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Flamingo Fun!

July 30, 2018
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Entertaining with Bev: Flamingo Fun
A party for our new neighbors
Bev Church | Photos by Linda Reese Bjork

We have adorable new neighbors who just moved in, and to welcome them we decided to have a pool party for the children: Weston, Ann Colin and Kate!
We already have several flamingos in our garden, as well as in the pool, so I decided to center the theme on them. After trips to Party City and Hobby Lobby, I collected flamingo glasses, trays, lights, head bobbers and backpacks, and I even found a flamingo light at Dillard’s.
Everyone came at 4:30 p.m. so they could swim and have snacks and popsicles. Then a few games, including riding on a peacock float, obviously a friend of our flamingos. After swimming and playing games, we served mini pizzas and chips. The hit for the girls were light up butterfly rings and Weston loved the water balloons!
Welcome to the neighborhood! We have another new neighbor who’s a famous artist so I’m working on her party; stay tuned.

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A Fall Luncheon

November 30, 2017
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A Fall Luncheon in Old Metairie
In celebration of The New Orleans Town Gardeners’ 65th birthday

Photos by Linda Reese Bjork
Now that the weather is finally getting cooler, what better way to entertain than to have a luncheon for the girls in your garden club – especially when it’s the club’s 65th-birthday! The party was for all ages, from 30 to 90. (Which reminds me of the most important advice that icon Sunny Norman gave me: The way to stay young is to have young friends and friends of all ages!)

Front door pieces by Melissa Hayley greeted guests. Tables were set up in the garden. Cyclamen in antique cache pots accented floral tablecloths. Lunch was served after a special program created by Harriet Nelson, Flora French and Adelaide Benjamin touting the amazing projects of The New Orleans Town Gardeners!

The dining room table was beautifully set with an Italian Point de Venise lace cloth topped with beautiful silver serving pieces, a flower arrangement created by Mary Funderburk and lunch created by Epsie Hennessey. Who could have a birthday party without a cake? This one was created by Maurice!

The New Orleans Town Gardeners have been instrumental in many civic projects that have benefited our city, including: spearheading the funding and beautification projects at Lee Circle and at Jackson Square; funding the Garden Library,now housed at Tulane University; and funding the Edible Schoolyard at Samuel J. Green Charter School. We are now involved with the Grow Dat Youth Farm at City Park and are creating a new fundraiser, “The Heart of the Park,” which will raise funds for the preservation of the oak trees at City Park as well as for projects of the club.

Happy 65th birthday!

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Country Calling!

October 30, 2017
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Entertaining with Bev: Country Calling
This fall, take a weekend trip for the perfect party
Bev Church

Setting your table up in a field creates the perfect ambience.
Linda Bjork
With fall in the air, what could be more fun than a weekend trip to the country with family and close friends? Plan lots of activities – go fishing in the morning; feed the cows and the chickens; go on hikes; play soccer, baseball, ping pong and horseshoes; and go swimming if it’s not too cold – while everyone collects firewood for a big bonfire in the evening.

Eat lunch in the field near the cows (who are, of course, behind an electric fence). Tie maple leaf branches to the backs of the chairs and use folk art to decorate. Clip knockout roses and other fall flowers and place in pottery vases.

If you catch fish, have a fish fry. To that, add potato salad and cole slaw and serve old-fashioned blueberry crumble for dessert.

At night, cook out with hamburgers, steak, chicken, whatever you prefer, and serve with a huge salad. After dinner, it’s time to light the bonfire, sing and roast s’mores. Everyone should sleep tight and sleep late the next morning!

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Easter Parade!

April 30, 2017
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Entertaining with Bev
A Neighborhood Easter Parade

Photographed by Linda Reese Bjork
This town loves a parade, so why not gather the neighborhood families together and get everyone in on the fun for Easter? Any holiday will do! March down the street a few blocks and then have an Easter egg hunt.

Start by decorating golf carts with Easter-themed garland and bunnies (we purchased ours at Gordon’s and The Dollar Tree). Clip on brightly colored tulle. Bunny ears are a must, and the bunny apron that Lucy Schwartz is wearing came from Orient Expressed. Give everyone rhythm instruments and get the boom box going (I found the drum that Kate Bensel is carrying at the New Orleans Music Exchange on Magazine Street).

We hid colorful eggs filled with jellybeans and gummy bears, and the cupcakes came from Rouses. Serve juice drinks for the children and champagne for the adults.

Thanks to Kate Bensel for being my assistant and to Tom and Carol Reese for their incredible garden.

