Jathan And Heather Embrace The Magic Of New England [PHOTOS]

New Bedford sunset

New Bedford sunset (Photo by Jathan Fink/Jadeworks Entertainment)

Moving always forces a family to make all kinds of adjustments, and our new home is only one of the many we are going to need to get used to. In January, we told you that we would be moving to New England with a job transfer. Well, in February we drove across the country, outrunning a winter storm that nipped at our heels the entire way. Then on March 1 we finally moved into our new home in Massachusetts.  Read more of this post

Bikers That Aren’t Bad To The Bone [VIDEO]

On our way toward this weekend’s vacation destination, we stopped at a small restaurant to have a snack when it looked like the cast of ‘Sons of Anarchy’ swept into town on their Harley’s, decked out in leather, looking rugged and forbidding. It was easy to see why many people averted their eyes and turned away as the bikers ambled into the restaurant where we were dining. But what happened next was going to be anyone’s guess. Read more of this post

There You’ll Be

Heather with Aubrey and Carly

Heather visits the Cincinnati Zoo with two of her favorite little friends, Aubrey and Carly.

November 2011

Dear Friends,

As many of you know, November is a fun month for us. We host our annual Fall Feast, when we literally cook for days and then invite all our favorite people to gather together to share a special meal and make new memories with us. But it is also a month when we tend to reflect on and define “family,” and find new ways to celebrate the folks who have touched our hearts in so many ways.

We have both been fortunate enough to have people populate our lives who truly impacted us for the better. Some of them were relatives, like my great-grandmother Catherine, who taught me the importance of loyalty whenever she had me crawl up onto her bed so she could tell me stories about Hachi and other dogs who loved and protected their masters come what may. My great-aunt Editha, whom I met later in life at my grandfather’s funeral, had a heart as big as the ocean, and taught me to bravely see the world through the eyes of an artist, to embrace the aspects of my personality that made me unique and refuse to conform to societal norms. With their unfailing love and support, these women worked their own brand of magic, teaching me life lessons I’ve never forgotten and shaping the man I eventually became.

Yet blood ties aren’t the only ones that feed the vines of our lives as we continue to sprout and grow. Friends also play an equally important role in our life story, acting as mentors, guides, and companions along our journey. Edna, a matronly friend of Heather’s, was like an adoptive grandmother who taught her to believe in herself and to forge her own path. Sandra, Heather’s best friend’s mother, counted Heather as one of her daughters and always offered a listening ear. As for me, there were men like Al, a teacher and journalist, who taught me the power of the written word and infused me with the courage to use my voice to raise awareness and affect change, regardless of people’s personal opinions. We’d love to tell you about countless others, about friends who became family, who taught us important lessons with grace, laughter, love and respect, for each of them touched us in their own unique ways and truly live on within us, as parts of us. Undoubtedly, you have similar memories too.

The reason we share these stories with you, though, is to help you realize that even small, altruistic acts of compassion and generosity, create a ripple effect of change. One act of kindness begets another. Some refer to this as karma, the golden rule, or even paying it forward. Regardless of what you want to call it, however, if we stop and really analyze the precious moments and people in our lives, this will likely serve as impetus to do something to improve the lives of others and the world we live in.

This month is National Adoption Month, when we raise awareness about adoption and the youth in foster care. Currently, thousands of children are in the system, waiting patiently for their forever families. These kids, each beautiful in his own unique way, want desperately to belong, to have families they can trust and who love them unconditionally. Perhaps you’ve known people who have adopted, or were even adopted themselves. When my uncle John was a sheriff in California, he and his wife adopted three children, rescuing them from a nightmare situation, so I’ve witnessed firsthand what a marvelous thing adoption can be.

On the flip side, however, I also understand how badly children can suffer. If you live in Cincinnati, you may have read or watched reports about children like Damarcus Jackson or Marcus Fiesel, toddlers whose lives were snuffed out by the people who should have protected them, rather than murdered them. These stories are heartbreaking and tragic, and in many ways are more horrifying than something even Stephen King would write. That’s why we want to encourage you to open your hearts and consider adopting a child into your family. For more information, including valuable resources, financial assistance, photo listings of children currently available for adoption and more, visit AdoptUSKids.org. The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption also offers great links, workbooks and other informative tools to help you build your family today.

If you can’t adopt now, there are other ways to get involved and help at-risk children. Volunteer to tutor at your local schools, and in as little as one hour per week, you can build a child’s confidence and help him excel academically. You can also mentor children through Big Brothers Big Sisters, an organization we’ve supported for years via donations, and by volunteering at events, and even by having Littles of our own. Helping out doesn’t have to take much time, but it will definitely reap big rewards for both you and the child you mentor. Learn about BBBS below or watch the inspiring stories of this years Big Brother and Big Sister of the year.

