The Coop

21 Aug

Remember when I told you that there were going to be some changes around here? When I introduced you to Oliver and asked you to sit tight, that I would explain all in due time?

Well, it’s time. And no, Annie, it’s not a baby. I’ll leave that to Ximena. But someone did guess correctly. Yep, Robin, you were right. Isaac and I bought a house. (Must be that you guessed right since you have real estate fever too!)

I’d like to introduce you to our new coop.

The Coop.

It’s a very, very old farmhouse, built into the side of a hill a few hours north of the city in the Hudson Valley. Hopefully, someday, we’ll be able to move there full-time, but for now, we’ll continue to rent an apartment in the City and go upstate on weekends and holidays.

Sun setting over the garden.

And it has land! Oh glorious land! The previous owner had a garden in which she grew mostly flowers. There’s little plastic markers for plants, like tomatoes and peppers, but the only evidence that she had a green thumb for anything other than nasturtiums and sunflowers is one very sad, very abused looking summer squash whose vines gave me a rash while I was attempting to rescue it.

Summer Squash.

There’s also endless acres of high-bush blackberries that are just beginning to develop into transcendental, inky, delicious love bombs of juice and sweetness (if the deer don’t eat them first that is).

Blackberries, all the way down.

And then there’s peace and solitude and privacy and quiet, and a big kitchen and two big decks facing the sunset and lots and lots of empty rooms. It’s going to be a bit of time before we can have guests up, but I can’t wait.

The view from the kitchen.

For many months now, Isaac and I have been quietly looking for a place to call our own. We didn’t expect to find anything for quite some time, but the minute I saw this place, I got goosebumps all over my arms and my heart felt tight, in a good way. I knew it was the right house.

Storm movin in

Storm movin' in.

Back in the car Isaac asked me if there was anything he should write on the salesheet, and I said, “Write down Ann *hearts* it.” It took a little time to convince him of its charms; the ceilings downstairs are very low, and it tends to be a little damp, what with being built into a hill and all, but we finally realized that it was just those sorts of quirks that can be overcome and that make a house worth loving.

There are morning glorys everywhere. I know theyre basically a weed, but I find them mesmerizing.

There are morning glorys everywhere. I know they're basically a weed, but I find them mesmerizing.

So we made an offer, which was accepted so quickly it made our heads spin. And then everything else happened lickety split, until it was time to schedule the closing. For some reason, that took forever. But, then it happened, and then, all of a sudden, the house was ours!

One of the trees in the front garden

One of the trees in the front garden.

And so, last weekend, we spent our first weekend there. We sat in the sun and pulled weeds and grilled burgers, drank champagne and ate the delicious chocolate cake our realtor baked us. Basically, we soaked it all in and enjoyed the hell out of padding about in something that’s actually ours.

Our first dinner: burgers, salad, champagne.

And this weekend I’ll go back up there, sadly alone though, as Isaac has gone to England for work for two weeks. It’s going to be a very strange experience, rambling about in a big, empty house, all alone, just me and the deer and the coyotes, but I’m looking forward to it.

This is what the garden looked like before.

I’m hoping to plant some perennials and to scout out farm stands, to eat corn on the cob while watching the sun set, and then sitting on the hand-me-down couch with a glass of wine and a pile of my mother’s old Organic Gardenings to plan next year’s garden.

One solitary raised bed of the garden, after.

But don’t worry. We’re not planning to spend every weekend up there. There will still be plenty of New York City ramblings and pictures and stories.

Nasturtium, Morning Glory, Dew.

So, I hope you’ll stick around for our next chapter, because I can’t wait to share it with you!


32 Responses to “The Coop”

  1. Robin August 21, 2008 at 6:48 am #

    I’m so excited for you guys!!! I think the winner (ahem, me) should be invited up for some blackberries once you’re all settled in, winkwinknudgenudge!

    Enjoy your weekend there, I’m sure you’ll find loads of stuff to do around the new digs.

  2. Sandie August 21, 2008 at 7:39 am #

    Lots of fellow bloggers seem to be buying new homes lately (and they say the real estate market is down. Pee-shaw!) Congratulations! Your new home is lovely and looks like a friendly, comfortable place to be. And that land… the lushness that surrounds you… How fortunate you are!

    For the record, I thought your first meal at the new place looked grand! Nothing says, “We’re so happy and we’re just moving in,” like burgers, salad and champagne! I wish you many joyful memories at your new digs.

  3. Christina August 21, 2008 at 7:51 am #

    Congratulations! It looks beautiful! How exciting!

  4. spicedish August 21, 2008 at 8:23 am #

    Amazing!! Congratulations!

