Saturday, August 30, 2014


Here is the link:VOTE FOR HAILEY
My grand niece Hailey is an amazing girl. She lives in Apache Junction, Arizona and she is quite the little cow girl. She has entered a contest and I need your help my dear Visual Vamp readers to vote for her in a contest the Girl Scouts are having (Hailey is a Girl Scout). Just click on the link and vote. You can vote many times, once an hour. We need to get her a couple of thousand votes pronto. Hailey is so proud of her Auntie Vamp's blog and is hoping that I can help her out. 
So go on and vote! You guys are always in my corner and you know I love you for it.

Hailey owns her horse, cares for it, and competes in barrel racing!

From the Girl Scouts:

Who says Girl Scouts is just about cookies, camps, and crafts? Whoever it was certainly forgot about health, fitness, and leadership! Since the beginning of time—1912, to be exact—Girl Scouts of the USA has placed special emphasis on the importance of staying active and adopting a healthy lifestyle full of creative outdoor activities and a balanced diet.
We want to see you in action!
First place: $300 gift card plus GirlSports merchandise bundle Second place: $150 gift card plus GirlSports merchandise bundle Third place: GirlSports merchandise bundle.


Monday, August 4, 2014

Infused With Chic Mardi Gras Colors

Kicking off Essence Festival 2014, the McDonald’s Infused culinary event at Café Reconcile in New Orleans offered a unique approach to McDonald’s menu items. Partnering with Café Reconcile, the McDonald’s Infused event celebrated local cuisine while remixing them with ingredients McDonald's uses on its everyday menu.

Infused with chic color

I got a call from a colleague (Mark Musters) in New York about doing the decor for this event. He could not do it so he connected with me a terrific event planner named Mary Kay Navarro who is based in Chicago. I become her visual point person in New Orleans.

Getting ready to stage the room

The brief I got was that while New Orleans elements and carnival colors (purple. green, gold) would be used, they had to be chic and sophisticated. The usual dark more gaudy purples were replaced with a smoky lavender. The emerald green of Mardi Gras was replaced with a more chartreuse green, and the gold was re-imagined as silver.

My assistant Joe setting up silver lanterns - lanterns are very much identified with New Orleans

The event was held at Cafe Reconcile, which is a restaurant used to train young people (age 16-22) in all facets of the hospitality industry. It is a terrific program focusing on inner city kids that empowers these kids to take a career path.

One of the culinary students at Cafe Reconcile helps out
McDonald's wanted to feature the fresh and wholesome ingredients they use daily for their regular menus served in a local McDonald's near you. They want the message to come across that the fast food they serve is not unhealthy. They have made huge efforts and strides to modify their menus toward a fresh and healthier approach. Magazine editors, social media, television, community members, and bloggers were the invited guests.

I engaged Event Rentals to hang lanterns in the courtyard in our chic colors

The tables are coming together - Smokey lavender Bengaline tablecloths, mercury glass votive candle holder with a Fleur di lis motif, satellite flower arrangements each in a different container, and moss balls to play off the flora and fauna associated with New Orleans

Tina Dixon the catering manager of Cafe Reconcile was a tremendous asset

So many great details were added by McDonald's, including this macaroon shaped like a hamburger - McDonald's features macaroons on their everyday menu

The chef from McDonald's tying a ribbon on each little box for the macaroons, which were given as a party favor

The party favor is in place - How cute is that!

Each table had cards stating some fun facts about McDonald's
Menus are added to the table

Another detail: The Infused graphics were shown on TV monitors throughout the space

Guests entered from the street into the courtyard for cocktails

The dining room is set up and ready

I created a gallery wall installed over the "stew" (the area were a hot table with food is usually served)

I printed black and white images of New Orleans interspersed with photos of the food ingredients McDonald's uses

The images were put into frames - Tip: Do not use the glass that comes with frames for a richer look and print in black and white

Another view of the dining room

A view of the courtyard from the balcony above

The courtyard festooned in the Infused colors

Lavender and chartreuse used in the courtyard; dark metal lanterns were used here as table centerpieces

The sculpture was made by Cafe Reconcile students after Hurricane Katrina to signify the helping hand they get in the program

Table top detail
Table top detail

Table top detail - I arranged the flowers in tight bouquets

Table top detail

The menu
This same young lady who worked all day with me, also worked all night as a server - she is serving the Muffazella salad

This is a play on Yaka Mein, a very local dish in New Orleans

Blackened fish fillet (the same fish served daily at McDonald's) with fire roasted grits

Lemon Ice box cakes were made from the lemon cookies McDonald's serves daily

The Cajun fries served during cocktail hour

I loved doing this project, and I hope you enjoyed seeing a bit of the process.