Part of my minimalism has been about collecting better basics. Because I choose to fill my life with fewer objects, I want the pieces that do surround me to be beautiful and meaningful. It’s been a slow process for me. I take my time selecting THE sofa, or THE coffee-making apparatus, or THE scrub brush I want in my home. This is no joke. When we first moved across the country to our current home, we didn’t have a broom. It was one of the many things that got chucked last minute when we mistakenly ended up with the tiniest moving truck possible (more on that in a future post). It took me MONTHS to find the broom I wanted – no plastic whatsoever, beautiful enough to be displayed but functional, ethically made but not expensive. Fortunately/unfortunately, we have mostly carpets in our apartment, so we could manage for a little while without a broom, but the crummies on my kitchen floor were a driving force to find what I wanted. Eventually I did.
Logically, the first of my Everyday Objects posts should be about my broom; it’s generally the example that I pull out to explain my relentless search for the perfect object, but because I don’t want to scare too many people off with an ode to a broom right of the bat, I’ll start with my beloved kettle. I’ve had an ongoing cold/sinus infection/winter yuck for the past two and a half weeks, so my kettle has gotten lots of love in the form of boiling water for ginger tea. Year round, it gets love every morning, heating water for coffee.
Somewhere along the line, post college, it dawned on me that if I buy a placeholder item, I have a much harder time justifying replacing that piece when I find what I really want down the road. So, when possible, I do without until I find THE thing. I had been looking for a kettle casually for months. I wanted something unique and beautiful, but also timeless and functional. I thought about a copper kettle, because, how French? But I could never find one I loved in my price range. I looked at classic enamel versions and options in stainless, but nothing hit the right note. Then, I found this German-made, borosilicate glass kettle.
Borosilicate is the kind of glass that laboratory glassware – beakers, flasks, and tubing – is made from. It’s designed specifically to withstand heat, and in fact, unlike most glass, the only parts that get too hot to handle are the parts of the glass directly in contact with heat or boiling water.
Once I clapped eyes on this kettle, I was sold. No other kettle would do. But I am a little bit spend-thrifty, so I waited. There’s something about knowing exactly what I want and waiting for it, stalking it, trying to find it on sale or waiting for birthday or holiday money to purchase it that makes finally owning that item that much more delicious. I’ll talk more about this concept when I finally get around to finishing the introductory minimal wardrobe posts I’m cooking up, but over the past couple of years, I’ve found a lot of satisfaction in shopping this way. I really like that the pieces I own each have a story and come from a brand that I can respect.
This kettle is made by the German company, Trendglas JENA, but it can be purchased from one of my favorite sources of beautiful objects with integrity, Kaufmann Mercantile. The guidelines they use for stocking their store are very similar to the guidelines that I try to follow while shopping for my home: products made from sustainable, natural materials, products expertly made by hand in countries where the hands that make the item are the hands that are fairly compensated, and products that will last so long and are so classic they will become family heirlooms.
Knowing I was obsessed with this beautiful, borosilicate kettle, my husband gave it to me for Christmas last year. Yeah, he’s pretty smooth. It makes me feel like a kid again, that excitement of opening a gift and realizing it’s something I’ve been pining for. It makes me really take pride in the things that I own. These days, I’m slowly working towards owning less and replacing all of my placeholder items with objects I love. One piece at a time.