Don't worry, I haven't started reviewing nursing homes....yet. Today's post is about another kind of place for mom, the kind of place she'll love visiting and long to return to again and again. This story is about me, a mom of two little ones, escaping with my sister for one night to the most comfortable bed, in the most beautiful cabin, with the coziest wood stove and the coolest kitchen that wasn't stocked with much food because cooking is a special kind of hell these days.
Boston, Mass: 3.5 hours
Hartford, CT: 2.5 Hours
Stamford, CT: 4 Hours
New York, NY: 4.5 Hours
Our Magical Airbnb:
The Most Beautiful Barn Art Studio in Londonderry, VT.
Magic Mountain Ski Area: 5 minute drive. This is a smaller mountain that is great for families and has a real, mom and pop feel and is great for beginners or experts. They also have a bar and restaurant that serves delicious, casual food.
Stratton Mountain: 30 minute drive. This is one the most beloved mountains in New England. It includes a village with some great little shops and restaurants.
Mount Snow: 44 minute drive, legit large mountain with numerous trails, a day care, a spa, and restaurants.
As you may know, I quit my job of 14 years in July of 2017 and our family moved from New York to New Hampshire where my husband would take on a new job as a Territory Sales Manager for a large solar supplier. This ultimately translates to "a new job where he will be away 4 out of 5 nights for several weeks in a row." I tend to be an overly optimistic person and assumed that while I really didn't have any experience as a full time stay at home mom, it would be a natural, easy transition. I had also assumed breastfeeding would be a natural, easy transition. I make a lot of silly assumptions.
There are many bloggers out there who articulate the the challenges, triumphs, and coping strategies of motherhood far better and more creatively than I ever could. Design Mom, A Mother Far from Home, and Hurrah for Gin, are just a few I find myself turning to on a near daily basis. I could easily dedicate this entire post to how I got to a point of total exhaustion after about 5 months into our new life in New Hampshire but I'll sum it up in one sentence: My husband was gone nearly every week for 4 months, just after we moved to a new house in a new state, and while he was away we had 4 rounds of the stomach flu, weeks of hives, two rounds of bronchitis, and our two year old enthusiastically embraced a rather dramatic sleep regression. With December in my sights, I begged my husband for the perfect Christmas gift - one night away, with my sister, here:
My husband, thank goodness, was more than willing to oblige, and so in mid-December, on a snowy Saturday, my sister and I began the short drive to Londonderry, VT, only about an hour away from my home.
The main thing I was looking for in this night away was a great bathtub. Our house in New Hampshire has 4 bathrooms, all of them weird and disappointing. One is just a toilet and bar sink in the master bedroom's closet. Magnanimously, I gave this closet space to my husband.
So when I was looking for a place to getaway for a night to unwind and get some actual sleep (I was well into 80 nights of sleeping 5 hours), I knew I wanted a nice, real, bathtub and a bed that would give me hope. And let me tell you, The Most Beautiful Barn-Art Studio did not disappoint, nor did the trip to Londonderry, where my tasteful, country chic dreams all came true.
Our first stop in this mini-adventure/nervous breakdown was at The Gleanery in Putney, VT, a Community Supported Restaurant. What is a Community Supported Restaurant? It's pretty much the smartest way to open a restaurant, if you ask me. Which I just did. The Gleanery invited members of the community to invest in the restaurant as way to support the community at large. They use local ingredients, support local farmers, create jobs, attract tourists, and invested members receive credits to use while dining. They also sell pottery, books, soaps, artwork and more by local artists. Given all that pressure, it's no wonder the food is so delicious.
After having done something as sincere and authentic as The Gleanery, it seemed only fitting that our next stop would be The Vermont Country Store in Rockingham, VT. It's all the maple syrup, cheddar cheese, country pajamas (which are legitimately awesome), goat's milk soap, baked goods you imagine. I'm pretty sure they sell "Country Baby" baby food, but since I was on this trip to focus on myself and not babies, I didn't check to make sure.
