Friday, July 27, 2012

A great gift for a great lady

"Inspired by Greatness" is the name of the pin created by Perry's Fine, Antique and Estate Jewelry's custom jewelry designer Tom Organ especially for former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. It was gifted to her when she was in Charlotte recently for the opening reception of the Mint Museum Uptown's new exhibit, "Read My Pins: The Madeleine Albright Collection," that's on view through Sept. 23.

The Perry family presented it to her personally and she wore it during the opening festivities. As you can see from the photo, it's absolutely stunning and a fitting tribute to both a great lady, who was the first female Secretary of State, and our great Queen City.

The 18 karat gold brooch is encrusted with 2.75 carats of diamonds and capped by a single old European cut diamond. The base of the crown is hand engraved with "Albright" and set between an olive branch and a bundle of thirteen arrows.

Perry's, located across from SouthPark mall at 6525 Morrison Blvd., was also inspired to create its own pin display. Titled "Perry's Pin-tastic Exhibit," it features a collection of its pins from the Victorian era through modern times. All the pins are for sale. The exhibit runs through Sept. 23. Details: 704-364-1391;

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Know a female leader? Nominate her for this award

ATHENA International and KPMG Charlotte's Network of Women are seeking nominations for the second annual ATHENA Leadership Award and the ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award. It recognizes women leaders who "have achieved excellence in their business or profession, served the community in a meaningful way and, most importantly, actively assisted women to achieve their full leadership potential."

Last year's Charlotte award winners were Jane McIntyre, executive director of United Way of Central Carolinas, and Jenny Ward of Duke Energy. (Their photos are at the top of this blog.)

Nominations are due by Aug. 1. The awards will be presented Oct. 4 at the Mint Museum Uptown.
The winners will be invited to the 30th Anniversary ATHENA International Women's Leadership Summit on Oct. 15 in Chicago.

Founded 30 years ago, ATHENA International is a women's leadership organization that supports, develops and honors women leaders. In Charlotte, it's sponsored by KPMG, a licensed ATHENA host organization and an underwriter of ATHENA International.

"ATHENA and KPMG share an important mission," said John Switzer, managing partner for KPMG in Charlotte, in a statement. "We are both committed to the success of women professionals. We devote a great deal of energy to ensuring that our women professionals have numerous opportunities for career development and networking, and we are proud to support ATHENA and its mission to advance and recognize women leaders in our businesses, our communities and our government."

Nomination forms are available at Nomination forms may also be obtained by email:

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Charlotte salon named one of America's best

Dilworth salon and spa T. Reid and Company has been named one of the Top 100 Salons in America by Elle magazine in the August issue that's out on newsstands now. It’s the only Charlotte salon, and one of only two North Carolina salons, to be featured on the prestigious list (the other is Citrine Salon in Chapel Hill). 

Owner Tonya Reid, who founded the company 11 years ago, attributes the salon's success to its emphasis on advanced education and strong customer service.

"It is so exciting to have Elle magazine recognize us," said Reid in a statement. "It is a great honor that we can share with our clients because receiving their continued approval is really our goal."

Now that Google has adopted the Zagat Survey rating system, T. Reid has been rated 30 out of 30 - extraordinary to perfection. Scores are averaged and a 30-point scale is used based on user reviews.

 The salon is at 439 East Blvd. Appointments: 704-377-1511;

Friday, July 20, 2012

Shopping event for the savvy and stylish

I had never heard of this shopping event before until Whitley Hamlin of The Queen City Style, one of Charlotte's most creative and fashionable women, told me about it. Now that it has registered on my radar, I'm learning that this is a must-attend event for fashion insiders on a budget. Here's the scoop: 

Green Jeans Consignment is holding its summer consign and shop event Aug. 3-5 at the Queens Sports Complex, 2229 Tyvola Road.

You can consign, shop or do both.

It features new and recycled brand name and boutique clothing (including maternity), shoes and accessories for women and teens from petite to plus sizes.

Consigners can earn up to 75 percent back on every sale and receive VIP shopping privileges at an exclusive pre-sale event. Consigners have to register in advance and space is limited.

Labels include Seven for all Mankind, Dooney & Burke, Kate Spade, Ella Moss, Milly, Tory Burch, Banana Republic, J.Crew and Ann Taylor LOFT.

Hours are 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Aug. 3; 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Aug. 4; and a half-price sale 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Aug. 5.

