Why Gather

Why Gather  |  The Fresh Exchange

image from our Raleigh Simple Evening with The Yellow Table

I hope you had the chance to see our lastest Simple Evening. If not, go ahead and jump over and give it a look through then pop back here to read this post. No matter how you begin your week I say it is a good idea to just begin it with the warm thoughts of gathering around a table. As I come down from the weekend and head into a week of traveling, I wanted to begin with something close to my heart, which is our Simple Evenings.

Why Gather  |  The Fresh Exchange

image from our Thursday night dinner in our new studio with our neighbors.  

This last week while the hustle of life was happening, Mike and I hosted a potluck style dinner with our neighbors to celebrate a friend’s birthday. The evening looked nothing like what you would imagine. Sure there were some matching plates (ones we have used before at other dinners), candles, and fresh flowers, but in many ways it was rustic and truly simple. It only took a few hours and a few hands to prepare the dinner instead of a few weeks and dozens of hands. The night was held in our new studio space that is raw as raw can be at this point; however, at the end of the day it isn’t the place that matters. The most important and beautiful piece of the evening was the people that surrounded the table – our neighbors. It reminded me why I choose to gather and why I began the series A Simple Evening.

Why Gather  |  The Fresh Exchange

image by Parker Young from our Nashville Simple Evening

Many times when I have been in the rush of making these dinners, I find myself worried about the details. I always wonder if the right shots are being taken, if the light is landing right, and if the dinner is translating through the lens. Weeks before the dinner we find ourselves thinking about the details of the table – what will the table look like, what will sit on the table, and what will the setting look like. I have so many stories of things not aligning properly. Each night has stories of something not coming together as planned. There have been ticks, torrential down pours, missing glassware, missing seats, and no seats at all. In all of the crazy moments I have never thought…why am I putting myself though this? It sounds crazy, but these nights are something I love. Whether I am posting about these evenings or enjoying them amongst our neighbors (sometimes both… coming in the Spring!), these moments are what make the gathering beautiful. Everything always falls into place as it was meant to. Sitting down for dinner, no one notices the imperfect napkin folds or the mismatched silverware. What they notice and remember are the moments.

Why Gather  |  The Fresh Exchange

image by Bryan Dale from our Northport Simple Evening

When we planned our first Simple Evening, we planned it because we wanted to take time to pause amongst those who we love and who inspire us. The decor, the setting, and the visual experience comes together because of those who gather. Each dinner brings together those who I believe in, and I simply want to offer an opportunity and space for them to do what they love. You won’t find me directing the decor, but instead you will find me helping to execute another’s vision, making sure it is captured perfectly (though Mike needs very little direction from me). I love sharing what others love and to me there is no greater place than the table and a gathering to offer a place of creative freedom.

As I begin to plan more of these evenings, I am finding myself continually coming back to the “why” of these nights. I am staying focused on why I desire to gather around the table. I remind myself that the details aren’t as important as the opportunity to offer a canvas for life to display itself and play out. I am reminded that gathering for me is important to my day and honestly it inspires me more than anything else in life. There is never a moment I regret taking time away to create these moments.

Why Gather  |  The Fresh Exchange

back image from our Harbor Springs Simple Evening

I really wanted to share these thoughts today because we get so many questions about attending these evenings and how we do them. I don’t always know what to say because this is simply a deep rooted expression of passion for me. Relationships, community, and helping people do what brings them joy is something that I live for in life. These nights have never been about making money and never will be. We will never charge for them unless it involves doing something good for the community as a whole and nothing more. My hope is that these nights inspire you to take the time to purposefully take one night a month to slow down, eat around the table, light candles, buy flowers, make something simple, and enjoy it with the one or ones you love. I hope they inspire you to bring together new and old friends and to reconnect and focus on how much richer life is when we allow these moments to happen more often no matter if they look Instagram worthy or not. I hope they simply inspire you to gather.

Happy Monday friends! Go make some plans to make one night about coming together this week.

Make Something

Make Something  |  The Fresh Exchange

The best advice I have ever been given in life was to simply begin. To this day I still come back to that word when I feel frustrated, stuck, or simply  in need of a kick of rear. This week we started to work in the studio. Our new space is by no means perfect as it is basically an unfinished box right now, but if I continued to wait in life for all to be perfect or even “ideal” I would find myself never moving forward.

