If you're ever in Southern California, wishing you were in France, I've got the perfect place for you to go... it's called Calabasas. No, it's not France, however it is really pretty. We went there last week for Dinner No. 6, but to be honest, I'm still trying to figure out if I dreamed the entire night or if it actually happened. This is Kate, by the way.
If you're new to Create Dinners, let me sum up what we do in a few sentences. Every quarter, 16 different women, most of whom have never met each other before, gather together. Each one brings something both literally and figuratively to the table for the night -- something creative, something unique to them, something that the other 15 depend on for the night's success. The only thing they have to go off of is a mood board and document with a few details that is sent out by myself once all attendees have been selected. Then, we come together. Somehow, everything always, in the most magical way, fits together perfectly, producing beautiful tablescapes, meals, and new friendships.
Our theme for Dinner No. 6 was the South of France. We also talked a lot about the word "harvest," and specifically what it means to "harvest your creativity" in this new season of Fall. I encouraged each attendee to weave a wheat stalk into their designs for the night. It came through in our florals, our menu design, and take home favors.
The night was hosted by a few of my co-workers / friends and the amazing family they live with (Nick and I and our dog Otter would like to move in too please), who generously opened their home to us. It was straight out of a movie. So much so that I half-expected a prince to come galloping up on a horse through the hills at some point during dinner. That didn't happen, but that's ok. It was still the stuff that fairytales are made of.
As everyone arrived, we gathered and mingled around a table filled with cheese and charcuterie boards, crostini with ricotta, figs, and balsamic, onion confit tartlets with thyme, and the hit of the night, frosé, garnished with ripened blackberries. From there, we moved into a French makeup tutorial that we live streamed from our Instagram. One of the MAJOR perks of the night was that everyone got to take home lipsticks, blushes, and brow product from Hourglass Cosmetics, as our makeup extraordinaire Lynette is friends with the founder.... chill. For the remainder of the evening, we all rocked a rouge lip and left little kiss marks all over our glasses.
Then it was dinner time. Oh, dinner time! How you never disappoint. We all made our way over to the table, and Kylie, per usual, introduced us to a feast. This time around, she and her sous chef, Tess, whipped up ratatouille gratin and mussels with white wine garlic broth. She also supplied us with bread, so we could soak up all of the sauce in the bottom of our bowls. Trust me, we did. As the sun started to set, we couldn't help but sit in awe of the beauty surrounding us. In nearly every direction you looked were rolling mountains, gently topped by pink and purple clouds. The weather was divine, and as the minutes passed, we could only see each other by candlelight.
Once the sun had completely set, we dove into a time that I've started cherishing more than any other time during these dinners -- conversation questions. One by one, we popcorn around the table and answer different questions that have been placed at each person's seat. Some are lighthearted, some go a little deeper. The amount of layers peeled back and revealed is really up to the person answering. It's always a meaningful and intimate time. However, during questions at Dinner No. 6, something REALLY extraordinary happened.
Up in the sky, what first appeared to be an airplane, was a burning green comet that gracefully flew above us. It soared, split in two, and then faded out like a peaceful exhale. In total, it probably lasted no longer than three seconds. Not everyone at the table turned quickly enough to see it, but those of us who did will probably never forget it. We did an audible gasp, looked at each other to make sure what we saw was real, and exclaimed how amazing it was. I'd welcome this 17th guest back to any dinner anytime, anywhere. Ideally a place with a clear sky.
The rest of the night was wonderful. We brought out coffee that Elise had picked up from a fancy coffeeshop that you've probably heard of. It's called Starbucks. Then we gobbled up scrumptious poached pears that were topped with vanilla bean ice cream, which made for an epic pairing / ending, much like Thelma and Louise. On the way out, everyone hugged, and exchanged information. They also stopped by our swag table, which was no joke this time. Everyone took home food, makeup, customized goods, the list goes on. I'll get into the specifics below.
It's now time to introduce you to our attendees, who are truly inspiring human beings. Thanks to Laetita for these golden-hour-lit portraits! Introductions below start at the top left and move all the way down to the bottom right.
Laetitia Wajnapel - Laetita was our only true French woman in attendance, and we were SO thankful to have her there, as she beautifully documented the evening and took photos for us. It's always so fun to see what these dinners look like through a new person's eyes. She brought such a great energy to our gathering.
