Posts in Literary Dinner Party
Abrams Dinner Party Meets Middlemarch
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We have been accepted into the Abrams Dinner Party line up for fall and spring 2018-2019. We are happily rolling through these fun, explorative dinners from the cookbooks Abrams sends us. Even more exciting for us is pairing various novels, or simply what we’re currently reading, with the cookbooks, much like our own dinner parties. Adding a little more of a literary touch is what suits us best as you can imagine, and there’s something especially lively about sitting down to a homemade meal with a good book and a glass of something refreshing.

This is also our final literary lunch at Michaela’s home in the city. She’s moving onto greener pastures and big spaces, AND geographically, we’ll be closer together again! You could say this post feels a little bittersweet, as I know her space as well as my own; where the light shines through best at all times of day, how to change up one area or another, and what she has on hand or in the yard to put together a literary lunch or dinner.

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Pescan and The Modern Cook’s Year were both lovely cookbooks which we immediately sat together and flipped through while showing one another various recipes that stood out. We settled on lunch, each one picking a recipe, picking up a few ingredients, and dining outside while the warm spring weather was being generous.

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Our classic buddy read has been Middlemarch, and it’s been a slow journey thus far. Admittedly, there’s a lot of busyness occurring for us right now, so we’re generously allowing ourselves to savor the book and take our time with it. It was a wonderful afternoon in Michaela’s backyard while discussing the cookbooks, our thoughts on Middlemarch, and how this would be our very last time in this space. This is where our literary dinners were born and grew into the beautiful work it is today. However, it’s none too bittersweet, her new space is equally charming and will soon hold many more functions.

So friends, we hope you’ve had a great week so far, we appreciate you stopping in to see what we’ve been cooking, discussing, and reading. Stay tuned for changes ahead and hopefully, a wrap up of Middlemarch in the coming month or two!

*We were sent this book in exchange for an honest review, and of course, all opinions are wholly our own. You can see our policy right here

Abrams Dinner Party Meets If You Leave Me

We have been accepted into the Abrams Dinner Party line up for fall and spring 2018-2019. We are happily rolling through these fun, explorative dinners from the cookbooks Abrams sends us. Even more exciting for us is pairing various novels, or simply what we’re currently reading, with the cookbooks, much like our own dinner parties. Adding a little more of a literary touch is what suits us best as you can imagine, and there’s something especially lively about sitting down to a homemade meal with a good book and a glass of something refreshing.

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*We were sent this book in exchange for an honest review, and of course, all opinions are wholly our own. You can see our policy right here

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Korean Home Cooking is a really great cookbook, as I love to make Korean dishes! Fun fact: I married into a Korean family and have grown accustomed to my mother-in-law’s homemade dishes over the years. I have a small pantry stocked with some essentials to make some of my personal favorites like, bibimbap, bulgogi, and as you see here, japchae and korean pancakes. It’s all much easier than you imagine it will be, it’s really just having the right things on hand and cooking with a hot skillet!

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I won’t lie, I’ve made both of these dishes before, but the cookbook helped jumpstart my memory and soon, I found myself falling into a rhythm as the aromas thickly enveloped the kitchen. Both of these dishes were quick to whip up and we sat down long before the sun went down, to a tasty and comforting meal. I really enjoyed picking up If You Leave Me, a story set in Korea and getting lost between story and food.

Thanks so much Abrams for having us as members for the dinner parties, we’re having so much fun already and look forward to the next one! Be sure to check out the first one we did and this simple weeknight dinner with a few good books!

Abrams Dinner Party Meets My Current Reads | Ibiza
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We have been accepted into the Abrams Dinner Party line up for fall and spring 2018-2019. After the incredible snow storm that rocked the country, many of our fall and winter books arrived late, so we’re still powering through with excitement at trying new things from the beautiful new cookbooks making their way out into the world, all complimentary from Abrams. It’s been so great to explore thus far and with spring upon us, the excitement has renewed with the longer days of sunshine and warmth!