This week we shot a lot of new content for the blog in the space that will transform into the studio space of our dreams in the next 6-8 months. Since finding our home I have been so excited to begin again and to have a space that inspires me. With moving and traveling around so much in the last year having a solid and consistent space to create each day has been such an intangible dream. Since we started to create in this space, we are seeing and feeling what we will need. We have a lot of kinks to work out in order to make it everything we need, but I am loving this process of figuring it all out.

It has really challenged me to create in a space that isn’t perfect. At the end of the day we still made something beautiful and we learned a ton about this new phase of our life. There is beauty in the process of discovery. We just have to allow ourselves to change our perspective enough to see it that way.

Over the weekend we are getting some house things done and prepping for our week out in California. I am looking forward to heading west on Monday to rest up and gain inspiration from some of my favorite ladies at Designervaca. It will also be nice to take a small vaca with Mike to explore Palm Springs and LA. We have never been to either city together and I am looking forward to a little adventure after the hustle and commotion of moving.

I hope you each have a wonderful weekend! Thanks so much for all the love this week on my running post and the Simple Evening. It means a lot to know you love what we create so thank you for all the support. Yall inspire us!!!

 

Simple Evening – American Spoon + Huzza

Simple Evening: American Spoon and Huzza in Harbor Springs, Michigan  |  The Fresh Exchange

I think there is always something special about coming back to your roots. Wouldn’t you agree? Maybe that would explain why this Simple Evening feels more special than most we have done before. Each one of these nights is special in their own way, but this one has a deeper meaning to me. Two Northern Michigan companies that I love dearly came together to create one gorgeous evening and show off what they love most. American Spoon and Huzza are brands that have become staples in my day-to-day life, so to have them come together to do something that we could share was very special to me.

Simple Evening: American Spoon and Huzza in Harbor Springs, Michigan  |  The Fresh Exchange

Simple Evening: American Spoon and Huzza in Harbor Springs, Michigan  |  The Fresh Exchange

Simple Evening: American Spoon and Huzza in Harbor Springs, Michigan  |  The Fresh Exchange

Harbor Springs has always been a special place to me since it was where I was born as well as where my family history lies. This is the place where I first fell in love with Lake Michigan, where I learned to swim, and where I spent many family holidays. It is one of the only places on earth where I can truly relax. Sometimes when we head north to Harbor, I feel I can let everything else fade away. There is something about this place for me that puts me at ease, so when Huzza proposed planning A Simple Evening with American Spoon Mike and I were so excited.

Simple Evening: American Spoon and Huzza in Harbor Springs, Michigan  |  The Fresh Exchange

Simple Evening: American Spoon and Huzza in Harbor Springs, Michigan  |  The Fresh Exchange

Simple Evening: American Spoon and Huzza in Harbor Springs, Michigan  |  The Fresh Exchange

Simple Evening: American Spoon and Huzza in Harbor Springs, Michigan  |  The Fresh Exchange

Now to begin, I need to share with you about each of these amazing brands in order to set the evening up properly for you. I will begin with Huzza. We have a larger story planned for them in the coming weeks, but Huzza is a family owned boutique in downtown Harbor Springs. Since 1978 Rad and Kate MacCready have been sourcing and buying the most incredible and unique home and clothing items you can imagine. Their taste and style transcends decades as it casually combines a worldly, classic, and modern vibe. It is all its own and there is no way to predict what they will discover as they trust their eye and gut with each item they add to their life, home, and shop. Now running the company alongside their children Caleb, Cody, and Tobin, the family has pushed into selling online. Together they create gorgeous campaigns and exclusive clothing lines while dreaming big about the next stage of the store’s life.

Simple Evening: American Spoon and Huzza in Harbor Springs, Michigan  |  The Fresh Exchange

Simple Evening: American Spoon and Huzza in Harbor Springs, Michigan  |  The Fresh Exchange

Simple Evening: American Spoon and Huzza in Harbor Springs, Michigan  |  The Fresh Exchange

As for American Spoon, there is a similar story of passion, love, and desire to provide something they believe in. Only for American Spoon it revolved around providing quality local products and bringing excellence to the local food scene before it was ever even considered cool to do so. In 1979, forager Justin Rashid and Chef Larry Forgione brought together Justin’s love of foraging and Larry’s passion for creating the best quality American cuisine. Together they created preserves that are now some of the highest quality in the country. What I find the most interesting and amazing about the story is Justin’s love for discovering and finding what grows naturally amongst the farmlands and woodlands in the area. He then wanted to simply preserve and bottle the rawest and most natural form of these flavors. Thus, American Spoon came to be. Now they own multiple stores across Northern Michigan and ship worldwide. They even have a restaurant location. For years I have grown up on these jars full of goodies that taste of home. From fresh strawberry jam, unique salsas, and raw honey,  American Spoon has truly captured the flavors of Northern Michigan. 

