Vermont Travel Poster Giveaway


Kevin Ruelle, from Vermont Travel Posters, is a Burlington based artist and designer creating faux vintage travel posters.



The artist shared this with us about this work:

“Using uniquely American, early 20th century watercolor style in concert with a period airbrush technique, Kevin Ruelle creates the Art Deco Vermont Poster that our  nostalgia calls for, but adds the perspective that only a Vermonter could know. Each poster celebrates a facet of the monumental popularity of Vermont’s bucolic reputation.Very sophisticated, yet bold, this is one kind of art you can easily choose for a gift.”

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I gave the mounted poster above to a good friend and her husband (who happens to work at Stowe during ski season). Here is what Shaun had to share:



“This Ski Vermont poster embodies the more non-traditional ski terrain that Vermont has to offer (i.e, either un-groomed all natural terrain that can be found in-bounds or perhaps a backcountry zone accessed by those who prefer to “earn their turns”). As a lifelong Vermont skier I find the setting in the poster to be relatively anonymous in the sense that it does not portray the common ski experience one would find in Vermont; there are no chair lifts, no trail signs, and of course only one set of solo ski tracks. This is not to say the painting is impractical, in fact there is no question many Vermont skiers will be able to relate to this image and immediately be reminded of the swift silent and deep powder days that define a lifestyle.”

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Kevin Ruelle has seventeen different posters available in three different sizes. Your print can be purchased framed, unframed, or just matted. It’s also important to know that Vermont Posters are printed using archival quality paper and archival inks to last a lifetime.


As I now sit at my kitchen table writing I look out the window and see our growing apple trees and look forward to the day when I see an orchard, like the one above. September’s harvest is one of my favorite times of year. Kevin’s artwork is beautiful and I look forward to sharing it with my readers!



Find Kevin’s travel posters and more online or at the Vermont Poster Gallery on St Paul St. in Burlington. Enter below to win your choice of matted poster!

Enter here —->

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Travel on,



Kat’s Paws Giveaway


I love a good small business story. And I love a good family story. Kat’s Paws is a mother and daughter team making a vareity of sewn products from bibs to bags to coasters and more! Daughter owner Kat Salemno tells us more about the start of her business: “My mom taught me how to sew when I was a kid. Since then, she and I have sewn and quilted many gifts for others. People often ask where we bought the purses and other things we have made for each other, so we decided to start selling our work. We have also done a few craft fairs in recent years under my mom’s business name, but I specialized in other products, so for a while, we kept our businesses separate. In January of this year, we joined forces under my business name (Kat’s Paws), made it official, and put all of our products in my Etsy shop. Since then, we have sold nearly 300 items (through Etsy, at the beCAUSE Show, and the Maple Fest in St. Albans). We ship worldwide through Etsy, and have sold products to customers in Australia, the UK, and Canada. We both have a room in our house dedicated to just sewing! Having our business means we can keep shopping for shopping for fabric (which we love), trying new patterns and ideas, and we get to spend lots of time working together.”


One of the best sellers in the Kat’s Paws store is their coaster sets. Currently there are over 80 different sets listed in their Etsy shop (some at great sale prices too!). Coasters are a great gift item and something that everyone needs and uses. The set that Kat sent me is made with bright and vibrant fabrics. They are expertly sewn and are already being put to good use.


Reversible baby and toddler bibs are another best seller for Kat’s Paws. Let’s be honest… kids are messy eaters, especially when making the transition to feeding themselves. It’s nice to have something soft, functional, and practical to keep the food off of their clothing.

Kat’s Paws can also make custom products for you. If you have a fabric/pattern in mind contact them!


Beautiful baby model Kaitlyn showing off her reversible bib while enjoying a picnic snack. (The reverse side with numbers is shown above.)


The picture above shows my kitchen counter, AKA Grand Central. Here is my to do list, my computer, art work from my kids, notes, bills, my phone, and more. It looks 100 times better than it usually does thanks to the cord keeper that Kat sent me. Thank you for helping me to stay organized!



