Sunday, February 13, 2011

how we got here...

Over the past couple years of writing my blog I have been asked several times about how we came to live in New Hampshire- moving from Texas, not knowing a soul here.  After receiving another such inquiry from Amy yesterday, I thought now might be a good time to tell you the story!


The short answer: 
it was because of this magazine.



The long answer.....
it was because Dan had flown to Hartford, Connecticut and his hotel was in Springfield, Massachusetts.  The drive to the hotel took him through the historic district in Suffield, Connecticut.  He came home from that trip and told me of the beautiful antique homes that he had seen along that drive in Suffield. 
The next week he made the same trip.  This time he came home with the above magazine;  he handed it to me and said... "You're going to want to move."
 
I laughed, I scoffed, I shook my head, I mumbled something about how silly he was, I opened the magazine....
At the time I had an antiques business that kept me really busy, a wonderful 1950's ranch that we had totally re-done that sat on a lake/pond in Dallas.  While I didn't own the lake I did "borrow" it and incorporated the view into my backyard- and a lake in your backyard in Dallas proper was a rare and fabulous thing to haveI had friends and neighbors that I loved.  Why would I want to move?!  

Fifteen minutes later after looking through the magazine I told Dan.... "We're moving!"

I was partially kidding when I made that pronouncement, but I also had this very strange feeling that there was some truth there... a seed had been planted.  I mean, why not??  What was holding us in Dallas?  In reality there was nothing.  Dallas had been good to us on many levels, but without verbalizing it we had been longing for a quieter life for a while. The buzz of the city was starting to wear on us.  Several times each year (three to four) we would drive the 12 hours from Dallas to the mountains of Colorado.  Both of us longed to live in and around natural beauty.  And, while Dallas has many great things to do and offer, "natural beauty" is not generally listed among them.
(I should probably also note that this was coming off of back-to-back summers in Dallas where we had 29 and 24 consecutive days of over 100 degrees!  So, the thought of milder New England summers was very appealing!)
Within two weeks we were up in New England "area hunting" as we called it.  We started in Connecticut.  (One of the major caveats to the move was that we had to be within an hour and a half to a major airport for Dan's work.) I swear to you we drove through every single little town in Connecticut and Massachusetts.  We would judge areas purely by our gut reaction and feeling about a place, and would say either "I don't feel the love" or "I feel the love.  I could live here!"  We really liked the "quiet corner" of Connecticut- the NE corner.  We gave it a great deal of consideration, and kept going back time and time again, but somehow we knew it just wasn't the perfect place for us.  So, we continued looking.  Dan kept mentioning New Hampshire. We had never been to New Hampshire in our lives and from the gardening map (I was a big gardener) it seemed really far away- almost like a whole different country, so I kept rejecting it on that alone.  Then, one day we crossed the border into southern New Hampshire into the Monadnock region (mountains) and we felt like we had arrived home

This whole process took several years, as we were looking for the perfect place.  Every time the airplane landed in New England I had this feeling, this gut reaction that I was "supposed to live here."  I couldn't explain it, I just felt a very strong pull to live my life here. 
So, we kept coming back, kept looking for our dream house.

In the meantime,, as we were taking our sweet time, the opportunity for Dan to move to New England closed up tighter than a drum.  We had to accept the fact that we would never leave Dallas.  Which we did for several years.....until... a very random tiny bit of information opened up a one time opportunity that made a move possible.  It was literally a one time deal-  now or never.
We were shocked, excited and scared.  We gave ourselves three days to think (no discussion) about a move and if we really wanted to do it now that it was on our plate for real.  Sometimes it's fun to play with a wild idea, but when the time comes for action you quickly back down-  it's too hard, too scary, to real, too... too... . 

We wanted a big adventure and knew if we didn't do this now, at this point in our lives, we never would... it was just too big of a move and a lifestyle change to do when we were older.  It was a huge and scary decision, yet one that we knew we would regret for the rest of our lives if we didn't do it....
We listened to our heart, trusted our gut and decided to jump!


