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26 Mar

Knives Up, Wallets Out! How My Cooking Raises Money for Kids

My Cooking Raises Money for Kids! (For Real!)

If you had told me this time last year that I would be using my cooking skills to raise money for kids, I would have told you to put your crack pipe down. In all seriousness, I actually did raise a LOT of money for kids, had a great time, and scored a sweet auction deal that brought a celebrity chef to my home kitchen for an epic party. And in less than one week, this event will happen all over again!

It is called Cookin’ for Kids, and it’s a delicious dinner party wrapped around a high-energy, fast-paced Iron Chef-style cooking competition. It all goes down Sunday, March 31 from 6-9 pm at the Cendera Center in Fort Worth. Tickets are $150 each, and you can win a pair of them with a few other incredible goodies just by reading my full post and clicking the link at the end — how’s that for incentive!

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But first, I am sure Enquiring Minds want to know:
• What crazy nonprofit was willing to risk poisoning its supporters by asking me to cook at its benefit?
• How in the holy Texas hail balls did I cook something that raised gobs of cash?
• Who was the celebrity chef who came to mi casa, and
• What’s the deal this year?

Kids Who Care Musical Theater is Awesome!

The nonprofit behind Cookin’ for Kids is Kids Who Care. Its mission is to provide musical theater education and experiences to young people, which it’s been doing for more than 30 years. You may have seen one of the incredible original plays it puts on, or you’ve sent your child to its awesome summer camp.

But here’s something you may not know: Kids Who Care serves kids aged kindergarten through college, is inclusive of all kids regardless of their nationality, ethnicity, religion, orientation or ability, and it has never, ever turned away a student because of his or her ability or family’s financial hardship.

In addition to music, Kids Who Care also fosters cross-cultural connections through its international exchange programs and it develops leadership skills through programs to teach creative confidence, entrepreneurship and arts management on stage, at all developmental stages.

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How I Cooked for Cash and SMOKED the Competition!

Last year, Kids Who Care asked me to be a Fort Worth Notable, which is what they call the volunteer competitors who go spatula-to-spatula with an “arch nemesis” in the culinary deathmatch which makes up the main event at Cookin’ for Kids. My arch nemesis was none other than Hal Brown, publisher of Fort Worth Magazine. Hal is actually a dear friend, but that night it was ON like Donkey Kong: Magazine Publisher vs. Internet Blogger!

Of course, I knew I was going to DOM-inate, and here’s why. Every Notable gets paired up with a real, live chef for the competition, and my chef partner was the epicurean idol Blaine Staniford of GRACE restaurant.

Now take a breath cause I wasn’t the one preparing real food that people had to eat, but I did assist. And my hair looked really full and shiny thanks to those extensions I got at Novak Hair Studios before we attended the Academy Awards. I was the chic-est sous whoever did sous!

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Obvi we were the dream team and the CLEAR favorite to win, especially since Hapless Hal’s chef-partner was some no-name part-time burger flipper. (OK, it was really John Piccolino, the meat maestro of B&B Butchers & Restaurant, but this is my blog post, so I get to embellish the story.)

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On your mark, get set… we greased up the pans, cranked up the gas and said, “Wonder Twin Powers ACTIVATE!” For the next 45 minutes, I followed orders and micro-chopped the Buh-Jeez out of everything. Just like on the real Iron Chef TV show, every team had to include a specific “mystery ingredient” in their dish.

Cookin For Kids 2018

In the past, it’s been really rando stuff like boba bubble balls, Dr. Pepper, and pop tarts. Ours was gold leaf – so you know I felt totally at home, even though most of my interaction with gold involves wearing it, not eating it.

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We had a lot to deal with, y’all. Guests were coming right up to our table to check out the action. My arch nemesis was heckling us, and then there was the stress of the countdown clock! Then, it was over: Three, two, one… knives down! With the help of my sidekick, had concocted the most delicious masterpiece known to man.

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A team of people swooped in and whisked our plates off to a secret back room where James Beard winner and Head Judge Jon Bonnell and other local talented chefs critiqued the Holy Night out of our gold-infused gourmet grub.