Details: You can also go to the group's Facebook page ( for more information, including a chance to win a Style Challenge for a chance to be styled by Whitley Hamlin, Christine Nelson of Simply Sassy and Marguerite Rupar of Doncaster Charlotte.

Three contestants will be chosen on July 24 at 10 p.m. and announced the morning of July 26.

Each stylist will spend less than $100 to create a head-to-toe look for them in less than an hour. The looks will be posted online and Green Jeans' fans will judge which one is their favorite. The stylist with the most votes wins $100 for the charity of her choice, and the contestant she styles wins $100.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Teens show off their All American Style

Since June, a group of young people ages 12-18 have been taking part in three fashion workshops at ImaginOn sponsored by the Public Library of Charlotte Mecklenburg and Children's Theatre of Charlotte.

The workshops prepared them to compete in "Fusion: Teen Fashion Show Challenge," an event on July 21 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in The Wells Fargo Playhouse at ImaginOn. The theme is All American Style and it's free and open to the community.

Miss North Carolina Teen 2012, Katherine Puryear, is emcee (her photo is at the top of this blog). The judges are fashion designers Tara Davis and Devon Freund along with fashion educators Karrah Zuziak and Michael Watson. DJ Johnny D will provide the entertainment.

The young designers were encouraged to incorporate "upcycled" fashion techniques (making a new design out of fabric and materials from used clothing). 

Out of the teens who participate in the show, at least one will be chosen for an apprenticeship with Children's Theatre of Charlotte that will give them the opportunity to work in the theatre's costume shop and create clothing that will be worn by the troupe's actors in an upcoming production. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Don't be pushed by your problems, be led by your dreams

The inspirational saying that's the headline on this blog is written on the entrance to the UMAR Arts Center. It's a door I encourage you to walk through. I just did for the first time today and I came out a more invigorated and enlightened person.

In case you haven't heard of UMAR, it's a nonprofit that helps adults with intellectual and development disabilities throughout North Carolina by promoting their inclusion into their communities. It also helps give them their independence by providing residential, employment and cultural enrichment opportunities.

On the second Friday of the month from noon to 1 p.m., UMAR is hosting informative "get to know us" luncheons at its Arts Center on the grounds of Spencer Memorial United Methodist Church, 1025 E. 36th street in NoDa. It's open to anyone in the community. To attend, email development manager Lena Fung Brennan at

Under the guidance of artist and staff member Bob Terri, there's some amazing creativity coming out of the UMAR Arts Center .

"This is not busy work," says Bob. "We are not a daycare with crafts for adults. We are creating art. But we're not just about producing art to sell, we have a holistic approach. They're also learning life skills."

When you connect with a piece of art, it's a very personal and exciting moment. One of my favorites was an artist who had taken sheet music and made a small collage of two-dimensional flowers trilling along with the musical notes. It made me wonder if that's what musicians see when they're reading a piece of music that's happy. Do flowers seem to burst forth from the notes?

Some of the artists enjoy creating jewelry and their works are really unique. Among my favorites were a group of statement necklaces inspired by different cultures that would have people stopping you and asking, "Where did you get that?" Here's a photo:

And the silk scarves the artists design are truly outstanding. They paint on the scarves directly using several different methods and the end result is absolutely gorgeous. Here's a photo:

The Arts Center is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. For details, go to or the nonprofit's Facebook page at

Here are some really interesting things I learned at the luncheon:

  • Ann Church, a Duke graduate who joined UMAR as its president in 2011, was given a low Apgar Score when she was born. She was sent to specialists for several years until they determined she was a normally functioning child, but she never forgot what it felt like to be treated differently. That's what motivates her to make others see that people with disabilities may not look the same or act the same, but that doesn't mean they don't have a lot to offer or that we can't learn from them.

  • One of the luncheon guests was Donna Peterson, owner of LaVida Massage in Foxcroft and Ballantyne. She and her staff volunteered at a UMAR event, so she came to learn more about the nonprofit.

  • The nonprofit has a partnership with the McGill Rose Garden on Davidson Street. The UMAR artists painted five benches inspired by artists who are role models because they had medical issues (among the tributes are benches in honor of Frida Kahlo, Vincent van Gough and Keith Haring).

  • The efficiency of the organization is inspiring. UMAR believes in personal choice, so they don't push the adults into doing things. Instead, they expose them to different opportunities and see which ones they have a talent for and enjoy, but everything ties in together. For example, Baucom's Nursery has generously given UMAR the use of a greenhouse. Some of the adults enjoy working there. When the produce is harvested, part of it is taken to the Arts Center to be photographed as a reference for Still Life paintings. Here's a photo of a recent harvest display:

  • All the produce then goes to the adults who are learning cooking skills. Any leftover produce is given to feed the adults in UMAR's group homes and the children in daycare at Spencer Memorial United Methodist Church, or distributed to homeless shelters and Second Harvest Food Bank.