You can find Kat’s Paws products on their Etsy page. Mark your calendar for December 3rd from 9am to 3pm and plan to meet Kat and see her products first hand at the Holiday Bazaar at UVM’s Davis Center.


Take a moment to LIKE Kat’s Paws on Facebook. As a fan you will be the first to learn of sales, discount codes, and more. With the code FALL14TEN Try Vermont First readers will take 10% off their order of $5 of more through Sept. 30. Happy shopping!

Kat and her mom will send one lucky Try Vermont First reader a gift from their collection. Enter below to WIN this giveaway:
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Good luck!


Burke Mountain Confectionery Giveaway


Burke Mountain Confectionery has turned a life long hobby into a sweet new business venture for owners Tom and Nancy Taylor. The Taylors were living in Tennessee with their four children, though their hearts and dreams were in Vermont. Burke Mountain Confectionery officially started in March of 2012, though the Taylors gave themselves the following 18 months to develop and perfect their products.


Peppermint Bark is popular in my house around the holidays. Burke Mountain Confectionery is making this classic sweet all year. The combination of white and dark chocolate with candy peppermints is traditional, comforting, and very tasty!


Nancy and Tom are committed to using the best local ingredients and working with local producers. Nancy tells us: “We try to keep our ingredients simple and few to bring out the very best of flavors.  We don’t put any preservatives in our confections and we try to use as many local pure ingredients as possible in our products.” Their Eden Ice Cider Truffles are mildly sweet with a hint of apple.

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I really (really really really) enjoyed the Sweet Maple Truffles. The combination of rich dark chocolate and sweet maple is delectable.  While I wanted my family to try these and share their review with me, I also wanted to keep the truffles all to myself. These are fairly large truffles, and with four in a package there are plenty to share.


Here is a bit more about Burke Mountain Confectionery from Nancy: Our chocolates are designed with the gift giver & receiver in mind, and we have been very intentional creating a product that reflects the true essence of Vermont.  Our best seller to date has been the dark chocolate Sweet Maple Truffle, however we have had huge success with preselling our brand new salted dark chocolate Maple Caramel Truffle made with Fat Toad Farm Farmstead Goat’s Milk Caramel this summer at various summer craft fairs and festivals.  We are super excited about this collaboration with Fat Toad Farm and expect this new product to be a huge hit!”


Want to know where to find Burke Mountain Confectionery? Find their long list of retail partners here. We encourage you to request these products at your local stores, co ops and markets.


Nancy and Tom would love to work with you to cater your corporate event or wedding. Contact them today!


Enter HERE to win a Tower of Chocolate from Burke Mountain Confectionery! Good luck!

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Thanks for sharing your products with my readers Nancy & Tom!




Back to School Giveaway 2014

One of my favorite things about living in Vermont is the constant change. Change in seasons, time, and life. Summer in Vermont is lovely, and it ends all too soon! In just a few short weeks, or days for some, children will be starting a new season, a new school year. To celebrate the back to school season we are hosting our second annual “Back to School” Giveaway.


We thank each company for being part of this giveaway and we ask that you like/follow them on social media and keep them in mind when you need a gift, a snack, or a unique Vermont product. Take a look at the great prizes in this giveaway:



Meet The Multiples will send our winners a set of their educational dinner plates. My children really enjoy learning how to skip count (and multiply) while enjoying breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Meet the Multiples is also working with families, PTOs, and schools to put their products into cafeterias around the state and beyond. LIKE Meet The Multiples on Facebook and learn more about these products here.

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My son was recently asked what he likes me to pack for him in his lunchbox and he responded “meat sticks!”. We stock up each week and have them ready to pack, ready to go, and ready to snack on. Vermont Smoke and Cure will send each winner a box of RealSticks. Like Vermont Smoke and Cure on Facebook and learn more about their products here.



Did you know that Alaina’s Mosaics was started by a young Vermont entrepreneur at the age of 13? She has turned her colorful mixed media collages into cards (use as a first week of school thank you to the teacher!) and also an ABC book, which is very inspiring to young artists. Win a copy of Alaina’s book in this giveaway! LIKE Alaina’s Mosaics on Facebook and learn more about her business here.




