Behind Box #1


I decided it was high time to get started on the downstairs project, so after a suitable period of further procrastination yesterday morning, I headed down there. And surveyed my options. Start with this pile of boxes?

Or this pile of boxes?

I leaned down to peek into one and found a good candidate.

A box of fake plants! How much better could it get? This would be a perfect box to start with. I could dispose of it quickly and congratulate myself on one box down! I need that kind of encouragement when I’m starting a big project. Why, I’d be done with this box in about 2 minutes then I could head back upstairs to eat bon bons on the couch, satisfied with a job well done.

I don’t really have any bon bons. And I hardly ever sit on the couch.

But it sounds nice, doesn’t it?

And maybe, just because I’d done all that hard work on that one box, I might actually get some bon bons and sit on the couch! I was going to deserve it!

I pulled the plastic plants out the box and made the unsettling discovery that there was something else in the box. But not too much. It looked like junk. I’d deal with it posthaste and be tossing back bon bons before I knew it.

What am I doing with this bag full of old-fashioned metal hair curlers?

And oh wait! Now this must be kept. Vintage glass spice bottles. That’s a good find.

What’s with this old hymn book with the covers torn off?

Another old book. Same thing. Covers torn off. I have no idea why I have this stuff.

And now some metal junk in the bottom of the box.

Aside from the spice bottles, I can throw this whole box out! Bon bons, here I come!

But wait–

Ohhhhh noooooo.

“These curtain rods was used when Jessie Woodall was a girl at home. She brought them to Oklahoma when she got married in 1904. Each side rod opened out then lay back on wall by each side of window. By hand each time.”

Oh Box, you are cruel and deceptive.

What am I going to do with this stuff? Jessie Woodall was my great-grandmother. She carried these curtain rods ACROSS THE PRAIRIE. In a covered wagon. Uphill both ways. (Okay, they don’t have hills on prairies, but that’s not the point.) That note is written by my grandmother. Evidently, my mother got the curtain rods. And now I have the curtain rods. And I don’t even remember getting the curtain rods, but now I am the owner of the over 100-year-old curtain rods that CROSSED THE PRAIRIE. What, do I have to open a museum now? Why must a box be so cruel? I’m trying to CLEAN OUT.

I know. I’m going to put everything back in the box, put the plastic plants on top, and we’re going to pretend this never happened. I’ll take the box to the attic and then one day when I’m dead, Morgan will find it and it will be her problem! She’ll have to figure out what to do with the curtain rods that CROSSED THE PRAIRIE! I’ll be dead! Whew.

Now where are my bon bons?


  1. Hallie says:

    There are too hills out on the prairie! Ever been to eastern Kansas? Western Kansas is pretty darn flat, but the east is surprisingly hilly.

    Regarding the antique curtain hardware, if you don’t want to keep it, be aware there are “old house” people who would pay dearly for antique curtain rods and hardware. If there’s an architectural salvage shop near you, they may be able to give an estimated value. Or you could try Housewerks in Baltimore. And there’s always eBay. But if you sell it online, be sure to allow for the extra postage for something so heavy.

    You’re a brave soul to take on the “basement project.”

    Hugs to you and your incredibly sweet donkeys.

  2. Mountain Blessings says:

    I can certainly understand your quandry on the box of curtain rods! I am wondering if we are related?? My great grandparents moved to Oklahoma in 1904! They went out to settle land on the prairie and my grandma was born shortly after they got the house/shack built! Infact both maternal and paternal great grandparents moved to Okla around the same time. I do have to admit that in my old age I have gotten less sentimental, if thats possible, mainly because it has gotten to be a real pain in the rump to move that stuff on each move. And whats up with the g-parents putting notes on everything? I have a cookie jar pig that was my great grandmas which still has the note (masking tape with my name on it) stuck to the bottom. Even bibles and photo albums have notes, I guess they knew we would not recognize some of the relatives. Well anyhoo, good luck with your project, I am attempting one of my own so I am dealing with the procrastination issue too. :clover:

  3. bonita says:

    Bon bons notwithstanding, you ARE keeping the curtain rods, aren’t you? Once your B&B is nearly established, you may find a place for them, even if they be repurposed!

  4. another sue says:

    I’m hoping to share some of my special-came-with-the-place treasures with a local theatre company. You could see those curtain rods when the locals are doing a period piece? Just a thought. (From the hills of eastern Kansas.)