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*We were sent this book in exchange for an honest review, and of course, all opinions are wholly our own. You can see our policy right here

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Before I dive into what I made, I chose this specific recipe with a few things in mind. I’ve been a gardener for about six years now, and with so much time in learning how and when things grow in my climate, I’ve become well versed in seasonal cooking. As a way to feel more connected to the food we’re consuming, to our lives on micro levels, it’s another world entirely to learn about seasonal foods, especially when growing them yourself. One of the challenges I’ve put myself on with these cookbooks is to cook mostly from what I already have on hand, and try to follow the recipe as much as possible.

I really love Mimine’s earthy style that is represented in her cookbook, Ibiza: Land and Sea, which immediately drew me in. Initially though, I held off wanting to cook from her cookbook, because the sun drenched photos and bright red tomatoes were all I could see. I wanted summer and fresh off-the-vine toms more than anything! After further perusing, I took note of the main ingredients she uses through each course, broken up into categories, and that’s when I noticed that she had her vegetables lined up just right for the season—despite all that gorgeous sunlight pouring in through the trees. Do you think you can tell I’m from the PNW and have been stuck in a long, dark gray winter?!

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I’m really glad that we had some extra time to get to cooking from this cookbook, because spring is slowly approaching and the sun was shining when I found the recipe I wanted to try! With some leftover sugar pumpkins waiting to be roasted and a few fresh greens ready for trimming, I formulated a quick and easy meal to go with the pumpkin gnocchi recipe in Ibiza!

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After gathering fresh herbs and greens to pair with the sausage I had waiting and the gnocchi I was getting ready to cook, it was time to assemble the dish and get it “piping hot!” A dainty stem of sage and a stack of new books took us outside to set the table and soak in the last rays of sun before reluctantly pulling ourselves inside for the night.

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I’ve never made gnocchi before, and I was truly shocked at how easy, even a little fun it is to make! Also, I can see this being an incredibly versatile thing to get creative with, and I absolutely plan to. Since I had this one last sugar pumpkin left from my fall garden, I loved learning a new way to prepare it, AND this was a hit with the whole family (who might be a little tired of pumpkin and squash).

Of course, I did amp up the garlic and herbs, cooked down some fresh arugula and baby kale, added sausage, then made the sauce to pour over the gnocchi before letting the flavors cook together one final time. Mimine suggests pairing this dish with a lovely roast, but this seemed too good an opportunity to pass to make a one pot dish. It was a tasty and filling success!

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As we get closer to summer, I’m really looking forward to trying more of her recipes. Although, there is a cherry rhubarb crumble that will be perfect to try when the rhubarb comes in this spring (although, sub cherries for strawberries since they’ll be season together in my garden). I can just imagine all of the dinners outside and reading until the sun goes down.

While reading Cry of the Kalahari, I’ve been thinking a lot about seasonal living and working toward a greater purpose. It’s no surprise that I find myself working out in the garden more and more with the clear days we’ve had, but also breaking to read from time to time. This book will undoubtedly become a favorite, I’ve really been captivated by Delia Owens once again. Where the Crawdads Sing is her most recent and popular release that I also enjoyed immensely.

Thanks so much Abrams for having us as members for the dinner parties, we’re having so much fun already and look forward to the next one! Be sure to check out the first one we did and this simple weeknight dinner with a few good books!

Abrams Dinner Party Meets My Current Reads
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We have been accepted into the Abrams Dinner Party line up for fall and spring 2018-2019. We are pretty excited to get to extend our skills a bit further into something a little different from our usual dinner parties. With a variety of cookbooks sent to us from Abrams books, we get to explore an endless amount of new recipes and put them into action.

