How-to Happy Hour

My mother and her neighbors in Seattle, have a Happy-Hour every night at her house. She has her old-fashioneds, they bring their own booze, and she offers a little cheese and crackers. Sometimes they bring snacks, too. They hang for an hour or two, and then return to their homes for supper.

It’s a beautiful thing, and one that renders me forever grateful. Chef Ma is ninety, and it’s comforting to know her neighbors are with her daily, in all kinds of spirits!

In 2016, I started a monthly happy-hour here on Mccollum Street in her honor.

I’m happy to say it’s been a huge success.

It has substantially raised our vibration on the block!

For starters, we all know each other now, and we do stuff together, like check out the new local restaurants up on Sunset Blvd.

We walk!

After two years of hosting solely at Cottage Cook, I stopped.

Nobody noticed till March. First it was my Johnny.

Him: ” When’s the next Happy Hour?”

Me:  “I’m not doing it anymore.”

Him: “Why?”

Me: ” I’ don’t feel like it, it makes you grumpy, nobody helps and why bother?”

Him, with a bit of a whine: ” but I like the results.”

Me: shrug.

Then the neighbors started piling on. Asking me what happened, are we ever gonna do it again? Can they help? Suddenly there was a gaggle of neighbors outside on my corner trying desperately to resurrect the ritual. (Maybe I swooned a tad)

Someone suggested rotating houses and that was all I needed.

So I hosted in March (they are always the third Friday) and put out a sign up sheet.

And just like that, Happy hour was re-instated.

The week before, I deliver the flag and the lawn sign to the host.

I also do a print out of the schedule with hosting addresses and circulate it to the entire neighborhood. Many neighbors do not come, but the ones that do show up with gusto, libations, snacks and stories. These are the folks that are responsible for up-leveling our community vibe.

Last year we came together and cooked for a neighbor who needed us. She wasn’t a regular happy-hour attendee, but we all knew her and wanted to help.

Every three weeks for several months, we got together in my home kitchen and stocked her fridge with family favorites to make her life a little easier.

Neighbor (and now friend) Dana, got to show off her skills. I loved her labels that came so easily for her. The just fell out of her talented hands like magic.

So last November, I put out the sign-up sheet again. I made the flyers. I hosted November and December  so I could  encourage sign-ups.

A couple of regulars missed the sign-ups and several new hosts stepped in!

We’ve expanded two blocks in either direction, and just this past Friday we had a rousing good time at a new house on a new block.

Turns out, every hosts worries about the same thing.

Do I have enough food? Do I have enough booze? Will anyone come?

And you know what? It works out every time.

We all meet new people (and dogs)  in the neighborhood, and spread love.

Every single time, it’s a beautiful thing.

Let’s Have a KiKi Christmas 2019

“A kiki is a party
For calming all your nerves
We’re spilling tea and dishing just desserts one may deserve
And though the sun is rising
Few may choose to leave
So shade that lid
And we’ll all bid
Adieu to your ennui”

The Scissor Sisters “Let’s Have A Kiki”

It’s my thirty-fifth holiday season as a caterer.


I thought I’d drop a little advice on you, for making the most as a host in the upcoming months.  Let’s turn every party into a “KiKi!”

I love Christmas, mostly because glitter, but everything else, too.

Our holidays over here on McCollum street are homegrown, and we sure have fun.

We have a Christmas Eve feast with our extended tribe and then go caroling in the streets of Echo Park.

We are phenomenal. We don’t look like this.

I mean, seriously.

That is an actual snap of carolers for hire in Los Angeles. They were singing at one of my parties. Have you ever seen me sing?

I’m on the right…in the middle row…honestly…

It’s frightening.

Tip #1: Somebody, quick, pass me a cranberry cocktail!

In order to make a fancy large ice cube, you gotta freeze the bottom layer first, to secure the fruit or whatevs at the top of the cube and allow two days for the entire process, and a proper freeze.

Do you see the secure cranberries?

Tip #2: Another way to entertain with food that people love… SOUPS!

You can make a pot of soup with some crusty bread, and then curate a potluck around it.

Always, always tell your friends what to bring exactly.

It’s not being bossy, it’s being smart, with attention on delicious.

This is my sunshine ginger soup from my cookbook, with a chubby crouton.

Tip #3: Here’s a good one – Twelve Days of Appetizers!

Get all your buddies to bring an appetizer, invite twelve people, set out the bar and pre-heat the oven.

Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy!

Or call us, we love appetizers…

Cranberry Wonton, Mac & Cheese Bites, Pigs, Empanadas!! 

I’m not a fan of “Just Dessert” parties, because I eat myself into a coma. But I would love to give a shout out to my favorite autumnal delight.

Tip #4:  Try Caramel apples.

I did these with the little local apples, so cute.

Tip #4(A): I also like chocolate covered strawberries! Easy to procure and they don’t melt in the winter!

Tip #5: Don’t underestimate an old fashioned cookie exchange… Martha can help with that.

Tip #6:  For heaven’s sake, pull out all the sparkle!  It’s the most
wonderful time of the year!

Here’s a snap from our party –  I couldn’t do it without the help of all the kids, their mates and the hubs.

Our house is small but mighty when it comes to entertaining eighty people,  we make it work!  So sing a little song, drink a little drink and eat well this holiday season!