For the second year in a row, Colin and I decided to pack up the kids and head north for an autumnal getaway in the Hudson Valley.
This year’s trip was just what we needed. We stayed in a beautiful 2-bedroom house on a large 27 acre property. Or as the kids came to refer to it, “our farm” or sometimes “our farm that doesn’t have animals.” (Ha!) A big bonus for us with this property was that we were just a mile from downtown Woodstock, which we found to be a lovely community with a clear year-round presence (something I don’t take for granted in an area that draws many people interested in a vacation retreat – ahem, like us!). Last year we stayed in Ancram, NY which was far more remote (think: 20-30 minutes to get to a grocery store, restaurant, etc). We loved our time there too, but noticed that by the end of that trip were were exhausted by how much driving we had done – and we wanted to avoid that feeling this time around.
The set up of our rental this year was perfect for us. A comfortable and inviting main floor complete with a fireplace (necessary for cocoa drinking cocoa!) and a kitchen that gave us everything we needed to gather together. We’ve never lived in a space with a kitchen island and I’ve got to say this solidified for me how dreamy it can be. Both our kids wanted to eat here and only here. And it’s vacation, so why not?! =)
An unexpected bonus of this home was that the upstairs had a second living space. Colin and I loved the views of the land out of the windows and the comfy seating that really demanded you toss that fur throw around yourself and settle in. Our kids loved the Thomas the Train engine set – and that there was plenty of open area for them to set it up and explore around it.
We spent many a happy hour relaxing and playing together as a family.
If you are interested, you too can rent this beautiful space. Not only did we love the space, but our hosts couldn’t have been kinder and more helpful. The space was filled with lovely details when we arrived like some delicious foods from the organic market down the street, a beautiful arrangement of giant dahlias (stunning!) and handwritten notes placed throughout the home that both shared helpful tips about the home and were gorgeous in their own right. I’m still wondering where our host got that paper!
As urban dwellers, we often catch ourselves moving at the fast pace of the city when we are home, so we gave ourselves lots of time and space to rest at home with the kids. Some of my favorite moments of the trip were spent right there – proof that you don’t have to venture far from home to find peace. When I think back on our time so many happy memories flood my mind’s eye: My kiddos swinging back and forth on the hammock together; all of us wandering the property looking for objects to add to our nature “collection”; drinking hot cocoa around the fire (on the day it snowed!); reading books late into the evening. You get the idea. Can it be any surprise that the podcast episode that I recorded up here was on the topic of rest?
As much as we enjoyed staying in, we did our fair share of adventuring around Woodstock and the surrounding areas. We picked pumpkins near Red Hook, visited with old neighbors who’ve made this part of the country their home, explored many a sweet hamlet, rode a train through the Catskills, and – of course – ate a lot of delicious food and drank many a fine cup of coffee. I even got to sneak out one evening to hear a panel of women entrepreneur’s that Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge hosted. (You can read about that inspirational event here.)
Our whole family enjoyed eating out at Woodstock’s Oriole 9 on more than one occasion. The brunch in particular was excellent with special treats like a “kids cappuccino,” which involved no espresso but a lovely mix of honey, cinnamon, and cardamom. Our most favorite memory of this restaurant had nothing to do with the food though.
There was a little nook close to where we were seated with a kid’s play table and chalk. The wall next to it was painted with chalkboard paint. The bottom half of the wall was left blank for kids (or squatting adults!) to color. The top half laid out the specials for the day. A squiggly green line delineated one space from the other. Our little Henrietta was not to be reigned in by such foolishness as a squiggly line. Before I had so much as sipped my mint infusion, she had already taken her colorful masterpiece up into the dessert specials. While we diligently directed her back below the line (much to the waitstaff’s appreciation), we couldn’t help but appreciate that such boundaries don’t exist for her. There is something so beautiful in literally not seeing a line. Being blind to an imposed restriction. It’s not a bad reminder for the rest of us. (And I don’t think too many patrons will notice the changed handwriting in “black raspberry,” do you? Whoops!)
As you can probably tell, this trip was a magical experience for us. We returned home with full hearts and rested bodies. As we move into the end of year season, I hope that you too will find ways, big and small, to refill your own energies.
What brings you peace, I wonder? What actions do you take – big or small – that replenish your energy?