*We were sent this book in exchange for an honest review, and of course, all opinions are wholly our own. You can see our policy right here

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To keep things simple and fun, we amped up our usual weeknight dinner with a cauliflower pepperoni pizza from the marvelous cookbook, Cali’flour Kitchen by Amy Lacey. There are an abundance of fun recipes to transfer any previously loved grain dish into a cauliflower one. It can sound a little weird, but it’s really fun to try. I’m not a full convert here, but there are some great new ways to use cauliflower that I’m looking forward to exploring.

In all honesty, the one thing I was looking forward to the most in this cookbook, was different ways to cook cauliflower as a vegetable. I once found this vegetarian cookbook that showed a wide range of unique and fun ways to cook with your average vegetables, and I had that in mind when opening this cookbook. This book, however, is really for those who need to cut carbs, eat leaner, are gluten intolerant, or just want to try something different.

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I made this pizza crust from a whole cauliflower, nothing frozen or pre-packaged. I once tried a frozen cauliflower crust pizza from the store, and I did not like it. I went into this pretty skeptical, but this pizza turned out pretty good. I do recommend eating it fresh, this isn’t meant to be leftovers. I added 1 tsp of salt and a dash of garlic powder to the crust before the first bake, and that added a depth of flavor that was enjoyable. Also, don’t expect this to be like real pizza. It does have the flavors since you’re using all the same toppings, but the crust is, well, made from cauliflower, not flour.

I had a great time sitting down with a hard cider, this tasty pizza, and my currents reads, The Idiot and If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller!

Thanks so much Abrams for having us as members for the dinner parties, we’re having so much fun already and look forward to the next one! Be sure to check out the first one we did!

Literary Dinner | The Nutcracker
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The Nutcracker is such a shift from the popular ballet we all know and love, and it was wonderful to read during the holiday season. Even more wonderful was getting to immerse ourselves into the inspiration behind the music that lead to the ballet, and revel in Hoffman’s incredibly creative literary work.

This was one of those dinners where Michaela had a vision, but couldn’t fully articulate it, so between a little bit of telepathy and trusting her vision, we brought it to life together. It was a literary dinner party dream come true. Twinkle lights forever, y’all.

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We brought in a trimmed piece of a pear tree from my backyard, hung it with fishing line and decked it out with Christmas lights and gold ornaments. A simple, yet striking focal point. The table was layered with a tablecloth and runner, with a large nutcracker as the focal point, balanced on either side with tall candle tapers, bottle brush trees, candles, and some fake snow to add to the glittering effect we often associate with The Nutcracker. We were going for a kind of “enchanted forest” feel, and I think we nailed it.

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It was so great to tie in elements from the actual story, but also parts of the ballet that have left an imprint in our minds. We wanted to keep a classic and traditional Christmas feel, but also different from what we’ve done before. We were both pretty thrilled with the results!

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While a tasty pumpkin and sausage soup simmered on the stove, we had an elaborate charcuterie platter and a custom cocktail to go with it. We used additional branches wrapped with lights on the counter by the window, a small floral and greenery centerpiece with evergreen branches and red roses, along with candles and few small nutcrackers to keep the theme cohesive.

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A blackberry simple syrup to amp up the champagne, topped with cranberries and rosemary was a delightful treat as we snacked and waited for dinner.

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We went ahead and splurged on a bakery made buche de noel for dessert, and swapped out cocktails for cocoa as we ended the night. We talked quite a bit about the magic of the story and how great a read it was this time of year.

This concludes our holiday season as we ring in the New Year. Cheers, friends!

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Abrams Dinner Party Meets My Brilliant Friend
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A few months ago, we were accepted into the Abrams Dinner Party line up for fall and spring 2018-2019. We are pretty excited to get to extend our skills a bit further into something a little different from our usual dinner parties. With a variety of cookbooks sent to us from Abrams books, we get to explore an endless amount of new recipes and put them into action.

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*We were sent this book in exchange for an honest review, and of course, all opinions are wholly our own. You can see our policy right here

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Instead of our usual props and decor, we decided to keep this seasonal and simple, because we’ll be doing quite a few of these, and we want to ensure it is manageable and fun.

