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Our picks for (and pictures of) the year’s ten most fabulous soirees. By Carol Ross Joynt

The "Wedding Belles" exhibition party at the Hillwood Museum. All photographs by Carol Ross Joynt.

For better or for worse, I was a guest at more than 100 parties in 2011. Here are the top ten standouts:

1) The Washington Winter Show at the Katzen Arts Center (January 6)

An event that pulled together real Washington society—the elder cave dwellers and their younger counterparts—amid interesting (and a few affordable) decorative arts, good music, and good food.

 2) The Tudor Place Garden Party (May 4)

It always seems to take place on the prettiest spring evening. Lush food, great drinks, sweeping lawn, beautiful flowers, women in hats, and much camaraderie among Georgetowners young and old. For anyone who wants to mingle with Georgetown, this is the party.

3) The “Wedding Belles” Exhibition Faux Wedding Reception on the Lawn at Hillwood Museum

Caterer Susan Gage re-created a post-wedding lawn party as though it were scripted by Marjorie Merriweather Post herself, including a many-tiered wedding cake. On a beautiful, softly warm evening, guests got to sip, dine, and tour the gardens and the mansion.

4) David and Katherine Bradley’s Pre-Party for the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner (April 30)

Essentially every party the Bradleys host is a winner. They have that gift. But they throw a doozy of a true foodie dinner the eve of the WHCA bash. The exclusive guest list is “A” all the way: corporate, political, media, social, and some Hollywood.

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Posted at 10:17 AM/ET, 12/21/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
Photos from the first annual ceremony honoring extraordinary individuals for their contributions in the field of nursing. By Washingtonian Staff

The 2011 Excellence in Nursing honorees, from left to right: Stephen Perez, Cathy Williams, Jacky Schultz, Carol Ryan, Nancy Munro, Heidi Maloni, Col. Bruce Schoneboom, Elizabeth Bradshaw, Helen Obidiran, and Deborah Thomas. Photographs by Eric Uecke and Kelci House

Out of hundreds of nominations in 2011, The Washingtonian selected ten extraordinary individuals to be honored with the Washingtonian Excellence in Nursing Award for their contributions in the field of nursing. All ten honorees and eight honorable mentions celebrated their achievement at the first annual Excellence in Nursing awards reception at the House of Sweden in Washington, DC. The event began with a cocktail reception, followed by a three-course seated dinner, a presentation of awards, and dessert. Crocs and NOVA Uniforms were sponsors of the event, and Children’s National Medical Center, Georgetown University Hospital, Inova Juniper Program, National Rehabilitation Hospital, Suburban Hospital, and VMT Long Term Care Management showed their support by sponsoring a table.

Posted at 12:06 PM/ET, 12/13/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
A lineup of culinary all-stars served up good eats to benefit a great cause. By Brooke McEwen

Lindsey Becker, Rebecca Loveridge, Chef Robert Wiedmaier, Josie Taylor, and Cori Sue Morris. Photographs by Jeff Martin

What: March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction of DC
Where: The Ritz-Carlton, Washington DC
When: Wednesday, November 16, from 6 to 9:15 PM
Tickets: $200 for individuals; $2,000 for reserved tables of 10

Who: The night boasted a lineup of all-stars from the Washington restaurant scene. Chefs Ris Lacoste of RIS and Jamie Leeds of Hank’s Oyster Bar presided over tables laden with sought-after small dishes, while Jo-Jo Valenzuela of Old Glory BBQ served up signature cocktails. Chef Robert Wiedmaier, the master behind Brasserie Beck, the Tasting Room and Mussel Bar, graced the ballroom as the event’s signature chef, and ABC7 anchor Leon Harris served as the evening’s emcee. Lauren Fleming, seven-year-old March of Dimes ambassador, and her mother, Nikki, warmed the room with their touching story and heartfelt thank-you.

