olfactory of the home

You should see my Sunday dress. I look like someone patted me down after putting his little paws in a bowl of beans. Oh wait. That is what happened. At the end of the day, when my clothes are dirty, I feel like I earned my sleep. It should be a good night, especially with all the comfort-making going on in the kitchen.

Seth is in the kitchen now preparing Coq Au Vin for tomorrow night’s dinner company, and if I could bottle this smell, I would spray it every day.  It’s scientifically impossible for my boys to not want to come home from college to this air.

We spent the night at Seth’s parent’s house last night, and I always love how a welcoming house smells – something with a bay leaf in it cooking on the stove.

When we returned today to the house that used to be grandma’s, to this Rock House, over the wet basement and the irremovable waft of Oil of Olay, I smelled us, our smell, and it is good, some of it inherited, some cooked, some cleaned, some crumbs left in the sink, some too ripened on the counter. 

Sometimes I can’t believe I’m a grown up, making a home pulse, ever changing sheets and training minds, ever gathering in arms, ever my own fragrance mingling with Seth’s. I can’t believe its goodness, and by the same token, I cannot believe the bad of it either (the dog/the diapers/forgotten potatoes in the pantry).

How does HOME smell to you?


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About me


Dear Seth: A Marriage Letter on Your Sobriety and What it Looks Like to Come Clean
October 27, 2015
Wild in the Hollow Book Club: an Introductory video
August 28, 2015
How Right Living Was My Brokenness: a guest post from Kelly Smith
August 11, 2015
Marriage Letters: On Home
July 06, 2015
A Final Haines Home Companion: a Secret I’ve Kept
June 06, 2014
On Broken Parts in Regular Towns: Alabama, Arkansas, and Haiti
April 03, 2014
On Losing Place
September 05, 2013
How the Light Peeks Through
August 26, 2013
A Haines Home Companion: A Little Eden
March 13, 2013


Reply August 23, 2009

Home smells like my husband's Burt's Bees aftershave, the scent of new puppy, and love - if love had a distinct smell.

Reply August 23, 2009

bacon, pancakes, bodies, laughter, cinnamon and vanilla with a hint of boy and leather from boots worn slick ,thin and loved.
Right now.. there's a tinge of diaper from a boy whose not quite ready to let go of them, lavender from the baby wash because mom isn 't quite ready for them to be using big kid shampoo and the scent of hot glue from bows made for a soon to be kindergartner.
That is home
Heady, aromatic, sensual, subtle, strong, powerful and ever evoking...

Reply August 23, 2009

... who's....

Reply August 23, 2009

Home smells like saltwater and sandy towels. Like bacon that burned my fingers and made me mad enough to swear. But I didn't (not out loud). Up until two hours ago, it smelled like two families and two weeks worth of dirty toilets. But I cleaned those bad boys, so now it smells like a show-down between bleach and a froo-froo plug-in, with bleach in the lead of course.
And then there's the smell of freezer-burned peanut-butter ice cream. Which tastes even better than it smells, especially when I get to eat it instead of serving it to the wild ones, instead of wiping it up off of everywhere, or threatening to take it away...

Reply August 23, 2009

my dog and my perfume....really hoping it someday smells like a family...

Reply August 23, 2009

To me home smells like chicken cooking in broth on the stove, because it means Mamaw Opal's dumplings will follow. Mingle that with the aroma of butter beans, cornbread and the taste of sugary sweet tea and I literally float off the floor.

Reply August 24, 2009

Not quite sure what that smell is yet. We, too, bought an OLD house and the smell.....hmmmmmm is questionable??? Cat pee maybe?YUCK! hehe. None the less , I think when the paint drys and the stuff is moved in, it will smell more like home than the fresh shiny granite tops and pristine floors that we live in now.

Reply August 24, 2009

Home smells like a warm dinner on a cold night; a wood fire in the fire place; a bubble bath at the end of a long day; Hubby's shampoo on the pillow; freshly laundered sheets; and belonging. What a delightful scent.

Reply August 24, 2009

My grandmother's bread baking, apple-cinnamon potpourri covering cat scent and diapers, baby hair, lit matches and candlelight, autumn bringing woodsmoke on wind, fresh cool air breathing through open windows, familiar pillow scent...

I've lived in a lot of places. Scent is always first with me; it is never home until I find how it smells. So many of my "home" smells aren't here in the South; sea and swamp and river and paper factory change home and perspective...

Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect
Reply August 24, 2009

I don't love our house, but something cool that I've realized is that it sometimes smells just like my grandparents' house did. It's something about an older house and musty concrete and brisket and falling leaves - whenever I get a whiff of THAT house, I feel like I'm home.

Reply August 24, 2009

My husband's parents' house smells like brisket. All the time. It's quite charming, actually.

Home to me is a blend of old house smell (ahhhhh, wouldn't want it any other way) and coffee. And the squirmy puppy smell of little kids who have been hard at work playing outside.

Cassandra Frear
Reply August 24, 2009

When I walk in the door, I notice the wood floors and the way they smell. Someone has made coffee. And a window is open, letting in the fresh air.

This is the smell of love and freedom. For here we are loved as we are and free to grow without fear. Home is one of the most beautiful words I know.

Reply August 24, 2009

As of now, it smells like "Tropical Passion Fruit" because I'm afraid of what it will smell like without an Airwick air freshener. Maybe I'll be brave and unplug it for today and then post again tomorrow ;)

Reply August 24, 2009

Husband's coffee and little girl bath soap, clean laundry and the dishwasher that tells me there are not dirty dishes to fight.

Yesterday we went to my bother and sis-in-laws for a big family party. There was more food than we could shake sticks at. It was good to be at their house and to be with them. There was a lot happening in the kitchen and I told her something smelled very good - what was it? "Oh, do you mean the burnt towel that got too close to the burner or the bottle of vinegar that fell out the cupboard and broke on the floor?!" That made me laugh and I realized that maybe it's the people in the house that made me so happy to be there...so happy that it even smelled good to me despite the fact that there was really no reason for that to be the case.

Reply August 24, 2009

To me, home smells like Tide, Lemon Endust, coffee, and Johnson's Bedtime Baby Bath. When I'm on top of things, my house really does smell like that.

All too often, though, the noticeable scents are dog, dust, diapers, and dirty dishes. And it makes me long for Home.

Lora Lynn
Reply August 24, 2009

I love it when the windows have been open and my house smells like "outside." There's usually the scent of coffee milling about, a hint of lavender, and cheerios. Or something oat-y. I bake lots, so you will often smell something sweet and bread-ish. I absolutely HATE when my house smells of garbage, diaper, or chicken. There is little worse than the smell of chicken in a home.

I love how my baby's room smells like her head. And the boys' room... well, it smells like boy mixed with quilts.

Ann Voskamp
Reply August 24, 2009

Your grandma too? Oil of Olay?
Just seeing a bottle of it can make me teary-eyed.

You and Seth, you mingle in a good and right place...
there in the fragrance of Christ...

Love to you,

To Think Is To Create
Reply August 24, 2009

Home is sweaty boys playing hard and coming in for water, bacon because there's usually some cooking on the stove, honeysuckle because we can leave the windows open so often, fresh shower smell because with all boys someone probably just got bathed again. It's all made up of love, peace, patience, tears, heartbreak and heart-full.

Secret Agent Mama
Reply August 24, 2009

Wow. I think I'm still trying to figure it out. I know the smell, I just can't put it into words.

Reply August 24, 2009

in all honesty, i hope it smells like the fragrance of Christ. His presence. although right now, it's boxes and packing tape and bare walls.....

Reply August 25, 2009

I often find myself surprised at being an adult, too. All the cooking, cleaning, homemaking responsibility is mine. Mostly I love it, sometimes it feels like a ball and chain. When that happens, I stop the house stuff and just play for a while. The love of homemaking always comes back after I remember who I am.

Boy Crazy
Reply August 26, 2009

All summer we have been gone as much as we've been home. Whenever we return to our closed up house, the smell always surprises me. I think you described it just right -- the smell of us mingling with something getting a little funky in the fridge. I hope one of these days I can rid my house of the smells of wet dog, forgotton potatoes, bathrooms where little boys have a hard time aiming, or diapers that need washing. But alas, the boys will only get bigger and stinkier over the next decade. ;)

It was funny to come across this post because I had *just* written a journal entry (not posted) about the smells of my home. The more I read, the more I realize we mothers are all dealing with same stuff.

Boy Crazy
Reply August 26, 2009

OK, I decided to post my journal entry on my stinky mess and link it up to your post, since you sort of prompted me to return to my thoughts on the scents of life. :)

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