We got together when the first cookbook arrived to flip through and see what it was all about. Matty Matheson | A Cookbook shares an interesting mix of his personal history and it progresses from childhood to culinary art school. I always love a cookbook that gives you something a little extra. Matty definitely has some skills in the kitchen, and exceeds much of what we’re willing to make on a regular basis. But, if you’re looking for a unique dish to step up your game and wow your guests, this might be the cookbook for you.

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We marked a couple of recipes we were eager to try, as there are quite a few that took a traditional meal and made it into something a bit fancier. As fall is heavily upon us, when we saw the Italian Wedding Soup, we agreed it was the best choice for us. It did not disappoint.

We also thought of ways to tie in a literary element and immediately thought of Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend for this recipe. This is absolutely a recipe we’d make for a dinner for this book.

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Thanks so much Abrams for having us as members for the dinner parties, we’re having so much fun already and look forward to the next one!

"But What Else Will You Do With It?" A Story About How We Bargain Hunt for Our Literary Dinner Parties

Fun fact: we thrift almost everything for our literary dinner parties. Actually, a combination of thrifting and a bit of scouring the clearance sections at HomeGoods and Target is probably more accurate. We do this as a hobby, friends— so our budget for these things is basically non-existent. I think the most we've ever spent for one dinner (excluding food/flower costs) is about $30, but we generally stay under $10. We've always tried to emphasize that these dinners are doable for anyone, and since we've covered the basic how-to's, we decided to share a little more about how we source our decor. 

Thrifted creamer jug, silver platter, egg basket, lace runner, and cans. Teacups are thrifted and clearance Anthropologie.

Thrifted creamer jug, silver platter, egg basket, lace runner, and cans. Teacups are thrifted and clearance Anthropologie.

Thrifted platters and milk bottle vases. Crackled pot is clearance Anthropologie, napkins, rose gold bottle, and marble candleholder are from Target clearance.

Thrifted platters and milk bottle vases. Crackled pot is clearance Anthropologie, napkins, rose gold bottle, and marble candleholder are from Target clearance.

Thrifted brass candlestick, votive holder, and jar. Drink glasses, and rose gold bottle are clearance Target. Napkins are from clearance HomeGoods.

Thrifted brass candlestick, votive holder, and jar. Drink glasses, and rose gold bottle are clearance Target. Napkins are from clearance HomeGoods.

The first step, honestly, is to have a vision, or at least some kind of aesthetic feel that you want to create. We generally use Pinterest to do this! Next, round up everything you already have that fits your vision, and identify where the gaps are. Maybe you need a serving tray, or candle holders, or napkins. Whatever it is, keep those items in mind when you go to the store. 

Thrifted vintage china and books. Candle holder with flowers is clearance Anthropologie, marble candle holder is clearance Target.

Thrifted vintage china and books. Candle holder with flowers is clearance Anthropologie, marble candle holder is clearance Target.

Thrifted vases, sheet music, red table runner. Plates, napkins, clear candlesticks are clearance HomeGoods, tall gold candlesticks are clearance Anthropologie, and the napkin rings and cloche are Halloween clearance from Target.

Thrifted vases, sheet music, red table runner. Plates, napkins, clear candlesticks are clearance HomeGoods, tall gold candlesticks are clearance Anthropologie, and the napkin rings and cloche are Halloween clearance from Target.

Thrifted sheet music, red table runner, vases, and goblets.

Thrifted sheet music, red table runner, vases, and goblets.

Now here's the tricky part: try not to get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff in the store. When I walk in, I try to really focus on finding those couple things I need first and foremost. Sometimes it's glassware, or a table runner I need to complete the scene in my head, but I also have my eyes open for items that fit the aesthetic I want, and if I come across something, then I think about how I want to incorporate it.