  • Here's a photo of a jar of refrigerator pickled vegetables made by the adults that were given to the luncheon guests. I haven't tasted them yet, but they sure do look good.

I'll end this with meaningful words spoken at the luncheon by Marilyn Garner, UMAR's director of development: "We all have the same goals and dreams, some of us just need a little more help." 


Thursday, July 12, 2012

South Asia meets south Charlotte

I have always been entranced by the exotic beauty of Indian culture. So I was interested to learn that one of my favorite venues, the elegant Ballantyne Hotel and Lodge in south Charlotte, just announced an exclusive partnership with Bombay Grille to provide the food for the Indian Wedding Packages the hotel offers. The photo above, taken by IWP Photography, is from one of the weddings. 

Although the hotel is known for its outstanding food, its Food & Beverage Director Peter Grills realized after they had done a few Indian weddings that they needed outside help to provide the authentic Indian cuisine brides and grooms requested - a task made harder by the diversity of Indian food based on different regions.

After working with several caterers who specialized in Indian food, the hotel decided to simplify the process and create a partnership with Bombay Grille, which has been providing authentic Indian fare in the area for more than 20 years and has extensive offerings of Indian cuisine including vegetarian options.

The Indian Wedding Packages have been a hit. I encourage you to go to to learn more and see photos from a few of the weddings.

The hotel's Meeting & Event Specialist Alli Hall filled me in on some of the fascinating aspects of Indian weddings.

"They are usually huge parties that last for about 12 hours with hundreds of guests," she says. "The groom's entrance to the wedding is very elaborate. Most enter on a white horse. One time, a groom came in on a parade float." The hotel has even had a request for an elephant, a common practice in India, but not here since it would cost about $40,000 to get a pachyderm for the party.

The ceremony at the hotel can go on for hours, so except for members of the wedding party, guests come and go freely to another room where there's a luncheon buffet. Often, festivities resume in the evening with more food and dancing.

Grills loves the gorgeous spectacle of it all. "It's really something to see," he says.

For wedding inquiries, Indian or otherwise, contact the hotel's catering department at 704-248-4035; or email

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

This party idea gets a gold medal

Gather your friends around the telly at 9 p.m.on July 27 for a party celebrating the opening ceremony for the Summer Olympics taking place in London. 

Better Homes & Gardens magazine online gets a gold medal for its host country inspired recipes.

While you and and your guests are watching performances by Sir Paul McCartney and Duran Duran plus the Parade of Athletes, the magazine recommends serving the specialty drink Ginger Beer Shandy along with Barbecue Pasties. For the main event, serve Fish 'n' Chips followed by Vanilla Cake with Berries and Jam washed down with a Chocolate Stout Shake.

For all the recipes, go to

If you want easier food ideas, try this dessert: Take plain Krispy Kreme doughnuts, cover the tops in different colored icing by adding food coloring to store-bought vanilla icing, and arrange them in the shape of the Olympic rings logo. 

To turn the festivities into a costume party, suggest guests wear outfits inspired by the United Kingdom (think iconic images such as the Union Jack flag the Royal Family or the other Royal Family - Posh and Becks). To be a good sport, you could also put together an Olympic Trivia contest (fun facts can be found online at  

Online you can find tons of printable Olympic-themed art or British tourist attractions for the decor. And it's not a party without music, so put together a soundtrack of tunes from your favorite British artists - just make sure it includes the theme to "Chariots of Fire."  

Let the games begin! 


Friday, July 6, 2012

Can a tunic make a difference? Yes!

You can update your summer wardrobe and help the victims of human trafficking at the same time during a special event on July 12 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Allison Sprock Fine Art, 600 Queens Road. Details: 704-705-2000.

Special guest De Anne Wingate of Charlotte, founder of the retail company Blessed Lotus, will be there with a selection of tunics and pashminas from India. The photo above is a fun picture of Wingate in one of the tunics.

All the profits from Blessed Lotus go to help the mission of Wingate's nonprofit, Rippled Purpose: to build schools in the slums of India and around the world in hopes that an education will prevent children from being trafficked.

Wingate came up with the idea for the nonprofit after a trip to India. During the event, she'll also share her experiences in the slums.

