Thursday, August 28, 2014

Turn on the radio for Rainey Qualley

I had a lot of fun interviewing Rainey Qualley, the stunning daughter of model/actress Andie MacDowell and model/musician Paul Qualley.

Here's a link to the story:

I didn't realize that she was pursuing a career in country music in her new hometown of Nashville until I started doing some research before our interview. Before I started listening to some of her music, I promised myself that I would do it with an open mind and have zero expectations.

My personal verdict? She has a great voice that has a bit of depth to it that's compelling and she writes her own songs, which is not only smart but shows her level of talent. And yes, she's absolutely gorgeous which never hurts. I'm surprised she hasn't made a bigger splash yet, but I have a feeling she's on her way.

Her newest video for her song "Turn Me On Like The Radio" is on You Tube now. When I first watched it, I wasn't sure I liked the costume and premise of the video because it wasn't like the usual country videos I see. But as the video's story unfolded I found it to be charming, funny and sexy, but in a sweet way.

Now I think it was smart of her to do something that isn't expected, plus I think it shows off her confidence, sex appeal and acting ability. It's directed by actress Erica Dasher and I think she did a terrific job. But the bottom line is it's a catchy tune that sticks in your head.

Watch it and make up your own mind, but my prediction is we'll be hearing lots of Rainey Qualley songs when we turn on the radio. Here's the link to the video:

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Pointe the Way

The Corps de Ballet is hosting Pointe the Way, an evening of cocktails, food, live music, dancing and auction items with proceeds going to support Reach, Charlotte Ballet’s nationally recognized outreach dance scholarship program for children.

It’s from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. Sept. 27 at the Patricia McBride & Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux Center for Dance uptown.

The event is inspired by Charlotte Ballet’s upcoming performance of “Dangerous Liaisons.” On the menu are French hors d’oeuvres and dessert from Georges Brasserie. Plus there’s wine from Hahn Family Winery, beer from Olde Mecklenburg Brewery and the event’s signature drink, the Tutu-tini. The Cross/McMullen/Williams Trio featuring Gena Chambers will perform and there’s a sneak peek of Sasha Janes’ “Dangerous Liaisons,” which opens Oct. 9.

Tickets are $60 per person through September 19; $75 after September 19 or at the door. Details:; 704-372-0101, ext. 2773.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Daddy-Daughter Date Night Sept. 12

10-year-old AnneLeigh Twer, the first Junior Honoree of the W.I.S.H. Society (Women Inspiring Strength and Hope), spent her summer helping to raise money for Wish kids.

One of her fundraising efforts is on Sept. 12, when she’ll join Chima Brazilian Steakhouse uptown in hosting the group’s first Daddy-Daughter Date Night.

The evening includes dinner, dancing and dessert with proceeds going to benefit Make-A-Wish of Central and Western North Carolina.

Twer’s hope is to raise $6,000 – enough to grant the wish of a child suffering from a life-threatening medical condition. Tickets are $70 for a daddy and one daughter; $100 for a daddy and two daughters. For information on how to register if you want to bring more than two daughters, and to reserve a spot, go to

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Friday, August 22, 2014

International Open House Aug. 24

International House is hosting an Open House from 5 to 7 p.m. on Aug. 24 at its new home, the Midwood International & Cultural Center (MICC).

From 5 to 6 p.m, visitors can meet the center's tenants, including the Light Factory, which has moved from uptown. From 6 to 7 p.m., there's Bosnian folk dancing, Indian classical dance, Puerto Rican folkloric dance and a Japanese chorus.

The address is 1817 Central Avenue. Details:

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Charity League Open House

The Charity League, which was founded in 1921 and is the oldest active charitable organization for women in Charlotte, is hosting an open house 7-9 p.m. Aug. 28 at FABO Coffee Art Bar, 8428 Park Road.

The nonprofit hopes the event will encourage women interested in volunteering with its programs that help children. People who want to become members are crucial because the nonprofit has no overhead, salaries or paid staff.

