One Small Change That Simplified My Days

posted by Andrea | 08/30/2017
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I’ve mentioned my hatred of cleaning out the dishwasher before — probably many times. It’s weird though, I really have no idea why I dislike this chore so much — especially because I’ve timed myself and it rarely takes me more than 5-7 minutes (even if I need to dry several items off).

I’m fortunate that Dave is often willing to help out in the dish-washing and dishwasher-cleaning-out department — however, when he’s in school, I often end up doing this task myself.

Again, it’s NOT a huge chore and I really should just be thrilled that we have a dishwasher so I’m not forced to wash everything by hand!

I’m just saying… it’s not my favorite chore, ESPECIALLY when I need to clean it out first thing in the morning when the kids are waking up, everyone is hungry, and I have 25 other things I could be doing besides messing with the dishwasher.

I must have mentioned something about cleaning out the dishwasher in a blog post a few months ago, because about a week later, I got an email from a reader saying that she simplifies her life by ALWAYS running the dishwasher after dinner every night, EVEN IF IT’S NOT COMPLETELY FULL. 

The moment I read that email, I knew instantly that’s what we were going to start doing at our house.

You see, our dishwasher is usually full after 4 meals, and I was always trying to fit as much as I could in the dishwasher — but that meant I would always be emptying the dishwasher at different times of the day. Often, the emptying needed to happen at very inconvenient times too — like when I was trying to make food for another meal, when a child was having a meltdown, or (as I mentioned above) right when everyone is waking up.

However, by running the dishwasher after every 3 meals (right after dinner every evening) I can now clean out the dishwasher at night, and have the kitchen clean and ready to go the following morning.

Plus, since Dave is almost always home at night, he can help more with this task too 🙂

Yes, sometimes there are a few empty spaces and it’s not completely packed full of dishes, but I no longer have to worry about cleaning it out at inconvenient times during the day.

I always smile when I remember how Nora loved to “help” me clean out the dishwasher! 

I realize this might sound ridiculously menial to many of you — but for someone who already doesn’t love cleaning out the dishwasher at any time of day, this SUPER SIMPLE change has made such a big difference in my life (again, I know this sounds dramatic, but it’s true!)

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The dishwasher might not be your most-hated chore or something you procrastinate on — but I think the ideas in this post could be helpful in so many different situations.

Is there a specific household chore you just hate doing and always put off until “later”? If so, can you think of anything that would make it more bearable — or even enjoyable?

Is there a time of the day you always struggle with productivity? If so, is there anything you could do differently to boost your energy at this time each day?

Is there an activity you really dislike doing? Maybe something for your job, something for your kids’ school, a volunteer organization, etc.? If so, is there a way you can get out of that activity and instead do something else more enjoyable?

There’s not always a quick, simple fix for everything, but you won’t know for sure unless you give it a little thought and try to come up with a solution.

It’s always surprising to me how the simplest things can often make such a huge difference in our daily lives!

Have you implemented any small changes that made a BIG difference in your life?

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53 comments

  1. Elizabeth

    09/05/2017

    That’s what we do. I also like to do it then because then my teenage daughter can empty it – one small chore for a busy teenager and something she doesn’t have time for in the morning. I can’t stand it either, probably because it was always my job when I was a child (my brothers never had to do it!).

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  2. Amy

    09/01/2017

    As we do not have a dishwasher, I try to have all dishes washed and put away after supper. Nothing is worse than walking into the kitchen in the morning with a sink full of dishes waiting to greet you. Start the day off running! (It’s kind of like making your bed right away for me.)

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  3. Joy Eckstein

    09/01/2017

    I started doing this a few months ago, too, and LOVE how it works with our family. I then delegate emptying the dishwasher to my 11 year old. He’s tall enough now to put all the dishwasher away and he can do the job before school. Win-Win!!!

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    Andrea Reply:

    nora can put the dishes and silverware away, just not the cups yet — soon though!

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  4. Eileen

    09/01/2017

    I totally get it, unloading the dishwasher is my least favorite chore, weird since it is easy and doesn’t take long and it was always hitting me at bad times, we changed to running ours after dinner as well as have kids pick up all of their toys and start our Roomba ( an inexpensive refurbished one but still works great) Dishwasher and Roomba run while we do baths/bedtime routine for our kids and exercise, and after that my husband unloads the dishwasher. It is so refreshing to come downstairs in the morning to dishes already done and vacuumed floors!

