Creating a "Sunny Escape" for House Guests

Scott and I had the pleasure of hosting house guests for the long weekend. It was late summer and the weather was picture perfect for poolside lounging and some outdoor fun in Chico. My sister, Dorie, and her guy Michael, were up from Newport Beach for the weekend and I wanted to create a "sunny escape" for my special house guests. My first step is to prepare the guest room. Freshly washed linens, fluffy towels, candles and fresh flowers are a must. For this visit I added some lovely dark calla lilies to the mirrored bedside table.

I always like to have some snacks and beverages prepared for the arrival of the road trippers. In this platter I prepared a variety of imported cheeses, olives, marcona almonds with rosemary and veggies with dips. I especially like the gorgonzola-pecan and white bean hummus dips from Trader Joe's specialty market. I turn on a favorite playlist from Pandora--like "Chilled Cream" and "Bliss"--for setting a relaxed mood.

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Dining al fresco is a must for warm summer evenings in northern California. I've learned to keep the menu simple: Scott grills steak or chicken and I add fresh salads. On this evening a baby greens with goat cheese/pine nuts salad, a watermelon/feta salad and grilled asparagus were on the menu. We topped it off with sorbet floating in limoncello.

Cheers to family and summer evenings together!

As much as we love time together with house guests, it's also good to give them a little time to relax. We always prepare the coffee pot the night before ready for the early risers or those who want to sleep in a bit. When we finally gather in the morning there is such a relaxed vibe to the conversation and catching up time.

Following a leisurely morning at home, it's good to mix it up, so we headed downtown to the Chico farmer's market for some fresh produce.

We ran into several long time friends, including a retired colleague of mine, Sally (right), who grows and sells her produce from Green Cedar Farm in Berry Creek. Here she is pictured with her intern from France. The apples were absolutely fantastic! Thank you Sally! xx

Beautiful blooms at the market.

We opted for lunch out at one of our favorite, healthy spots, Tea Bar and Fusion Cafe. Soon enough it was time to get home for some lounging by the pool.

Michael--getting his float on!

At one point Dorie grabbed her new fancy new camera and encouraged me to let her take some photos. As bloggers we know it is good to have some decent head shots, but it can be so awkward to have your photo taken. I feel like I am terrible at it--especially photos of me taken alone. With Dorie's design school background, and career as a fashion designer with St. John, she has participated in many fashion shoots over the years. I definitely trusted her to take good photos;  it was me I worried about. When I say she took hundreds of photos, I'm not kidding. I still haven't looked through them all. As with any photo shoot there can be many awkward shots--and a few good ones. Either way, we had a ball and laughed a lot!

This is me, stepping out of my comfort zone....

I like the background and it seems to blend nicely with my straw-colored hair. ;)

Dorie has a thriving business in Orange County, Broadway Botanicals. She specializes in succulents, floral design and now residential landscapes. For more on her beautiful designs Broadway Botanicals. I'm always so inspired by her unique creations.

I hope this weekend was a sunny escape for Dorie and Michael. I know it was for us!

Have you entertained company recently?

What are you favorite tips for welcoming house guests?