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A Blooming History

April 30, 2017
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A Blooming History
Luis Colmenares and Bev Church teamed up – again – for “Art in Bloom”
Bev Church

Luis Colmenares and I have teamed up on many projects for over 30 years. We started collaborating with furniture for my and my husband’s house, and then Luis and I started designing centerpieces for my collection, Entertaining Celebrations. When I’m asked to create a party or event, I speak to the client first and if something must be created, I call Luis! The first large party we did was a seated dinner for 600 for Entergy. We designed the centerpiece, which consisted of 10 vases put together, so each guest got to take their individual vase, complete with flowers, home as a gift.

“Art in Bloom” is no exception. It all started with my dream of a large pink-and-white striped tent at the beach. First, Luis does a sketch, then he draws a design with chalk on the floor of his studio so we get the scale. Next, he creates a metal frame and cuts out curtains, a flag, a sun and stars from metal sheets. He painted some of the stripes so we could get an idea of what it would look like. When the final product is ready, all of the detailing comes in with Luis’s amazing expertise.

I handled the table, creating the look – painting it hot pink and designing the flowers that were the chargers and centerpiece. I used mini chrysanthemums and sweetheart roses in hot pink and orange.

“Art in Bloom,” which benefits the New Orleans Museum of Art and The Garden Study Club, is an incredible event, and Luis and I were excited to be included in the “Movers and Shakers” category. The creativity of all of the designers is over the top, and it’s an event we all look forward to each year. What an honor!

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An Evening of Sheer Delight

March 22, 2017
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Jane Casbarian’s 70th Birthday Party at Arnaud’s by Bev Church

Knowing that Jane Casbarian, the proprietor of world-famous Arnaud’s Restaurant, was going to be the big 7-0, Archie, Katy and Adrienne Casbarian planned a party for her that she would never forget. They wanted to surprise her with all of the things that she loves, and especially planned a menu that her husband Archie would have planned just for her. Jane isn’t only beautiful inside and out, she’s also loved by her children and daughter-in-law and all of her friends – the toasts certainly reflected that!

First, the invitation by Betty Hunley set the scene with Jane popping out of a cake. The centerpieces by Perfect Presentations were dolls with skirts created out of real flowers. Incredible large bouquets of Jane’s favorite flowers filled the cocktail rooms and the Irma Room, where a seated dinner was served. T-Ray the Violinist played while guests enjoyed wine, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, including gougeres stuffed with Fontina cheese and prosciutto; souffléed potatoes; marinated shrimp with soy-ginger vinaigrette wrapped with a peapod; and lobster with dill lemon butter and caviar.

Jane was then led into the Irma Room, where guests found their place cards and favors. The men received M&M’s featuring Jane’s face and her dog Momus on them placed inside a gumball machine. The ladies received a doll that looked just like Jane, complete with her favorite accessories: Momus, touches of Chanel (her favorite designer) and the diamond heart earrings that Archie, her husband, had designed for her years ago. Katie sent pictures to her friend in New York City, who created the one-of-a-kind dolls. After everyone was seated, the Arnaud’s band came to serenade her with a birthday song and the best surprise of all – Big Freedia came to sing Happy Birthday as well! Dinner featured her favorite things: crabmeat salad; quail consommé; filet mignon with foie gras, sauce Perigueux and shaved truffles; Annette potatoes; asparagus; and, of course, birthday cake. After dinner Adrienne had party games with favors for all of those who had correct answers.

It was an evening of sheer delight for a friend who deserves the very best!

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A Climb to the Top!

February 1, 2017
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Climbing to the Top
Dr. Church’s volcano party
Bev Church

Dr. John Church has retired from his plastic surgery practice and is keeping busy by climbing volcanoes in Nicaragua and Guatemala. (Before this, he climbed mountains – like the Aconcaqua and the Pico do Orizaba – all over the U.S. and South America. He definitely needed a celebration to honor his achievements, so Luis Colmenares, John Rowland of Hospitality Catering and I got together. We started with a small volcano that Luis would create for the front of the house, but as you can see, it turned into a two-story creation with lava-like lighting, smoke and glowing rocks flowing from the top of the volcano! Luis even covered the walkway and painted stones so you felt that you were walking up the mountain yourself.

Once inside, the table had another volcano as the centerpiece and an incredible menu that included Crescent City steak bites and petite wild mushroom chevre cakes to start; with Louisiana paella with shrimp, crawfish, crab, chicken and chorizo sausage; blackened chicken orzo pasta; forestiere salad; and Gruyère soufflé for the main course.

I decorated several tables so that guests could choose where to sit and then serve themselves. Director Miles Mumford created a video of the climbs in Guatemala and Nicaragua so we could imagine that we were there, too! I handed out maracas to everyone for favors, and with those and tambourines we danced around to the juke box all night and then went outside to watch the volcano glowing under the stars.

We are getting ready to host more volcano parties soon, so stay tuned!

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