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11 Mar

Buying at Auctions for your Home is the Best Thing Ever!

Auction-J. Garrett

I’ve been on the hunt for hidden treasures for our home for over 20 years. I’ve always been interested in antiques, and good deals – shopping like a boss is in my DNA! But I really got serious about finding furniture and other home goods when I married Jason. Filling a new home is no easy task, especially on a newlywed budget. That’s when I discovered the magic of auctions.


I grew up in a diversely furnished home, and naturally, I fell into the habit of, well, furnishing diversely. Walking into a store or a showroom and coming out with an entire roomful of furniture has never been my jam, and it shouldn’t be yours either. There’s nothing creative about matchy-matchy, IMO. I love and appreciate all of the different things I’ve collected over the years in my home. From my great grandmother’s curio cabinet in our bathroom to special pieces from our travels – some of it fun and funky, some of it basic but essential, but all of it representing a beautiful memory.


I’ve found that auctions are the best way to shop for one-of-a-kind finds. I’ve also been able to score some sweet deals over the years. There’s always something for everyone – and I always find plenty of things that need to come home with me. And sometimes, they do!

Auction-J. Garrett

I have developed quite an effective strategy for scouting, bidding and buying at auction, one I am going to share with you (for free!). Here, revealed for the very first time, are my Top Five Tips on How to Win Big at an Auction

Five Tips on How to Win Big at an Auction

1. Try to attend the auction preview. However, if you cannot see an item in person thoroughly read the condition reports. You can also speak with someone over the phone for more pictures and information.

2. Only pre-bid if you will not be available during the live auction. Otherwise, you will receive alerts each time someone outbids you, but as long as your MAX bid is programmed, you won’t miss out on the item.

3. If you are going in with a budget be sure to do your math. A little reverse math will save you a headache. Factor in the Hammer Fee, taxes and possible shipping cost for larger items.

Sample: Budget – Hammer Fee – Taxes = Actual Bidding Amount

Example: $2000 – 28% – 8.25% = $1,321.20

4. Don’t bid if you’re not sure you want to buy. If yours is the winning bid, you’re committed to the purchase. You can’t change your mind once the auction is closed.

5. During a live auction I always wait until the very end to place my bid. Literally “going once…going twice…” BID.

Auction-J. Garrett

And speaking of, I was excited to pop over to J. Garrett Auctioneers in Dallas last week. The reason for my visit was a benefit for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra that offered a sneak peek (before the public preview) at the firm’s latest high-profile auction: The Loyd-Paxton Collection. Oh Em Gee, y’all, it was amazeballs!


The Loyd-Paxton name has exuded glamour and exclusivity throughout the antiques and interior design world for over five decades. The creative forces behind the name, Lloyd Taylor and Paxton Gremillion, earned international renown by fusing unparalleled talent and taste with extraordinary décor. Their approach was to create a total environment rather than just putting pretty stuff in rooms. Among the duo’s most distinguished clients: Sir Elton John, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and Versailles (yes, that Versailles!).

Auction-J. Garrett

When it came time for Taylor to downsize, he chose J. Garrett Auctioneers to rehome his prestigious pieces, including rare 18th and 19th-century antiques and art. I may or may not be purchasing something this go around, but I always love to look, and some of the lots at the Loyd-Paxton Collection are serving inspiration for days.


If you aren’t following me on Instagram, you are missing out on ALL the behind-the-scenes fun from this incredible auction (you can find it in my highlights), but below are a few of my favorite pieces.

Favorite Pieces from Upcoming J. Garrett Auction

Religious Oil Paintings on Canvas Est. $1k - $1500
Auction-J. Garrett
Religious Oil Paintings on Canvas Est. $1k - $1500
Auction-J. Garrett
Louis Vuitton Trunk, Rare Vintage Custom Est. $32K - $35K
Auction-J. Garrett
Chanel Purse Pink Est. $1K - $1200
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Hermes Kelly Bag Est. $16K - $20K
Oversized French Carved & Painted Setter Est. $750 - $850
Auction-J. Garrett
Exceptional Rare 18c Carved Court Scene Est. $17K
Auction-J. Garrett
Extraordinary Pair of Rare Massive Jadeite Vases Est. $40K - $60K
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Louis XIV Style Consoles Est. $12K - $15K
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Reticulated Decanters Est. $1500 - $2500
Silver Trays Est. $600 - $800
Columbian/Brazilian Emerald Ring 8 carats Est $20K - $30K
Auction-J. Garrett

Upcoming J. Garrett Auction Details


Preview: March 15th-19th (10am-5pm)

Jewelry Preview: March 18th and 19th (10 am-3 pm)

Auction Start Times: March 20th and 21st (11 am CST)

9203 Diplomacy Row Dallas TX 75247


Peep for yourself here, and while you’re at it, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra is offering the chance to win a fabulous gift basket valued at $5650. Your chances of winning are spectacular. To participate in the raffle, email


If you have been decorating your home for some time, you know how difficult it can be to find that perfect piece. Auctions are a great way to find special pieces that really enhance a home. J. Garrett does auctions twice a year, so if nothing fits the mold this time, check back in the fall for some more treasures. You can also visit their sister company, Legacy Antiques, in the Design District in Dallas for some everyday retail fun.

