Friendsgiving 2015: A Very Hickory Farms Friendsgiving

Friendsgiving 2015

Friendsgiving 2015

My favorite thing on this here planet is to have people sitting around my table.

Friendsgiving 2015 with Hickory Farms and friends at my home

Friendsgiving 2015 with Hickory Farms and friends at my home

So, when Hickory Farms and I decided to team up to host a Friendsgiving luncheon to launch their Signature Party Planner Gift Box ($46) this holiday season, which benefits No Kid Hungry

Hickory Farms Signature Party Planner (only $46), and for every box sold, Hickory Farms donates $5 to No Kid Hungry, which feeds 50 kids.

Hickory Farms Signature Party Planner (only $46), and for every box sold, Hickory Farms donates $5 to No Kid Hungry, which feeds 50 kids.

we wanted to create a warm, open-hearted environment where many of the inspiring women I know could sit, dine, support one another, share their successes and proclaim their goals and gratitude.

Mismatched plates? No problem. Pick up seasonal plates at a flea market or discount store for whimsical, carefree holiday entertaining. I got these plates for $2 each!

Mismatched plates? No problem. Pick up seasonal plates at a flea market or discount store for whimsical, carefree holiday entertaining. I got these plates for $2 each! And, I served water out of mason jars (just about $1/pop)

Putting the friends in Friendsgiving

Putting the friends in Friendsgiving with Eva of Happily Eva After, Lily Diamond of Kale and Caramel, and Ellen of Hedley and Bennett.

I invited a few of the finest folks in my social media influencer life, who really appreciate the reason of the season: gratitude. 

Starting the lunch off in the right spirit by placing a "I am grateful for…" card on everyone's place setting, to get them in the mood…for gratitude, of course!

Starting the lunch off in the right spirit by placing a “I am grateful for…” card on everyone’s place setting, to get them in the mood…for gratitude, of course!

Good guests can make or break an intimate in-home gathering, and if there’s even one person who’s a weak link, simply by bringing in a bit of negative energy, the experience can be ruined for all. Well, there was no weak link at this ladies lunch. Instead, a lunch that was supposed to last 2 hours, lasted almost 4, with all of the guests staying until sundown, save a couple who had prior obligations.

As beautiful as the sunflower centerpieces  were, the real centerpiece of the lunch was gratitude

As beautiful as the sunflower centerpieces were, the real centerpiece of the lunch was gratitude

We went ’round the table, sharing our stories, listening to those of others, and brainstorming about how we can make a difference both in each other’s lives and in this world…all while drinking wine and nibbling on cheese and sausage. I watched women who had never met before leave as good friends, and knew that from this single, magical afternoon, some life-changing alliances were born.

Strangers who became friends mean my Friendsgiving was a success!

Strangers who became friends mean my Friendsgiving was a success!

As for the Friendsgiving menu? Here’s just a little of what you can get when you order from Hickory Farms this holiday season to keep everything festive, while keeping your guests fed and fueled, without you feeling overworked.

As a host, I felt no stress with my guests, thanks to the ease, convenience and deliciousness of Hickory Farms!

I actually was able to sit, eat, drink and talk!!! As a host, I felt no stress with my guests, thanks to the ease, convenience and deliciousness of Hickory Farms!

First up? Drinks, of course. Did you know that Hickory Farms sells wine? And, I mean really, really GOOD wine!! My favorite is the Flora Springs Merlot ($40). I want to buy like 6 cases of it for all of the holiday entertaining I do…and maybe just to sip while watching Scandal. Who’s with me?

Wanna get one of the best Merlots I've ever tasted? Head over to HickoryFarms.com. Seriously.

Wanna get one of the best Merlots I’ve ever tasted? Head over to HickoryFarms.com. Seriously.

An easy peasy cheese tray with Hickory Farms cheeses served as a tempting – and satisfying – appetizer.

The easiest way to entertain? An easy peasy cheese tray, thanks to Hickory Farms. Some of my lifelong faves? Smoked cheddar, jalapeño cheddar, farmhouse cheddar and port wine cheese spread.