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Here’s how my dish brought in the benjamins: Each plate of chef-prepared food transformed from a contest entry to an AUCTION ITEM! Guests could literally put their money where their mouth was and bid on whose dish they wanted to devour. Each plate of food also came with a spectacular collection of prizes.

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My sad competition was looking a little smug over there in the corner! They knew what was about to hit them. TOTAL DOMINATION!

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Our prize package consisted of a curated seven-course, wine-paired tasting dinner for four at GRACE, along with a killer collection of sports tickets and a VIP suite for your squad. I even threw in a bottle of DOM (remember, I told you we were going to DOM-inate!). Going once, going twice, and SOLD to Ronda & Walter Stucker!

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On top of auctioning off a dish to some poor unfortunate soul, Jon and his posse of judges were doling out awards to the best Micheline Masterpieces of the night. Oh yeah, you know it! Yours truly WON an award! To be honest, I was kinda expecting it! If you’ve dined at GRACE, you know what I’m talking about! Am I right?

Also taking home some cake that night:

  • Angelique De Luca (Hollywood Actress) & Laura Johnston of Bittersweet
  • Robin Greenhaw (The Balvenie) & Juan Rodriguez of Magdalena’s Hal
  • Hal Brown (Fort Worth Magazine) & John Piccolino of B&B Butchers
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It was a big win for us, for the Stuckers and of course, for Kids Who Care. Jason and I ended up bidding on a package offered by Keith Hicks of Buttons and Disc Jockey Erin Wilde another Notable/Chef team that night, and that’s how I ended up scoring a day on the air at 92.1 HANK FM and my FABULOUS DINNER PARTY …

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All About My Party and Being a DJ for a Day!

Bidding in a charity auction is a fun way to donate to a great cause. But let’s be real here. I do it because j’adore the VIP-ness of it all. I mean, most of what’s on the block are ultra-exclusive experiences that otherwise DO NOT EXIST – they are literally not available anywhere else at any price! Case in point, the Kinderfrogs auction item that allowed us to attend the Oscars.

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Cookin’ for Kids is no exception. When I won my prize package at Cookin’ for Kids, I felt a bandit who had made off with a real treasure. Not only did I get a unique and priceless experience, but the full amount of my purchase price went to Kids Who Care. Not only that, our involvement with the event last year helped raise the most money EVER in the history of Cookin’ For Kids.

Here’s my full winning prize package: Co-DJ-ing with Erin Wilde of 92.1 HANK FM for the day, including production planning and having the ONE, the ONLY, Mogul of Soul Food, Chef Keith “Buttons” Hicks host a turn-key experience in a private home for 12. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water for the specialty organic fried chicken and grass-fed tenderloins he cooked just for us. Check out the photos, y’all:

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This Sunday’s Celebrity Chef/FW Notable Line-up!

As amazing as last year was, I am confident this year will be bigger, better and even more delicious! Hal and I were asked to be Honorary co-chairs this year, and we’ve been working feverishly to line up the very best of everything.

Joining us as Notables, we’ve got famous country singer Pat Green and his lovely wife Kori, jewelry and handbag queen of America! (hoping he’ll bust out with a spontaneous serenade!) And get this, I made a quick call to my two girlfriends, Carter Martin and Hannah Davis, who just so happen to be heiresses to the Amon Carter and the Kimball Art Museums. It’s a full-on Clash of Cultures! Oh, and have you ever wanted to see the GMs of Autobahn and Park Place Mercedes go at it neck to neck? That will definitely drive up the price of their dishes, especially when paired with what can only be unbelievably unique LIVE auction packages. What’s a charity fundraiser without Julie Hayes and Kim Johnson, Fort Worth’s top two decorators to society elites. Don’t be shocked if there’s hair pulling by nights end! Bringing up the tail end are Kristi Mayfield and Tara Wilson, former Merrill Lynch Stockbrokers Gone Wild.

Ok, I bet your mouth is drooling to see who are the top 10 Cuisiniers from the very best restaurants our city has to offer – AKA the folks who will actually be doing the cooking. Did you know that almost no one turned me down when I asked them to participate? We have chefs from the top French, Mediterranean and Steak restaurants! We also have the very best in Southern, Soul, and Mexican.

