Hello, Vermont: A Story In Photos

We are happily settling into our new home in White River Junction, Vermont, despite the fact that we have six pieces of IKEA furniture to put together and are surrounded by about 70 boxes (not an exaggeration) that need to be unpacked.

Here are some photos from our adventures as we said adios to Austin, Texas, and hello to Vermont.


Once upon a time…

This enormous truck from Gentle Giant arrived at our house.

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Inside, were Azuolas and Rik, two ridiculously strong, organized, and charming gentlemen who helped us pack then moved everything we own — 6000 lbs. worth of stuff! — into the truck. All of it was safely delivered to White River Junction and not one thing was broken!

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The last thing they loaded was my piano.


Then we were left in our empty house, with our bags packed.


Smudge had never traveled on a plane before, so we had to put her in a harness, just in case she decided to make a break for it when we went through airport security. She looked quite fetching in pink.


I packed carefully, so I had enough room to take a big tub of frozen duck fat with me in my suitcase.


Then we were off to the airport in a cab…

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Our enthusiasm waned a little but was not destroyed by a 2-hour delay of our flight.airportdelay

Smudge was less accepting of the situation. Poor kitty!

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There’s not much to say about the flight. Smudge napped. Dave and I read. We watched our progress on the digital map in the seat back, and when we cleared the Texas border, we both relaxed. We were finally, truly on our way.

Fast forward through collecting our luggage, spending the night in a hotel in Boston, renting a car the next morning, and re-traumatizing Smudge by putting her back in the cat carrier… then we were on the road to White River Junction. When we hit New Hampshire, the weather looked like this:


But by the time we got to White River Junction, things had taken a turn.


The next few days are a blur of staying at a hotel, running errands, losing things, exploring our new house, and trying to convince Smudge she could trust us again. One evening, we met up with another student from the Center for Cartoon Studies at CJ’s Tavern. To my delight, this is on the wall. (And as you can tell from the quality of the photo, it’s appropriately dim in CJ’s. My kinda bar!)


After our visit, we strolled down main street and this was the temperature… heavenly.


The next day, we walked to the Four Aces Diner, which is just across the river in Lebanon, New Hampshire. It was a gorgeous morning.

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And we were very happy.


In no small part because there was coffee…


… and omelets (garlic confit, spinach, mushrooms, pancetta… recipe coming soon).


After breakfast, we ran into this little guy:


And on the way home, I realized there are wild grape vines growing all over our neighborhood. I have a limitless supply of leaves to make Stuffed Grape Leaves. (And here are tips for picking and freezing or brining wild grape leaves so I can stock up for the long, cold winter… which everyone seems gleeful to warn me about.)grapeleaves

We’re in the throes of really making this home: I’ve been cooking most of today. Smudge is sniffing every nook and window sill. Dave’s wiring things for maximum entertainment and internet speed. And slowly, we’re unpacking boxes and finding a place for everything.

Now I’m going to take a glass of iced tea and enjoy our new backyard for a bit.


The end.

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  • Sam Tackeff says:

    Yayyyyy! Welcome, welcome, official welcome! My goodness I’m excited for your yard!

    • Thank you! Now I can come visit you in Boston and we can eat something awesome! I can catch a super swank bus in Hanover and it gets me into town in 2 hours. And yes, our yard is adorable. You are 100& welcome to come here, too — I’ll take you to worthy Burger in Royalton.

  • Louise Pittavino says:

    Your pictures are great! It looks beautiful! Thanks for sharing!! Enjoy your new home!
    Love following your blog….

    (ps: Smudge is adorable)

  • Lydia says:

    The backyard is beautiful!

    I’m sure you’ll survive the winters, despite local warnings of doom-and-gloom. Just think of all the new opportunities for boot-wearing!

  • Roni says:

    It just all looks so FUN!:) Thank you for sharing a slice of your new life with us. We’ve had a beautiful summer in the Northeast this year!

  • Gillian Hallett says:

    I love your recipes Melissa, but I adore you (and your hubby) because you are such wonderful cat parents. Lucky Smudge to have you! My hubs and I have moved cities several times usually with at least 2 cats, never by plane though. Enjoy your new home you three!

    • I don’t know what happened, but Smudge has just blossomed into a happy kitty again over the last two days. She making her happy trilling sound, sniffing around, testing different spots for naps… it’s such a relief. I think she’s going love all the windows and chipmunks 😉

  • Linda Grzeika says:

    Welcome to New England, Melissa! I’ve been checking here every other day or so to see if you made it okay.

    You picked one of the most fabulous summers we’ve had in decades to move here. The humidity has been minimal, which I know you appreciate.

