Since moving into our cute little house two months ago, we've remembered how much we love to entertain.
Before moving to the mountains we had dinner parties almost every weekend, with really great food, big laughs, and lots (and lots) of wine.
Now that we're out of the mountains, and in digs that are fab for entertaining, specifically our really great backyard, we're back in the spirit of entertaining. As much as possible.
One of the things we've been looking forward to the absolute most has been having a Smash Party, or, more poetically named, a Smash Bash.
And so, as soon as it got warm enough to have a Smash Bash we put one on the books. Which is exactly what we did this past Friday.
We invited some of our closest, and in some cases newest, friends to our Bash. And, looking around, I realized most of them came to us, or at least flourished with us, through Indie Spaces. The Space (as I usually call it) has become a catalyst that has brought us together with some of the most fantastic people. Fantastic, smart, driven, and really effing awesome people.
And each of our little events, whether they be centered around Indie Spaces, or personal gatherings like the Smash Bash, are all collaborations. They're all joint ventures that end in the most fantastic products.
I knew I wanted our guests to create their own smashes. I laid out a tray of fruits and homegrown herbs, asked some of the guests to bring bottles of liquors, and finished it off with simple syrup and agave nectar. We got some of that good crunchy ice from Sonic. You know the kind.
Dinner parties are best when the food is exceptional, and though I like to think I'm a pretty fine cook, there's nothing I love more than handing over the cooking to an actual chef. Which is exactly what I did.
Our friend/neighbor/indie Arron is a fantastic foodmaker/brewer/vintner (and in the process of opening a brewery), and as soon as I mentioned wanting to throw a Smash Bash he immediately offered to make the grub, along with our woodworker friend Ben who has spent quite a bit of time in the kitchens. Our friend Heather from Bohemian Bop also brought a couple of appetizers.
On the menu for our Smash Bash:
Garden Dip (we call it crack, because you can't stop eating it)
Grilled Marinated Pork Chops with Apple-Jalapeño Compote
Grilled Corn with Parsley-Garlic Compound Butter (which we also call crack)
Sweet Potato Biscuits
For dessert, we had more smashes.
We set the table up in our back yard, put on the food, and had at it. The weather was perfect, the food was exceptional, and the bar has been set high. I'm pretty sure it was the best dinner party in all of dinner party history. Our Indie Smash Bash was a success.
All hale the Smash Bash.
Yesterday I recapped my long weekend trip to Austin with my pal Mikey. I could go on and on about how great of a trip it was, again, but it wasn't just about good food and big laughs. For me, it was also a bit of a wake up call.
You see, sometimes, as a creative entrepreneur, people think that I just kinda get to do what I want. And, as that's partially true, as I am doing what I want, that doesn't mean that I just get to throw in the towel and jet set to wherever I want, whenever I want. At least not if I want to eat, pay rent, and keep shoes on Cute Kid's feet.
What being a creative entrepreneur does is give me the flexibility to do what I want, not just taking willy-nilly opportunities. But, it's not without consequence. We independents have to work our asses off. Like whoa.
I still have deadlines, an inbox of requests, and bills in the mailbox everyday. Being a creative hardly means that I can be any less responsible than anyone else. In fact, I usually have to work harder.
Running your own business (let alone two) means I'm often pulling 12-14 hour days, not always having a weekend off, and constantly obsessing over the right ways to social-media-ize. These are just a few of the prices that I pay to jet set wherever I want, "whenever" I want. My 9-5 friends don't usually have to be that involved (though I know that some of you are, so don't think I'm undervaluing you).
Mikey is one of those work-your-ass-off-like-whoa 9-5-ers (often 7-6ers). He brings home work much too often, but he freaking loves his job.
And so, while enjoying cocktails over brunch one morning in Austin, we talked about how much we work, but also how hard we play. And, how working that hard makes us never feel guilty for playing as hard as we do. (Honestly, for a moment, we pondered on whether or not we should be feeling bad about having cocktails so early on a Monday. We decided definitely not.) But also, how being able to play hard makes working so hard totally worth it.
And then we toasted our mimosas and adopted our new mantra:
work hard, play hard
You see, I've felt really bogged down lately: not into generating blog content, feeling weary about taking on new clients, and way overwhelmed with Indie Spaces. I've had several moments of wondering what it's all for. Why am I so into helping other businesses when I'm not feeling very excited about my own? What can I do to spice up my work life? And, ultimately, why do I work so hard?
So I can play hard, dammit.