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Tickets are $150 each or you can grab a bunch of friends and fill a table starting at $2500. (Sorry, $1500 tables have sold out.) And if any of my friends or friends of my parents are reading this, you best PURCHASE HERE to get yours asap, or you might end up on my poop list! $eriously, your $upport would mean the world to u$!

Photography by Laura McCarthy & Zuilma Gonzalez

SoFortWorthIt GIVEAWAY!!!

And, as promised, here’s my contest, and as usual, it’s a good one!

  • TWO tickets to Cookin For Kids, but wait; there’s more. $300 Value
  • Pair that with FOUR tickets to a Kids Who Care performance. $100 Value
  • Plus ONE week of Kids Who Care Summer Camp. $295 Value
  • And you’ll also get dinner with wine for FOUR, personally cooked for you by Keith Hicks’s at his restaurant, Buttons. $300 Value

Good luck everyone and I’ll see you this Sunday – bring your wallet and be sure to wear your eatin’ pants, because you will not want to miss out on one tasty bite!

*** Must read the Terms & Conditions in the Rafflecopter link below for the official rules and disclaimers for this giveaway. I would hate for you to miss follow all of the steps and your entries not qualify.***

22 Feb

SO FORT WORTH IT WINS! My Oscars Weekend: The parties! The stars! The swag!

If you think The Oscars is all caviar, Champagne, big stars and free stuff, you’re right!

*To take in the full experience, view this article from a laptop or PC for best results*

This Sunday, Feb. 24, when Hollywood royalty comes together at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles for the 91stAnnual Academy Awards, I know exactly where I will be: at home. I’ll be in my favorite organic cotton robe, propped up in my bed, watching The Oscars with the dog and cat hogging our comfortable real estate.

 

And yet, I’ll know exactly what it feels like to walk down that red carpet, to mingle with celebrities, to snag swag at VIP gifting suites and to indulge in non-stop caviar. Because last year, I was there, thanks to winning the live auction for this once in a lifetime experience at the LeapFrog fundraiser for Kinderfrogs School at TCU.

 

It was hands-down one of the most incredible experiences EVER, courtesy of our dear friends, Angelique and Mike De Luca! The coolest part? Not only was Mike producing the Academy Awards for the second year in a row, but they are seasoned insiders of the industry too.

 

I am going to reveal to you exactly how the entire weekend went down for the Chosen Ones of the entertainment industry (and me!). It was also one of the most stressful experiences of my life, and I’m gonna tell you about that and what I learned.

Prepping for the Oscars is a full-time job!

Celebrities start their Oscar-prep early, meeting with top fashion stylists to plan their red carpet looks. And I did that, too. Nearly eight weeks before the Big Day, Angelique and I met with Dallas’s top couturier, Michael Faircloth, to get measured for gowns that would be chic, slimming and comfortable.

 

And because I had a dream dress made just for me, I wouldn’t have to worry about being caught in one of those awkward “who wore it best” situations with Nicole Kidman or Cate Blanchett.

 

Unfortunately, the dress wasn’t quite ready by the time Jason and I headed west, so the designer promised to overnight it to arrive by noon on Friday. Now hold that thought, because I am coming back to it in a minute.

There were a few other necessities to check off the frivolous list, including scheduling an appointment to get Botox and fillers for the first time ever with Dr. Peter Malouf.

I also kicked my beauty routine up a few notches and put my hair game into overdrive with taped-in extension. I reached out to a few experts in the beauty industry and Ben, the co-owner of Novak Hair Studios and his ultra-talented sidekick Madalyn Porche were recommended with the best of the best reviews.

On top of the standard norm of manicures, pedicures, lash extensions and spray tans, I hired local celebrity makeup artist, Shannon Dowling, owner of Something You, to teach me some camera-ready makeup tricks for the big weekend.

And of course, a Hollywood red carpet look isn’t complete without a custom designed clutch by Edie Parker from Stanley Korshak. Cool Fact: This usually takes three months to make, but Korshak put in a favor, and it arrived 3 weeks later! Schwing!

