Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Christmas present

Our cousin, Tiffany, gave us this PERFECT stitched sign for Christmas-- HOW CUTE??? We're going to put it in the entryway so greet all friends.

Thanks Tiffany Ann!!

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Rooms Are Coming Together!

It is finally coming together at Sweetland Retreat! We have been working on the house for just over one year and are pleased to share some photographs with you!

Above you can see two of our guest rooms along with our guest living room. We're still working on furnishings and wall color, etc. We will also be refinishing the floors. We're just so delighted to have progressed so far in the last year! We're looking forward to giving you a tour in person soon!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Register to vote!

Voter registration deadlines are fast approaching! (list of deadlines here)
No matter who you vote for, your voice matters.
Register today and get out & vote in your State & Federal elections!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Horsing around!

Last Sunday, on my 30th birthday, Brian took me to Monmouth to go horseback riding! My horse was named Gracie and his was Echo. They were very very good horses and we took them on an hour and a half ride through roads, trails, and woods! Gracie didn't like the puddles much and tried to knock me into a tree but I managed to steer her back onto the trail. We even got to do a short trot!

We had a blast and are finally getting over the pain found in muscles we didn't know we had!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Tales from the Garden...

AppleBlossoms, originally uploaded by Sweetland Retreat.

Well by now most of the flowers have gone by and the fruit trees that were in bloom are now full of delicious fruit: apples, peaches, pears. Crab apples, too! We do need some help with our fruit trees if anyone is good with these trees! Pruning in the late fall is in order, for sure.

The field is full of goldenrod and gives the hayfield that look of Laura Ingles running through the field on Little House on the Prairie.

We found a nice spot full of raspberries and a small patch of blackberries, too. We had a great time filling our bellies with the bounty of our yard! We will certainly have to plant some blueberries soon!

The veggie and herb garden are coming along quite nicely. The lettuce has kept us in greens for the past few weeks and the pepper plants are yielding a nice variety of sweet and spicy delights. Leeks look great, someday I'll learn what to do with them. The squash was planted a bit late but should prove to be delightful very soon. I see some rather large yellow squash developing and I'm eager to cook them! The scallions, however, never even attempted to grow for some reason.

The herb garden is a delight, probably because I've had a bit more experience with herb gardens than veggies. The cilantro was yummy but I let most of it go by and seed into coriander. It is now hanging in the cottage drying. Sage, thyme, rosemary, oregano, chives (Jamie's favorites), and basil are all bountiful and I've begun harvesting some, as well, to dry for winter. The parsley was a disappointment this year but I still have quite a lot dried from last summer. I've heard parsley doesn't grow that well in Maine.

I'm about to finish weeding the garden to make some more room for fall crops: spinach, another run of lettuce, and I'm sure I'll find something else to plant!

If you're in the area and want to help out, grab a fistful of weeds and help me clear room for some more goodies!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Do not adjust your monitor

Can you believe this sky?? Joy and I were amazed to see this sight as the rain let up one evening. Our entire yard was cast bright pink like there was an invasion of glowing Barbie dolls. Absolutely stunning against the deep blue sky. Maine is a dream!

...I know what my next painting is going to be :)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Come home soon SS Samuel Erwin!

Much love to our brother Sam who is headed out to Iraq.
Take care of your men and come home safely very soon!! We love you!!!!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Etsy Finds- Art!

I curated an Etsy Find with some of my favorite artists! Come check it out and buy some art!!!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Art Fair tomorrow!!!!!

Come out TOMORROW Saturday July 28th from 12pm-dusk to see us at the WHATEVER FAMILY FESTIVAL ~ HALLOWELL’S RIVERFRONT CELEBRATION ~ We will have a couple of tables set up for the Outdoor Art Fair: show and sale, featuring artists from the Kennebec Valley Art Association.
We will be having a "Be an Artist For a Day" event where folks young and old are invited to contribute to our "Whatever Festival Art Quilt" --all supplies will be provided so come on out and paint! ...No talent necessary :)
The Art Quilt will be assembled on the spot so keep coming back to our table to check out the progress! We are encouraging artists to sign their quilt square in the middle to show the vast array of ages and locations of the contributors. Art can and will unite us!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Hooray for helpers!!!

Our sister, Justina, came up from NY to stay at her camp just a few minutes away. She's so excited to get us moving along that she volunteered to work yesterday! She finished taking down the wallpaper in what has been dubbed her 'pink room'. This is a difficult task and one that we have come to dread so we are SOOOOO happy to have her come and help us!

She brought along her Husky, Brody, who wanted to get in on the action between playing games of Shark with Sammy. Justina also painted a desk that we bought at auction this past weekend-- It looks fabulous and now matches the dresser that she gave us! Things are coming together!!!!!

Now our only question is for our sister JoAnn--- when are you coming up to peel wallpaper????

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Garden Tour of Sweetland Retreat...