Also, whenever I find an item I'm interested in, I ask myself "but what else will I do with this?" If it's just too specific to one dinner, and costs more than a dollar or two, I have a hard time purchasing it...because then what? I store it indefinitely? I toss or donate it? It feels like a waste. I make a point to prioritize items: if I think it's going to completely make the set up, I go for it, but if it's just an accent and it's really too specific, I pass.

Heirloom lace table runner and thrifted silver candelabra, goblets. Napkins and rings from Target clearance.

Heirloom lace table runner and thrifted silver candelabra, goblets. Napkins and rings from Target clearance.

Thrifted candlestick, silver platter, pillar candle holder, lace doily, and vase

Thrifted candlestick, silver platter, pillar candle holder, lace doily, and vase

Thrifted candle holders galore.

Thrifted candle holders galore.

Some trips are more successful than others, and that's okay. I prefer to think of the whole process as a treasure hunt instead of something stressful, and it's okay if I don't strike gold every time. One thing that does increase my success rate is looking at creative uses for things. Can that jar be a vase? Can that cool piece of lace be cut into a table runner? Can I put a pillar candle on that little plate? You have to think a little outside the box sometimes!

It’s also worth noting that we plan for our next buddy read and dinner well in advance. As we're reading, we each take our own notes and develop a vision that we'll talk about and combine. If we had only a few days of planning and gathering materials, we would like be more stressed and would have a harder time including so many details. And really, the details are our favorite elements of a dinner party: the menu, drinks, and decor, we've found that they add a richness to the experience and aesthetic quality. Lastly, we really do compliment each other in setting up these dinners. From styling to small adjustments, photos, and food, we couldn't create what we do alone, at least not as wonderfully. Of course, that isn't to say you need a best friend to throw your own dinner party with, but it certainly helps!

If you have any thoughts or questions, we’d love to hear!

Literary Dinner | A Midsummer Night's Dream
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*some links are affiliate, and we deeply appreciate your support

When you think of Shakespeare, generally it's his tragedies and darker plays that come to mind, but his lighter rom-coms have always been my favorite, especially A Midsummer Night's Dream. Honestly, part of it is because it was the first live play I ever saw, on a beach in Lake Tahoe during their annual Shakespeare Festival. I was probably only eight or nine, but it made such an impact on me; the magic and the fairies and the laugher, and I've just loved it ever since.

We've been wanting to pull this dinner off for years, but the stars didn't align until just recently. Why didn't do we this at actual Midsummer, you ask? Frankly, because it doesn't get dark until 10pm in June and we have young kids with bedtimes, so because this play takes place mostly at night, we had to wait for the sun to set earlier.

Guys, it was so, so worth the wait. Labor day marked the unofficial end of summer, so consider this our personal farewell to the season.

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Setting up this dinner was all about adding magic and color. We started with a couple of bundles of bright, summery flowers from our beloved Trader Joe's and made several arrangements in various sizes. Then we strung up little bud vases filled with flowers and candles in tiny jars, dangling them from the arbor with fishing line so they would look like they were floating.

The table it's self was a riot of candles, color, and food. We started with a woven table runner, topped it with some gauzy cheesecloth for romance, added candles, rose petals, and fresh figs, then finished it with plates, chargers, napkins in rings, and utensils. We also gathered up a collection of lanterns filled with fairy lights and mixed them with more vases spilling over with summer color, before scattering more rose petals for good measure. 

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Food stayed true to the text, for the most part, and we piled fruits, cheese, chocolates, meats, and bread onto an antique silver platter. We wanted to include food mentioned in the play, but also just go with the sort of decadent, wild setting. A jar of honey with the comb still in it, scattered fresh green figs, and tender phyllo dough pastries completed our spread.

We served grilled salmon with charred lemon slices for our main course, because it felt summery, light and tender, and was true to the spirit of natural things that is so prominent in the setting of this play. Basically, fresh, colorful, and light was the theme. 

