My Grandmother Mable Clark Stevens passed away in 1985.
We started the long process of sorting and distributing
a lifetime of treasures, memories and just stuff.
Nostalgia, of course, dominated the time, along with memories of childhood we would exchange while sorting.
Like so many houses from the war era and before, there lived a monster with octopus arms at the bottom of the stairs in the basement.
And right next to the octopus was the monster’s room AKA…
“The Fruit Room”
The musty “Fruit Room” was a scary place with a huge heavy door and the strange aroma of who knows what?
(I now know it is the distinct smell
that a mouse has been here.)
As an adult,
I understand the door was a custom design and insulated
to help balance humidity and preserve produce.
But as a child, it was the “ginormous” door to keep monsters from escaping and entering the house!
Sometimes, even though it took the strength of my whole body,
I would open and close the door because when you did,
a light came on all by itself! Was it the monster that lived in the fruit room?
We were never sure…
I wasn’t smart enough (at the time) to realize that a string was attached to the door that made it ‘automatic’!
My sisters and I would dare each other to stay in the haunted fruit room and see if the light really went off,
but none of us had the courage to take the dare.
There were jars of jam and jelly, applesauce, salmon, string beans, peaches…
all dated in the era when Grandma was in the mind set of canning.
Yes! Indeed, I saved a jar of her ‘Huckleberry Preserves”.
The tiny aged label, in her own handwriting, identified the contents of her busy canning day,
and to me, it was another treasure.
Today, the preserves sit with nostalgic pride in my vintage kitchen.
Amongst the empty canning jars,
a granite speckled cannery,
wire racks and picnic baskets
An unopened package of vintage shelf paper from the 40’s!
I literally held it to my heart, because it was SOOOO ME!!!
My favorite colors of Red, Yellow, Green and Black on a background of delicate cream.
It was especially a surprise,
because Grandma did not have these colors anywhere in her house.
Red was too bold and she leaned more to the pastels
(as did my mother).
In the 1980’s, I was in the thick of raising a multitude of children.
Part of raising children is the continual path of destruction that just happens.
Somehow, in the youth of adulthood, I knew to put the vintage shelf paper away and wait.
To display the baskets of flowers with the scalloped edge at that time,
would be sure to mean a short life span of this delicate treasure.
So, it went to its new home. A box.
A storage box of treasures, marked “Heirlooms” to be used in “THE House”.
From 1985 to 2005
the baskets of red and yellow flowers waited their debut.
It was twenty years until the dream of using the shelf paper came to fruition.
We, unexpectedly, were going to build our dream house
and all the treasures were going to be released back into life.
It was time for the vintage shelf liner to serve the purpose for which it was created.
I wanted a place for it to be easily seen, but not readily used;
a place to add to the nostalgic feeling of entering into another era.
After all, it held the title and high honor of …
“The Inspiration Piece”
for my new kitchen…
the item to which all the rest of the kitchen would defer.
In the process of creating the kitchen house plan,
I chose to place shelves to the right, as you entered the kitchen.
It was a natural focal point even though I would forgo upper kitchen cabinets.
A decision I have never regretted.
The aged paper, lining the shelves is the perfect support for the other kitchen heirlooms…
an angel food cake pan,
antique spice cans,
Crisco in the box,
and of course, Spam!
(That would be related to meat, not computers.)
Essentially, I use little jelly jars to hold my herbs and spices.
Other vintage jars contain staples.
The jars easily slide off the shelf for baking and everyday use.
Above the shelves,
I hung kitchen tools with green handles
that were part of traditional cooking
for both my mother and grandmother.
The “Layered Look” is a way I create dimension in a “Themed Room”.
I use wallpaper that is chosen for its support to the theme,
not necessarily by my favorite design.
In my vintage country kitchen,
I found wallpaper picturing antique recipe cards and this wall paper I loved!!! It was…
To create the next layer,
I took old handwritten recipe cards from my mother and grandmother
and pinned them to the wall,
along with single pages from recipe books of antiquity.
All of this brings me closer to a heritage I embrace with gratefulness,
while giving another facet of vintage to MY Children and Grandchildren.
I am surrounded by the nurturing that comes in a kitchen filled with warm scents,
warm ovens, warm conversations all warmed with love.
I feel the love of my Mother and Grandmother around me.
In turn, I want to extend love to the many beloveds that enter my Vintage County Kitchen.
Sometimes I look around and wonder…
“Will any of my Grandchildren find treasures in my home, after I am gone? Will they hold them to their heart?”
“Will any of my descendants place an heirloom in their home and boast… ‘This was my Grandmothers and her Grandmother’s before that…’ ?”
I hope they do.
I pray they will remember…
“A Moment in Time”
Thank you , Grandma, for the Jubilee Vintage Shelf Paper… I LOVE it!
“Cookies & milk anyone?”