Scene: Top DC chefs served up good eats for a good cause to a post-workday crew. Fresh from the office, foodies meandered among tables graced with bountiful amounts of local delectables. They mingled and ate, but mostly ate. On occasion, they took breaks to recover from overfull stomachs to bid on silent auction items. During the night’s live auction, Signature Chef Wiedmaier stole the show, interrupting auctioneer Jim Miller to up the ante on his own donation. Instead of auctioning off a single five-course tasting for ten people at Brasserie Beck, he offered up two for $2,000 a piece.”That’s the way it’s done,” Wiedmaier said.

Food and drink: Delectable seared scallops from Hank’s Oyster Bar rested on beds of creamy cauliflower fondue, indulging seafood lovers. Bastille Restaurant’s hearty Jerusalem artichoke soup greeted taste buds with hints of garlic and pieces of chicken confit, while B. Smith’s shrimp and grits spiced things up. Michel Richard Citronelle offered the sweet-toothed crowd a dessert they couldn’t refuse: crêpes suzette garnished with orange zest. Burger, Tap & Shake appealed to the kid in everyone, as regular chef-auction attendee Rob Stern pointed out. There’s nothing like seeing men in business suits unwinding with miniature root beer floats and brownies after a long day at the office, he joked.

Posted at 02:15 PM/ET, 11/18/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
A nonprofit dedicated to higher education excellence gave an award Saturday evening in honor of former Washingtonian president and publisher Philip Merrill. By Washingtonian Staff

David McCullough and his wife, Rosalee, join his former student Cathy Merrill Williams (left) at the American Concil of Trustees and Alumni award ceremony Saturday evening. Photographs by Zaid Hamid

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) is an independent nonprofit organization whose mission is to encourage academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America’s colleges and universities. Since 1995, it has worked with alumni, donors, trustees, and education leaders across the United States to endow the next generations with a high-quality education that will prepare them to be informed citizens.

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Posted at 11:00 AM/ET, 11/11/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
The Washingtonian honors females who've made it to the top with a luncheon at the St. Regis Hotel By Washingtonian Staff

Most Powerful Women Debbie Dingell, Julie Rogers, and Mary Kay Henderson. Photograph by Erik Uecke

The Washingtonian honored the 100 Most Powerful Women featured in the October issue at a luncheon at the elegant St. Regis hotel. The honorees were encouraged to bring as a guest a woman with talent and tenacity whom Washingtonian should watch in the future.

PricewaterhouseCoopers was the presenting sponsor of the luncheon, and managing partner Chris Simmons served as the keynote speaker. Washingtonian partnered with Vital Voices, an international organization dedicated to identifying, investing in, and bringing visibility to women around the world.  Guests had the opportunity to appear on a mock Washingtonian cover, thanks to Event Digital Photography. Lexus, the automotive sponsor, provided a sleek RX 450h, which was parked out front for attendees to admire. Floral arrangements by MultiFlor decorated the venue, which was equipped with tables and linens from Select Event Rentals. Music inside and out was provided by Elan Artists, while Event EQ coordinated the audio and visual elements of the afternoon's presentations.

Posted at 02:12 PM/ET, 10/20/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
What's better than pictures of adorable baby cheetahs? By Kay Steiger
Animal care staff at the Smithsonian National Zoo weighed the five new cheetah cubs this week, which weigh an average of 2 pounds each. Photo courtesy National Zoological Park

We alerted you to the fact that five cheetah cubs were born in Fort Royal, Virginia, at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute earlier this month, but now there are pictures! Can you say, "Aww"?

The five cubs, which were born on May 28, underwent their first weigh-in this week. The cubs weigh an average of two pounds each."When I was weighing the last cub, he was being a very tough little guy," said Adrienne Crosier, SCBI cheetah biologist in statement from the National Zoo Park. "We’re already starting to see differences in their dispositions and look forward to watching them grow and learning all we can from them."