Our roses are in bloom and they're as big as our heads!! Joy models one behind her ear (really on top of her face!)

The best part of our week is strolling around the property to see what's newly in bloom-- we're finding flowers and trees that we didn't know that we had! The women that lived here before us really knew how to garden and put a whole lot of love into it. We thank them every day-- cause we know they're listening! The beautiful flowering white bush behind Joy in this photo is called Spirea-- our nephew dog walked under it the other day and tiny white dots of confetti were all over him-- I thought he went to a party!

The Lilies have started to make an appearance as well and they are lovely ladies. This patch is growing behind the cottage where the white and yellow Daffodils were last month. Can't wait to see what comes up next...I bet it's yellow!

Sweetland Retreat also has the good fortune of having a ton of Hostas! We saw them when we were thinking about buying the house and fell in love-- luckily there are even more now than we saw last year! The will soon blossom into pretty flowers but right now they are nice big patches of elegant curved leaves.

We were surprised to wake up one day and see exotic colored Irises on the side of the house. They have petals that are just begging to be painted or photographed! I'm sure that these will be a favorite muse amongst our guests!

When you turn the bend in the driveway you will be greeted by this buxom lady. A fragrant hello from this jeweled purple Lilac will start and end your day perfectly! You may feel dwarfed next to it but you'll delight in her sweetness.

Next to the Lilacs were another surprise... Poppies!!! My favorite flower! What a burst of color. They are growing under a Rhododendron bush and we're going to try to take some of the seeds and spread them around the yard. Unfortunately, it was so hot the day the poppy bloomed that she wilted within a few hours. No worries, though, there are a few more peeking their heads out now.

The front yard has it's share of beautiful blooms, too. There are monster Azalea bushes and Rhododendrons. The Azaleas are a fiery pink that are almost red and the Rhododendrons are a light purple-pink. You can't miss our house when they are in bloom!

...more to come soon!!!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

In memoriam

Aunt Stephanie
Rest In Peace, you will be missed.

"Farewell to thee! but not farewell
To all my fondest thoughts of thee:
Within my heart they still shall dwell;
And they shall cheer and comfort me."
-Anne Brontë

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Gardening time!

IMGP6050, originally uploaded by Sweetland Retreat.

It's fiddlehead season! The former owner of the house came over and taught us how to pick fiddleheads and where to find them on our property-- and boy are they plentiful! This photo is from our first day's picking-- and there were some more to come!

We also started a vegetable garden. This section is the spiral herb garden-- a Joy's brainchild and my sculpting skills :) We've used pottery shards that we got from our friend Jennifer and some bricks and miscellaneous items from the garage to form it.

While were planting, Joy decided to have some fun and try a didn't really work out!!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Wallpaper Removal

Revel in our madness as we remove what we think is only 2 layers (but actually 4) of wallpaper in the upstairs Guest Living Room.

Monday, April 28, 2008


IMGP4825, originally uploaded by Sweetland Retreat.

The floor has been stained a lovely shade of Pecan (which way do you pronounce pecan?). Here it is half way stained but Brian has now completed it (that'll be in the next update!). This is sort of like a before and after shot all in one.

We're going to have some awesome classes in this room!!

Have some items you're looking to get rid of? Browse our Wish List and see if we need any of it (most likely we do!) Click on the "Contact" link at the top of our website.

A virtual Tour of Sweetland Retreat

Videos!!! Take a virtual tour of the B&B (breakfast not included) and see our progress. This video is in three segments for your viewing pleasure.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Workshop Floors are down!

We've finished laying down the new pine floors. Next step is staining & sealing, we've picked a Pecan stain. Brian did such a great job with these floors-- they're gorgeous!

Also-- the wild turkeys have returned for the season! It's been so warm out this week that the snow has almost completely melted. The turkeys are back everyday and we're throwing out seed for them. We love to hear them gobble.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Art Supply Rummage Sale -Saturday! 04/12/08

art supplies
Originally uploaded by Jamie Ribisi-Braley
We are going to have a table set up at the Art Supply Rummage Sale at the Harlow Gallery in Hallowell, ME on Saturday April 12th from 10am to about 3/4pm.

Come and visit me and buy some of my orphaned art supplies! The proceeds will go towards our renovation at Sweetland Retreat as well as to the Harlow Gallery as a donation for the opportunity.

Other artists will also be selling their supplies so come on down for an interesting day! Their address is 160 Water Street in Hallowell.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

New Wall is up, flooring is ready & wallpaper is coming down!!

New Wall is up!, originally uploaded by Sweetland Retreat.

The drywall and glass door is up! This is the new enclosure around the stairway that leads from the workshop to the master bedroom. Today we'll be patching, sanding, & painting it!

