When the world started to go to hell this spring and windows kept closing on life as we know it, I had the idea to reach out to the mom of Charlotte’s best friends.
Kate is an amazing mother of two adorable teenage daughters who’ve become very close to Charlotte over the last couple years. The only problem is that they live in San Francisco so visits happen infrequently, and this year looked like it was a no-go.
Knowing Charlotte would be celebrating her 16th birthday in July, I reached out to Kate a few months ago and asked if they’d be willing to split the difference between our two homes and drive up to 6 or 7 hours to meet us somewhere between Portland and San Francisco. She said yes.
Turns out Crescent City was the closest spot to a true half-way point, and we were lucky to nab one of the few remaining rentals large enough to accommodate a group of five.
We set some ground rules: we’d be very strict about quarantining, especially in the two week run-up to our visit, and if for any reason anyone was under the weather prior to the trip, we’d pivot to let the other family take the beach house we’d rented.
We’re lucky because so many things worked in our favor; we found an affordable place to rent, our schedules aligned making a certain window available, we all stayed symptom free prior to the visit, and I knew that Oliver would be a great companion for David as he recovered from a recently completed (and brutal) round of two week radiation.
We also decided that we would use this time to celebrate a year of birthdays we’d missed in-person, and make Christmas (our girls favorite holiday) as the motif for our trip: Christmas in July.
And so off we went to this small coastal town about 45 minutes south of the Oregon border.
Our little ranch rental was just across the street from a rocky (and largely unoccupied) beach.
We were all so excited to see one another, and the ability to see up close (and hug) someone outside our family was such a wonderful reprieve. It’d been four and a half months since any of us had been with a friend or extended family up-close
and to be maskless with others was so liberating.
Fun Fact. We weren’t there an hour before we decided to drive around and get the lay of the land before I spotted something interesting by the side of the road just a few blocks from our rental house.
I told the girls we needed to drive back and check it out.
I’m sooo glad we did.
Everything here (except for the wood board I brought with us) came from that modest pile.
I was shocked when I looked into a small nondescript box and found ten of these.
Regular readers will recognize this vintage style of mug– I have about a dozen full-size ones I pull out every year– but I have never seen ones this tiny (they are about three inches high) and so I was so thrilled to find these in a free pile!
That stash of free holiday items could not have come at a more surprising or serendipitous time, and we put our finds to work for the entire five night stay.
The vintage plastic Santa tray
became the focal point for our salsa bar one night (holding our quinoa chips at the ready).
All week long it so fun to see cheer everywhere you look.
We each decided that each family would bring a keepsake craft to work on/
I’d commissioned a local Etsy artist to make us each a custom facial mask from some fabric I had and I had them wrapped up and ready to go.
We brought an assortment of embroidery thread with us so everyone could customize their masks and it was so cute to see the girls watching movies and sewing away.
I was lucky that Nora, Kate’s youngest, was willing to share her excellent craftsmanship with me for my monogram.
I love gifts that are useful, and these masks (four layers with a pocket for a filter and nose guard) will hopefully be used often, and I know that anytime any of us wear it, we will be reminded of our special time together.
Kate, an art teacher, decided that their craft would be to make custom miniature She Sheds, and she brought a whole assortment of supplies for us to use (check out the reader-provided link in the comments about the Putz houses on which these houses are based).
She had dozens of paints, glitters, tiny figures and plants and washi and more — and I used a tiny scrap of vintage Valentine wrap to make mine with a festive air.
I will use mine next February and remember how fun our time together was.
Here’s how the rest of the houses/She Sheds turned out.
I loved seeing them adorn our festive table as the week progressed.
It was the perfect time together.
So much craftiness.
So much exploring beautiful beaches and spaces.
We went to various spots to explore the giant redwoods all throughout the area.
Look up and you see these towering, magnificent trees, some of which are thought to be a thousand years old (or older!).
The size and beauty of these wonders had us enthralled.
The beaches too held so much beauty.
Checking out the tide pools was so interesting.
Look at this little creature that Nora picked up (a kiton? oops, a reader just told me that’s a “chiton”).
There were so many birthdays to celebrate.
Every birthday celebrated had a different tabletop — and customized gifts were enjoyed by all.
My girlfriend gave me an adorable retro Christmas decoration
and Charlotte and her pals got Hallmark TV-watching shirts.
I bought Kate some milk glass jars and a paper picnic set and Grace, Kate’s oldest, got a wedding cake pinata (she’s obsessed with weddings)
and Nora, the equestrienne in the group,
got a vintage acrylic painting I’d bought at a vintage shop eons ago.
And you better believe we feasted like the queens we are.
We enjoyed cheeseboards extraordinaire.
We each made our own customized tray with our favorites
and we served them alongside thick slices of Tartine bread — Kate had snagged it on her way of town (if you haven’t been lucky enough to try it yet, this bread more than lives up to its hype).
Every day we ate such simple but gorgeous and varied foods.
Homemade blueberry cake.
Carnitas bowls and that taco and chip bar.
We had avocado toasts
and Kale Caesar salads with slow roasted salmon and garlic croutons from that spectacular Tartine loaf.
Kate made spaghetti and meatballs and frozen hot chocolates (based on the famous version from NYC’s Serendipity).
I cannot begin to tell you how much we all needed this right now — or how restorative it felt to be surrounded by so much comraderie and love.
And so She Shed 2020 is a wrap — a joyous reunion (and one of the few bright spots in a difficult past year).
Wherever you are, I hope you too are carving out a tiny bit of fun and frolic for you and yours.
(Me, I trying to lessen my lounging longing with BLT’s on constant repeat).