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24 May

My CBS News Segment Sharing Memorial Day Entertaining Tips

Aaaand … that’s a wrap!

Just a little television jargon for you there because, well, I was just on TV!

If you missed it LIVE Wednesday on CBS 11, watch this video to see me and my son Reed talking about Memorial Day party food, table settings and the new family tradition we started to support our troops.

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Party with a Purpose

When CBS reached out to me to appear on TV with my tips on Memorial Day entertaining, of course I said yes immediately — even though I was crazy, pit-forming-in-my-stomach nervous. I started prepping for the interview by thinking back on the years of Memorial Day parties thrown by both sides of my family.

I had a million ideas swirling around in my head! But then it hit me: The most important element of any celebration should be the reason there’s a holiday in the first place: our military.

The purpose of Memorial Day is to remember those who have given their lives in service to our country. I don’t remember that as being an important part of our parties in the past, or maybe it was just because I was a kid. But Jason and I decided our family was going to change that starting now, and we’d do it in a way that our boys would understand the meaning of Memorial Day, too.

Memorial Day Care Boxes

Our family has officially kicked off our Memorial Day festivities by assembling care packages for the men and women in uniform, and we are shipping these boxes out early next week. We bought as many items as we could fit into the box from several suggested lists while Googling around. And then we are including a hand-made card with a non-denominational prayer (to honor our country’s unity while respecting its diversity).

If you’d like to do something similar, here are a few useful resources to get you started.

www.usps.com

www.supportourtroops.org

www.herocarepackages.com

www.operationshoebox.com

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Making Memorial Day Memorable

Now for the party part of Memorial Day! For me, Memorial Day entertaining has always involved water, whether that’s a party on the dock at our lake house or a barbecue by the pool. Which means our celebrations are always outside and uber cas.

RULE NUMBER ONE: FFF

Before you do, make or buy anything, ask yourself, is it FFF? That is, Family, Friendly and Festive? Nothing about Memorial Day should be too fancy or too fussy. Cute? Absolutely. But if it requires a dishwasher, you are just adding extra layers to your day. I appreciate disposable party goods, but at the very least, plastic is probably on par, so if you drop a glass on the pool deck, you just pick it up and refill it!

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TOP FOOD TWO-FER: A DELICIOUS DUO

Charcuterie Board: This is a GREAT dish to provide or bring to a gathering. It not only appeals to both men and women but kiddos too. Central Market‘s catering department whipped up this fabulous red, white, and blue spread that I showed on TV, on a FABULOUS antique bread board from Simple Things.

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BTW, if you are in the market for the perfect board that you can pass down for generations, Simple Things is your one-stop shop! I actually borrowed this board for the TV segment, but I fell in love with it so hard, I ended up purchasing it.

Patriotic Parfait: Not only is this another great FFF option, but kids can help build this dessert as an activity. All you need are blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and a few tubs of whip cream. And VOILA, your mega parfait will be the talk of the party.

SETTING THE TABLE: NEVER BREAK THE BANK

You’d be surprised to know how little money I spend on décor and party stuff for my Memorial Day get-togethers. Like, almost nothing. Really! For me, Memorial Day is the most relaxed holiday from a theme perspective because it’s casual (see above for Rule Number One).

But also, it’s all about red, white and blue. That’s right: It’s also the same three colors used for Independence Day in July and Labor Day in September. Heck, you can even pull out these tricolors for a little Bastille Day soiree, because who doesn’t want to celebrate a holiday that involves Champagne!

Because I rely on a color theme for this holiday (and others), I build and keep a collection of red, white and blue party supplies, similar to the way I do for Christmas decor. You’ll always find me on July 5th stocking up on all the marked-down plates, napkins and other goodies, and you should, too. I especially love places like Kay’s Hallmark, Hobby Lobby, Michaels, Party City and Dollar Tree. And when they have sales, I feel like they’re almost paying me to take things! (Note I said ‘almost.’) Here are some ways we have decorated at the lake over the years for all three patriotic summer holidays

In-studio Memorial Day flagpoles courtesy of Jim Irwin

Photography by Elusive Images

WANT MORE TIPS?

Entertaining is my jam, and I’ve written about it FOR-EVAH!!! Check out some of my past vintage nuggets of golden wisdom HERE, HERE and HERE.

And some of my current creative celebrations HERE, HERE and HERE. If you use any of my tips, please send me a note and include pics! Have an incredible and safe holiday weekend!

14 May

10 Tips for Total Yard Sale Domination

Be a Garage Sale Boss

Who doesn’t love a bargain? I certainly do, which explains why I have so much stuff. Toys. Clothes. Kitchen Gadgets. Whatever it is, I probably own two of it, and everything is now piled so high in my house that it’s making me feel anxious and slightly – OK, seriously – overwhelmed.

Longtime readers will recognize these warning signs from the last time clutter made me almost institutionalized in a straightjacket (read about it here). And just like the last time, I know there’s only one thing to do: Let it goooooo. That’s right, Elsa: It’s Epic Garage Sale Time. And as I always say, if you don’t love something, set it free. And offload it in a giant garage sale.

