Canoe, for the first time. Since I was on vacation, I splurged and bought myself a Health Ceramic mug ($34). Like many of my other favorite home and kitchen stores (Brook Farm General Store, Kaufmann Mercantile, Herriott Grace, to name a few), I found myself eyeing far more than I could afford to buy at that time. Which has me wondering: how do you determine whether or not a kitchen tool or accessory is worth the price? How important is the item's aesthetic appeal and backstory? The trend in recent years towards handcrafted products and goods definitely hit a sweet spot with me. I believe in supporting artisans. I appreciate knowing where things come from, how they were made, what materials and processes went into it. I think spending more on a higher quality item that will last longer is ultimately the way to go. And I'll admit it: I'm a bit of a sucker for "good ol' manufacturing,' all that Americana stuff that's on the verge of becoming a punchline. (Or already has. Hey, I live in Brooklyn. I get it.) However, that doesn't mean I can always buy that way. While I would love a hand-carved cutting board, I can't justify $225 when I can buy a $10 board from Target. And while I think that copper tea strainer above is absolutely gorgeous, chances are my current tea strainer works just as well, though it isn't nearly as pretty or well-made. (I'm a new tea drinker, so I could be totally wrong on that. Tea aficionados, feel free to correct me.) So, like most people, I have to pick and choose what to spend my money on. I don't always go the cheap route or the expensive route. Most times I think I end up in the middle somewhere. The thing that I'm considering now is making sure that what I choose to spend more money on is actually worth more. With all trends, there comes a point when items hitch a ride on the costly popularity train because they can. (See case in point: Fleecing at the Brooklyn Flea.) Commenters had a fit (and probably rightly so) over this $35 cutting board oil in a recent post. Now it seems that all precious things come at a price. But do they have to? I'm not an artisan or a DIY'er, and I'm not a particularly crafty person. However, I understand the value of time, and I understand that time is money. I also understand that skill is money. So here are a few questions I ask myself when considering an expensive kitchen tool or accessory:
- How much time did it take to make?
- How much skill did it take to make?
- How long will it last?
- How often will I use it?
- What (if anything) does it replace or improve upon in my kitchen?