A few weeks ago, I was asked to work on a backyard dinner party piece for Society6's blog; it combined cooking, baking, hosting, writing and photographing (my favorite things!), so of course I jumped at the chance to do it. As much as I enjoyed getting to do all those things I love, I was pretty surprised at how much of an emotional impact it had on me in the best way. But, before I get into that, I wanted to share a bit of how the whole thing came together and the incredible people who helped make it a success.
The first person I reached out to when I got the job was my super talented friend Liz Michel to help with styling. The woman is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to setting up spaces to welcome people into, and I could not have been happier with the job she did for the evening - and letting us use her front yard as the setting!
Kyle D'Auria is a woodworker and owner of Deoria Made, and the minute I got my brother in law on board to make his brisket (seriously y'all, I've never had better brisket than the one Josh makes!), I knew we had to use Kyle's gorgeous butcher blocks to serve it on, and he kindly also made a couple of serving boards for cheese and fruit that went along with the meal.
Now, you guys have seen me post about Mazama and their ceramic mugs and glassware before, and I was excited to use their line of wine & cocktail glasses in another shoot. They had just come out with a new color of wine glasses that looked so great with Enso wine in it and I know is a perfect addition to any table setting, whether in a backyard or something a little classier ;)
I was also honored to have our friends over at Stahl Firepits bring one of their fire pits over for us to use. Guys, these fire pits are not only so aesthetically pleasing and well designed, they are also very practical in that they are made for outdoor use and made to withstand the elements (if you live in PNW, you know what I'm talking about) and last a lifetime. Not only that, they are so easy to assemble and can be stored flat or upright, taking up almost no space!
Lastly, I wanted to mention my sweet workplace, MadeHerePDX and how wonderful they are! Not only did I purchase some of my favorite party goods like the wine, the Lime Coriander Bitters for the G&Ts and my favorite candy of all time (Tom Bumble!), I was also able to source some props from them and get time off to do this. Plus, one of my dearest friends that I happen to work with has started selling her linen napkins there and made some especially for the party; too sweet!
OK, and now that I'm done bragging on some of my favorite makers, I just wanted to say a huge THANK YOU to my dear friends who were a part of this dinner! This shoot, bringing together my favorite ways to be creative, made me feel more inspired than I had been in a long time. I've said it before and I'll say it again - nothing makes me feel more alive and useful and loving than getting to host and feed and serve those I love through something as simple as a meal. And to have this be something I can do for work blows me away. Not only that, but the amount of encouragement and time given was overwhelming in such a humbling way. I pride myself - to a fault sometimes - on being able to "do it all" on my own. I have my ways of doing things and can just put my mind to it and get it done without anyone, but allowing others into that with me made this so much better! Reaching out to makers and friends about this and it being greeted with excitement made my insecurity of not being a "professional" at this disappear and was replaced with a confidence in my skills. Having my brother in law spend time on making the main dish and letting me borrow his truck to pick up and drop off the rentals was amazing, as was having my friend Mark give up his whole day to help me in the kitchen and my friend Ashley do two early morning furniture loading/unloading stints and runs out to the rental place in St. John's. Extra props were brought just in case, a nice camera was lent without hesitation, the courtyard was generously mine to use as needed, and every single person checked in to see if I needed anything and had the most encouraging and kind things to say and remind me that this is something I love doing and should keep striving after.
Thank you so much to Stephanie and the rest of the crew at Society6 for this chance to work with y'all! I could not be more thankful that I got a chance to do this piece, work with the people I did, and share such a special evening with the people I did. And I can't wait to have this happen again :)