Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 - A Look Back

The past few years we've enjoyed a Blue Moon and our oranges on New Year's eve as we review everything we accomplished at 765 that year. Sadly the odd weather at the end of Winter last year confused our orange trees and left them with fruit at the wrong time. The fruit didn't last, and instead the trees spent the year growing like crazy. Hopefully that means next year will be that much more fruitful.
Here's a look back at what we did at 765 in 2012:

I got a new peep hole in my stocking.

We began a walkway project as soon as it wasn't freezing outside

The front door got a makeover.

We celebrated TWO whole years at 765 and the chickens helped us pour some concrete.

  All of our basil was put to good use for the winter months.

 The backyard walkway was completed!

Hurricane Isaac forced Travis to return home early, but luckily 765 came out damage-free.

The front window got a makeover since the door looked so good.

We (mostly Travis) installed lights above our dining table. I still get excited when I turn them on.

 Our winter garden turned out much more successful than our spring crop.

We already have some electrical projects under way to begin the new year, and a crop of cabbage ready to pick for good luck.
Cheers to a happy, healthy and FRUITFUL 2013!

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

p.s. I'm pretty obsessed with our Christmas cards from Paperless Post!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Holiday Season

It's beginning to look alot like Christmas at 765! The tree is getting full underneath, though ornament-less at the bottom for fear of the pup tearing them up again. Our stockings are hung, waiting to be filled. And even our warrior behind the door is feeling festive. Now to complete the season with some holiday baking!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Winter Garden

It finally feels like Winter here at 765. There was a freeze warning last night and you can see the steam coming off the coffee inside the house this morning. In the garden our broccoli and red cabbage is just about ready to pick, the basil is still going strong, and our tomato plants are full of big green tomatoes. I'm hoping they can hang on long enough to get a little red on them before picking. By far the most enjoyed part of our crops right now is the arugula. It's been added to salads and sandwiches daily, and still continues to keep getting bigger. Fresh veggies from the garden through December are certainly a plus for the locale.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

For 765 / 5

Media consoles are taking precedent in the 765 Pinboard lately. I guess with new lights there is a need to make everything match?
 I fell in love with the Patchwork Dresser from West Elm the minute I opened the catalog. We have quite a few different wood finishes in the house and this would tie them all together perfectly. Sadly it's $1,000, so it won't be coming home to 765 anytime soon.
The next option is a close second and much more affordable, but we'd be adding yet another wood finish to our mix.
The third one is a good combination of painted and wood but the style might be a bit too simplistic for me.
I guess for now I'll dream of an amazing Black Friday deal on option number one!
1. / 2. / 3.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Annie is the lone chicken at 765 right now. This little speckled lady got her name after we saved her from wandering the streets of Spanish Town. She proved to be a fighter when we went on vacation and she survived two raccoons and a dog. Thanks to a neighbor who kept her in his kitchen, she's still around. It took a few months of recovering, but she finally got back to scratching for bugs and egg producing. Annie has now taken to hopping the fence during the day to scratch around the neighbors yard, and when I pull up from work she comes running up to be let back into the yard. Her and Juliet certainly make a cute duo in the backyard.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


The pendant lights are installed and functioning!

This project was the first one inside 765 that required serious commitment. Paint can always be changed, but we cut a whole in the ceiling here. Those things weren't moving once that happened. Of course this is all thanks to Travis who did the real work, including spending more time than he wanted in the attic and putting his nail gun to work. 765 is lucky to have such a handyman.
The lights hang perfectly over the dining table, giving us a well lit evening meal or just a smidge of light while watching TV, thanks to the dimmer switch! Another added bonus of the project? The brass lamp that's been hanging around since we moved in can go into hiding until it finds a new home!


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!
Our happy Jack-O-Lantern is awaiting the few ghosts and goblins that come by 765 for treats this evening. The happiest about the festive night? Our chicken Annie - pumpkin insides are the absolute best to that little lady! And for a little flashback, a picture of Bert and Ernie from the younger days.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Library Finds

A bit of perusing at the local library turned up some awesome pieces of 765 history. (Definitely one of the perks to living in a historic district.) According to the real estate listing from 1956 you should 'Be Prepared For Happiness' for only $850 down and $90/month. Wow! 
The giant pines are no longer around, the bricks were painted, and it looks like there was originally gutters on both sides of the house. The bottles sitting on the porch might explain why we found the canning jar lid. And with all those changes our house numbers on the pillar are still exactly the same!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Lights: Installing

