Have you ever been in the presence of someone who has the ability to float about their house when they host a party, inconspicuously ensuring that everyone is completely comfortable while chatting away, refilling wine glasses and making the whole ordeal somehow look effortless?
Doesn’t Paul kind of look like Bob Harper from The Biggest Loser? In person he looks a lot like him and when I asked him whether or not people tell him that a lot he said, “Yes. Either that or Brad Pitt.” Can you tell Sandy’s family is awesome? (Her daughter even serenaded us with two songs on her violin at the end of the evening!)
The Coughlin family opened their home to a group of 12 bloggers and kicked off the Harry & David trip in the perfect way. The evening felt intimate, warm and relaxing.
She is so sincere and warm and we laughed saying that even though we live less than two hours away from each other, we somehow have to go to Oregon to cross paths!
Aggie is the only blogger I knew from our group ahead of time and meeting so many new food and wine bloggers was one of the highlights of the evening for me. Despite long travel days, everyone was in good spirits.
Perhaps the wine helped with that a bit?
(Thanks for sharing this picture, Aggie!)
I must also take a minute to discuss Sandy’s gorgeous backyard and fabulous autumn décor.
Her garden and backyard patio looked like they came straight out of a magazine. The best part? Sandy is a big-time bargain hunter and pointed out platter from Goodwill and dishes from the Dollar Store to me when I told her that bargain hunting is right up my alley. Sandy, can you come decorate our house for Christmas, please?
A dinner party wouldn’t be complete without a meal and there was certainly no shortage of food at the Coughlin house. The appetizers and dinner centered around Harry & David gourmet goodies!
The raw jicama slices dipped in a Harry & David mango jalapeño jelly with cream cheese won the appetizer round for me. That dip was out of control and incredibly addicting.
Dinner itself featured mushroom leek soup, marinated salmon, pesto green beans (YUM!), macaroni and cheese and Harry & David lobster risotto that got rave reviews from around the table. We kicked off the meal with a cheers!
My dinner pictures didn’t come out very well because of the dim light, but it was quite a meal! Just when I thought I couldn’t eat anymore, it was time for dessert. There’s always room for dessert!
Our group headed inside and snuggled onto Sandy’s couch in her living room to eat Harry & David pear pumpkin pecan cake with maple ice cream. (You can find the recipe on Sandy’s blog.)
Warm cake, gooey pumpkin butter topping, creamy maple ice cream. Heaven.
My eyes are about to shut as I finish up this blog post. It’s 3:15 a.m. Ocala-time and I’m ready for BED! Can’t wait to explore the pear orchards tomorrow!