    I live in Connecticut, which isn’t all that far away. I’m hoping you’ll be doing some touring down our way once you’re settled. I look forward to meeting you!

    Wait until you see our autumn. You’re going to love it.

    • Thanks for the welcome! The weather has been gorgeous — I LOVE having the windows open all day. Such a treat after always having the A/C running in Austin. I’m definitely going to have some kind of get-together soon-ish… maybe in September. I’d love to meet you, too!

  • Mare Jackson says:

    Discovered your blog while looking for thyroid help online and I love it! You sure did pick a great year to move to the Northeast. I’m in Pennsylvania and it’s been a sweet summer! Enjoy the weather. You have thyroid disease as do I, so the winter won’t hurt you as bad as the heat will!
    Thank you for sharing your life! Mare

    • I grew up in Pennsylvania! I’m so looking forward to cool autumn and snowy winter. Sorry you have a wonky thyroid, and I’m so glad you’re finding my site helpful. Thanks for saying hello!

  • I love VT! Such a beautiful state!!

  • Amy says:

    I am toe curling-ly jealous, which means I need to get off my butt and think about a New England road trip. We have friends in Burlington who keep asking when we’ll visit. Can’t wait to hear more about your new adventures!

  • Jennifer Reese says:

    That garden! So leafy and green. Your new home sounds & looks great. Is CJ’s down some stairs? Congratulations, Melissa. It’s a big, exhausting deal, moving, and now you’ve done it.

    • I’m tired. So. Very. Tired. But I’m sleeping great and my allergies are way better than in Austin, so I expect to feel awesome quite soon. And yes, our backyard is very sweet and green and pretty. The quality of the light here is beautiful. Yes, CJ’s is downstairs. You’ve been there! You must come visit.

  • Ehsa says:

    Zowie! Good for you guys — this move must have been quite the challenge! So glad you imbedded Smupdates (loved the pic of the Smudgy’s back, don’t think I’ve ever seen that!) Your back yard looks so inviting. I do hope you will love your NH experience. I’m in CT & yes, the winters can be, um, snowy & cold, but for me, way better than that 100+ Texas heat! Enjoy your settling-in phase (is that even a possibility with 70 boxes to unpack?), and when you get the chance, keep us posted — missed you lots during the “in transition”!

    • I know it probably sounds crazy from here (while it’s warm and sunny), but I’m excited about winter — particularly because we’ll be going skiing. YAY! Also: I love sweaters and boots.

  • Amy says:

    Looks like you have a ready-made raised bed there in your pretty backyard!

  • Alison says:

    I get to welcome you to Vermont from Oregon, lol! I hope you will have a gathering sometime so w can meet you! My younger son and family live in Oregon (and I bought your books in Powell’s books in Portland OR), and I’ll be cooking them their first paleo meal tonight. Best of luck unpacking!

  • Rosie B says:

    Hey Melissa! My mom’s a big fan of your blog and was super excited to tell me that you had moved to White River Junction. I myself moved to the Junction from NC 2 years ago when I got a job at King Arthur Flour. Let me know if you’d like a tour guide for the area!

    And yes, 4 Aces is amazing.

  • Francesca Spalluto says:

    You will love it! I lived around there for 2 years while my husband was in business school. The food coop is great. And there are some pretty cool farms. People are nice

  • Nice! Glad to see the move went well. Sweet looking backyard, too!

  • Alexa says:

    I’ve just recently started exploring paleo and following your blog. Just got your cookbooks too. I’m so excited for you and your move to VT. I lived there for 9 years and it is such a wonderful place to live. (I moved to the only trade-up possibe – Colorado!)
    Can’t wait to start cooking from your cookbooks. Love the Weekly Cookup idea. I’ve always loved cooking, but as a single mom with a full-time job, I am often time-challenged. That’s such a great idea! Thanks and enjoy your wonderful new home. xo

    • Thank you very much for buying our cookbooks! I hope you have lots of fun playing with all the new recipes. We are TOTALLY enjoying our time in Vermont so far. Last week, we went to an evening farmers’ market… it was about 70 degrees and sunny… band playing… golden light… Dave looked at me and said, “Oh, this is why people like summer.” It’s lovely to be out of Texas and back in cooler climes. Happy cooking to you — thanks for the well wishes!

  • Becky Dube says:

    Hi Melissa! How exciting that you moved to White River Junction! I work on Railroad Row and live nearby. Maybe I’ll bump into you at the UVFC. If I see you I’ll introduce myself. 🙂

  • Dianne Jacob says:

    Belated greetings to you and Dave and congratulations on a successful move! I’m so glad to see you settling in so successfully. I look forward to more posts on your new life. And I know you are enjoying those mild temperatures. Fall should be gorgeous. Winter should be gorgeous. Not sure about spring.