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  5. MomofTwoPreciousGirls

    08/31/2017

    My girls have been loading and unloading the dishes since they were small. Originally it was just utensils and their dishes which were stored low. They also set the table for their dinner. They are now 9 and 8. The oldest is tall enough to reach everything now so she unloads and the younger one loads. They also put away all their own laundry. Started with just socks and underwear, then added in pajamas, then the pants and shirts. Now they can reach to hang everything. I work outside the home and my husband travels so much for work that I really needed them to start being more helpful. I started to realize how old I was when I did so many chores and was like “I need to put these kids to work!!”

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  6. Jenny

    08/30/2017

    Don’t mind dishwasher or laundry or bathroom cleaning- what I hate is floors/vacuuming! My husband does it occasionally but not well. No kids at home, just shedding animals who won’t help with any chores! So, anyone have special tips for that job?

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    Julie Reply:

    I have a Dyson carpet sweeper. Not sure if you can get them in America, but I live in Australia. Every morning, I do the top floor and every evening I do the bottom floor. As I do it every day, it takes 5 minutes and the floors always look clean. I keep a packet of wet wipes upstairs and downstairs for quick messy spills. No drama!

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  7. Alyssa

    08/30/2017

    I’m with you, I hate emptying the dishwasher! It sounds crazy, but I would much rather wash dishes than put them away (and my husband doesn’t mind putting them away, so it works out). It seemed like such a weird thing to hate that I’ve put a lot of thought into the “why” of it and I think I finally figured it out. When I do the dishes, I go from having a visibly dirty sink to having a nice, clean, shiny, empty sink. When I put them away, I go from having a closed dishwasher full of dishes to a closed dishwasher empty of dishes. The two look exactly the same! I think I get a lot more satisfaction out of doing a chore if I can see the results.

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  8. Luba @ Healthy with Luba

    08/30/2017

    Andrea, what a great tip this is. Thank you for sharing with us.

    It’s amazing what happens when we let go of perfectionism, like the dishwasher has to be run after 4 meals when it’s full.

    One thing I do to keep clutter from accumulating in the house is to go through all the mail when I check it and throw away any junk right away.

    Also, I simplify my rushed mornings by having a protein shake for breakfast. Sometimes I’ll eat some nuts too, but it helps me from feeling “starved” at 1 pm. 🙂

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  9. Natalia Gramada

    08/30/2017

    My 11yo used to hate, just hate having to fold her clothes (and I insisted she would!). And then she discovered that it’s not such a terrible task if she listens to music while doing it. Now, when it’s time to fold, I ask her if she wants to listen to music while handing her the laundry basket with her fresh-out-of-the-dryer clothes.

    About dishes…. I don’t mind unloading the dishwasher, but my 2 yo wants to help, and I end up chasing after her instead… and the whole task takes way too long. I offered to pay the older $1 for unloading it, but she thinks it’s not worth it 🙁
    I’ll try to see if running it immediately after dinner would leave me with enough time to unload it before their bedtime. Thanks for the tip!

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  10. BB

    08/30/2017

    GENIUS!! Also, running after dinner for our house means no one has to worry about showering/bathing when the dishwasher is running, thus getting a blast of cold water at times!
    Also great due to son’s erratic work hours/days and the after-dinner timeframe means he isn’t showering during a dishwasher run, too. I’ve spent too many times with an less-than or more-than load of dishes in the dishwasher, so running it every night no matter what just clears up a whole bevy of issues in that regard! Since hubby usually unloads it in the morning as part of his morning routine – even better – as he hates loading it and I hate unloading it . WIN-WIN!

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  11. Annett Silveira

    08/30/2017

    We run our dishwasher at the end of every day and I unload it when I get up, while the coffee brews. It’s my husband’s job to turn it on since he goes to bed last. When he forgets, and I wake up to a full load of dirty dishes I feel like I’m behind the eight ball all day.

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    Melissa Reply:

    The delay function has saved us because my husband never seems to remember or notice to put the dishwasher on. Now I hit delay before I go to bed.

