Photography by-Colleen Cahill Studios

Monday, January 14, 2013

2013 Portland Bridal Show attracts over 10,000 guests!

Ted Douglass and me, your co-hosts!
I'll be the first to admit, I love all things wedding.  I love the flowers, the gowns, and of course the cake.  I love the wedding cake!  So as Mistress of Ceremonies for the 34th annual Portland Bridal Show I was in wedding heaven!

Glorious gowns, fabulous floral arrangements and more scrumptious cake than I could possibly consume in two lifetimes were all at my disposal.  Well, mine, and the over 10,000 attendees looking to plan weddings.

Getting ready backstage.

The Portland Bridal Show kicked off Saturday with three fashion shows to huge crowds of eager brides, bridesmaids, and mothers-of-the-brides.  Sunday concluded with the final two fashion shows and lots of happy brides.  Of course, with my baby girl engaged to be married this year, I was paying very close attention to all kinds of wedding things!

With a wonderful array of models, show attendees were able to see a stunning collection of options for everyone to wear for the big day.  Needless to say, it made the decision making all the more difficult for me.  So many choices!

Dressed for the runway.
The Oregonian newspaper was once again a generous sponsor of the $23,000 Ultimate Wedding Giveaway, as well as dozens and dozens of the many vendors in attendance ready to assist the scores of bridal parties.  Be looking for the announcement very soon on 105.1 The Buzz radio to find out which lucky couple will be the recipient of that fabulous prize!

Red, white, and blue!
Skamainia Lodge was also on hand to giveaway not one, but five, three-day getaways, one for each of the five fashion shows throughout the weekend.  Dining and golfing and massages; oh my!

Cinderella bride
After seeing all the options and details in the planning for my own daughter's wedding I am thinking they need to look into giving away a "mother-of-the-bride" package, too, redeemable for the weekend after the wedding!

As Mistress of Ceremonies for the fashion show I was lucky to be joined by a fabulous co-host in the form of one Ted Douglass from FM 105.1 The Buzz's popular afternoon program, The Daria, Mitch & Ted Show.  Always a funny guy, Ted had a great tale to tell the crowd.

Our morning attire
Apparently, Ted made good use of his Mr. Formal tuxedo when he was running late arriving to the Portland Convention Center for the show.  He just "might have been pulled over for exceeding the speed limit," and, "might have told the officer he was late to a wedding. "   Convincingly enough so the officer was very sympathetic to his plight and Ted was able to whisk off, arriving on time to his destination without a ticket!

Model buddies

I was in dress-up heaven as Anna's Bridal Boutique provided me with two gorgeous dresses to wear during the shows.  I felt like the belle of the ball as host, and mother of the bride.  Of course with so many beautiful ladies in wedding gowns it was awe-inspiring to see them looking so fantastic in their gorgeous dresses.

Yes, they are Seahawks fans!
With so many shows and lots of time in-between, the football fanatics among us held their ground as backstage became football central when someone in the show brought his mini-TV, and the group crowded around to watch the Seattle Seahawks game.

Ready to walk the runway!
As the music came up, it was time to get down to business as the models dazzled onlookers with everything from ruffles to sequins, ball gowns to slim sheaths, and even a gown that went from long to short with the flick of a wrist.

Almost show time.

In the end it was another resounding success for the Portland Bridal Show. Be expecting beautiful brides, handsome grooms, stylish bridesmaids, darling flower girls, and yes, fabulous mothers-of-the-brides to be showing up all over Oregon and Washington in the coming months!

Moms need to look gorgeous, too!
A giant thank you to Al and Barb Stehlik, the CEOs of the Portland Bridal Show for producing the northwest's premiere event for brides.

The men of the show.
Mr. ZeShawn, a crowd favorite!
My gratitude to you for including me in the PBS family!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Mrs. Oregon Pageant crowns pediatric nurse

What do a pediatric nurse, a lawyer, a banker, a business owner, a stay at home mom, and a fashion designer all have in common?  They were part of a select group of a dozen very impressive women competing for the title of Mrs. Oregon.

Held recently in Portland, Oregon, the Mrs. Oregon pageant crowns a married Oregon woman to represent the state throughout the year, and competes for the title of Mrs. America at the Mrs. America pageant.

As a former Mrs. Oregon myself, I served as judges chair and I had the privilege of sitting in on the interviews of all the women.  I readily admit I was glad I was not one of the judges!  It was a most impressive group of women. I was thoroughly convinced every one of them would make an outstanding Mrs. Oregon.

