Although I have been overjoyed about so many aspects of re-launching The Art of Living Beautifully, I will admit to you the re-launch party was an element that had me exceptionally excited. If we could make it to The Art of Living Beautifully’s re-launch party, that would be a mile marker, a reminder that so much had already been accomplished. The party hats and streamers would signal all of us at TAOLB to relax, have fun and for one night, we could breathe and put the work to bed.

Months ago when I approached my dear friend and mentor Sharla Bush, about the plans to change TAOLB’s platform to a digital magazine she immediately offered to host a party at her beautiful store. And when I say beautiful, I actually mean an exquisitely gorgeous, fancy, feminine wonderland. Those tell-tale chocolate and aqua awnings would greet my guests as they had greeted me for so many years; sometimes to work, sometimes to shop, sometimes to plop down in the stock room to vent to Sharla about whatever was getting me down at the moment. Whatever the reason for visiting, Sharla’s is always a place where quality, beauty and friendship reign. It would be the ideal setting to launch TAOLB into the stars that shine down on McKinney, Texas.

We began our celebration at 109 East Virginia Street promptly at 6:00 PM. Andy, the McKinney Wine Merchant, selected both the white and sparkling wines to serve our guests, and may I say I will purchase both selections again.

Wine selections for the evening included:

Domaine de la Rosiere Jonjieux 2016, Savoie, France – $12.99

From the Rosiere family vineyard in the village of Jonjieux made with the ‘Jacquere’ grape which is peculiar to the region. Aromas of orange blossom and similar soft citrus flavors of orange and tangerine. Easy drinking and remarkable purity for the price.

Poema Cava, Spain – $11.99

A dry sparkling wine made by the same process as Champagne from three white grape varieties sourced from vineyards in the Penedes region, west of Barcelona. Clean and refreshing with almonds on the nose and flavors of green apple and fig. IMO – the best sparkling wine on the market for under $15

If you have never visited with Andy before, please stop in his shop on the Square this week to pick up some patio wine for the weekend.

Our own Lorie Fangio, Resident Chef of The Art of Living Beautifully, created a beautiful spread of bites for guests to enjoy. Sharla and I asked her to create elegant finger foods that wouldn’t require utensils or leave messy hands…Lorie’s creations were perfection!

• Boiled Shrimp, chilled

• Beef Crostini

• Jalapeño Cheese Muffins

• BBQ Bacon Wrapped Chicken Bites

• Lemon Shortbread

• Chocolate Madeleines


TAOLB Resident Chef Lorie Fangio, Vonda Cloutier and Joan Lewis


Guests arrived and began mingling as the gritty strums of Spanish guitar music thumped in the background. Fans of the magazine, fans of McKinney, our 10 Most Beautiful nominees, my friends, family, even shoppers from the sidewalk joined our party, ready to celebrate. I met so many new faces and enjoyed learning about them and how they made McKinney their home, all the while Emily McClure documenting the festivity behind her lens.


Tom and Jan Johnson, Frank and Linda Spina


Rob Reed and TAOLB Home Editor Misti Reed


Dr. Raquel Rivera, Sharla Bush and Dr. Jennifer Buchanan


Soula Sfeir, Dr. Raquel Rivera, Vielka Harrison, Klyne Smith


With my two best friends from McKinney High School, Katy Lauden Brown and Angela Suarez Reneau


The misfits: Sharla Bush and Terry Irby


With Julia and Dr. Matt Parker


With Sharla and artist Julia McNally


Dr. Tracey Banks and husband Bruce Lewis


With my parents: Sara and Jim Long


At 7:00 I (tearfully) welcomed everyone and announced the 10 Most Beautiful Women. Can I say again how honored I am to have women of this calibre connected to my magazine? Standing in front of such a lovely crowd, introducing the women that make McKinney go ’round was one of the most significant moments of my life. I will never, ever forget it.


McKinney’s 10 Most Beautiful Women

The evening concluded with more of the same joy that had enveloped the entire night. Hugs were given, half empty glasses were cleaned to sparkle once again, delicious bites wrapped and put in the fridge. Thank you again to all who attended, the nominees, Andy, Lorie, Emily, Sharla and Brian-my darling husband and very handsome bar tender for the evening.

I’m not sure when our next party will happen, but I CAN tell you it will be sometime this fall. I mean, how else will we celebrate McKinney’s 10 SEXIEST Gentlemen??? Yes, you read that correctly…more details to come!!

To view/purchase pictures from the re-launch party click this link.


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