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Our table truly looked magical when it was all lit up and laden with food and wine; we kinda couldn't get over it. Also, having the dinner in the middle of Rikki's huge, blossoming garden was the perfect spot for this, and added so much to the overall ambiance. It was such an inviting space for us to tuck ourselves into for the evening.

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We snacked on appetizers and chatted about the play, his other works, and about a Shakespeare class Rikki had taken while the warm afternoon cooled off into a beautiful twilight. Suddenly we realized the sky was streaked with color and our lanterns and candles were much more dramatic than they had been a little while ago. The change in light was our cue to start dinner for real, and we gathered at the table to enjoy the meal and the company. 

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The "floating" flowers and candles hanging from the arbor really did look like they were suspended in mid air by magic once the sun started to set. The entire scene really came to life once dusk set in and the candlelight took over. Watching the light turn over the course of the dinner was so perfect for how the play goes from day to night over the course of the story.

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"I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,
Lull’d in these flowers with dances and delight"

-Oberon (Act II, Scene I)

After dinner, we really wanted to honor one of the most famous quotes in the play, so we walked through the garden over to Rikki's stone steps where we spent some time relaxing before dessert. The steps are cut into the slope of the hill, and gently part the sea of colorful wildflowers that carpet the entire area. So we sat chatting amongst the flowers, our wine and books in hand, and the shadows of the woods dark behind us. How perfect, right?

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By the time we were ready for dessert, it was fully dark, and our table was awash in golden light; it could not have been prettier. We stuck to a simple berry tart, which is our favorite summer treat, and a perfect ending to the evening. Slices were passed around, wine was finished off, and as always, we said our goodbyes.

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Browsers Cookbook Book Club | Spring 2018 Edition
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*some links are affiliate, and we deeply appreciate your support

For the first time in nearly a year we were able to attend this together (you can see that one right over here) and it was just as amazing as ever. 

If you aren't familiar, our favorite local bookstore, Browsers, in Olympia, WA, hosts a quarterly cookbook book club, and we were welcomed in to attend and style the event. The concept is simple: once a season they pick a cookbook, and members make a dish and bring it to share. A dinner party ensues as everyone sits down to enjoy a meal and conversation together in the loft space above the bookstore. It's such a great idea, and proves books don't have to be high literature to be a connecting force. This was their spring event, and members were to cook from either Delancey or A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg. 

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For this event we wanted to keep the vibe springy and cozy, while still maintaining a modern aesthetic to match the feel of Wizenberg's books, and to reflect the season. We cut up some bunches of eucalptus from Trader Joe's and wove them around various candles in a color palette of sage, rose gold, and white. We also evenly spaced flower arrangements from Fleurae along the length of the table for a good dose riotous springtime color. The table was set, the wine was opened, and all that was left was to wait for guests to arrive. 

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We have to admire the complete transformation this space has undergone since the last time we were here. The bookstore did some major renovations and reimagined the entire loft space as well as the retail space directly below it to update their safety standards and to modernize the look. Those months of construction were well worth the time, because it is absolutely stunning now; we can hardly believe it's the same space!

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With the arrival of all sixteen guests bearing various bowls and platters of delicious things, the evening really got started. Everyone was invited to load up their plates and sit down for good food and even better conversation. Every time we've attended, we've noticed there is always this warm, buzzing energy as people connect and laugh together. It always feels like a whole table full of friends even though most people were meeting each other for the first time. We were especially excited to get to meet our instagram friend Krysta in real life!

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It took hours for the conversation to wind down and the food to disappear from the tables. Half empty bottles of wine and guttering candles were strewn along the table as everyone filtered out and another wonderful event came to a close. Thank you, Browser's for hosting this event and allowing us to take part in it!

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VENDORS

Styling | The Ardent Biblio

Venue | Browsers 

Flowers | Fleurae

Pottery | Mariella Luz

Literary Dinner | Platters & Boards
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*this book was gifted to us by the publisher in exchange for an honest review, but we loved it so much we decided to dinner party it! Also, some links are affiliate, and we deeply appreciate your support.