Watch Out Hollywood, Here Comes SFWI

The buzz of excitement was in full effect as we waited in the DFW Admirals Club before our flight. Celebratory cocktails were in order!

The Christy & Angelique Show at DFW Admirals Club

We finally arrived at the Beverly Hills SLS Hotel late Friday night, and I went straight to bed. I had a 9 am meeting with my glam squad to go over hair and makeup for the Big Event on Sunday.

Day Before the Oscars

Then it was time to head to the Dolby Theater for rehearsals. Check-in and security at the Dolby Theater were tighter than a bandage dress on a Kardashian. Thankfully, we breezed through each checkpoint along the maze of backstage hallways thanks to our name being on the “I Am Cool, You Are Not” list.

Stepping into the actual theater was surreal. I was shocked at how small it looked compared to seeing it on TV. There were scattered groups of people seated in the rows of chairs and also some standing around the sides of the auditorium as people rehearsed on stage.

We also checked out Mike’s backstage office, and I gave him a little thank you gift of custom Eleni’s Academy Award cookies!

Even the Beautiful People have to eat lunch, so we scooted out for a quick bite at Villa Blanca, the restaurant owned by Real Housewife Lisa Vanderpump. I had a fab salad with lobster and crab.

Houston, We Have a Problem

It’s hard to process what happened next, but it went something like this. Michael Faircloth texted me with a dress update. He shipped it, but UPS had lost it, and he suggested I start implementing Plan B. Or rather, Plan WTF.

I am going to interrupt this fabulous story about the Oscars to share my Five Rules for Dealing with Dress Disasters. I followed this to a T and ended up with a dress that was even more stunning than the one I was originally going to wear.

 

I wish someone had shared this wisdom with me that day. It would have saved me a lot of time, especially when an internationally televised red carpet walk was less than 24 hours away!

Dealing with Dress Drama

  1. Breathe, take a sip of Champagne and relax. You got this.
  2. Make a list of everyone you know who can help you, reach out to them immediately and call in some favors. In my case, I called my go-to personal shopper from Neimans to pick her brain. I also called the hotel concierge for help as well as a couple of boutiques that carried dresses by designers that I knew fit my body well. The concierge set up an emergency appointment with a seamstress while I hopped into an Uber to do a blitz shop before stores closed in less than an hour. I felt like I was on one of those game shows where you have 60 seconds to solve a puzzle before the buzzer goes off.
  3. Kiss your budget goodbye. This is no time for bargain shopping. Great if you find something on sale, but desperate times call for desperate measures. If you can’t decide between dresses, buy them all and handle returns later. Time is of the essence!
  4. Confirm that the bra and Spanx you have still work with your new dress.
  5. Breathe, take another sip of Champagne and relax. You did it!

I’m not going to lie, my adrenals went into overdrive when I received that text. We had to cancel special dinner plans at Giorgio Baldi in Santa Monica in lieu of a wardrobe crisis. Oh, and in that lost UPS box was the De Luca’s daughter’s dress too. So while I was frantically pulling my plan B together, Angelique was in a panic to find a gown for their 10-year-old daughter.

 

With five previous failed attempts, I finally secured a seamstress through the hotel concierge begging over the phone that I would pay double for the emergency alterations. She accepted. Jason and I then hopped into an Uber and arrived at Oscar de la Renta 45 minutes before closing. Since they knew we were coming, they had five dresses pulled and already hanging in a dressing room.

 

All the dresses I tried on were lovely, but only one was worthy of an Oscar nomination. Hopeful that UPS would still deliver the dresses before the night was over, I asked if my purchase would be returnable. They told me no. Whatever, I didn’t have a choice in the matter, so I charged away!

 

Suddenly I found myself in need a strapless bra. Our next stop? The Grove Mall. While on our way to buy a brazier, I got THE phone call. UPS had finally delivered the Faircloth designer gowns. Umm, that’s what I call a day late and a dollar short! Insert eye roll and facepalm.

