A Writer’s Garden Plans Announced With A Taste Of “Authentic Texas”

There’s a mistaken belief that the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden’s only claim to fame is its annual Mad Hatter’s Tea in the spring. Not so. For 35 years, the organization has been responsible for A Woman’s Garden’s development, maintenance and endowment and that takes more funding than a tea party can provide.

That’s why they established “A Writer’s Garden” Literary Symposium and Luncheon 11 years ago. It provides the opportunity for authors and speakers to share their “rich histories about gardens, architecture and art and illuminating stores of extraordinary individuals and events.”

Kay Weeks, Nancy Bierman and Susan Adzick*

On Monday, August 28, Symposium Co-Chairs Susan Adzick and Kay Weeks held a kick-off party at Ginger and Rod Sager‘s home to announce 2017 Symposium plans to a crowd including Women’s Council President Melissa LewisMichelle Mew, Lisa Laughlin, Ramona Jones, Sharon Barbee, Cynthia Beaird, Linda Huffines, Judy Birchfield and Barbara and Bob Bigham.

Dorothea Meltzer and Melissa Lewis*

Barbara and Bob Bigham*

In addition to Nancy Bierman’s serving as honorary chair, this year’s theme will be “Authentic Texas… Food and Gardens” to coincide with the opening of the Arboretum’s new “A Tasteful Place.” To support the theme, Susan, Kay and Program Chair Dorothea Meltzer have arranged for a pretty heady lineup of speakers, who will “showcase the cultural influences that shaped the distinct styles of Texas food, heartfelt stories about the farming and ranching families that are in the forefront of the organic food movement, and personal experiences that celebrate the value of using native plants and flowers in the planned landscape.”

The presentations and luncheon will take place on Thursday, November 2, from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Arboretum’s Rosine Hall, the following speakers will be on the program:

  • Jessica Dupuy of Austin is a native Texan who writes about wine, spirits, food, and travel. In her latest book, “United Tastes of Texas: Authentic: Recipes from All Corners of the Lone Star State,” she shares her rich knowledge of the cultural and regional diversity of the state and how it has impacted the Texas culinary experience. Jessica is a contributing columnist for Texas Monthly magazine and has written other cookbooks including “The Salt Lick Cookbook: A Story of Land, Family and Love, “Uchi: The Cookbook” and “Jack Allen’s Kitchen Cookbook.”
  • Pamela Walker of Santa Fe local farm and food activist, and author of “Growing Good Things to Eat” in Texas, has spent years researching the farming and ranching families who have been a driving force in the organic and sustainable farming food revival in Texas. Pam is a retired Assistant Director of the Center for the Study of Cultures at Rice University, Houston and a former academic librarian and college English teacher.
  • Andrea DeLong-Amaya of Austin is Director of Horticulture at The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, garden columnist and teacher. She teaches classes in native plant horticulture and has contributed to many magazines, including Taunton’s Fine Gardening, Rodale’s Organic Gardening, Neil Sperry’s Gardens magazine as well as the American Public Gardens Association’s Public Garden.

Individual tickets start at $125, but consider upgrading to the patron level or a sponsorship, because there will be a sponsors/patron party earlier in the week and you know your gene pool is the patron level.

* Photo credit: Deborah Brown

Mad Hatter’s Tea Judges Scored With Some Pretty Heady Escorts For The Arboretum’s Fundraiser Patron Party At Amy And Kelsey Warren’s Estate

As Pat Green surveyed Mad Hatter’s Tea Honorary Co-Chair Amy and Kelsey Warren’s backyard, he laughed when someone asked him if it was bigger than his spread in Fort Worth on Tuesday, April 25. What brought the country-western singer to Dallas was the Mad Hatter’s Tea patron party. No, he wasn’t going to be entertaining at the tea the following Thursday. But his adorable blonde wife Kori Green was going to be one of the category judges and Pat was playing the role of escort for the evening.

Amy Warren

Pat and Kori Green

Still another escort was Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, who was also playing a secondary role to wife Micki Rawlings, who also was to be a judge.

Mike and Micki Rawlings

Tracy Rathbun and “her husband”

But wait! There was still another judge in the crowd overlooking the palatial grounds. It was restaurateur Tracy Rathbun with “her husband.” Tracy told “her husband” she had been amazed earlier in the day at how itty-bitty Simone Biles was at the “A Chance to Soar” benefiting Jonathan’s Place.