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  12. Tracey

    08/30/2017

    My mom always did this, too. Such a familiar sound in the evening after dinner!

    She would usually unload it in the morning as we were all getting ready to head out to school and work, and it later became an after-school chore when I was older.

    We don’t have a dishwasher now, but since I work from home, it’s just part of my daily routine. Usually the dishes are added to one half of the divided sink during the day and then I wash whatever’s there while I’m prepping dinner. They air-dry overnight in the sink rack and I put them away in the morning while the coffee brews.

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  13. Beth

    08/30/2017

    You are not alone! I am 62 and for many years did not have a dishwasher for various reasons. I learned to wash all dishes by hand. I remember as a tween having our first dishwasher. I was so excited….that is until I had to empty the dishwasher. Why, I do not know. To this day, and after raising three daughters, I continue to dislike this short, simple chore. I like the idea of washing at the same time each day and emptying before I go to bed…Thank you for the idea…

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  14. Shelly

    08/30/2017

    Wash 1 load of laundry and fold and put away. I hate folding and putting away. But I can do 1 load.

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    Annette Silveira Reply:

    Me too. For some reason, I can handle a load a day. The loads are usually tiny, but I finish them. Any more and the clothes sit in the baskets for days.

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    Luba @ Healthy with Luba Reply:

    Thanks for the great idea! I always wait until there is “enough” to do a load, and often that load is a little too big. Time to make a great change. 🙂

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  15. Heidi

    08/30/2017

    My husband takes our kids to school almost every day so I have about 30 minutes at home (alone!!) every day before I have to leave for work. My goal is to have a load of clothes through the washer and the dishwasher started before I leave. That way when I get home, I’m halfway done with both of those tasks (neither of which I like). It’s also been good motivation to eat from my freezer stash since those meals typically require less dishes to wash.

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    Bonnie'sMama Reply:

    I put a load of clothes in the night before and set it to wash an hour before I wake up. Then when I wake up, I put the clothes in the dryer. Makes me feel like I’ve really accomplished something even though I just got up.

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  16. Pat

    08/30/2017

    I meant to mention one thing I wash in the dw about teice a week. My new kitchen sink, farm house, has two metal racks in the bottom. I couldn’t figure out how to clean them when I realized my dw has a shallow third rack on top. They fit perfectly with room left over for a few sharp knives or such. You could put these racks in the bottom rack of dw. Also I sometimes put the stove knobs in the silverware basket as well as the plastic piece in the drain for the water dispenser on my fridge. The grease traps in the air vent over the stove can go in there too. If it fits in there I try it. Love the dishwasher!

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  17. wilma

    08/30/2017

    Hee–that was me! I feel so special 🙂 And it IS true–not having to deal with the dishwasher all day is the best.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much Wilma! I thought about trying to scroll back through the comments to figure out who it was that suggested the dishwasher tip to me, but that felt too overwhelming! Now that I see your name and email address though, I remember it was you!

    Such a great tip!!

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  18. Pat

    08/30/2017

    To avoid wet dishes on the bottom rack I always empty from the bottom up. My silverware is on the bottom rack so no spotting. Like your other reader I run the thing every night but I set the timer so it runs about 3am. Dishes are still warm in the morning. If I empty while my oatmeal cooks I’m done in three minutes and so is my oatmeal. I haye putting away the clean dishes!

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  19. Kristin

    08/30/2017

    Oh yes!!!! We do this! But for me I run it after lunch, school kids come home for lunch here in Switzerland for a warm meal – and then my three kids empty it before dinner.

    I hate hate hate coming into the kitchen in the morning having to empty the dishwasher and then stack dishes from breakfast.

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  20. Karen

    08/30/2017

    That is one of my most dreaded chores also. I started running mine after dinner also about 2 years ago and it was a game changer. It took awhile to stop thinking about it not being full……I love waking up to a clean kitchen. After many many years of having a designated laundry day ~ I started doing one load a day M-F. Another game changer for sure once the habit was established! Some days there is an extra load, but it’s no big deal. No more mountains of laundry and no more laundry sitting around at night waiting to be folded and put away.