Simple Evening: American Spoon and Huzza in Harbor Springs, Michigan  |  The Fresh Exchange

Simple Evening: American Spoon and Huzza in Harbor Springs, Michigan  |  The Fresh Exchange

Simple Evening: American Spoon and Huzza in Harbor Springs, Michigan  |  The Fresh Exchange

What I loved about bringing these two brands together was the fact that they both shared such amazing stories of perseverance in creating their brands. They also created their brands around the same time. It felt so special to know we would share in each brands’ unique passions over one meal and on one table. This is why I love these evenings.

Simple Evening: American Spoon and Huzza in Harbor Springs, Michigan  |  The Fresh Exchange

Simple Evening: American Spoon and Huzza in Harbor Springs, Michigan  |  The Fresh Exchange

As I do for every evening, I love allowing those involved the freedom and space they deserve to create an evening that truly matches their style. For Huzza that meant choosing the decor, setting, and table. Rad and Kate made the decision to hold the dinner at their home on Lake Michigan. This has been their home now for nearly 25 years and over time they have made this space unique. We felt so honored to experience their little piece of paradise. When we came over to walk through everything with them, Kate showed me the issue of Martha Stewart Living that featured a story about their family back in 1995. She and Rad told stories of the hours of work and love they placed into making their dream home so that they could share in special nights such as this with those who matter most to them. So, it was no surprise to me to see the detail and attention that they placed on the table settings, floral arrangements, and more importantly the custom designed table they built just for the night.

Simple Evening: American Spoon and Huzza in Harbor Springs, Michigan  |  The Fresh Exchange

Simple Evening: American Spoon and Huzza in Harbor Springs, Michigan  |  The Fresh Exchange

Rad designed the table and my cousins Andrew and Trey built Rad’s gorgeous 24′ table and benches that felt perfect amongst the backdrop of the house and ferns. Every serving piece, vase, plate, cocktail glass, wine glass, place setting, napkin, and more were specifically picked from their store for this evening. If you are interested in any of the pieces you can find them here on their site.

Simple Evening: American Spoon and Huzza in Harbor Springs, Michigan  |  The Fresh Exchange

Simple Evening: American Spoon and Huzza in Harbor Springs, Michigan  |  The Fresh Exchange

Simple Evening: American Spoon and Huzza in Harbor Springs, Michigan  |  The Fresh Exchange

Simple Evening: American Spoon and Huzza in Harbor Springs, Michigan  |  The Fresh Exchange

Simple Evening: American Spoon and Huzza in Harbor Springs, Michigan  |  The Fresh Exchange

Of course there was no way American Spoon would let a good party go by without a great cocktail and wine. As Noah (Justin’s son and owner of American Spoon) opened wine they brought from the cafe, Megan (marketing director) served the famous Jam Jar cocktail during appetizers. I never thought about the potential of using preserves in a cocktail, but my goodness their Blueberry-Lime preserves made one of the best cocktails that was also incredibly pretty.

Simple Evening: American Spoon and Huzza in Harbor Springs, Michigan  |  The Fresh Exchange

Simple Evening: American Spoon and Huzza in Harbor Springs, Michigan  |  The Fresh Exchange

Simple Evening: American Spoon and Huzza in Harbor Springs, Michigan  |  The Fresh Exchange

As we spent the morning working to setup the dinner, the crew at American Spoon spent their day prepping their menu. Chef Chris Dettmer and Nicholas Roznowski designed a menu that not only celebrated the best of summer in Northern Michigan, but also what American Spoon does best. Everything was delightful from the perfectly designed appetizers with their whole seed mustard, pickled relish, and cherry tomato chutney to the chicken skewers with chili jam. The thing that was most special were the foraged chantrelle mushrooms that Justin had pulled and pickled for the evening. I still am remembering how truly special and artful this meal was. There was not a detail overlooked in the presentation of each dish, and the whole team helped out to make it happen.

