La Soiree Champagne: More than just sipping bubbly at the French Ambassador’s Residence!

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February 6, 2018 from 6 p.m to 9:00 p.m, I attended La Soiree Champagne, an exclusive champagne tasting sponsored by the French Chamber of Commerce of Washington D.C, in its third year! This exquisite cocktail gala was held in the private residence of the Ambassador of France, Gerard Araud, in his presence.

At this party, I had the delightful opportunity to try the best champagne from France’s best, and also mingle with socialites, VIPS, high-ranking diplomats, and  DC event gurus ( Mers Woldemariam from Mers Events, and Greg Bland from ThingstodoDC.com, etc…).

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Jeanne Hoffman (Le Chic Geek), me, and Greg Bland (Thingstododc.com)

Before I came to the gala, I changed inside the dressing room of a TV station. This fitting room has the brightest lights, longest vanity mirrors, and the best outlet to hookup my 2016, pink, cone shaped curler. So I tried to curl my hair but failed miserably. I may have been using a bit too much Moroccan argon cream in my hair and that could be the reason why I have been failing the hair curl game. Due to the extra lighting in the fitting room, I was able to have my A-game on with my makeup use.

I decided to wear my lacy, cream coffee colored, cocktail party dress that I recently bought from Anne Taylor. I paired this dress with pink earrings from an Italian designer and silvery, sparkly, Badgley Mischka flats from Nordstroms. I am still on the prowl for the perfect gala purse since my shiny, black, Kate Spade purse has been getting a bit tattered here and there.

The drive was decent, given that I did hit some traffic after 5 pm. A great perk with getting my tickets ahead of time was having complimentary valet parking included in the package. There was street parking around the corner of the residence but the valet service was top-notch!

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French Ambassador’s residence

The party started at 6, on the dot! Before the doors opened,  a line formed of classically dressed guests in suits, tailored dresses, and well manicured hairstyles. Again, much like when I watched my very first Washington Film Institute film, I was star-struck by the attendees.

Walking through the expansive doors, I was greeted to regal oil paintings, historic busts (Ben Franklin, America’s favorite 100 dollar bill icon) and marble floors. Complimentary coat check was given to all guests and the rest room was conveniently placed by the entrance. Plush, velvet, red seats with a faux gold trimming was placed by the lobby area for guests to sit when they felt a bit woozy from all of the champagne sampling.  Neo-classical tapestries and featured works of art from collections of the Louvre museum  were plastered in different rooms.

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As someone who is petite in size (5’1), I measured out my samples to smaller tastes. There were approximately 6-7 bartenders dressed in tuxedos, cocktail dresses, or in prim black garb. Tables were neatly pleated with white cloth, and an endless supply of champagne glasses. Underneath the tables were champagne bottles and cases of Perrier (delicious carbonated water for those who needed to nurse any tipsy spells).

During the duration of my stay, I sampled the following champagnes:  Roger-Constant Lemaire Magnum Rose de Saignee  ($675 retail value), Roger-Constant Lemaire Cuvee Roger-Constant 2008 Limite ($485 retail value)Thienot Garance Vintage 2007,Canard-Duchene Brut Authentic,Canard-Duchene Rose Authentic, and Canard-Duchene Charles VII Blanc de Blancs.  In between sips, I drank as much Perrier as possible and nibbled on several appetizers and desserts. The popular drink of the night, according to several attendees, was the French 75 which was a concoction of champagne, citrus, and the finest cognac known to man. This was a strong drink.–so strong that I felt the effects after one sip.

Along with sampling drinks, The appetizers that I tasted  was the duck foie gras on toast, the black truffle squares, caviar on mini blinis, blinis with a citrus cream, and tomato, parmesan confits. Wherever I walked there was a kind server dressed to the nines, serving me all you can eat appetizers (made by the Ambassador of France’s personal chef). A part of me felt that I left the United States and was on an episode of “Rick Steves Europe” show.
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There was a room that was filled to the brim with French oil paintings from several centuries ago. A vast cheese, bread, and charcuterie platter was planted in that room and several party-goers nibbled in a finely tuned circle. 

Much of the crowd was easy-going and nice to chat with. I had a wonderful time getting to know several ladies, such as a notable travel blogger, a house wife in Frederick, the Ambassador’s right hand women, and a budding blogger who is already immersed in the DC philanthropic gala scene. Along with loving champagne, most of us had one, simple thing in common: we loved dessert!

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We all talked about how perfect these mini confections were. A popular choice was the mini chocolate sticks with the raspberry jam filling and my personal favorite was the mini canales (the mini brown mountains). Authentic french desserts are so hard to find in the D.C area so sampling them inside the confines of the ambassador’s home was a pure treat.

Speaking of the ambassador, he had a rousing speech in his foyer to a packed audience.  He spoke of how France’s economy has been strong for the past 6 years and how strong the country is given precarious times with the world. France has impacted the world, at large, through more than just champagne. France has contributed to creating jobs oversees, with enhancing the arts, and with massive contributions to the scientific world.

After the Ambassador of France concluded his speech, Denis Chazelle (a native of Champagne, France) and the Executive Director of the French Chamber of Commerce of Washington D.C, gave an informative speech on French-based businesses in the United States. He opened up his speech with a humorous joke pertaining to Nutella that had the crowd smirking.

Around 9:00 p.m, the crowd thinned out and several attendees waited outside for an uber. I had an arresting time, having my vision filled  to the sight of fine oil paintings created by Stephane Koerwyn, listening to airy vocals from Barbara Papendorp, eating only the finest foods that the chef to the Ambassador of France would make, and drinking top-notch champagne from France’s finest wine makers. This event was a true feast of the senses!

The French Chamber of Commerce of Washington D.C holds galas like this as well as similar events that promote networking, promote French culture, and promote businesses. Interested in learning more? Click here!