Next stop, The Most Beautiful Barn-Art Studio. As we pulled into the driveway, our host, Ben, was also pulling up...in a snowmobile! It was tremendous. Ben is an Airbnb Superhost and even has a television show called Back Yard Goldmine on the DIY network where he helps homeowners build short term rentals on their property. I am not making this up. Prior to arrival I had messaged Ben about 40 times with various questions, ranging from "can I include your property in my blog" to "how will we survive the whole wood stove thing" and he was incredibly accommodating and calming. The wood stove was actually easy to manage and now I can safely say I would have crushed it as a pioneer. The space is inspiring and calming, and the lack of TV and internet was genuinely appreciated. As for that bathtub, it did not disappoint, and it's so big that I was easily able stretch out my entire body with plenty of room to spare (and I'm 5'8"). I was in the bath for so long that my sister and brother had a text conversation that debated her coming into to check on me (she didn't). I spent well over an hour in that bathtub READING A MAGAZINE. Do you know what it means to read a magazine when you have two small kids???
In addition to the lodging being incredible, Ben's whole property is stunning. There are miles of trails for cross country skiing and snow shoeing, and mountain and neighboring farmhouse views.
Londonderry has a lot to offer and I was so surprised that I hadn't heard of it until booking this getaway. Originally, our plan was to just stay in all night but then the thought of cooking became depressing so Ben recommended Solo Farm & Table, which is minutes from his property. We arrived just as they opened and they asked us if we had a reservation. That seemed a little crazy to us - who needs a reservation in Londonderry Vermont? Besides, I was an unthethered momma - seat me at the bar, please!
Well, thank god we got there early because by 5:15 this place (which is huge) was packed. You definitely want to make a reservation if you plan to eat here. Located in a house, there are multiple dining rooms, all of them beautiful, serving some of the most delicious food you will ever have. The bar was also full within minutes and my sister enjoyed a borderline inappropriate conversation (#metoo) with an 80 year old man who was there with this wife who was deep in conversation while sharing an entree with another man. I'm not gonna lie - it was a weird scene but super fun.
We had the cheese plate, the duck, and the ramen noodles and it was literally one of the best meals I've ever had. The restuarant is owned and operated by Wesley and Chloe Genovart who opened Degustation Restaurant together in New York. They moved to Vermont a few years after having their first child (Chloe is from Vermont) and opened Solo Farm and Table in 2011. As you can guess, they work with local farmers and craftsman and the community at large. They only buy local meat and butcher it themselves (and even make their own sausages which they sell at the farmer's market on Saturdays in the summer).
After dinner we returned to our cabin in the woods, wrapped ourselves up in the throws generously placed by the couches, and giggled for hours. At midnight we called bedtime and my sister retreated to a separate cabin a few feet away and I ascended my dangerous, railing free stairs without worry and giddy with anticipation for what would be a truly remarkable 8 hours of sleep. When I woke I up the next morning, I took in the peace of the morning light, uninterrupted by calls for milk, and listened to my 10% Happier mediation app, a habit that my fragmented sleep had disrputed. I felt overwhelmed with gratitude.
It's easy to read about New England and its community supported entrepreneurs and passively think "That's nice. How Quaint." The truth is, though, this is a heroic endeavor that offers immeasurable returns for the area. The Gleanery, Solo Farm & Table, and Ben are part of an ecosystem that has been built to simultaneously offer support, delight, and the freedom to build a reliable future for its families. They also offer moments of respite, renewal, and inspiration for those of us fortunate enough to participate, giving people like me the strength I need to carry my family.
Being lucky enough to be able to have an experience like this is something I can't truly comprehend and I don't take it for granted. As I believe in giving back to the ecosystem that supports me, I have made a donation in honor of this post to the Young Moms Support Group offered by Youth Services in Southern Vermont. In the words of the Young Moms case manager, "Young Mom’s Group provides a judgement free space for pregnant and parenting young mothers to share ideas, build positive peer relationships, teach each other, ask for support and make it known that parenting is a learning process for everyone". Truer words have never been spoken.
I started Weekends Arounds to marry my passion for hospitality and interior design with my love of New England. Because lodging has the greatest impact on a travel experience, I only feature Airbnbs, home rentals, and hotels that I have personally visited (and on my own dime and time - always). I’ll share all my detailed itineraries, photography, and recommendations so that you, too, can experience this beautiful part of the world.