 

We finally made it back to the hotel for my 8:30 pm alterations appointment. When the seamstress started pinning my dress, she told me she had been waiting all day for an emergency call like this! Insert another eye roll. I guess I would, too, if someone offered double for my services. I never asked her rate, and I assumed the total would be around $500-600. After she pinned my hem and a little bit in the waist, she told me the amount would be – drum roll, please. Thirteen hundred bucks!  I mean, I just love being taken advantage of. It just warms my soul. She had me by my lady balls. What could I do?

 

Fast forward to 10 pm; I was well on my way to having a brand-new Oscar de la Renta gown ready by Sunday at 9:00 am. I knew it looked great on and made me feel like one of the movie stars I was there to see! Now it was time to change into a fun number and hit the Oscar pre-parties.

Celebs and Swag

Saturday evening was all about the pre-party. We had an invite to the most exclusive, most high-profile of them all, the Night Before party. Hosted by none other than Dreamworks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg on a sounds stage in the Fox Studios lot. I know, right!

 

The party benefited the Motion Pictures & Television Fund, which provides social services, financial services and other programs for seniors who worked in the industry, as well as those who care for them. I am not sure how much of our $15K couples ticket went to benefit these programs, but I was relieved that it was a gift and didn’t end up on my Palladium Card along with (gulp) the new dress.

By the way, this event raised over $5M. I suspect it had a bit to do with all the incredible selection of corporate sponsors – there were 11 of them that I counted, and I know this because they all gave out amazing swag! Ford even gave away a Mustang that night! I felt like a kid in a candy store going from one sponsorship booth to the next trying out all the experiences this pre-Oscar’s party had to offer!

MPTF Oscars Pre-Party

When we left around 2 am, we were so loaded with swag, I thought I was going to need a Sherpa to get it all back to the hotel. Thank goodness I brought an empty piece of luggage with me. I may not know which way is up or down on any given day, but I definitely know how to strategize when it comes to extreme VIP gifting.

Oscar Sunday

As one Cinderella Moment ended on Saturday night, an even bigger Cinderella Moment began the next morning at the Ciel Spa with hair, makeup and a spray-tan that was so thorough I felt like I had highlighted, contoured and bronzed in just about every crack on my body.

Finally, I was red-carpet ready and now choosing between the fabulous custom made Michael Faircloth creation or the brand-new Oscar de la Renta gown I fell in love with. I knew I couldn’t wear them both, so I let the SLS concierge and my photographer help choose. Of course, Jason agreed with them too. Can you guess which one I picked?

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Oscar de la Renta Oscars Dress

The check-point situation was balls-out crazy, and our 15-minute drive to the theater took over an hour. Now I understand why celebrities are always late! I finally experienced the magical walk down the Oscars Red Carpet and here are three things I learned:

  1. It’s VERY crowded.
  2. It moves super fast.
  3. Being 5 feet tall is the perfect height to film people’s butts in front of me.

Mira Sorvino & Ashley Judd on the Red Carpet

So Fort Worth It on the Red Carpet

Press Photos with the De Luca's

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We were finally in! But it was only 3 pm, and we still had nearly 3 hours until show time. There wasn’t much to do but eat caviar in the green room. FOR REAL! The green room was sponsored by Rolex and tricked out to look like a chalet in the Swiss Alps.

I noshed nonstop on caviar and smoked salmon, washing it down with flutes of Champagne. I also chit-chatted with my new BFFs, maybe you’ve heard of them? Laura Dern, Sam Rockwell, Allison Janney, Taraji P. Henson, Armie Hammer and Eva Marie Saint. They were all there! (Although the BFF part may be slightly exaggerated).

The VIP overload continued once we took our seats in the theater. (Which were BTW next to the entire cast and crew of Dunkirk! I mean? WOW!). Angelique sat on the fourth row with her mom and two children while Mike took his position backstage at the nerve center.

Jimmy Kimmel hooked everyone up with a “lunch box” of delicious snacks so, even though the event lasted THREE HOURS, we were never hungry!

Jimmy Kimmel's Academy Awards Lunch Box Reveal

Super cool moment of the night? We got to move up to the 4th row with Angelique when her mom took their sleepy son back to the green room!

