Co-chair Jennifer Blanchfield, keynote speaker Lauri Burns and co-chair Deborah Keillor at The Teen Project held at The Westin South Coast Plaza Hotel. (Edie Trott / March 30, 2014)

They say it is the most challenging time of life, and also the most wondrous. How did any of us survive our teenage years?

Recently, the Westin South Coast Plaza welcomed Lauri Burns, founder of the Teen Project, as keynote speaker for a spring event billed as "teens helping teens." The Teen Project partnered with South Coast Plaza producing a retail fashion show accompanying the event, which took place March 30 on the rooftop deck of the Westin at dusk.

Organizers planned an early-evening festival featuring games and prizes, food stations and, most importantly, an address by Burns, who knows all too well the angst of the teenage years. She is the author of a book titled "Punished For Purpose," an autobiography of her life as a teenager on the streets.

Co-chaired by Jennifer Blanchfield and Deborah Keillor, the Teen Project event raised funds to benefit homeless teens in Orange County. "Through hands-on participation, teens attending this event will make a difference in the lives of other teens that are not nearly as fortunate," Keillor said. "This is a way to raise awareness and focus at giving on a very impressionable age."

South Coast Plaza retailers supporting the event included Saks Fifth Avenue, Lululemon, Free People, Diesel, Joe's Jeans, Quiksilver, AG Adriano Goldschmied, Anthropologie and Ivivva Athletica. To learn more about the Teen Project, visit http://www.theteenproject.com.

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The house has a life of its own

The Decorative Arts Society (DARTS), one of Newport's special charitable organizations benefiting numerous local causes, held its 2014 event finale at the futuristic and drop-dead spectacular residence of Mashid and Steve Rizzone.

For those not familiar, DARTS produces a series of annual lectures on architecture, interior design, landscape design and both the historic and futuristic trends and collections in all areas of the decorative arts. DARTS organizers invite many of the world's most famous experts in a variety of professional fields to address local patrons.

The evening before the actual address, local residents and members of DARTS open their homes for a reception honoring the invited guest.

The Rizzones welcomed Page Dickey, renowned garden designer and author, at a sunset reception poolside at their Irvine Terrace estate overlooking Newport Harbor. The residence, which occupies 11,000 square feet on three levels perched on the cliffs above the Pacific, has been certified by leadership in energy and environmental design (LEED) as one of the United States' Platinum Private Residences.

The technology in the home is literally out of this world, featuring its own electrical and solar system, water system and so much more. The crowd relished the signature catering provided by Fork, Knife + Spoon while touring the Rizzone residence, designed by Farah Amirsheybani.

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A tea for the innocent children

Next week in Newport Beach marks the 53rd annual patroness tea benefiting the Adoption Guild of Southern Orange County. The tony Pacific Club will open its doors Monday for a fashionable gathering hosted by Adoption Guild members in association with Fashion Island's exclusive Neiman Marcus.

The store is presenting spring trends while the gals catch up perusing boutique and silent auction items in the Pacific Club dining room. For over 50 years, the guild has supported Holy Family Services Adoption & Foster Care.

The patroness tea in April and the Roy Emerson Adoption Guild Tennis Classic coming up over Memorial Day Weekend are the guild's two major benefits, with all net funds raised benefiting Holy Family Services. To learn more, go to http://www.adoptionguild.org or call the guild at (949) 378-6776.

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Fried cricket tacos for everyone

The 21st annual Wild & Crazy Taco Night benefiting Costa Mesa-based Share Our Selves (SOS) attracted some 650 guests. Twenty-five celebrity chefs from restaurants as diverse as Alan Greeley's Golden Truffle, Franco Barone's Il Barone Ristorante, Lynne Campbell's the Quiet Woman and Steve Kling's legendary Five Crowns all put on their most creative taco concoctions, helping SOS raise more than $55,000 net.

Funds raised are earmarked for the SOS Orange Aid Project, helping feed Orange County residents at risk of going hungry on a daily basis.

Before the arrival of the onslaught of taco tasters, VIP patrons were treated to an early arrival "first taste" while Tres Sietes Tequila margaritas were served by Rudy's Pub and Grill. DJ Drew Pierce kept the party moving.

Some of the more unusual taco tastes included Wild Mushroom Picadillo Tacos, Smoked Chili Braised Lamb, Duck Taco with Romesco, Roster Goose, Peruvian Beef Heart, Mesquite Grilled Swordfish and Smoked Stingray.

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Tiffany & Co. debuts the 2014 Blue Book collection

Michael Botsko, store director at Tiffany & Co. South Coast Plaza, traveled to the Big Apple last week, joining jewelry aficionados from around the world, movie stars, captains of industry and international trend setters for the unveiling of Tiffany & Co.'s most cherished collection of original designer jewelry, presented to a worldwide audience at an elegant reception at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan.

Some 300 guests converged upon the modernist landmark designed by the late Frank Lloyd Wright in the 1950s. A centerpiece of the Blue Book event was a projection installation titled "The Diamond Sky," a six-and-a-half-minute show of light and sound that highlighted jewelry from the Blue Book collection interspersed with images of iconic design including the legendary Tiffany Diamond and Tiffany's flagship building on 5th Avenue.

From stars in the sky to stars on the silver screen, celebrities in attendance included Jessica Biel, Kate Bosworth, Katie Holmes, Hilary Rhoda and Jessica Joffe. However, the most glittering stars certainly were the spectacular Montana sapphires, green tourmalines, tanzanites, black and fire opals, and diamonds fashioned for the collection by Tiffany designers. For a private appointment to explore the Blue Book collection in Orange County, call Botsko at Tiffany & Co., (714) 540-5330, ext. 320.

THE CROWD runs Fridays. B.W. Cook is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.