We love our elaborate literary dinner parties, but sometimes the best evenings are spent with something we put together on a whim. We often decide to have dinner together on a weeknight where we throw together a casual meal and let the kids play while we watch TV, chat, and relax with a drink. Simple, effective, and fun for everyone. 

Recently, we were gifted a review copy of Platters and Boards by the publisher, and as I sifted through it at my kitchen table one afternoon, I was completely inspired by how effortlessly we could pull together a weeknight meal from it. We had already agreed to meet for dinner the next night, so we decided to give it a shot.

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Luckily, it ended up being a gorgeous evening, so we decided to soak up the nice weather and set up outside. My trusty white tablecloth was draped over my patio table, a summery table runner brought in some texture, and flowering succulents placed in colorful vases added interest. Some scattered candles, plants, and pretty objects pulled from various corners of my house, plus my favorite drink tray helped fill in our casual decor with minimal effort.

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Drinks are always on the menu for our weeknight dinners together, and a warm evening called for my all time favorite summer cocktail: Moscow Mules. Three ingredients mixed in pretty copper mugs yields the most simple and refreshing concoction. The trick is plenty of lime and a spicy brand of ginger beer, especially if you're going to mix it on the stiff side. Trust me, when it comes to this cocktail, there's nothing worse than a watery one.

 

Michaela's Moscow Mules

  • 2 oz vodka
  • half a lime
  • ginger beer 
  • ice

Fill copper mugs with ice. Add vodka, squeeze in lime, and top with ginger beer to taste. Give it a stir, and cheers!

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For dinner, we pulled together a few platters and boards (hah, get it!) to cover the major food groups and keep it interesting. We made the white bean hummus dip from the cookbook and paired it with tons of our favorite fresh veggies, topped the book's recipe for crostini with our beloved Trader Joe's bruschetta (find it in the fresh section!), and loaded a big cutting board with plenty of meats, cheeses, olives, fruits, caprese skewers, truffled potato chips, marinated artichoke hearts, and spicy pickled vegetables. Pretty much the tastiest motley of all our favorite things. 

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Table laden and fresh drinks in hand, we sat down to just relax, snack, and talk. We set the kids up on a picnic blanket on the deck and let them load up plates with whatever caught their eye. We could hear them giggling and playing games amongst themselves while we took turns entertaining the baby and flipping through the cookbook, earmarking recipes we'd like to try for future dinners this summer.

We've been friends for 7 years now, and our conversations winds and flows from what we've been reading, to that adorable thing our kids said the other day, to general life stuff. One of the best things about dinner parties remains that they bring us together in a real way. A pretty setting and good food to enjoy with your best friend and suddenly you forget your phone and your hard day, and just relax into the moment. There's just a particular brand of magic that comes with these literary dinners, whether they're on the simpler side or more elaborate, and that's why we love to do them. 

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Really though, this style of eating completely suits warmer weather when the idea of turning on the oven sounds like torture. It lets you pull whatever you have in your fridge and build a meal with minimal prep or effort, and the results are frankly just straight up fun to eat.

The book encourages riffing on their ideas with your own tastes and gives practical tips for how to build an attractive, balanced board, which was honestly the most useful section for me. It also does a wonderful job showcasing how easily boards can be adapted to any kind of meal, which I hadn't really considered before. Like a brunch board? Um, yes please. 

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As usual, we completely lost track of time, and before we knew it my strings of solar lights winked on, and the evening was growing darker. Our kids ran and chased in the gathering dusk, and our candles burned lower as we reluctantly cleared up and headed back inside to say our goodbyes. Dinners like this will probably become a staple around here; it was honestly just too easy and enjoyable to not repeat!

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Have you ever considered doing a dinner party in this style? Would you? We'd love to hear your thoughts!