I'm super excited to share what has kept me so busy during my free time over the past few weeks - I couldn't be happier with the results so far! I'm helping my friend Sarah Mason launch a gluten-free baking business called Mason Made, so have been lending a hand with the design & marketing aspects of the business. Just last week, we were lucky enough to have a big, exciting debut as a sponsor for a very worthy cause: The Harbor School. The Harbor School is a New York city public school located on Governor's Island.What sets it apart is its educational principles:
- The marine world provides an ideal forum for an education based on excellence, discipline and interdependence.
- Hands-on, inquiry-based learning in a natural environment stimulates curiosity, critical thinking, and vision, all of which lead to improved academic performance.
- All students have the desire and intellect to reach their highest academic standards when given the right opportunities and clear expectations.
- Small schools allow students a larger stake in decision making, as well as increased personal attention, alternative assessments, and easier access to the staff.
Just last week, the Harbor School held a Regatta and Bash to fund the aspects of the school that aren't funded by the public school system, and we were thrilled to be a part of it. Over the course of about 7 crazy days, I pulled together business cards, a banner, stickers, napkins, t-shirts, and a little tablescape, and Sarah absolutely baked her face off to provide enough gluten-free goodies for 500 people.
We decided to really embrace the nautical nature of the event, incorporating maritime-related elements into our table. I chose natural canvas reminiscent of sailcloth to cover the table, as well as homespun-style kitchen towels with a marine blue stripe for stand covers. Sarah very patiently showed me how to tie a square knot about 15 times, and I used this to accent goody stands with rigging-type rope, as well as tent cards with marigold cording. Various bottles & vases in sea glass-inspired shades, some with sand inside to steady them in the wind, held sweet william & billy balls, chosen to add a dash of bright color. We even gave the treats nautical names: Man Overboard Mint Thins, Salty Dogs (chocolate chip cookies with sea salt), The Siren's Song (dark chocolate sugar cookie sandwiches), and Regatta Red Velvet mini cupcakes.
Our Regatta Red Velvet mini cupcakes (with cream cheese frosting, of course) were quite a hit, and since it's easy to pop a whole one, we had many, many repeat visitors!
The Siren's Song: Mast Brothers chocolate sandwiched by light sugar cookies. Mmm.
I threw together some nautically-themed recipe cards for our Man Overboard Mint Thins, which included delish Mast Brothers chocolate.
Sarah had the fantastic idea of using branded burgees (yacht flags for you non-seafaring types), so I made these out of some canvas scraps and marigold tape from Purl Soho. I'd never hand-grommeted anything before, but it turned out to be pretty easy (with the help of a little muscle from my man friend). At first I thought I needed to buy a grommet punch, but I was assured by the friendly folks at M + J Trimming that a hammer was all that was required. I stenciled the Mason Made monogram on with pencil and then painted over it with Pebeo's Setacolor Fabric Paint in Royal Blue. We strung them on either side of our banner, and I think they turned out pretty well!
Don't mind if I do...
Regatta Red Velvet, please!
Couldn't resist the call of the Siren's Song...
Here's the whole shebang! We shared our table with Mast Brothers chocolates, who also gave us a few blocks of their stuff to bake with. We used it for the coating on the Man Overboard Mint Thins, the chips in the Salty Dogs, and the center of the Siren's Songs. Not for the faint of heart, their dark chocolate lent a rich complexity to the recipes. Yum!
Dean & Deluca very kindly provided us with espresso-size cups for our cucumber-infused water.
Team Mason Made: Sarah, Monique, and me (enjoying some very appropriate Dark 'n Stormies). Incidentally, Monique founded a seriously cool line of sun-protective clothing called Mott 50, which I highly recommend checking out. Mott 50 is approved by The Skin Cancer Foundation, and a portion of proceeds are donated to cancer research.
We had a gorgeous view of the sunset from Governor's Island. I love the notion of being so close to the hustle and bustle, but feeling like you're in a completely different (much quieter!) place.
The best part of the event by far was hearing people say over & over again, after they'd scarfed down a few treats, "Wait. This is gluten-free?!? But everything I've ever had that's gluten-free has tasted...well...not great. These are amazing!"
Sarah is an incredible baker, and because of the fact that she suffers from celiac herself, truly understands the sacrifices people with gluten sensitivities often have to make. She decided that enough is enough! Gluten-free doesn't have to mean deliciousness-free.