Kids need a lot of supplies and gear when they head back to school. Find all the things on y our list at Kids City in South Burlington. They are sure to have everything that you need including nap mats, lunch bags, back packs, food storage, reusable bags, shoes, rain-wear and more! Kid City will send each winner a $50 gift card! LIKE Kid City on Facebook!



Here is a pantry must – a few jars of your favorite jam from Marsh Hollow. Top your favorite bakery bread or breakfast French toast with a Blueberry Almond Jam (each winner will receive a jar!). Or use a delicious jam as a base for your dinner marinade or dressing. LIKE Marsh Hollow on Facebook and learn more about this Central VT company here.



Win a beautiful, hand made bar of soap named Unicorn Poop (insert non stop giggles from my six year old) from Sapling Naturals. These soaps smell great, clean amazingly, and are really fun for kids (and adults!). LIKE Sapling Naturals on Facebook and learn more about this company right here.



At any given time it’s likely that you will find Vermont Village Applesauce in my pantry or fridge. It is the only store bought applesauce I will buy for my kids. It’s thick and delicious and comes in six flavors. When doing your back to school grocery shopping make sure to get Vermont Village Applesauce. LIKE Vermont Village Applesauce on Facebook! Learn more about Vermont Village Applesauce here.




Bug and Bot offers a large selection of personalized gifts for the kids you love- lunch boxes, water bottles, puzzles and more! Both of our Back to School Giveaway winners will receive a personalized lunchbox from Bug and Bot. LIKE Bug and Bot on Facebook and learn more about this playful company here.



Fall at CC Outdoor Store


The CC Outdoor Store in Waterbury, VT is the place to go for your outdoor gear needs and they carry a great selection of backpacks too! Our winners will each receive a $25 gift certificate towards a new backpack.. LIKE CC Outdoor Store on Facebook and stay tuned to Try Vermont First to learn more about this company.



It would be great to have a sweet treat from Time Out For Whoopie to celebrate your child’s first week back at school. Or enjoy your dozen mini traditional whoopie pies yourself in celebration of your child’s first week back at school! LIKE Time Out For Whoopie on Facebook and learn more about this sweet company here.



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Best of luck, with the school year ahead, and this giveaway!




Chocolate Hollow Giveaway


I would like to make your day a little bit sweeter, with a twist.


Chocolate Hollow, based in Burlington, is making luxurious vegan chocolate bars. Owner  Madeleine Siegel began making her own chocolate after her parents gave her a cacao stone grinder as a gift. She started experimenting with making Schmilk bars – vegan milk chocolate bars – and currently is producing seven different bars, with more in the works.


This vegan, organic chocolate bar is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth. I blindly taste tested this bar and would not have been able to tell you that it was dairy free.

I shared it with my friend Jill and here are her thoughts: “Not being a big chocolate bar fan, I wasn’t sure how I was going to really like this. On top of it all it being a Vegan chocolate. Let me just say it totally surprised me! I thought it was so yummy. It tasted just like milk chocolate. You wouldn’t know that there wasn’t any milk in it. It was very creamy, with the perfect cocoa taste. I even saved a piece for Mom to try and she said she gives it a thumbs up. I would defiantly sit down and eat this chocolate bar anytime.“.



Look at how loaded this chocolate bar is! This Hazelnut bar is a Schmilk style chocolate with lightly toasted hazelnuts. I ate this bar first and will admit that it was gone very shortly after I started it. It was very rich and addicting.


If you enjoy hazelnut as much as I do I would like to recommend that you try this Hazelnut Truffle Log ASAP! It is amazing! I cut mine into bite size pieces and limited myself to one a day, because I wanted to make it last. The inside of this bar is filled with a hazelnut gianduja, which means it is creamy, thick, and a bit like fudge. This happens to be Madeleine’s best selling bar.



