Recently, I spent a long weekend away in southern Vermont. On a sunny fall morning, two friends and I made the 3-1/2 hour drive north from Connecticut through some of the prettiest countryside I have ever seen. We traveled along the Green Mountains and Adirondack foothills to our destination: Arlington, Vermont. Meleen Dupre and her good friend Charlotte Lyons have been hosting craft-based getaway weekends since 2012. For four days and three nights, a group of creative women from across the country gather together to stay in Meleen’s side-by-side vintage farmhouses, eat her home-cooked meals, do a few crafty projects, and experience whatever else lovely Vermont has to offer.
We arrived late Thursday afternoon and were warmly greeted by Charlotte and Meleen. After getting a tour of both homes and settling into our respective bedrooms, comfy wicker chairs beckoned us on the porch. More introductions were made and we chatted while snacking on grapes, Vermont cheese and crackers. Later, we headed inside to the great room to enjoy a scrumptious dinner at communal tables among the array of distinctive antiques that Meleen and her husband collect.
After dinner, it was off to the craft room for our first project: handmade journals. Meleen repurposed vintage books as the covers and it was our task to decorate and fill them with blank pages. Before arriving, we had a little homework assignment to make tags with our contact information. Now that we were together, we exchanged those tags with one another and placed them in our journals.
The next morning, we enjoyed a hearty country breakfast and lounged for a bit in our PJ’s. Then we got ready for the next project: a workshop led by talented guest artist Jenn McGlon of Noodle and Lou. Jenn showed us how to paint little wooden boxes in her distinctive style. So sweet, just like Jenn!
That afternoon, we went on a field trip to Wing and a Prayer Farm. We met fiber farmer and baker extraordinaire Tammy White, her beautiful sheep and alpacas, crazy turkeys, and three very energetic dogs. Tammy showed us how she creates a variety of fabric dyes from plants and other natural elements. She also graciously gathered an array of fresh herbs from the garden and instructed us in a fragrant project: lovely little herbal wreaths for us to take home.
The next day, the always inspiring Charlotte Lyons led us in our most challenging project: a shadowbox fashioned from a cigar box and filled with personal trinkets we brought from home. Classes took place in a well-appointed craft room that took up the entire first floor of one of the houses. Chock full of every sort of art supply, it was the perfect place to get to know everyone while crafting. My four-seasons-themed shadowbox, featuring fun vintage pics of me and my sister, turned out better than I expected!
Late that afternoon, we took a shadowboxing break to visit and shop at Battenkill Pottery, the studio of ceramic artist Jessica Putnam-Phillips.
Although our days were full, we still had time to explore on our own. We hit up a few Saturday morning tag sales and antique shops and visited Bennington Potters. We enjoyed Manchester, Vermont, with its outlet stores and one of the best independent book shops around, Northshire Bookstore. We also stopped at Manchester Woodcraft, a family-owned business filled to the brim with affordable wooden gifts, toys and household items.
On the way back to Arlington, we stopped at Hildeen, the spectacular estate of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln’s son.
Hats off to Meleen and Charlotte for creating such a fun-filled and inspiring weekend! Where else can you stay in vintage farmhouses, eat wonderful meals, explore the picturesque New England countryside and craft to your heart’s delight?
Even though I am not a crafter by nature and the projects were challenging for me, I truly enjoyed working on them. It was nice to learn something new in a beautiful setting surrounded by friendly and talented people. What a pleasure it was to meet and spend time with Charlotte, Meleen, Jenn, Kana, Tammy and all of the women who ventured from near and far to attend this very special fall getaway.