Thursday, October 31, 2013


It's Fall Break over at the U, so yours truly took off the week. After a semester that has been rolling along at breakneck speed, it is definitely time for some R&R&B. Rest and relaxation and baking. Today was actually the first day that was relaxing. The first half of the week was filled with appointments and cleaning. Today was simply baking and chilling.

Before I get any further into this, I want to stop and acknowledge that today is Hammy's 5-year adoptionversary! I can't believe he's been part of our family for five years already, and I also can't imagine our life without him. So as we sit here juggling trick or treaters, we're enormously happy to have our little fur baby along for the ride. Perhaps tomorrow or over the weekend I'll do an October wrap-up. I have fall decorating and costumes to write about! Even Hammy got in on the action, though he was rather unwilling.

So this week I have tackled three baking adventures, and will round it all out with a quick batch of shortbreads on Sunday. I had planned on making a sea-salted caramel cheesecake today as a test-drive for my 2013 Friendsgiving contribution. My mom is visiting tomorrow, so I figured a perfect test audience! It was the second cheesecake I've made from scratch, but also the first I've made in this oven. I'm still figuring out its little ticks, so I was a bit nervous about making something as delicate and sensitive as a cheesecake. But what's wonderful about this oven is that it has a window in the door and a light that I can use to check on my precious little lovelies! At the apartment, the only way to see what was going on was to crack open the door--a huge no no in cheesecake land!

Thankfully, that went off without a hitch. The new trick was homemade caramel. I found an easy recipe over on Joy the Baker that was simply add ingredients, boil til amber, chill. I can totally do that! I of course snuck a lick of the spoon when it was finished, and oh my...sooo delish! All I had to do was let it chill while the cheesecake was sitting in the oven for 6 hours (it was just as nerve-racking as waiting for the first one!). Then I stirred up the caramel, plopped it on top of the cheesecake (conveniently covering the shallow cracks that had formed), and admired my work. I can't wait to dig into a slice for dessert with John in a bit, and then to share it with Mommy tomorrow!

Since I had to buy light corn syrup for the caramel, it was perhaps kismet that I stumbled across a recipe in Food and Wine for chocolate shortbread pecan bars, which also called for the syrup. This is the beauty of baking as often as I do--I have 90% of what I would need for just about any recipe. ShopRite was also giving away free dozens of eggs with a special coupon, so that sealed the deal: this staycation was destined to become a bakecation!

And now that you've read all my words, here is the eye baking toils.

Chocolate Shortbread Pecan Bars

Shortbread crust, all packed in.
Lots of chopped chocolate and pecans.

Mmm, getting a little melty up in here!

Chocolate and pecans poured over the crust.

Lovely little bars. Mmm!

Sea-Salted Caramel Cheesecake

Amber bubbles means time to kill the heat!


Unwrapping the chilled caramel topping.
Oh. My. Goodness. Jealousy is the appropriate response.
Went all out with bakery box, twine, and labels.

Now if you'll excuse me, it's time to stop writing about this cheesecake and EAT it.

Wishing you a festive Halloween!

Monday, October 21, 2013


(Said as if you're a deejay going "Reeeeemixx!" of course)

Just a note that if you were looking for The Beat on Bordentown, you're in the right place. I've simply rebranded the blog title to reflect our current lot in life.

But do expect Bordentown to be a frequent flyer on here--we're still a stone's toss away, and love it too much to give it up that easily.


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Sprucing the Homestead

Well, we have joined the club of weekend warriors. My official initiation came when I had to make a return trip to Lowe's in the same day to exchange some cabinet pulls that weren't right.

Today we tackled painting the final wall of the living room--the one that goes up the stairwell, trimming the shit out of some hedges/bushes outside, John spray-foam insulated a few gaps around the house, he climbed a tall ladder and trimmed tree limbs that were resting against the house/looming over our power line; I toiled inside updating the kitchen cabinet hardware.

The hardware was. So. Gross. I tried my darndest to clear them, but it just wasn't happening. Thankfully, they were really easy to remove, and in about an hour and a half total, I had new sleek brushed nickel handles.

Here are some before/after pics of my hard work. Let's start with the before. I wish I could tell you what decade/century these are from. I'm gonna say 1980s impersonating the 1880s? Any takers?

Not too bad from a distance.
But oh dear, up close and personal is horrific.

So yeh. They had to go. The ultimate cabinet plan is to sand them down and paint them. I'm thinking white, but then I also think it might be fun to paint them a color--maybe even the green of our living room, and then paint the walls of the kitchen really bright and crisp white. But we'll see down the line. With all that in mind, I wanted to stay neutral and light and versatile with the new hardware. This is what I ended up with:

Ahh, much better!
Light and clean!

I decided on some cup-style pulls for the drawers. They were a bit more expensive, but since I only needed three and the handles for the SEVENTEEN cabinets were way cheap, I didn't think twice about the splurge.

Enormous happiness.

I realize I've only shown this one small section--mainly because it's currently the most photogenic area. To the right of the stove is a bar-style counter with three cabinets. To the left of the two drawers is the L-portion of the kitchen, with the sink, dishwasher, counter, and upper and lower cabinets.