Our pendant lights I found while market hunting finally arrived, so we got busy installing them while master electrician Uncle Dennis was in town. Of course, in an old house nothing actually goes that smoothly, so a few trips to Home Depot have since ensued. We've got the three foot extender for the drill and hole in the wall for the switch - you know what we'll be doing this weekend!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Birthday Cake

I came home from an afternoon out shopping to quite the birthday surprise: a homemade cake. Travis spent the afternoon in the kitchen making a chocolate cake with espresso butter cream frosting and chocolate chips. He even managed the double layer - seems he's inherited more than just the birding skills from his grandfather! Quite possibly the best birthday breakfast, err, dessert ever!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Cover-to-Cover Challenge: Shrimp Scampi Meatballs

A blog that is on my regular reading list is The Bitten Word, two guys that cook recipes from monthly food magazines. They recently posed an awesome challenge: to cook every recipe in a single issue of a food magazine with the help of their readers. The response was so amazing they ended up assigning the recipes in SIX food magazines, a whopping 350 recipes! I couldn't pass up a chance to make something new alongside hundreds of others - I immediately signed up.

My assignment: Shrimp Scampi Meatballs in Garlicky Broth from Everyday Food

I was glad to be assigned something I probably would have never chosen out of the magazine to make. Travis is a meatball fan so I was hopeful it would be another option to add to our dinner menu, though I was afraid it might be too involved to be cooked on a weeknight. It turned out to be incredibly easy, especially for a dish that packed such a flavorful punch. Paired with some roasted asparagus, it was a perfect meal. We both decided it would be requested again, but I might work on creating a thin sauce instead of the broth to make it a pasta dish instead of a soup.

A huge thank you to the guys at The Bitten Word for putting this challenge together - can't wait to see what everyone else made and looking forward to the next challenge!

Shrimp Scampi Meatballs in Garlicky Broth
Serves 4 / Active Time: 25min / Total Time: 25min

coarse salt
1/2 pound spaghetti
3/4 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined, roughly chopped
1/2 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1/2 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest, plus wedges for serving
1/4 pound ground white-meat chicken
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

1. In a large pot of boiling slated water, cook pasta according to package instructions; drain
2. Meanwhile, in a food processor, pulse shrimp until finely chopped. In a large bowl, combine breadcrumbs, red-pepper flakes, and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir in milk and 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest. Fold in shrimp and chicken until just combined. (do not overmix)
3. In a large pot, melt butter over medium. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add broth and 2 cups water and bring to a rapid simmer.
4. Drop shrimp mixture by heaping tablespoons into broth. Cook meatballs at a gentle simmer until opaque throughout, about 5 minutes, turning halfway through. Divide pasta among four bowls and top with broth and meatballs. Combine remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest with parsley and sprinkle over soup. Squeeze lemon wedges over soup and serve.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Vintage Botanical Prints

The landscape architect in me has always had a soft spot for botanical prints. Then last week Curbly posted about free vintage botanical prints that could be downloaded. Does it get any better? It does: A free vintage botanical print of an orange tree. I immediately downloaded and ordered a 12"x18" print that I'm anxiously awaiting arrival in the mail. Our big bathroom has an empty nail that's been waiting for something to hang from it. Done and done!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Farm to Kitchen / 1 - Garlic Dill Pickles

Pickling cucumbers are plentiful at our farmers market, so I figured it was time to take my first shot at just that, pickling. I found this recipe for Garlic Dill Pickles and thought it seemed pretty fool-proof. It turned out to be incredibly easy - the hard part now will seeing how long we can let them last.

Garlic Dill Pickles
(From: Food In Jars)
Makes approximately 8 pints (total yield varies depending on size of cucumbers)

2 overflowing quarts of pickling cucumbers, sliced into fat coins*
4 cups apple cider vinegar
4 cups water
5 tablespoons pickling salt
16 garlic cloves, peeled (2 per jar)**
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper per jar*** (2 teaspoons total)
1 teaspoon dill seed per jar (8 teaspoons total)
½ teaspoon black peppercorns per jar (4 teaspoons total)

