They say that New York is a place where dreams come true. I know this is really a reference to the city, but I believe the same can be said for upstate.
After living in the Hudson River Valley for nearly a year and a half, Hubby and I have officially put roots down by purchasing an 1875 farmhouse on the river. Owning a home is something we could only fantasize about when we were living in Orlando and Toronto, but after a few years of incredibly hard work and some difficult decision-making, we managed to make our dream a reality in New York.
We closed on the house two weeks ago and have been making weekend trips out there to put a little sweat equity into it before our contractor and his crew take over for a full kitchen renovation remodel.
This weekend, we exposed a brick wall in the dining room. We rented a power chisel from Home Depot for the day and were able to pry drywall off the brick to show off what we thought was too cool a feature to hide.
This was the wall when we began:
And after we removed the drywall:
Our next step is to whitewash the brick to look something like this:
While Hubby spearheaded the work in the dining room, I was upstairs removing wallpaper from what will be our joint office. There was a thin border on two of the walls, and although I appreciate globes and magnifying glasses as much as the next girl, I decided that the wallpaper didn't quite fit in this modern farmhouse.
The office is a tight 10 x 11 with two small windows and no closet. We'll need to fit both of our desks in there (much as I love Hubby, sharing workspace is not an option) so I mapped them out using measurements I took of the desks and their chairs earlier in the day.
I've been waiting my entire adult life for a chance to paint a wall black, so I'm using this small room as an opportunity to go for it. I sampled two colors from Glidden - Grey Metal (left) and Deep Onyx (right) - and am debating just how dark I want to go with this accent wall (I'm leaning toward Deep Onyx).
The next step in the office is to repair the cracked walls and paint. I'd like to do my black accent wall but keep the other walls a simple, antique white.
I've had my eye on this constellation map from Etsy seller Robert's Maps and think that this would be the perfect space to buy it for:
The lease on our rental house ends November 30 so we have plenty of time to continue working on these smaller projects with feeling rushed. We're also afforded the opportunity to load the Jeep with boxes and move ourselves little by little each time we swing by the farmhouse to work on something.
I'm excited to continue renovating the farmhouse and live our little dream in New York.
Yesterday was Valentine's Day. Hubby and I spent it quietly, as we do most holidays.
I woke up early to answer emails (Sundays are my work-from-home day). A few hours later, Hubby got up and cooked us French toast for breakfast.
I typed away in the dining room as he pan-fried slices of challah in butter, then layered them with strawberries, cream cheese and maple syrup. We discussed the weather as our coffee percolated, then politics as a pan of bacon sizzled in the oven.
Under the watchful eye of our snow-white maltese, we ate in the dining room rather than in front of the TV. We felt very adult. We decided to pull up a chair for Maple, since she's family and it was her Valentine's Day too.
We exchanged cards and candies, and I was presented with white roses (kept fresh overnight in the icebox that is our mudroom).
After breakfast, I dressed Maple in a sweater and coat. I took her for a winter's walk around the backyard while Hubby cut branches off a tree for kindling.
We made a fire in the living room and kept it going through the afternoon. Hubby napped on the couch and I wrapped up my work for the day.
After Maple had her dinner, we washed up, put on our dress clothes and drove to a local steakhouse where we had reservations. Hubby ordered French onion soup and a New York strip steak. I had duck breast and butternut squash ravioli. It was all delicious.
On the drive home, we marveled at just how cold 2 degrees feels.
And here we are, Monday morning. It's another holiday (President's Day) and I don't have to work. It's my first day off in three weeks, since I've been working voluntary overtime all month. I felt I deserved a break.
I'm in between loads of laundry. We're expecting snow and freezing rain this evening. Our neighbors popped in for a bucket of hot water because they woke up to frozen pipes.
It's shaping up to be another quiet winter day with the family, so I'm going to take this opportunity to reflect.
Six months. That's how long it's been since I last wrote on this blog, which wouldn't be a big deal on its own - I've been so busy.
But it's also been six months since I last read a book or baked a cake; and since I didn't obsessively worry about my gluten intake, the elasticity of my skin, whether I'm excelling at my job, or what coffee is doing to my colon.
In summary, it's been six months since I've come up for air.
