Posing for mug shots

Thank God it’s Family Day and I’m home today, because I’ve been walloped by a cold. It’s a doozy — the kind that, when I haven’t been sleeping, has had me snuggling up with my tea mug and cooing over my bottle of ibuprofen. (Precious... Thank you Big Pharma…)

But speaking of my tea mug, that’s what motivated me to sit up in front a keyboard and, despite my sniffles, write this post. I am drinking gallons of tea today, and it was my search earlier for a mug that inspired me to share this story. Let me explain.

We have more mugs in this house than we know what to do with. We have even, over the years, undertaken occasional mug purges, wrapping them up in newspaper and tucking them away in boxes down in the basement, simply because we have no room for them in the kitchen cupboard (but can’t bring ourselves to throw them out).

20151219_143128But I like that. I like that we have too many mugs. Because they’re all different. And they all mean something. There’s a story behind each of them.

And when I take one out for a cup of tea or coffee, I’m not simply making a selection, I’m making a decision. I’m considering not only how much tea or coffee I want, but how I want to feel when I drink it. Do I want the earthy, just-came-off-the-pottery-wheel mug that my friend Bob brought back from Punta Cana about 20 years ago when we worked together at CTV? Or do I feel like diving into some hot steaminess in one of the oversized blue ‘vats’ that Steve and I got as part of a wedding gift (sadly, we have only one left — the other broke a few years back in one of our many moves).

OR do I feel like the super cute and funky square mug that my daughter Fiona got for me for my birthday some years back from my favourite coffee shop in the world, the Second Cup in Streetsville, Ontario?

See what I mean? And if you’ve made it this far in this post, you clearly know — like I do — that a good cup of tea or coffee isn’t just about what’s in the mug; it’s also about the mug itself.

And on that note, I had to quickly share a few of my favourite mug shots and their back-stories…

20151219_143407I call these my moon cups — I have two. I bought them in 2003 just before Halloween at the little dollar store in our old neighbourhood at Britannia and Tenth Line in Mississauga. I have very fond memories of that store because I used to take the kids there when they were little. It was a few blocks from our house — just far away enough to be a bit of an adventure, but not so far that the kids got tired. We’d hop on our bikes, or sometimes we’d walk, and once we got there, there were all kinds of neat things to look at: stickers, squirt guns, coloured markers, bouncy balls, cute notebooks and pens… the list goes on. I’d give Fiona and Simon each a loonie or toonie, and they’d pick something they liked. Then we’d head home again, and by that evening, they would have lost or broken whatever they’d bought — which was okay, because the following week we’d be back there again.

20151219_143318This is one of four mugs we bought at a Canadian Tire in Carleton Place, southwest of Ottawa. We bought them in 2006 while renting a cottage on the Rideau Lakes. These mugs were probably the most memorable thing to come out of that holiday. The cottage was a bit of a dump. It was tiny, with a broken window, hardly any furniture, and barely enough dishes and cutlery for us to cook and eat with — hence our purchase of these mugs. The lake front was choked with weeds, to the point that it was almost unswimmable — particularly for two kids under 10 who just wanted a bit of sand and shallow water to play in. Thankfully, the neighbouring cottage had a cement boat launch that was weed-free, and the owners kindly let Fiona and Simon swim there. What really capped everything off, however, was the hornets’ nest we discovered right above the front deck. That deck, with its western frontage and lake view, was the one redeeming factor of the place, and to no longer be able to sit out there with a glass of wine and watch the sunset — because we were being dive-bombed by hornets — was the last straw. We ended up leaving two days early and coming home, mugs in tow. 

20151219_143234I love this mug, but it brings back ucky memories. It was summer 2010, and I’d left my freelance work to take a contract position with the Ontario government. I didn’t like the work — I missed freelancing at home terribly. I also hated the commute downtown with a passion. But most of all, I hated the fact that my family was going to spend a week that summer at a cottage without me; I would only be able to join them for the last weekend, because as a contractor on a three-month assignment, I didn’t have holidays. The day my husband and kids headed out (a Sunday, no less), I tried to cheer myself up with some retail therapy at Erin Mills Town Centre. And I bought these four mugs (we now have three; one broke). In a back-handed way, they make me very grateful for the work I do now, and the fact that I enjoy it.

20151219_143248This is a mug I found a few years ago at Value Village. Anyone who knows me knows I am a Value Village hound. So to find a mug in Value Village with a dog on it that looks like our Daisy… Nirvana. Love this mug.

20151219_143214This bright, cheerful pink and teal mug was given to me by my very dear friend Maeve; she gave it to me as a thank-you for looking after her dog. It’s such a cute mug, and it’s a perfect size. Love it, and love her dearly.

20151219_143300This is the fun square mug I mentioned earlier. You may have seen these around at coffee shops — and certainly at Second Cup. The artist is Brazilian Romero Britto, and I just love his designs. (And of course, I love cats — as does my daughter Fiona, who gave it to me.)

20151219_143342This is one of a pair of mugs I bought during a quick dash recently to a nearby dollar store. (Did I mention I love dollar stores?) I was there with my son buying… I can’t remember. It was a Sunday evening, I think, and as usual, I couldn’t go in and just buy one thing. Before I knew it, I found myself in… the mug aisle. “Dude,” I said, looking up at my handsome 17-year-old boy (who at 6’6″ towers over me), “let’s get these.” He knew better than to argue my logic, so we brought them home and added them to our collection. In an odd, kitschy way, I love them. And whenever I use them, I think of Simon.

And hey, we needed more mugs anyway.