About the French Chamber of Commerce of Washington D.C

Since its founding in 1896, the French-American Chamber of Commerce (FACC) has been promoting and developing sound economic, commercial and financial relations between the United States and France.As a private, not-for-profit, commercial service organization (501(c)6), the French-American Chamber of Commerce is funded solely through membership dues, sponsorships, and proceeds from events and services.

The FACC consists of 19 U.S. chapters, all dedicated to supporting companies and organizations with bilateral needs and interests. Our members are businesses, organizations and individuals with a stake in French-American trade policy, economic relations and market developments.Founded in 1987, the Washington D.C. Chapter of the French-American Chamber of Commerce (“FACC WDC”) is committed to providing the highest level of service to our members.

Throwback-Center Stage (Grand Opening): The White Snake Review

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March 3, 2017, I had an exclusive invite from Center Stage to cover their theatrical release of The White Snake. The show was approximately  2 hours and 11 minutes long and I was able to finagle a cookie and a drink during the 15 minute intermission. Unfortunately, Center Stage’s restaurant vendor Flavor was not open during the time but I still had a remarkable time.

The last time I went to Center Stage was when I was 19 years old and the venue, if compared to today’s renovation, was dwarfed in size. The 28 million for the renovation project does speak volumes, with its’ grand, illustrious marquee. The lobby is much more spacious, the box office was revamped, and there are all sorts of literary quotes just floating about the wall by the Pearlstone Theater. On two opposite ends of the theater are a wine bar and a coffee bar, but the mini hike is worth it. Speaking of a mini hike, driving to Center Stage was easy.

There was a parking garage just a block from the venue which was only $5 for the show. The drive was decent since the parking garage was nearby and there wasn’t much traffic that day.

For a matinee theater show, I decided to do my hair a bit differently by wearing two braids crossed in the back. I wore my  White House Black Market gray and white leopard print work blazer with a champagne pink ruffled Anne Taylor shirt with white pants. For my birthday that year, one of my close friends gave me a Sailor Moon-inspired Luna head shaped purse. Surprisingly enough, this purse pairs well with my ensemble.

I may have been a little overdressed for this opening but the young college student in me was so excited to be back! I had so many fond memories of Center Stage in my college heyday that I wanted to relive it in my current state as an older millenial. As soon as I walked in, I was given an amazing swag bag full of papers about Center Stage, information on upcoming productions, and the bag, itself, I have been using for work.

The seats inside the head theater were fancy, soft, and princess like. I love the color red and those plush seats were heavenly. A definite upgrade from what I remembered back in the day.

“The White Snake” was a production by Mary Zimmerman and  directed by Natsu Onoda Power. Zimmerman adeptly fused Western and Eastern perspectives in this retelling of the story with music, set designs, imagery, and costumes. This adaptation of this old, Chinese tale, was vibrantly displayed with colorful settings, creative snake costumes, and an almost surreal sequence change that could be oft-times had a “Disney” magic to it.

Power, an associate professor of Theater from Georgetown University, worked the story of friendship, love, and acceptance into a relatable piece. The underpinnings of the story is to recognize that although we all come from different walks of life, it’s good to accept the person as whole.

The show was strongly directed and several actors broke out and shined a light with their witty quips, light steps, and emotive reactions.  The White Snake played by Aime Donna Kelly delivered a strong performance that vacillated between enigmatic and forlorn when her lover, the pharmacist’s assistant, Xu Xian, played by Joe Ngo, discovers the truth behind her true species. Ngo had a multi-dimensional performance that shifted from silly, to concerned, to determined.

My favorite character was the sassy Green Snake played by Eileen Rivera. Her tenacity, verve, and fun energy enthralled the crowd. She had a literal snake like charm whenever she made a one-liner.

Ensemble members such as  Caitlin Cisco, Samy el-Noury, Jason Kao Hwang, Damian Thompson, Yukio Tsuji, and Joshua Ziemann brought out a moving magic from scene to scene.

The play was also easy to get into. The narrative just sucks you in from the beginning.  Power provides strong lines for the cast and it’s quite noticeable when you notice the audience’s visceral reactions.

I can easily see this play heralding Baltimore’s top ten for best theater shows in 2017. The acting, directing, lush scenery, and the script blended East Asian culture with Western humor, plausibility, and culture.

Although this play is currently not in production: Scroll below for upcoming shows at Center Stage. Definitely consider donating to this great theater right here!

About Center Stage

Center Stage is the state theater of Maryland, and Baltimore‘s largest professional producing theater. Center Stage began in a converted gymnasium in 1963 as a full arena theatre that seated 240 people.Center Stage houses two performing spaces, the 541-seat Pearlstone and the smaller Head Theater, both in its home in the Mount Vernon Cultural District of Baltimore.

 

 

 

Upcoming Center Stage Plays (February-March 2018)

1.) Skeleton Crew (February 2018)

From the playwright of Detroit ’67Skeleton Crew (the third play in Dominique Morisseau’s acclaimed Detroit trilogy) tells the story of four workers at the last exporting auto plant in Detroit struggling to survive as their way of life disappears. Set around 2008, this play vividly portrays the modern struggle in a changing America, and reveals the real people on the factory line. This skeleton crew—the bare minimum number of staff needed to function—is made up of people who keep the vital operations of the plant running in the face of obstacles, rumors, and, eventually, the confirmation of their worst fears. Loyalties are tested and boundaries are crossed as this vibrant team of loyal and proud workers navigate an uncertain future. Purchase tickets here

2.) Animal Farm (March 2018)

One day on Manor Farm, shortly before his death, an old boar named Major told the other animals about his dream. United by the realization that all animals have a common enemy—man—the animals revolted against the tyranny of forced work. They fought and gained their freedom and established a system of thought, Animalism, based on the wise words of the Major. All animals are comrades. All animals are equal. But as months and years pass, the exalted words of the Major become distorted, and the citizens of Animal Farm come to see that some animals are more equal than others. Purchase tickets here.