Jessica Druxman - Jessica not only designed and printed our lovely menus, but she also created a custom piece of art for everyone! She makes block prints (she described the process and WHOA it's not easy) with a beautiful light purple wheat stalk on them. They're SO cool. Also, check out her Etsy store, Paper Planes and Mud Pies!
Lynette Cenée - Lynette led our amazing makeup tutorial, teaching all about how to get that perfect red-stained lip, dab of color on the cheeks, and bold brows. It was an extra special treat to receive product, thanks to her major hookup and generosity. Lynette also performed an epic magic trick for everyone, ultimately sharing the message to carry a little bit of light with you everywhere you go. Last, she crushes it on the internet. Check out her YouTube channel here.
Tess Allen - Our fabulous sous chef and storyteller for the night! Tess had us all doubled over in laughter, telling us a story about a date gone horribly wrong. It was just what we needed to hear as we shared dessert together.
Erin Brownstone - Erin runs her own shop called Wolf & Irving, making table linens with her husband. She provided our napkins for the night, in a soft champagne color, and as an added bonus gift, made everyone a set of cocktail napkins to take home. It was so generous, and Erin is just the kindest, sweetest woman.
Victoria Harris - Our videographer! Victoria is the first videographer we've ever had at a dinner, so we were really excited to have her there. She was like a fly on the wall, documenting everything as it happened, which is my personal favorite style of shooting. We cannot wait to see her finished creation! You better believe we'll be sharing it on our pages.
Kylie Mazon - Our fabulous chef. Kylie runs her own blog Cooking With Cocktail Rings where you can find all of the yummy recipes and recreate this dinner for yourselves! She wow-ed us, per usual and really brought home the French feels with her dishes this time.
Danielle Campbell - Danielle baked seriously good madelines for everyone to take home as a favor. Mine didn't even make it until the next day. They were so moist and yummy, with just enough lemon and a sweet lavender garnish in each baggie.
Maritsa Smith - Mar was one of our gracious hosts for the night. In addition to helping us every step of the way from setting up to breaking down, she helped run our Instagram for the night, and she created our beautiful placeholders that went at each setting around the table.
Katie Marble - Katie took on a new role this time, and she blew it out of the water. She was our florist! Katie really brought our wheat theme home by incorporating stalks into each arrangement, as well as soft pinks, thistle, and lavender. They were lovely and worked perfectly with this theme. Katie also took a ton of seriously stunning photos for us and loaned us her vintage blue plates that she and her mom curated for her wedding years ago.
Wilmarose Orlanes - Our stylist for the night! Wilmarose was a true stylist, y'all. She came in ready to work, and put so much thought into every single detail, taking our tablescape and take home favor area to a different level. #MidasTouch. I was SO thankful to have her there, as a handful of us usually wear this hat in addition to our other "jobs" for the night.
Kate Edwards - Hi! It's me. This part always feels a little bit redundant, but I also know that some of you reading this are probably new around here, so here we go. I came up with our theme for the evening, designed our color palette and mood board, and worked with everyone to execute their portion of the night. I also had the pleasure of documenting the night via photographs, and get to write and share everything with you here :)
Kimberly Bozeman - Kimberly is a writer turned cocktail crafter. But don't worry, she still writes. You can read some of her latest work here! For the dinner, Kimberly made us an amazing frosé, that everyone continually refilled.
Elise Apffel - Elise also took on a different role this time! She painted a canvas hanging that we styled the tablescape area with, and flourished fans for everyone to take home by adorning them with pastel tassels. Elise also created our mood board for wardrobe, which was basically sexy black pajamas. No one was upset about that.
Mackenna Millet - Mack made the RADDEST enamel pin for everyone to take home. Seriously, it's so cool, and I'm pretty sure it's earned a permanent residence on everyone's leather / denim jackets. She also made extras that we got to giveaway through a little Instagram contest. Who doesn't love free treats?
Yvonne Tran-MacDonald - Yvonne, our other amazing host for the night. To make her even more amazing, she let us come invade, and she's just about a MONTH out from getting married. So, extra thanks to her for doing heavy lifting and getting our tables set up for us, and adding this to her already super full plate.
Without further adieu, I give you a look into Dinner No. 6...