Putting on the Ritz at the Junior League’s 1925 Charity Gala Preview

IMG_0510There is something magical about a good costume gala that can really transport you back to the era the party is paying tribute to.  The Junior League of Houston did a great job infusing the chic and swinging vibe from 1925 into their Annual Charity Ball Preview this year.  First and foremost the décor started your journey back to 1925 as soon as you stepped in the door.  Decking out with a smooth Gatsby elegance, you instantly knew the event was going to be something special.  The next and perhaps most critical component to having such a great costume party is the actual costumes.  You feel more the role when you and everyone surrounding you are dressed to the nine’s.  From swingers to gangsters the room was full of participants who were ready and willing to take the journey 90 years back and celebrate a time of exploration, music and dancing.  Of course I cannot forget my favorite part… Great friends to take in all the 1920’s chic throughout the building.  By mixing in other components such as wonderful food, tableside bottle service, festive entertainment and animated guests, the party was an Epic Way to kick of a celebration for a wonderful organization.  Without question partying for a purpose always increases the level of enjoyment by a notch knowing you are going to help a good cause.

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Christmas Old English style with Dickens on the Strand

Old Time PhotoThe Strand area in Galveston almost feels like a time jump.  When you go and walk around the old buildings and throw back businesses it can feel like time stood still.  This is especially true during their celebration of everything Old English, Dickens on the StrandDickens on the Strand (10)The annual festival is a street celebration taking you straight back to Victorian London with parades, street entertainers, costumes and unforgettable food.  For me the festival feels not just like a time hop to the Victorian past, but to my own childhood were I would come and enjoy the parades and fun times in Galveston with my mom.

Dickens on the Strand (2) Dickens on the Strand (4) Dickens on the Strand (6)Now as a mom myself Dickens on the Strand is a great way to build memories with your kids because like most memories it mixes watching and doing in a wonderful balance.  Even more importantly it gets the conversation and the imagination rolling on what living in that era actually felt like.  From woman’s suffrage to children’s games, you can open the world of possibilities for your children in a quick drive to someplace new by showing them what they have and how they live is not the only way it could be done.  Plus you can do so in a way that is fun to both you and the kiddos. Dickens on the Strand (7)

Like other festivals I love the opportunities that are presented to join in and get in on the festivities and even hop in to walk in the parade when you come in costume.  If all that is not for you, sitting back and enjoying is still a great view with fire breathers and carolers guiding your way through the streets of the festival.  The festival’s locations gives you a bit of a two for one as you can explore both vendor booths as well as the historic strand area.  Dickens on the Strand (8) Dickens on the Strand (9)Favorites like La King’s candy mix old and new and are staples of the time hop you take on the Strand.  Even the old time photo booths sprinkled on the street give rise to getting in the mood.  Of course I cannot resist this time of dress up.  Between the photos, shows, parade, bed races and tons and tons of street food the leap over to the Dickens on the Strand is a quick family outing worth every moment.Dickens on the Strand (1)

The Great Banh Mi Cookoff Recap

The Great Banh Mi cookoff photobooth funWhen I was first introduced to the Bánh mìsandwich by a co-worker I thought that a sandwich with carrots, cilantro and cucumbers was a strange mix. At first bite, however, there was no words for the deliciousness.  Honestly it was because I was busy stuffing my face but once I took a break for air I realized it was love at first bite.  The Bánh mìis a foodie’s delight as this Vietnamese staple’s followers are spreading like wildfire in Houston and shops popping up all over. With a great mix of fresh baked bread, veggies, and herbs giving it a great freshness and even jalapenos to add a little kick this quick eat offers a little bit of action to almost any palette. The Great Banh Mi cookoff (2)

The First Annual Bánh mìCookoff celebrated all things Bánh mìin a challenge to some of the best restaurants and chefs in Houston on how could make the best twist to this beloved sandwich. The Cook Off was the brainchild of BPSOS as a fundraising event but also as a way to share in the comradery and culture in celebrating something that is universal… A love for great food!   Throughout the event you had a great opportunity to sample the sandwich with different twists from the traditional to the gourmet and even to the big Texas version.  Each competitor specially finding a way to highlight their meat ingredient with their own take on the simple sandwich.  Combinations went in all directions, from pork with a pork rinds crunch, to seared Tuna and even to slow cooked brisket, the sandwich was completely reimagined and celebrated through the cook off. The Great Banh Mi cookoff (1) The Great Banh Mi cookoff (4)

The Great Banh Mi cookoff (3)Outside the awesome food, even a rainy day and a venue change could not cast a cloud over such a festive event for such an awesome cause. From the coffee samples to the great music from 97.9 the Box to a photo booth that ensured smiles filled the room the event emphasized the sharing and caring that makes every community special.  At the end of the day R&D BBQ went away as winners and as a great reminder that in this melting pot we call America there is always room to mix things up and honor tradition at the same time.  If you are interested in learning more about BPSOS check them out at www.bpsos.org.  All of the fun for me was possible due to an invite from the great judge and food critic Renia Butler.  Check out her blog Gristle and Gossip for more highlights of great eats and awesome events!The Great Banh Mi cookoff winners R and BBQ The Great Banh Mi cookoff (6)



