Five of us went to Guemes Island near Anacortes Washington recently, for a stitching retreat! What heaven - four days of fun, food, laughter and needlework! The Red Farmhouse is a wonderful retreat in a quiet rural setting, surrounded by wild roses and featuring gorgeous sunsets!
We packed our cars and met up in Anacortes, WA to do a little retail therapy, and then took the 3-minute ferry ride to Guemes Island and settled in to our home away from home!
Last year (this was our second annual retreat here at the Red Farmhouse), we brought way too much food, so this year, we really pared back - and still had tons left over at the end of the weekend! I think this one was really Becky's and my fault - our lunch went on for hours.
As I finished up my packing for the weekend, it became pretty clear how ridiculous this was going to be!
We had let Barbara, Jan and Beth know that we were going to do Friday's lunch, and that it was a surprise, but nothing more than that. For months before the retreat, we could be found whispering and planning, giggling and finding "just the right thing"! Now it was here - A Mad Tea Party! If you read the blog, you know in March, Becky and I went to a fun tea based on the Alice in Wonderland Mad Tea Party. We thought it was marvelous, and were so sorry our friends couldn't join us - so we decided to hold our own! Oh what fun we had - we made special invitations and menus and found or made up recipes based on the wonderful book! We found all kinds of Alice things...
It's Always Tea Time....
One of the best things I found was this gorgeous wreath made from a vintage copy of the book. Isn't it wonderful? You can find more of this wonderful artist's things here and here.
Even the back of this wreath is beautiful - and to make it even better, the inscription that had been on the book was saved - "for Julia Xmas Dec. 1954 from Aunt (and here I can't read the writing - could be Connie or Corrinne) I feel like it was made just for me!
We hung the gorgeous wreath over the table - and she smiled down on all our other decorations!
Notice the Alice in Wonderland plates... We made the Drink Me tags and the menus, and had fun using a lot of our prettiest china.
The table is large enough for at least 8 people, but setting it for five for a Mad Tea Party definitely crowded things! We had to set the food on the sideboard.
We had crowns for everyone to wear, as they came in to ooh and ah.
Finding your place was simple.
Barbara and Becky "partaking"...
And Beth - I mean, the Queen of Diamonds!
Some of the food...
We had Drink Me Cordial in the blue bottles (Raspberry Soda), a Mad selection of teas (I think we had about five different teas - got to put all our teapots on the table!), scones with Devonshire Cream, jam, and JaberwoKey Lime Curd,
Lobster Quadrille Crab Puffs, White Rabbit Carrot Sandwiches, Hookah-Smoked Salmon Rolls, Turkish Delight,
Mock Turtle Salad (Tastes Like Chicken)
Mad Hatter's Be-Devilled Egg Nibbles, Cheshire Cheese Hedgehogs (that's him in the middle above - terrible picture of him, but for some reason it's the only one I got. Isn't he cute?), Chocolate Dormousse,
Eat Me Lavender Shortbread, Meringue Mushrooms
Queen of Heart Tarts, Flamingo Croquet Fruits
and White Rabbit Chocolate (here, we found some small white chocolate Easter bunnies and saved them!)
As we talked about our plans and arrangements for the tea, Becky kept calling the "Eat Me" cookies, the "Bite Me" cookies. So of course....
This wonderful group of friends always exchanges gifts at these get-togethers, and this was no exception. Becky and I gave everyone a Mad Tea Party Box filled with a few little stitching goodies...
And the most important stitching tool - delicious tea to enjoy!
We had a wonderful afternoon "playing tea party"!
As we drifted back into the stitching room, some of the gifts began to come out... much to our surprise
Beth stitched everyone a beautiful necklace in a little frame, and gave us a gorgeous, turned needlecase - so pretty! Jan made everyone a lovely glass paperweight with a different scene of the Red Farmhouse on it! Barbara was crafty - she held her gifts back a bit - but when we finally turned in that night, we found a commemorative t-shirt on our beds! Nothing would do but we had to put them on the next day and take our picture wearing them! This picture is courtesy of Barbara, since I haven't figured out how to take a timed picture with my little camera. (I did, however, find out that my camera will take a picture of you automatically when you smile - I have lots of those...)
Not to be satisfied with this, however - Barbara also gave us each a hand-made necklace - you can see Becky front and center wearing hers. Barbara had also made each of us gorgeous embroidered needlebook and had fashioned some thread holders out of Fimo - I got a Jack O'lantern, which I love... and a heart with the alphabet... So cool!
We first came to the Red Farmhouse a year ago and at that time, we all started a new project together. We meant to stitch on it whenever we were all together and for the most part, we've done that. It's the Mary Wigham sampler that so many are stitching - here are four of our versions.
Mine is not among these as I worked exclusively on an upcoming free chart from the blog - Adam and Eve from Elizabeth Buck's sampler. Here's Elizabeth's version... You'll remember that we promised something special when we got 100 followers, and we hope you'll find this piece as special as we do.
So that's how we spent the weekend with Alice and Mary and Eve! The time was passed in friendship and joy, and I will always cherish the mementos I brought back from these few days.
We had one of those gorgeous sunsets every night!
I hope you have many chances to connect with your friends and enjoy their company. When you do get the chance - jump at it!