Today's post is a little departure from recipes and wellness content to share a big life update with you!
After over 10 years of dreaming and planning, and 18 months of very serious strategizing, and spending all of my free time on Zillow, my partner Jordan and I bought a farmhouse!
When I say I have dreamed of this for over 10 years I mean DREAMED! A picture of an old farmhouse has lived on every vision board and imaginings. I've found a way to mention it to every soul that has crossed my path. I spoke it, dreamed it, and then somehow by the grace of all things holy, it has become a reality.
Every summer (the worst season BY FAR in NYC) I belabor how much I dislike the city. I just want a backyard, I say, over and over and over again. I need green space (beyond NYC parks) and a bit more privacy.
I dreamed of being able to walk outside my door in my bathrobe, braless, and weed my garden.
Yes, these are the BIG moments I have envisioned.
When I finally announced this update on Instagram I was flooded with so much love and support, well geez… it made me blush.
I also received a bazillion questions, so I thought it would be helpful to have a full post here on all the things farmhouse.
The biggest reason to share this update is that the house we bought has a literal edible yard which will weigh heavily on my recipe development, and food life. Abra’s Kitchen is getting a serious upgrade as I learn to garden and grow my own food.
Let's get to the details.
WHERE IS THE HOUSE?
The house is in the Western Catskills, Sullivan County NY. A charming area that we fell in love with when my mom moved here 2 years ago.
We are close to the Delaware river (for lazy river floating all summer long), amazing hiking trails, and serious food adventures.
Sullivan county, the Catskills in general, was our first choice for a house because it is gorgeous, bucolic, AND alive and booming. Many city folks (we are lovingly called “citidiots” up here) have moved here including creatives, and artisans, and just city people who were ready for a different kind of life.
This has resulted in an area that is making serious food, an appreciation for community, and a connection to farming and gardening.
We wanted a house in a community where new GREAT restaurants were opening, creative things were happening, and where residents made this their home, not their sleepover point when they weren’t in the city.
So Sullivan County won, but truthfully there are about 30 small towns within the Catskills region that we absolutely loved.
A BIT ABOUT THE HOUSE:
The house is a 1904 farmhouse, with over 100 years of DIY quirks, and 100 years of serious charm.
It is a 3 bedroom, 2 bath house, about 2400 square feet which is exactly 1800 square feet more than I have ever lived in as an adult.
We have LOTS of projects. It is, in all ways, a fixer-upper. The bones are great, the important stuff (roof, foundation, plumbing, electric) are in excellent shape, but aesthetically it needs our love.
For instance, about 80% of the house is covered in 1960’s wall paneling, that has (in many rooms) been painted over multiple times. Fun times.
WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO WITH THE HOUSE:
We have a lot of plans, and it feels completely overwhelming and exciting. We aren’t quite sure where to start to be honest.
We spent the first week ripping up years of old carpet and strange linoleum tiles to uncover GORGEOUS original hardwood floors and a beautiful 1904 original staircase that I am in love with. With a little refinishing the staircase will be returned to its original splendor (or so I hope!)
There are a few rooms that have glued-down linoleum tile that we can’t handle on our own because of potential asbestos, so we will bring in a professional for that.
And a few floors where newer grey vinyl flooring has been laid down, which I loathe, but we may need to live with for a while.
Our starter goal is to do renovations properly, not quickly. So we are taking some time to live in the space, bring in experts for more opinions and advice and then we will tackle one room at a time.
My partner, Jordan, is an interior designer which makes me a very lucky woman. He will wave his magic wand over all of the quirks and over time turn this place into something gorgeous. My nephew has already declared that our dining room looks like a room from the Titanic (pictured above, and no where near Titanic level but I'll take the compliment.)
Renovations aside, I can’t wait to get to the stage where we can source antiques and creative finds to truly make this place our own.
Little by little I plan to share the progress of the house and Jordan is 100% on board to share some of his strategies and talents to create beautiful spaces.
WHAT ABOUT THE KITCHEN?
This was a very popular question on Instagram. I have not shared any photos of the kitchen yet, but I will soon.
