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A Sweet Escape: Hosting the Most Magical Weekend Getaway in Ojai, California

A Sweet Escape: Hosting the Most Magical Weekend Getaway in Ojai, California

The ladies behind Sweet Laurel gathered their gals for three days of R&R featuring barnside yoga, a wreath-making crafternoon, and plenty of cake. Come take a peek.

Meet the Hostesses

For Laurel Gallucci and Claire Thomas, happiness is often a simple bite away—of cake, that is. So when the Los Angeles-based duo behind all-natural baking company Sweet Laurel wanted a way to celebrate their debut cookbook, Sweet Laurel: Recipes For Whole Food, Grain Free Desserts, they turned to their favorite dessert for inspiration: something sweet, simple, and yet totally indulgent. The answer? A girls-only weekend getaway with fellow bloggers and friends sprinkled with treats like crafting and cookies to refreshing facials, and guaranteed to nourish from the inside-out.

Home Away From Home

When it came to picking the weekend's headquarters, the two knew that the charming hillside hideaways of California's Ojai Vista Farm would be perfect. "We came across the farm at a previous event and completely fell in love," Sweet Laurel co-founder and creative director, Thomas, tells us.

 

"It's a stunning Spanish Colonial home nestled in avocado and citrus groves." The family-owned estate wasn't just a boutique getaway either, but an eco-conscious gathering (and working farm!) space that hosted guests in harmony with nature from its pesticide-free groves to its biodynamic vineyard.

An Idyllic Itinerary

Though both Thomas and Gallucci had been to the farm before for business, they admit that those previous trips weren't exactly peaceful. "They're usually packed, exhausting days, leaving little time to enjoy or even process the experience," says Thomas. "We wanted the opposite—a loose, quiet weekend for our guests to engage as much as they liked." For that, it was all about the simple little joys. 

  • Sweet Dreams
    Sweet Dreams

    In between crafting and cake decorating, relaxation was key for this weekend escape. Luckily, the girls had only the coziest of beds to snuggle into at the end of the day fluffed with all-organic bedding and the scent of rosemary and lavender wafting in through The Casa's windows. 

  • Slow Mornings
    Slow Mornings

    Whether guests opted for a morning meditation walk through the avocado grove or a cup of local Beacon Penny Coffee (with a splash of Claire's special almond date milk) before some sun salutations, each girl was invited to unwind however she pleased. 

  • Feeling Fresh
    Feeling Fresh

    Everyone filled up on self-care favorites. Saturday centered on custom facials by True Botanicals and outdoor yoga. Even in the rain, spirits stayed high: "Our hilltop yoga session started during a rainstorm and ended with a stunning double rainbow."

  • Sip, Sip Hooray
    Sip, Sip Hooray

    There was a fireside toast to friendship, courtesy of the Ojai Vineyard. And after three days of sweets, treats, and laughs, Thomas admits: "By the end of the weekend, it felt more like a beautiful dinner party that didin't end with everyone bonding over delicious food and stories."

  • Sweet Dreams
    Sweet Dreams

    In between crafting and cake decorating, relaxation was key for this weekend escape. Luckily, the girls had only the coziest of beds to snuggle into at the end of the day fluffed with all-organic bedding and the scent of rosemary and lavender wafting in through The Casa's windows. 

  • Feeling Fresh
    Feeling Fresh

    Everyone filled up on self-care favorites. Saturday centered on custom facials by True Botanicals and outdoor yoga. Even in the rain, spirits stayed high: "Our hilltop yoga session started during a rainstorm and ended with a stunning double rainbow."

  • Slow Mornings
    Slow Mornings

    Whether guests opted for a morning meditation walk through the avocado grove or a cup of local Beacon Penny Coffee (with a splash of Claire's special almond date milk) before some sun salutations, each girl was invited to unwind however she pleased. 

  • Sip, Sip Hooray
    Sip, Sip Hooray

    There was a fireside toast to friendship, courtesy of the Ojai Vineyard. And after three days of sweets, treats, and laughs, Thomas admits: "By the end of the weekend, it felt more like a beautiful dinner party that didin't end with everyone bonding over delicious food and stories."

Enter the Grove

A Wreath-Making Crafternoon

To kick off the weekend, the girls decided to get crafty in the olive grove. "We started with a simple citrus wreath DIY using local Ojai Pixies," Thomas says. Guests took seats around a communal farm table, covered with everything needed to create their own beautiful blossom-bursting pieces: blush pink roses (Gallucci and Thomas's favorite), sweet oranges, branches of greenery, and sisal rope for a rustic finishing touch. It was a perfect way for everyone to relax and let their creativity shine—especially when followed by a spitz-filled mixer. 

  • 1
    Foraging

    An overabundance of garden roses, ripe oranges, and branches of greenery are brought to the table. A stack of grapevine wreaths—as the rustic base—are set beside a nearby tree.

    Foraging
  • 2
    Crafting

    Sisal rope and floral wire are used to bind and hang the finished wreath. Thomas' tip: "It's best to start with an 'anchor piece'—a large rose or a particularly full and lovely branch—and build out from there."

    Crafting
  • 3
    Inspiring

    When finished, the handmade wreaths swing in the warm breeze and become a beautiful decorative display.

    Inspiring

A Fresh Feast

To stay fueled up for a weekend of fun, the girls enjoyed daily meals inspired by local produce and made with love. The best part: "All meals were grain-free, refined sugar-free, and dairy-free, and inspired by, or from, the cookbook." (Right down to the tangerine pie, and bedtime cocoa complete with marshmallows.)

 

For breakfasts, guests feasted on blueberry streusel muffins, herbed cashew cream cheese, and coconut yogurt while mid-day mains and savory suppers featured avocado toast on turmeric bread, citrus salads, and mojo-marinated tomatoes with basil and cashew cheese. 

A Class in the Art of Cake

While the girls admit they wanted the weekend to be fairly relaxed, with plenty of time for guests to explore, one thing was certain on the agenda: cake!

 

"We knew we would have one demo featuring our cover cake—the Sweet Laurel jam cake—where guests could decorate their own with fresh fruit and flowers," Thomas says. And did they ever decorate! 

  • The table is set with freshly baked tiered cakes.
    The table is set with freshly baked tiered cakes.
  • Layers upon layers of whipped cream and fresh berry jam.
    Layers upon layers of whipped cream and fresh berry jam.
  • A fluffy crescent of food-safe flowers are the finishing touch.
    A fluffy crescent of food-safe flowers are the finishing touch.

Credits

Hostesses: Laurel Gallucci and Claire Thomas of Sweet Laurel | @sweetlaurelbakery

Venue: Ojai Vista Farm | @ojaivistafarm

Wine: Ojai Vineyard | @theojaivineyard

acials & spa treatments:  ​True Botanicals

Local coffee: Beacon Coffee | @beaconcoffee

Almond milk: Mylk | @almond_mylk

Yoga: Laura Goe | @lauragoeyoga

Yoga mats: Manduka Yoga | @mandukayoga

Recipe ingredients: Whole Foods