I know that I'm in there somewhere, but over these past six months, I've felt myself slowly disappearing. Like the Cheshire Cat from Alice In Wonderland, I've been fading away in increments. It's partly due to overworking myself. The rest I attribute to being 30 and neurotic.
I fret over finances, aging, if I'm making the right choices, saying the right things, treating other people well enough, treating myself well enough. I spend more time worrying about how I'm living than actually living.
So, a few days ago, I baked a cake. And I started reading two books - fiction for fun (The Cider House Rules) and nonfiction for motivation (The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up).
I signed up for a public speaking workshop and am looking into joining an adult ballet class. I plan on jumping back into my Rosetta Stone Spanish lessons soon.
I've realized that while it's great to philosophize and be self-aware, I'm doing a disservice to myself (and, by extension, those around me) by overthinking. I need to focus more on doing rather than pontificating about how things should be done.
Blueberry Crumb Cake
The first cake I've made in six months. It was perfection.
for the streusel topping:
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon. ground nutmeg
1 & 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
for the cake:
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 large or extra-large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2/3 cup sour cream
1 & 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 & 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and lightly flour a round 9-inch cake pan.
For the streusel: In a mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Stir in the melted butter until crumbly, then set aside and prepare the cake batter.
For the cake: Cream the butter and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer (fitted with a paddle attachment) on high speed for 3 - 4 minutes.
Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs, one at a time. Add the vanilla, lemon zest and sour cream. Continue to stir on low until combined.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With the mixer still on low speed, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined.
Gently fold in the blueberries with a spatula. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and spread it out evenly.
With your fingers, crumble the streusel topping evenly over the batter. Bake for 35 - 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting. The cake should be dense and moist. I enjoyed it with ice cream for dessert, as well as with a cup of coffee for breakfast the next morning.
They call these the dog days of summer - those slow, sultry weeks when August reluctantly rolls into September, where afternoons last years and it's hotter and more humid than you've ever remembered any summer being.
It's the time of year when Sirius, the Dog Star, is high in the sky, rising and setting with the melting sun,
and it's the time to say goodbye to sundresses and sandals, and afternoon walks to the corner ice cream shop for chocolate sorbet;
to farms where sunbathed migrant workers shucked corn against the hazy, golden backdrop of the Catskill Mountains;
to spotted cows feeding at the trough at dusk, their tails drowsily brushing flies away in the afterglow of twilight;
to plucking wild raspberries and blackberries off brambly bushes, and picking their sticky seeds from my teeth on morning walks with Maple;
to the family of black bears who sauntered up and down the mountainside in search of feral turkeys, their paws the size of catchers' mitts;
and it's time to say good riddance to driving an old Jeep with no air conditioning, back-soaked t-shirts, and Garth Brooks twanging about wheats fields and rodeos on replay.
Goodbye to my first summer in the Hudson River Valley. You were intense, wild, full of surprises, and you will never been forgotten.
This thick, buttery lemon spread is the perfect end-of-summer
filling for a pie or tart. It's a sweet surprise inside a layer cake,
and also makes a lovely spread for scones and muffins.
3 medium egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
2 lemons, zested and juiced
1/2 stick butter, cut into pats and chilled
Place a medium saucepan on the stove and add enough water to come about 1-inch up the side.
Bring the water to a simmer over medium-high heat. While the water is heating, combine the egg yolks and sugar in a medium size metal bowl and whisk until smooth (about one minute).
Squeeze the juice of the two lemons into a measuring cup, topping off with water (if necessary) so that there's 1/3 cup altogether. Add the juice and lemon zest to the egg mixture and whisk until smooth.
Once the water is simmering, reduce the heat to low and place a large bowl on top of saucepan, essentially creating a double-boiler where the bowl doesn't directly touch the water. Whisk until thickened (about eight minutes), or until the mixture is light yellow and is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Remove the bowl from the heat and stir in one pat of butter at a time. Allow each piece to fully melt before adding the next.
Pour into a mason jar or container, covering the top with plastic wrap (the plastic wrap should be directly touching the curd). Can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.
Welcome! I'm a pie-baking, dog-loving, antique-hunting patriot. I'm a fan of rustic home cooking, the Yankees and scenic drives through the mountains.