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  21. Kate

    08/30/2017

    I also hate this task. And it is such a “first world problem!” Sometimes I run mine after I’m done cooking dinner and/or doing any afternoon baking, but before we eat. After supper, I just hand wash our plates (which doesn’t take long) and then dry them and empty the dishwasher at the same time. My kids can help dry and then we are all done right after supper. It varies day to day though.

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  22. Mara Yager

    08/30/2017

    Awesome post, I HATE vacuuming and mopping our kitchen and dining area but I have to do it EVERY day, because our kitchen is also our main entry to our home. NOT ideal and we have no mudroom so it’s kind of a MESS. But, I quick do it when the baby is napping now midmorning. Then it’s one less child crawling around ha ha! Thanks for the tip, great idea!

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    Michelle Reply:

    We got a dyson stick vacuum and it made a huge difference for our family!! The kids even ask to do this task -and I let them because it’s small enough for them to manage.

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    Andrea Reply:

    I’m looking into getting one of these too! Costco has a good deal on them next month so I might splurge!

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    Deb Reply:

    https://www.amazon.com/Dirt-Devil-Simpli-Stik-Lightweight-SD20000RED/dp/B002KCO96C/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1504120181&sr=8-3&keywords=dirt+devil+stick+vacuum

    I am cheap, but I have this stick vacuum and we have about half tile floors and I use it all the time. We used to have a two story house and I had one on each floor for the laminate flooring. HIGHLY recommend, but I am not a huge Dyson fan. My experience and what I heard at the vacuum repair shop is that they are overpriced for the quality. They had MANY used and refurbished ones there for sale.

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    Andrea Reply:

    I’ve never had a Dyson either — just because they seem too trendy and “faddish” for me (plus, hello — expensive). However, I really want something cordless with a decent battery life and almost every review I’ve read and everyone I know with a Dyson cordless says the battery life is amazing. That’s the main reason I’m even considering their stick vacuum now (that, and the fact that I just saw it was very discounted at Costco next month!)

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    Brandette W Reply:

    Andrea,

    How did you find out about the Costco discount on this already? Was it in the Costco mailer? I must have missed it.

    What is the price in Sept, it currently retails for $450 at Costco so I am curious if it is worth it.

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    Andrea Reply:

    got the flier in the mail earlier this week

    Wilma Reply:

    I love the Dyson stick–even with a short running time, it’s almost always enough to clean up after a meal, and to do the main areas/entrances. Game changer for sure. Before, I would end up leaving the vacuum out all the time–which doesn’t look so nice…but I guess I was just too lazy to put it away!

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  23. Anna

    08/30/2017

    I have trouble doing evening dishes because then I am already asleep when the dishwasher finishes and mornings are pretty hectic.

    Luckily though I have found that turning it on with dinner dishes, breakfast dishes in the morning works a little better since we eat so late. That way when its dinner time the dishes are clean to be used and I have help unloading the dishwasher and then loading it after dinner.

    I’m sure that sounds weird that I start it the next day but it helps having the dirty dishes in the dishwasher and then I can put the breakfast dishes and sometimes lunch in there as well too. That way I don’t have to unload it before breakfast and/or lunch and everything is still clean by dinner time.

    I do find this help as I hate to wash dishes too! I find unloading the dishwasher stressful too as they built it blocking the cabinet doors on the bottom and if its open you can’t load the dishes above it…especially since I’m too short to reach when its closed. LOL I wish I could find a better setup.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yeah, we literally eat dinner at 4:45 (sometimes 4:30) at night — so I have the dishwasher going by 5:30 and it’s finished by 6:45ish. Obviously, if we ate really late at night this might not work as well.

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    Melissa Reply:

    I’ve been thinking about this post, and also thought about doing it your way. I often don’t have time to empty the dishwasher before leaving for work and getting 2 kids out the door, and I don’t like leaving dirty breakfast dishes in the sink all day. I thought if it ran right after breakfast, then I can unload during dinner prep or after eating. Then the dishwasher would also have room for all the containers and sippy cups that come home from school/work. We used to only run it every few days but adding a second child seemed to add a lot more dishes!