  5. The Retired One says:

    Too funny….! Yes, I vote for the attic and to make it our children’s challenge. That solves a lot of spring cleaning for me this year. Thanks!!

  6. judydee says:

    Why not use the curtain rods in the new space?? That way they will be seen and enjoyed, and not take up valuable room in the attic. I think they are fantastic!

  7. Bev in CA says:

    Yes, Bonita is right. My thoughts exactly. One box at a time and before you know it you will wonder what took you so long to get started. The satifaction will be the best.

  8. Joann says:

    Noooooo! Not the attic! I beg of you to ask 52 to figure out how those curtain rods work (he’s an engineer, right?), and use them in the new Basement B&B, with that note framed beside the window on which you use the rods. You may be able to find a company to restore them to their natural beauty, too.

    Please. Pretty please? Those are such a treasure!

  9. Tins says:

    I vote with Joann, clean them up and use them . They will be beautiful in your B and B.


  10. Kathi N., says:

    Use them in the garden for decoration.

  11. Linda Goble says:

    I agree with everyone else. so many options you can use them for. You can give them a new look by spray painting them black. Have fun cleaning out. You really need my sister in-law down there. She is so good at that. I keep telling her to come to my house, then again she gets rid of too much stuff. A funny story. I cleaned house for my brother and his wife and a long time ago I made them a old fashion looking milking pail in ceramics. well it disappeared one time. I thought it was broke. I never mention it to her. Then I went to a garage sale not knowing it was a fund raiser that she donated stuff, and there it was my pail. I bought it and was going to put in the same spot. Husband told me no that would make her feel bad. I thought it would be funny. So be careful what you throw away you never know if someone who gave it to you will find out. HA HA HA.

  12. Gem says:


  13. Judy says:

    Oh my, what a find. If I had opened that box, I would throw everything away but the curtain rods. Those I would clean up and use. But then I’m kind of sentimental about things that had been in the family oh so long ago.

  14. brookdale says:

    Yes, PLEASE don’t throw away those antique family heirloom curtain rods! They are worth money…you can sell them to a dealer or a collector if you don’t want to use them.
    How about making a box labeled “to sell” along with your “throw away” and “keep” boxes?

  15. Window On The Prairie says:

    See, I need to have some children so I can justify keeping stuff like that.

  16. lilac wolf says:

    You got the box out of the basement, I’d say that’s a job well done!

  17. B. Ruth says:

    Frame the little note in a tiny frame…clean the 100 year old rods…could use stove black maybe..not paint…slide on some sheers hang rod in B&B bedroom on the wall with framed note under or to the side…or use on a vanity or window…Lucky You…

  18. Sarita says:

    I like the curtain rods. I bet you’ll find something interesting to do with them

  19. langela says:

    Ohhhh! I wish I had a box like that. The antique spice bottles. The curtain rods. Please clean them up and show us how they work. I love seeing how old-fashioned things work and would love to see them put to use in your basement.

  20. Pete says:

    When you get to a point that you need a break, we have some boxes you might enjoy sifting through… :smilerabbit:

  21. CindyP says:

    You found a treasure box…not one to put in the attic! Hang your quilts from the curtain rods in the new space!!! (LOVE the idea of framing the note beside them, too!) And make some Christmas angels or trees from those hymns! So many craft projects to use those hymn books with! The spice jars…use them for some lotions.

    So many exclamation points….I was excited with the treasures :yes:

    Donate the plastic plants.

  22. KentuckyFarmGirl says:

    I am just as excited as CindyP!! LOL! I love the idea of hanging quilts on the curtain rods!!!

  23. Merlin says:

    I agree with many of the commentors! Those antique curtain rods are a treasure!!! If it had been me who found them, I’d clean them up and hang them up in my rustic western themed living room!!! Suzanne, PLEASE re-purpose them and use them in your B&B along with a framed note next to it (like everyone else suggests)!!!!! :happyfeet:

  24. Carol says:

    I understand your dilemma. I seem to have inherited all of the family’s mementos, and my children aren’t interested. I also think it would be a good idea to use the curtain rods in your “new” basement. If not at a window, maybe behind the head of a bed. You spoke of hanging quilts. Good luck with your project.

  25. Rachel from Maine says:

    You lucky girl! You do realize people pay insane amounts of money for things like that and you have your very own relative’s, don’t you?? Please use them and think of her and your mom whenever you look at them. The quilt and framing the note idea sound wonderful!

