#AndThenWeBoughtAHouse

If we’re friends over on Instagram, you may have already seen this hashtag.  If I’m lucky, it’s on the witty side, and if not, at least it’s truthful.  And then we bought a house.  We didn’t really look for a house.  I mean, sure, we had to have looked because clearly, we found one, but we sort of stumbled into this one.  You know, the way you can stumble into a purchase that’s hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Please enjoy a (slightly edited) version of an email I shared with Cari Faye that tells the story of this charming (or, soon-to-be-charming) pile of bricks.

wednesday white perfection

We were sort of not looking but looking (ohhhhh that’s like when people say they’re not trying to have a kid but not NOT trying, which drives me crazy), which I think you know.  Basically, we like where we are, but a couple of townhouses in our development have sold in one weekend, so we figured it would be worth looking into what’s on the market, assuming that we could unload our place fairly quickly.

ANYWAY

We looked at one place in mid-June and ended up not putting in an offer because we didn’t want to go very far over asking, and we knew it already had offers with escalating clauses (Hi, we just found out it went for $60,000 over asking!!!!!).  We also learned that when you’re trying to buy a house in this neighborhood, you have to bring in your inspector when you first look at it because everyone does that and then waives the inspection contingency in their offer, because everyone here is even more Type-A crazy than me, which is a lot.  So we backed off that, didn’t end up putting in an offer, but learned stuff and started getting mortgage approval/paperwork together kind of thing.  We had “the talk” to end all talks after seeing the house for a second time, in which I told my husband that if he got his promotion, I would work harder at learning to like DC.  Spoiler alert:  He got it.

pic

Then he’s looking on his phone the other night and we see this place come up for like no money in the neighborhood where I work (no money; yeah right).  There are only pictures of the front, but sometimes that happens with brand new listings, and then they do the interior pictures in the next day or two, so I didn’t think much of it.  But my husband starts reading the description and it’s like, “owner is having trouble getting belongings moved out so no inside pictures…..when you see the house, owner may not be able to leave…..please keep the cat inside….”  And I’m like, “OMG, IT’S A HOARDER HOUSE.”

So we emailed our realtor and we were like ummmmmmmm. But really we were like, if we got this, we could renovate right away and probably (knock wood) end up paying less than if we bought a more “finished” house in the same neighborhood.  So she took us to see it yesterday.  I was terrified, but my husband was up for anything.

It was exactly what I thought it would be.

Colonial-Style Homes

We didn’t see any mice or mouse poop, but I also didn’t look that hard.  Like, it was cluttered, but aside from the kitchen I wouldn’t say it was filthy, you know?  My husband got totally overwhelmed, but he is actually super into the idea of this house….probably more than me.  The inspector (GREAT guy–love him) said that the bones have been well-maintained.  AC and water heater aren’t ancient, roof in good shape, etc.

And now here we are, submitting an offer tonight.  If we do get it, it could really work out.  We’d get our house on the market hopefully before school starts, and then move in with the in-laws, who have a full bedroom and bathroom to spare.  They also might travel for a couple months again, so we could take care of things while they’re away.  We’d do a HUGE renovation on the new place, the benefits being that we can finish things the way we want, and also since we’re coming into the neighborhood at a lower price point, our mortgage actually wouldn’t change too much from what it is now.

I’ll keep you posted.

So you already know how this ends.  13 offers later, ours was accepted.  Which I remind my husband simply means we’re the only idiots who wanted this bad enough to get them to sell it to us.  We are headed to my in-laws while our current house is on the market, and then we’ll both be working full time by day, and dreaming of tiles and paint colors, and where to put walls by night.  When we can sleep at all.  Wish us luck, dear readers.

Images:  1//2//3//4

Currently

Dear readers, life right now is absolutely, completely, and totally crazy.  It’s full of ups and downs and SO MANY FEELINGS.  The best way I can think to update you is to jump in with one of Pip’s comprehensive lists.

on the beach.