  5. Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) August 21, 2008 at 8:27 am #

    Mazel tov! Welcome to the world of living in the country. Those deer and coyotes will stay outside, so you can sleep comfortable in the knowledge that only the smaller things (mice and bugs) will share the house with you! Planning your garden for next summer will be the true joy of winter this year — that, and making the house your own. If you’re like me, it won’t be too long before your weekends in the country expand to more than two days….

  6. Jennifer Hess August 21, 2008 at 9:53 am #

    Oh, how exciting – congrats and I hope it’s all you wished for!

  7. Mary Coleman August 21, 2008 at 10:26 am #

    How wonderful! What a great looking place. You will make great food and lots of memories there. The first pic is so cool, I found myself staring at it for a bit til I figured out it wasn’t pesto! Just lovely!
    Congrats to you and Isaac!

  8. Toni August 21, 2008 at 12:31 pm #

    Oh, Ann – CONGRATULATIONS!!! It looks absolutely beautiful! I understand completely why you got that feeling — I got it from looking at your photos. Yes, yes, yes! That first photo of your garden is the one that gave me goosebumps. It will take time and patience and love and energy, but like any good relationship, in the end, it’s worth it.

  9. Julie August 21, 2008 at 12:34 pm #

    Woo-hoo! Your own house and garden! What a wonderful looking place — so beautiful and green and peaceful. May it bring you much, much happiness.

    That whole scouting for farm stands, eating corn on the cob and reading back issues of Organic Gardening sounds like the perfect way to spend a relaxing weekend.

  10. deb August 21, 2008 at 1:05 pm #

    So wonderful! Congratulations!

  11. Lucy August 21, 2008 at 5:07 pm #


    A weekend alone will be wonderful. You can soak in all the newness and quietude, well, alone!

  12. shelley August 21, 2008 at 5:32 pm #


    Dave and I are in the process of house-hunting right now, so I’m just in blissful awe that you found the perfect place- and got it!

    It looks beautiful, and like it will truly suit the both of you, once you’ve placed your mark firmly upon it.

    If the garden is any indication, it’s going to be great. While it can be somewhat daunting, there is nothing more fun than pulling together a brand new house!

    Congrats, and have fun.

    Buy big dogs, or perhaps goats? :)

  13. Ann August 21, 2008 at 5:45 pm #

    Congrats! I’m really excited for you but must admit to the fleeting thought of “crap! they’re leaving NYC!” and some relief when I realized you’re staying put for the time being.

  14. ann August 22, 2008 at 6:23 am #

    Thanks you guys! You’re all so sweet! Now, if only I didn’t have to go to work today and could just jump in Oliver and head upstate instead. Oh well….

  15. Lucy V August 22, 2008 at 6:35 am #

    It looks just amazing! WOW!

  16. Heather August 22, 2008 at 8:32 am #

    That is so exciting. There is nothing like purchasing and making your first house “your own”. Except maybe ripe sunwarmed blackberries out of your own garden! :) Looking forward to the updates.

  17. Christine August 22, 2008 at 8:52 am #

    oh my! Congratulations!

    The place looks like it will be quite amazing with a little TLC! Jealous of your new getaway!

  18. radish August 22, 2008 at 12:06 pm #

    Oh wow, congratulations. This house looks dreamy. It just looks like the perfect cozy house! Many good wishes. I hope you guys enjoy it as much as possible!!

  19. Dea Anne August 22, 2008 at 1:37 pm #

    Congratulations! The house looks wonderful and you will so love having actual land to grow things on/in. I think that you’ll find that having a place to retreat to, surrounded by all that gorgeous green space, will be very nourishing to your mind and spirit. What great news.

  20. Lisa (Homesick Texan) August 22, 2008 at 3:08 pm #

    It’s beautiful! Congratulations! I can’t wait to hear more about your adventures in home owning. And how about those blackberries!

  21. daisy from downunder August 23, 2008 at 5:32 pm #

    your new home looks so gorgeous,im so jealous,and that garden with the blackberries,i,m thinking lovely delicious home made jam,good luck to you both,i wish you many happy enjoyable years there.

  22. magnolia August 23, 2008 at 7:13 pm #

    Congratulations! There’s nothing better than the Hudson Valley (where I grew up and a LONG way from the shores of Chicago), but I had to chuckle . . .

    It must be an age thing (as I am obviously WAY older than you) . . . your “very, very old farm house” looks like a 50’s track ranch house set on a brilliant property. Where’s the very, very old??? I don’t get it?!

    Do you have a view of the Hudson?