I’ve covered the nonprofit for years and it’s a terrific, multigenerational group of women who do so much to better the lives of children in our area, so I encourage you to learn more at

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Amazing Aucuba

My absolute favorite greenery to decorate with in the summer is Aucuba. That's because my favorite summer colors are lemon yellow and lime green, and both are represented in this pretty evergreen that is hearty and lush.

I took this photo this morning of an arrangement of Aucuba I made for my foyer on June 1. Yes, June 1. That's another reason I love Aucuba so much in the summer: it's easy breezy. I do have to make sure it stays watered, and occasionally I prune a dead leaf or two. The one downside is that you have to be careful where you place it because after a while it secretes a sap. My arrangement is on a glass topped table so as long as I keep on eye on it and clean it up as soon as I see the sap, it's fine.

When I finally change out this arrangement, probably at the end of summer around Sept. 21, these cuttings will have gone to root and I can plant them in the backyard and have yet another patch of beautiful Aucuba to enjoy throughout the four seasons.

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Free mini MoonPie with purchase

I've been running around finding items for the Style section's fall fashion story and one of my stops was Splurge boutique (

While I was in there, I noticed this basket filled with mini MoonPies.

When I asked about it, co-owner Laura Shwedo laughed and told me so many customers want to know if they can buy a MoonPie. She always tells them that the MoonPies are there for them to take and enjoy. Some of them still hesitate to take one. We really are so polite in Charlotte, aren't we?

Then we joked that maybe the store should offer them as a gift with purchase: Buy anything in the store and you get a free mini MoonPie!

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Going to Pieces

I've been hearing buzz about Pieces, a booth at the wildly popular Cotswold Marketplace ( that sells women's clothing and accessories, so I went by to check it out.

Pieces is run by Laura Park, whom I've admired over the years that I've covered Charlotte's philanthropic scene because she's very involved in giving back to the community, especially with arts groups. (The photo above is of Laura in Pieces with her daughter, Lawson). Laura is already an established vendor at the marketplace for several of her booths that sell home furnishings and decor under the name Laura Park Interiors.

Now she's also using her sense of style and her great eye to stock items for Pieces.

"I call it Pieces because I wanted to sell great, fun pieces," Laura said. When I dropped by Laura was there with her daughter, Lawson, who helps her mother with social media including Instagram. Who needs to hire a social media expert when you have a teen daughter on hand? Especially one that's as creative and fashion savvy as Lawson (I encourage you to check out Lawson's excellent blog,

I consider Pieces a find, and obviously others do too since almost everyone who was working at the marketplace that day happened to be wearing something they bought at the booth. Cotswold Marketplace owner Melissa Vandiver was in a dress from Pieces. When her co-worker Kat Hoskins heard her talking about how much she loved it, Kat pointed out that she was wearing a dress from Pieces as well. Then Neely Anderson chimed in and said she was wearing a Pieces top.

Here's a photo of Kat, from left, Neely and Melissa in their pieces from Pieces. They're standing in one of Laura's home decor booths:

Even though Pieces takes up a small area, it's so stocked with great items that I had a very hard time picking out a few of my favorites to highlight, but here they are:

Embroidered tote bag with tassels, Z&L, $54.

Sandals, Z&L, $42.

Nautical bracelet, $48.

Kerisma navy and white stripe top, $48.

Joy Joy black and white blouse, $74.

Entro Paisley top (some may want to wear this as a dress), $52.

Umgee dress (or tunic top) that's made in the USA, $56.

Sweet Sinammon top, $60.

Z&L duffel bag, $78.

Turquoise beaded necklace, $32 and giraffe necklace, $48.

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Monday, August 11, 2014

Blame it on Rio

I was at a party a few weeks ago and one of the guests I was hoping I would run into wasn't there. When I asked the hostess where he was, she said that he had called earlier and let her know that he was in Brazil on business and was stranded in Rio.