I Loved The Movie Chadwick Boseman

Post Oscars Producers Wrap Toast

Once the show ended, and we gobbled down the last Jimmy Kimmel snack, we joined the crowd heading backstage to celebrate the wrap with the crew. Along the way, we had a quick chat with Chadwick Boseman. I tried to act casual, even though I was super freaked out to be in the presence of the leader of the Kingdom of Wakanda!

Being backstage with the entire Oscars production crew for the wrap party probably wasn’t much different than a post-production wrap party at Casa Manana, except Jimmy Kimmel was there! Other than that, totally same same.

Jimmy Kimmel's Post Oscars Toast Backstage

90th Oscars Governors Ball

We finally arrived at the Ray Dolby Ballroom for the Governor’s Ball around 11:40 pm and the party was ab-so-lute-ly poppin’! Once we evicted the seat-stealing randos from our reserved table, we settled in, sat back and let the waiters pamper us with more caviar.

Mira Sorvino & Ashley Judd Outside The Governors Ball

Inside The 90th Governors Ball

Did you know Chef Wolfgang Puck whipped up more than 60 delicious dishes for ball attendees featuring luxe ingredients like wagyu beef, French black truffles, and edible gold? But for me, it was all caviar – easier on my no-meat diet. I heard that there was $35,000-worth of caviar at the ball, and I estimate I consumed about $1K of it. Plenty left for the other 1500 guests! But I did save room for dessert!

My biggest regret was not getting up and walking around more. I did, however, walk to the dessert bar, shaving probably 10 calories off the thousands upon thousands that I consumed at that all-you-can-eat-high-fructose buffet. In case you think all I did was eat, the truth is, I also drank a lot. You would, too, if they were pouring $150K worth of Piper-Heidsieck Champagne.

 

A highlight from the evening? When producer Darla K. Anderson, winner of Best Animated Film for Coco, stopped by our table to get a quick pic with Mike.

Jimmy Kimmel’s Post-Oscars Party

In case you thought we were wimps who quit partying once we were seated with champagne and caviar, you THOUGHT WRONG! We took our stamina to the next level and headed to Jimmy Kimmel’s after-party in West Hollywood at The Lot.  It wasn’t just an Oscar party, it also was his wife Molly McNearney’s 40th  birthday bash! I was so energized, I could have stayed up ‘till the cows came home. I just didn’t want the night to end!

Jimmy Kimmel's Post Oscars Party

I spotted Jennifer Aniston, and I almost tinkled myself. She is absolutely gorgeous. I was determined to get a picture without looking like a mental patient in the process– and I did. I’ve posted it below. I mean, we’re practically BFFs now that she’s found out how tight we are with Chadwick Boseman. #TeamAniston for life, baby!

Although this was another big foodie event, we were stuffed from our caviarpalooza at the Governor’s Ball. The drinks were flowing with multiple cocktail stations and mixologist, and I was starting to see a pattern between Jimmy’s party and all the other Oscar events: the presence of MUCHO SWAG.

 

Dude, this party was SWAGALICIOUS, and we shamelessly snagged as much as we could possibly carry. Jimmy thought of everything (or rather, his party planners did) and our parting gifts were boxes of Shake Shack burgers and fries for the road. When we got back to the hotel room, I slammed those fries like a mother and even tried a teenie tiny bite of the burger – I didn’t want to disappoint Jimmy.  Then, I slept like a baby.

SoFortWorthIt Oscars Swag GIVEAWAY!!!

The Oscars are exhausting, y’all. I’ll definitely be cheering for all the stars this year, especially since I know the kind of caviar-Champagne-and-swag-filled night they’re experiencing. And you know what? I want you to experience what it’s like to get arm-loads of bags and swag too!

 

That’s right folks, I’m giving away EVERYTHING* I was given from the sponsored gifting suits at the pre and post Oscars parties. This collection of loot is valued at over $1000.

 

**Please read the TERMS & CONDITIONS for the official rules at the giveaway link below, including following all requested social media accounts and being subscribed to the SoFortWorthIt newsletter for your entry to qualify.

