Wednesday, April 6

Behind the scene view of organizing a gala event: flowers, food, wine and philanthropy as we prepare for the Flawless Foundation's annual fundraiser on April 9

It takes a village 
at the Flawless Foundation
""Our vision is to see the perfection in every child. We're a non profit organization dedicated to more humane, compassionate care for children and adolescents living with mental health and neurodevelopmental challenges.We focus on prevention, evidence based, holistic treatments and advocacy."
President and Founding Board Member, Janine Francolini
Janine Francolini with my daughter Gabby (Flawless volunteer and photographer)
 at the Flawless Valentines Day Party.  There are many people working hard to make this special day come together, from the volunteers to all the committed board members. An extra special bonus - we will be toasting to our Honorary Chair Patrick Kennedy's recent engagement. Co-chair of the event Jim Watkins (WPIX News) will be on hand to raise a glass to Congressman Kennedy and his fiancee Amy Petitgout. Local friend Karenna Gore Schiff will present an award and the panel discussion will be moderated by Lisa Bloom. I am newly admitted to the board of Flawless and Janine asked me to help with co-chairing the event as well. Since I offered to make the flower arrangements for this exciting annual gala, I was extremely grateful when my friend Amy Dragoo of ABCDDESIGNS generously offered to help me create the floral arrangements for the sit down dinner.  In additional to many talents, Amy is a professional floral designer. We have already put in two trips to the flower market and two practice bouquets. I thought it would make an interesting story to show you the behind the scenes view of how much love and attention is going into the planning of this event.  There's much to discuss about the upcoming event: the delicious food, the event planning, the art, and of course, the amazing California wine. Come take a look, but first check out the story New York Family Magazine ran this week:
thanks to
New York Family magazine
for publishing this fabulous story
An Inspirational Parenting Panel
Friends Of Flawless Panel Discussion And Champagne Reception/Posted By: Eric Messinger

"If you think of parenthood as a journey of learning, hope, love, and resilience, it's hard to imagine a more inspiring or instructive panel discussion than the one assembled by the Flawless Foundation, which champions programs that "discover and nurture the perfection in every child," next Saturday, April 9, at 4:30 p.m. Brought together by their mission to help children with brain differences, the panel includes two pioneering clinicians and educators, Harold S. Koplewicz, M.D., of the Child Mind Institute, and Stuart Ablon, Ph.D., director of Think: Kids in the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital; Shonda Schilling, wife of baseball legend Curt Schilling and bestselling author of "The Best Kind of Different: Our Family's Journey with Asperger's Syndrome;" and Shari and Garen Staglin, who, inspired by their son's diagnosis of schizophrenia, created The Music Festival for Mental Health and the International Mental Health Research Organization. The panel discussion includes a follow-up cocktail reception catered by Chef David Burke. It is part of a fundraising evening chaired by Congressman Patrick Kennedy for The Flawless Foundation. Interested New York Family readers can pay half off the ticket price--or a total of $125--to attend the panel discussion and cocktail party. For more info and to purchase tickets, visit
for this story about our upcoming gala"
the beautiful and historic
Otto Khan and James Burden Mansion
at 91st & Fifth Avenue
in New York City

The Burden Mansion
read about the Mansion and it's rich history in New York City.  I learned in detail about the home in September 2008 when a group of us took a walking tour of Carnegie Hill -- read about our architectural walking tour.
with Amy Dragoo 
making a run at the NYC flower market
getting inspired by green and white

our first practice arrangement -
it looked lovely in my dining room
and the limes were very frangrant
First trip to NYC's flower market we came up with an elaborate display of large english garden style flowers with fresh sliced limes lining the vase.  Roses, peonies, snapdragons and lemon leaves in a  footed glass bowl.

Amy and I met again, reworked the plan for a tighter budget - these elegant arrangements will be fabulous for this Saturday's Flawless Foundation.  When we met Amy had just returned from a special floral arranging seminar with Suzanne Cummings in Chicago and learned a technique called HAND TIE. Amy tells me Suzanne has an intensive school and program to learn flower arranging. This style of arranging originated in London by floral designer Jane Packer.  I am very fortunate that Amy has taught me a little bit about HAND TIE. I took some flowers home and practiced, putting the bouquet in a patina'd iron urn:

The flowers will be pretty and these
tightly bound bundles of creamy white goodness
will be like the icing on the cake. 
See below Amy's version (much better than mine above -  my leaves are not quite rounded enough, but still practicing).

