Category Archives: secondhand stories

The Cabinet That Used to Be a Clock (We Think)

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One of the best things about furnishing the Dream House with secondhand goods is coming across things like this cabinet. We were browsing around an antique mall in a nearby town and came across the old wood cabinet with glass door. The little tag on it said something simple like homemade cabinet. How charming, right?

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The Totally Free, All-Natural DIY Window Covering

012314-window-film-01I’ve been struggling a bit with how to cover the windows in the Dream House. Because the windows are so beautiful and since they’re such an integral part of the house’s design, I want to keep them as exposed as possible. However, we also want some privacy. Here in the entryway, for instance, there’s a window by the front door that faces the street. I love the light but I don’t like feeling like my house is wide open for all to see. I came up with a solution that honors the window, still allows in plenty of light and gives us privacy. Oh, and I did it all for free.

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She Was There for the Last Operator Dialed Phone Call
SECONDHAND STORIES

phone

When we signed up for internet for the dream house, we were informed that we’d also have to have a land line. How quaint, right? Mind you, we haven’t have a land line in almost seven years. If we’re going to have telephone service in the house, we may as well have some fun phones! We already have a vintage rotary phone but, of course, we’ll need more modern touch tone phones as well.

We came across this Michael Graves-designed phone in the same thrift store where we found our glassware. (Only $2!) As I helped an older patron carry her purchases out to her car, Mr. Blandings had this conversation with the cashier.

“Oh! What a fun phone!” she said.

“Yeah, I couldn’t resist,” Mr. Blandings said. “It’s so fun.”

“You know, I use to be the one who said “number please,” she said as she looked at the phone.

Mr. Blandings asked, “Oh, so did you work for the phone company?”

“Yes,” she proudly said, “for $1.50 an hour — and that was big money back in 1967 — people would pick up their phones and say, “Give me such and such number” and I would connect them. Sometimes I would tease people, because I knew who it was, and when they’d ask if it was me I’d say, “Oh, I’m sorry, I can only give out my operator number!””

“So,” Mr. Blandings asked, “did you continue working for the phone company after they started direct dial calls?”

“Well, no! Once everyone could dial directly, there was no need for us anymore!”

We’ll think of you every time we place a direct dialed call, thrift store lady.

— Mr. and Mr. Blandings

Image: Mr. and Mr. Blandings

Thrift Store Score: Complete Libbey Glass Set for $5
SECONDHAND STORIES

libbey-glass-set

We’ve been in the house for less than a week and we’ve already started scoping out the best secondhand and thrift stores. I stopped into this little thrift shop in a nearby town last week but it was five minutes shy of closing time. From even the quickest perusal, I could tell that this store might be a secondhand goldmine. I couldn’t wait to get back and dig in a little deeper.

Mr. Blandings and I stopped by the store yesterday but, alas, they were closed for the holiday. (I love the anti-Black Friday notion of that.) We made our way back there again this morning and they were finally open. As I suspected, this is indeed secondhand gold. Exhibit A: This complete set of Libbey glassware, in their original box, all 24 of them in perfect condition for just $5. Sold!

I mentioned in a previous post that we plan to decorate and stock the dream house on a budget and this is exactly how we’re going to do it. I’m sure we’ll end up an interesting hodge podge of household goods when all is said and done, but every item in the house will have an interesting story.

What story will l tell when I use these glasses? Probably the one about how we waited in line to buy our box of glasses and listened to the locals and regulars talk about their holiday. And I’ll share the story of helping an older lady carry her purchases out to her car and how she was so delighted when I offered in the first place. I’ll mention how we talked about the weather and how her car seats were lined with bed sheets covered in dog hair.

That’s the kind of story I want to tell about the stuff that fills the dream house.

— J. Blandings

Image: Mr and Mr Blandings