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    Anna Reply:

    Its funny Melissa because typically my unloading now is making dinner. Using the same pots and pans that are in the dishwasher as well as the dishes so its like one less step. Cause like i said the dishwasher is in the way of putting up the clean dishes…so I just use the same ones that were in there. LOL It also helps with prepping for breakfast and lunches too cause I prep all the sippy cups for dinner that night, breakfast and then their lunches are done right away. Its hectic at dinner time and breakfast so this way my 3 year old and 7 year old can grab their own breakfast and dinner drinks. I know its one simple thing to get drinks but its one less step for me!

    That’s why I like this blog…you get great tips that are adjustable to your life. And tweaking them is pretty easy.

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  24. Stephanie

    08/30/2017

    When my dishwasher worked I started running it after supper every night too. First thing in the morning or later that night I would empty it before dishes started piling in the sink.
    Now it’s broken and it isn’t high enough of a priority to spend the money to fix or replace it yet. I still practice washing everything the night before and putting away that night or right away in the morning. It’s not near as much of a mental struggle if I have plan and stick to it. I always struggled with this too until I heard a podcast from “A Slob Comes Clean” and she did it that way.

    I also like her laundry routine. I’m not always faithful with getting it all done in one day, but when I do, my life is so much more peaceful and organized!

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  25. Melissa Q

    08/30/2017

    I started doing this a few months ago and it’s great! It means that it’s just part of the morning routine to empty the dishwasher in the morning (I put it on delay wash when I clean up at night). And bonus when that meant I could add it to my boys chores over the summer! It is rare that it’s not 80% or more full when I run it. And delay wash means that after dinner, when I find that random dish elsewhere in the house, I can still pop it in to the dishwasher for that load.

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    Andrea Reply:

    I always clean our dishwasher out in the evening so everything is clean, empty, and ready to go in the morning — and I don’t have to worry about waking kids up by emptying the dishwasher in the morning 🙂

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  26. Anna

    08/30/2017

    I’m amazed that you only run it once a day. I’m home with three small kids everyday and run mine twice a day, usually after breakfast & lunch, then again at night. Granted, I typically put mixing bowls and pots and pans in my dishwasher, and I cook mostly from scratch.

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  27. Meg

    08/30/2017

    I take this a step father and run my dishwasher twice a day. I run it after lunch on the “half-load” setting, since it isn’t full yet. Then I put that small load away right before I start cooking dinner. Since the dishwasher is empty at dinner, it means that I have space to put all the pots and pans and cooking dishes from dinner into the dishwasher and I don’t have to wash anything by hand! I hate washing pots and pans, so for me it’s totally worth the extra half load in the dishwasher a day. Then I start the dishwasher immediately after dinner, but use the delay function so that it runs after we go to bed. That way any other dishes, mugs, glasses etc. we use after dinner can be added to the dishwasher through the evening but I don’t have to remember to start it before I go to bed!

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  28. Ann

    08/30/2017

    Here is a tip from my mom. When you want to run your dishwasher but it isn’t quite full, look around for things that could be run through it. Nick-knacks that rarely get dusted, the coffee pot or tea kettle, a toy or two, etc. You can run it full and eliminate some cleaning later by filling it up with unusual things!

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    Linda T Reply:

    Great ideas Ann! Every once in a while I throw the toothbrushes in a load. Little kids toothbrushes can get so full of leftover toothpaste!

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    Katie Reply:

    I really like this idea!

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes, I’m always throwing random things in the top rack to make it feel more full if it’s a little empty!

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  29. Carol

    08/30/2017

    I love how you store your dishes in a drawer right next to the dishwasher. That makes so much sense!
    We have pot drawers but I’m not able to move the dishes to the lower level since the drawers are full of pots, pans, bowls and storage containers.
    I really enjoy your blog!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Carol — and yes, the dish drawer was one of the most “important” features for me to include in our new kitchen. We LOVE it!

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    Lindsey Reply:

    Andrea! I love your dishes! I have four kids and I feel like the bigger dishes we have take up so much room. Yours are skinny! Where did you get them????

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    Andrea Reply:

    yeah, I’m not into the big “trendy” dishes like all my friends and relatives have 🙂 My set was SUPER cheap from JC Penny’s years ago. If you’re looking for REALLY skinny dishes, try Corelle — they have loads of different colors, patterns, shapes, etc. All super stackable and non-breakable!

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