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it is christmas day. perhaps it is a little late to blog about a holiday dessert, but what is one to do with all those leftover candy canes? face it, you rarely eat them.

i am contributing dessert to the family feast today. i decided  a few weeks ago to try a twist on the pumpkin shortcake i made for the hunt + gather dinner i did before i left LA. obviously, replacing the pumpkin with peppermint. the great thing about this dessert is you can prep it all ahead of time… which is what i have been working on all morning… which also means i had to taste test the dessert… which  means i have already had dessert because i clearly didn’t limit myself to just one bite. it is only 12:17pm.

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what you need

1/2 cup of crushed candy canes

2 cups of heavy whipping cream plus 3 tbsps

1 cup of powdered sugar

1 package of mascarpone cheese

1/2 tsp peppermint extract

2 sheets of puff pastry

semi sweet chocolate chips

de-thaw your pastry. roll it out and cut into circle shapes. i just used a glass, you can use a cookie cutter or whatever shape you like. bake at the temperature suggested on packaging. you can make your own puff pastry, good luck with that! set aside the cooked pastry covered until you want to use it. ( you can make it ahead, but only about 8-10 hours ahead of time or it will go stale and harden)

to make the cream. combine the crushed candy cane and 1/2 cup of whipping cream in a sauce pan. at a very low temperature, melt the candy cane in the cream. be careful not to overheat or cook the cream.  whip 1 1/2 cups of whipping cream in a mixer. add the powdered sugar and the peppermint extract as well. i added half of the tub of mascarpone next.  slowly, spoon in the melted candy cane mixture.  once it is all incorporated, add the remainder of the mascarpone.  this can sit in the fridge for a few days.

melt the chocolate in a double broiler withe the 3 tbsps of heavy cream to make a ganache. this can be made the earlier the same day of serving!

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assemble your shortcake. i actually made regular puff pastry and chocolate puff pastry. there was only one package left of the regular at whole foods, but i admit i am excited about the chocolate ones! spoon the cream on and next the chocolate. top with another puff pastry round. garnish with powdered sugar and a candy cane if you like!

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a little peak into my family christmas.

1. my sisters always make a table setting completed with crowns, poppers, and goodies.

2. wylie boy has been such a good boy. wearing his outfits and playing with the kiddos.

3. all the grandkids and wylie. my family is kind enough to include wylie as if he was my child. it is true, i might treat him like one.

4. giving wylie kisses

5. my mom’s christmas tree. well, my dad does the work while my mom tells him what to do.

6. Elleanor wearing a mustache from a kit i bought my nephew jake.

7.wylie sniffing out his gifts. he got lots of them!

8. ice cream my sisters made for the kids. they are super crafty.

9. uncle dave dressed up in a christmas story costume my dad got him. we do a lot of movie quoting in this house!

hope your christmas is bright!

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IMG_3431i didn’t want to leave the blog so gloomy over christmas, but it turns out to be another gloomy day. my aunt ellen passed away this morning after struggling the last few months with an aggressive form of brain cancer.  i dedicate this post to you aunt ellen. ellen was a happy, beautiful, and lovable person. she was giving, creative, and a great cook. RIP in aunt ellen. my heart goes out to my uncle mike and cousins joni and anthony.

 before all this sad stuff happened, i was actually getting in the christmas spirit. i have been kind of a grinch in the past and i haven’t spent christmas with my family in two years. last year, i even spent it by myself. oddly enough, i still got in the spirit and reflected on what it meant for me. i think it prepared me for spending it with my large family again. being so large, we don’t always exchange gifts and the kids usually do so with just the kids. since, i have no kids and didn’t have anyone to buy for ( my parents are always saying don’t get them anything), well, i just couldn’t settle for that this year. i was in the giving spirit, feeling excited to give and to create gifts. plus, while i was at home trying to nurse little lola i started recording all those good christmas movies like love actually, the holiday, the family stone, and scrooged and i was getting in the christmas spirit. just a few of my favs.