Making : plans for the beach next year!
Cooking : but not really.  More like assembling summer sides that go with meat from the grill.
Drinking : Tom Collins!  New to me and the drink of my summer vacation.
Reading: a book a day, though not really loving any of them yet.
Wanting : for the fall to proceed with as few bumps in the road as possible.
Looking : for a new book I’ll love.  Suggestions?
Playing : podcast after podcast after podcast on my road trips to and from the beach.
Deciding : that taking this summer completely off was the best decision I could have made.
Wishing : that manicures never chipped.
Enjoying : daily walks with new playlists.
Waiting : for a whole bunch of paperwork to clear, only to start in on the next round of paperwork.
Liking : the new (drugstore!) makeup I bought in a pinch one morning this summer.
Wondering : just how much butt my team can kick at work this year.
Loving : friends I’ve known forever.
Pondering : the (school) year ahead.
Considering : putting together a bunch more photobooks of some recent adventures.
Watching : Scandal.
Hoping : I don’t miss anything I’ve put away in storage, so I can donate it all in the end.
Marveling : at a 30th birthday cake to remember from two of the most wonderful friends.
Needing : to get back to my sugar detox.  It took an unexpected hiatus when we started dining with friends each night.
Smelling : clothes dried outside on the line.  Heavenly.
Wearing : stretchy pants, because I’ve been on vacation for quite some time.
Following : actually unfollowing a whole bunch of people on Instagram, Twitter, and Feedly.
Noticing : that things tend to happen a lot faster when you’re under a strict deadline.
Knowing : I cannot be the flight attendant for the planet (thank you again, Shauna)
Thinking : that days spent watching Netflix more than you thought possible aren’t bad days.
Feeling : not very much at all about having turned 30, which surprises me.
Admiring : people who keep a positive attitude going more often than not.
Sorting : through years and years of accumulated junk. (#AndThenWeBoughtAHouse)
Buying : (see above)
Getting : a couple pillows custom made from Wooden Nickels’ Etsy shop.
Bookmarking : (Pinning?) interiors I love.
Disliking : that when life comes with a bunch of ups, there will always be some downs mixed in too.
Opening : suitcases, again and again.
Giggling : over the littlest member of our beach crew and his antics.
Feeling : ready to get back to work.  Shocking even myself with this one.
Snacking : on Cheez-It Double Cheese Snack Mix.  My new neon orange food of choice.
Coveting : The Penguin Classics designed by Coralie Bickford Smith, forever and always.
Wishing : I could be in more than one place at once.
Helping : make dessert for a couple upcoming fetes.
Hearing : the waves outside my window as I fall asleep.

If I Were To Post Right Now

It would look something like this:

a;liseaestahen;ohdnieqjnbe’l.knadjo’ieagrjae’ptrkhnadg’lnia;ordign!!!!!!!!!!!!

Until then, please enjoy this picture of something that’s helping me cope:

macchiato.

Back soon with more words, pictures and ALL THE FEELINGS!

What I’m Reading

frittata and salad.

KP is spending her summer in Paris, and she is never afraid to take a road trip.  I’m loving following along with her Sur la Route series.

Tsh went to Tuscany, and I am insanely jealous.

In other, travel related news, Raluca posted a (well-organized) local’s guide to NYC.

And since this post is now on a full-fledged travel bender, here is DALS’ recap of their trip to Alaska.  Dreamy.

Brunch in the Country {jeni’s pie-kies}

CV(D) has been talking forever about having our team over for brunch.  She lives out in the country; where you can pull up a chair and a glass of wine, and watch the sunset beneath fields as far as you can see.  The only reason we’re not there every single night is that it’s a hike from where we work. Brunch on a weekend would be an easier fit for our schedules.  We finally made it happen on a recent weekend morning.

cv(d)'s dress.

Any brunch where you can wear your wedding dress is a good brunch in my eyes.

brunch in the country plate.

We each brought a dish to share, and when it came time to dig in, we realized we had also each tried a dish we’d never made before.  We crossed our fingers and hoped everything would be edible.

three fruits.

And oh, it was.

working with dough.

cookie cut outs.

The (Not So) New Girl made an emtpy the fridge frittata with Brie, blue potatoes, peppers, and avocado (this is the kind of brunch fare that doesn’t need a recipe, but here’s something I’ve made that may give you a start in the right direction)

Ali made Breakfast Burrito Bites

CV(D) made Slow Cooker Nutella French Toast

And I made PIE-KIES, brainchild of one of my heroes, Jeni Britton Bauer.

fruit on top.

strawberry peach.

Pie-kies are a hybrid pie/cookie, and Jeni (of course) likes to serve them a la mode.  Or rather, she likes to serve her ice cream a-la cookie.  When Ali sent them to me, I knew that they were exactly what I needed to bring to brunch in the country.  They are not a brunch food, but they’re exactly the kind of thing I like making in the summer, when I have a little more time on my hands.  These require a bit of time, as you have to make the dough, chill the dough, roll out the dough, and slice up a whole bunch of fruit.  But they don’t disappoint.  The cookies are reminiscent of a flaky pie crust, and the fruit this time of year is unforgettable.  When the sugars caramelize on top and the juice start dripping out of the crevices between the cookie and topping, it’s heavenly.

piekies.

My only suggestion to you, dear readers, is to make these close to when you serve them. The day of, if at all possible.  The longer they sit, covered, even in the fridge, the more the juices in the fruit start to make the cookies softer.  In that regard, these are slightly more high-maintenance than sweets I usually bake, but I promise they’re good enough to be worth the extra time and care.

