the river house

My parents are now the proud owners of a little cottage on the Connecticut River.

It’s a tiny place, built in 1831. Right now it looks and feels it’s age. There’s a distinct pitch to the floor, slanting towards the back of the house towards the river. The windows, despite having those beautiful, bubbled panes of glass, aren’t really helping to keep any drafts out. Small creatures are likely living in the darker corners. All of that said, it’s going to be a total gem when we’re done with the renovation. I say we because as you can imagine with this type of a project, though my parents are the owners in name, now that Steve and I live here, we’re going to be knee-deep in it, too. There’s the distinct possibility that we end up renting the house if we haven’t landed in a house of our own by the spring, so we’re feeling particularly invested in the whole thing.

I’ll be posting updates here and am still trying to land on a hashtag – #riversedgereno (?). I’m currently accepting any other suggestions and encourage you to follow along on. It’s going to be a dramatic transformation.

 

make it yourself: crackers

Some snack foods seem more normal to make at home than others. Cookies? Normal. Brownies? Normal. Most sweet baked goods? Normal. We know how these recipes are supposed to go and are pretty familiar with their processes overall. So why is it that when the recipes veer towards savory snack foods, they feel like a total mystery to me? Has anyone else felt this way? Am I the only one who never considered the possibility of making crackers at home? Are you all secretly making them at home and not telling me?

Last week, after running low on pitas to pair with Greek salad leftovers, I decided to give cracker-making a shot. Read: pitas seemed more intimidating to make at home, so I needed a bread product that felt more approachable for a dough novice.

Rosemary Flatbread Crackers

Recipe from the Smitten Kitchen (which she adapted from Gourmet)

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary plus some sprigs for sprinkling on top
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup olive oil plus some for brushing on top

Preheat oven to 450°. Place a baking sheet in the oven to preheat.

Combine flour, chopped rosemary, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Make a well* in the middle of the flour mixture, then slowly add water and oil to the center. Gradually stir the liquid into the flour mixture to combine. Once combined, turn dough onto your work surface and knead a few times.

Divide dough in to 3 even pieces. Place one on floured surface and place other 2 in mixing bowl covered in plastic wrap.

On a piece of parchment paper, roll out piece of dough into roughly a 10 in. round. Brush top with olive oil (I’ve seen this work with water as well), and sprinkle on flaky sea salt and reserved rosemary sprigs. Press into the dough as desired.

Slide rolled/sprinkled dough onto the preheated baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes until it has some nice bubbles and is golden brown.

Repeat rolling/baking steps with other 2 pieces of dough.

Since I was going for a Greek vibe, I think this recipe would have been just as nice if I’d swapped out oregano for the rosemary. That said, it was great for scooping things up just the way it was!

 

first anniversary in the berkshires

We’ve been married for a year!

Life looks a different than I had expected it to at this point. I thought we’d still be in New York’s orbit and that we’d both be in our same routines. Definitely wouldn’t have thought that we’d be back in MA and that one of us would be a teacher. Lesson here, and one that I’m sure I’ll learn again many times, is that it’s foolish to think you know how your life will unfold before you. So far the unexpected twists have been happy ones.

To celebrate our first year, we headed to the Berkshires! Despite growing up an hour away, I’m not overly familiar with the area, so it felt like a good place (within a nice driving distance) for us to explore together. We stayed at the new(ish) Hotel on North in downtown Pittsfield, MA.  The hotel is made up of two old buildings that have been lovingly remodeled while still retaining their old souls. It’s a beautiful mix of creaky floors, metal details, and plush furniture without a hint of the chintz that can be hard to avoid in some of the small hotels in that area.

After checking in, we headed to Mission Bar + Tapas for a late dinner of shared plates. The brussel sprouts were a particular standout; I want to have them with goat cheese all the time now!

On Saturday morning we slept in but managed to make it down the street to Dottie’s, a quirky breakfast spot. They had lots of twists on your standard breakfast fare, but the biggest twist was the Kimchi Breakfast Bowl. It had peanut butter in it! Is this a real combination? Am I suppose to have known about this? It was funky. Jury is still out.

