Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Country Dinner with Annie Sloan

This country house with its big barn was my destination for a special dinner
honoring Annie Sloan and the end of her US tour~
It was in the pastures off of a winding country road and lights twinkled
all around the property as Jami and I pulled in the drive at dusk.
(If you missed the first part of my story about 
my day with Annie Sloan you can read it here.)

Behind the old yellow house stood a massive barn dotted with antiques along
the perimeter with the ubiquitous "Antiques" sign hung above the entrance.
We had arrived at Counting Sheep, the home of Sally Barker, the first stockist
to be located in Massachusetts~in the town of Berlin, to be exact.
Look at this charming tiny workshop with twinkly lights
 that Sally has standing right next to her barn!
 This country setting is my idea of a slice of heaven~
And when I stepped inside the barn, this is what I saw~
a table a mile long with place settings of pretty mismatched vintage china!
  Old empty Annie Sloan paint cans were filled with tulips for the 
centerpieces and a collection of charming country chairs 
were pulled up to each setting!
White twinkly lights were strewn across the barnboard ceiling 
and the effect was quite magical~
 I captured Jami's reflection in the mirror as she gazed about the barn.  It was jam packed with vintage and antique treasures, lots of furniture painted the Annie Sloan way, and trinkets and bits on every surface. It was the first time I went to a dinner party and did not get a glass of wine first!  I was called to the hunt, and started gathering things to buy and take home~including the old hooked rug on the floor that Sally was standing on!
 So many treasures to look at~her barn was filled to the brim and I made my way around the collections until I ended up at the 
checkout counter where it was set up as a wine bar.
 Karen of Classic Wall Finishes poured me a drink~thank you very much!! There was a big galvanized tub with bottles of wine set in ice to the side of the counter top where all the wine glasses were set up
 in a gilded mirrored whatnot shelf!  
Jami and I got our pic snapped by Samatha Melanson, 
Sally's daughter, who is a professional photographer 
and has quite a career going at the young age of 25! 
She graduated from UMASS where my son Colin is attending!
 The next hour was spent rubbing shoulders with the stockists as we continued to shop and talk, talk talk...Jami, Shauna and I felt very special to have been included in this dinner party with the Annie Sloan crew, and of course Annie and her husband David.
 An ante room had been set up for a catered country dinner~
this was just the prettiest buffet
I had seen with a backdrop of draped canvas and coral tulle.
 Dishes of fresh garden treats to choose from to add to your
 salad and a sliced pork tenderloin with 
lots of side dishes~I was starving!!!
 Dinner would be served soon~
This little guy was interested in when dinner was going to
 be served as well, as the two of us looked longingly at the buffet~
Finally it was dinner time~I put down my bag and camera and grabbed a plate off the long table and headed to the buffet...and when I came back I found that none other than Annie had taken the seat next to mine!  Well, what do you know~!! Remember I told you in my post that I would be headed to Boston to rub elbows with the queen of chalk paint?  Literally, I was doing just that! As we gathered around the table and gobbled up the freshest and most delicious food people took turns making little toasts~the only draw back sitting next to Annie was that I couldn't snap her as she stood up and toasted us, the bloggers! 
With a special mention to Miss Mustard Seed who Annie said really got the ball rolling here is the states.
I chatted with Annie during dinner and the night seems a blurrr....on top of the day's events my brain was on sensory overload.  I remember talking to her about her video, and asking her if she had planned it or had it just come together in natural bits...I wondered because she was painting  bare footed, and she told me, "I always paint in my bare feet."  Where has this woman been all my life?  I didn't realize how special she was, only 24 hours ago I only knew that she created a paint.  Her video was the first time I sensed her lyrical nature, and those bare feet spoke volumes to me.
My view of dinner mate Annie Sloan
And a  raised glass was held by all~many times over.
I asked Annie if she was exhausted, and she said, "no, I mean how can I be exhausted when at the workshop I saw how many women drove in their cars from other states all the way to Boston to be part of my workshop~how could I be tired when seeing that~?"  I understood it was as invigorating for her to be on the receiving end of the admiration as we were on the receiving end of the lessons she shared. 
 Here was the table layout, with Patty Seaman, my teacher at the head of the table, and to the left was Jami, my blogger buddy from Freckled Laundry, empty chair was my spot, then Annie sat on the bench next to her hubby David, and next to David was Janet, another blogger buddy/stockist from Empty Nest.  Janet made a lovely toast to me, and I tell you, that we felt like part of one big loving family!  The other side of the table included Shauna, a blogger of Perfectly Imperfect, and Lisa Rickert Jolie, the king pin of bringing the Annie Sloan brand to the US~Lisa would play an important role in the days to come, but more on that at another time.
 As the evening winded down, Annie posed with this charming gift that Sally Barker createdto commemorate her 2012 American Tour.
 I actually called her "babe"! Oh my...I said,  "Come on babe, 
its time for me to get a photo of you!"~and she decided to pose with this collage, which made for a classic shot! This barn, loaded with women brimming with creative talents and joy filled hearts would soon be going their separate ways.  It was a night of celebration and now goodbyes, as all would be headed back to their respective lives~Annie with hubby David on a plane back to her shop in England, Sally would be staying in her country home running the Antiques shop and managing her duties as a stockist, Patty and Karen would be flying home to New Jersey to run their paint shop, Lisa headed for a flight home to New Orleans, Jami and I loaded up her car with our purchases (!!!) and headed for Maison Decor to rest our weary heads on pillows after this whirlwind of a day and night.  
However for me, the tour didn't quite end...
I'll share more next time!

To watch Annie's video click here

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