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Once upon a time, there was a very shiny, brown, plastic-y kitchen cupboard.

Naturally, I fell in love.  Y’know, as you do when something is–ahem–shiny, brown and plastic-y.  With fake gold handles.

Did I mention that it was also $15.00 (CDN)?

That’s practically free in many parts of the world (like England, where I paid an outrageous $38.00 for a one month supply of contact lens solution in 1996 but I forgave England because her chocolate bars were so cheap and Wispa love cannot be measured in mere dollars/pounds/euros because Wispa love is forever.  Especially, when it’s a bargain.)

But I digress.   I was in love with a brown, plastic-y thing.  Said plastic being manufactured during the last decades under a variety of monikers, which shall remain nameless–except for Arborite.  Did you know that quintuplets can basically ice skate down an Arborite table surface and it will lose none of its durability or give even a hint of the real wood underneath?  That stuff is practically indestructible.  And, oh-so shiny and plastic-y with its fake wood grain.

What’s not to love?

Oh sure, there are people who go for the obvious lookers of the furniture and decor world, all gleaming teeth and hair (or as they say in furniture and decor and seemingly every single show on HGTV:  granite you-know-whats and stainless steel blah, blah, blahs.)

There’s no challenge, no thrill of the hunt, no wallflower’s revenge in that!

I tend to find the least desirable thing at the auction/flea market/thrift store/garage sale and suddenly, my heart is overwhelmed with desire for, um…shiny, brown, plastic-y-ness.

Who knew?

Practical Man, that’s who.

As soon as we entered the shop, he immediately started sidling, as if drawn by an invisible magnet or the force of my slight hyperventilation–towards the most downtrodden, bits-missing, unloved, dented, moth-eaten, fake wood grained, shiny, brown plastic-y, ugly ducklings of the lot.  He knew that it was only a matter of seconds before I honed in and it has become a race between us–to see who can leap on the most pathetic specimen of all, first.

I won, this time.  MWAH, HA, HA, HA.

This ugly duckling had pristine, original 1950s etched glass sliding doors and perhaps most important to a co-dependant, against-all-odds,  happily-ever-after gal like me:  POTENTIAL.


Practical Man had that look on his face:  the one that said “wee-hoo, that is one ugly specimen, as usual” and then he had the look on his face that said, “and where, exactly, is she going to put that thing?!” but then, magically, his face transformed into the face that said, “well, it does appear to have lots of practical hide-y holes for useful stuff like levels and flashlights and lock washers” and then, most compellingly, he got the look on his face that said,”at least the darn thing is cheap.”

Then, he went to work with his superlative haggling skills.

I love Practical Man.

Then, not unlike Cinderella, our shiny, brown, plastic-y cupboard got some:

  • sanding (ugh) to scuff the shiny, brown plastic-y-ness,
  • priming (double ugh) to make the shiny, brown plastic-y-ness more receptive to paint and
  • painting (by which time Practical Man had swooped in to rescue me from the ughs) to hide and transform the shiny, brown, plastic-y-ness and

Voila!  Presto-Bongo!  Abra-Cadabra!  Our ugly duckling was further bejeweled with my collection of vintage Pyrex and suddenly, it turned into a vintage swan.

Finished dresser - sage green with vintage pyrex inside

Kind of a green swan and to my new friend, Disney Dancer, who I recently met in Colorado, I know that I’m mixing Disney/Hans Christian Andersen metaphors a little, but you get the idea.

Whatever the story, one thing is not in question:  Practical Man is like a real, live, fairy godmother for my shiny, brown, plastic-y cabinet.

I’m sure he’ll be thrilled.

Copyright Christine Fader, 2014.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet         You might also like my latest book.


I mentioned the other day that our kitchen cupboards are over full.  I offer you Exhibit A (with random modern dishes removed, in case you’re wondering why there’s space):

the inside of my cupboards, full of vintage pyrex

Our cupboards are full with–if you’ve been paying attention–practical things like cheese slicers, scales and oatmeal and stuff.

Not vintage Pyrex and melamine dishes.  Nuh unh.  As you can see, once you take the boring stuff out, there’s plenty of room.

None of that matters though, because you won’t believe it–I mean I can barely believe it myself–but I did it:

I edited a cupboard.

Not one in the kitchen, but that’s beside the point.

You may recall that we have a 1974 Boler trailer.  It is a full 13 feet of vintage delight.  I loooove it in a way that is annoying to others, I’m sure.

The diner/bed inside our 1974 Boler

The diner/bed inside our 1974 Boler

Anyway, I realized suddenly as I was stacking and piling in the kitchen to no avail that no wonder my melamine bowls didn’t fit.  Pyrex is for inside.  Melamine is perfect for camping in a 1974 trailer.  Those dishes belonged in the Boler, of course!