3.) Mobile Unite Twelfth Night (March 2018)

Mobile Unit, an exciting new initiative of Baltimore Center Stage, that breaks down the walls of conventional theater spaces by taking high-quality theater to economically, culturally and geographically diverse communities across the Baltimore area, including homeless, elderly, incarcerated. The project launched in spring 2017 following a successful pilot project in 2016. Purchase tickets here.

 

 

 

Thingstododc.com: Memorable events– Throwback to Giant Hollywood Graveyard Jam! Check them out!

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October 2017, I had the privilege to party at ThingstoDoDC.com’s Giant Hollywood Graveyard Jam with some of my close friends. The Halloween shindig was located at Blackfinn Ameripub and, surprisingly, there were spots in between for parking. I dressed up as a femme fatale Darth Vader (Star Wars: Force Awakening was coming out in a few months, and I was beyond hyped up) and my friend was dressed as a character from the CW’s “Supernatural”.

I’ve always wanted to do a ThingstodoDC.com event for several years now but never had the chance until recently. This is the premier website for professionals in d.c to try adventure sports out (helicopter lesson, anyone?), to visit an Embassy event, and to take dance lessons if you have two left feet (like me). The turnout was immense for this party and people danced so much that the party was partly taken outdoors.

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Taken by Cesar Guzman 

The venue was spacious yet intimate. Attendees were able to mingle and roam around without having their white russians spilling to the ground. There was a burst of creativity in the air–because half the crowd wore costumes you wouldn’t normally see at your local Party City. Aside from the typical Jesus Christ, pimp, and Harley Quinn costume, I was amused to see a Toy Story collective costume, the black power ranger, and the KFC character with his wife.

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A family reunion

The Hollywood graveyard jam had great songs that were a mash up of 90s and today’s pop spun by a really good DJ. As soon as Montell Jordan’s “This is how we do it” played, the crowds started dancing like the 90s were about to start back again. I was also able to meet Greg, the guru behind D.C’s premier social and networking organization.

Greg is very down to earth and sweet! He personally welcomed me and my friends to the event and that has prompted me to want to attend a succession of his events in the near future.

I had a ball watching the costume contest in its entirety. IMG-5989

There were three rounds with the costume contest. Since much of the crowd was full of older millenials and a few Gen Xers, winners from each round were based on nostalgia and drunk claps from the crowd. The Edward Scissorhand costume wowed the audience the most.I remember before the contest when groups of guests asked ‘Edward’ for both a picture and a selfie because–who doesn’t love Johnny Depp? He made the character memorable, after all.

I wasn’t surprised that this costume won first place. The 90s seriously made a comeback that night and I loved it! The Toy Story collective rounded up second place and I was overjoyed. That’s one of my all time favorite Pixar movies and I really liked how this group made each costume, from scratch and worked diligently to move up the ranks of this competitive costume. The Tina and Ike costume was a classic–nuff said.

If you ever want to explore the city, make a friend, and truly have fun in D.C, please check out ThingstoDoDC.com here.

Also scroll down to check out their February events.

About Thingstododc.com

Things To Do DC is the premier social and networking organization for young professionals.

With an active membership of over 175,000 local young professionals, Things To Do® (TTD) produces original events that enrich your social and cultural experiences while enabling you to meet other young professionals in a friendly environment.The primary goal is to help enrich the personal and professional lives of professionals of all ages. We accomplish this by producing a wide variety of interactive social, educational, and cultural events that encourage our members to learn new Things To Do in DC and meet new people.

Things To Do DC February Events 2018

French Ambassador Residence: La Soiree Champagne— February 6, 2018

Ballroom Dance Lessons and Party– February 9, 2018

Helicopter Flying Lessons for Beginners–February 10, 2018

Valentines Scavenger Hunt, Great Race and Challenge–February 11, 2018

Embassy Row Valentines Chocolate Tour—February 14, 2018

Evening at the Residence of the Ambassador From Denmark—February 15, 2018

President Lincoln Assassination Walking Tour—February 21, 2018

Evening at the Embassy of Bahrain with new ambassador—February 23, 2018

Fabretto Children’s Foundation- Masquerade Gala 2018: Night for Ninos

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February 2, 2018 at 7:30 p.m I donned my flashiest cocktail dress (it was red, sparkly, and Jessica Simpson) and my flashiest shoes (silvery pointed-toe Badgley Mishka) and attended Masquerade Gala| Night for Ninos sponsored by Fabretto Children’s Foundation and held at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

All proceeds from this sparkly event help “unveil the power of food”. Meaning, Fabretto will be able to continue efforts to lift Nicaraguan communities out of poverty by financing more education initiatives. World Central Kitchen (think famous Chef Jose Andres) is a special partner and has been key in creating environments for children to thrive.  From providing nutritional education to parents and teachers, to helping create local jobs and increase family earnings to families in Nicaragua.

I may need a new curler but I had major hair drama that day. I couldn’t curl the way I dreamed too so I used bobby pins to nab the guilty culprit strands down. I used Not Your Mother’s volume hairspray and that helped keep my hair in control.

Anyways, going en route had its ups and downs. Traffic after work was a bit much but I was glad to see parking garages .4 miles away from the venue. Instead of paying $20 for valet parking at the venue, most attendees opted to pay for parking garages nearby that probably cost between ($12-$16) for the evening.

The National Museum of Women in the Arts has a breath-taking venue.  Much of the party was held inside the Great Hall and the Mezzanine, which has an elegant event space ideal for masquerade galas. I definitely had some “Cinderella” moments when I was beset by the spacious marble reception area and I was enamored by the ballroom decked out with three elegant crystal chandeliers and women-made art from the museum. I could not help but also take a few selfies by the white marble staircases that spiral down to the Mezzanine.

