Blue Star Families 2017 Honors Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter

sherryn and brooke baldwin
 CNN Anchor Brooke Baldwin at Blue Star Families Event. Photo taken by Kang Hu 

As a strong supporter of veterans and of military families, I had both the honor and privilege of attending the Seventh Annual Blue Star Neighbors Celebration on March 22, 2017, held at the United States  Chamber of Commerce Building in the White House’s backyard.

The Blue Star Neighbors Celebration is an annual celebration that highlights the kindness of military supporters across the United States. Neighbors, friends, and family members, and embrace military families while their loved ones are oversees defending this great country!

blue star families 3
Taken by Kang Hu of PIXofDC

This star-studded event was emceed by CNN Anchor Brooke Baldwin, whom shared her great love for the men and women who serve the United States, and spotlighted Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, who was honored with the Blue Star Families Lifetime Achievement Award for her support of military families and her advocacy of  civilian caregivers.

Other VIP guests included Charlie Bolden, former astronaut; Ellyn Dunford, Spouse of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs-General Joseph Dunford; Admiral Paul F. Zukunft, Commandment of the Coast Guard; and General Paul J. Selva, Vice Chair of the Joint Chief of Staff.

Aside from Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter winning top honors, Blue Star Families recognized civilians Judy and Ken Osborne for going above and beyond for Ashley Burnett, wife of U.S Army Captain Chase Burnett. According to Burnett, being a military spouse is “extremely difficult”, especially with two young children, a full time job and a nine month deployment. “Ken and Judy have made the seemingly impossible possible.”

blue star families image 2
Photo taken by Kang Hu of PIXofDC

Guests  at the event had the privilege of roaming palatial rooms,  socializing with government and military influencers; and with dining on delectable goodies created by some of DC’s finest chefs.

american food
Photo taken by Kang Hu, of PIXofDC

Celebrated chefs such as Cathal Armstrong (Restaurant Eve) – Chris Clime (PassionFish),David Guas (Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery) , Todd Gray (Equinox) , Joe Palma (Bourbon Steak), Robert Wiedmaier (Marcel’s)  and Mixologist Todd Thrasher (Bar PX) whipped up poke, soup shooters, and other magical goodies.

blue star image 4
Taken by Kang Hu of PIXofDC

I am not ashamed to admit that I heavily fan-girled when I met Todd Thrasher. Bar PX is a well known speakeasy in NoVa and he’s renown for his concoctions. I, like, fell in love instantly with what he made that night.

I  also knew I was eating for a great cause! Help Our Heroes partnered up with this celebration to  pair military chefs with notable DC chefs as a way of bridging both military and civilian life.

Oh what a night!

About Blue Star Families

Blue Star Families strengthen military families every day. Through career development, care giving, and our leading research on military family life, The organization is striving to better understand and provide solutions to the challenges facing today’s military families.

Ever since April  2009, when  a group of military spouses got together in the hopes of making a difference in the lives of military families, a platform was created where military family members could join forces with the general public and their communities to address the challenges of military life.

Today,  Blue Star Families has grown from a few military spouses around a kitchen table to more than 150,000 members and over 35 communities and chapters around the globe. Our programs and services reach more than 1.5 million military families every year. 

I exclusively attended Old-New Years Masquerade Vasilica at the Embassy of Macedonia

img_5517

 *Special thank you to the Embassy of Macedonia and UMD President Metodija A. Koloski for the hospitality & background information*

Last weekend I had the privilege of attending the United Macedonian Diaspora’s 12th Annual  Old-New Year’s Masquerade Vasilica celebration at the Embassy of Macedonia. The embassy was packed to the brim with 200 stylish D.C denizens who were donned in glam ensembles and baroque masks.
Vasilica is a centuries-old Macedonian holiday that commemorates both, the feast day of St. Basil the Great and the New Year’s Day according to the Julian calendar.  People from all over Macedonia and the region come to Vevcani wearing festive costumes and masks and dance throughout the two-day event. The Embassy of Macedonia was skillfully able to mold old tradition with new trends.  I remember when I walked into the embassy, I was impressed with the party layout.  The middle of the room had a bustling dance floor with a talented DJ who not only spun newer hits but meshed in 90’s jams.  Often times, Washington D.C carries a stigma for having a deadened dance floor but this particular party deactivated the stigma. There was an active dance floor, delicious all you can eat goodies, and copious amounts of authentic Macedonian wine thanks to Stobi Winery. 
img_5485
 I had the great fortune to sample delicious Macedonian delicacies such as  Macedonian kebabs, tavche gravche (a special baked bean dish), shopska salad (cucumbers, peppers, onions with some salt, vinegar, and oliver oil), as well as the popular Macedonian walnut baklava. Each dish was scrumptious, fresh, and really filling.
img_5539
 
Stobi Winery is well known in the D.C area for carrying special wines that use Vranec red (a special grape found in the Balkans), and for their whites and roses.  I really enjoyed sampling the rose due to the beverage’s light taste, rosy hue, and smooth yet fruit finish. I recommend this special wine for any festivity. If you want to cultivate your palates and also be more cultured with your wine selections, visit MacArthur Beverages in Georgetown to find this delicious wine or even contact Aleksandar Krsmanovic at a_krsmanovic@balkanwineproject.com from the Balkan Wine Project.
img_5528
 At the beginning of the evening, guests received a piece of bread–a welcoming token to any Macedonian household– which was baked by UMD D.C. representative Gordana Mirkoska. According to Macedonian Orthodox tradition, whomever finds the coin is blessed with luck, health, and prosperity throughout the year. One lucky guest found this coin and the crowd was overjoyed!
Later on in the evening, Ambassador of Macedonia Vasko Naumovski and UMD President Metodija A. Koloski warmly welcomed guests to the residence and invited all to eat, drink, and be merry. I definitely took their advice to heart, especially when I donned my sparkly, sapphire mask and pranced around the dance floor to every single 90’s song like I was a kid in the 90’s. I was also lucky enough to get on this super long conga line that seemed to have grabbed folks from different areas of the embassy. I will surely relish the singing faces, practical jokes (this random guy kept smacking men in the behind in a mysterious, Lothario-fashion) and overall ambiance of that moment.
img_5526
Speaking of the  Embassy of Macedonia, did you know the embassy was also known as the Moses House? It  was constructed in 1893 and is a mixture of Queen Anne and Neoclassical architecture. This house was renovated over the years and  officially opened as the Embassy of Macedonia on October 26, 2005. The architecture is both beautiful and mystifying. The curves of the roof along with the cream coffee-milk color, and the overall body of the residence is easy on the eyes. Based on this salacious yet provocative description of the house, I hope this entices you all to check this embassy out. 
img_5511
  Lastly, all proceeds from Masquerade are given to the United Macedonian Diaspora’s scholarship program which gives  grants to college students, and strengthens the internship program.
I had such a memorable time that I do hope to go back again next year!