i decided that i would make gifts this year for the adults and find some silly gifts for the kids, but some pretty cool native american stuff too. i  made little medicine bags for the little ladies and found some really cool geode rocks for the boys you crack yourself at the local gem store by my new house. i have to admit, i am excited to see what’s inside.

my sister did something similar a few years ago making all sort of yummy homemade treats. i was trying to figure out what to do that would be cheap and still “classy” hopefully using things from around the house that i already had. check out the recipes and techniques below! only thing is, if my siblings read my blog they know what they are getting for christmas, sorry guys!

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chocolate bark with almond, dried cherries, lavender, and sea salt

got a bag of chocolate chips and some nuts laying around the house? melt the chocolate in a double broiler on the stove. spread it into a square shape on some parchment paper. top with any toppings you might have in the house. i tend to always have nuts and some sort of dried fruit. i used semi-sweet chocolate topped with roasted almonds, dried cherries, culinary lavender, and sea salt. let the chocolate harden and break or cut into pieces. package as you please.

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orange and lime zest sugar

roasemary, sage, thyme sea salt

other easy on the wallet ingredients are sugar and salt. herbs are a bit more pricey, unless you grow them yourself (man, i miss that LA garden), but citrus is a pretty cheap way to go! i infused sugar with lime and orange zest and sea salt with rosemary, sage, and thyme. i luckily had some herbs leftover from other recipes. i chopped em up and layered them with the sea salt in a cute little jar. set aside in a cool dark place to infuse. for the sugar, zest your citrus and layer the sugar and citrus as well in a jar. you can use the inside of the   fruit to make a compote or jam as well…never letting it go to waste! i thought the lime/orange zest sugar would be a tasty add to a cup of coffee. the salt, good on most anything savory and hearty. you could also do a lime zest salt for margaritas!

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rosemary infused olive oil

lavender body oil

infused oils! easy as pie. i found the oil dispenser at world market. heat up olive oil with rosemary just until the oil gets warm. set aside to cool and pour into a container. for the essential oils, i have been wanting to make these for a while now. on my europe trip a few years ago i bought some essential lavender oil. i also had some jojoba, almond oil, and vitamin e around for personal use. i combined all four of these ingredients into bottles that were actually from lola’s meds from a few years ago. i obviously sterilized the hell out of them. i just love the brown glass and eye dropper tops. i clearly, save a lot of bottles!

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limoncello

 i also had a bottle of vodka hanging around for quite sometime. i decided this was another easy and cheap thing to do since i didn’t have to buy any vodka.  to make i combined one bottle of vodka with the zest of 5 lemons in a container. set in a cool dark place to sit for 5 days. strain  the zest from the vodka. next, combine 1 1/2 cups of sugar with 3 cups of water and boil until the sugar dissolves. let it cool and add to the vodka. jar it as you like. again, i had these bottles hanging around the house.

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holiday music mix

make a playlist. it could be christmas tunes, it could just be anything the person likes. i made a playlist of christmas music since i was in the spirit.

below is a bad picture of the little medicine bags i made for my nieces.

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and my gift to you…a christmas music playlist on spotify. click the link below to listen. some of my favorite xmas tunes from john denver, dolly parton, low, bird and the bee, she and him, neil diamond, aimee mann…just to name a few.

merry christmas guys! i hope your families are healthy and happy!

http://open.spotify.com/user/1234784911/playlist/3mYEnHVwgwYIOCJ0C2Sbag

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i just want to say thank you for all the phone calls, emails, texts, instagrams,and comments on the blog. it truly has helped beyond words than i can explain. to know how much love i have in my life is beyond comforting. to know that you guys know how much this kitty meant to me, well that speaks to me. it shows that i have true friends and family in my life that listen to me, that know my heart, that love me.  if you knew how much i loved her, than she had to know too. all of your comments here on the blog were also so comforting to know that you read the post, understood, and had similar feelings and situations.