This gala was heavily staffed with stewards and stewardesses in white and black uniforms, that either had gold trays of canopies or chill bottles of white wine. I was only 1/4 finished with my drink when a steward walked by me and filled my glass to the brim. All attendees had their table number and bidding numbers etched on the back of their booklets.

Attendees were dressed to the nines. I truly felt dwarfed in size since most guests seemed to tower over six feet. Socialites wore long gowns that kissed the floor and had their hair freshly highlighted and styled for this party.  Ornate, basic, and event feather strung masks were worn by both men and women. Even I couldn’t tell guests apart after they went  incognito.

Here’s an interesting anecdote: This bartender, decked in an all white suit, and a hearty smile was trying to give the tall, actress-like, red head a glass of champagne but accidentally knocked a candle down to her gown. For a good five seconds her dress was ignited with light flames but she was able to kick it off. She was gracious, kind, and forgiving to the bartender and walked off like a true lady. I didn’t know who she was but this was an interesting spectacle to see.

The food was a Michellin star dream come true. I ate a scrumptious egg quiche topped with poach pears, had orzo with fresh tomatoes, sampled five varieties of breads and can declare Greek Olive bread was my favorite, and ate great beef and pork accompanied by cream sauces.

The silent auction, which was on the top floor overlooking the mezzanine, was lined with goodies such as theater tickets, shows, classes, and trips out of state.

After some lengthy hob-nobbing with Fabretto employees, volunteers, and board members I was seated to a beautiful table arrangement. Imagine fluffy black table cloths, gold masks, and candles that seem to have an everlasting flame. The event was spearheaded by the honorary host committee of: Dr. John j. Degioia, President of Georgetown University, His Excellency Francisco Campbell, Ambassador of the Republic of Nicaragua, and prayer from Father Otto Hentz S.J.

Kevin Marinacci (CEO of Fabretto) opened the ceremony by welcoming the crowd, and Brian Macnair (CEO of World Central Kitchen) highlighted the strong partnership between both Fabretto and World Central Kitchen. A live auction featuring inclusive trips to Belize, France, and other exotic locales brought out a verve with the crowd that could only be contained with a lime, green, light saber from the auctioneer.

The silent auction ended to great success: raising 69k for Nicaraguan communities! Live Latin music closed out the party and dancing was immense, magical, and never seemed to end.

Consider donating to this great cause here!

About Fabretto Children’s Foundation

Fabretto’s mission is to empower underserved children and their families in Nicaragua to reach their full potential, improve their livelihoods, and take advantage of economic opportunity through education. This mission is achieved through early education, primary education, and technical vocational education initiatives. Inspired by the legacy of Padre Fabretto, the organization envisions a prosperous Nicaragua where all children and adolescents have meaningful opportunities to grow and learn, in communities that offer access to quality education, so that they may reach their full potential.

For over 60 years, Fabretto has been building relationships within Nicaraguan communities in order to provide hope and a better future to the children and youth in need. Today, the organization serves over 20,000 children and youth through work in seven Fabretto Education Centers and more than 440 local public schools.

Washington Film Institute: “In Order of Disappearance” screening at Arts Club of Washington D.C.

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January 27, 2018 I watched my very first Washington Film Institute screening at the Arts Club of Washington D.C. I had an exclusive invite to attend the showing of “In Order of Disappearance” (Kraftidioten), a 2014  Norwegian Comedy, Crime, Thriller about a mild-mannered snow plowman, whose sun was mistakenly murdered. The plowman, Nils Ploughs, unknowingly ignites a war between vegan gangster “The County” and the Serbian mafia boss Papa.

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The venue, the Arts Club of Washington D.C, formerly the home of President James Monroe, has celebrated and promoted the visual, performing, and literary arts in the George Washington University area for over a century. The movie screening was held in the Monroe Gallery, which features ornate contemporary art all around the walls, and a stage with full audio visual support. The gallery seats 120 guests. Movie goers were even treated to sit on the balcony to watch this humorous film.

For an event of this magnitude I wore my White House Black Market plunging neckline cocktail dress, and draped an intricately sewn black drape to hide my own plunging neckline.

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John Hanshaw, Founder of the Washington Film Institute

I wore my black, Italian, leather boots from Nordstroms and some Kate Spade stalkings. It’s still Winter after all and I couldn’t wear stilettos in this weather. Street parking was a bit difficult to find but I did find a parking garage that only charges $12.00 (after 5pm)  .3 miles from the venue. Attendees primarily dressed in luxurious black sweaters, business suits, trendy black leather jackets, and had fresh haircuts that could only be defined as clean and pristine.

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I unfortunately missed the social before the movie (it was from 7:00 p.m to 8:00 p.m) and tried to grapple for a decent seat. The movie attendees were full of decorum and helped me and my friends find the best seats by the front. Almost everyone inside had a glass of red or white wine, and several attendees non-discreetly snacked on hummus and veggies, Greek dolmas, as well as other haute-gourmand treats. The bar was well staffed, dressed and had sparkly smiles. A part of me felt like I was in a movie although I was watching one on screen.

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John Hanshaw, founder of the Washington Film Institute, and wearer of a fashion forward Chinese suit top, flicked the projector  on with cinematic ease. The movie came on without a hitch– to roaring applause from the crowd.

All attendees for this showing  are ardent film lovers. So watching a movie (especially an international one) would be thoroughly consumed, and also digested into weighty conversation full of stories, anecdotes, and memories of traveling overseas.

I have never watched a Norwegian film before, but I think this won’t be the last. I laughed so hard throughout this film. Whenever a character died there was a quirky nickname and a death symbol flashing on screen. The vegan crime boss had the best one-liners and reactions throughout the film. I doubt he could even get away with half the quips he was spouting if this was an American-made film. I could only imagine the creative freedom the director had with this film.