You have to churn somewhat when the roof covering your head is at stake, since to sell is to walk away from a cluster of memories and to buy is to choose where the future will take place.
-Under the Tuscan Sun-


We had narrowed our search to a favorite area in New Hampshire, actually two historic towns about 30 minutes apart.  The night before coming up to house-hunt on one trip Dan happened to widen the search between these two towns and this house, our house came up. 
It was the second house we saw that trip and we were smitten.  We both have a good sense of houses and knew we didn't need to look further... oh, and we hadn't even been inside- we were looking at it from the road!! The house was 'rented' at the time and we couldn't get in, so had to come back the next week to see inside.
That visit was a little trickier....  the house definitely had  "flow" issues (the rooms were really choppy and didn't "flow").  The first night after seeing the interior I couldn't sleep at all as I was trying to rework all the rooms and issues the house had...  it was overwhelming to say the least. 
For the next long six months while our Dallas house went in-and-out of several contracts (ahhh, the joys of selling a home!) I had the luxury of time to renovate the farmhouse in my mind!
After six months with our Dallas house for sale we were now in November and decided to pull it off of the market until the following Spring, as my yard was a huge selling factor.  Two months later our realtor called out of the blue saying she had a signed contract for us!  It was a very sweet deal, but we had to be out of the house in a month!
So, in the middle of the second snowiest winter in New Hampshire on record we arrived in our adopted state!

We decided to rent a house, realizing that now that we were actually living here we really should drive all over the state and make sure that this was the right place for us.  So, for the next eight months we drove..... everywhere!   In reality for eight months we were trying to talk ourselves out of buying this house.  We had come to realize the extent of this HUGE renovation and we didn't know if we had that in us.... but we couldn't talk ourselves out of it.... we kept coming back here, to this house, our house.
 And, the farmhouse waited for us
The realtor even called at one point to tell us that someone was going to make an offer on the farmhouse.  I said, that it was okay- it wouldn't go through because it was "our" house!!
And the rest.... well, that part started with the beginning of this blog!


WARNING: 
The following link could be hazardous.

Click photo only if you dare!
okay... I dare you!!

71 comments:

  1. Joan
    I love brave moves! I sold everything and up and moved to Paris years ago for cooking school. Stateside Now but never a regret!
    I'm addicted to your blog!
    Thank you for your generous replies!
    Heidi from Portland Oregon

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  2. Thanks a bunch! I just found a Colonial in Chester, NH that will keep me awake all night tonight.

    Do you know your families' genealogies? The same thing happened to me with Boston. I felt I was drawn here. And, after 20 years of living here, I traced my ancestors around the country and right back here to the Village of Cambridge where my 13th great grandfather landed in 1635. None of us has any idea! He's buried just a few miles from my house. Is it coincidence or is there some connection in the universe somewhere that made this feel like home to me?

    Maybe you lived there in another life.

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  3. I loved reading about how you found your home. I do know that feeling of just knowing this is the place you are suppose to live. How wonderful that you are there. I live in Oklahoma City in a beautiful historic neighborhood but if it weren't for this neighborhood..I would be absolutely miserable. I really don't like living in Oklahoma but that is where my family is from. I lived for a time in Atlanta and feel like the east is much more where I'm meant to be. I have taken a few trips up northeast and oh...my how beautiful it is up there....it doesn't even look real. I also remember the first time I was in the woods in North Georgia and there was a bubbling brook complete with water fall. I thought places like that were fixed up in photos because we sure didn't have any water that pretty in Oklahoma. I always say the creeks and lakes are full of red water here. The water is often muddy because of our red clay.

    Anyway....I now live in a historic house in a historic neighborhood in the middle of OKC with lots of trees and an actual creek that runs through the middle of the neighborhood. I did not want to live in OKC but life had brought me here. I had house hunted for months with no excitement...till the day I drove into my neighborhood and knew this was it.

    I love seeing all about the renovations you are doing to this house. I did not know about that publication...I'll be browsing it online.

    Thanks!

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  4. I just love stories like this, really heart warming to read about those that truly follow their hearts and go where they feel they are being led to. (Hawaii, here I come) but seriously, just wonderful and so inspiring if not to get up and move to a new place just to try things that are new and foreign to us, because how will we know if we dont' try! Sometimes you need to fully disconnect to be able to reconnect...and the idea of change can be scary so I give you a lot of credit for following your heart. This is one of the best stories I have read in a long time, I thoroughly enjoyed it and am forwarding to my parents who dream about making such a move, I know they too will get great enjoyment from reading it. Thank you so much for sharing it.