i drove to my parents yesterday. i sat in silence much of the way, sometimes listening to the christmas mix i was SOO excited about, but from time to time i couldn’t help but to cry. i didn’t really feel like talking to anyone, normally i call everyone under the sun on a road trip. the night before i stayed with my friend natalie. she had me watch oprah’s soul to soul. she loves that shit. it was all about the soul, god, what and where the soul is. my favorite explanation was from Thích Nhất Hạnh, a Vietnamese buddhist monk. his answer to death was not that we die, but that we transform. he explained when you look at a cloud, you don’t get sad when it disappears because it has turned into rain, snow, or ice. it hasn’t really gone away, it is just in different form.  that idea, i could understand. on my drive, when i saw a bird on a post or the sun shine through a cloud or a tree that still had leaves on it…i saw lola.  and that comforted me. but i also realized that i carry her with me and through me. maybe, i will become more spiritual through this process. maybe i will find more peace with what i believe god to be.

thank you from the bottom of my heart and lola’s.

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my sweet lola girl passed away last night. she had been suffering from an extremely deep ulcer. on thursday i thought she was on the road to recovery. she was up and about, starting to act like herself again, and began to eat and drink more. yesterday, i knew she wasn’t feeling good again. she had been back and forth to the vet, on iv’s, had an utraound, an endoscopy, countless  meds, up and downs, and i called every day with questions and worry. she  was hardly eating or drinking at all. she would just sit in front of her water dish and couldn’t do anything. i had at least 6 glasses of water around the house.  i didn’t know what to do for her yesterday. i was hoping it was just a bad day. i woke up at 3 am to give her some medication and once i turned the light on i realized she was laying right next to me. she didn’t look ok. she couldn’t really lift her eyes, i picked her up and she was like dead weight. i put her down to see if she could stand up and she couldn’t. i raced out of the house in my pj’s with wylie and poor lola listless in her cage to the emergency/speciality vet where lola had been treated. her red blood cell count was so low(which meant blood transfusion), and the doctor thought her ulcer had perforated. her glucose was high which she said she indication of diabetes or pancreatitis(which she had a few years ago). i had to make a decision that to date has trumped many decisions i have ever had to make. how much more could this little body go through? the doctor and nurse felt i was making the right decision. i hope that is true. i didn’t know how much more i could bare to watch her go through. i have been a nervous wreck with ups and downs of feeling like she will be ok and thinking the worst. but still the worst you can never prepare for. i just didn’t know what to do anymore and it seems neither did her body.

needless to say, i am devastated. i felt the need to write about it so soon, because i feel the need to purge. i keep thinking she will jump on the bed and lay on the pillow next to me, that she jump up on the computer table right now as i am typing and stand in front of the screen and step on the keyboard. every time i will put a glass down i will wish she was going to stick her paw in it to drink it. she was such a sweet, adorable kitty. my old vet in LA loved her and said she was her favorite kitty, everybody loved her. even here they talked about how funny and cute she was when she had to stay a few nights there. when she was younger she use to literally bounce off the walls. literally. she always had the kitten like quality. loved to play with her feather toys, she loved being outside. even her sweet face looked like that of a baby kitty girl vs. an older kitty. she was 12. i got her in college as a gift. at first i wasn’t sure i wanted another cat. i always think about that and am so glad i changed my mind. she moved with me to LA and out of LA- she was with me through it all there. she was my companion when i was sad, crying, lonely. she was my friend when i was happy and excited. i feel so bad because her last year in LA she was pretty much confined to my bedroom because of my neighbors menace dog, whom they thought it was okay to let into the yard all day long. lola was terrified of that dog. even if i shut my back door-she was stilled so scared. she hardly ever came out of the bedroom.  since, we moved here she had been hanging out, exploring, happy. i felt so relieved to have gotten her out of that house.  i  know i talk more about wylie, post more pictures of him, but lola was my girl. i loved the way she smelled and i loved giving her kisses which she always let me do. she traveled many places with me always being a sport. to some people it might seem silly to be so devastated over the loss of an animal, but she wasn’t just an animal. she was a friend, my baby, my companion.