Auction-Dallas Symphony
Auction-Dallas Symphony
27 Jan

My Valentine’s Birthday Party with Jill Fortney Productions

On Valentine’s Day 46 years ago, my mom got the best gift imaginable: ME! That’s right – Valentine’s Day is my birthday. This year, I would love nothing more than to celebrate in a big way, with all my girlfriends, glasses overflowing with Champagne and a yummy vegan meal. Or maybe we skip the meal and go directly to dessert. It doesn’t really matter — Covid has put a damper on the party scene, so for the moment, being safe is more important than celebrating big.

In the meantime, I’ve been enjoying the chance to reminisce about past parties that brought joy to my heart and a smile to my face. It’s even helped me get into the party spirit to plan SOMETHING, even if it’s not the soirees. (Here’s looking at you, 2022!) So as I sit here coming up with party ideas that pair well with social distancing, I thought I would share with you some of my favorite memories for my 40th birthday bash, which was an amazing Parisian-themed party de résistance.

About a year before I turned 40. I mentioned to my parents that it was time for them to throw another fab blowout party in honor of me officially turning old. At first, I got the rolling stink-eye of “you’re joking, right?!” But it only took a millisecond after that for my mom to jump all over the idea and start proposing fun ideas for an unforgettable event. Besides, my mom’s love language is entertaining, and it’s hard for that woman to say no when it comes to cutting checks in the name of fun!

My parents asked me what I had in mind, and all I could think about was something big. It had been quite some time since I had a blowout celebration, like when I made my debut in 1996 and 1997 or when I married Jason in 2000. I was dreaming of another fabulous event to drown my wrinkled sorrows away.

First things first, I knew it had to be special enough to hire an event planner. In true Cowtown fashion, we decided to keep it local and go with none other than the ultra-talented luxury event planner, Jill Fortney, of Jill Fortney Productions. If you have never attended a Jill Fortney Production event, then you are in for a real treat — including plenty of eye candy-filled photos below.

Jill was not only the planner who made my Big 4-Oh so special, she’s also a friend. So I reached out to her for her thoughts on what takes an event — any kind of event, from a family affair to a birthday bash — to that next level. She was gracious enough to share her strategies  — I hope they inspire you to start planning your own amazing party!

Jill Fortney’s Top 6 Tips – Expect the Unexpected

1. The Invitation

A dazzling invitation creates a sense of anticipation. It sets the reason for the celebration as well as the tone of the event. A flat piece of paper with typestyles, ink colors, paper textures and shapes, pictures, and ribbons can transform your imagination of the event. By letting the guest know with a spectacular invite, “ This is going to be a party I do not want to miss.”  Tell your hubby I am going to a girl’s party, and I will not be home for dinner.

2. Select a Theme

Make sure the theme fits the occasion … formal, fancy, fun. Take a formal idea and make it fun. Carry out the color scheme throughout the evening with drinks, napkins, party favors, food presentation, entertainment, flowers, and décor. Give all the areas a new twist … create eye candy for the guests. Show them something they have never seen or experienced.

3. Create excitement throughout the event

Introduce something new at least every hour. Offer different appetizers and do not keep passing the same ones all evening. Do not pile food on the tray; use smaller trays, use different vessels and refill often. Make the presentation of the tray connect to the item served. That is, if serving crab cakes, put a whole crab on top of a mound of seaweed on the side of the tray.


Entertaining is an expression of love for your friends. Make each experience memorable. Nothing says festive like polished silver. Use lots of silver everywhere … from candelabras to cups for cocktails to silver objects at the bar.

4. The Food

Entertaining is not about the food, but the fellowship! Always lean on the classics; cocktails, satisfying starters, filling main courses of familiar food and decadent desserts. Make sure the food is presented in an artful, beautiful way. Add delicious garnishes that enhance the presentation. An example, if you are serving a roasted vegetable soup, roast plum tomatoes, slice matchstick thin and sprinkle in the middle of the bowl as it goes out of the kitchen.


Another idea is to toast flavored croutons (homemade) with a little parmesan cheese or garlic and sprinkle in the bowl or pass tableside. Try to master one food item you are known for so guests will look forward to one of your food offerings.