The Fruit and Nut bar was another favorite bar of mine. It was loaded with chewy dried cherries and crunchy toasted almonds. I enjoyed the different textures set in Schmilk chocolate.


Though I seem to have no photos of it, but friend Hannah wants to tell you about the Toffee Crunch bar.

“Chocolate Hollow’s Toffee Crunch is a Beautifully balanced smooth and creamy chocolate with a delightful crunch of light and buttery toffee.  Delicious! A locally made, vegan chocolate that is organic and fair trade certified, means this is an  indulgence to feel good about!” -Hannah


You can find Chocolate Hollow products at City Market, New Moon Café, Natural Provisions, Sweet Clover Market, UVM at Henderson’s Café, Top of the Block Sandwich Shoppe, the Peace and Justice Center, Pingala Café, Evolution Yoga, and online.


Madeleine would like you to try her wonderful chocolate bars. She is giving away a deluxe variety pack with one of each of her 7 bars. We will choose one lucky winner and you MUST enter HERE to WIN:

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Show your support for this growing VT business and LIKE Chocolate Hollow on Facebook.




Time Out for a Giveaway!

Get ready to wish that you had a virtual computer screen that allowed you take the amazing desserts you will now see and eat them immediately. I can’t create this magic for you, but I can offer you a great giveaway with Time Out For Whoopie. This is our second time hosting a giveaway with Shannon Kadish, owner of Time Out For Whoopie. We are always happy to taste test her new flavors and to share them with you. Read more about Shannon’s start up here.


First I want to tell you where you can find Time Out For Whoopie (pies!). Look for them at the Cat Pause convenience store in the UVM Davis Center, Apple Farm Market in South Hero, and occasionally on the menu at the Blue Paddle Bistro in South Hero. Of course you can also buy them directly from Shannon’s website as well and there you will see the full list of different pies she makes.


Let’s start with the clear favorite in our house: Chocolate Cherry Whoopie Pies. This sweet little pie taste JUST like a cherry cordial candy. The cake is filled with different textures: the soft cake, the chewy cherries and crunchy mini chocolate chips. Yum, everyone wanted another cherry pie!



This sweet little S’mores Whoopie Pie has a surprise inside that caught me off guard.  The trio of graham cracker cakes, marshmallow filling and Hershey’s chocolate will take you to your favorite summer campfire memories. This cake is so creative and would make a perfect end of summer/back to school treat.


My three year old daughter and I both tried the Coconut Whoopie Pie first and were happy with our choice. The filling is so smooth and there is a perfect balance of cake and filling.


When in Vermont…..

Here is a classic Vermont whoopie pie: Maple Walnut. Shannon uses maple syrup from Poor Farm Sugarworks in Colchester in both the cake and the filling. It’s a double maple blast. This will surely satisfy your sweet tooth. Alert the maple festivals… they should all have these treats!


Peanut butter and chocolate go so very well together. This cake was rich and moist (did I remember that it was Gluten Free? No, I didn’t!). The filling had a deep peanut butter flavor. One little pie was completely satisfying. Note: Have Milk!


I sent whoopie pies to my friend Barb to try too. Here is her review:

“Some of the best whoopie pies I have ever had!  Gluten free chocolate with peanut butter filling was my favorite whoopie pie.  I would have never known it was gluten free.  The maple walnut whoopie pie was a treat.  Maple wasn’t too sweet and the walnuts added a nice texture.  The chocolate in the s’more whoopie pie tasted just like a Hersey chocolate bar and I loved that it was slightly hard. Just like the s’mores I make because I don’t have the patience to wait for the chocolate to melt. Delicious whoopie pies!!!”



That’s my blogging station (more like the Grand Central Station of our home). A well fed blogger is a happy blogger.

A note to Shannon… my husband enjoyed every flavor and mentioned that he would like larger pies. I’ll order minis for mama and the kids next time, and large for Daddy.

It’s that time again… time for a giveaway. Be sure to LIKE Time Out For Whoopie on Facebook for extra entries (let’s help them get to 1000 LIKES this week!). Remember this growing VT business when you need something sweet, party favors, gifts.