Stranded in Rio. Now that's a fabulous excuse for missing a party.

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Is Charlotte the friendliest city in America?

The short answer to that question is "no," at least according to a new survey by Conde Nast Traveler.

Its travel-obsessed readers ranked America's Top 10 friendliest, and unfriendliest cities. Charlotte didn't make either list, but the cities that were ranked the friendliest were mainly Southern cities. And conversely, all the unfriendliest cities were mainly Northern cities. 

As the survey points out, Southern Hospitality dominates. Right on, y'all! 

Here's the list:

Friendliest Cities:

1. Charleston, South Carolina
2. Savannah, Georgia
3. San Antonio, Texas
4. Telluride, Colorado
5. New Orleans, Louisiana
6. Fort Worth, Texas
7. Jackson Hole, Wyoming
8 and 9. Key West, Florida and Nashville, Tennessee (a tie)
10. Asheville, North Carolina

Unfriendliest Cities:

1. Newark, New Jersey
2. Oakland, California
3. Hartford, Connecticut
4. Atlantic City, New Jersey
5. New Haven, Connecticut
6. Detroit, Michigan
7. Los Angeles, California
8. The Hamptons, New York
9. Wilmington, Delaware
10. Miami, Florida

Here's the link to the full survey:

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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A sign for all ages

Kohl's sent me a few of the back to school items that will make college students' dorm rooms more cozy and functional.

Along with the one-cup coffee makers, shower caddies and laundry hampers was this fun item:

It's painted on a wooden box frame and retails for $9.99. (To order, go to

I love that it works for college students - it's a reminder for them to be confident and true to their awesome selves while they're away from home.

But I'm particularly interested in the sign because one big topic at parties is guests chatting about how forgetful they can be because they have so much going on. I've heard so many people that have it completely together but inside are so stressed because maybe they forgot a name or they can't remember a phone number. If you're over 40 and that happens, the first thing you worry about is that you're beginning to lose it. I always joke that I've been that way all my life so I can't really tell a difference.

I'm thinking about buying these signs in bulk since they are inexpensive. That way the next time someone I know who is wonderful frets over their memory, I could send them this reminder to not forget how awesome they are.

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Dadchelor Party

A new party trend just registered on my radar: Dadchelor parties. Also known as the Man Shower - a baby shower for the dad that's usually attended by his male friends.

Pinterest is filled with ideas for the invitations. It seems a lot of them revolve around beer. "Beer and Babies" and "Huggies and Chuggies" are two popular themes. In those cases, the invitations usually instruct the guests to bring a package of diapers as the gift. 

Some of party details I've seen online are serving guests beer in baby bottles and playing games including a stroller relay rally. Cakes in the shape of a beer can, some with diapers, appear to be popular. Also big are the diapers and gifts arranged into the shape of a cake that have been a staple of traditional baby showers for years. For Man Showers, they look much more masculine.

These parties - minus the alcohol - also seem to be gaining traction in the workplace. In those cases, the parties are similar to ones held for women, but just under the Man Shower name. If you search Instagram you'll see lots of meeting rooms filled with gifts for the daddy-to-be. 

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson


Friday, August 1, 2014

Don't paws...get your ticket now

Tickets just went on sale for Charlotte’s only black-tie optional fundraiser where guests can bring their dogs: The Humane Society of Charlotte’s Ties & Tails gala.

Sponsored by Dr. Neal S. Taub and Mercedes-Benz of South Charlotte, it’s 6-11 p.m. Oct. 25 at the Westin uptown. More than 400 guests are expected to attend the evening that includes cocktails, a Pet Parade, silent and live auctions, a band, dinner and dancing.

A major reason for getting your ticket early is that only 50 canine guests are allowed, but they’re treated as VIPs with concierges, “paw-parazzi” who take their photo and display it at the event and an on-site doggie massage therapist.

Tickets: $180;

Here are some photos from last year's event:

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