Hosting Easter Brunch

I have always loved planing parties and hosting friends and family at my table.  It started for me as a child when my mother would let me help her decorate the table for each holiday dinner (I’m sure I mostly got in the way, but my mother never let on if I was!)  In middle school I saved up my lunch money for an entire year and threw a surprise party for my parents twenty-fifth anniversary (I was quite proud of this overly teal infused party complete with crepe paper bells, a  tiered wedding cake and napkins imprinted with their names.)  In high school I planned prom (I was completely out of control with this and probably planned the most expensive prom ever- I bet 17 years later my old high school is still paying off the bills I created with this prom.)  In college I spent time organizing dinner parties for my friends instead of studying (I might have chosen to buy beautiful dishes, linens and wine glasses instead of the required text books and reading materials I was supposed to be using my money for.)

I guess it is just part of who I am…  gathering a group of people, creating a beautiful setting and having the opportunity to serve the people I love. There is something special that happens when people can leave their cares and worries at the door, and just simply gather around a table and break bread together. I love it. This is why I started our company and chose my line of work.  It just comes naturally for me.

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But what if it doesn’t come naturally for you?  The idea of hosting an Easter brunch might seem daunting and scary to you.  It can be easy to get lost in the details and not really even know where to start.  Cooking a meal alone might feel like a small mountain to climb, let alone trying to make a beautiful table.  You might look at the photos from our brunch and feel like you could never replicate something similar.  Looking at the big picture may feel overwhelming and you might be wondering where to even begin.

Our goal with this post is to help you know where to start and really dissect what we created.  Hopefully by breaking it down piece by piece, you’ll realize this is totally something you can accomplish.

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I definitely get more excited and inspired to decorate the table than I do about creating the meal, so lets start with that. decorations create an ambience and set the tone for your meal. It elevates the meal from something ordinary, and makes it feel special. This in turn makes your guests feel special- which is the whole point of hosting in the first place.

Start by thinking of what inspires you personally.  For me, I wanted our table to be inspired by spring. When I think of spring, the first words that come to mind are fresh, light, playful and fun. I wanted our brunch to reflect that mood and evoke the feeling of happiness. I ran in that direction for all of my choices.

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I started by borrowing the lucite flatware from my friend Brandy. I had seen her post a picture using this flatware on Instagram, loved it and asked to borrow it for the brunch. She graciously said yes! (Don’t be afraid to ask friends to borrow items for your brunch- people are usually flattered to loan things, and it saves you some money while sourcing all of the different elements to make your table feel special).  I love the classic design of the flatware while still retaining a whimsical and carefree style- perfect for the mood I wanted to create. I built the rest of the décor from there.

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I chose vases with a fun dotted pattern in addition to glasses that had the same lighthearted feel of the silverware. I filled them with spring blooms that I bought from our local grocery store. I didn’t want the flower centerpieces to feel fussy, so I didn’t really arrange anything at all- just cut the stems shorter, and dropped them into their vases. This kept it simple and very quick to put together. It also means that anyone can replicate this.

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I knew I wanted to use white napkins for a fresh look, but didn’t want to purchase expensive table linens. So I shopped at the fabric store and found inexpensive white fabric with the same dotted pattern as the vases, and used it to make a simple runner and napkins just by cutting squares and a long rectangle. I didn’t finish the edges or do any sewing; I literally just cut and ripped the fabric into the sizes I needed. I loved the raw unfinished edge of the pieces that I made. The little bit of fraying adds character to the table.

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I often add something edible to my centerpieces, both when we host at home and at the weddings we create. Macarons feel playful, and the pistachio color is perfect for spring. These little treats are beautiful as decor and are easy for your guests to grab and eat. It also helps to keep the conversation going after the meal is over, because people will continue to snack on the decor.

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To add to the feeling of fun and playfulness, I chose mismatched glasses and stemware for each guest’s place setting. Using different patterns helps the table feel less formal and keeps it from becoming fussy.

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These pistachio macarons are tasty to eat and pretty to look at. Although they can be tricky and time consuming to make, The results are so rewarding. I will be sharing the recipe I used for these macarons along with step by step guidance. Macarons can be made a couple days before your brunch, so all you have to do the morning of the brunch is stack and serve.

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We wanted to add some color to our brunch buffet, so Jamie created a simple citrus salad. She sliced up different varieties and sizes of oranges, tangerines and grapefruit. She then cut off the peels to form hexagon and octagon shapes, and finished by stacking them up on a serving tray.