After stopping back at the front desk to book in-room massages for the afternoon (!!) we went to Mount Greylock. It was a gorgeous day for a hike but we hadn’t done much research and were missing some gear, so we drove up to the summit. Greylock is the tallest peak in Massachusetts so even by car it’s a lengthy ascent and provided lots of chances to pull over at lookout points. Next time we’ll have to find some good trails and make a day of it.

We poked around on the summit, then drove into North Adams for a quick lunch at Public Eat + Drink before making it back to the hotel for the massages. If I’m being honest, having masseuses come to the room was a little weird and before they got there it felt like we were waiting for strippers to arrive. I don’t know! It felt illicit! That said, the masseuses were really professional and did a fantastic job (read: I fell asleep a little bit), so our awkward feelings disappeared quickly. Highly recommend!

With a few hours left before dinner, we decided to putter around in Lenox so Steve could get some work done and I could dig into the latest Hillary book. Lenox Coffee was a great little spot to post up and watch all the foot traffic from the Lenox Apple Squeeze pass by.

We made our way back to Pittsfield for dinner at Methuselah (recommended by one of our masseuse friends). We got there around 8, worrying that we wouldn’t be able to find a seat, but were pleasantly surprised to get our pick of tables. It’s a hot spot on weekends, so by the time we left it was picking up steam. Despite the growing crowd, the service was awesome, and the food was a fun, quirky mix of flavors.

All in all, the Berkshires, and particularly Pittsfield, pleasantly surprised us. We’re thinking of heading back for a weekend in the winter if only just to snag the Library Suite at the hotel! heart eyes, heart eyes, heart eyes.

this week, vol. 4

queen anne's lace past its prime

We’re making the transition into fall. Colder mornings, hot tea at 10am, and summer flowers passing their prime. As the temps transition, I’ve been trying to make my own shifts as well to adapt to the new normal, or life in the slow(er) lane as I told a friend this week. Mostly I’m having to remind myself that this move back home (and more specifically to my childhood home) was a choice, that it’s a phase, and that it’s not an opportunity to regress. So here’s to taking more action next week, getting out of the house more often, and being easier on myself.

Biking in MA > biking in a city. So much easier to get out for a quick ride here, and I’m finding that I enjoy it a lot more than I used to. #thisis30

fearless kitty

Vet trips are stressful for everybody. It feels better when you can hide under a parent’s seat.

My dad’s usually got a project going. I just didn’t expect it would be installing a bust in the woods.

pumpkins too soon

I’m not ready for pumpkins. This feels abrupt.

 

mount sugarloaf

view of the connecticut river after walk up sugarloaf

Since moving back to Massachusetts, I’ve been looking for more opportunities to get outside. I would walk constantly when I lived in Jersey City. Everything I needed was within a 15 minute stroll and it was so convenient (and green) to not need a car.

In addition to being a necessity, it was a great pastime. Walking was how I got acquainted with different neighborhoods and slowly but surely made the city feel familiar. Once I walked a block, I could add it to the map in my head of places I knew. It was comforting.

Maybe it was my subconscious helping me accept that I was leaving New York, but during my last few months there, I found that I wanted my walks to have fewer people and more trees. I was grumpy about having to wait at intersections and far too willing to sigh audibly if stuck behind someone slow. Clearly, it was time for me to get out.

Now that I’m in an environment with a lot more trees, it’s been fun to explore some of the parks in the Valley, most recently, Mount Sugarloaf. It’s a quick hike (whether you take the road or trails) that ends with a great view of the Pioneer Valley. You can see south to the Holyoke Mountain Range (check out the Summit House at Skinner State Park if you’re looking for a view from the opposite end of the valley), green farm fields, the foothills of the Berkshires, and of course, the Connecticut River gracefully sliding through the whole picture. My dad and I did the hike by way of some back trails to celebrate my birthday. I might have to make it an annual tradition.

Knowing that this is the scene I have to look forward to in the fall, I think trading in the city sidewalks for more trees was a good decision.

walk up mount sugarloaf in the fall