The easiest way to entertain? An easy peasy cheese tray, thanks to Hickory Farms. Just cut into different shapes, and you’re done! Some of my lifelong faves? Smoked cheddar, Jalapeño cheddar, Farmhouse cheddar and Port wine cheese spread.

My personal FAVE is the Port Wine cheese spread. My professor parents used to be gifted with it every holiday season, and I would eat it up with a spoon before anyone else had the chance!

My personal FAVE is the Port Wine cheese spread. My professor parents used to be gifted with it every holiday season, and I would eat it up with a spoon before anyone else had the chance!

And, don’t forget the sausage! I chose to serve the Turkey Summer Sausage and the Signature Beef Summer Sausage for two tastes.

Turkey Summer Sausage and Beef Summer Sausage, served on a slab of wood for added harvest -festive feel.

A tale of two tastes: Turkey Summer Sausage and Beef Summer Sausage, served on a slab of wood for added harvest -festive feel.

A Spiral Sliced HoneyGold Ham ($75, serves 14-18 generously).

A holiday staple in my family? A Hickory Farms Spiral Sliced Ham. I serve it for both Thanksgiving AND Easter!

A holiday staple in my family? A Hickory Farms Spiral Sliced Ham. I serve it for both Thanksgiving AND Easter!

The big hit, though? The DIY Biscuit Bar!

DIY Biscuit bar, featuring Hickory Farms ham, cheeses, sausage, mustards and homemade Hickory Farms Farmhouse Cheddar Pimento cheese.

DIY Biscuit bar, featuring Hickory Farms ham, cheeses, sausage, mustards and homemade Hickory Farms Farmhouse Cheddar Pimento cheese.

But, more on that on tomorrow’s blog. I did it purely for ease and convenience, but my-oh-my, was it tasty!

My Hickory Farms-stacked biscuit was gooood

My Hickory Farms-stacked biscuit was gooood

And, who knew? Shredded Hickory Farms farmhouse cheddar cheese makes for a delicious pimento cheese spread, with my recipe, of course! (That recipe will be up on the blog tomorrow, too).

My homemade Pimento cheese, featuring Hickory Farms Farmhouse cheddar

My homemade Pimento cheese, featuring Hickory Farms Farmhouse cheddar

And, lastly, a well-stocked dessert table.

A well-stocked dessert table, thanks to Hickory Farms: (from L to R) Chocolate Lava Cakes, Red Velvet Cakes, Chocolate Decadence Trio.

A well-stocked dessert table, thanks to Hickory Farms: (from L to R) Chocolate Lava Cakes, Red Velvet Cake and Chocolate Decadence Trio.

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There are those gnome-inspired wooden cake stands again. What can I say? I like a theme.

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I'm just a girl who can't say no!!! At least, when it comes to Hickory Farms red velvet cake. Geesh!

I’m just a girl who can’t say no!!! At least, when it comes to Hickory Farms red velvet cake. Geesh!

And, a little nibble of cheddar to balance that sweetness out. How trés français of me!

A little cheese with my cake, please.

A little cheese with my cake, please.

As for the decor?

Friendsgiving decor

Friendsgiving decor

I kept it cozy and comfy with harvest-hued rugs, blankets, pillows and puffs on the ground…

Cozy on up, Friendsgiving guests!

Cozy on up, Friendsgiving guests!

my mismatched chairs around the farmhouse table…

Who says everything has to match?

Who says everything has to match?

and a chalkboard runner that my creative friends could scribble and doodle on, while sharing their gratitude. Listen, we’re all just big kids. If you give them chalk pencils, they’re gonna get busy. Trust me.

You supply the chalkboard table runner and chalk pencils, and they'll supply the creativity and gratitude

You supply the chalkboard table runner and chalk pencils, and they’ll supply the creativity and gratitude

 

As for the fun factor? Well, there’s only one person I call in for that. My dear friend, and creative powerhouse and constant source of inspiration, Courtney Collins of Little Junebugs and Max Love Project.