  26. Renee says:

    Been there, done that and still have the boxes upon boxes to prove it!!
    There’s only just one big problem, I don’t have a “Morgan” to take care of it after I’m gone, so I’m still going to have to face those boxes one of these days, but until then,I’m like you I’ll just eat the bon bons! :yes:

  27. Joy (from Illinois) says:

    Hey, on another note….just what ARE bon bons anyway? I’ve always wondered if they really are a treat. I was sorely disappointed in “sugar plums” when I found out they were prunes and dried figs and other fruits chopped up with spices, rolled into a ball and dipped in sugar. Not nearly as appetizing as they seem.

  28. AA says:

    Well, I was gonna offer to take them off your hands! Lol. I was getting all sentimental about them just reading what you wrote. I grew up in Oklahoma,so I think it is very cool that you have a part of that history. Those people that settled OK in the early days of it being opened had to be tough! Although, I have to say that the soil is great for growing things. I miss that. Some parts are pretty hilly!

    I like the quilt hanging idea. When I saw them I thought it would be cool if you could find a way to use them if they won’t work any longer as crutain rods or if you didn’t like them as that. Maybe you could make them into towel rods or jewelry hangers, or even weld them together to amek a lamp base or something. There are people who do that kind of thing really well.

  29. jane says:

    I would not paint the antique rods- it devalues them greatly. I think you could clean them perhaps if rusted but I would check that out too bec it devalues them greatly. I have a 100 yr old lamp of 2 ladies with a globe in the center and i do not clean the brass at all bec it would drop the value by 90%. Once up you will like them, frame the note with a picture of her and other pictures like in a shadow box or something.

  30. Patty Hicks says:

    Your post was priceless! I’ve been digging out from under collected articles, information and boxes of stuff here too and found things I had forgotten I stashed away and many things I wondered why I had even kept too! (I laughed when your words echoed my experience) But oh those curtain rods! Isn’t it funny how objects of life layer up in a box. Such a picture of how that happens. Layer upon layer…(takes a bite of chocolate and a big gulp of coffee). If that is the first box I wonder what other treasures you will unpack. Oh do tell if you find something else. I love a good treasure hunt!

  31. Andrea Pierce says:

    oh that’s hysterical. I’m a big fan of leaving it for someone else! lol Or having someone else clean it out so I don’t see what’s getting thrown out. Maybe that’s where you went wrong. You really shouldn’t know what’s down there.

  32. Heidi says:

    poor curtain rods…went to all that trouble to go west only to find themselves back where they started!

  33. jane says:

    Also if you have not thrown out the old hymnal or old book – crafters use them. I bought a large cone shape covered in old hymnal pages with a silver tie to hang on the tree- with cookies stuffed in it. you can decoupage with those pages. tea stain them too.

  34. Dana says:

    My vote is to clean them up, and use them in the bedroom you plan on looking country like, You did say that right?? I didn’t imagine it, your plan was to take one of the downstairs bedrooms and redo it in vintage country or something..right?? Anyway find someone who knows how to clean them up and then use them!!

  35. Shannon Olson says:

    I love your junk!! wish I had a box of

  36. Shannon Olson says:

    oops dumb computer…
    wish I had a box of cool metal pieces. Have fun, you can do a lot with that and the note is so cool.

  37. rhubarbrose says:

    The antique curtain rods are fabulous. I know what it’s like though trying to actually use them somewhere. If they aren’t usable for something (like the many suggestions above), you should at the very least frame a picture of them. Actually the picture you posted looks very artsy! Yes, I would make it into an art piece – either with the detailed parts of the metal or a picture of them.
    Love the idea of using the hymnal pages for decoupage!
    You go girl……

  38. Karen says:

    Oh my gosh….I am the same way!!! When I was looking at your pictures I was thinking, oh no don’t through that out you can do something with it!!! LOL

  39. iowacowgirl says:

    Those are so cool!! Yes, I see them holding up a quilt with the framed letter nearby.

    But the plastic flowers DO have to go…..8-)

    I too dream of a couch and bon-bons…sigh

    ps. I received my CITR calendar and it is so beautiful and PROFESSIONAL! – of course!…thank you very much

  40. Nancy Stickler says:

    Oh my gosh, USE them!! Quality rods like those are expensive now! You must have a window or two that would love to have them!! I like the quilt idea too with the framed letter hanging nearby!