To make two dozen pie-kies, you will need:

For sugar dough:
1½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
⅓ cup sugar
8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into ½” cubes and chilled
2 oz. (4 tbsp) cream cheese
2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 tbsp very cold heavy cream

For pie topping:
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
fruit, sliced into 1/8 inch slices (the recipe called for 3 pounds; I used a lot but not nearly that much)
1 quart ice cream (any flavor)

Directions:
1. Pulse all ingredients in a food processor until dough forms.
2. Remove from food-processor bowl, divide in half, and knead each half to soften.
3. Flatten halves into disks; wrap each individually with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

For sugar dough:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray baking sheets with cooking spray.
2. Roll out 1 disk of dough about ⅛” thick.
3. Using 2½” to 3″ cookie cutters, cut out shapes and place them on the prepared baking sheets.
4.  Repeat steps 2 and 3 with the other disk.
5. Blend sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl, then dip fruit slices into sugar mixture, generously coating each. (I did a little experimenting with dipping, versus sprinkling sugar liberally on top of the piekies.  I like the second method because it caused much less fruit juice to seep all over the baking pan).
6. Arrange fruit on cutouts. (Fruit will shrink during baking, so it’s OK to have slices extend slightly beyond the dough edges.)
7. Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden*. Remove sheets from the oven, and let pastries cool before serving.

To assemble:
1. Garnish ice cream scoop with one pie-kie.

*A note – I like to bake one tray of cookies at a time, so the steam in the oven doesn’t affect the texture of the cookies as they’re baking.  If you don’t have the time or patience to make this happen, your cookies will be fine.  If you do, they’ll be better.

Cherries {cherry brown butter bars}

Until last year, I had never eaten a cherry.  We never ate them growing up, and I guess my friends must have, but they didn’t trade them from their lunches, and somehow, I missed the cherry boat.  My husband, however, dreams of cherries all the live-long year.  He starts getting excited that they, “Might be at the market soon,” in like, February.  Which made it difficult to wait until JULY of this year to get our hands on some.  Was it our long winter that kept us from seeing any fruit besides apples at the farmers market until about last week?  Now that we don’t have to wait for strawberries and blueberries and cherries anymore, we are going overboard in the fruit department with our grocery haul every week.  I even made a vow to create as many fruit-centric desserts as possible between now and the end of summer.

cherries.

Cue Deb, who seems to always have the answer to, “What do I do with this heap of (insert type of fruit here) that is so ripe it won’t last past this evening?”  When the fruit is cherries, the answer is Cherry Brown Butter Bars.  I put these together (a day in advance) for a dinner with my in-laws one recent evening.

cherry brown butter bar crust.

A note on these:  They do take a little bit of patience, especially if you, like me, do not own a cherry pitter, nor a bottle with which to hack one.  Deb seems a woman of endless patience, and so when she tells me to pit cherries, or to line my 8 x 8 pan with parchment to make lifting and slicing easier, then though I may not be as precise in my measurements (why measure and cut when you can just fold back?), I will at least attend to the task with my personal best.  In reality, I am certain that Deb, with that adorable almost 5 year old in tow, cannot have endless patience, because I’ve never met anyone with endless patience, but the thing here is that I’m willing to go the extra mile for her.  Her recipes always turn out that well.  Also she liked my Instagram.

cherries.

cherry brown butter bars.

To make 16 bars, you will need:

Crust:
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
Pinch of salt

Filling:
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, diced
1 pound sweet cherries, pitted (about 12 ounces once you pit them)

Make crust: Preheat over to 375°F. Cut two 12-inch lengths of parchment paper and trim each to fit the 8-inch width of an 8×8-inch square baking pan. Press it into the bottom and sides of your pan in one direction, then use the second sheet to line the rest of the pan, perpendicular to the first sheet. Congratulations! You’ve just faked a square tart pan.

Using rubber spatula or fork, mix melted butter, sugar, and vanilla in medium bowl, or if you’re Deb, in the bottom of the small saucepan you used to melt the butter. Add flour and salt and stir until incorporated. Transfer dough to your prepared pan, and use your fingertips to press the dough evenly across the bottom of the pan. Bake the crust until golden, about 18 minutes (it will puff slightly while baking). Transfer crust to rack and cool in pan. Maintain oven temperature.

Make the filling: Cook butter in heavy small saucepan (a lighter-colored one will make it easier to see the color changing, which happens quickly) over medium heat until deep nutty brown (do not burn), stirring often and watching carefully, about six minutes. Immediately pour browned butter into glass measuring cup to cool slightly.

Whisk sugar, eggs, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Add flour and vanilla and whisk until smooth. Gradually whisk browned butter into sugar-egg mixture; whisk until well blended.

Arrange pitted cherries, or the berries of your choice, in bottom of cooled crust. Carefully pour browned butter mixture evenly over the fruit. Bake bars until filling is puffed and golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes (though, of course, this took less time in my hyperactive oven so please watch your baking times carefully). Cool bars completely in pan on rack.

Use the parchment paper overhang to carefully remove cooled bars from pan and place them on a cutting board and cut them into squares with a very sharp knife. The cherries, if they fall over your slicing lines, will want to give you trouble but if you saw a sharp knife into them slowly before pressing down, they’ll cut neatly and with minimum carnage.