My creative source of inspiration: Courtney Collins of Little Junebugs and Max Love Project.

My creative source of inspiration: Courtney Collins of Little Junebugs and Max Love Project.

 

Courtney and I decided to do a “Pretty Your Pumpkin” station to entertain guests with metallic paint, sequins, studs, and…helllooooo…GLITTER(!!!!) to pump up their pumpkins. Disclaimer: This was all Courtney, as I am the least crafty person you know.

Pretty Your Pumpkn.

Pretty Your Pumpkin. *signs by the FAB Karla Magno

She's crafty!

She’s crafty!

The one high maintenance thing I did? I did ask my fashionable guests to wear shades of fall-festive autumn. Don’t judge me. And, besides, it sure did look pretty.

Fall-festive fashion sets the mood for a fall fest!

Fall-festive fashion sets the mood for a fall fest! Here, with the fall festive Eva Amurri, founder and author of the blog, Happily Eva After.

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Actress and host of Dating Naked, Amy Paffrath

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Rachel McCord of The McCord List

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Leila Lewis of Be Inspired PR and Inspired By This blog, and host, actress & producer, Diane Mizota.

As fun as the whole day was, my favorite part was when we all sat around the table for the last few hours, sharing our stories and getting to know one another, while we sipped wine and nibbled on sausage and cheese.

This was my favorite part…besides the Hickory Fams port wine cheese spread, of course.

This was my favorite part…besides the Hickory Fams port wine cheese spread, of course. Here are Eva, and Steph Eitel Farrar and Sierra French-Myerson, co-editors of the cooking and entertaining blog, French and Farrar.

Takin' it easy, as the sun said goodbye and our tummies told us we were full.

Takin’ it easy, as the sun said goodbye and our tummies told us we were full.

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With Amy Paffrath and The Modern Day Girlfriend creator & editor, Arianna Thomopoulos.

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Hugs all around! With Ellen Bennett of Hedley And Bennett.

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With all those influencers, yes, there WAS bound to be a little tweeting going on.

Old friends and new friends became all friends.

Old friends and new friends became all friends.

Thank you to every single one of you who graced my table with your grace, and thank you especially to Hickory Farms for bringing these fine women together.

Girls really do run the world, and with these women at the helm of it, I feel completely confident in our future.

Dawn Do? In sticking with the reason for the season, when it’s time to buy those host gifts this holiday season, pick up a Hickory Farms Signature Party Planner Gift Box ($46). For every box sold, Hickory Farms donates $5 to No Kid Hungry, which feeds 50 kids.

The perfect  gift that gives back: Hickory Farms Signature Party Planner, benefitting No Kid Hungry

The perfect gift that gives back: Hickory Farms Signature Party Planner, benefitting No Kid Hungry

Ellen and I with our gifts that give back…to No Kid Hungry, that is!

Ellen and I with our gifts that give back…to No Kid Hungry, that is!

That’s better – and sweeter – than any box of chocolates.

xoxo,
Dawn

Details:

Food & Wine: Hickory Farms

Photography: Molly + CO

Signage: Karla Magno

Event Production: Good Carma Studio & Dawn McCoy

 

Dine & Dish with Dawn: Society Bakery in Dallas – It’s Not Just Their Desserts That Make Them Sweet!

Life might not be a cake walk, but don’t tell Society Bakery that.

The oven is always on at Society Bakery in Dallas, where they bake as much sweetness as they add to the world around them!

The oven is always on at Society Bakery in Dallas, where they bake as much sweetness as they add to the world around them!

A bakery whose motto is “Be good to your sweet tooth, be good to society,” Society makes it its mission to sweeten the world, while giving back.

And, I’m not the only one who’s noticed. Ellen Degeneres and AOL have named them one of the Top Ten Cupcakes in America, and People Country Magazine listed Society Bakery as one of “Four top bakeries in L.A., Dallas, Birmingham, and N.Y.C.”.