Amanda Hill and Melissa Lewis

Jocelyn White and Joani White

Others in the crowd were the Honorary Co-Chairs Amanda Hill, Women Council of the Dallas Arboretum President Melissa Lewis, evening’s chair Emilynn Wilson and husband Claude Wilson, Anne Stodghill, Phyllis and CJ Comu, Joani White and Jocelyn White, who would be emcee at Saturday’s Equest Gala as well as the Mad Hatter’s Tea.

Mad Hatter’s “Under The Tuscan Sun” Reveal Party Had Loads Of Surprises And Rachel Zoe Name Dropping

With just five months to prepare their dazzling headpieces, the Maddest Hatters gathered at Tootsies on Thursday, November 17. Besides celebrating any occasion connected with the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum, the guests were there to learn the details for the Thursday, April 27th Mad Hatter’s Tea at the Arboretum.

Dyann Skelton, Melissa Lewis and Emilynn Wilson

Yes, the date was important because, unlike a few years back when guests shivered in near-freezing temperatures, Women’s Council President Melissa Lewis and Event Chair Linda Spina picked a date in late April when frost will be long gone. It also allows more time to prepare those hats for showing and competing.

Linda Spina and Lynn Dealey

Under The Tuscan Sun*

But the big news was the event’s theme. This news was the one that warmed the hearts and glue guns of hat designers. Drum roll. The theme for the 29th Mad Hatter’s Tea will be “Under the Tuscan Sun.” No wonder the gals picked a sun-friendly date and artist Lynn Dealey’s sunflowers artwork took full advantage of the theme.

But wait, there was still more news and it was a real head turner. Thanks to Tootsies’ Nerissa von Helpenstill and the Mad Hatters brain trust, super-duper special guest will be fashion designer, author, business woman, nuclear scientist Rachel Zoe. (Okay, so maybe not that last one about the nuclear scientist, but she’s everything else and so much more.) Is anyone surprised that Mad Hatters fashion sponsor Tootsies carries Rachel’s line of fashions? Nah!

Sharla Bush and Amy Warren

While a couple of the guests (mostly guys) looked a little baffled about the younger crowd getting downright thrilled over Rachel’s participation, they’ll wise up by the big day, especially if they check out The Zoe Report.

Adding to the namedropping of the occasion, it was revealed that Amy Warren and her daughter Amanda Hill would serve as honorary co-chairs thanks to their buddy Mad Hatter’s Co-Chair/Warren buddy/McKinney shop keeper Sharla Bush.

But there was even more good news. Individual tickets are available now at $350 via the Women’s Council website. Later in the spring a limited number of tickets will be made available for $250. But who wants to wait and take a chance on missing the fashion show produced by Jan Strimple, a seated luncheon overlooking the Arboretum grounds, and being seen on the scene?

Proceeds from the event will “grow and maintain A Woman’s Garden.”

* Graphic courtesy of Lynn Dealey

2016 Dallas Symphony Orchestra League’s Debutante Presentation Results Reported

Melissa Lewis and Nancy Labadie (File photo)

Melissa Lewis and Nancy Labadie (File photo)

The two biggy fundraisers for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra are the Dallas Symphony Orchestra League’s spring Debutante Presentation Ball and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra Association’s Dallas Symphony Gala that kicks off the black-tie fundraising season in the fall.

How big? Well, 2015-2016 DSOL President Melissa Lewis just sent word that thanks to “the Ball (along with our other fundraisers), the Dallas Symphony Orchestra League raised over $773,000 which was given back to the Dallas Symphony in support of their outreach and education programs.”

A tip of the hat to 2016 Ball Chair Nancy Labadie and the rest of the DSOL-ers on a mission well done.

41 Debutantes Executed Flawless Texas Dips At The 30th Annual Dallas Symphony Orchestra League Presentation Ball

It appeared as if a gorgeous flock of 41 swans had gathered at the Meyerson on Saturday, February 20. Instead of feathery birds, the 41 were the 2016 Dallas Symphony Orchestra League debs for the 30th annual Dallas Symphony Orchestra fundraiser. Despite the preceding days of brunches, teas and chic cocktail parties, the young women floated about the Meyerson lobby in gowns made of silks, satins and tulle. Some wore simple strands of pearls. Some wore spray tans. But all followed marching orders to wear their hair pulled back from their faces. After all, experienced vets had warned that loose curls played havoc when executing the legendary Texas Dip.