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  5. Oh my gosh, what a compelling story! And it's perfect for Valentine's Day since you fell in love first with an idea and then with a house. I've just discovered your blog and can't wait to read more.

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  6. hi joan,

    wow, i really, really love this story for so many reasons. the main one is that at an age when "we" are supposed to be settling down, you two chose not too. i LOVE that. and then the story of your actual farmhouse is incredible. i think you really are at home now.

    should i look at the magazine? larry would kill me, literally.


    xo
    janet

    ps - i just read your last post and all i have to say is wowsa.

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  7. What a wonderful story!!!

    Bruce in West Springfield, Massachusetts
    The Pioneer Valley

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  8. Thanks for sharing your story. I really enjoyed it. I have spent most my life in the NE and can't imagine living anywhere else.

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  9. I love it - follow your heart to the right place/house and you can't go wrong.

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  10. Oh love your story! The first time I fell in love with New England was a long time ago. The beautiful area, the charming villages, the rich landscape.....I wish I could move and emigrate ....but reality is different from daydreaming, especially when you live far away in Europe.

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  11. thank you for this post -- and for your others, especially the one reminding everyone of the polite habit of responding to people and things that please.
    i'm a happy visitor to your blog, but this is my first comment.

    i won't click on the link for real estate listings, but i do consider you a friendly neighbor.
    wishing you and your dear ones all good things.

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  12. My husband and I talk about picking up and moving to Spain / France / Jamaica...all the time....I'm forwarding him this post k

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  13. I love your story of your move. We hope to do the same one of these days.

    --------------

    I just gave you an award! You can find out about it here!

    An Award for YOU!

    Congrats! :)

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  14. Hi Joan,
    LOVE this story...probably because I desperately want to do the same thing! I love that you went with a feeling and landed exactly where you were supposed to be. It really is a comforting feeling to know you are "home."
    I'm so thrilled for you that it all worked out the way it did...
    I just clicked the link...looks like Chad and I will be having a conversation tonight. :)

    Have/did you ever search on www.historicproperties.com? I spend hours on that site trying to find my new home ~

    Have a lovely evening!

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  15. I've been reading Antique Homes for years...and I already live in New England..it really is a special place...so glad you found us!

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  16. Thank you for sharing your wonderful story! My husband and I are in the process of downsizing and trying to decide where we would like to live. His oldest brother has a beautiful farm outside of Lee, NH. It is always depressing to come back here to Texas as the trees look like bushes after being up there and my sister-in-law can grow so many gorgeous things there that would nevewr make it here in our heat. I love your blog and watching your remodeling. Thank you again for sharing.

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  17. You had to dare me. And I had to take you up on it. Ohhhh my. I am in love...about 6 different times. I am like you, I would move tomorrow. But, I would have to go it alone. My husband hates the cold. I love it! We were lucky enough to live in Newport, RI for a year and I fell in love with New England from the first day. New England is as close to the feel of when we lived in Europe as I have found. Yep...I totally understand why you both love living there. Color me jealous. :)

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  18. Lovely story and beautiful houses. I used to live in the East and still miss the area and the people.

    Monique

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  19. What a wonderful story-- a journey, really. All the stars had to align for your move to happen...what patience you had! As always, a delight to be along for your "ride." :)

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  20. Two bravehearts who took a chance & won the prize!
    Millie x

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  21. I love your blog and even more now. I could totally see my husband and I doing something like this down the road. I am very happy for you both. Thank you for sharing it.

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  22. I have only visited New England once but NH was my very favorite place! It's absolutely beautiful out there!

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  23. I think New Hampshire is the one of the prettiest states that I have ever seen. We used to live in Boston. We used to drive to New Hampshire during the Fall with out fail. How can I forget those spectacular fall colors. I can truly understand following your passion and dream. That is exactly what I did and published a book on my own. I love your blog. I think your blog has lots of substance.

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  24. oh my what a wonderful story! i felt exactly the same way about new hampshire when i travelled by myself for fall foliage. i didn't want to leave then & dream of returning. i'm now very near retirement age after living the most of my adult life in dallas/fort worth i would SO love to make the move. i haven't opened the book yet but will...now to convince my dh. your newest fan....pam in texas xxoo

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  25. How irritating I can never resist a dare!
    But what do I do now that I have fallen in love with a beautiful home that we can afford except that we are in OZ!!!!!!
    Love your story, we have done it several times and about to embark again on a great leap even though we are now perhaps a little too aged!!!!!

