Wednesday, July 1, 2015

LLS Announces Man & Woman of the Year for 2015

Earlier this year, the North Texas Chapter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) introduced a new event to the social scene. Man and Woman of the Year (MWOY) served up nine North Texas business leaders candidates competing against each other in a spirited 10-week fundraising blitz that included a letter writing campaign, sponsorship, and unique fundraising events.
On May 30th, Congrats to Dr. Larry Anderson and Erin Ragsdale who earned the distinguished honor as being named the winners of the inaugural MWOY campaign. The candidates collectively raised $677,369.48 to support LLS’s mission to find cure for blood cancers and ensure that patients have access to life saving treatments.

Let's just take a moment to let that sink in... A first year event, that tasked 10 individuals to raise money... and they collectively raised $677,369.48. Are you kidding me!? WOW. Just wow.

“Congratulations to our winners, and to all of our candidates and campaign team members who participated in this year’s campaign,” said Patricia Thomson, Ph.D., Executive Director of the North Texas LLS Chapter. “They are all passionate and determined individuals, and leaders in their communities. Their efforts really go far in bringing help and hope to patients and their families.” Dr. Larry Anderson is an Assistant Professor of Hematology/Oncology at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and specializes in the treatment of plasma cell cancers (Multiple Myeloma, Waldenstrom's Macroglobulinemia, and Amyloidosis). He also conducts multiple clinical trials for these patients and has over 11 years of experience with bone marrow and stem cell transplantation. Dr. Anderson resides in Plano with his wife and two daughters. Erin Ragsdale became involved with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society four years ago after her nine year old nephew was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. She has served as Vice President on the Board of Trustees for the North Texas Chapter of LLS and effective July 1st, she will serve as Chairman of the Board of Trustees. Erin is Senior Vice President at Allyn Media and lives in Dallas with her husband and two children.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Four Seasons Resort & Club: The Perfect North Texas Staycation

Sponsored Post:

The Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas wants you to “Celebrate Texas” in a unique way that combines Texas and fun for a perfect recipe for summer. From kid’s summer camps to an All-American Independence Celebration, you won’t want to miss out on your perfect Dallas getaway packed full of events for kids (and adults!) of all ages.

I am a big proponent of the "staycation" and the Independence Day holiday provides the perfect opportunity to pack up the family and enjoy a leisurely weekend of fun-in-the-sun time without having to go too far away from your own home.

I love this holiday because it's laid back, fun and offers the perfect opportunity to spend quality time with your friends and loved ones. I mean, is there anything more American than hot dogs and fireworks!? This year, you'll find me at the Four Seasons Resort & Club in Las Colinas over Independence Day Weekend. I will be the one lounging poolside sipping on a Pina Colada.

If you'd like to join my family for a great weekend, here's what you can expect to enjoy:

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Dodge For A Cause 2015

The 4th annual Dodge For A Cause Tournament benefitting Vogel Alcove was held at American Airlines Center last week. Presented by Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP, the 5 D's of this dodge ball tournament were: Dodge, Duck, Dip, Dive & Donate. Teams played for the "Stanley Cup of Dodgeball", the John T. O'Connor Commemorative Cup of Excellence for Achievement in Dodge Ball. Co-Chairs, Banks Bruce, David Gail, Dilen Kumar and Charles Persons led 26 teams in a rousing evening of competitive & physical fun for a cause.

Mayor Mike Rawlings with Team Hot Shots
I was on the only all-girls team, representing Highland Capital, led by our Captain Carmen Surgent. I'm sure it won't shock you to read that we were the absolute worst team on the court. But we looked amazing. Carmen had coordinated our outfits: white Tees emblazoned with "Hot Shots" on the front in hot pink, black tutu skirts and hot pink knee socks.

You know how athletes wear eye black under their eyes to intimidate their opponents? Well, we had silver sparkle stripes under our eyes to DAZZLE our opponents. It didn't help us win, but we did get flirted with quite a bit and lots of guys wanted selfies with our group.

Not only were we the worst team in the tournament, I will admit I was probably the worst player. I couldn't even hit Mayor Mike Rawlings when he was standing still. I was just pitiful... The silver lining of the night was that we won a trophy for being Best Dressed and that was really the award we cared about - so we were WINNERS!!!!