Society Bakery founder, Roshi Muns and I established a friendship last December when I was referred to Society when I needed a last minute cake for an impromptu holiday tea party with my girlfriends. I tasted the cake (delicious!), and met Roshi (the sweetest!), and it was friendship at first sight! We’ve followed each other on social media since then, so when Roshi saw I was headed home to Dallas, she told me she wanted to “roll out the red carpet” for me and my family and friends, and host a tasting brunch for us.

Knowing I would need some help from other discerning tastebuds to taste such delectable treats, I invited my mom, my fabulous Dallas blogger friend Lee Cordon of DoSayGive, my best friend Jenny Harris, her son Shepherd, Jenny’s sister Dr. Sally Falwell, and her daughter, Evie.

Lots of love at the table with my tasting crew by my side!

Lots of love at the table with my tasting crew by my side – and that’s Roshi right behind me!

And oh my, were we ever treated!

We started out with Pimento Cheese on toast with hardboiled egg, bacon, lettuce and tomato.

Society Bakery's homemade pimento cheese on toast, with hardboiled eggs, bacon, lettuce and tomato

Society Bakery’s homemade pimento cheese on toast, with hardboiled eggs, bacon, lettuce and tomato

Then, came out the chicken salad on croissant, tuna salad on wheat, grilled cheese and pasta salad with tomato and mozzarella.

Chicken salad on croissant, truna salad, grilled cheese and pasta salad  at Society Bakery - delicious!

Chicken salad on croissant, truna salad, grilled cheese and pasta salad at Society Bakery – delicious!

The next course was ricotta with fresh peaches and strawberries, served with a side of some of the most delicious homemade peach jam I’ve ever enjoyed.

Ricotta with fresh peaches and strawberries with a side of scrumptious homemade peach jam by Chef Erin

Ricotta with fresh peaches and strawberries with a side of scrumptious homemade peach jam by Chef Erin

After all that, came the…DESSERTS!!
And, I do mean desserts plural!

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Life really is a cake walk at Society Bakery (details of desserts in this pic below)

We were treated to the following dessert smorgasbord (as pictured above clockwise witht the brownie, standing in for 12 o’clock): Brownie, Frosted Sugar Cookie, Red Velvet Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting, Jessie Jessup Cupcake (vanilla cake with buttercream frosting & my FAVE!), Strawberry Cupcake, Coconut Cupcake, Salted Caramel Cupcake with Salted Caramel Filling, vanilla Cupcake, White Petits Fours with filling, Monster Chocolate Chip Cookie, Bread Pudding Whoopie Pie, Apple Pie, another Whoopie Pie, Monster M&M Cookie, and their signature Chocolate Cake in the center.

Here’s a closeup of some of that deliciousness.

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Sugar Heaven at Society Bakery with cupcakes, cookies, petits four, pies, brownies and whoopie pies!

As delicious as the food and “sweet treats” (as Sally & Evie call them) are, Roshi’s mission is even sweeter. Society Bakery is active in giving back to the local community of Dallas, by giving thousands of cupcakes away in exchange for items that local charities need. Society Bakery also donates throughout the year to over 100 different charities, schools and non-profit organizations, refraining from taking tax write-offs for donations because Roshi and her team believe that a business can be profitable and charitable at the same time. Sounds like someone else I know!

My heart was so full getting to share both my love for what I do, and my love of food, with some of the people I love best in my own hometown of Dallas.

What it takes to capture those delicious food pics y'all love looking at! My friend Jenny was praying I didn't fall off that step ladder!

What it takes to capture those delicious food pics y’all love looking at! My friend Jenny was praying I didn’t fall off that step ladder!

 

My dear friend (of 21 years), Jenny Harris Crandall and I cakewalking at Society Bakery

My dear friend (of 21 years), Jenny Harris Crandall and I cakewalking at Society Bakery

 

With my friend - and fellow influencer & blogger - Lee Cordon, of the fabulous blog, DoSayGive

With my friend – and fellow influencer & blogger – Lee Cordon, of the fabulous blog, DoSayGive

 

So, when in Dallas, head on over to Society Bakery, where the oven’s always on – and the place, where when you buy sweetness, you also add sweetness to the world around you!

xoxo,
Dawn