i sat on the couch at the vet holding lola while the doctor administered the drugs. wylie sat next to us. he gave her a bunch of sniffs. i wonder how much he understands. she passed away in my arms calmly and quickly. i sat with her for a few moments. it was so hard to look at her body and think she wasn’t there anymore, because it was still lola. i wonder where she went, did she go anywhere, is she with my other kitty ki? i will admit i am not a religious person. i grew up catholic, but have a hard time giving my faith to one idea. i don’t know if i believe in heaven. in moments like this, of course i want to, but can i do that? i want her to be free of pain and be happy. but i want her to be with me too. did we as humans make up this idea of heaven and hell to comfort us in time of death? it is the biggest thing about life. death. it never seems easy to understand. it never ceases to break hearts. do we go somewhere after our time here, or do we just fade away? i just don’t know. i want to believe that lola is in a better place. i want to know that she knows how much i love her and will miss her.

there seems to be so much death and illness in my family right now and all around. my aunt is dying of brain cancer, my mom’s aunt recently passed away, and my cousin’s little boy was recently born with heart conditions. i have friends that have been dealing with similar issues as well. this all started before i left LA. i kept thinking, when will something like this fall into my lap, someone that is so dear to me that it would be unbearable. i have been thinking a lot lately about how lola is getting older and how i would handle it. here i am, and i don’t know what to do with myself except lay in bed and write a blog post. everything is a reminder right now, and it is so hard to foresee when i won’t be so devastated anymore.  i am writing this  so her memory is forever out there and with me. i give love to all my family members and anyone i know or don’t know whom has had a rough time lately in the past or in the future with sickness and death.

rest in peace my sweet lola girl. i love you so much.

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is it narcissistic to do a curiosity space on my own house? perhaps, but i do find my own house curious. i find it curious how quickly it can become a mess, how fast dishes pile up, how cleaning is so hard for me to start to do. maybe thats why i moved away, so i didn’t have to clean for guests, because i rarely have any. just kidding. i did however think how, really, i am kind of creating my own art residency. i don’t consider myself an “artist”, but maybe one day i would like to. really, i just want to work on the things that make me happy. i felt distracted in LA, and besides my kitty being terribly sick the past week, the distractions are on a much smaller scale here. i have a work room where i can actually set everything out, leave it out to come back to, and just somewhere that feels like i am doing something right.  i think besides my work room, the living room is my favorite. i love the fireplace, although from time to time i feel ultra guilty using so much gas. i love the saddle blanket i found at an antique store down the street (have i mentioned the plethora of antique and thrift stores around here? amazing!) that sits by the fireplace, i love looking out the window and seeing the horses across the street. i did  buy a few new pieces when i got here since i lost all those built-in’s in LA.

the kitchen, has taken some getting use to for me, coming from the one i had in LA which i am pretty sure that one will be hard to beat out for a long time. i don’t have as much storage and i have not been as inspired to cook yet, but i think that will just take some time. i do however, have a lovely window that brings so much light in. i have a few herb plants basking in the sun there ( i need more!!! i do miss my year round garden terribly). i also now have a kitchen table. something i didn’t have at my last place in LA. it doubles as a work space for cooking and general dumping grounds when i walk into the front door.