Turns out there was 6 layers of wallpaper on these walls!!! Can you believe that? One was uglier than the next. A real early one was very very pretty but there was no saving it. Peeling took the better of 2 days and we're still not done in this one room! The walls underneath are plaster with horsehair. We are going to put a skim coat of plaster tinted with fabulous natural pigments. More on that when we start that project!

This is some of the beautiful premium pine boards that we got for flooring in the workshop room. Brian found them on an awesome deal at the lumber yard-- they were $2 a piece which came out to less than 75 cents a square foot. Definitely the least expensive and the nicest option that we found (and we looked really really hard!) It should be going down this week!!!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

A banner of a day!

banner_making, originally uploaded by Sweetland Retreat.

Joy sewed us this awesome Sweetland Retreat banner for our propaganda use. She is an embroidering genius! We had it at the FAB Fair with us (which was pretty fab and we'll post more pictures soon!) We wanted it to evoke our craftiness, fun attitude, and colorfulness and we think it does all that. It was amazing to finally be able to spread out in a big workshop room and make this together and we can't wait to have others come and join in our happiness!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Level walls!

level, originally uploaded by Sweetland Retreat.

Our BFF Adam Junior came to visit and to work this past weekend. He was our first artist at the retreat and put in a lot of hard work building a wall in the workshop room. The wall is enclosing the stairs (with a beautiful antique glass door to be installed) and creates privacy for the master bedroom above the workshop.

Adam taught Brian how to frame out a wall and drew a detailed diagram so that Brian could build a half wall at the top of the stairs on his own.

Adam-- We love you!! Check out his sculpture on his website

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Come visit us at the FAB Fair in Skowhegan!

Saturday February 23, 2008 from 10:00am - 3:00pm
at the Skowhegan Area High School, West Front Street
(Rt 2 West)

View Larger Map

Sweetland Retreat will be hosting an "Everyone Can Be An Artist" activity! Come to our table (near the library) and paint your heart away! We can give you some instruction or you can let your imagination run wild. No need for any art background... we want to show each participant that if you have the interest then you can paint! We encourage everyone to donate their masterpiece to the Retreat so that we can have a benefit auction in the Spring to raise funds for our renovation.

More about the FAB Fair--- This annual event attracts hundreds of people of all ages and with the variety of businesses, organizations and crafters their is always something for everyone. With this year's focus on interaction and making the event even more engaging- this will be a year not to miss! This event also is known for the Luck of the Draw Raffle with plenty of prizes and gifts for fairgoers to win. (We have donated one of Joy's photographs!) We have heard that GIfford's is giving out free ice cream! Don't miss this event!!!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Getting happy with the dust

Joy creates a happy face on my ass with the shop vac

This is how I got to that point. I spent a good 4 hours sanding this with very fine sand paper all by hand and dragged my butt all over the gotta get dirty! Brian sanded it with rougher stuff right before me. We have just stained it in an Early American finish and are about to put the polyurethane on it tomorrow.

Brian did an awesome job installing pine boards on the landing upstairs. It looks fabulous and is awaiting a stain and polyurethane, also.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Master bedroom painted

master bedroom painted, originally uploaded by Sweetland Retreat.

We have painted the Master Bedroom in two tones of yellow/gold. It looks amazing in the morning light and with the newly sanded floor. We're still in progress on the floor but it's looking beautiful...

This is a before (gray paint) and during (top sanded portion) shot of the original wood floor. We didn't think it would be so pretty but it certainly is! Now we need to decide on a finish! Any ideas???

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Winter berries

Winterberries in snow, originally uploaded by Sweetland Retreat.

A view of the winter berries outside of the living room window. Lovely!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Joy painting the upstairs master bedroom

Joy painting, originally uploaded by Sweetland Retreat.

Joy with her BFF the paint roller. These slanted ceilings are literally a pain to paint. This is the primer going on. We've already painted the main color but will take photos over the weekend. This is the 2nd floor master bedroom which is over the workshop space. It will have a private bathroom and a private entrance from the studio. Since this is in the converted woodshed it has wonderful slanted ceilings. It'll be a nice hide away!

The underflooring on the landing needed to be repaired so that we can lay down new pine on top of it. The rest of the floor in the bedroom is going to be refinished to it's original state! It's very pretty but not done yet...more photos to come!

Workshop has been painted

We chose a buttery yellow for the workshop walls. Soothing, bright, and neutral. Now we need to figure out what to do with the floor. We lucked out with the rest of the house, most of the other rooms have original wood floors underneath their current coverings. This one, though, used to be a wood shed so there is only a sub-floor under the carpet and linoleum. Anyone want to donate wood flooring???

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Welcome to Sweetland Retreat!

SnowingAgain, originally uploaded by Sweetland Retreat.

Sweetland Retreat is currently under renovation! We plan to open the Retreat for workshops in late Winter and for Bed & Breakfast guests in the Spring. Drop us a line, comment, here, or bookmark our site! If you would like to join our mailing list please email Jamie at jamieribisi{at}

More news REAL soon!