And then there was that problem of lipstick. It mustn’t kiss the gown’s white skirt for fear of leaving smudge marks.

As for footwear, deb Caroline McDaniel, who had bowed last year at La Fiesta de las Seis Banderas, opted for flats. It probably made walking down the stage’s steps and doing the dip a lot easier. Another deb advised her sister debs on how to manage the step leading up and out of the hall following their presentation.

Tai Massimilian, Andrew Hall, Payton Scott and Mary Margaret Hancock

Tai Massimilian, Andrew Hall, Payton Scott and Mary Margaret Hancock

Abby Tisdale and Samuel Boyd

Abby Tisdale and Samuel Boyd

But before the debs were presented on stage, it was time to chill and get to know white-tie members of the Honor Guard, who were serving as the evening’s escorts. When one deb was asked about her gent du jour, she fessed up that she had just met him that night.

While some deb mums fussed with the arrangement of the place cards at their tables for the dinner following the presentation in McDermott Hall, a small group of adults including Ball Chair Nancy Labadie in a Renee Ruiz from Tootsies, Jolie and Bart Humphrey, and Kim and Bob Clark relaxed with plenty of room to sit, chat, sip and munch at a super-duper VIP reception in the Horchow Hall. There never seemed to be more than two people in line at the bar. Servers offered silver trays of hors d’oeuvres. According to Honor Guard vet John Cooper, who had lost 15 pounds thanks to cutting back on soda and eating half-portion courses, the winning tasty of the night was the Beef Wellington, hands down. Topics of the evening ranged from the doldrums of the oil business to upcoming plans for spring break.

Marlee Westmoreland, Ellie Hurwitz, Faith Lee, Megahn Ringler, Sarah Butler, Hayward Hiltreth, Sophie Phifer and Victoria Wittemann

Marlee Westmoreland, Ellie Hurwitz, Faith Lee, Megahn Ringler, Sarah Butler, Hayward Hiltreth, Sophie Phifer and Victoria Wittemann

Just a few feet away, the sea of guests partied in the lower lobby with no food being distributed and line ups at the bars stretching in length, proving that VIP-ism has its perks. Didn’t matter. Everyone was having way too much fun. In from college, Marlee Westmoreland, Ellie Hurwitz, Faith Lee, Megahn Ringler, Sarah Butler, Hayward Hiltreth, Sophie Phifer and Victoria Wittemann were there for deb Laura Scully. Escorts Jet Tuman, Bradley Harrington, Bennett Campbell, Will Vanderstraaten and Walker Coffman passed on the flutes of champagne for bottles of beer.

Jet Tuman, Bradley Harrington, Bennett Campbell, Will Vanderstraaten and Walker Coffman

Jet Tuman, Bradley Harrington, Bennett Campbell, Will Vanderstraaten and Walker Coffman

As the waves of guests now started arriving via the Flora entrance with the debs’ portraits in the entry or the lower level valet, the crowd was filling to capacity. One woman bringing drinks to her friends gingerly managed the marble steps leading from the lower-level lobby to the landing. She slowly took one step at a time. Another young woman wasn’t so lucky, taking a spill as she walked up the staircase. Before white-tied escorts could come to her assistance, she was already back on her stilettos.

A couple or three or four gals in strapless gowns had to use both hands to hoist their bodices upward.

Speaking of fashion, a question was raised, “Is it all right to wear a white gown at a deb presentation?” Someone laughed, “No self-respecting man should.”

Another woman bringing drinks to her friends gingerly managed the marble steps. She slowly took one step at a time.

At 7:25 p.m., as the river of black tie and gowned guests continued to flow down to the lower-level reception, the escorts and deb fathers started showing signs of heading to the McDermott Hall’s backstage for the presentation.

Just five minutes later the flow of guests shifted now heading upstream to fill the hall.

Marilyn Augur, Margaret Hancock and Ann Hardaway

Marilyn Augur, Margaret Hancock and Ann Hardaway

Early arrivals in the hall included Marilyn Augur looking like a snow angel with daughters Margaret Hancock in blue and Ann Hardaway in red. Marilyn admitted that she hadn’t attended the ball since her daughters debuted back when. Now, she was attending her granddaughter Mary Margaret Hancock’s debut presentation.