  23. ann August 25, 2008 at 5:56 am #

    Robin — hehe, sure!

    Lydia — You were right, the deer and coyotes do stay outside. I’m still not used to the silence though. I can’t believe I grew up in the country and have become so citified. I was acting like such a wuss, jumping at every little clink and clunk! So funny.

    Shelley — Oh boy could I have used some big dogs this weekend! They would have provided someone to talk to, it gets might lonely up there! But, sadly, big dogs don’t like small apartments, so maybe I’ll need to get a big dog in a small package, like a corgi! Good luck with your search!

    Ann — Do I really come off as someone that could leave ;-)

    Lisa & Daisy — Sadly, apparently, the blackberries must have reached the very apex of perfection some day between last Sunday and this past Saturday because they were ALL gone! Stupid deer…

    Magnolia — I found your comment so funny. It was my exact reaction when the realtor sent us the sale sheet. I took one look at the picture, looked at the description of “1850 farmhouse” turned to Isaac and said, “Just who the hell does she think she’s fooling! Its an ugly three-story McMansion!”. But, Isaac insisted we go see it, and boy am I glad he’s smarter than me!

    I think its the color that throws the 50s tract house impression. But let me assure you, its old. I’ll try to post some pictures soon of the gorgeous old exposed beams and 6 ft ceilings on the first floor and the stone foundation. I think they’re very cool!

  24. Marie August 26, 2008 at 6:05 am #

    Your realtor baked you a chocolate cake. Geez.

    It sounds very excting and lovely. Did you say 6 foot ceilings downstairs? Is that a typo :-)

  25. ann August 26, 2008 at 7:29 am #

    Marie — Yeah, she was amazing. If anyone is ever looking for a house up there, drop me a line, I can highly recommend the lady we used! And no, not a typo! As in many very, very old houses, the ceiling in the original part is crazy low. Maybe not 6′, but probably 6’4″ or so high. Let’s just say my 6’6″ step-brother will never be helping out with dinner :-)

  26. Anne August 27, 2008 at 3:09 pm #

    Yay, Ann! I’m so incredibly happy (and more than a little envious.) I can’t wait to see what you do with them berries.

  27. WillB August 27, 2008 at 8:16 pm #

    Congratulations! Now you can go get that grill!!! And I have a great recipe for a delicious lemon cake that uses those wild berries as a nice counterpoint sauce…

    ps-the Vermont Country Store catalog just came and they have (can it be?) three kinds of whoopie pies! (original, pumpkin and red velvet).

    pps -Enjoy your new home.

  28. izzy's mama August 29, 2008 at 7:10 pm #

    It looks like your own private paradise! How lucky you both are to have found it. We once had fantasies of buying a house along the Hudson and we found one too. We imagined a chicken coop along with it but I just couldn’t do it (it would have meant leaving nyc and I wasn’t sure country life was for me).

  29. ann August 30, 2008 at 6:18 am #

    Annie — Oh, the berries… Well, you see, there’s these evil creatures known as deer… and well, yeah, the berries are gone. Bummer eh? Oh well… Maybe next year :-)

    WillB — Thank! I KNOW! I finally get to get a real grill. So far we’re just using the teeny tiny hibachi that we’ve had in the city for all these years, but soon, we’re going to upgrade. Thanks for the tip on the whoopie pies, I think I’ll be making an order sometime next week!

    Izzy’s Mama — I have dreams of goats. But yeah, not anytime soon sadly. My stepsister has chickens, and she’s of two very different minds. Apparently they’re a lot like people, some are wonderful, others; not so much.

  30. Miriam August 31, 2008 at 11:15 pm #

    Congratulations on your very own house and patch of earth! 1850 farmhouse indeed, that’s so wonderful. It looks lovely!

  31. Tiny Banquet September 23, 2008 at 11:07 am #

    I always feel terrible about getting behind reading my favorite blogs but an amazing, delightful piece of news like this is maybe even better when I finally stumble across it late and totally out of the blue! Congratulations!! It looks heavenly!
    I have a super recommendation for planning next year’s garden: Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.
    I get their catalog because I am a vicarious gardener and it’s the most comprehensive one of it’s type I’ve seen so far. Pages and pages of every type of veg, especially tomatoes. I think they’ve got everything on their website but the actual catalog is a must-have.

  32. ann September 24, 2008 at 11:15 am #

    Miriam — Thanks!!

    TBC — Hi!! Don’t worry about falling behind, I’m in the same boat, so we totally get it, right? Thanks for the tip on Baker Creek. I have dutifully signed up for the catalog to be deposited into my mail box. So excited!!

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