The Story of Great Grandmother’s Cabinet

IMG_8342Just this past summer we sold my childhood home.  Prior to the sale, I spent much time cleaning out the house and came across many family treasures. As you can imagine, the house was filled with story. Many of the treasures took me right back to my childhood.


Here is one such treasure:  The caning cabinet which belonged to Great-Grandmother Amelia who was born in the mid-1800s.  She passed the cabinet on to Grammy who passed it to Mom who has now passed it to me.

I have always loved it.  Growing up I remember in the fall it was stock full of concord grape jelly in small glass jars with wax  on the top as well as Piccadilly relish in mason jars with the glass lids. By summer, it was near empty, awaiting the summer harvest.

I can remember exactly where it stood, alongside the deep sinks in the basement of Grammy and Pa’s house.  The chipped white enameled bowl and a box of Boraxo sat on the wooden shelf next to it.  Across from it was Pa’s sitting room where a plate-sized ashtray where he would flick the ashes from his cigar sat on a tarnished brass stand. A framed picture of a group of dogs playing poker hung above his beat-up leather chair. A wooden case of six empty Moxie bottles in was neatly tucked in the corner.

This is what I mean by STORY.

The sensory nostalgia took me home! I could feel that rough Boraxo on my hands, I could taste the Moxie. I could smell the mix of oil and cigar smoke.  And that takes me to my next point:  It needed a refresher:  It smelled musty and was tired. It was a diamond in the rough, however.

I sanded it and cleaned it then applied two coats of grey stain to the outside. I wanted to maintain the rustic look of the existing hardware so I sanded it, too, just enough to get the layer of tarnish off. I rolled it into place in my kitchen and arranged my stuff.

The stuff? I filled it with practical items that I use often like everyday dishes, soup bowls, cookbooks and some fancy dishes, too.  Then, I added interesting items I collected as I cleaned out the house: An antique whisk, several meat grinders, and ice pick, a macaroni maker.  I included a few of my favorite cookbooks propped by Great Uncle George’s iron horse bookends (LOVE them.)


Here it is now!  My family saw this renewed heirloom on Thanksgiving and hardly recognized it! They were impressed with its new look.

I enjoy this piece of family history and how it brings story into my home.

Sparkle On, Friends!



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