  41. jan~n~tn says:

    About the antique iron curtain rods:
    I wanted to see how they worked. Swinging arms and all!!

  42. Flatlander says:

    I was going to mention use them in the B&B rooms and when I was reading the comments..I’m not the only one 🙂
    Don’t toss them, if people want to spend a night at a farm, want to see how you make butter the old fashioned way..I bet they would love to spend the night in an old fashion room.

  43. nancy c says:

    i like the idea of letting it for the kids with my own “little”note attached which i have done with some things already,that i have in my own attic,it says something like this ….. to my girls ,if you are looking in this box I am probably gone and you are now cleaning out the attic (sucks to be you ).Seems only fair that there is stuff here that stills belongs to all of you girls that you would not let me throw away a long time ago ,most of it childhood memories but not worth anything else but wonderful memories, but in this box holds these items , then i give a list of what it is and how old the items might be and where they came from . and sometimes i will even throw in something totally not related to anything in the box but just something that is very much me for the girls to find or the boxes contain a memory for each of the girls ( ex… old school reports or awards that was forgotten or just old copies of silly pictures of when they were little )so let the box for the kids but have some fun doing it and you can giggle about it all the way to the attic .

  44. Jennifer Robin says:

    Those coverless books are a huge treasure too. Mixed media artists would give their eye teeth to get ahold of all those wonderful old pages! Remember, one man’s trash…

  45. TinaG says:

    Oh Suzanne,what a wonderful find. I agree with others; clean the curtain rods up and put them to use. They are beautiful. Take pictures and let us see them in use. Have fun!

  46. Zusiqu says:

    Is there a museum in your area that would appreciate the rods as a donation?

  47. Dee says:

    Yes on saving and using the books. Backless books tied with twine are hot at Pottery Barn and Ballard Designs… have a gold mine. Also there are great wreaths made from old sheet music or book pages that have the ‘aged’ look. Very easy for you to make. If you can look at Miss Mustard Seed blog and see what she does with the pages. It a re-purposing on many decorating blogs now. And about 50 different ideas for old book pages that would fit nicely in your B&B.

  48. Diane Edwards says:

    There is a wonderful site that can give you lots of inspiration for using “junk” in very creative ways. If you came up with an idea to use the curtain rods, just think of the pleasure you would get every time you looked at them, remembering your great-grandmother and how important it was to her to carry those rods across the prairie so she could beautify her new surroundings. Another good site is that could show you how to use the old books, too. She primarily repurposes old furniture, and one of her best pieces was when she re-covered a dresser with old sheet music.

  49. bonita says:

    Oh another idea (lightening bolt) How ’bout saving the hymnals for one of the short mini sessions at the workshop…then choose what to do with them (from a list of 4 or 5) with the participants. (like you did with the kids and those folder paperback angels that were such a hit LOL)

  50. QuietStorm says:

    I have my grandmothers curtains….not anything i would ever use even though they are extremely well made…. i cant even THINK of throwing them away…. waiting for the day I find a way to repurpose them…. & just found a note in her sewing box a few weeks ago when I was looking for some straight pins….now I know what I am going to do with it….frame it & maybe use some of the other stuff, buttons, rickrack, lace along with it in the frame to remind me where I found it….great idea!

  51. cake says:

    Some years ago I stood in the blazing summer sun at a farm auction waiting to bid on a box of antique curtan rods. I had to have them! There were 2 styles but of the very same era & type as yours. The box was full & all the hardware was there. I waited & waited & that box was the next to last thing up for bid. The auctioneer started them @ $25.00, not a soul offered a bid. My hand shot up (I should have waited, he would have lowered the amount)BUT I wanted those rods.So did a savvy antigue dealer & the bid see-sawed back & forth Finally they were mine for $40.00!Triumph! Back home with a sunburn & aching feet, I went thru my box only to find some one had pirated some of the hanging hardware.
    Those darned rods are still in a box in the basement!


  52. catslady says:

    I can feel your pain. And I also laughed out loud quite a bit. I am a pack rat and can’t throw anything out – everything seems to be sentimental to me. My family can’t stand it. My husband unfortunately does it for me without telling me – ’tis horrible!

