Here is the first blog post about our home – hurrah! I originally started this blog with the hopes of sharing recipes, adventures, renovations, gardening, stories and projects. Right now, in the beginning stages, recipes are taking center stage because honestly it's what I love to do. However, I adore all of the other parts too, they just take more time to plan out. I want to share with you our daily lives and the (hopeful!) progress we make on our home. It's going to be an on-going project, because it's going to take us many years to get to where we want to be – but maybe we will be able to take you along with us the whole way? I hope so!
We bought our house fifteen months ago. We bought it because we love this town. We love the street we are on, we love the little yard and the stone patio, we love the white chimney and the five fireplaces that all desperately need to be cleaned. We love the fox door-knocker, the giant granite steps, and we love the big, ancient oak tree out front. We did not love the six foot fence that separated our property from the street, but hey- we all make compromises and this was a problem that could eventually be remedied.
It's amazing how fast a year goes by. We bought our house and immediately made plans of fixing it up, of changing things around and remodeling rooms. Quickly, the summer flew by and all we had accomplished was buying a grill. It soon became apparent that owning a home was more work (and more money) than we had originally expected. Of course we know that all of the grand plans we have for our house are going to take many years, and many more dollars – but we didn't think it would take us fifteen months to paint five rooms.
We are always having the conversation of “Well what do you think we should do first? The downstairs bathroom remodel or redoing the roof?” “Do you think we should landscape the front yard, or fix up the patio?” “Do we need a new fence, or should we wait this one out until we can afford the stone wall we want?” It is probably a weekly conversation, because we have so many things we want to accomplish in our home that it makes it hard to pick one to start with. That was, until last weekend, when mother nature picked for us.
Phil and I were driving home last Sunday, after picking up something for dinner at the farm, having the exact conversation I mentioned above. We were discussing the things we really wanted to get done around the house, and the fence was mentioned, as it always is. I told him that I couldn't wait to take the fence down because it really hides the face of our home. Yes, it helps shield us from the hustle and bustle of the street – the cars, the joggers, the pet walkers, the bikers and the horse riders – but it is also a huge eye sore.
Well, as it turns out, we didn't have to wait much longer to take that fence down. A half hour after we got home it began to rain, and all of a sudden one of the huge limbs off of the geriatric tree in our front yard came crashing down and took out half of the fence. It landed so close to the front of our house that we couldn't see out of the dining room windows. It covered the entire street and blocked traffic. One woman in her car had to screech to a stop when it fell, and was only about ten feet from the branch. Thank God she wasn't going any faster – that would have been a much more terrible scene.
The town came and took down the tree a couple of days later. Because our house is so close to the road, the town technically owned the tree that was in our front yard. We were happy to hear that, because it meant we didn't have to pay the thousands of dollars to have it removed. It was a bitter sweet day. I was partially excited to see what our house would look like without the tree and fence, but I was also really sad to see the old oak go. It gave the front of our house character, and it had probably been there since the Civil War.
Once the tree was down, Phil and I took out the fence ourselves. Honestly, that fence was so rotted and old we didn't even need any tools to do it. It just broke apart and popped right out. It only took us three hours. Phil did most of the heavy lifting, and I was on landscape duty. Holy cow was our front yard over grown! There was a giant rhodedendron out front that was almost two stories tall (which was also taken out by the tree) that basically blocked the path to the front door. We never used the front door because it was hard to get to! Day lilies have spread like weeds, and there was poison ivy everywhere.
After a long day of hard work, we were finally at a place where we could see the potential for the front of our house. I have to admit, I am still a little bit sad that we had to lose our tree. I know it is for the best (because the next limb to go would have probably fallen on our roof) but it definitely gives our house a different feel. Not neccisarily in a bad way, just different. Its much more open, and I'm still getting used to that. I feel exposed in a way that I didnt before. I'm trying to get excited about planting new things, and creating a new look for our house. I am so thankful that we have a good friend who is a landscape architect, because boy will I need her help.
I know it probably sounds silly, but taking down the tree and the fence took an emotional toll on me. I didn't think doing work like that to our house would affect me at all, but it did. I don't really understand why it was bothering me so much because it looks a lot better now than it did, but I think it was hard to adjust to our house looking so different than when we bought it. I definitely don't miss that fence, but I do miss the tree a bit.
That afternoon I decided to bake something comforting. Somehow cracking eggs, creaming butter and folding in vanilla make me feel better. I had a giant zucchini from our neighbors that I knew would make perfect bread. I might be the only crazy person to turn on their oven in the middle of August, but this bread is so worth it - and this is the perfect time of year to use up those ginormous zucchini. I cracked open my favorite quick bread book and found my trusty recipe. This bread always turns out moist and delicious. It is perfect with a smear of salted butter and a cup of tea.
• Zucchini Walnut Quick Bread •
adapted from Renny Darling's Coffee Cakes and Quick Breads
makes one 9x5 loaf
• 3 eggs
• 1/2 cup oil
• 1 cup sugar
• 1/2 cup sour cream (or greek yogurt - I actually made mine with a cherry Chobani)
• 1 1/2 cup peeled and grated zucchini
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 2 cups flour
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
• 1 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 325 F.
Beat together the first six ingredients until blended. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until dry ingredients are just moistened. Do not over mix.
Pour batter into greased 9x5 inch loaf pan. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.
Allow to cool for 15 minutes and then remove from pan and continue to cool on cooling rack.
listening to: Merry Happy by Kate Nash