photo by Sheri Dixon

Saturday, September 3, 2011


There's something about a new house.

I've been in a fair number of new construction homes and it's exciting and a little daunting to step over the threshold of a structure, a house- that wasn't there just a few months ago. There's a "new house smell" just like "new car smell" that can't be replicated, no matter what the package with the thing you hang from your rear view mirror says.

And everything's so CLEAN- the walls are literal blank canvases. There may already be photos and paintings and prints hanging from new nails, but the REAL signs of life are still missing- the fingerprints, the smudge where the dirty tennis ball bounced off, the oddly fuzzy and amoebic shape where the dog licked...something.

Carpeting? Spotless.

Tile floors? Stainless.

Windows? Clean and nose-print-free. On BOTH sides.

Walking into a new home is like walking into church (I still remember church, shut up). It requires quiet respectful reverence and strict attention to whatever might be clinging to the bottom of your shoes.

Clean shoe bottoms.



Ahhh...that last one. A new home (or maybe that's the new owner) screams "Welcome to our new home. Don't touch! Be careful! Acccck!"

Which is something I reflected on watching a dear friend's new home go up via photos.

The house is spectacular- really beautiful. Softly muted brick exterior, elegantly appointed interior, every detail picked with care and taste and I can feel a quiet welcome from miles away.

But I'd still check the bottoms of my shoes and my son's (generally grubby) hands before entering, still refrain from touching...anything.

Even though I know we're welcome and our friends are not freaky-clean there's still the urge to not...leave a trail of debris, or clutter, or DNA...

Then there's our house.

We built it last fall and moved in January 4th of this year. 'Round about the 10th, the insulators came to tuck in Joe's cabin, right next to our house. Joe wasn't there yet, so the workman came to our door.

When I got to the door he wasn't looking for me anymore.

He was touching the logs- gently, like they were covered with dandelion fluff instead of bark.

He looked up when I opened the door, back at the logs, then to the cedar boughs touching the porch roof, then back at me.

"Maam, your home is beautiful". I thanked him.

"This ol' house has been here a LONG time, ain't it?" I chuckled and told him that 90 days prior, this was an empty clearing.

Inside is no different-

I've been asked "Where did you find this paneling?" about the logs that form the cross-walls, the same logs as are outside...inside.

The other interior walls beg to be stroked- knotty aspen and pine unvarnished and unstained glow with a soft clear satin sealer.

Kitchen counter tiles, glass shower walls, rock shower floors and fireplace, marble hearth and tin wood stove backings- all demand tactile attention.

Although I appreciate a cursory shoe-check of visitors, and we routinely never wear shoes in the house (or outside much for that matter), the fact that our entire floor is natural cement finished with garage floor sealer brings the "spotless new vulnerable flooring" fears down about 200%.

The greatest compliment I received was someone who saw photos of our place and said it looked like it had just sprouted and grown there- and that was straight after the construction crews left and in the middle of winter- before even the goatweed had had time to grow back in the packed dirt around the porches.

I just realized I haven't shared a recipe with ya'll for a while, so here's one I tossed together last night to go with our own eggs and some breakfast chops.

I wasn't intending to bake the hash browns, but realized that to fry them I needed 3 fry pans (eggs, chops, hash browns) and I have 2.

Like our house (See? It all ties together...) it's nothing fancy, but it's mostly natural, and completely comfortable and unassuming.

Mama Dixon's Oven Hash Browns

1/2 a bag of frozen plain (generic) shredded potatoes (15oz total for recipe)
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 slices whole wheat bread

Preheat oven to 350.

Butter a medium sized (about 8 X 12 or a tad smaller) baking dish.

Mix together shredded potatoes, sour cream, milk and cheddar cheese and spoon into pan.

Toast bread and crumble into dried bread crumbs- toss in a bit of melted butter to coat. Sprinkle on top of the potato mixture.

Bake for about 30 minutes till bubbly and tasty-looking.

Serves 4 very hungry people with almost 1/2 leftover.

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