the bedroom has also become my office. my long desk sits in front of windows that overlook the river. in a way it is kind of nice, not just because of the windows, but because the computer is like having a tv in the bedroom. except, i can’t stream anything because my satellite internet sucks big time, not because it won’t stream, but because it uses too many gb. let me say it again, satellite internet sucks big time! moving on, luckily, all my clothes fit in the closet. however, a pile still generally accumulates on the floor. the bathroom is tiny, but has a claw foot tub. my first home to have one!  the house also comes equipped with a laundry/mud room that leads into the side yard that is fenced in. i have the tiniest little washer and dryer and a place to store all those odds and ends. i haven’t set up the back porch or side yard yet. it’s not that it hasn’t been warm enough, but i think once spring comes around and i can start planting things again, it will be fun to spruce up these areas! so, that will be a post to come a few months from now. i miss having a california yard, not gonna lie. i miss my garden, but i am excited for the prospects of one down the road. i am excited about the seasons,and the changes they bring.

on a  lola update, since many of my friends know about my life through my blog, wink wink, she has a really horrible deep ulcer. it is not cancer, thank god, but we just need to get her to eat. the girl is slowly coming back to herself. it has been such a stressful time for me. lola and wylie are my babies, and its so hard to see her suffer. she seems to be doing well in general though and wylie has been a pretty good boy too, leaving her be and letting me give her attention, for the most part anyway.

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new items were upload to the SHOP today!

20% off on items over at the etsy shop! use the coupon code christmaslove starting today, december 12-19 only!

(this sale only pertains to items on the etsy shop, not the regular shop! thank you!)

http://sunandgloryshop.com

http://www.etsy.com/shop/sunandglory

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things have been a little crazy around here. i am so behind on blog posts and have a lot pending. my poor kitty lola has been in the hospital the past few days, needless to say, i am stressed out.  before the poor girl got sick, i took a little road trip to taos, new mexico for a few days. taos is one of my favorite places in the world and it holds a special place in my heart. my first trip there was in high school when my brother moved there. we went a few times to visit and one summer took a big family vacation there. my dad’s grandparents had a motel in albuquerque, so he too grew up going to the land of enchantment.  a few years ago i was traveling there a lot. i got to know the area pretty well, the best burrito places, and the best bead store i have ever been too. it was a 14 hour drive from LA, but now i am sooo close- about 6 hours from my new house. i would have moved to new mexi, but i though there were better opportunities here in colorado with the booming denver/boulder/ft collins. being so close to taos, is amazing, and i couldn’t be more excited about that prospect. i called up my friend natalie in denver and asked if she was up for a road trip! i more or less wanted to go to the bead store for more supplies, and it was certainly a good excuse!

we entered taos from a different route than i am use to,which was pretty spectacular.  there is something about that place that is addicting, exhilarating, and spiritual. the sunrise, the sunset, the clouds are like none other i have seen and each day the sky gives you a different picture to look at. it never gets old, never. the mountains frame the town while the mesa looks as though it goes on forever. it is simply, beautiful.

we stayed at the la dona luz inn, a 200 year old adobe, and booked the la madonna suite. we both brought our dogs and they serve a sweet little breakfast in the morning! the inn is walking distance to the main shopping of taos. the room smelled of fire ( i love that smell) and the charm that is new mexico was practically bleeding from the walls. it was hard to eat out with the pups, so we had to do a lot of takeout-but we for sure got a lot of good stuff in (a few to try guadalajara grill, Michael’s kitchen, historic taos inn). we of course, did some shopping hitting up the bead store, a consignment shop that is to die for, and the local fare the town has to offer. the hike we went on was everything i remember about my time here: peaceful, beautiful, and enchanting. there is this silence on the mesa, that if you just stop and breath, you will never hear anything else like it in your life. you have to just do it, to know it… and i of course, highly recommend it.

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the last few photos give you a taste of the light. we were driving down the road to the taos pueblo and the light was this intense yellow. twenty minutes later we got to the hotel and the sky was pink. not an uncommon thing for the area. just a little taste of what it can be.

i have had some pretty amazing experiences there: hanging out in earthships, floating down the rio grande in inner tubes and a white water raft, or hiking down into the rio grande, pitch-black outside mind you, swimming naked in hot springs, made some art (this is where my jewelry line was inspired), and gazed at breathtaking stars. once, i even thought i saw a spaceship. pretty sure it was a satellite!  i learned a lot about myself in all the time i spent there, i learned a lot about myself after. it certainly has always made a mark.

i can’t wait for more.


