Uncovering My New Homestead's Old Secrets


We’ve learned so much in such a short time on our new land. Pretty quickly I caught on that knotty pine is not as fashionable as it was 50 years ago—and that it requires numerous coats of paint to cover. Whoever created wallpaper deserves a good flogging. And a fox’s “vixen scream” may be the most haunting sound to scare a 16-year-old girl since The Conjuring was released in the movies. I’ve also learned that families sometimes pass down love in the form of a home. If you listen carefully, a house has a story. Some people will argue that a space holds memory and time, but I say home is where the heart is.

Somewhere around one week after moving in, I began to pull everything out of my new kitchen. Wallpaper removal was involved and, folks, things got ugly. Cover-your-ears ugly, with lots of bad words tossed about. But the kitchen was what mattered to me. In my 16 years as a mom, cooking has been one of the best and most personal ways I’ve shown my kids that I love them. Every night they have a home-cooked meal from locally grown ingredients­—sometimes from our own yard. If nothing else, it’s warm, it smells good, and it makes them happy. And that makes me happy.

Kitchen Secrets From a New Homestead

The secret recipes Michelle found in her new home, left by the previous owner

Back to the kitchen demo: I took off all of the cabinet doors and pulled out all of the drawers in preparation for painting the knotty pine a bright white. When I pulled open the last drawer, it was full of boxes. The house had been meticulously emptied and cleaned, so this drawer surprised me. I opened the aged containers to find recipes inside. Some were clippings; others bore the pretty handwritten scroll of the house’s previous owner, Marion. I felt like I was spying on someone, looking into the past and seeing her preparing this food out of love for her husband and kids. It was a striking reminder of what I was in danger of forgetting while cussing at wallpaper and schlepping boxes: Even covered in construction dust, I am creating a legacy.

As the days go by, I often find myself revisiting that box of recipes or opening the pantry door where all of the heights of the house's former child residents are marked, along with their corresponding dates. I stroll through the garden and silently thank Marion for leaving me a yard that offers up more beauty every day, including gorgeous peonies. I think she must have known that I have never ever been able to raise those, even though they’re my favorite flower! All of these signs of a family’s love remind me that I am a matriarch, the glue holding the family together and an important part of a loving legacy. Although I am a worker bee in the corporate world, my true calling is creating a home and a life full of as many joys as possible for myself and my loved ones.

A Home's History

This home we were so lucky to find came with a legacy of its own attached—a history of family and warmth that I first encountered long before I found the drawer full of recipes.

6/19/2014 7:05:27 AM

You just *know* when you are where you are supposed to be. It happened with our home, too.

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