For 27 years, Vogel Alcove has provided free, quality child development services for Dallas’ youngest victims of poverty: homeless children six weeks to five years old. Vogel Alcove is the only comprehensive early childhood education program in the city of Dallas whose primary focus is to provide free childcare and case management for children and their families referred by 21 local emergency shelters, domestic violence shelters, housing programs and organizations that serve homeless families. Learn more about how your company can participate in next year's tournament and help support Vogel Alcove by visiting

Friday, June 26, 2015

Oh So Tasty: Freixenet Sparkling Summer Cocktails

You can never go wrong with a glass of champagne or cava. It makes any event more festive - even if it's just a Monday dinner at home! Freixenet is a great everyday option to put some sparkle into your glass and they sent me a couple of fun cocktail recipes to share with you. Put some POP into your summer with these festive cocktails! Cheers!

Fizzy Summer Sorbet 

Raspberry Sorbet (store-bought or homemade)
Fresh Raspberries
Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut cava

Grab your favorite glass or plastic Champagne coupes, add a scoop of Raspberry Sorbet and fill the flute with Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut. Top off with fresh raspberries.

Sparkling Sangria 

1/2 oz. simple syrup
1 orange quarter
1 lime quarter
1/2 oz. orange liqueur
1/2 oz. Spanish brandy
3-4 oz. Freixenet Carta Nevada cava (chilled)
2 oz. lemon-lime soda (chilled)
1 maraschino cherry

Directions: Muddle fruit slices in a shaker cup with simple syrup. Add liqueur and brandy with ice. Shake, then strain into a cocktail glass. Add soda and top off with cava. Drop in cherry or secure to an orange wedge using a toothpick, to decorate the rim. Pair with spicy guacamole for a fiery kick!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Oh So Tasty: Brunch at Truck Yard

One of my favorite places to kick back and enjoy time with friends & family is Truck Yard on Lower Greenville. I love it because it's not your typical fancy-pants Dallas eatery, but feels more like an Austin escape complete with shade trees and redneck-chic decor.  This is a place where film flops and cut-off shorts are de rigueur and dogs are the accessory of choice. Plus, where else in town can you find a treehouse bar? Uh, yeah. You read that right. Truck Yard boasts an elevated treehouse bar where the main attraction is carbonated, bottled cocktails available and amazing people-watching.

Truck Yard recently started serving my favorite meal - BRUNCH - from 10am until 2pm each Sunday. Food will come courtesy of three brunch trucks serving a variety of mid-morning fare like eggs, bacon, brisket hash and chicken and waffles. And for a special treat, Hypnotics Donuts is onsite providing their delicious and creative donut holes.

Aside from the regular beers and cocktails, the bar features a brunch punch crafted by mixologist Emily Perkins. Made with cava (Spanish sparkling wine), Remy V, Cointreau Camomille, grapefruit juice and lemons, this concoction comes in a communal bowl large enough to serve five to 10 people, which works out great since all your friends will want to join you!

The Truck Yard is located at 5624 Sears Street, Dallas, TX 75206.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Staples Main Street Tour Travels to Dallas to Thank Small Business Customers

Sponsored Post:
Staples Guy and Small Planet Bikes Manager Jordan Mieth

The Power of One to Make More Happen
Staples Main Street Tour travels to Dallas to thank small business customers

Staples Guy surprises Dallas
small business customers 
If you asked me to describe myself, one of the things I would say, is that I am a small business owner. There are a lot of pros to owning your own business. For instance, I get to have Pajama Day whenever I feel like it. And I feel like it a lot. But there is also a lot of responsibility and not a lot of resources or support. When the printer quits working, there is no one to call to come fix it. You just have to pull out the manual and figure it out.

As much as I love owning my own business, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and undervalued. Which is why I was thrilled to partner with Staples this week when they came to town on a mission to show some of their small business clients that they have a big place in their hearts.

