always wants to paint the horrid bric-a-brac that I have to find a “place of honor” to display. I think I might put my foot down and make sure that it’s functional “art” from now on! I love the plate!

  20. ok- that’s $80 bucks worth of sweet. But I’ll admit- my first view left me thinking it was a seder plate–(used in Jewish passover meals)- somehow mistook the the music notes for writing in Hebrew!

    Was really confused when I saw the taco mixings…. no passover meal, regardless of however progressive the participants may be..consists of tacos! 😉

  21. i kinda liked the painting actually…although i thought that was a rather abstract flower, not a shooting star. 80 bucks for a rushed 20 min session would have been hard to swallow, but by then it’s too late. sometimes crazy stories make the best memories!

  22. It may have been pricey, but at least now you can all laugh at the memories of painting that family heirloom every time you use it! And I’m guessing it’ll get a lot of use 🙂

  23. This blog posting made me smile! Ambrynn was doing her dance before dinner to (what else but)Dale n the Duds when I thought to myself that I hadn’t checked out your blog in a while. so when I read this and saw the great photos it was a nice surprise. Ambrynn loves seeing the photos too and saying “oh, there’s Auntie! and Patrick and Hannah! Grampa! Nana!” Thank you : )

  24. What a great story! It’s definitely a memory you’ll all keep, even if the family plate isn’t going into an art gallery. I’ve painted a few pieces and only one was good enough to actually use. The others are hiding in the back of the cabinet!

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