Whether play hard is taking a long weekend with my pals in Austin, or taking an entire day to watch Disney movies in bed with Cute Kid, or spending a weekend night partying at an event at Indie Spaces, I'm doing this to enjoy life. As much as possible.
I don't think that I could free myself as much during my off-hours if I didn't love what I do so much. And therein lies the lesson. I love what I do so I can love what I do, in a never-ending cycle of hot-damn-I'm-lucky.
This past weekend my bestie Mikey and I (M+E) took a little trip to Austin.
Before I get too deep into our adventure, there are a couple of things I feel that I should lay out about Mikey and myself:
So, after years of planning trips that never happened, we finally just bought plane tickets to go see our friends Laura and Josh in Austin. It would be our big adventure. You know, the one that determines just how tolerable we are of each other. And which one would be the champion and come home still alive.
Come to find out, we're still awesome and alive, and the trip to Austin was one of the best trips I've had maybe ever.
On our little adventure to Austin we did lots of fun stuff, like a trek around the Mansfield Dam area of Lake Travis, a couple of nights partying on 4th and 6th street, shopping and eating on South Congress Ave, and some yummy dinners and laughs courtesy of the magnificent cooking abilities of our friend La.
The trip was actually pretty nuts, with a concentration of moose knuckles, a couple of weird encounters and propositions, an exotic hamburger shirt, and a horse head. We listened to Work by Iggy Azalea too many times, and maybe had a few too many Cape Cods and Gin and Tonics. Maybe not, though.
And with that we're planning trip #2. We're going to test the bounds of this friendship to the extreme. I think our goal is to find a city that will actually kick us and our shenanigans out.
If you want to see our photo fest from this trip, checkout my Instagram and all the #meaustin images.
Photos above are a mixture of iPhone and DSLR images, taken by Mikey, Laura, and myself.
Back in college we used to throw great dinner parties. I'd cook up a big meal of jambalaya or lasagna or white chicken chili, invite over a friend-couple and one of our professors, pop open several bottles of wine, and spend the evening chatting.
We'd talk department politics, actual politics, wine, books, research, wine, movies, local happenings, and wine. These dinners happened almost weekly and I loved them. So much.
At that time Lily was about a year old, and I was still breaking into motherhood. As a young mother with a young family, it was very gratifying to feel so grown up, with all the wine and cooking and politics. It made me feel good. Worldly, even.
Then, we moved to the mountains and life changed.
When we decided to move again, back to our hometown, I envisioned reliving these dinner parties every weekend. Nine bottles of wine, carbs, and good conversation. What more could a girl want?
But, the friend-couple now lives on the west coast and our lives aren't crossing with that of the professor very often anymore. My family's life has changed immensely.
However, I'm still getting that gratifying feeling, but in a very different way.
My new "dinner party moments" come from cups of tea, sitting at tables in various locations, chatting with kick-ass, local, young professionals. We talk about local politics, creativity, books, growth, creativity, movies, local happenings, and creativity.
You know, those moments when you just don't want to leave. The company is good and the conversations are better.
I have a new dinner party.
I wholeheartedly believe that significant growth comes from recognizing positive changes and pushing them forward. For me, it's recognizing my new dinner party moments – those moments in my life in which I wish I could stay forever – and making room for more of them in my life.
And I will be making more room.
Every time I sit down to write a blog post these days all I can think about writing about is how insane our schedule is right now. Launching Indie Spaces, launching the Silver Screen Project, having a 4 year old, and still trying to catch up on Christmas emails and new projects; it's all quite intense.
It's not something that I want to talk about all the time. And I'm having problems getting past that to think up actual blog topics.
This is one of the biggest reasons I'm so excited to be leaving it all behind tomorrow for a 5-day retreat to Salt Lake City for Alt Summit.
Alt Summit last year shaped my entire year. It fueled my rebrand, introduced me to people that have been pivotal in my businesses and life, and fed the flame of my creativity.
I won't lie, though. I've thought many times about canceling this trip altogether. I'm not going for the talks (I have never seen myself as a blogger, though I guess I really kind of am), I'm going for the people. I'm going for the inspiration and networking. I'm going to hang out and dream big with my creative pals. I'm going to widen my tribe of awesome women (and a few men, too).
And, for those reasons, I'm returning to SLC this week to revamp my creative drive. And a little snowboarding, too. And... maybe to snag a peek of Jessica Alba. Because that's just cool.
Now, I still have to figure out what I'm going to pack.