Allison Sprock, owner of the gallery where the event takes place, has just announced that 10 percent of any sales of paintings bought through July 13 will go toward the cause.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Cocktail party talk

Before you go to your next party, always try to think of something interesting about yourself that makes for what I call great cocktail party talk. You don't ever want to come across as bragging, but people enjoy it if you casually drop a fun fact about yourself.

I've been to two events recently where I learned fascinating tidbits about guests because they were savvy enough to mention them.

One was the charming Dr. Jon Kulbresh during a party at Ballantyne Spa that he attended with his fiancĂ©e, Sara Citron (their photo is at the top of this blog). He just moved here from L.A., although he has roots in the Carolinas, and has recently opened Carolina Facial Plastics near SouthPark mall. 

I was excited to hear that he trained with Dr. Paul Nassif, a prominent facial plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills.
For fellow fans of the Bravo TV show “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” Dr. Nassif is the husband of cast member Adrienne Maloof-Nassif. Dr. Kulbresh can be seen in both the surgery and recovery room during the episode where cast member Kyle Richard’s mother-in-law went to Dr. Nassif for her facelift.

Dr. Kulbresh told me that Dr. Nassif has expressed interest in supporting his protege by attending an event at his office. If that happens, I'll certainly keep you posted. Dr. Nassif was in Charlotte this year for the launch of his wife's shoe line at Belk. I ran photos from that public appearance in my Scene & Heard slideshow, and it was so cute the way he was surprised that he has so many fans of his own.

The other person is Antriece Mitchell (her photo is below), a media personality I met at the opening reception of the the new exhibit "America I AM: The African American Imprint" at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Art + Culture. While we were talking, she mentioned that she is the great-granddaughter of Louis Armstrong, the famous jazz trumpeter and singer.


Monday, July 2, 2012

An intimate lunch for 1,500

I've just come back from the largest women's luncheon I've covered in my 20 year career at the Observer: the Imperial Representatives Ladies Luncheon in the Crown Ballroom of the Charlotte Convention Center. It was to honor the women from around the country and the world who support the fraternity of the Shriners International as they convene in Charlotte this week for their international convention. Special guest was the group's Imperial First Lady Patty Severe.

Charlotte is enjoying its Shriners spotlight. The incoming Imperial First Lady is Jan Madsen, wife of Al Madsen, a Charlotte businessman who'll be installed as the group's Imperial Potentate later this week making him CEO of the international organization.

And three Charlotte ladies of Oasis Shriners - chairman Brenda Rorie and her co-chairs Lucille Moss and Suzie McClure - organized the luncheon with the help of their committee members. They did an outstanding job of making each table special and beautiful which contributed to the intimate feeling of the luncheon- an  amazing feat considering the number of people in attendance.

It's the details of successful events that always fascinate me. Serving that many people takes time, so the cakes that were the dessert became part of each table's centerpiece. The cakes sat on stands (inexpensive plastic cylinders) but looked festive because they were covered in colorful tulle "tutus" made by committee member Laurin Carter. She doesn't sew, but she's one of those people that can do anything, so she figured it out. She joked with another guest that it took her six hours to make the first tutu, but at the end of the project she was churning out 15 in just a few minutes.

Each place setting had a fun party favor of a wine glass with flip-flops hand painted on it complete with its own  flip-flop wine charm. Although she had help with some of them, Suzie McClure painted about 1,000 herself. 

Brenda Rorie started planning the luncheon over a year ago. That's how much work it took. After the convention is over, she agreed to talk to me about what it takes to put on such a large event, so look for a blog about that later. 

I think the main thing about the luncheon is that yes, everyone looked really beautiful and it was a lot of fun, but the ladies were there for the higher cause of supporting the 22 Shriners Children's Hospitals that treat children regardless of their family's ability to pay.

I met one of them, a lovely young woman named Molly Carlson, who was treated at a Shriners Children's Hospital for a cleft palate as a baby and went through 11 other operations to achieve what she refers to her as her "million dollar smile" because it's the monetary support of the Shriners that made it possible. (The photo at the top of this blog is of Brenda Rorie with Molly and young guest Ansley Julian.) Molly is an ambassador for the hospitals now and is just one of the many happy endings created by the Shriners and their mission of mixing fun and philanthropy.

So if you're one of the spectators at the Shriners July Fourth parade uptown on Wednesday, know that as you're watching all the hoopla including clowns and mini cars, know that behind the fez hats are a lot of generous minds and caring hearts.