Amy's finished product
centerpeices for the tables
chef David Burke
we are very fortunate to have the talent and vision of Chef David Burke on April 9.
"Blazing across distinctions between chef, artist, entrepreneur, and inventor, David Burke is one of the leading pioneers in American cooking today. His fascination with ingredients and the art of the meal has fueled a career marked by creativity, critical acclaim, and the introduction of revolutionary products and cooking techniques"
David Burke website
The menu was created around classic New York dishes and seasonal ingredients with a David Burke flair, including the Rueben, Montauk Lobster Rolls, pizza and an heirloom beet salad to name a few.  David has also chosen to serve “everyone’s favorite” filet with potatoes for the main course and chocolate torte for dessert and of course his signature cheesecake lollipops.

s sample of the first course with David Burke, a fresh spring salad

David's famous cheesecake lollipops
David's fabulous restaurant David Burke Townhouse is always an adventure, with delicious food and wonderful surprises.  He also owns Fishtail and his newly opened restaurant The Kitchen in New York City.
"We are creating an old world theme because of the history and timeless beauty of the Burden Mansion. I am calling it classic Flavors with a twist.
David Burke has created a classic menu with
gorgeous spring colors and flavors"
Pamela Morgan

Pamela is working tirelessly behind the scenes to make certain our event flows well,
from the beautiful decor to the delicious food. Check out Pamela's cookbook for fabulous recipes and entertaining ideas.
“At Staglin Family Vineyard, our motto is “Great Wines for Great Causes.” The wine we make is a not only a passion in itself but also a means to make the world a better place. We are happy to support the great efforts of the Flawless Foundation with our SALUS wines, which benefit mental health research; and, we are honored to be the recipients of the Flawless Philanthropy Award.”
Shari and Garen Staglin
The Staglin Family Vineyard
in Rutherford, California 
The Staglins have generously donated these fabulous wines from their vineyard. 
Here's the WHITE
and the RED...
Gratitude Designs
 by Tara Dixon
 a company based on acknowledgement and gratitude.
Tara is a painter from Brooklyn, NY who started a series of paintings in the Spring of 2010 with the words “thank you” inscribed into the final layer of wet paint. The colors she uses are vibrant jewel tones and the studies have an abstract landscape feel. The paintings are meant to be reminders or mantras. The product line consists of reproductions of the original 12” x 12” canvases, greeting cards and gratitude journals. Tara has donated 5% of profits to The Flawless Foundation.

These lovely works will be used to create awards and presented to the panel attendees at Saturday's discussion and gala!
 Flowers, Food, Wine, Art, Fun, Education and Philanthropy --
all happening this Saturday, April 9
at The Burden Mansion
in New York City.
 I truly hope to see you there.
 Happy Nesting
XO Tamara
Tickets can be purchased
 at The Flawless Foundation.


quintessence said...

What beauty all the way around - food, wine, and the amazing flowers!! You all are doing an amazing job for a very worthy cause!!

Mae @ Here in This House said...

Love the idea of using the limes in the vase. It dresses up a clear vase and makes it smell wonderful. Looks like it will be a great event. Have fun and great work!

Anonymous said...

such pretty flowers and with David Burke's food and the space should be a beautiful event for a worthwhile cause and congratulations!

My Dog-Eared Pages said...

What an amazing job you are all doing T! I wish you all the success this weekend. I know your flowers will be flawless and that you will get the rounded edges down! I'm craving a fresh beet salad now. Great work for such a good cause!! oxo

Tamara Matthews-Stephenson said...

Thanks everyone -- so far smooth sailing and keeping finger's crossed it all comes together beautifully. xo tamara

Janine said...

Everything is absolutely gorgeous! Beautiful flowers, mouthwatering culinary creations, and a wonderful cause. Congratulations on bringing together such an amazing event!

Aarthi said...

The arrangements are stunning! So much talent for such a worthy cause, this event is sure to be an absolute success!

Anonymous said...

Your flower arrangements are going to be spectacular, Mom. Can't wait! xx Gabby

Tamara Matthews-Stephenson said...

Wow - first time you left me a comment on Nest Gabby -- had to take a double take. Thanks and you will be great as a volunteer as well, working hard. The Thanks goes to Amy of ABCDDESIGNS.COM for all her generous time and talent for Flawless. xo

Anonymous said...

I have been to staglin's vineyard and it is beautiful. You will certainly enjoy this wine. Enjoy and thanks for the detailed outline of how it all happens. It does seem like a great cause, Julie Maier

Anonymous said...

those flowers are pretty and Suzanne looks to be a good teacher. I live in Chicago area and hope to meet her soon. Good luck with the charity. Sally

slesk said...

Wishing you luck with the Flawless Foundation gala this weekend. I'm sure it will be a wonderful affair and your hard work will ensure much money raised.

Debbie Clarke aka pbsage said...

Tamara: This Nest is gorgeous. btw: saw Richard last night. He says "Hello!"

divinepainter said...

Wow! That is an extraordinary ceiling. I would LOVE to get my hands on that! Looks like you had a beautiful evening... and no detail was left unattended. Bravo!

Merope said...

What beautiful flower arrangements! Brava Tamara! We look forward to your amazing work at next year's Flawless gala.