Girls Night Out!

I’m out of town this week so I asked my digital manager Mary Ellen Pyle to write this guest blog about a Girls Night Out at the Garden Home Retreat.

When Allen goes out of town everyone in the office breathes a collective sigh. Not that we don’t love the guy, it’s just nice to have him out of the way sometimes so we can get things done. Brilliant as he is, he’s not one for detail work and there’s a lot of that around here. Last week we shipped Allen off to Merry Olde England where he is visiting a few estate gardens in Norfolk and Suffolk. He’s sure to return full of new ideas he wants to try out.

Before Allen left he set the ladies up with a Girls Night Out at the Garden Home Retreat. The theme was red wine and chocolate. He gave us some tips for dressing up the space without expending a lot of energy. After all, Girls Night Out is about having a good time without a whole lot of effort.

We set up our GNO in the west octagon building. Allen took his inspiration from Thomas Jefferson's Monticello when he designed these eight-sided pavilions.
We kept it simple inside with a red, brown and white color palette. The table cloth is made from fabric in the Tobi Fairley Home Collection. The pattern is 'Athens'. Allen made the chandelier with branches and Christmas lights.
Since it was HOT outside sangria seemed like a good way to enjoy red wine. We gave ours a lift with locally produced Mountain Valley Sparkling Water and Lombardi Limonata. The recipe is below.
Red roses and hypericum berries.
Red Gerber daisies with strawberries. Floral wire inserted into the strawberries keeps the fruit in place.
Allen suggested we use these La Rochere French Bee tumblers that he purchased at Sur la Table. Perfect for sipping sangria.
For a sugar buzz and a little sustenance we served chocolate raspberry mousse cake, pecan bars dipped in chocolate, fudge brownies and chocolate chip cookies. Yum!
Laughing it up in the kitchen before we headed out doors.
Luigi was the only boy at the party. He came with Mimi, Allen's COO. As you can see he was very excited to be one of the girls for the night.
Handsome Luigi.

Girl’s Night Out Sangria

  • 1 bottle red wine (Pinot Noir works well)
  • 1/4 cup Cointreau liqueur
  • 1/4 cup limonata
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 thin orange slices, cut in half
  • 1/2 peach or other seasonal fruit, cut in thin wedges
  • 1/2 bottle Mountain Valley Sparkling Water or to taste (1 liter bottle)

Combine all ingredients in a covered container and refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours, or serve over ice.


Tobi Fairley

Sur La Table La Rochere Glassware

Mountain Valley Water



30 Responses to Girls Night Out!

  1. Jo Ann says:

    Were the pecan bars dipped in chocolate from Ina Garten’s recipe? I saw her make those on her show and they looked fantastic. If you have other recipes (pecan bars and chocolate mousse cake), please share them. Thanks.

  2. Mary S Adkins says:

    Hello Ladies….this was a great idea….I belong to a Home makers club and will try this drink….will go to a bakery as you did….every thing looked so good…I could taste it….thanks Mary S. Adkins

  3. Mary S Adkins says:

    Thank you for this idea and recipe….I will surely take full advantage of your ideas…..

  4. Jo Ann T. WI says:

    I loved your idea of a Girls Night Out! I am sure it was a blast!! When the cat’s away the mice will play!! Right!! I have hosted a few Girls Nights Out in my pergola in my flower garden, however, I am going to spruce it up just a tad bit with a few of your ideas. I tell you that Allen is a pretty clever fellow isn’t he!! It was nice of him to share his space with his fellow coworkers!! Thanks for sharing such inspirational ideas!! Jo Ann

    • Mary Ellen says:

      Thanks for the comment Jo Ann. Allen suggested the color scheme – brown, white and one bold color. We chose red to go with the sangria. The original idea was a chocolate and red wine pairing, but it’s so hot here right now we decided sangria would be better.

  5. Jo Ann T. WI says:

    What is the floor covering in the octagon building? It looks really very neat. Jo Ann

  6. LDH says:

    We have a group that gets together once a month. We started out the “WNO”s (womens night out) and soon became known as the WINOS!

  7. jeanne says:

    a wonderful idea and delightfully carried out!
    Sent Allen abroad again—soon!
    My Allen Smith site broadens my garden knowledge
    always. Thank you. Jeanne

  8. Pam Jones says:

    The cake looks divine, as do the strawberries. What a great idea!

  9. Everything looks so summery and wonderful! I noticed that you ladies had plenty of CHOCOLATE!!! I will be trying the sangria for sure–thanks for the recipe!
    We will be giving away Allen’s new cookbook on a giveaway on Stick Horse Cowgirls blog soon–I think it’s the perfect gift!

  10. Colleen Roche says:

    Stealing EVERY LAST IDEA for a pick-me-up party for my girls! Our fiscal year ends Thursday, and I’m having them to my own little garden home retreat Thurs night, for red wine and choccies!! THANK YOU!!

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