Wash and slice the cucumbers.
In a large saucepot, combine vinegar, water and salt. Bring to a simmer.
Arrange jars on counter and dole out the spices to each. Pack the cucumber slices firmly into the jars. You don’t want to damage the cukes, but you do want them packed tight.
Pour the brine into the jar, leaving ½ inch headspace.
Wipe rims, apply lids and rings and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
When 10 minutes are up, promptly remove the jars from the pot and allow them to cool on the countertop. When the jars are cool, check the seals (by pushing/tapping on the lid).
Pickles can be stored in a cool, dry place for up to a year.
If you want to skip the boiling water process, these pickles are also wonderful as refrigerator pickles. Just pop the jars into the fridge once they’re cool.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Fall Garden

Our Fall garden is anxiously awaiting a bit more cool weather so it can really take off. This time around I've tried a few new things to see what will grow best in the front yard. So far we have: red cabbage, butternut squash, spinach mustard greens, leeks, broccoli, arugula, tomatoes and one bell pepper. And of course a whole lawn full of basil. (Please come take some before we mow it!) There are a bunch of tomato plants, though we only bought two. The rest pop right out of the compost, like the one happily growing beside the leek. Hopefully it will be a successful season!

What's growing in your fall garden?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Cabinet Caulking

Caulking our kitchen cabinets is one of those easy, DIY projects we should have done ages ago. There were some fairly large gaps that lead to the attic or in between the walls, and you know what will get through those cracks when the weather isn't pleasant. We unloaded everything inside, gave the shelves a good cleaning, and found a perfectly matching caulk at Home Depot. Travis sealed it all up, making our cabinets feel like new. Another benefit of the project: cleaning out the pantry and reorganizing it. There's certainly satisfaction in knowing everything that's in there, and hopefully it will spark a few new meals.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Rainy Day

Our rain barrel was nearing empty and the grass was heading for dead, so we were excited for a long day of rain. This lady didn't feel the same. She spent the day watching out the front door, ball in paw, hoping for a break so she could do a little squirrel chasing. We'll certainly make up for it with this new, crisp fall weather!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Front Window Makeover

After painting the front iron door we realized how bad the window next to it looked. Old white paint and rust everywhere didn't compliment our shiny new door too well. So this weekend we spent sanding and painting (among many other small projects). The final product looks much cleaner and makes the porch look a little more cohesive. Now if only we could paint the whole house in a weekend...

Friday, September 14, 2012

For 765 / 4

More inspiration from the For 765 Pinterest board!
We've been tossing around the idea of a deck from the back door for a long time, but it's certainly not on the priority list. I like the way the stair is built into the deck design and even saves a bit of space.
The washer and dryer is a little higher on the list. If we can't move it into the bathroom closet this might be another solution.
While the weather now certainly doesn't warrant dreaming of needing a fireplace it hasn't stopped me. This one would fit nicely into our existing one.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Currently Reading

My current read right now is Trauma Farm: A Rebel History of Rural Life by Brian Brett. It's a book full of observations on farm life, both current and historical, the modern food system, and the joys and traumas on an endless day on the farm. While we are nowhere close to living on a farm, it's surprising how many of the stories we can relate to.  Most strikingly was this quote, where he talks about stumbling on a baby rat:

          "However, this was a blind baby, slow and lost, as if it had accidentally crawled out of the nest too early or someone, cat or dog or raccoon or mink, had murdered its mother and it was on a last, slow, desperate crawl for life. I knew I should kill it, but I didn't have the heart. I was reminded of Mike once shooting starlings in his cherry trees while simultaneously raising baby starling that had fallen out of a nest. He hated those starlings for their thievery and the damage they were doing to endangered songbird populations. Yet babies are different. Every creature deserves the chance to reach its prime. However, an adult pest is another story, and then it's ever bird or man for himself. I knew I'd bring this rat baby into the house, feed it, warm it by the fire, and then release it far away in the bush. Sharon would be annoyed at first, superficially, before she helped with great tenderness. 
       Sam, the border collie, came up behind me. She saw the baby rat and, before I could move, snatched it, killing it instantly. Then she tossed it up in the air as if it were a toy, caught it, and swallowed it whole, happily trotting off down the road again, while I stood alone in the bluing darkness, overwhelmed once more by the arbitrary casualness of death."

I laughed out loud while reading this, reread it, and then had to share with Travis - he chuckled too. The death of the rat is not comical - it was more so the fact that I'm sure the very same instance has or would happen at 765. While Travis and Juliet enjoy popping the starlings out of the chicken cage we haven't had a baby one make it inside the house. YET.