ENTER HERE to WIN this giveaway:

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Healing Earth Giveaway


We are happy to host another giveaway with Healing Earth Vermont Herbals. Find our previous review and giveaway here.

Today I would like to tell you about the all natural and DEET free bug repellants that Healing Earth’s owner Cathleen Keogh is making. Ingredients include sweet almond oil, beeswax and essential oils of eucalyptus, rosemary, lavender, peppermint, geranium, sweet birch and cedarwood. Note that Cathleen does not add citronella. She said that she doesn’t care for the scent and find that others feel the same way. The repellant not only repels VT’s buggiest bugs but the essential oils make it great for your skin too.

“I had a friend take our Bug Repellent on safari in Africa where she said they had the least bites and best protection of the whole group.” ~Cathleen


New this year is the Bug Repellent Stick. Pack this in any bag and don’t worry about a spilling, sticky liquid. The sticks are very convenient and easy to use.


I appreciate that Cathleen has taken the time to perfect a bug repellent recipe that I only wish I could make (thanks for the motivation Pinterest, but…….).  I am confident using these products on myself and my children (they are also safe on pets!) and goodness knows that with the great variety of VT bugs, we need these!

Now it’s your turn to try these VT made products! Click here to learn more and to ENTER THIS GIVEAWAY:

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Giveaway prizes:

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Find Healing Earth Vermont Natural’s products near you!

Bug off!

Holdster Giveaway


Whether you are throwing a party and need a secure scotch holder or you want something snazzy to carry your morning coffee… there’s a Holdster for that.

Holdster is headquartered in Burlington, VT. They currently have a dozen products for sale and I am just guessing that there might be more in the future. I personally think that these would make wonderful company gifts, groomsmen gifts, and more.


You learn something new everyday. While researching Holdster I learned about vegetable tanned leather. Here, you can learn more too: “Vegetable-tanned leather, or ‘veg-tan’ leather, is tanned with tannins and other ingredients found in vegetable matter.  It is a more environmentally friendly leather than chrome-tanned leather and it looks great and wears beautifully.” ~Holdster website

Once the perfect leather has been chosen each Holdster is cut, edged, stitched, and finished. After an inspection handles, cross stitching, and rivets can be attached. Then a wide mouth 16 oz mason glass jar is inserted.



Next, or last…. “Once you’ve bought your Holdster, use it: Hard. It’s time to go drink something.” ~Holdster website


What would you fill YOUR Holdster with? Here are a few ideas for you:




Hot cocoa & marshmallows



Hot black coffee

I gave a Holdster to my friend Matt and here is what he thought of it: “The Holdster is stylish and functional. It is a unique gift idea and I love the classic look of the leather.”


It’s not just for drinks! Enjoy your favorite ice cream.


Tonight’s dinner.. salad in a jar!


Here’s a perk just for Try Vermont First readers… with the code “tryvermontfirst” you will save $5 on your order through the end of the month. Happy shopping (Christmas is coming!).

Now it’s your chance to WIN a Holdster! We are giving away two of them! ENTER HERE:

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Happy (and stylish!) drinking,


Eat More Kale Giveaway



This year my son’s favorite snack in kindergarten was the kale chips the chef made. She started with local kale, added a little olive oil and salt, baked until crisp and boom…. she had a whole school eating a healthy and wholesome snack. Early in the year each child was sent home with an Eat More sticker. Soon the school parking lot looked like a green Eat More Kale dot to dot game.


This is Bo Muller-Moore, the man behind Eat More Kale. Bo, a native of Tennessee, lives in Central VT and plans to stay here forever. With a t-shirt screen printing kit that had been given to him as a gift Bo created “CHEESE” shirts for first himself and then his friends and co workers. (Bo, I want one!) Shortly after Bo and his wife adopted a 20 year old autistic young man and Bo found that printing shirts was a positive, creative outlet for both of them. They printed a variety of shirts and sold them at local farmer’s markets. Bo’s friends from High-Ledge Farm special ordered shirts that said “Eat More Kale” in hopes to promote the crop that was so plentiful on their farm that year. Bo says that he didn’t give the order much thought, he just cut the stencil, printed, and delivered the shirts.