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  26. I'm still living in the same town where I grew up, but have always wanted to be adventurous and live somewhere else. My husband, however, does not seem to want to move. I love your story! Do you have an antique shop in New Hampshire?

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  27. Ok...First off...I sent WAY too much time on that site!

    Secondly, I love your courageous story. New England certainly feels like home to me...but then so does Colorado...which is where we will probably head.

    Your home has such a soul. I just love that!

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  28. Great story, great link...thanks for sharing and Happy Valentines! Trish

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  29. Really enjoyed reading your "house" story. Happy it turned out just like you wanted it to.

    Jeannette

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  30. Great story! We are going through something similar right now but, we aren't leaving Texas. :-) I need to talk to you sometime about adjusting from the city life to the country. Maybe you have some good advice for me. I am so excited to make the life change but, it is a little scary too.

    Thanks for sharing your inspiring story! Have a great week!
    Heather

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  31. I think I can speak for all New Englanders. We are lucky to have you!

    What a great story.

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  32. What a fabulous story!! I so admire the two of you for your adventurous brave move and all the effort you have put into your beautiful new home. I doubt I will ever live anywhere else but I guess the point is - you never know!!

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  33. Congratulations for following your heart. I once read that it is in moments of "free fall" when what is known is left behind, we come to know our truest selves. Here's to more adventures with your heart's delights.

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  34. Hi Joan, Dan, and Ella: Happy Valentine's Day! As a previous poster stated: "We are lucky to have you". Mike and I feel fortunate to have had an opportunity to live elsewhere (GA & MI), wouldn't trade those experiences for anything, but we always found ourselves back to MA and NH. As I write this, I am sitting in our NH home, after a weekend of watching dog sled races, and hosting a party for our friends that came up to be with us. We do love living in this part of the country! Cindy

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  35. Funny, I clicked the magazine only because I knew I was safe, I have my New England dream home. Fun learning your story and how you arrived here. I hope you, Dan and Ella have a wonderful Valentine's Day!

    Debra,

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  36. I believe this house called you forth to make it once again a home. Not just anyone could have looked at it, as it was and saw, as you two did, what it could be. It probably caught your eye with how perfectly it was sited on the lot and the way the driveway entices from the road with its gentle slope that meanders up to the front porch. I can almost hear it saying welcome come on in. I have been searching online for the last 6 weeks for something comparable for us. I now see it took 2 years for you to find this gem. I can wait until my old/new farmhouse calls to me. It sure seems like the wait even with all the ensuing renovation was worth it. Congratulations for having the courage(guts) to take this adventure on. And thanks so much for sharing with all of us. It is a dream.

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  37. I love this story and I love your home. I just renvoated my kitchen this past year and it has a lot of the same elements as yours.....soapstone, beadboard ceiling, hardware, etc. I think yours is pure perfection. I think it was a genius idea with using drawers instead of doors.....I will do that next time, maybe in my forever home. Oh, and your fridge? I can. not. stop. thinking about it. We replaced our appliances with the exception of the fridge.....I dont know if I want stainless or paneled. The one we have now I dont like. It's faux stainless and came with the house. After seeing your fridge, I became obsessed with it. Unfortunately it will not fit into our space so that is why I will dream for my forever home. We hit a lot of bumps in the road with our renovations as well....your outcome is magazine worthy. I hope you don't mind, but I'd love to blog about it>

    Elizabeth
    ebethxo@yahoo.com

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  38. Thanks for sharing your inspiring story. Many people would be afraid to make such a change, but I have always said, "to live is to change." The challenges that come with change make me feel alive. My husband and I lived near Charleston, SC, before we started renovating his homeplace. We've never been afraid to make some leaps.

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  39. That's an amazing story. Isn't it interesting how many small ideas that pop into our heads come to fruition? I know I've had many and I'm always amazed that they actually came true!
    xoxo
    Lila Ferraro

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  40. what a great story! :-) Thanks for sharing! I live in NH; hubby & I grew up here.

    we also used to live in the Monadnock region for a while. Love your blog!

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  41. Joan,
    What a GREAT story! I so appreciate you sharing your story here and the quote ~ love itl! We are presently churning as we try and decide on a place to live in Alabama; choosing where we'll spend our future!!!! We are in one of those now or never moments (concerning a house we love) so this post is so timely for us!!! Your blog always inspires!!!

