Friday, October 31

"Friends Forever" Retreat.......

Well, you've had a peek at the goodie baskets and you've seen the entrance door to Villa Maria so it's time to go back to last Friday morning and tell you how are retreat began.

I was up early, totally organized and ready to go a half hour sooner than expected. However, you know how it goes. Just about the time you think you are "ahead of schedule" something pops up and you're not. This time I got behind because I stopped at the post office to mail a package of fudge to my son (I figured he deserved some goodies, too) and I got to talking to our postmaster who is not a master, actually, but a "post mistress". She's a quilter and bear maker, too, and had brought in her photo album for me to see. I had to look! One of her bears is so cute that I asked to borrow a picture of it and you'll see it come Election Day! So, I was running a little late but that was okay because when I called Collette (my daughter) to say I'd be late picking her up, she said she was hoping it was me calling to say I would be late! She owns a daycare center and had to work that morning and couldn't quite get away as soon as expected. Funny how sometimes things work out even when you're late. :-)

When I arrive at her house to pick her up, I realize that she has even more stuff than I anticipated. My car was pretty full but I thought I had left enough room for her things as well as mine. However, we were providing the meal so it meant transporting food for the dinner, snacks, projects, sewing machines, suitcases, etc. etc. etc. so we had a lot of stuff to get in the car! We wiggled it here, juggled a bit and moved things around and got it all in. I was able to shut the back hatch and we were off.

Our destination was Villa Maria Retreat Center that is located in Frontenac, MN south of Red Wing (click here for more info) . The retreat center sits nestled in the woods not far from the Mississippi River and it is just beautiful no matter what time of year that one visits!! It took us about two hours to get there and we spent the time going over details for our dinner and making plans for our next retreat. We had already come up with the theme for the next gathering! The fall colors were fading but it is still lovely when you are in the area of Old Frontenac and the cliffs, the hills, the water, the old homes. When we turned into the curved driveway that leads up to the Villa, it was like "coming home". My first retreat there was in 1991 or 92 with our church women's group. When the membership in our church dwindled and our women's group disbanded, there was a sadness knowing that we would not go back to the Villa. I just couldn't imagine not going to the Villa so I began planning a quilting retreat with my friend, Sara. That first one was in Feb. of 2003. There's no set schedule for the retreats and it depends largely on availability at the Villa and my own personal schedule. Someday I'll do a post just about the past retreats. Right now, I'll get back to this current one - "Friends Forever" was the theme.

Our first priority when we arrived was to get the soup into the crock pot so it would be hot enough by the dinner hour. We weren't sure when that would be because when the soup was hot enough was when the dinner hour would be! :-) With the soup in the crockpot and all the food unloaded from the car to the dining room, we scurried upstairs to put name signs on the doors so our guests would know which room they were assigned. Then we had to set up the sewing room and some of our guests started arriving. We decided we don't want to "scurry around" so much and we are going to go the night before next time, no matter what!!!

Once our guests could settle into their rooms and begin setting up their sewing spaces, we headed back to the dining room to finish preparations for dinner. The last guests arrived just as I was coming upstairs to say "Dinner is served" and as you can see in the photos the laughter and the sewing, the visiting with old friends had already begun and it just made me smile. Our sewing space was the Villa Library and it was just right, as baby bear would say. :-)

And here is the table ready for dinner. I was scurrying again and wanted to snap a picture before our guests started filling their plates so guess who wasn't paying attention? Me, of course. See those plastic bags on the cookies and the biscuits? I need an assistant to stage photos for me so I don't have these little mistakes happening. Oh, well. As you can see the food looks good and everyone said it tasted really good.

There were cucumber sandwiches and stuffed olives that Collette made and I baked up a big batch of my homemade biscuits. There was jam and honey for the biscuits, and cheese and crackers, nuts, veggies, and those really good cookies from Pepperidge Farms (so sorry, can't remember their name, only that they are really good).

And then there was soup - a chicken wild rice vegetable concoction that I made and, if I do say so myself, yep, it was really good. I'll share the recipe for it later.

Here are Joan and Sue filling their plates. You can see that the plastic bags have disappeared and the biscuits and cookies were disappearing, too. :-)
Just before I sat down to eat.......time for another photo. Here we are - Collette on the right and moving to the left are Jane, Joan, Gretchen, Sue, Laura and Sharon.

And in this photo from left to right are - Arlis, Barb, Carol F., Carol M., and Kate. While everyone was our guest, each of them is also a good friend. We were all so happy to be together and anticipating a great weekend! Sister Rose came in to extend a welcome from the Villa staff and then it was time to clean up and head upstairs. Everyone pitched in and clean-up went very fast. I sent everyone upstairs while I washed up the bowls and then I headed upstairs to set up my machine and get started on some sewing fun. As I passed through the lobby this little guy caught my eye. He's made from a gourd. Isn't he awesome?!! Somewhere, I have a link to the website where you can order these. I'll find it, just give me time. :-) Speaking of time, it's way late, so time to turn out the lights once again and head to bed. Oh, and I hate to keep you hanging but there really is a bedbug story coming soon.
Night everyone, or Good morning depending on when you're reading this!!! I'll be back Friday evening after the Trick or Treaters have been here to tell you more about the retreat.


Anonymous said...

Looks like a great group having a great time at retreat.

Sandra :) said...

MMMMMMMMMM everything looks great - chicken wild rice vegetable concoction crockpot soup (aka CWRVCCS :D) sounds delish - I'm looking forward to the recipe :) Everybody looks like they're having a great time!

Good luck tonight with the Trick or Treaters - we have chocolate bars and bags of potato chips for 120 kids - my poor cat will go batty with the doorbell, so we have to lock him in the laundry room so he doesn't get too frazzled, lol.

Nanette Merrill and daughters said...

Wow Sandi what a lot of work! I'd love to have been there. What a great thing to do with friends. It would be like heaven. The food looks fabulous.

Babs Schmidt said...

It sounds like you had a wonderful time! I wish I could go on a retreat. Maybe one of these days.

Can't wait to hear more about it!

Jacquelynne said...

2 questions: 1) You worked so hard on this, does it really count as a retreat for you? And 2) Can I come??? :)

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