I’m no stranger to selling stuff en garage. Honestly, my first memory of front-porch peddling was at the age of four when my parents had a garage sale in Wedgewood before we moved to Ridglea. I started hosting my own garage sales beginning in college when I attended SMU. I mean, a woman’s gotta purge when a woman’s gotta purge, amIright?

Over the years, I’ve honed my techniques to speed up sales and maximize profits while minimizing looky-loos and randos trying to sneak five-finger discounts. So, in the spirit of sweet deals, I’m going to give you my Top Ten Tips for Epic Garage Sales, absolutely free, so you, too, can be a Yard Sale Boss!

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Here’s the scoop!

Christy Smith’s Epic Garage Sale

4714 Alta Drive 76107

Saturday, May 18th, 2019

8:00AM-3:00PM

RAIN OR SHINE!!!

(If raining, we will move everything indoors.)

Christy Smith’s Top Tips for an Epic Garage Sale

(I will post photos over the next 48 hours as I set up.)

1. Plan Ahead

Epicness doesn’t just happen. It’s a process. Throughout the year, I collect merchandise around the house, price it, and then toss the unwanted and unused stuff into a few boxes that I keep in the garage. Usually, I start with the small stuff. Not everything gets set aside – I do sell some items on local FB pages, but I always make sure to keep plenty of fabulous big ticket items for my Epic Sale.

2. Monitor Quality from the Start

My garage sales are EPIC because I don’t sell junk. Before I toss stuff into the box, I make sure it works, it’s unstained, it’s got all the parts, and the batteries are still good.

3. Be a Great Hostess

I always serve Champagne and OJ at my garage sales. People love hospitality, and you’d be surprised what people decide they need to buy after chugging a Mimosa!

4. Get Your Family Into the Act

My sales always include lots of items donated from my parents home (they purge too), and sometimes the boys will sell donuts, kolaches, and lemonade. It takes a village to sell stuff to villagers!

5. Be Social but Stay Safe

I genuinely love people, and I genuinely enjoy chatting with strangers from all walks of life. Through all the years I’ve been hosting garage sales, I’ve only experienced a few instances where someone has stolen from me. It sucked, but at the end of the day, it’s just stuff. Most important are my kids and ensuring their safety. If they’re on-site, they never leave my sight.

6. Sweeten the Pot

I always keep a 25¢ box filled with small toys and trinkets for kids to get a little something extra while rummaging with their parents. When adding up the total that people owe, I throw in a few of these tiny treats. It makes the parents feel like they got a bonus, and the kids love getting something new.

7. Make it Easy

I always mark my house with balloons and place a few signs at nearby intersections. In the past, I’ve hired off-duty police officers to manage crowd control and traffic flow – nothing kills a shopping mood like a bottlenecked traffic jam. We just invested in street cones to control the parking situation.

8. Getting the Word Out

When it comes to advertising our sale, I turn to social media. It’s effective, and the price is right! (Free!). I post on my personal FB page, in a few buy/sell and mommy forums on Facebook and on Next Door. I also create an event on FB to help guide people to our location, which becomes a reminder for them right before the sale starts.

9. Enlist the Troops

Never host a garage sale without several friends helping, especially during the first few hours. These thrifty shoppers come in droves and swoop in on all your slashed-to-sell goodies as soon as you open the gates! I always have 4-6 people helping me with the sale, and I pay them in $100 credit towards their purchase of my seconds.

10. Be Smart about Pricing

Here’s my unofficial pricing method: Depending on the age and condition of the items, we usually mark things between 50%-90% off retail. If it’s a brand new item with or without tags, or something super unique or vintage, I do a little research to see what that item is selling for on eBay, The Real Real or 1stDibs. And then I mark accordingly to align with a similar price point that was listed.

Organizing and arranging stuff for the sale is my favorite part of a garage sale – it totally satisfies my OCD. And, because this is all about bargains, here is my bonus advice:

Christy’s Favorite 6 Tips for Garage Sale Organization

1. Be sure to have lots of plastic folding tables and garment racks, even if you have to borrow some from friends and neighbors.

2. Use cardboard boxes to hold bulk items. 

3. Have paper grocery sacks ready to give to shoppers as they arrive to make it easier to shop your treasure trove. Save your bags throughout the year for ample supply.

4. If you have items with multiple small parts, put them into various sized ziplock bags and mark the price with a sharpie. This keeps things from getting separated when people rummage. (This works especially well for toys with small/multiple parts.) 

5. Use a tagging gun for clothing. I like to note the size, price and also measurements if something has been altered like the inseam.

6.  Don’t forget the dough! The day before your sale, stop by the bank and get $100-125 in change per money handler. 

So that’s it! I’m gonna get back to tagging and setting up this mother so you can rummage through my life this Saturday at our EPIC yard sale! Besides, who can resist a glass of champagne and a carload of bargains?

Let me know you’re popping over by RSVPing to THIS Facebook event link.

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.

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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.***