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We also pulled in the citrus colors from the salad with our juice bar. Now… you can choose to get fancy and squeeze your own fruit and make fresh juice…  but we don’t really have time for that. Store bought juice tastes great, and looks beautiful when served in fun bottles. I don’t have the graphic design skills to create fun tags to label the juice bottles, so I cut up chunks of the coordinating fruit to indicate what our guests were pouring for themselves. Although I love fancy tags with fun calligraphy, these little identifying fruit cups added charm and interest to our juice bar.

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One of the things I love the most about spring is all of the blooming branches. The little buds are a simple reminder that spring has arrived. Putting a few branches into a vase adds height, fills the corner of a room and makes a big statement. The best part is how quick, easy and affordable it is.

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I had the vision of creating a mini bakery on the vintage buffet in our home. (I love sweets) I thought this would be a fun way to indulge our guests. (ok… you got me… I just wanted to indulge myself!) But seriously…who doesn’t love a huge spread of sweet treats and the ability to select as much of anything you want? I covered these baked goods with glass domes to create the look and feel of a true bakery.

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We’ll be sharing the recipe later this week for these soft and chewy cinnamon rolls we created. What I love about cinnamon rolls is that you do all of the hard work the night before your brunch, and then just let the dough rise overnight in the fridge. Then all you have to do the morning of your brunch is pop them in the oven. The smell of freshly baked rolls and hot cinnamon will fill your entire house and greet your guests when they arrive. (Honestly what I really great about this is that it gives me time to clean up! I make a huge mess when I am in the kitchen and doing this the night before leaves me the time to clean up so I don’t look like a hot mess when my guests arrive)

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I used to think if someone was coming over that I would be “cheating” if I didn’t bake everything from scratch. The problem was, I would be so exhausted by the time my guests arrived, that I would not enjoy my company (which defeats the purpose of hosting). It’s ok to go to the local doughnut shop or French bakery or even your grocery store and fill in your buffet with store bought items. This will save you time, money, kitchen clean-up and your sanity. The best part is, you will have saved up all of the energy you would have used on endless baking, giving you more energy to enjoy your own party. No one will think you have cheated. Your guests would prefer to have you mentally present, rather than exhausted from baking too much. (I’ve learned this lesson the hard way- and I’m still  figuring this one out!)

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As your guests arrive, pop the champagne and open up the juice bar for mimosas while you finish putting out the last of the food. (Have a towel ready in case you have a surprise like Jamie did)

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Our menu was simple: savory quiche, assorted fruit, a simple spring green salad tossed with fresh strawberries and a berry vinaigrette, and the bakery display of croissants with jam, cinnamon rolls, doughnuts and macarons. It might sound like a lot of food to prepare, but it was really quite simple when you break down the individual components (especially when you let go of your need to personally make and bake everything yourself). And remember, most of this can be done ahead of time so you aren’t rushing or stressing when your guests arrive. Pick a few key things you want to make, and then purchase everything else or you could even choose to ask your guests bring a dish to share.

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These savory quiches were filled with caramelized onions, goat cheese, roasted red peppers, bacon and diced artichoke hearts. (so so good.) Jamie made them the day before and then all we had to do the morning of our brunch was heat them up to an enjoyable temperature. This alleviated the need to get up early and start cooking and baking at the crack of dawn. We’ll also be sharing our quiche recipe later this week with a tutorial to help with your success.

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People think that Jamie and I must be amazing cooks. (umm… yeah… no…)   The truth is, we actually don’t really know much about cooking at all. It’s true that we do love to bake cookies, pies and cakes, but we haven’t really ever transferred those skills over to learning how to cook dinner.  I think this is why we love the idea of brunch.  It’s a meal that is relatively simple to put together, we can use our baking skills to create it, and as I mentioned above, most items can be prepared ahead of time so we can also be fully present and enjoy our guests once they arrive.

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Whether you are celebrating Easter or just welcoming the beginning of Spring and warmer month, there is nothing better than gathering with your friends and family over a meal filled with sweet and savory treats.  Spring is the perfect season to host a brunch, and hopefully this post gives you the confidence to invite some people over.

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Just remember to always check your perspective and priorities.  The best part about brunch wasn’t the food, the flowers or even the macarons (although those little pistachio treats are really quite tasty!)  What I’ll remember most about this morning we spent with friends was the laughter we shared and the friendships that were deepened. That’s the true purpose behind doing what we do. It’s not about impressing people. It’s about creating community, spreading love, serving people and giving them an experience where they feel welcomed and loved. Whether you brunch over homemade confections or you source the entire meal from Costco- it doesn’t matter as long as you don’t lose the perspective and purpose behind what hosting is really all about- delighting your guests.