Taos on Dwellable

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i am so excited to share this post with you!!!! before i left LA, i helped host a backyard supper, hunt + gather,  with two other lovely ladies- amanda farrand and lauren block. lauren contacted me a few months ago asking if i would be interested in cooking for an underground dinner club. although, the timing was bad because i knew i was going to move, i couldn’t pass up this opportunity, if only to challenge myself. the moment i acquired that backyard i dreamed of doing such things! i quickly offered up my space, and made the girls promise i could cook for the club again when i come to visit LA! the deal was done!

with a few meetings and lots of emails we pulled this beautiful evening together. lauren, conjured up the amazing furniture from Found in Orange County. she also sourced out the vintage dishes and glassware from a place here in LA. i don’t think it could have turned out any better! i am still speechless. amanda, is the space finder, but also acted as the sommelier and overall brilliant source of marketing and information. annie, me, did the menu (with input of course) and the cooking. we did a taste test a few days before the actual dinner just to make sure it would all be perfect. although, a few things could have gone a little bit better for me (namely cooking a million brussels sprouts) the whole evening was a huge success! we each invited people whom we thought would appreciate, enjoy, and give good feed back on such an event. the point is to continue to have these dinners-finding different venues, customers, and menus. an underground dinner club.

brandi welles did a stunning job taking all of these photographs. she even helped us serve, taste test, and was an all around team player! thank you brandi! we also had some films students film a video which will be up on the blog for hunt +gather soon! the smallest of moments, like figuring out how to fit the table into the backyard as it wouldn’t fit through the doorways, were just minor details. it was such a fun and worthwhile evening. in fact, when i saw the photos, i got super nostalgic for my backyard, my new friends, and the opportunities i may or may not have left behind. don’t forget about me guys! i will be back for more dinners!!!!!

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we added little elements to the dinner to make it memorable. we picked herbs from my herb garden, wrapped them in twine with a note, and placed them at each setting. lauren printed the menus and cards and created the logo. we lined the stairs with  candles and vases. the glow of downtown is never disappointing and wylie boy, the perfect greeter. a fire was started and we served up  cocktails in vintage jars and glasses as guests arrived.

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to me, the small details were the best part. like the little cards we served with the cocktail, explaining grandma honey’s (amanda’s grandma) bourbon sipping tips. keep your mouth closed while swallowing. it eliminates that burn of the alcohol and allows you to enjoy the flavors vs. the bite. i made a saffron infused simple syrup and we served that straight up with bourbon and a large square ice cube infused with orange peel and juice. as the cube melts, the orange seeps into the drink.

THE MENU

tiny morsels

fried sage leaves stuffed homemade ricotta and a honey lemon drizzle

tasty trio

parsnip and apple soup

green salad with radish/ pickled onion/ stilton/dried cherries

flatbread with yams/ricotta-creme fraicher/ green onion/bacon

tender and hearty

pork cooked in milk

brussels sprouts with pecorino and hazelnuts

mustard roasted carrots

sweet tooth

orange infused coffee

pumpkin and chocolate shortcake

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we also decided to do a little take away for each guest. i whipped up some white chocolate/raspberry scones that everyone got to take home . the next morning the guests had something to remember the indulgence wasn’t over yet!

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 the three of us worked together so smoothly. lauren added in the humor and creativity, amanda the calming and intellectual qualities, and me, well i just cooked! the guests were so gracious and lovely. everyone made new friends that night and had a nice little backyard LA dinner. ( wow, this makes me miss my LA life a whole lot!)

the evening was truly memorable! we hope that everyone enjoyed themselves and would do it again! stay tuned for more dinners and if you live in LA follow hunt + gather’s blog to stay updated on events.