It was also a chance to get together with my Beauties of America national titleholder sister queens as no less than six of us were on hand to cheer the contestants.   Of course that included 2011 Beauties of America's 50s, Deanna Bebeau who placed as 2nd Runner Up. Joining me (2009 America's 50s) in photo above are are Tamara Wissbaum (2010 BOA-40s), Deanna Bebeau (2011 BOA 50s), Lesley Nardini (2012 BOA 50s), Carolyn Ladd (2011 BOA 40s), and Kathy Lauer (2010 BOA 50s).

In the end Tara Arnold, a pediatric nurse with a passion for advocating healthy lifestyles for children and adults, walked away with the crown.  Congratulations to Tara and all the contestants for a fabulous effort!

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Northwest's biggest baby shower is about to commence!

As anyone who knows me knows, as a mom and now a grandmother, I adore all things baby!  My daughters can attest from the time they were little, "Mommy Magic" was deployed often and liberally to do anything from finding a pair of lost shoes, to the appearance of elves on the roof top.

Which is why I am so excited to be selected to co-host one of the northwest's biggest baby showers!  Sunday, September 16 at 11:30 a.m., I will take to the stage with Melissa Moog of Itsabelly (baby proofing expert!) "for an hour of entertainment featuring games, prizes, personal parenting tips & stories and information on important Baby Gear Must-haves."

For all the information, click here:  NW Biggest Baby Shower

I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

2012 Beauties of America pageant was a blast!

2012 delegates at the Alamo
As a former national titleholder for the Beauties of America pageant I remember the fun and excitement of pageant week.  There is nothing quite like getting dressed up (a lot!), meeting new people, sharing the fun with a friend, and walking away with so much more than anticipated!

This year I had the privilege of serving as the public relations director for the organization.  Getting to know the delegates and national titleholders I found myself constantly amazed at the passion, dedication and willingness to give of their time and talents.  This year's delegates were a thoroughly impressive group of women.  It was also an opportunity to get together will some lovely former Beauties of America national queens.

Four years of 50s queens

In front of the Alamo wall
It was a toasty welcome as I arrive to San Antonio with temperatures exceeding the 100 degree mark.  Arriving I also had a few goals for myself.

As a big history buff, visiting the Alamo was at the top of the list.  As I joined the delegates for a tour of downtown San Antonio, I found myself in awe as we came to the center of town.  The building was unmistakable.  Bathed in the twilight of the early evening the Alamo did not disappoint.

One pleasant surprise was the fact San Antonio, Texas, was the location of the 1968 World's Fair.  Touring the Riverwalk in a water taxi on the San Antonio River our tour guide gave us a quick history of buildings and architecture designed for the big event and blending seamlessly into the historical facade of old San Antonio.

The following day we took the delegates to one of the most extraordinary locations in the area, the Warriors and Families Support Center.  Funded by the Wounded Warrior Project, the facility is as impressive as the people who are there.  The center is also an incredible resource for families as they are reunited with their loved one who is recovering from devastating injuries serving our country.

The delegates had a chance to speak with soldiers who were recovering from injuries, and meet a therapy dog named Dillion. Dillion loves to give kisses and provides a chance for soldiers to enjoy the affection and attention of an animal who adores them.

Tyler Tolifson, me and Melissa Sutton
That evening the delegates walked the red carpet and were treated to a fabulous dinner courtesy of the Westin Riverwalk Hotel.  It was truly a night of glamour and glitz.

Then it was time to get down the business of pageantry.  The ladies prepared for their personal interviews as staff prepared for the big show.  By Saturday evening the official Beauties of America pageant hair and makeup artists, Tyler Tolifson and Melissa Sutton of TyMeless, were busy primping and putting the last minute touches of glamour on the delegates.

The pageant started with a fashion show starring the delegates.  Fitness and evening gown competition soon followed as the crowd cheered on their favorites.  A special treat for everyone was the entertainment provided by Army Sargent First Class Cornelius Whittaker who received a standing ovation for his incredible rendition of, Gob Bless The USA.  Also on hand to get the audience clapping was Miss Grace White performing for the first time publicly with resounding success!

Finally it was time to learn the names award winners and of the new 2012 Beauties of America national titleholders.

Arizona 50s – Cheryl Godridge
Illinois 50s – Dee Lane
Illinois 40s – Debbie Permoda
Washington 40s – Anna Hiatt
Texas 40s – Wendy Thiery

This year's award went to a couple, Tennessee 60s Lauren Monahan and her husband Buzz.  Buzz had heart surgery just a week before the pageant, but was determined for Lauren to go to San Antonio, and he to join her to watch his lovely wife compete.