The kitchen is a great size and was recently renovated with all handmade cabinetry. It is absolutely livable, but not my aesthetic.
Our initial goal is to paint the cabinets and do an easy refresh on the countertops. A full kitchen remodel is not in the budget yet, so I want to make sure it’s a space that feels beautiful to me and I honestly think a coat of paint will do the trick.
The biggest bummer about the kitchen is that there is no dishwasher. For those of you that follow me on social media, you know my dishwasher saga. This February I got a dishwasher in my apartment, this is the first dishwasher I have had as an adult.
I have worked in food for over 15 years, catered parties for over 100 people, tested thousands of recipes and hosted dinner parties and holidays all from my tiny NYC kitchen with no dishwasher.
When my dishwasher was installed a few months ago I cried. For real. I gained back dozens of hours per month, it is truly shocking how much time I was spending hand washing dishes.
Moving into a kitchen without a dishwasher is a cruel joke, so we are going to fix that immediately. Unfortunately, it is not an easy fix and we are currently waiting on our third quote to see if we can make it happen. Sigh.
LET’S TALK ABOUT THE IMPORTANT STUFF – THE GARDEN!
The gardens are why we bought this house. Hands down.
One of the biggest challenges I faced with Jordan was agreeing on how much land our house should have. I wanted a huge properly 20-30 acres to play with and have animals and all the things.
This completely freaked out my city boy and when we looked at houses with many acres he always said the same thing… this land is shit. It will cost 100’s of thousands of dollars to make this into something beautiful.
He was right. (I don’t say that often).
This house has less than an acre of land (gasp!) but it is land that has been loved and tended to and made beautiful and functional.
We don’t even really know all the things we have in the yard yet, but season by season we will learn.
What we have discovered:
An Apple tree, pear tree, blueberry bushes, black raspberry bushes, blackberry bushes, strawberry fields, rhubarb fields, steeped herb gardens, tomato alcove gardens, and a huge organic vegetable garden with a compost system.
Lilac trees, wisteria, lavender bushes, morning glories, and about 100 other plant and flower species that I have yet to identify.
The entire yard is fully fenced so P is literally living her best life.
I am brand new to gardening so I am giving myself a lot of grace and a huge learning curve but my plans are SERIOUS. I just sit in this yard and dream of the flavor explosion recipes I will create.
I have huge plans for a medicinal herb garden so I can eventually learn how to make more tinctures and herbal remedies. I am planning on going full hippie, are you ready for it? 🙂
AM I LEAVING NYC FOR GOOD?
This was the most frequently asked question on Instagram.
I have lived in NYC for 23 years, it is in all ways my home, and also…always…challenging. The city that never sleeps keeps me up at night, I hate it fiercely, it is hard living, causes massive amounts of stress, is way too expensive, and yet I can’t imagine my life without it. I love it as fiercely as I loathe it. This is living in NYC.
I became me in NYC, met the most incredible people, had life experiences that…well, honestly, you wouldn’t even believe if I told you.
There is truly no place on earth like it. The energy, the drive, the buzz, it is magical. But I am exhausted, truly, and I desperately need some parts of my life to be easier.
With that said, I am not leaving NYC, we are keeping the apartment and plan to split time. Having a respite from the city is everything. We will take a year to have both places and see how it feels.
Last weekend as I was packing up the last of our “house” things from the apartment I took a few hour break, got on the subway, and just wandered. Through central park, the upper west side, and some of my favorite haunts. I felt at peace with this change and also deeply sorrowful at the thought that things, somehow, were going to be easier. It is odd, I know.
I look forward to seeing NYC through clearer, more rested eyes in the coming year.
For now, we have a house to fix up and I have a garden to plant!
If you made it all the way here to the end, thank you for reading! I will be sharing all the behind the scenes moments of this renovation on Instagram, so follow along there. Shoot me a comment below if you think I should add updates to the blog as we progress as well? I don’t want to flood this site with home renovation stuff, but also it is very much a part of my life and journey right now and it will 100% influence the other content I am sharing.
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