There are almost 28 million small businesses in the USA and currently, over 50% of the working population (120 million individuals) works in a small business. The definition of a “small business” is a company that has 1 to less than 500 employees. But don’t let the term “small” fool you into thinking that the impact these companies has on our economy is tiny. Although, we are “small” individually, small businesses have generated over 65% of the net new jobs since 1995. Staples realizes that small business, is actually big business.

Staples Guy surprises Annette Daffron, owner of Zola's Everyday Vintage

A few days ago I met up with Staples Guy and we spent an afternoon popping in to visit some of their loyal small business customers and thank them for what they do for the local economy and show them how Staples appreciates them. Guy presented each business with a huge basket of goodies that contained coffee, staples (duh!), cleaning supplies, an Easy button and a Staples gift card to help them in their endeavors this Summer. We had a great time touring Bishop Arts and visiting Zola’s Everyday Vintage, Lockhart Smokehouse BBQ, Small Planet Bikes, Smile Embassy and Hattie’s. It was a joy to watch them dive into those gift baskets and feel appreciated. I hope that you will make a thoughtful effort to choose to support small businesses. Big or small, Staples wants to see businesses #MakeMoreHappen for everyone. And that’s a campaign I can heartily endorse.

Source: Forbes

This post was brought to you by Staples. While I did receive compensation for authoring this post; product selections, descriptions, and opinions are 100% my own. Interested in a sponsored post or product review for your brand or event? Contact me for rates and details.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Wolfgang Puck Catering Takes Your Event Over-The-Top And Out Of This World

Dallas is a city of one-upmanship. "I'll see your million and raise you two!" says one event chair to the next. A charity can never rest on their fundraising laurels and the forever goal is to top whatever you just did. There is also very much a mentality of "been there/done that" among guests so an event chair has to constantly be creative to out-do what has been done to keep corporate sponsors re'upping and people buying tickets and bidding on auction items. So, to future event chairs I say, "Let me introduce you to Wolfgang Puck Catering." They recently hosted a dinner that was the third in a series of food symposia evenings. This one was designed to "demystify the art of food presentation". The plan was for guests to learn basic principles of plating through a fun hands-on activity. We started at the Nasher Sculpture Center for mocktails and a "plating workshop" where we had a brief dissuasion on the art of cake decorating. The Nasher has always offered their venue up for wedding receptions but it's just this summer that they are now allowing the actual wedding ceremony on-site as well! The individual cake set-up is a creative idea for a wedding reception or other event so each guest got to try out their skills by decorating their own cake using edible flowers, fresh fruits and a variety of candies. It was tons of fun and we all had fun trying to outdo each other with our ideas and skills. Our cakes were boxed up and transported to our next destination as a take-home gift.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Oh, Yappy Day! Paws Cause Celebrates 20 Years of Fund-Raising Fun for the SPCA

Sponsored post:
Jan Rees-Jones with Jocelyn White, SPCA of Texas Board Chair

On Sunday, June 14, the SPCA of Texas held the 20th Anniversary Celebration of Paws Cause at the SPCA of Texas’ Jan Rees-Jones Animal Care Center and brought more than 300 animal lovers together to benefit the SPCA of Texas’ Mary Spencer Spay/Neuter and Wellness Clinic at Village Fair. The event attendees were welcomed with elegantly tropical décor, beautiful sunshine, bright flowers and puppies galore. Inside, guests enjoyed gourmet burger sliders and a mashed potato bar, imbibed luscious libations--including the signature Whiskerita and the Tailwagging Rum Punch, danced the night away to classic rock hits played by The British are Coming, took part in the Bone Appetite drawing and had their pictures snapped at a fun photo booth. The Silent Auction tempted attendees with fine art, spa treatments, pet care products, travel packages, delicious wines, fine jewelry and more. Celebrity Chef Blythe Beck offered a very special silent auction package that included five-course chef tasting dinner for eight. Attendees included hosts Phyllis and CJ Comu, Presenting Sponsor Russell E. Dealey, Jan Rees-Jones, Steve Kemble, Ellen and Don Winspear, Diane and Hal Brierley, Gwen and Leldon Echols, Marsha and Richard Gray, Mary and Skip Trimble, Hillary Hurst and Mark Schwarz, Rich Emberlin, LeeAnne Locken, Mary Spencer, Holly Forsythe, Katy Murray, Celebrity Chef Blythe Beck and SPCA of Texas President James Bias. These much-needed funds will help provide more than 11,000 free and low cost surgeries and 15,000 health and wellness treatments in 2015. All proceeds from the Paws Cause event benefit the Mary Spencer Spay/Neuter and Wellness Clinic at Village Fair and fund spay and neuter efforts in the Dallas community. The compassionate, mission-minded volunteers of Paws Cause have been assisting the SPCA of Texas for a total of more than 20 years, and their work has saved thousands of lives.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Oh So Tasty: Taqueria La Ventana