  53. Miss Becky says:

    this is the dilemma I face when I begin the task of going through boxes that haven’t been opened in years. I start with the thought that “if I haven’t looked at this in years then I don’t even know I have it so I must not need it and I won’t miss it”. then I open the dang box and discover there was a REASON I still have it and it’s closed up, sitting there, waiting for me. Again. I just don’t know what to do with stuff like that. I have no daughters or sons to pass it on to. so I close it back up to sit there for another 5 years. I’m thinking it’s best to be brutal and just give it away. sooner or later the end will be reached and what is in those boxes will be meaningless to whomever opens them. I guess it’s best to just make that person me. done. off to Goodwill. thanks for the catharsis Suzanne! :yes: :yes: :yes:

  54. whaledancer says:

    I was almost screaming “Noooo!!!” at my computer when you said your were going to throw out the “metal junk.” I think they’re beautiful. I was already trying to think how I could rescue them. Whew! Thank goodness for that note. Those curtain rods are like the things in Mammy Jane’s house or in the 100-year-old farmhouse. You’re surrounded by your father’s family history there in Stringtown; now you have a chance to add some of your mother’s family history, so that they both become part of the heritage that your grandchildren will see when they visit the farm.

    I have some old cloth in a box handed down from mother, who got it from her mother. The note pinned to it explained that it was linen which had been spun and woven and sewn into a tablecloth by my great-great-great grandmother for her hope chest. She was married in 1798. It’s one of my great treasures.

    But if you should ever decide to get rid of something like that, for goodness sake, sell it to someone who will treasure it, and put the money in the barn fund. Don’t just throw it out, please. It’s like throwing away history.

  55. Ellen says:

    With a little help from 52 (and a welder, if he can do it) you could do amazing things with the curtain rods. It’s not necessarily pracitcal to use them (they could be incomplete, or just the wrong size etc), you could weld them into a sculpture for the garden (even an artistic support for some kind of climbing plant). I love the idea of framing the note. Funny, that penmanship looks juuusst like my Mom’s….the Palmer Method I think they called it. The curlers and silk/plastic plants as well as what looks like a moldy hymnal clearly can go, howerver. :cowsleep:

  56. Nona says:

    Okay so you have recieved all the answers from so many people.
    So like they said use them in your b and b.
    and the old curlers may bring some cash too! you never know unless
    you check it out.

  57. Jan says:

    I’m trying to clean out my mother’s house, since she died in January. Fortunately it is attached to mine and we don’t have to do it fast. There is a lot of old stuff in it, most of it beautiful. Fortunately there are very few notes, so we have no idea whose it was or why it is there. Still, it is really hard. I do think about leaving it for my kids, whereupon they would have their own house full of stuff, my mother’s house full of stuff, and my house full of stuff to cope with. Whew! I am inspired to get rid of stuff. Especially the junk.

  58. Joell says:

    I would take the curtain rods to a medal artist and have them made into a peice of wall art, with a country flair.

  59. Jean says:

    Oh those antique curtain rods would be somewhere in my house hanging or outside. I could see all sorts of things to do with them. I know what you mean about throwing things away and running into something that you just can’t throw out. Do a few at a time…bon bon’s in no time!

  60. metzler says:

    ’bout time

  61. Dianna says:

    Yes, I agree: use the curtain rods, frame the note, and take the old hymnal to your local thrift shop. I make handmade greeting cards, and old hymn books and dictionaries make great “designer paper”.

    But the plastic flowers MUST go!!!

  62. melody says:

    I love those old curlers. I just did a post on facebook about the new velcro ones. I think you need to glue the other half of velcro to your head to make them do not stand up to the old ones.

  63. Amber says:

    Those are really cool looking curtain rods. I think the rustic country style would look good in your home.

  64. Sandy says:

    I think yous should use them to hang dish towels on to dry or put them in the bathroom for hand towel or put them in a craft room to hold spools of ribbon or string.

  65. Ramona says:

    I’ve got some curtain rods that almost look like those.

  66. laur says:

    Maybe you could use the old metal hair curlers to make cannolli shells! we make those once or twice a year to celebrate deliciousness!!! (on cut aluminum rods)
    with your homemade ricotts cheese…scrumptch!
    and the folding curtain rods!!! oh I would love those in …any room of my house! for scarves, necklaces……drying mittens and outdoorsy things you have to hang…? oglory.

  67. Betsy says:

    Don’t throw out the old hair curlers! There are lots of die-hard vintage enthusiasts (the ones who dress like it’s 1940 every day) who would love to get their hands on them. List them on ebay!

  68. AspenFlower says:

    Keep the Hymnal also- how precious those pages are!

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