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Karen’s Restaurant Revue airs on March 10 and 17, both at 8:30PM, but two different shows.  Check listings for your local Time-Warner cable channels, which are usually 98, 77, or 3.

Well, the Academy Awards came and went, and with it, the most exciting time of year for some of us--visiting the amazing gifting suites that precede the awards. (In case you’re not familiar with the concept, please check out my archives for any columns that feature previous suites to read the background info.)
First a word on the show itself: I think this one was actually pretty classy and moved quickly enough. Jon Stewart was excellent. But why no one fixed that slippery floor, I have no idea. I think they needed my little mother there to get on them about it! Even Colin Farrell had no luck with his suggestion, though.
The best part was that Marion Cotillard (the star of La Vie En Rose,for all you plebians who turned me down repeatedly for screenings of this amazing film) won for Best Actress! I love when things turn out fairly, and if it had been anyone else, though all talented, I would have had to grill all the voters. That was a fabulous moment for the members of the Academy to have gotten it so right.
The one winner that was totally wrong is Tilda Swinton for Michael Clayton. The award should have rightfully gone to Amy Ryan for her beyond brilliant performance in Gone Baby Gone. Or the sentimental choice, Ruby Dee for American Gangster. Period.
We all would have been happy with either of them as the winner. Maybe their votes cancelled each other out. But that ANYONE, outside of the people who worked on her film, voted for Swinton is a total shock, and seemingly to her as well. She was excellent, but undeserving this year.
I’m trying to get over it. Maybe remembering my week of gifts will help, so back to them.  The suites are held that week because it’s when the most movie stars are in town. And a few TV people/journalists are invited, as well, and I’m lucky enough to be one of them. Yay me. Here are the scoops on this year’s crop:


This one was Clarence’s favorite because not only did they invite him, they took a portrait of us to sell on eBay to benefit spcaLA. It was pouring out that day, so we may not have looked our best, so if you’re the lucky bidder, please tell that to everyone who looks at us on your wall!

Ingrid's Cafe
Clarence, reluctantly modeling his K9Duds.

He was in his birthday suit for the portrait, but on my next shows, you’ll most likely see him sporting his new duds from K9Duds ( and Happy Go Lucky Dogs
And the product that I believe actually helped heal him from a bad spell this year, Mood-lites, was there. I picked up a couple more of their soothing blue bulbs for him. (And for us, too!)
This suite wasn’t all about Clarence, though it may have felt that way. Debbie Durkin made sure that I had the handsomest escort, Reynaldo, to carry my gift bags and help wrangle Clarence. Couldn’t have done it without him, though I did try a couple of times, so that I wouldn’t be spoiled too much for the other suites that don’t assign “handlers.”
I got to drink some more of my favorite beverage, VaVa Water, which is electro-magnetically charged for different responses. I chose Slim, of course, though I think the rest of the public wishes that I’d choose Chill.

Ingrid's Cafe
Lauren Bennett, with her perfectly-aligned
(in every way) VaVa Water.

In the jewelry category, I was gifted with lovely silver hoop earrings designed by Alyse Ziede (, a dainty black bracelet with jewels from Michelle Roy Designs (, and a rockin’ leather Rock Band, which is a big stone on a bigger leather band. This time I received a rose quartz heart (the “love stone”) on an alligator band, in a darling miniature roadie case.
Then I had my brows shaped by the adorable Rachel McArthur of Derma Dream.
I sampled some mini bundt cakes courtesy of the cleverly-named Nothing Bundt Cakes, and the owner sent me home with a full-sized one! Lucky for me, they’re headquartered in near-by Thousand Oaks.
While Mr. X was visiting his little bro in Toronto, two lovely sisters from there were visiting this lounge, to help everyone in LA have thicker-looking hair. Their Boom Boom Hair actually had the whole place buzzing. I saw a TV actor I know pretty well, and didn’t even recognize him, due to his magically disappearing meat yarmulke!

Ingrid's Cafe
Lee rocking with his Rock Bands.

This stuff is amazing. I almost wish I weren’t telling you guys about it because my hair is the best thing about me, and now that everyone can have better-looking hair so easily, mine won’t be that big a deal anymore. And we’ll all be eyeing each other, wondering, “Is that real hair or Boom Boom?”
The whole time that we spent here in Beverly Hills' The 9900 Club, we enjoyed snacks provided by One Sunset, and grooved to some DJed beats. And stayed out of the nasty weather! Loved the whole vibe.

This is one of the two new ones that I managed to fit in this season. And boy, do I wish I had visited sooner! They had the warmest personnel ever! Believe it or not (for those who know me, or think they’ve summed me up correctly from my TV show), I’m a little bit shy with new experiences, and kind-of dread them.

Ingrid's Cafe
These gorgeous boxes contain Lilyfield Cakes!

But I had heard good things of this Roger Neal suite in the Penthouse of the Luxe Hotel here in Beverly Hills, so I worked up my courage and moseyed on over. My own family doesn’t make me feel as welcome! (Well, maybe that’s not exactly a good comparison, if you’ve heard my horror stories…except for my precious mother, of course.)
Doug was my escort here and made sure I got the royal treatment. I received unbelievable hand-beaded jeans from Amanda Adams Couture. My mouth is watering to wear them on my show. I just hope that I beat Angela Bassett and Joan Collins to the punch because I heard that they were gifted with them, as well, though each pair is different. Good company for me, though only two of us are known as bitches. Guess which two? Here’s a hint--Angela’s not one of them.
I had two excellent services here. First up was an oxygen facial courtesy of Iduna Spa. Then the adorable George Papanikolas of Joico did my hair. I even trusted him to cut my bangs! It’s hard to resist those Greek men!
We had delicious cakes from Lilyfield Cakes of Winnipeg, Canada. Thank goodness they have a mail order service because I’m already craving them! And they appear to sell gorgeous jewelry, as well. Cakes AND jewelry??? That’s the way to this girl’s heart!
The most famous company I saw at any suite was here--Jelly Belly. No fooling, the fabulous beans are what attracted me to this suite to begin with. Seriously. They had some new flavors for us to sample, and now feature Sports Beans, for work-outs and anything that requires extra energy. I wish I had found them at the beginning of this exhausting week!