Simple Evening: American Spoon and Huzza in Harbor Springs, Michigan  |  The Fresh Exchange

Simple Evening: American Spoon and Huzza in Harbor Springs, Michigan  |  The Fresh Exchange

Simple Evening: American Spoon and Huzza in Harbor Springs, Michigan  |  The Fresh Exchange

The night truly came together in every way I could have imagined. As the sunset over Lake Michigan, conversation grew better and Chris brought out the most amazing dessert- a Pavlova with peaches and cream. He served it alongside peach juice shaken with bourbon. To this day it was the best dessert I have ever had, and I am not much of a dessert person. It was fluffy, sweet, and fresh. Washing it down with a little bourbon was perfect as the air was getting chilly. I had the pleasure of getting to meet James Peery who also recently opened a store front in Harbor Springs where he displays his art. Rad has been a longtime fan of his work and I found quite amazing pieces of his in their home. I love to meet new and inspiring people each time I attend these evenings, and this time I felt lucky to have met James.

Simple Evening: American Spoon and Huzza in Harbor Springs, Michigan  |  The Fresh Exchange

Simple Evening: American Spoon and Huzza in Harbor Springs, Michigan  |  The Fresh Exchange

Simple Evening: American Spoon and Huzza in Harbor Springs, Michigan  |  The Fresh Exchange

A fire was stoked inside, but even though there was a good chill in the air we all hung near the candle light for the rest of the evening. Slowly some left, but those of us who remained decided it was only proper to send off summer with the last fireworks of the season. So, we wandered barefoot down the path to the beach with candles and drinks. Though we couldn’t see the lake, you could feel the chill and hear the water lapping at the shore. The sand was perfectly cool under our feet as cool summer days leave the beach each night as fall begins to descend.

http://www.huzza.net/home/a-simple-evening.html

Simple Evening: American Spoon and Huzza in Harbor Springs, Michigan  |  The Fresh Exchange

The night couldn’t have been better. Even now as I look through all of these images of the night, I feel how magical it truly was and how wonderful the conversations were around candlelight. It was one of the most special things to see two companies that I really believe in and am inspired by come together and compliment each other in every way. It was such an honor to have a chance to join in the evening with them and watch it all unfold first hand. It makes me anxious for the next time it will happen as I hope it will one day.

A HUGE thank you again to Huzza and American Spoon. Please don’t miss the video below!

Those to note:
Styling: Rad MacCready, Tobin MacCready, Kate Bonsted
Floral: Kate MacCready
Photography: Cody MacCready and Mike Gilger
Videography: Mike Gilger
Table Design: Andrew Schorfhaar and Rad MacCready

Huzza has also shared a gorgeous post on their blog as well. Please do not miss it!!

Find all the recipes and further info on how to make this dinner for your guests on the American Spoon blog!

Simple Evening: American Spoon and Huzza in Harbor Springs, Michigan  |  The Fresh Exchange

Loving for the Home

Loving for the Home  |  The Fresh Exchange

You want to know what I am doing in my free time right now or what our constant conversations are over breakfast lately? Our house. This time we aren’t talking about where we will live. Now we are talking about how we will live in this new space. Honestly it has been very interesting even after 4 years of marriage to realize how much our tastes have changed both as individuals and as a couple. We are slowly choosing pieces together. This process consists of one secret board between Mike and I filled with all the things we have discovered and loved. The next piece of the process has been us chatting about what we love and what we don’t. It has been interesting in this first week as home owners. We have realized we own very little furniture and how we would rather keep it that way until we find the right pieces. Thankfully after almost 5 years of waiting for a space that is truly ours, we have saved up and kept lots of notes about pieces we love. Thus, the process of furnishing and making our house a home has begun.

More to come on the house, but for now I wanted to share a few things I have recently loved while discovering pieces for our own space. Find the links below.

1. Round Leather Wrapped Mirror from Rejuvenation 
2. Overdyed Rug from Carpet Vista
3. Brushstroke Pillow from Rebecca Atwood
4. Tillandsia Airplant from Garden in the City
5. Maison Louis Marie Candle from Steven Alan
6. Campaign Chair from World Market
7. Mid-century Side Table from Chairish

Happy Tuesday friends.