Cindrette McDaniel and Paige McDaniel

Cindrette McDaniel and Paige McDaniel

By 7:55 p.m. the rows of seats were starting to fill with folks like John Phifer Marrs, James Campbell, Bob Gibbs with cane in hand, Paige McDaniel with her mom Cindrette McDaniel and Austin Merritt. MIA were deb brothers Chance Cooley (he was at the St. Mark’s game) and Robbie Beal (he was home chowing down on Bubba’s fried chicken). The Meyerson ushers were doing a yeoman’s job of checking tickets and directing first-timers in the right direction. Old-timers looked a little surprised as one young woman’s voice was heard over the din calling out her friend’s name. Perhaps she didn’t realize that the Meyerson’s legendary acoustics could magnify her broadcast.

Dixey Arterburn, Cynthia Beaird, Melissa Lewis, Nancy Labadie, Ginger Sager

Dixey Arterburn, Cynthia Beaird, Melissa Lewis, Nancy Labadie, Ginger Sager

Promptly at 8:09 p.m., the hall was filled except for three rows just to the left of the stage. Those seats were reserved for the fathers after presenting their deb daughters on stage. Cellphones were being readied to record favorite debs and their escorts. Emcee Stan Gardner opened the program introducing DSOL President Melissa Lewis, who in turn introduced Nancy. As ball chair, she recognized on stage her committee members (Cynthia Beaird, Dixey Arterburn, Ginger Sager and Barbara Paschall Averitt) and past ball chairs like Ball Founder Tincy Miller, Sharon Popham and Venise Stuart) as well as Honorary Ball Co-Chairs Lisa and George Longino, who were seated in the balcony, and her family.

Stan was then back at the podium introducing the Assembly officers (Claire Catrino, Sarah Frazee, Elizabeth Metzger, Madison Hassell, Marielle LeMasters, Elizabeth Dorsey, Katherine Hitzelberger, Fallon Schneider and Fallon Bock) and the Honor Guard officers (Willard Langhenry IV, Mark Lafferty II, Houston Waring, Charles Wysocki, Michael Machak, Andrew Perry and Austin Franks) on stage.

Lowrie Reniger and John Reniger

Lowrie Reniger and John Reniger

Peyton Porter and Matthew Glaser

Peyton Porter and Matthew Glaser

Payton Scott

Payton Scott

Ciara Cooley and Henry Howard

Ciara Cooley and Henry Howard

By 8:30, it was showtime for the individual introduction of the 41 debs at the top of the stage’s stairs. After stepping down the staircase on the arms of their fathers, they received a kiss on the cheek from their dads and stood alone centerstage to execute the dip. With the announcement of their escort, the young men entered from the right side of the stage, offering their hand to help the debs to their feet. Following a few snapshots, the couple exited down the stairs from the stage for the hall’s aisle and out the door. Where did they go? They headed backstage for the grand finale of all debs and escorts on stage to a standing ovation.

And where were the deb mothers? They had been carefully seated along the aisles, allowing them to make a quick exit following the presentation to join their husbands around the dance floor in the lobby.

Meredith Weaver and Michael Barnes

Meredith Weaver and Michael Barnes

Lauren Beal, Austin Merritt, Gracie Beal, Simona Beal, Andy Beal and Tasha Beal

Lauren Beal, Austin Merritt, Gracie Beal, Simona Beal, Andy Beal and Tasha Beal

As the parents waited and the guests filled the lobby and overhead balcony to watch the first dance, organizers in formal attire accessorized with headsets secured a path for the deb swans and their white-tie escorts to follow from the hall to the dance floor. As the girls arrived on the arms of their escorts, the couples were separated with the debs released on the dance floor searching for their parents, while the escorts were on their own.

The first dance of the night had the 41 dads and 41 debs managing to waltz on the cramped dance floor to the tunes of the Jordan Kahn orchestra. Every now and then a father would take a chance and twirl his daughter under his arm without colliding into another couple. Despite the coziness, there wasn’t a frown to be seen either on the dance floor or from the watching crowd.

One engineering type commented that there’s just too little space for more than 160 people to dance (41 debs + 41 dads + 41 mom + 41 escorts). Perhaps the solution is to hold the affair at Cowboys Stadium. Nah! Wouldn’t be the same.

For more photos of the 41 debs, escorts and parents, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.