Weekend Events to Kick off the First weekend in May

This weekend is jam packed of fun events that allow you to get out and relax in some gorgeous weather. Here are some great ones that are sure to make a splash as you head into Cinco de Mayo on Monday:

High Heels and HatsHigh Heels & Hats Mother’s Day Brunch: Who better to kick of the celebration of motherhood on Mother’s Day than the Sparkles of Life Foundation?  Sparkles for Life is an organization focusing on support of women whose journey to parenthood consist of overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles.   Born out of the challenges of founder Rhonda Lewis-Nwosa own fertility challenges Rhonda planted the seed of life in the organization.  Sparkles to Life uses the powerful tools of education and advocacy to impact the lives of both the women and families they serve as the travel towards their ultimate goal of having children.

The mother’s day brunch is a fabulous party with a purpose as women who have struggled through fertility issues are celebrated in a grand style.  The stylish brunch will feature Mariah Huq from “Married to Medicine” as the keynote speaker.  Known for her sassy approach to life and love this event is sure to bring out the best dressed women and men the city has to offer.  Click Here to learn more or purchase your tickets today.

Fillies and FellasFillies & Fellas Derby Day Celebration: If you have been waiting all around for the most exciting minute in sports then the time has once again arrived for the Kentucky Derby.  The fun of the race may be the highpoint but the fashion competitions that happen at derby parties are what makes them fierce and a guarantee for a day full of fun.  The celebration will benefit the Boys & Girls Harbor that works to provide care and guidance to children in crisis due to neglect.  Pull out your most dapper outfit and hat and prepare for a fun event.   Click Here to learn more or purchase your tickets today.

Make sure to check out two great ways to party with a purpose this weekend!

Food, fun, and wine…On My!

winepairingOne of my favorite events, the Sugar Land Wine and Food Festival, is on deck this weekend and I could not be more excited!  The festival offers a multitude of events so regardless of if you like more of a low key experience or the equivalent of the wine tasting decathlon, there is something perfect for you.  Here is a peak into what you can expect for a weekend of jam packed events, learning, food, and fun.

On the Rocks Bartender Challenge: Thursday the festival events spring into action at the Sugar Land Regional Airport.  Houston has really developed its mixology prowess over the last couple of years and this event is meant to showcase some of the best of the best in the bartending world.  An event this fabulous has to have a great foundation, so the drinks of the event will feature Hendrick’s Gin.  For old and new gin drinkers alike Hendrick’s is a pleasant surprise.  The gin’s small production and unique recipe of flowers, roots, and fruits break the mold on what you would expect in a gin.  With the five competing bartenders all sure to bring it for the competition you are sure to experience gin and cocktails in a way you have never seen them before.

Fred Parks Wine Seminar – Battle of Sexes: This seminar prepares to tackle the challenge of what wine really does fit men vs. women.  Put away your preconceptions and really face the challenge head on to see where you are on the palette scale as you explore the gambit of wines in a flight from reds to whites to sparkling.

Herradura Tequila Seminar: With Cinco de Mayo coming up now is the time to power up your tequila knowledge.  Herradura Tequila sources from carefully grown blue agave to produce a masterful tequila loved by aficionado’s everywhere.  The seminar offers a chance to learn about the love and people who go into making one of my personal favorites.

Whiskey Seminar – Tullamore Dew: I recently heard about the Tullamore Dew story at a seminar and the incredible history of a boy working at a distillery that transformed into an Irish whiskey powerhouse was only topped by the smooth taste of this single malted spirit.  You are sure to have a great time raising a glass to some fun Irish toasts throughout the event and learn some facts about whiskey as well along the way.

The Grand Tasting: When you combine the best of food and spirits how can you not be guaranteed a phenomenal night? The grand tasting is an unbelievable opportunity to reconnecting with some of your old favorites as well as find new ones as you make your way through the ballroom.  With 14 of Houston’s best restaurants and 28 different wine and spirit companies represented I double dare you not to have the time of your life!

Sip & Stroll at Imperial: More of a daytime or outdoor type of person? Well you can have all of the fun of the Grand Tasting on a beautiful Saturday afternoon with a celebration of the best of the best in food and wines.  Take the spirit of the food celebration home with you by stopping by one of the pop-up book shops and come face to face with some of your favorite cook book authors.

Bistro Brunch: The perfect weekend is wrapped up with the perfect meal…Brunch!!!! The mix of savory and sweet brunch when combined with the global reach of this event is a memorable way to wrap up the weekend of fun.  The event is sure to leave a great final impression so you can start the 362 day count down until next year!  Plus you can work off some of the calories from the weekend to the sounds of Joel Guzman, Sarah Fox, and Los Aztex to prevent the guilt from creeping up on Monday.