The Washington Film Institute often carries art-films like this on a monthly basis. This institute was founded in 2007 by John Hanshaw, as a way to inspire DC audiences through film education and the cultivation of the cinematic arts. Hanshaw has worked in film and television for over ten years at NHK (Japan Broadcasting  Corporation), PBS, and most recently National Geographic. If you are a lover of fine cinema, and want to meet like-minded souls, definitely join the Washington Film Institute!

About the Washington Film Institute

The WFI is an organization created to inspire audiences through film education and the cultivation of the cinematic arts. The institute does this by developing educational programs and programming film events throughout the year. You can join their EMAIL LIST for Event Invites at: http://dcfilminstitute.org/

Sharing the Details will be covering the Washington Film Institute’s Oscar Red Carpet party March 4, 2018. Tune in for details!

 

 

 

 

 

Girl Speak: A Murder Mystery Masquerade Gala at the Atrium

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January 26, 2018 I joined in a murder most foul. Well, I played a small role as bystander named Sir Tell Alot in a highly engaging Murder Mystery Gala where I deemed the court jester to be the culprit.  This was my first murder mystery masquerade gala and I have to say, this definitely won’t be my last. I had a little too much fun–and all for a great cause.

 

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Picture taken by Lucy Wilson. Founder Sharon Anderson, and WUSA9 Mikea Turner.

All funds raised from “Girl Speak Inc’s An Evening of Mystery at the Atrium, A Murder Mystery Masquerade Gala” go directly to Girl Speak, Inc.

Girl Speak Inc., is a non profit geared towards ladies between the ages of 11 to 24 years old, that empowers young women to ante up their confidence game in the career world.

“Making a Statement through empowering life choices” is the mantra of Girl Speak Inc., founded by Sharon Anderson, to celebrate, educate, empower and unite women.  With the #MeToo Movement gaining traction,  with more women getting into leadership positions in the political realm and with the growing traction with the Women’s Marches, non-profits such as this are the energy force behind a shinier future for all women (no matter what background).

With that said, young woman are invited to by participate in Girl Speak’s upcoming initiative “How’s Your S.E.L.F.I.E Game”, an interactive six week mini life skills program in the Washington D.C area. Sharon Anderson, founder of Girl Speak, hopes to give young ladies a voice and the skill-set to transform their world. S.E.L.F.I.E is the acronym for the themes that are addressed in the curriculum: Self-Esteem, Engagement (Conflict Resolution), Leadership, Financial Literacy, Innovative Thinking and Employment Readiness. This signature initiative has one day conferences that incorporate Community Building, Self Esteem workshops, Career Building and Career Mentoring, Etiquette and Social Graces, Body Image, and Physical and Mental Health courses.

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Picture taken by Lucy Wilson

For this gala, I picked out this brand new  green Calvin Klein cocktail dress that exposes by bare arms despite the frigid weather. I paired my dress with black stalkings and black velvet booties since I couldn’t bare the thought of having any exposed skin touch the frigid windchill outside. I decided to try out my new Smashbox lipstick and eye shadow for this party (but I think I over did it with the gold, I just love gold).

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The TreeTops Atrium wasn’t too hard to find. In fact, you can metro to this gala if you take the green line towards New Carrollton. I drove to the gala since I was coming from Baltimore City (had to pick up my photographer, Lucy Wilson after all).  Parking was a breeze! It was complimentary and abundant.

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Typical gala selfie

When we rolled in, there was a glamorous pink carpet with a photo booth and friendly smiles welcoming us in. The atrium was covered with long windows on the roof, and there were life-long tropical plants dotted around the venue. These towering plants swished and moved over coteries of beautifully dressed board members, volunteers, and donors. So many well dressed men and women inside a large, plant house. I came just in time to participate in the cocktail hour and had a humorous conversation with one board member on the complexities (and extremities) found inside your run of the mill crab cake. That didn’t stop me from noshing on two, three, or four of these bad boys.

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I ate that, and continue to nosh on these slender but delicious egg rolls paired with an orange glaze sauce. There was a beautiful ice tea fountain by the bar, and my glass of white wine was consistently filled by staff.

The silent auction was spearheaded by Mar’Tina Parker who had attendees roaring in laughter over her witty one-liners, and prompt responses to auction sales. Dinner included a crisp salad, salmon stuffed with crabmeat, chicken marsala accompanied with string beans with roasted red peppers, seasoned creamed potatoes, artisan rolls, southern iced tea and creamy cheesecake shooters.

After dinner, all attendees were treated to participate in a murder mystery called “A Royal Affair” presented by Sleuth Ink. The core characters (such as the King from “Coming to America” and the artist formerly known as Prince) danced to the front. Hundreds of movie and music one-liners were peppered into their acting and attendee participation added a whole lotta’ fun.

Special guest host Mikea Turner from WUSA9, a CBS affiliate in D.C, emceed and added more sparkle to this rousing event with her words, and overall presence.

Check out Girl Speak online here  and please donate to this great non-profit!

About Girl Speak, Inc.

Girl Speak, Inc. is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization designed to unite, educate, empower, and celebrate young ladies with and without disabilities through uniquely cultivated training, maximization of one’s potential, enrichment of various skills and transformation of the mind which will create a legacy, and a higher quality of life for themselves, their communities and worldwide

 

 

La Soiree Champagne: Come to this Exclusive Cocktail Gala on February 6, 2018

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Washington D.C is world famous for their exclusive galas especially ones hosted by notable non-profits such as the French-American Chamber of Commerce. For the past three years, this organization has been spearheading this exclusive Champagne party at the residence of the Ambassador of France to much fanfare.