MPTF Night Before Pre Oscars Party SWAG!
Kiehl's: Ultra Facial Cleanser $20 | Line Reducing Concentrate $65 | Midnight Recovery Concentrate $49 | Creamy Eye Treatment $48 | Ultra Facial Cream $30 | Ginger Leaf Hybiscus Firming Mask $54
L'Oreal: Damage-Erasing Balm $7 | Men Expert Vita Lift Daily Moisturizer Anti-Wrinkle & Firming $11 | Lipstick $10 | Revitalift Cicacream $18 | Total Repair Shampoo & Conditioner $10
Proenza Schouler: Arizona Eau de Parfume $100
Hunter for Target: Beach Towel $25 | Koozies $6 | Hammock $35 | Hang Light $5 | Zipper Pouch $9 | Umbrella $15 | (*Tote, Frisbee & Hat are not in the giveaway.)
Urban Decay: Rebound Collagen Infused Complexion Prep Priming Spray $32 | All Nighter Long Lasting Makeup Setting Spray $32
IT Cosmetics: Brow Powder $24 | Super Hero Volumizing Mascara $24 | Heavy Luxe Wand Ball Powder Brush #8 $48 | CC Color Correcting Full Coverage Cream & Anti-Aging Hydrating Serum $29 | Confidence in a Cream Transforming Moisturizing Super Cream $16 | Bye Bye Pour Press Translucent $29 | You're a Superstar Brush $48 | Bye Bye Under Eye Concealer $24
Donut Shop Google Home Mini $50
Swag from Jimmy Kimmel Post Oscars Party! Tieks Ballet Flat "Romantic Blush" SIZE 8 $265 | Le Labo Palo Santo Candle $65 | SMD Cosmetics Saromae Snail Serum Concentrate $70 | Foreo Luna Mini Facial Spa Massager & Cleanser (one) $140

9 Feb

Bring on the Bling with YLANG23 for Valentine’s Day

Enjoy Accessorizing Any Outfit During the Month of Love with Fort Worth’s Latest Designer Jewelry Boutique at The Shops at Clearfork. 

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of the bling, and when Fort Worth’s newest jewelry store, Ylang 23, asked me to collaborate with them on a VIP party experience, I was tickled pink  — as in, pink diamonds, pink sapphires and pink tourmalines, oh my!

YLang23 Fort Worth
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Ylang 23 opened in The Shops at Clearfork late last year, but it’s been open in Dallas since 1985 when owners Joanne & Charles Teichman got this crazy brilliant idea to feature fine jewelry made by independent designers. They pretty much started the designer jewelry trend. Remember the iconic Ylang Ylang store in the Dallas Galleria back in the day? Yeah, that’s them. How cool is that?

Charles and Joanne Teichman, the owners of Ylang 23, at home in Preston Hollow with the family dogs, Tuey (white) and Eddie (black).  The Teichmans bought Neil Raitt's painting, "Cabinectomy",  from The Goss-Michael Foundation.  Photography by Mei-Chun Jau for FD Magazine.

Many of the biggest names in jewelry have been with Ylang 23 since the beginning, like Cathy Waterman and Irene Neuwirth. Because of the many incredible relationships they have fostered in this industry, you can work one-on-one with a designer to craft your own precious couture piece, or just go pret-a-porter and choose from the boutique’s amazing selection with prices starting at $110!

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Marla Aaron

Will the REAL Super Bowl Party please stand up!

Forget the Superbowl – last Sunday was SuperBLING Sunday. Together with the Teichman’s daughter, Alysa, Fort Worth store manager, Bhavini, and my sweet friend April, we threw the shiniest, most sparkly-ist jewelry party ever. Actually, it was two parties: a super-exclusive VIP breakfast followed by an afternoon reception.

And every time I think about the spectacular Retrouvai Compass necklace I wore at the party – before my mom LITERALLY BOUGHT IT RIGHT OFF MY NECK, I get butterflies. Especially since she has promised to let me borrow it, I will definitely be planning that request sooner than later.

Speaking of planning…now that I’m vegan, the fruit kabobs helped detoured my appetite when I encounter the miniature chicken and waffles. Those were just some of the posh noshes that Clearfork’s B&B Butchers & Restaurant created for brunch. I still can’t get over how adorable they were.

