2.12.14

It’s golden hour not far from the Pacific Ocean at Will Rogers State Park. Mother Nature is lending all her splendor to the nook of picnic tables and tree-lined trails that cover the park, and we’re wondering if we will ever make dinner reservations again. With scenery like that on a holiday like this, the perfect table has little to do with proximity to the chef or a perch for people-watching. The stage is set for pure, unadulterated, old-fashioned romance. And that’s what we’re after.

We picked the perfect couple to help us envision an ideal Valentine’s Day this year and followed along with them for this artisanal picnic dinner in the park. Rupert and Sarah Sherman Samuel are one of our favorite creative couples in the city – and pretty cute, to boot! You can often find the pair on Sarah’s wildly popular design blog, Smitten Studio, where, between both of their successful design careers, they’ve been taking turns remodeling their lakeside cabin in Michigan and sunny home here in LA.

Just this year, Sarah added a line of artisanal handmade goods to the studio called A Sunny Afternoon.  Most of the sweetly-made wares, from table linens to serving boards, are picnic-ready and come straight from her Michigan roots. The geometric maple and walnut serving boards are inspired by – some even made in – her father’s own busy workshop, where she learned to appreciate the beauty and imperfections in wood and the smell of fresh saw dust. Most of the wood has been collected locally over the years by her father from downed trees and other reclaimed sources. If that’s ‘getting back to your roots’, we don’t know what is!

We helped pack one of Sarah’s adorable new picnic baskets full of some of the best farm-to-table goodies that can be found, thanks to the masters over at Heirloom LA, as well as a few linens from Sarah’s line and headed to the hills. Read a little more about Sarah and her new artisanal goods below and then head on over to our giveaway to learn how to win your very own picnic basket stuffed with an Heirloom LA spread for two!

What inspired the line of kitchen goods?

I wanted to create a product line that combines my style with the things I love: the outdoors, gathering for a meal, and the handmade. Picnicware seemed like the natural place to start and I created each piece to express my design philosophy – marrying modern patterns and shapes with traditional pieces.

Where are the boards and baskets made:

All of our A Sunny Afternoon pieces are made in America in small batches by either myself, my father (Lee), or other local artisans. I split my time between my design studio here in LA and my hometown in Michigan where my father and I work together in his workshop to make the serving boards. When designing the linens in the collection I usually start by painting the pattern freehand before scanning it into a computer to clean up and make into a repeat. The pattern is then printed on our cotton/linen blend and sewn here in LA.

Do you have a favorite piece?

Ahh, that is like asking a mom to pick her favorite child! If forced, I’d have to say the serving boards.

What's in the basket?

We filled our basket with A Sunny Afternoon linen napkins, walnut serving boards, Pressed Juicery teas and green juice, plus this incredible spread from Heirloom LA: carrot-cumin tartines, biscuit sandwiches, watermelon radish salad and pear turnovers.

Picnic must-haves:

A gorgeous basket (of course), delicious food and drink like this spread from Heirloom, a warm blanket, some good company and/or a good book.

Fave romantic LA areas:

Pelican Cove, Will Rogers State Park, El Matador Beach

The key to a happy marriage in three words:

Talk & dream together.

From our friends


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