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Wear your most dazzling cocktail attire and best golden dancing shoes on February 6th! The party commences at 6:30 p.m and ends at 9:00 p.m (potential snow date is February 20th). The event is held at The Residence of France: 2221 Kalorama Rd, NW
Washington, DC 20008 and ticket fees are $195 for French American Chamber of Commerce Members and $259 for the general public (prices can go up at anytime). A major perk is that complimentary Valet Parking is included in your ticket purchase.

This coveted event is open to the public and tickets can be purchased here. 

The event will be hosted in the private Residence of the Ambassador of France, Gérard Araud, in his presence. Only here will attendees divulge ones sense to rare champagnes from France’s best, while also mingle with high-ranking diplomats, VIPs, and the French American community at large.

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This party is also a best kept foodie secret and here’s a sample of what’s to come:  duck foie gras, mini crepes with caviar, parmesan tomatoe confits, champagne infused truffles, delectable French cheeses, an array of macaroons,  and chocolate strawberries.

Haute gourmand cocktail finger-foods will be prepared by the Residence’s Chef to perfectly pair with each champagne selection.

Be prepared to dabble in  a wide range of champagnes such as: Pol Roger Reserve, Thienot Brut,  Thienot Rose, Thienot Garance Vintage 2007, Canard-Duchene Brut Authentic,  Canard-Duchene Rose Authentic,  Canard-Duchene Charles VII Blanc de Blancs, Roger-Constant Lemaire Rose de Saignee NV, Roger-Constant Lemaire Magnum Rose de Saignee (only 120 magnums released in 2017 – $675 retail value per bottle), Roger-Constant Lemaire Cuvee Roger-Constant 2008 Limite ($485 retail per bottle) Roger-Constant Lemaire Select Reserve Blanc de Meuniers.

Along with imbibing on the bubbily and noshing on gourmet treats, attendees will be able to dance the night away to live music by singer-actress Barbara Papendorp, who has appeared at venues including the Harman Center of the Arts, the Phillips Collection and the Arts Club of Washington and be immersed in a lovely art exhibit by French Artist Stephane Koerwyn, who will be exhibiting his painting throughout the Residence.

Sharing the Details will also be at the event to provide live coverage on the champagne tasting, foodie moments, and any best kept secrets.  Stay Tuned for more details…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boordy Vineyards: 72 Years of Rich Wine and Fun Times to Come

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For most of my life, I have never been a big fan of mixed drinks. I don’t know why, but I could never imbibe a Cosmo and honestly say I enjoyed it. The only mixed drink that I could ever really drink is a Bloody Mary, but then again, I would need a Grade-A Brunch experience before I can down one.

I’m picky with drinks, in general, because my only liquor of choice is wine. Preferably red wine, but wine nonetheless. And I wouldn’t just drink any glass, box, or bottle of wine either–I only want quality.  Boordy Wine is a natural choice for me. One, because I am a proud Marylander and two because Boordy makes rich, award winning, red wines that touch the soul.

Last February I had a VIP  tour around Boordy vineyards, witness the wine making process, sample a thorough selection of red and white wines, and get background history on the vineyard.

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If you live in the Baltimore area, the commute is a breeze. Parking is ample, free, and found around the premise. If I came around Summer time, the vineyards would’ve been fleshed out with grapes, just waiting to burst underneath the hot, scorching sun. Since I came around Winter time, I missed out on a potential scenic moment.

I was able to tour where the wines are processed (large, silvery, cylinder machines) and stored (legit French cork flown in from France).

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High-end wineries (like Boordy) often store their wine in large, french oak barrels as a way to enhance the fermentation process and to assure the wine connoisseur that they are only drinking the finest. Boordy is famous in the Mid Atlantic region for their red wines, especially its’ Landmark series which is made in limited quantities and sourced from 100 percent Maryland  grown grapes. This award winning wine series is flavorful, plush, well blended, and dark. Consider joining Boordy’s Landmark Wine club to partake on these rare delights here.  

After I was given a tour of the farm area, visitor center, wine cellar, barn, I was escorted to the wine bar area where I sampled a rainbow of reds only the Gods could imagine. Here’s my review on a handful of tastes:

Dry Rose 2016: With a blush color, and lip puckering after taste. This dry rose resembles ones from France. This sample was both delicate, clean tasting, and airy like the skies.

Merlot 2014: A deeply, aged wine that marries black currants, earthy textures, and aromas of fresh berries from a Fall Harvest. The medium body is perfect. This drink would pair well with a medium rare steak or a finely, roasted, lamb dish.

Landmark Reserve 2013: Here is a personal favorite of mine.  This red wine is full bodied, with a full-taste that invades the senses. There are cocoa notes and smoky tobacco aromas enhanced in this tasting. I highly recommend this bottle for special events and parties. It’s one of those kinda wines.

Spiced Wassail: I call this a fun red wine that you can party with during Summer cookouts, bon fires, and days on the beach. The spices mingled with natural sweet nodes evinces warm and inviting memories from my youth.

Syrah: Deep, majestic, and mythical. That’s precisely what I thought about Boordy’s syrah and find this to a mature drink for wine lovers.

 

Boordy was also so kind that they gifted me with a wide range of wines! They make the best birthday, engagement and Galentines day gifts! Definitely check out their website here for more details on where you can get your own set of red wines.

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Along with fine tasting wine, Boordy is a great venue for birthdays, and  for special events. Their 19th century barn has two levels, a rustic panoramic area to view music, and a floor to dance the night away. This barn also houses great live band shows, an open area for eating, and a chance to take the best #FarmLife selfie amidst the strewn lights hanging confidently along the barn interior.

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Winter Events at Boordy Vineyards:

January Weekends
1pm – 5pm
Admission is free
Winetastings are optional – $8 or $15

Party at Boordy’s 19th century barn, enjoy wonderful food-truck fare from Brick Brick’n’ Fire  Pizza on Sundays and Pasta La Vista on Saturdays.