Lone Star State 30s – Nicole Roberts

Washington 40s – Anna Hiatt

Texas 20s – Chloe Rae Mesa
Lone Star State 30s – Nicole Roberts
Oregon 40s – Kym Wylder
Illinois 50s – Dee Lane
Tennessee 60s – Lauren Monahan

Louisiana 20s – Kela McSwain
Texas 30s – Vanessa Cantu
Washington 40s – Anna Hiatt
Illinois 50s – Dee Lane
Tennessee 60s – Lauren Monahan

Louisiana 20s – Kela McSwain
Texas 30s – Vanessa Cantu
Washington 40s – Anna Hiatt
Illinois 50s – Dee Lane
Tennessee 60s – Lauren Monahan

Then the moment everyone was waiting for, the crowning of the 2012 Beauties of America royalty:

1st Runner Up – Texas 20s, Chloe Rae Mesa
Winner – Louisiana 20s, Kela McSwain

2nd Runner Up – Lone Star State 30s, Nicole Roberts
1st Runner Up – Illinois 30s, Anji Meidel
Winner – Texas 30s, Vanessa Cantu

3rd Runner Up – Washington 40s, Anna Hiatt
2nd Runner Up – Illinois 40s, Debbie Permoda
1st Runner Up – Oregon 40s, Kym Wylder
Winner – Texas 40s, Wendy Thiery

3rd Runner Up – Kentucky 50s, Deborah Weston
2nd Runner Up – Illinois 50s, Dee Lane
1st Runner Up – Florida 50s, Cyndi Fraser
Winner – Oregon 50s, Lesley Nardini

Winner – Tennessee 60s, Lauren Monahan

Immediately following the pageant the 2012 national titleholders were whisked off to the official pageant photographer's studio of Jeffery Truitt for their national portfolio photo shoot.  It proved to be a late night for some fabulous ladies.  Congratulations to all!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Internet, the dress, and the gift...

Some of the things I love about the Internet?  The ability to shop in my PJs, have access to styles not found in my local stores, and to find a great bargain!  And so began the relationship I have with my favorite eBay retailer, Fashions By Sincerely Susan.

Susan has a fabulous array of the latest popular designers' offerings in a broad range of sizes, at "fit my budget" prices.  My orders are sent rapidly, sweetly wrapped like a gift, each and every one of them.

Over the past five years Susan's store has been my "got to" shop for pieces in my wardrobe for Mrs. Oregon, Mrs. International, and Beauties of America pageants.  When my husband sends me a last minute text message of, "Honey I forgot to tell you, we're invited to (fill-in several important functions here...)", Susan's online store is the next click on my computer.  Susan and her store have saved the day for me on several occasions when I needed a special dress for a last minute function.  Beautiful dress received in time, fashion crisis averted.

After a recent order, I received a message from Susan.  She had a large inventory of new dresses coming and needed to make room for them.  Did I know of a charity serving women who might be interested in receiving some dresses?

My already high opinion of her leapt even higher!

Within a few minutes of email exchanges Susan had a box of dresses ready to send to Milestones Family Recovery and YES House, two organizations near and dear to my personal platform of alcohol and drug abuse prevention, treatment and recovery.   The first is a residential alcohol and drug treatment center focused towards mothers with children, the latter a teen oriented facility.

For the women of these services the gift of a new dress is almost unfathomable.  As Mrs. Oregon International 2008 I visited the ladies to discuss my platform and why it was so important to me for them to succeed in their recovery.  The most compelling question I received that day was, "Why would you care about us?"  Many of them have spent a lifetime feeling uncared for and invisible.  To have a complete stranger gift beautiful dresses to them is beyond their wildest imagination.

When that very special box from Susan arrives at Milestones Family Recovery,   struggling moms will have a special dress to wear to a child's graduation.  Others will go for the first job interview of their lives in a new outfit.  Some teenage girls will have a pretty dress for their prom, or special dance.

My heartfelt thanks to Susan and her eBay store Fashions By Sincerely Susan,  for making the lives better of some very needy Oregon women.

To shop with Susan and see what I am talking about by clicking here Fashions By Sincerely Susan to visit her store and see why I am such a big fan!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012 offers a business perspective on the lessons learned from pageant participation

Not infrequently, I am asked "why?"  Why participate in pageants?  Why put yourself out there for others to judge?  Why open yourself to the criticism and controversy at the mere mention of the word pageant?