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  42. Hi Joan!
    I found your blog on Sunday and I've read every single post you've made here since then! It's amazing to see how far you've brought your house since you bought it.

    I really admire you and Dan for making such a big move. Someday I hope that I'll be able to do that too. Right now I live in London, but I want to move to a small town somewhere in the US after I finish college.

    I just hope that I'll be able to deal with having to drive 12 miles to get groceries! My local store is four minutes on foot!
    Thanks for all the inspiration!
    Sophie

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  43. ...perfect...just perfect...the story of the house is just as special as the house...must be something special about the people in the house...

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  44. Wonderful story and great website... I am going through every one of the houses listed lol.
    We will probably, sooner or later, do the same thing .. I know who I will contact when I have questions :)

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  45. Thats a great story...I often talk about selling this little place in the future and buying a big old house in the middle of nowhere in Maine, my husband on the other hand would like to sell it all when the time comes and buy a big sailboat and head to warm water! Only time will tell...we only just got to Colorado from the Oregon Coast and our youngest just turned 5, so I suppose we have plenty of time to decide. Maybe I should toss in Italy...and really shake things up!!

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  46. I just stumbled upon your blog about a week ago and I'm hooked! I love this post, my husband and I are in a similar situation. We live in NY and have been thinking about moving to CT for a few years now. Nothing has caught our eye yet, but I can totally relate to having that feeling of knowing when it's right. I feel very comfortable in the towns we've been looking in, but we just haven't found the right home. I really enjoy your blog and your kitchen is truly the most beautiful room I've ever seen. Your house and property are gorgeous.

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  47. I can't remember the last time I came across a home I love as much as yours! Beautiful! I adore New England & antiques, so it should come as no surprise. We live in Oh, but it's a small village that could easily be in New England. We've spent many summers on the Cape, Martha's Vineyard & Nantucket. We lived in Bsoton after college and took weekend trips to NH and Vermont. You are so lucky to live there! I look forward to following your blog. Your kitchen belongs in a magazine!
    Tessa

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  48. I felt like I was with you and your husband every step of the way in this story, especially as last weekend we were up in New Hampshire for my uncle's memorial service. He and my Aunt lived in Bradford for decades. What a beautiful part of the world, and our history.

    When my husband and I arrived an hour early we decided to drive around and literally oou'd and ahh'd at every glorious farmhouse we passed. I long to live in an area where there is community. I dream of having a little cafe where I can sell vintage and crafty goods and share my culinary delights with my neighbors. We have talked of retiring to Maine, buying an old farm on the water. Until then, I remain happy in our creaky 1800s hunting lodge, nestled 45 minutes outside of Manhattan feeling like I am somewhere else. You need a dream!

    Man, does that quote from The Tuscan Sun really ring true...I felt that way when I bought my house in Vermont and am anticipating that feeling when I sell it this spring.

    I'm glad you came east, your house is too!

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  49. Hi,
    I just found your blog today. As I have been looking at the pictures of your house I fell more and more in love to! I understand that you simply love your house!!!
    I hope it is OK that I added a link to your blog from my blog?!
    I will come back to your blog for inspiration! We are also renovating our house and we are trying to make it a littlebit like your style. How funny! Once again, what a beautiful house!

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    Regards
    Veronica

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  50. What a great story. Makes me think about how we never know what might come our way and our dreams really can become reality. :)

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  51. OH....MY...........GOODNESS!!! I am a central Texas resident who is from......Suffield, CN. I just wandered into your blog today...what a wonderful coincidence!!!
    Thank you for doing what I will never be able to do, and if you ever wander through Suffield again, please throw a kiss and a hug at the Congregational church for me! My grandfather did a lot of the reconstruction work after the 1938 hurricane. My uncle built many custom homes in that area, including one for the Alcorns!
    Thank you so much for a lovely afternoon of memories!

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  52. I love this story! Sounds like your house maybe found you. Ours did. :-) We weren't "meant" to have it (another offer fell through the DAY of the closing! Bad for the seller, great for us!) but we got it. And we've loved ever old bone of hers ever sense.

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  53. And "sense" = "since" (bahhh...autocorrect!) But I "sense" our house likes us, too, lol!

