Just wanted to check in with a pretty major announcement that has nothing to do with cocktails (well, kinda, I’ll get to that later), but which you’ll be seeing a whole lot of in my social channels moving forward.
Not a little move. Not even a medium move. A really big capital ‘M’ move across the country. Here are the bare facts, before I dig into them:
- We bought a complete fixer upper without ever having set foot inside.
- We sold most of our stuff.
- We packed up our tiny Honda Fit with our clothes and our dog (and our fanciest wines, which I didn’t want to risk shipping).
- We drove across the northernmost parts of our country for two weeks.
- We landed in our dream town — a tiny borough nestled right between NYC and Philadelphia, overlooking the Delaware river.
Now here’s the backstory.
When we moved to Portland two years ago, we knew it would be temporary. It’s a city we’ve always loved (Pat’s family even lived there for a few years), and we wanted to experience a west coast lifestyle firsthand before having kids. We decided to go for it, set a limit of two years, packed our bags, and hit the highway.
Two years later, I can happily report that our time in Portland was as beautiful and challenging and formative as we’d hoped it would be. We met so many kind, inspiring people, experienced a thriving creative culture firsthand, and explored as many nooks and crannies of the spectacular landscape as time would allow.
I’ll miss digging for clams and roasting them over a bonfire right on the beach. Shucking oysters on the bay where they were grown as the sun sets over the water. The pine scented hikes that led to grand vistas, celebrated with an ice cold beer from a world class local brewery. Day trips to the rolling farms of wine country. If you haven’t visited Oregon yet, it deserves a spot on the top of your list (and I’m working on a travel guide to share with you).
But home is home, and the roots we have back east are as deep as they are precious to us. When you travel, you come back with a renewed sense of appreciation for the things you always loved, and a capricious sort of charm around things you didn’t. The thick humidity, the crowds, and even the mosquito bites are familiar notes to a favorite song. They mean good pizza and the Atlantic and my nieces are nearby.
While we were out west, we were still watching the real estate in our favorite east coast neighborhoods. We targeted the stretch of river towns between Philly and New York, on the Pennsylvania and Jersey sides of the Delaware. If real estate stalking and renovations are a hobby for you, you just know the right project when you see it (and apartment life had me itching for paintbrushes and tile saws). When our cottage hit the market, we put in an offer that same day — from the other side of the country.
It’s a gut reno. It’s not cosmetically in good shape — I’m writing this within view of some mushrooms growing out of a moldy bathroom wall. When we pulled out some ceiling tile and drywall, we found a thin layer of aged plywood and no insulation. The exterior is an icky pale green, and the trim on the windows has rotted through.
But this is home, and all I see is the long term potential hidden behind the lack of short term amenities. The bones are good. The location is better. We have central AC for the first time since we left for college, and a big fenced yard for Ludo. We can walk into town along our favorite canal path, and grab a beer at our local brewery. Even though we’re sleeping on air mattresses and eating takeout on paper plates, we feel so happy to be here it’s like a vacation.
I’ll be sharing our renovation stories as they happen, because the mission of this blog has always been to create welcoming spaces for good drinks, friends, and conversation, through the connective and creative force of home. We’re rebuilding this cottage as Good Drink HQ, where our recipes and entertaining stories will come to life, so we want to involve all of you in the process.
Since we have a million decisions to make in the coming months (and probably years) of renovation, I’ll be checking in on social for opinions and expertise. Should we paint our house black? Which siding is best for a flood zone? Which mattress is really the most eco friendly? Which couches are best for dogs?
Our to do list is so long at this point it’s practically infinite, but it’s allowing us to create something completely our own, and to make socially responsible choices along the way. We’ve jumped headfirst into this new adventure, and we can’t wait to share our successes and mistakes with you as they come.
Love and lots of construction dust from the #rivercottagereno team,
Coll, Pat + Ludo