I'll leave you with this, a stark before and after. Good night.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

So we're homeowners, and it's kind of crazy

Note: this is going to be sloppy cuz for some reason a few photos refuse to display correctly--they insist on lying on their sides when they should be standing upright. Boo.

It hasn't really yet sunk in because we're still very much unpacking. I now auto-pilot home from work to the new place, but it all still feels kind of surreal, almost like vacation--you know when you've settled into a hotel room enough that you feel "at home" but you're still strikingly aware that it's not really home? That's where we're at these days.

By this point, we've got the main living areas just about right, save a few furniture tweaks--they were the main priority since those are where we spend the most time, and the living room, kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom especially needed to be fully functional. That means, of course, that our peripheral rooms are frozen in time from moving day and are box wastelands.

But enough of my gibbering. Here are some photos!

I took this photo this morning as I left the house (it's been too dark when I get home to get a good shot). Here we are looking nice and autumnal. We hope to pick some pumpkins this weekend, and John is thinking about some corn stalks or something. So we'll see how it evolves. We have to be ready for trick-or-treaters come Halloween (which is disturbingly close)!

John and my dad trimmed a lot of low-hanging branches from the front lawn trees on Sunday so now you can actually see the house. The branches also no longer sag right onto cars in the driveway. It feels so open. I made the candy corn garland you see in the bay window and on the door from a kit from Paper Source. I think they're adorable. Plans for the front garden include ripping out the lirirope and mealy hostas from under the bay, and planting 1 or 2 hydrangeas there, along with some seasonal annuals. I'd like to also eventually add some sort of border for the garden bed--perhaps some sculpted bricks or something. The front door and mailbox could also use a fresh coat of paint eventually, and we'll need a door knocker and numbers to put on the house. A later-later project is to replace the exterior lights on either side of the door. But for now, I think it's quite welcoming.

When you step inside, you enter the living room. We are so in love with our paint colors. The living room is Spring Valley. I spent a lot of time on the Benjamin Moore site, and when I presented my ideas to John, he was on board immediately. Thank goodness. The idea for the house is a light, comfy beach cottage vibe. We are smitten with all the historic details in the woodwork and layout--I don't mind the separate rooms because there are so many windows and doors and pass-throughs it all just flows together so naturally and doesn't feel cut off at all.

I don't know why this keeps loading sideways. Sorry. : (
From the living room, you walk through the dining room to get to the kitchen. The dining room sports a bay window and also a regular window on the opposite walls. Oh, and those two charming pass-throughs that peer into the living room. The dining room is painted Pilgrim Haze by Ben.

Once through the dining room, you're finally in the kitchen. Can we stop for just a moment to see how many people I can fit in this kitchen?! In the apartment, if John and I were in there it felt like suffocation. Here, though, I can have a little kitchen party, and there's even a spot for two barstools on the other side of the counter at the foreground of the pic immediately below.

The two large RubberMaid bins are in front of the cabinets because the doors don't stay closed. I plan to pretty immediately change the hardware and hinges because they are just really, really gross and cannot be cleaned. I hope this will help the doors close a little bit better, but if not, we'll get some small child locks or magnet closures to help them stay closed--Hammy has already climbed into the under-sink cabinets, which is no good!

Oh, hello sexy stovetop...that long center burner is begging for a griddle pan.

Beyond the kitchen is an addition to the house from probably about the 70s or 80s. It houses the laundry area and the house's only bathroom. Yup, you read that right: the only bathroom is downstairs, at the very back of the house. I'll let that sink in for a moment. I have no pics of the bathroom for this post, but here's the laundry area (the bathroom entrance is to the left in this pic), which is full of random stuff and furniture that is kind of useless now that we actually have adequate storage. The sheer panel that looks like a Chinese screen is the covering for the sliding glass door. That, along with all the curtains you see in photos, was left by the sellers. What looks like a wooden panel/bulletin board to the right is actually a box that covers the outmoded in-wall air conditioning unit. We may put something there to hang coats or maybe laundry that needs to air dry a bit. The jury is still out.

Upstairs there are three bedrooms. Ours, one that's perfect for guests, and one that we'll use as an office since it's very small. The sellers used it as the nursery for their wee one. Our room is good to go, and you'll see the descent into chaos in the other two rooms since that was the other area we dumped stuff we weren't quite sure what to do with.

Office...or cardbard graveyard.

Guest room (sellers left the twin bed frame--score!)

And that, folks, is where we stand right now. More to come for sure as we work work work. I'll have to post some outdoor pics once I begin attacking the garden. There is SO much to rip out. In addition to the front, there are tons of plants I want to replace in the backyard, and there's a long skinny garden alongside the driveway. That one has a few things I'll save, including a coveted hydrangea, but pretty much everything else will go.

For now, we are turning our attention to winterizing: thermal curtains, stopping up any gaps in baseboards, etc., and replacing a few windows.

Until next time, love from The Cottage.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


It's moving week, people!

We closed on Monday, and have already loaded in some boxes and painted one room.

I likely won't be on here very often with updates in the next week or two as we settle, but I have some vacation time coming up, and I hope to use the lazy(ish) days to upload photos, toss some on here, and all that stuff.