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All the pretty ladies, all the pretty ladies!

The whole morning was a crazy whirlwind, and before I knew it, the DJ turned it up! Party #2 – the big 300-people-on-the-guest-list main event – had begun! It was, as they say in the jewelry business, OFF THA’ CHAIN! (Sorry, I can’t help it!)

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Among the most delicious details were the sweets and treats.

There was a Valentine’s Day dessert bar! An all-pink bag-your-own candy bar! Champagne and mimosas! Door prizes from B&B Butchers & Restaurant, Pinstripes, Fixe Southern House and The Bar Method, all located in Clearfork (to see who won, click here).

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Even the party favors were divine. Little books with jewelry styling tips and adorable Ring Pops in clear boxes all wrapped up with Ylang 23 signature ribbon.

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend!

I’ll admit, I arrived at Ylang 23 about 20 minutes early that day for the sales associates to “dress” me. Not only did they hook me up with a “neckmess” of amazing pieces, all coordinated to achieve their signature layered look, but I also got in some “me time” to browse.

As they say in the jewelry business, it rocked! Seriously, I’m still on cloud nine from the thrill of getting to wear THAT MUCH fabulous jewelry at once.

I knew with all the swooning and the chit-chatting ahead of me, I wouldn’t have a chance to help my husband. What did I do for him? I compiled a shopping list of my favorite pieces to make Valentine’s Day gifting a cake walk. Jason if you’re reading this, You’re welcome!

SYDNEY EVAN: Large Diamond Love Script Necklace $1610 | Small Ruby Lips Necklace $1585

Christy’s Top Favorite Ylang 23 Gifts for Valentine’s Day!

Ok, don’t get me wrong. If I had a money tree planted in my back yard, I would buy half the jewelry sold at Ylang 23. But since I don’t, I’ve listed a small sampling of baubles, at various price points, that I think you will like.

1.

JORDAN ASKILL: Red Heart Necklace $325 | Pink or Black Heart Necklace $475 | Heart Rings $225 | Heart Bracelets $285

2.

SYDNEY EVAN: Love Necklace $840 | JENNIFER MEYER: Open Heart Necklace $875 | HEATHER B. MOORE: Love Amour Charm $490 | XO Diamond Charm $410 | Quartz Drop $60 | Chain $1230 | MARLA AARON: Red Enamel Heart Lock $1100 | Chain $1606

3.

IRENE NEUWIRTH: Extra Large Flat Heart Necklace $7370

4.

CATHY WATERMAN: Green Emerald $17990 | Antique Diamond $23950 | Blue Saphire $15710

5.

SHAY: Floating Diamond Heart $3780 | MARLA AARON: Rose Gold Lock $355 | Rose Gold Diamond Chubby Lock $6150 | Rose Gold Diamond Heart Lock $1863 | Rose Gold Chain $343 | Stainless Steel Chain $112

6. 

JANIS SAVITT: Various sized Bracelets and Cuff in Rhodium and Gold Plated $60-190

7.

IRENE NEUWIRTH: Heart Moonstone Necklace $7740 | CATHY WATERMAN: Opal and Chrysoprase Lyrical Wheat Necklace $17600

Photography by Laura McCarthyMaria Ciszek

SoFortWorthIt GIVEAWAY

After all, jewelry is meant to be worn. That’s a belief shared by all the fab women who came to this event, and I bet that’s your belief, too!

Now, who wants to win a $250 gift card from Ylang23? Yeah, me too! Head over to SoFortWorthIt on Instagram and enter this contest where you see the picture of Ylang 23’s storefront.

Good luck and shine on my friends! xoxo

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BONUS GIVEAWAY: $500 VISA Gift Card

It would mean the world to me if you’d take five seconds to vote for SoFortWorthIt as your FAVORITE local blog/influencer. As a thank you for voting, I am giving away a $500 VISA gift card to one lucky winner.

*BONUS: You can enter multiple times daily through February 15th. Each vote is an entry into the giveaway. Just click the “+ Nominate Another” link and repeat up to 10 times.

*BEFORE YOU SUBMIT YOUR VOTE, take a screenshot of your vote(s) and email it to [email protected]

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