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  54. Joan,
    Loved this story so very much and the honest truth about all of it! So glad I found your blog, because a stop here is always so much fun...dying over the headboard!
    ~R

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  55. Thank you for sharing this story Joan! We are so similar. Steve and I made a similar decision recently. If all goes well I'll be sharing some exciting news at the end of the week.
    I'm so glad that you and Dan went for it! It's proof that our instincts are always right, if we just listen to them!

    xo
    Brooke

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  56. Hi Joan- I love this story! Jon and I live by "everything happens for a reason". It's why we're together and why we dream about the future.

    So happy that you and Dan (and Ella) decided to follow your hearts.

    xo-
    Carolyn

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  57. What a great story ... love your sense of adventure and that you followed your gut to a new state! Although we've never lived further East than Houston, TX, we made a lot of corporate moves for a period of about 10 years - Utah, Colorado, Texas, back to Colorado, Southern California, Arizona, back to Colorado and back to Arizona. We've been in our house for almost 13 years now (longest anywhere) and, while it's not an antique like yours, we've done all the painting, flooring and decorating that made it ours. Love your blog!

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  58. I'm not even going to look at it because it would give Mike a migraine if I started house drooling (especially when the houses are clear across the country).
    What a great story...so meant to be.
    X Trina

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  59. You are a girl after my own heart. We've had a similar life changing experience. Ours didn't take us out of state but it has shaken up and changed out lives none the less as we find ourselves now living in our dream Village and on the verge of closing on our new home after a year and a half of dreaming and sacrificing. You just know when it's right.

    Also, I LOVE New Hampshire! My hubby had a job interview in that area several years ago when we were living in Miami and trying desperately to get out. We fell in love with a place called Parker's Maple Barn. That was 8 years ago and we still talk about it. We still order maple syrup from there. You must go. Deep fried french toast. That's all I'm sayin.

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  60. Just found your blog not long ago and have been going through your old posts occasionally. This is tremendous. Love the quote in the middle as we too uprooted, though we stayed in-state. The sentiment is real though. I'm sure I will continue to enjoy your journey with the rest of your followers. Thanks for sharing your love of house.

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  61. Just found your blog and have been reading some of your posts. This is my favorite post so far! You are truly an inspiration. Thanks for sharing your story with us. I live in a 2-story Colonial in the middle of Utah and that I built 13 years ago. Whenever a new guest comes into my home, they are always struck by how much it "feels" like New England. I wonder if I will someday end up there just like you! Beautiful, beautiful home.

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  62. Oh, I can't wait until we are as far along in our once unloved house!

    Your home is beautiful and inspiring.

    KATIE
    www.cochranfarmlife.blogspot.com

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  63. I found your blog by chance one day. I have read it from time to time. I often wondered how you moved from TX to NH and now I know. I just wanted to tell you, you are living my dream. I LOVE old homes and have dreamed of having an old home with a big front porch. Maybe someday... you have inspiried me to not give up on my dream, thank you!

    Kelly

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  64. I am from Oklahoma! I have lived in NH for 5 years now. I LOVE it here too!

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  65. I have goosebumps after reading this post. I just found your blog (where have I been?), and am joyously working my way through the whole thing.

    Janice, from Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada

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  66. Welcome Janice! I'm so happy you found us!
    I love all you sweet, wonderful, crazy (in a good way;) people who read the "whole thing"!!!

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  67. I hope this post doesn't mean your done. I have thoroughly enjoyed watching your journey unfold. The house is beautiful and exactly how I WOULD picture it. You have amazing taste and great vision. It's been a joy to watch and ooh and aah over it all!

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  68. Wonderful story told by a great writer. Your patience is admirable!

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  69. Last year we moved from Denver to rural Idaho. My husband found the dilapidated farmhouse online, made an offer, drove to see it, and we moved in a few weeks later. I had never even been to Idaho. Love what you've done to your place.

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  70. Joan, its 10:35pm. I have to go to bed! But I can't stop reading this great book, your blog. I tell myself, "just one more page"...and that link did NOT help. I just lost about 15 minutes on that site - I've got to go to bed. ;) Loved this story, though - I've wondered many times why you came to live in NH. Great choice!

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  71. Excellent story! Are you still in the antiques business? New England is a great place to do that!
    Claudia

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Also, "thank you" for using my AMAZON links on the sidebar to do your shopping! :)

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