I'll be the first to admit there are times when I cringe at the characterizations hurled at the pageant world.  But that hasn't stopped me from competing in a few.

Why?  Because as the article below addresses, pageantry affords a wealth of opportunity for women to develop and hone vital skills critical for succeeding in an environment which exercises little patience and a lot of high expectations for women in the business world.

As swiftly as many in the field of the media are seemingly thrilled to share when a controversy develops, tens of thousands of pageant women are performing every day miracles that barely get a mention, even in the local newspaper.

My crowns sit in a box on a shelf of a closet in our guest room.  The lessons I learned in pageantry I carry with me every day, employing them often and liberally, with a smile on my face.

My sincere appreciation and gratitude to and Lisa Quast for sharing with readers the transferrable skills pageant participates apply in the larger context of every day life.

Read the full article here on the website by clicking this link:

Find your inner pageant queen to excel in your career


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Oh how I love Virginia!

After months and months of dreary Oregon weather, and canceling our trip last summer to Washington, DC and Virginia for a visit to the hospital (that was not nearly as fun!), it was time to get back on track and hit the road.

We landed in Washington, DC on the first day of the 100th anniversary of the gift of the cherry trees-Cherry Blossom Festival.  It was a beautiful, sunny day and the trees were in the midst of full blossom.

We decided to return to the Churchill Hotel in Dupont Circle for our base of operations while in the District of Columbia.  The staff was, again, delightful and we were soon upgraded to the VIP floor of the hotel with one of the best rooms in the house.  The view from our room was fabulous!  Thank you Churchill Hotel!

Meeting up with our daughter, we had a lovely dinner at the hotel while plotting our next few days of fun.

The National Catherdral was just down the road from our location so the following morning started with a tour of the building and grounds.  The cathedral was still under renovations from the quake, and we were surprised at the level of damage sustained by the building.

Coming from the west coast an earthquake of that magnitude rarely does such significant damage in these parts so we were amazed at the extent of the destruction.

We also found some interesting nooks and crannies, as well as the crypt of a former president, Woodrow Wilson!  We are not certain what the little door is for, but I dubbed it the leprechaun door for purposes of discussion.

Next it was on to Arlington National Cemetery in the afternoon.  It was a hazy day made all the more somber by the sheer volume and scope of the men and women buried in our nation's cemetery. When you see the mass of lost soldiers it is a humbling reminder that freedom is NOT free.

Day two it was off to view the cherry trees.  Blossoms were everywhere!  Gorgeous shades of pinks filled the trees and looked like giant pink popcorn balls.  We walked around the National Mall, presidential monuments, visited the George Washington Masonic Temple, and had a wonderful late lunch in Alexandria, VA.

After a sad farewell to our daughter (it is always hard to leave her), we started on our driving trek to parts west and south.  Destination?  Homestead Resort in Bath County.

We arrived in early evening as the sun was setting over the Allegheny Mountains.  It was the most beautiful sight in the world to me!  The Homestead literally is a step back in time.  Huge columns delineate the large porch lined with white rocking chairs.  Inside, the great hall welcomed us.  Gorgeous columns line the interior as well, while sitting nooks with huge fireplaces created a dozen or more "sitting rooms" for guests.

After checking in, Cam and I went for a walk around the historical complex (dating back to 1766).  The setting is just breathtaking!  Twenty-eight presidents, dignitaries from far and wide, royalty, and celebrities have all rested their heads at the Homestead.

Celebrated from very early times as a place of rest and healing, the warm mineral springs of the Homestead have soothed the ills of many including President Tomas Jefferson, for whom the local hot spring fed bathhouses are now named after.  Of course we took a soak and I can tell you it was lovely!

Lake Moomaw is a mere fifteen minute drive from the Homestead.  And what a gorgeous drive it was!  Blooming Dogwoods dotted the natural landscape, as well as a pretty tree we learned was called the Red Bud (it is more of a pinkish lavender to me!).

Lines of stacked stone walls dating back as far as the pre-Revolutionary War days could be seen around the perimeters of gorgeous old plantations, and delineating long abandoned farmsteads and fields.  Arriving at the lake we could make out the topographical contours of the surrounding mountains as the new buds on the hardwood trees had only begun to spring, the leaves still tucked away.

Along the drive home we spotted a spring house dating back centuries, still inviting passersby to fill up a container with its fresh, clean, mineral rich waters.  History was all around us!