5. The Details

Keep the focus on your selected theme in front of guests during the evening. If “pink” is your theme, remove your entry hall rug and replace it with pink inexpensive carpet. Have waiters wear pink bowties, serve a pink drink, use pink ice or ice cubes with pink flowers with the first drink, put a miniature picture of the guest of honor on top of the pink dessert, mail in advance to guests your favorite pink lipstick and nail polish, car parkers with pink uniforms, dye your dog pink, all the flowers in shades of pink, rent pink glasses for drinks, serve pink champagne or rose wine, and of course, wear a pink dress. If the affair is formal, pin a pink boutonniere on the male guests and give the women a pink wrist corsage.

6. Above all else, be a gracious hostess!

Be the first person to greet your guests; be the last person they see as they exit. Have plenty of non-alcoholic drinks as well as alcoholic drinks available throughout the venue. For larger events (will we ever again??), remember lines are for Luby’s. Have one bar for every 50 guests and offer a variety of choices. Mix and match groups of friends and introduce people to each other that you think they might share something in common. Do not be so exhausted by cleaning the baseboards that you can not enjoy the party. If people are scoping out your baseboards … they are bored and need to go home! A good rule is 8 guests can seat themselves, after that use place cards … formal or casual.


Be a good listener and ask questions of your guests to get the conversation going. Be aware of certain dietary restrictions of guests and have an alternative in the kitchen. Do not try out a new recipe for your guests unless it is for two people on a Sunday night and casual! Use failsafe recipes you prepare or prepared by a caterer.


PHOTO CREDIT: Rhilee Photography

Thank you for strolling down memory lane with me. No matter the occasion, grand or intimate, every Valentine’s Day should be a special one to celebrate. This year won’t be near as grand, which is totally fine with me, but I think I’ll get to work on what a teeny tiny socially distanced patio party might look like to ring in the big four-six. Stay tuned to my Instastories to peek behind the scenes of the process!


Special Credit to the following companies/vendors for my 40th birthday party!

  • FOOD: Grace Restaurant & Marky’s Caviar
  • FLORAL: Flowers on the Square
  • MUSIC TRIO: Debbie Brooks Group
  • DJ: Randal Stout
  • EVENT STAFFING: Dalan Sharpe
  • VALET: Rent A Frog
16 Dec

Holiday Staycation: Epic Helicopters, GRACE & The Sinclair Hotel

Ho! Ho! Ho! And Merry Christmas! For my final holiday giveaway, I have teamed up with some of my favorite Fort Worth businesses on Instagram and we are bringing to you THE MOST FABULOUS romantic post-holiday escape.

ONE lucky winner and their holiday crush will enjoy this experience on Saturday, December 26th, which includes:

–       A one-night stay for 2 in a suite at the newly opened Sinclair Hotel in beautiful Downtown Fort Worth.

–       A 30-minute EPIC Helicopters Holiday Lights Tour on Santa’s Sleigh from Meacham Airport.

–       A romantic dinner at renowned restaurant GRACE in Downtown Fort Worth.

–       A champagne gift basket compliments of me, Christy Dunaway Smith.

To enter this fabulous giveaway valued at $1000, click HERE!

Terms and Conditions:
~ Giveaway starts on December 16th and runs until midnight December 22, 2020.⁣
~ 1 lucky winner will be contacted via direct messaging on December 23rd.⁣
~ Winner must reply back within 3 hours, or another winner will be drawn.⁣
~ We will announce the winner on IG by 5:00 PM on December 23rd.⁣
~ Private IG accounts will not be selected. ⁣
~ Winner must agree to post photos of their Hotel stay, Helicopter ride and Dinner experience tagging all 4 brands on IG. ⁣
~ Hotel stay, Helicopter ride & Dinner experience must be redeemed ON December 26th and cannot be rescheduled.⁣
~ Prizes not redeemable for cash. ⁣
~ Only open to DFW residents. ⁣
~ Must be over 21 years of age. ⁣

Staycation Itinerary

EPIC HELICOPTERS @ Meacham Airport – 3951 Lincoln Avenue 76106

30-minute Santa’s Sleigh Ride Holiday Light Tour for 2

Saturday, December 26th, 2020

Arrive by 5:30 PM

Departure at 6:00 PM

Seat weight capacity must be less than 300lbs per person

You will need to fill out a quick survey before departure

Rescheduling unavailable

Value: $418.00

GRACE Restaurant @ Downtown Fort Worth – 777 Main Street 76102

Saturday, December 26th, 2020

Dinner reservations for 2 at 7:30 PM

Gratuity not included (Please tip your server)

Value: $150

holiday staycation
holiday staycation

The Sinclair, a Marriott Autograph Collection Hotel @ Downtown FW – 512 Main Street 76107

1 Night stay in a gorgeous suite

Check-in Saturday, December, 26th, 2020 @ 4pm

Check out Sunday, December 27th, 2020 @ 11am

Value: $350

holiday staycation
holiday staycation

SoFortWorthIt Champagne Gift Basket

It’s A Surprise!!!

Value: $100