At first sight, former MTV VJ, actress and model Karen "Duff" Duffy's literary output would seem to place her quite squarely within that dubious category of Gen Xers who tout themselves as "alternative" and "real" but are the same old schtick aided by irreverent packaging. The titles of her two books--2000's Model Patient: My Life as an Incurable Wise-Ass and her new one, A Slob in the Kitchen: Entertaining Advice and Recipes From a Housewife Superstar--are clever marketing tools designed to appeal to just the right audience. But the discovery that Duffy may actually be truly weird, and not merely wonky, is an entirely unexpected, and pleasing, revelation. Exhibit A: Her new book, a collection of recipes and party-throwing advice, features a "recipe," we suppose, for something called Gravy-Scented Candles. Making your guests think that you worked really hard to entertain them without actually doing too much is the book's purpose; Duffy will be at Macy's in the Galleria on Friday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. demonstrating just how to do so. Call 972-851-5185. --Claiborne Smith
Our idea of a really creative holiday wreath was a construction paper and crayon one that was made in 1984. This year, DIFFA Dallas will unseat that masterpiece with a wreath auction and casino night benefiting AIDS services programs, with contributions from designers such as Todd Oldham, Mattie Roberts and the team at Dr Delphinium. Not only are they creative geniuses, but their supplies aren't limited to blunt scissors and a glue stick. Also on schedule are celebrity poker games and a gift market. The DIFFA Holiday Casino Party and Wreath Auction is from 7:30 p.m. to midnight November 13 at Decorative Center Dallas, 1400 Turtle Creek Blvd. Admission is $50. Call 214-748-8580 or visit www.diffadallas.org. --Stephanie Durham
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If you live (or have lived) by White Rock Lake, you probably know that some parts of the shoreline have a certain amount of olfactory intrigue. Frankly, they smell like decomposing bodies. Which presents joggers, bikers and teenagers playing hooky with a bit of a dilemma: how to see the pretty lake without the grossness factor? Concerned artist and Dallasite Chris McHenry offers one solution in his exhibit White Rock, Trees and Other Natural Forms, which opens with a reception Thursday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Marie Park's Studio, 6254 Park Lane. The exhibit features paintings of the lake's trees, pretty sailboats, water and more. The gallery also showcases the work of Donald and Era Farnsworth, a Bay Area couple who own and operate a fine art printmaking studio and make lithographs of trees. It's an ecological Lollapalooza. Call 214-987-1068. --Mary Monigold