Live Music from 1:00p.m.-4:30pm:

Jan 7 – Art Wachter & Blues Grass
Jan 13 – Take 2
Jan 14 – Jay Swanson
Jan 20 – Tom Beers & Friends
Jan 21 – Dan Haas
Jan 27 – Dear Creek
Jan 28 – Smooth Groove

February Weekends

1pm – 5pm
Admission is free
Winetastings are optional – $8 or $15

Live Music from 1:00p.m.-4:30pm:
Feb 3 – Spider Hole Band
Feb 4 – Art Wachter & the Blues Grass Band (Only Boordy food available for purchase)
Feb 10 – Take 2
Feb 11 – Jon Zorn
Feb 17 – Tom Beers
Feb 18 – Smooth Groove
Feb 24 – Jay Swanson
Feb 25 – Dear Creek

March Weekends

1pm – 5pm
Admission is free
Winetastings are optional – $8 or $15

Live Music from 1:00p.m.-4:30pm:
Mar 3 – Jay Swanson
Mar 4 – Jon Zorn
Mar 10 – Dear Creek
Mar 11 – Art Wachter & Blues Grass
Mar 17 – Take 2
Mar 18 – Tom Beers
Mar 24 – Dan Haas
Mar 25 – Smooth Groove
Mar 31 – John Zorn

About Boordy Vineyards

Boordy Vineyards has played a seminal role in the renaissance of regional wines in America. Founders Philip and Jocelyn Wagner established Maryland’s first commercial winery in Baltimore City in 1945, and their success at producing classically-styled wines inspired many pioneers around the country to follow their example.

In 1980 Boordy was purchased by the R. B. Deford family – who had been grape growers for the winery since 1965 – and was relocated to their historic 240-acre farm in the Long Green Valley of northeastern Baltimore County. The winery is housed in a 19th century stone barn whose massive walls provide an ideal environment for the production and aging of wine. Rob Deford, who received training in enology at the University of California, Davis manages Boordy with his wife Julie Colhoun Deford.  Boordy currently produces 97,000 gallons of wine annually and cultivates forty acres of grapes in the Long Green Valley (Central Piedmont region) and in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western Maryland

 

 

 

 

Aries Spears (2015): With the right money, I would do a Kazaam sequel with Shaq

Three years ago, I had an exclusive phone interview with Aries Spear about his upcoming performance at the Washington D.C Improv. Thanks to my New Years resolution in keeping a tidier home, I was able to find this old tape recorder in the back of my drawer.

Spears is a lauded headliner in the area. He often sells out multiple shows within the day his tickets go on sale.

So seeing an Aries Spears show is brag-worthy. In addition,  Spears has a strong underground following due to his large stint on the Fox sketch comedy show MadTV from 1997 through 2005. Spears has appeared in over 198 episodes, making him the second longest-serving cast member.  Spears uncanny impersonations of LL Cool J, Michael Jackson, Mike Tyson, Bill Cosby, Denzel Washington, Paul Mooney, R.Kelly, 50 Cent and OJ Simpson have forever cemented him as a cultural icon.

After MadTV ended,  Spears had segments in All Star Comedy Jam in 2009, performed in the TV series The Underground, released a discography of his comedic skits called “I aint Scared (2005), and spearheaded his own comedy special called “Aries Spears: Hollywood, and Look I’m Smiling which was shown on Showtime, Aries Spears: Comedy Blueprint (2016).

On youtube, fans can watch perfect rap mash-ups of him freestyling as Snoop Dog, Jay Z, LL Cool J, and DMX, and laugh hysterically over his original short parodies: What you wish you could do, The Cosby Show,  How a Fat person sees food, Help the Starving kids and Helpless Animals, and various other stand up specials.

As I was listening to this old, black, sony tape recorder (that cost me an arm and a leg back then) I detected nervousness on my part. I’ve been a huge fan of the comedian since I was 11 years old, watching MadTV whenever I wanted to stay up late on a Saturday night. I would try to mimic his sketches to friends and although his skits were a bit on the racy side, I developed fond memories of his impersonations over the years. As I grew older, I got into his stand up specials and comedy on Pandora’s comedy station. So looking back, I can see why I giggled, fangirled, and guffawed a bit too much during this interview.

Since this interview is more like an archive, read it like it’s a relic from the past.

 

Sherryn: Aries, are you excited to be back in D.C?

Aries: Yeah, I am excited. You know this is one of my favorite cities. This is one of my favorite places because it’s chocolate city!

 

 

Sherryn: Great. Next question. Do you keep in touch with anyone from “Mad TV”? If there is a reunion, would you ever be a part of it?

Aries: Well that ship has sailed and gone. Every now and then, I run into Will Sasso and a couple people. Debra and I were really close but I haven’t spoken to her in a long while.

Sherryn: So you will never do a reunion.

Aries: Nope. Not interested.

Keep in mind this is an interview from 2015. Spears did participate in the MadTV 20th anniversary reunion in 2016 right here and also guest starred in subsequent episodes of the show, when it was revamped that following year.  

Sherryn: I love a lot of your shorts on youtube.  What’s your personal favorite?

Aries: Well, I kinda like them all. But the one called “What you wish you could do” is pretty up there. Along with the Direct TV parody and the State Farm parody.

Sherryn: That one was hilarious.

Sherryn: For all the impersonations that you do, which one is your favorite.

Aries: Paul Mooney. He is an interesting character.  It takes a lot to capture who he is and what he says. It takes more brain power to play him. Paul Mooney, from a personal perspective. Jay Z is fun to play since I am a huge Jay Z fan.

Sherryn: Do you have any new projects coming up?