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Posted at 09:16 AM/ET, 07/11/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
Honoring locals who encourage sustainability and protect our environment By Laura McKenzie

The 2011 Green Awards recipients. Photograph by Erik Uecke

See Also:

Past Green Awards Recipients

In Green Giants, a feature in our May 2011 issue, The Washingtonian honors five individuals who protect our environment by finding local food treasures, by sending kids into the wild, and by building and living in ways that benefit us all. This year's winners include LEED-certified housing constructor Peter Guida, former CIA director R. James Woolsey, Casey Tree's president Barbara Shea, Poste restaurant chef Robert Weland, and Newton Marasco Foundation founder Amy Marasco Newton. The award recipients were honored with a reception Monday night.  

To read more about the work of our Green Awards winners, pick up a copy of our May 2011 issue, on stands today!  

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Posted at 04:29 PM/ET, 05/26/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
Promising filmmaker and photojournalist dies in Libya By Sophie Gilbert

Tim Hetherington. Photo courtesy Outpost Films.
I first met Tim Hetherington, who died Wednesday alongside Pulitzer Prize-winning Getty Images photographer Chris Hondros in Libya, in the fall of 2007, at a New York event hosted by the Frontline Club, a British society for journalists covering conflict overseas. Hetherington had just won the World Press Photo competition for his Vanity Fair photograph of an American soldier in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley, and he was on crutches following a fall down a mountain in the middle of the night, which had resulted in a broken ankle. Hetherington and his Vanity Fair collaborator, author Sebastian Junger, screened footage the pair had captured from Afghanistan for ABC News—images of graphic conflict that were seen by over 22 million Americans. “I don’t want to preach to the converted,” Hetherington said later about the project. “I don’t want to reach intellectuals who already know what the story is. I want to reach the road sweeper who has ABC News on in the morning, or the mom who’s taking her kids to school. In some ways I think that has much more utility.”

Hetherington agreed to talk to me for a class project, and we met in a brunch place on the Upper West Side where he told me about his life. He was born in Liverpool, England, and had what he called “an unusual upbringing,” living in 12 different cities with his family before he was sent to Stoneyhurst, a Jesuit boarding school. “It was a strange place,” he said, “a real Jesuit prison camp. Hard weather, and they used to beat you in that private schoolboy tradition.” He studied English, Latin, and Greek at university, and worked for a while publishing and editing children’s books. After his grandmother died and left him a few thousand pounds, Hetherington took two years off and traveled alone to China, India, and Pakistan, staying mostly out of contact with family and friends. When he returned to England, he felt dissatisfied with writing as a medium. “I’d had a lot of experiences, and I was suffering from culture shock,” he said. “I had a lot of things inside me that I needed to express, and I was having difficulty expressing them with words. I said to myself there and then that I wanted to get involved in more visual culture.”

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Posted at 01:24 PM/ET, 04/21/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
Predictable, we know, but how could we resist? By Sarah Zlotnick

Between swooning over the picture of the sweet couple that Danie Smallwood submitted to last month’s “Caught in the Moment” contest and planning for our stuffed-to-the-brim Valentine’s Day Guide (be sure to check it out for restaurant specials and dozens of great date ideas), it seemed only fitting to focus on falling in love for our February photo contest. Are your friends and family sick of staring at all your mushy photos? Send them our way. Proposals, first dates, hand-holding, wedding pictures, Eskimo kisses—if the picture’s got anything to do with love, sweet love (in Washington, of course), we can’t wait to see it. PS—We’re also on the lookout for love stories for a special Valentnine’s Day feature. If you’re better at writing this stuff down than capturing it with a camera, be sure to share those as well!

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Posted at 10:00 AM/ET, 01/31/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
Because the dreary snow-drizzle outside is depressing us. By Sarah Zlotnick

In December, we ran a Snowmaggedon photo contest, and readers submitted hundreds of awesome pictures from last February's storm. Today, we're showing you thirteen of our favorite runners up (view the finalists here) because the current weather situation is just one big, grey-sky tease. Let's get to the white stuff already! 

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Posted at 09:14 AM/ET, 01/26/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()