This was the grandest of them all this time. It was held in Boulevard3, which is a multi-level venue, so we were able to visit all the “booths” without being cramped and claustrophobic. Also, I’m a very linear thinker, and the lay-out made it easy for me to get to just about every sponsor, as I hate leaving anyone out.

Ingrid's Cafe
The perfect lay-out of the GBK Suite,
as it was getting started

When I un-packed all my goodies back at the house, after three days of gifting, the only one Mr. X (who hates clutter) was happy to see was my new Chi Nano hair-dryer! He’s almost as into my hair as I am, and loves my Chi Wet/Dry Flatiron, that we use all the time. He loves it so much, that he even flat-irons my hair, on occasion. (Actually, many an occasion! How lucky am I???) I just wish Chi would start making massage products!
I got the most adorable bathing suit from the cutest girl, Lindsay Condron. Now, if only I had not rejected the weight loss drops that were offered to me, I’d be all set!
I can fill out the bikini top with my own big chest, (which is real, btw, for those of you who are always curious), but just to make sure I’m extra-camera ready (should I wear it on my show in the summer), Kathleen Kirkwood is sending me her famous Bust-ease bra inserts that are being custom-made for me.
Not to leave the fashionable Mr. X out of the wardrobe category, Perry Ellis sent home a tie and tee shirt for him. Not to wear at the same time, of course, but that may just be his new style when he reads this!
I received three products to improve my health, which believe me, I sorely need. One is Via Viente, an anti-oxidant elixir.
The other two are skincare lines. VMV Hypoallergenics has many new and innovative products. With my allergies, I totally appreciate them, although I’m sure that I’ll share with my little mother, who’s the allergy queen. If they remember to send me their amazing mascara, though, that’s all mine!

The other is Electric Body, out of New Zealand. I know that it’s completely non-toxic skin care, which is a necessity these days. After the rep told me where they’re from, I didn’t hear much else because one of my favorite friends, Gina Nel from Aspen, is moving there with her little family, and that’s all I could think about. Saying “New Zealand” to me now is like saying “Niagara Falls” to The Three Stooges! I think I’ll go soak in their Body Polish and drown my Gina-moving-to-another-country sorrows.
Between all the sexy gifts I just told you about, Mr. X and I will be looking good and ready for some romance. I’m so happy that my favorite candle company, 100 Candles, gave me some smoldering new designs, which we’ll be burning real soon. Unfortunately for me, it’ll probably be at both ends!!!
To make sure I have the energy for all that activity, Shadow Sky gifted me with his Hu Energy Fashion Pendant.
I usually read only the restaurant reviews that I write in this column or feature on my TV show, Karen’s Restaurant Revue, (I hope you all start with them, too), but now when I need the occasional second opinion, I can check with the Hungry? City Guides that the incredibly nice female company reps bestowed on me. They have packs of discount cards, as well, so I’ll definitely be checking into those.


This is the second suite that’s new to me this time around. It’s run by another gracious guy, J.R. Savet, who welcomed me in with open arms, and even escorted me around personally! It was held in the Penthouse of Sofitel, a real suite that I already loved.

I unfortunately hadn’t allotted myself enough time there, but did manage to learn about the new breed of false eyelashes from  Karen Hirasaki (great first name!) of, and receive some beautifully-packaged skincare products from Fenix cosmetics. Their motto, “Inspired by Love, Created with Passion,” says it all.

Each suite boasts several celebs among their visitors, but you all know that I’m rarely impressed in that category. At this one, though, my eyes popped out of my head when I saw the most gorgeous guy walk through the door. I’m still kicking myself that I was too in awe to get a picture with him, but I must still give him his props.

It’s Scott Elrod, who plays the new guy on Men In Trees. He looks exactly like he does on TV, which is rare, but even better, if that’s even possible. My viewers know that I can talk to just about anybody, and do, but this time, I was totally tongue-tied. I just stood there and drooled. Good thing it was raining, so I could make believe that that was the reason my lips were wet cause I’m sure it was not a pretty sight. No one was looking at me anyway, cause I was standing next to Scott.

Ingrid's Cafe
Scott Elrod of Men In Trees


This one was much smaller than usual, and was mostly about making us aware of certain charities, which is a worthwhile endeavor. I had spent so much time, unexpectedly, at the one I described above, that I had little left for this other Sofitel one. (You really run out of gas at the suites, trust me.) And they didn’t give out goodie bags, so I don’t have many fun products to tell you about. But I did get one of my favorite gifts here.
It’s a beautiful Fair Trade silver and pearl bracelet, from Dejahmi by Beth Respess. It’s hand-crafted from re-cycled materials, including recycled sterling wire. It’s just so peaceful and refreshing to look at, and knowing that we’re not adding harm to the environment makes it that much more lovely.
On the way out, I received a couple of Chi Tea green tea extract dropper bottles. You put several drops into water, drink it up, and rarely get sick, I’ve heard. I’ve seen some friends do it for years, but never tried it myself. I think it’s the perfect gift for my upcoming trip to NY for a month. I’ll let you know if it worked when I return. At least it’s sending me off with confidence! Good end to the gifting suites.

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