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photos: Matthew Land Studios 

video: Cabfare Productions

The Moores Pop Up

New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day are two holidays that can easily turn into big letdowns. Both holidays often lead to disappointment when hopes are unfulfilled with unmet expectations.  Jamie and I have decided that these holidays (and every day for that matter) will be what we decide to make them. So this year we decided to have a Valentine’s pop up flower shop.  There is nothing more classic than chocolate and flowers on this holiday, so we joined forces with Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery, and set out to make the day special for whoever would stop by.

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The thing with having a little pop up shop, is that you don’t really know what to expect, who will come, how many flowers to purchase.  It is so different from wedding planning and design where everything is perfectly calculated and scheduled down to the minute.  I pre-ordered a large amount of flowers, but the week of the event I panicked that I hadn’t ordered enough.  So every morning at 5:00 I went to the flower market and purchased more garden roses, poppies, anemones, blackberries and other textures to make the bouquets unique.

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By the end of the week I wasn’t worried about having enough product… my thoughts shifted to “what if nobody comes!?”  Looking back, I had nothing to worry about.  Our day was filled with a constant line of people that came to celebrate the holiday and get flowers for either their loved ones or themselves.  We completely sold out by the end of the evening.

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One of my favorite parts throughout the day was just connecting with people. It was encouraging to see guys wanting to pick out something perfect for their girlfriend or wife. It was amazing to meet people who loyally follow us on Instagram. We had the opportunity to reconnect with past clients who stopped by to say hi and show their support. Several kids brought us Valentine’s Day cards that they had specially made just for us.  Even my own brother who I haven’t seen in several years surprised me and made the trip up to Seattle with his family.  And… our little nephew, Jackson, came by and attempted to steal my Valentine away from me and win Jamie’s heart with some candy and a kiss. I didn’t have a chance once he showed up… no one can compete with how cute that little guy is.

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As I stood on the sidewalk making bouquets I had the opportunity to talk with the different people that had stopped by. I realized halfway through the day that every bouquet represented a story.  Some bouquets represented stories of love, and the flowers were going to be a component of a romantic evening.  Some bouquets represented stories of courage, and people were getting flowers to take to loved ones fighting cancer or other illnesses.  Some bouquets represented joy, and people wanted flower just to brighten someone’s day.  Other bouquets represented stories of loneliness, and people shared with me that they didn’t have anyone to bring them flowers and so they were buying a bouquet for themselves.

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It was a beautiful day filled with a lot of laughter. I can’t think of a better way to spend the holiday than working together with the one I love, creating something beautiful, serving people and spreading love throughout our community. We might have felt like kids playing store… but it really was our favorite Valentine’s Day we have ever had.

And a huge thanks to Katie Parra  and Mitch from Cabfare Productions  for spending the day with us and taking these photos and creating this film.  We love your work and value our friendship with you both!

Real Wedding: Kerry and Mike

This is definitely one of my top three favorite weddings I have ever been a part of. A grand staircase laced with autumn clematis… ruffly dresses tied with sashes…  crowns made of flowers… towers of macarons… wedding cakes of all sizes… hand-painted walls…. beautiful chandeliers… endless amounts of lush garden roses… this is exactly the kind of fairytale wedding little girls dream about having someday.

Kerry and Mike are friend of ours; Jamie has been good friends with Kerry since sixth grade. This wedding was one of those rare occasions that we were also guests. It was a privilege to work with Kerry and Mike to design their dream wedding, but it was an even greater honor to watch as they committed their lives to each other.

It’s been four months, and this wedding still feels surreal. There was just something magical about it that I can’t quite express with words. Kerry radiated beauty, her style was flawless and her taste was impeccable. Mike was dapper, happy and emotional (all at the same time) and clearly in love with his beautiful bride.

I remember just pausing a moment to take it all in. Creating the details of this wedding took me several sleepless nights, but it was so worth it. People like Kerry and Mike, and the kind of love they share for each other are exactly why I love my job.

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photography: Belathee

video: Cabfare Productions

event design and flowers:  Sinclair & Moore

monogram design and stationery: Spruce

wedding cakes: Tallant House and The Sweet Side

logistical planning and coordination: Solomon Events 

and a special thank you to Erin from Floret Flowers for growing so many of the flowers we used for this wedding, and for working all of those crazy hours with me to pump out the details of this wedding. I wouldn’t have been able to also be a guest at this wedding if I didn’t have your help that week! So thankful for you!