coffee, knitting and a bookIf you enjoy a hot beverage once in a while, you've probably felt it: the conviction that a lovely mug would make you happy. Do you know the domestic bliss encapsulated in that tableau; a clean surface, a project you enjoy, a mug that signifies your style? It's the still-life art as life.

But there's a dark side to this scene of homely perfection. Mugs break. And if you're clumsy like me -- or if you have a houseful of roughhousing children, like me -- it's a good bet that your tableaux are often shattered (figuratively, literally, noisily) by an errant elbow, an exuberantly tossed pillow, a swift brotherly punch. (I'm trying to break the boys of their fighting but, troublingly, they're boys.)

thrifted mug with wafflesIt's why buying mugs from thrift stores, is the better way to go. Never troubled by a chipped or crackled mug, I delight in discovering the lonesome pottery or ceramic that might make my coffee table complete. I pay a dollar, or less, per interesting colorful vessel and it brightens my life, until it breaks, without depressing my wallet. I don't have to commit to just one look, either; I can choose the speckly one with coffee, the green one with tea, the snow-flake-covered one with hot chocolate. Thrifting mugs? It's a win-win.

This post was written as part of a series on how to thrift shop smarter. Read more on what to buy, and not to buy, at thrift stores.

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