Aries: I am about to do a new special.  In the end of September (2015). Fingers crossed, hoping to get my own sketch show.  I am kinda doing what Chappelle did but a lot racier and a lot edgier. Trying to get on a network like Showtime, HBO or even Netflix. Where I have no censorship.

Sherryn: I know on previous interviews, you have often called out celebrities. You have stated in the past that Kevin Hart hires writers for his skits? What is the verdict?

 

Aries: I think Kevin Hart is a phenomenal guy. A talented comedian. I kinda look at it like sports. How you dole out credit for being a superb athlete. If its all you and just you, then you deserve all the credit. Then all the negative is not warranted. People helping you develop who you are and what you say. There should really be an asterisk in there.

Sherryn: I see what you are saying. My last question is a bit goofy but  If Shaq ever does a sequel to “Kazaam” would you ever consider being his genie friend?

Aries: Uh… Hahahaha. Depending on how much they pay me. I will be his genie bitch.

*Feature photo courtesy of CJSportsblog.com

Stevie Bo’s Noir New York Fashion Week: Seductive, like a Fine Merlot

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Stevie Boi has been making glasses, ensembles, and fashion statements for close to a decade now.  In previous New York Fashion Week Shows, this virtuoso spearheaded: X2SEA, a line that dabbled in sea themes, and rhine-stone based shades; Cabin,  a clothing line that adds sparkle and glam to drab greens and basic blacks, CR3AM, a line that accentuates vanilla hue shirts, sweaters, and dresses; and The woods, a shade line that embody stories of Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, and all sorts of fairy tales into woodsy, whimsical glasses that could only captivate an audience.

His ascent into stardom and his successful ventures in authoring his first self help novel ” How Shade Built My Empire”, touring the world, starring in a reality show, leading a food show called “Stevie Boi Eats”, and with taking over Hollywood with his film debut “Cabin”–has inspired a legion of aspiring designers in Baltimore to just be fearless in going after your dream. I am proud and honored to say that I have been covering several of his shows since 2010 and swell up with pride that Baltimore’s own is charting a brand new territory in the shade industry. In short, Stevie Boi is the face of a virtually new fashion genre celebrated by Beyonce, Rihanna, Lady Gaga and beyond.

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Sipping a fine, hibiscus liquor with an up and coming model.

For this show, I wore 7 for all mankind jeans and a embroidered, black, wrap from Express.  I also decided to put on my comfy Tahari boots since I wasn’t a fan of the weather that day.  It was quite cold and I knew strappy stilettos wasn’t going to cut it that day.

I took an uber that day since I didnt feel like looking for parking by the Garment district. The building I went to was covert, and entering through the backdoors in a stealth way made me feel like I was on a secret mission. This was a highly exclusive event and I was honored I was in the know.

A common case with Stevie Boi shows is that there’s ample time to network before and well after the event has ended. What’s a unique case about his shows is that the people who attend are very, very friendly and that I think is a reflection on the designer, himself. He has always been a generous, kind, person from day 1 and fame, and success hasn’t changed his heart.

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The most intricate appetizers, and  most magical drinks were served at this event. This show was part michellin star and part exclusive, VIP, party!

In between the models getting their hair, make up, and clothing ready–It was cool seeing part of the “getting ready” process–I noshed on some unique treats. RAPT catering served guests crudites with creams, meats, jellies, and unique veggies. It wasn’t just one kind of appetizer too but 4-5 different kinds plus there was a hibiscus infused liquor that emitted smoke when you drank it.  A part of me felt like I was stepping into a NYC Michellin star restaurant due to the food, quality of service, and the intimate environment found inside the venue.

As media, I was able to snag a seat right by Beyonce’s long time stylist, Ty Hunter. He was the special guest of the evening. What I really like most about him is his humble, down to earth, demeanor. He never drew any attention to himself, from what I hear he takes the subway and walks everywhere plus I saw him treat each guest with a genuine smile.  I had a fun time taking a selfie with him, fyi part because he was Beyonce’s stylist but also because he was a genuinely fun loving person.

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Picture courtesy of Touch of Daz and The Impression

After the mingling ceased, everyone was seated.  Each guest was given a hefty swag bag full of lotions, creams, coupons, lip scrubs and beyond. I guess it pays to sit in VIP. Anyway, the show started with a vibrant, Baltimore, music explosion. A break dancer jumped to the front and danced, jumped and entranced the crowd with her prowess. This was an uncommon sight at a NYC fashion show but a welcoming one since this threw all attendees (models, stylists, photographers, influencers, celebrities, and journalists) by surprise.

After the first performance, an inflatable woman wearing shades with blond hair emerged and strutted her stuff. This looked like a caricature of the editor in chief of vogue and I felt like I was in a whole different world. Again, this was not a common thing to see at a fashion show but the crowd (including myself) loved these surprises. Stevie Boi is a true showman and entertainer by wowing the crowds with these delightful theatrics.

Models, one by one, walked with emboldened steps in asymmetrical latex shirts, dresses, and pasties. A previous model from America’s Next Top Model stole the show with her blond pony tale, exposed top with pasties, and carefree confidence.  Each outfit was skintight, seductive, and confident.  For some odd reason, I wanted to drink Merlot the whole time because the drink, itself, is a fine wine, with a confident taste. Drink enough Merlot and you may want to act seductive too.

The men wore mid- length shirts, cab hats, and Stevie Boi’s trademark shades. The women wore some of the most amazing shoes I have ever seen. As a boot lover, I saw strappy boots, plush boots, silk-based boots, and latex boots. I really wanted to own a few pairs after watching the show.

If you want to see Stevie Boi’s Noir show, click on this link here.

Every show is  completely different than his last. Stevie Boi purely uses his imagination, confidence, and fashion-forward thinking to create close to 10 years of memorable shades, outfits, and celeb-worthy memories.