The Boler that I loooove.

With joy in my heart, I trundled out to the Boler, but when I got there, the cupboards were…mysteriously…over full.

I’m sure it’s not my fault.  Right, because when we bought it from the previous owners (who had owned it since new), we inherited all its contents, including Maplex and Duraware dishes.

Plus, the Boler “kitchen” is REALLY tiny.  I like to call it “bijou”, because I’m slightly addicted to alliteration.  A “bijou Boler” sounds great, doesn’t it?

Anyway the kitchen only consists of 4 cupboards and one drawer.  Not even cupboards really.  They’re more like bread boxes.  Yes, four bread boxes and a cookie tin.  So bijou.

boler kitchen

Our Boler “kitchen”, complete with homemade trays to cover sink and stove top and give us more counter space.

And, the cupboards were chock-a-block with the necessary dishes (we have to eat, don’t we?) as well as things coveted by Practical Man, like flashlights and bungee cords.

So, they were full and I’m pretty sure that, as usual, it was not my fault.  Still, I decided I had to edit.  Somebody had to go and the dishes outnumbered the flashlights by 20 to 1.

I felt like a judge on The Voice or American/Canadian/Pop Idol.  I had to choose between my favourites.  It was heart-wrenching.

Before I could do the dastardly deed, I had to psych myself up.  First, I had a little nap on the oh-so-stylish Boler couch:

Boler couch/bunkbed

It converts to a bunk bed for people who are not strapping women of 5’9″, like I am:

bunk beds in the Boler

Then, I pretended I was drinking chicory coffee and had Laurie Partridge hair out of 1974.

Then, I shoop-shooped and sang a few rounds of “C’mon, get happy” (Composed just for the Boler, I’m sure,  because who wouldn’t be happy lounging in the 1974 Boler that I looove?!)

Then, I admired the new cups and plates I was about to put in the cupboards, again.  All the while, I tried not to think about the pitiful cries from the little brown plates that hid behind the Boler kitchen doors.  Little brown plates, you’re so, so sweet but you’re just not my colour.  I don’t really loooove you.


But these make me a little giddy:

fern pattern on melamine plates

Not so giddy for the grey and white vintage Tupperware coffee mugs (replaced with more cheerful and vintage-reminiscent harvest gold, orange and avocado green):

tupperware cups for the Boler

Finally, after my napping and chicory coffee and hair and shooping and singing, I was ruthless.  I edited.  I was the Simon Cowell of cupboards.

Sort of.

In addition to being a terrible haggler, I am also not ruthless…even about inanimate objects.  The ones that didn’t make the cut to keep were given away to a good home:  I have re-ignited the collecting bug in my friend, Shades.

Her husband loves me even more now.

But never mind because today, all is right in the Boler.  And now, there’s even room for Practical Man’s flashlights.

I’ll get to the kitchen cupboards in the house one of these days.  Right now, I’m celebrating with another round of “C’mon Get Happy” .  Tra-la-la, shoop-shoop.

A flashlight makes a great microphone.

Our Boler

Our Boler – what colour do you think we should paint it? I’m thinking flowers (of course). Practical Man is thinking anything that will allow him to drive without wearing a mask to disguise his identity.

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Vintage Juice Containers You are reading a post from Christine Fader’s “A Vintage Life” blog.  Join the romance with all things retro at

Sometimes my vintage collecting is a little random.

For example, I don’t even like juice.

But, I love my vintage tupperware juice containers.   I found the tall one at a garage sale for an exciting 10 cents.  The other was $1.99 at a thrift store.  So, even though I don’t like juice, they had to come home with me.

Goofy happiness for the bargain price of $2.09.

Ditto for the pickle containers

Pickle Containerswith their oh-so-handy inserts that allow you to fish out a dill or an olive without having to swirl around in olive juice seeking a treasure.   Except, unlike juice, I love pickles and olives and I need lots of salt (being a fainter as I am), so these vintage lovelies get used every single day.

On special occasions, I break out the slab cake carrier or the deviled egg container.

Cake container

Deviled eggs are one of those deliciously vintage sort of recipes that some people eschewIMAG1191 nowadays, but they always disappear first at a picnic or party.  People seem to love “eating vintage” and who can blame them?   Deviled eggs are one of life’s great treats even though they’re a bit finicky to prepare.  But, they’re even better when they look like they arrived straight  from 1972 because you’re transporting and serving them in your vintage tupperware deviled egg container.

Not only is vintage tupperware a way to imbue your vintage collecting with something–I hesitate to say it in case my husband is reading this–practical, they are usually in fun 70s colours like orange, harvest gold, avocado green.

Something practical that also makes you smile?