A two-story chimney caught our attention along a roadside.  We stopped to examine it.  This was a substantial home (for the period) as it had two fireplaces (one above and one below).  A great fire destroyed many buildings in the area over two centuries ago, and we suspect this was one of them.

Climbing up the hill to the stack, it was clear to see that, yes, indeed a long ago fire had consumed the dwelling it once served.  Shards of broken glass were scattered about the area.  Looking a bit closer, the avid tea-cup collector in me spotted half buried pieces of china from a much earlier period.  I felt like an archeologist digging around to uncover more bits of broken glass.

The broken bits of china belonged to the house.  While I photographed the pieces to get a glimpse of its pattern for future reference, we left the shards where they belonged; back in their spot behind the chimney.

Hot Springs is a magical place.  Plantations mingle seamlessly with modest homesteads. The peaceful calm and serene feeling one encounters cannot be described in words.  It has to be experienced.

We spent six days exploring the area, meeting the local residents, and soaking in all the splendor that is Bath County.  We did not want to leave.

But we had places to go and things to see so we hit the road for parts east.  Heading towards Charlottesville, we stopped along our way in Lexington, for a bit of lunch.  The Virginia Military Institute (VMI) is perched high on a ledge as one enters the city, standing as an imposing castle like fortress.

Entering the city proper, a charming southern town emerges.  Store fronts and buildings still retain their original architectural splendor.  The Palms restaurant (circa 1836) afforded us a delicious lunch. I can honestly say I enjoyed the best shrimp chef salad (Shenandoah Valley salad) in my life!

Arriving in Charlottesville, we were greeted with
students everywhere as it was college visitation weekend at the University of Virginia.  We decided to enjoy the sights on the outer reaches of the city.

Ash Lawn Highland, President James Monroe's home, was a real treat.  We were surprised at the small scale of the home from the outside as compared to his colleagues, presidents Jefferson and Madison just down the road.  But it was the inside which made it clear this was definitely a president's home (no photos are permitted so I cannot share that area).

The grounds are in eyes view of Monticello (Thomas Jefferson's home) and include boxwood gardens, a statuary garden, ancient oak trees, barns, slave quarters, and the garden plot as it would have looked over two hundred years ago.

One cannot go to Charlottesville without enjoying a meal at Michey's Tavern.  Michey's is a stones throw from Monticello and Ash Lawn Highland.  After leaving President Monroe's home we headed for a pilgrim's dinner at the renowned Revolutionary War tavern.

Apparently never introduced to the dish in his lifetime, my husband has decided Virginia pulled pork needs to make its way to Oregon.

Saying goodbye to Charlottesville, we headed north to the piedmont area of Washington, Virginia, the "first city of Washington"thusly named.  The tiniest of towns (population 147), it was as though we drove into a scene from a storybook.

We made our way to our final destination, Caldonia Farm, circa 1804, a few miles down the road from Washington, VA.  Caldonia is referred to as the "mythical name" for Scotland, though as the wife of a Scot I can tell you there is nothing mythical about Scotland.  It is as real as you and me!

The proprietor was delightful and we were given the run of the plantation to explore and enjoy.  We immediately decided it was time for a hike!

Stacked stone walls dating back to pre-Revolutionary times still stand tall and strong in the area (that is "Stonewall Gilmour" standing next to one of the walls he helped repair while we were there!).

The home included a main house with a nearby slave quarters/summer kitchen, since turned into a visitors cottage.  We decided we wanted to rest our heads where former slaves had slept, and we indeed spent three nights in the upstairs "slave dorm" (seen here).  It was a cozy cottage, and to Cam's chagrin we encountered no specters from a bygone era.

We hiked the massive grounds following the stacked stone walls around the property.    We happened upon the family cemetery of the original owners of the farm, the Dearings.

Delineated by a sturdy stone wall, we viewed the family headstones of nearly a dozen Dearing family members.  Included in the modest cemetery were small headstones, some with initials carved in them-some without, rested at the foot of the plots.  I thought perhaps they were for children who died at an early age.  I was wrong.

Speaking to the proprietor we learned the small stones were the headstones of the family's slaves.  Apparently in the day, it was a sign of respect and honor for a slave to be buried in the plantation owner's family cemetery.  The Dearings apparently were considered "good" slave owners who provided well for those who cared for the Dearing family and property.

It was a long two weeks of so many sights and experiences.  One cannot in a couple of weeks truly appreciate all that Virginia has to offer.  This was our third trip to the area, but definitely not our last.

Already Old Dominion is calling us back...