Taqueria La Ventana is a funky, fast-casual taqueria concept offering everyday Mexican street food. Designed as a Mexico City taqueria, the interiors feature an eclectic, funky and colorful design that when complemented by the traditional street style fare, transporting you south-of-the-border through a culinary and cultural experience. Taqueria La Ventana currently has two locations: one in downtown Dallas adjacent to Meso Maya and a brand new spot that just opened in May in Addison on Beltline Road. Last week, I was invited to pay a visit to their newest Addison location and give you my thoughts on the place.

The Addison site is a little confusing because it shares a building with another Firebird Restaurant Group concept, Snuffer’s Restaurant & Bar.  While there is a sign facing Beltline Rd, the main entrance is on the side street where you park. Enter the restaurant and place your order at the counter. They will give you a card with a Mexican name on it (see photo). When your order is ready, they will announce the name on your card over the loud speaker and you can go back to fetch your fare.

There are many different meats and fillings for burritos, bowls and the famous authentic Taqueria La Ventana Mexican street tacos, which are served on homemade white corn tortillas made fresh daily by the restaurant. The expanded menu in Addison includes: Bistek (steak), Suadero (beef), Carnitas (shredded pork), Pastor (shaved pork), Pollo (chicken), Barbacoa (beef), Camaron (shrimp), Pescado (fish), Calabacitas (veggie) and Machaca Con Huevo (shredded beef with egg). In addition to mouth-watering street tacos, the restaurant also offers Ensaladas Frescas, salads created from a combination of fresh mixed field greens, iceberg lettuce, sweet tomatoes, candied peanuts garapiñados, avocado and fresco cheese topped with charred cilantro vinaigrette and a protein of your choice. I highly recommend the salad. And I'm not even a salad person. Those candied peanuts are amazing!  Savory sides including Elote, Charro Beans, Arroz and Calabacita are also available. Lastly, satisfy a sweet tooth with tantalizing Churros con Cajeta or Crispy Bread Pudding. With more choices for eating, come more choices for drinking. The Addison location of Taqueria La Ventana boasts a full premium bar. Enjoy margaritas, both domestic and Mexican craft cervezas, Mexican sodas and juices, or whatever sounds good.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Dallas Summer Musicals presents Cinderella through June 21, 2015

Dallas Summer Musicals is currently presenting Cinderella at the Music Hall at Fair Park. I asked Dawn Neufeld and her "mini-me" to experience the stage version of this classic tale and report back. She shares their experience in this post:

Cinderella Continues To Enchant 
by Dawn Neufeld

Summer. Trying to keep the kiddos busy and entertained can be a little overwhelming, but it’s also the perfect time for a little mother-daughter bonding. My mini-me Bryn and I had the perfect opportunity for some girl time this week – we took in dinner and a show at Music Hall at Fair Park. And it was magical. I grew up believing in fairytales. The story of the little cinder girl who cleaned by day and met her Prince Charming by night was always one of my favorites.

I couldn’t wait to take Bryn to see the musical version of the story and watch the fairytale come to life in the Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Cinderella presented by Dallas Summer Musicals. The show was wonderful. The lively music, flying fairy godmother and Cinderella’s stunning gown transformations were captivating. But be prepared – this musical version of the classic story deviates from the one your kiddos are familiar with so you may need to tell them to use their imaginations. And good thing the kids are out of school – the 7:30 p.m. start time means the show doesn’t wrap up until around 10:00 p.m. Mini-me started dozing off during the last couple of scenes at the end of the show. The late start time did allow some wonderful bonding moments.