What happened next? “The idea became “viral” before people knew what “viral” was, then quickly spread to all corners of the world.” ~Bo


You can find Eat More Kale shirts all around Vermont and New England. Check out their website and you will find shirts for men, women, and children, as well as merchandise that includes hats, magnets, Frisbees, yoga mats and much more. Contact Bo if you are interested in ordering a large quantity of wholesale shirts. You will find a variety of shirts online including “cheese”, “compost”, and “organic”.


By the way… how do you like your KALE? We like our kale in smoothies, with a few peaches (or bananas) and our favorite VT yogurt. Eat (or drink!) More Kale… try it! Find more kale recipes here.

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(Photos taken by my six year old.)

Eat More Kale has both stayed local (with printing help from Beavin & Son’s in Montpelier when times were busy) and gone global (selling shirts around the world). I have enjoyed learning more about Bo’s story and am proud to wear my Eat More Kale shirt and support this business. I am happy to share Eat More Kale with Try Vermont First readers. Enter below to WIN an Eat More Kale shirt for yourself (maybe Bo will also send you an Eat More Kale sticker – he gives our over 100,000 FREE every year). Look for a fun doodle on your package in the mail… Bo surely is having fun with what he is doing!

One more note… be SURE to LIKE Eat More Kale on Facebook because Bo hosts giveaways OFTEN. On Facebook you will also learn of great deals and special offers.



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Shelburne Farms Giveaway


Driving onto the Shelburne Farms property takes my breath away every single time. There is magic behind the stone pillars at the front gate. My mind starts swirling with stories and history as we pass the Farm Barn (which we call “the castle barn”) and as we continue along the windy dirt road we “moooooooooooooooooo” to the brown swiss cows and stop to look for sea glass along the rocky shoreline.


Shelburne Farms is a non-profit organization devoted to education, conservation, and sustainability. This 1,400-acre working farm and National Historic Landmark is located in Shelburne, VT on the shore of Lake Champlain. “Shelburne Farms directs numerous leading-edge educational programs, such as its professional development for educators and school field trips. Shelburne Farms is the Northeast regional lead for the National Farm to School Network, coordinator of the Vermont Farm to School Network, a partner in Vermont Food Education EveryDay (VT FEED), and backbone organization to the Farm – Based Education Network.”


I think that you could spend a week visiting the farm and still find more new things to explore. There are ten miles of walking trails, the children’s farmyard, the Inn, which has 24 guest rooms, a public restaurant, and so much more!

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Our family loves to take the tractor ride from the Welcome Center to the Farm Barn to visit the animals. Highlights of each trip include watching the chicken parade (and looking for the rooster), milking the cow, brushing the rabbits, and looking for chicken eggs (my son’s favorite thing to do).

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On our last visit to the farm we were able to watch Feta the goat have her hooves trimmed and meet the new goat kids. Every time we visit there is something new to see, something new to learn, and more things to be part of.


My children were also welcomed into the garden, invited to try the herbs, and put right to work pulling weeds. The time the staff took to make this such an enriching experience encouraged the kids to be more helpful in our garden at home.


After visiting the animals we walked along the trails, following a Storywalk (a deconstructed book bordering the trail). It was a fun way for my six year old son to share a story with his sister. There were stick teepees along the way to investigate and flowers to pick.


The kids ran and laughed with their cousins all the way to our picnic spot. When they got to the top of the hill they were excited to see the great view of the Inn, the lake, and the New York mountains.

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Shelburne Farms is special for everyone… young and old, Vermonters and visitors. We try to go there at least once per season, as each season holds different things to do on the farm.


Would you like to visit Shelburne Farms? They have sent us TWO family day passes to share with Try Vermont First readers.



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Thank you Shelburne Farms for the countless happy memories you have made for our family.

Here’s to many more!



PS: Shelburne Farms hosts weddings too! 7.22.2005