  • sara b. says:

    M…what an exciting adventure (would lovely Smudge concur I wonder hopefully fully recovered by now :)) Have enjoyed following you only in the last three weeks or so…bc of your blog/enthusiasm/logic/encouragement I’ve decided to do Whole30 and yes, drag my dear hubs along for all the benefits…(pray for us please!) What would your most poignant wisdom be for us as newbies?? My deepest thanks in advance (oh, I’m the mommy to Rosie that you lunched with today…we LOVE WRJ as does she…even those glorious winters!!)

    • Well, first and foremost, thanks for raising an awesome daughter. Dave and I enjoyed lunch with Rosie so much — and I can’t wait to enjoy some winter adventures with her. What a treat to meet someone so awesome so quickly after our move. I feel at home already.

      Congratulations on taking on the Whole30. It may seem daunting at first, but you can do it! Definitely look at the posts in the Whole30 Resources Roundup http://meljoulwan.com/2014/07/29/whole30-resources-roundup/. My best advice is to get anything that’s not Whole30 compliant out of the house before you start Day 1, and keep it simple in the beginning. Grilled meat, veggies with some ghee or coconut oil, and salads… then throw in some recipes for stuff you really like. My cookbook Well Fed and this post http://meljoulwan.com/2010/01/14/paleo-kitchen-the-method-behind-my-madness/ have info on how to make “Hot Plates” that make cooking really easy in the beginning. Keep me posted on how you’re doing!

  • Jennifer says:

    You’re so lucky to live in VT – such a gorgeous place with a focus on local eating. I hope that now that you’re a Vermonter you’ll be doing classes in the Boston area – or even in WRJ. We’ll be headed that way ofter as we’ll soon take our daughter to UVM and pass through WRJ on the way. I’m such a huge fan of yours; I call you the Spice Queen. Have both your cookbooks and have inspired my brother in CA to buy the books. Two of my nieces and a cousin also grab recipes from your blog.

  • Katherine says:

    I am so happy you have arrived safely in Vermont. It’s official two of my favourite things (you/your blog and VERMONT) have collided. Only good things can come out of this. Vermont has such a great local food culture and it is absolutely gorgeous. Eating is my favourite thing to do when visiting. I wish I lived there instead of in Canada sometimes. Enjoy!! Maybe the change of scenery will inspire you to make Well Fed 3? 🙂

  • DianaVP says:

    Hi Mel, Congrats on your move to Vermont! I’ve been caught up in my own little world and haven’t kept up on your progress since your last trip to Prague. Specifically, I was curious where I would read about your decision to leave Austin and move to Vermont. Was it health based or family?
    Best wishes!

    • We moved because Dave is getting his Master’s at the Center For Cartoon Studies here in White River Junction — but the move has vastly improved our health already! Austin has a lot of mold and we’re both allergic. I’ve had no allergies (itchy eyes, fatigue, etc.) since we moved. It’s pretty fantastic! I’m back to working out with intensity 3X a week and we’re walking more than ever — the hiking here is wonderful.

  • Therese says:

    Wow, you’ve been up to a lot since I took care of Sesame and Street! I saw a video and had to look you up. I thought I’d find you and send a quick note. Instead, I’ve been perusing your paleo info and think I may even have to get one of your books.

    Anyway, here’s the video I saw. I immediately thought of Sesame.


    Have fun in your new home!

  • I stopped paying attention to the internet over the busy summer, only to come back and find that you’ve moved into my back yard! Cue extreme fan-girl flailing! 😀 Please feel free to drop me an email if you’re interested in chatting about things to do in the Upper Valley – this is an amazing place to live. Take care!

  • apelila says:

    I’m late to the party… I had to leave Austin 20 years ago because of the humidity…hope you’ll be happy in your new spot!
    How’s your thyroid saga? Last update I saw was with Amy Myers almost a year ago. I still haven’t found any relief for my hashi’s…I’ve moved into CFS now, so no exercising. Wah…

  • Bernadette Lacey says:

    Welcome to the 802! I’m not too far away from you, just north in the Randolph area. Worthy Burger yes! and swimming in the river in South Royalton. Been following you on facebook for a bit and going to put my mind to losing this belly of mine once and for all! I’m sure you’d have a big turnout if you did some classes at the Co-op or anywhere!

  • Julie says:

    My husband grew up not too far from White River Junction in Woodstock, Vermont. Such a wonderful state. Love the farms and the foliage. Hope your first winter was tolerable.