These days when it appears that the world is coming apart at the seams, it may sound naïve or misguided to say that we live with hope. Yet we believe that conditions will improve, that one day we will awaken and realize that the crises now enveloping our world will be a thing of the past. But until that time, each of us has to step up and pursue change, working ordinary miracles every day. As we do, perhaps we’ll make an indelible mark in someone else’s life, so one day they too will know that no matter where they are or what they’re going through, we’ll live within their hearts, always inspiring them to live their best lives and discover their possibilities.

Live well,
Jathan & Heather

© 2011 Jadeworks Entertainment. All rights reserved.

Celebrate our planet this April

April 2011

Earth Day is in our hands 2011

Earth Day is celebrated worldwide on April 22, although it may be commemorated on other dates in your community.

Dear friends,

Despite tax season, April is a fun month. The weather is generally a little warmer, spring is officially in full swing, and people’s spirits are generally much better than they were during the chilly winter months. Plus there are several great events to look forward to!

As we’ve told you before, one of our favorite charities is the Nature Conservancy, whose motto is “Protecting nature. Preserving life.” This year in celebration of Earth Day (on April 22nd), they are encouraging all of us to get outside, have fun and explore nature as a family. They’re also urging people to “picnic for the planet,” by hosting picnic meetups in 199 cities around the globe.

The Earth Day Network is also urging people to pledge to live and act sustainably. You can find great resources about how to reduce your carbon footprint on their Website, find ways to get involved and can even make donations to the cause.

But Earth Day also means the release of a brand new film from Disneynature, African Cats! The film follows two feline families striving to make a home in the wildest place on earth. See African Cats during opening week, and Disneynature will make a donation in your honor to protect the savanna these cats call home. And before you watch the movie, be sure to visit the African Cats Website for educational information and downloads that can help you teach your children about the science and geography themes in the film.

And if you’re in Cincinnati, you can join us down at Sawyer Point at noon on Saturday, April 16th for the 41st Anniversary Celebration of Earth Day! There will be tons of stuff to see and do for the entire family, including animal presentations featuring an aquarium and petting zoo, a rock-climbing wall, great food and live music.

Then, on Friday, April 29th, head on down to Great American Ball Park for UC Night at the Reds! The Reds will take on the Florida Marlins and the park will be packed with UC alumni. Buy reduced rate tickets, then be sure to show up early for the pre-game activities and FREE giveaways in the Reds fan zone!

The reptile house at the Cincinnati Zoo during Zoo Blooms

Color explodes at the Cincinnati Zoo during Zoo Blooms throughout the April 2011.

Get out your garden gear and prepare to plant a tree, because the 29th is also Arbor Day. For those of you who aren’t sure what the Arbor Day Foundation is or how the day gained popularity across America, you can check out two articles Jathan wrote last year about the trees in our lives and the origins of Arbor Day on his philanthropy blog, Some People’s Lives.

April is also a great time to start planning your summer garden. You can visit the Cincinnati Zoo for ideas during the entire month of April as the park explodes with color during Zoo Blooms. This event always fuels our imaginations, particularly since spring makes us anxious to plant tons of herbs, veggies and flowers of our own. Because we plant the majority of these plants in containers, be sure to watch for a future blog post about that. We’ll give you some great tips on gardening, including inexpensive ways to make your yard look phenomenal!

And in case you missed them, be sure to explore our site for great food ideas, including everything from kitchen basics like heart-healthy Chicken Broth to our favorite Southern Fried and Southern Barbecued Chicken recipes. Then check out family favorites like Tomato Soup with Mozzarella Croutons, Classic Cinnamon Buns and No-Bake Peanut Butter Rice Krispies Cookies. If you love Italian cuisine, try our authentic Italian Minestrone and Rigatoni with Rapid Ragu. For something spicy, kick up the heat with Hoppin’ John, a traditional Southern dish with just the right amount of heat. There’s something for everyone on Jathan & Heather!

So what are you waiting for? Get outside, commune with nature, plant a tree, take a picnic, watch a game, or plan your garden. It’s spring, and there is no better time to enjoy the great outdoors!

Love,
Jathan & Heather

p.s. Watch the preview to African Cats below!

March 2011 newsletter

March 2011

Dear Friends,

March is finally here and with that comes a bit of warmer weather for many parts of the country. At our home in Ohio, green shoots from our perennial garden are already starting to peek through the dry winter-battered soil, crocuses and pansies are blooming, and the songbirds are slowly returning to the region.

Purple spring crocuses

These lovely crocuses bloom with the arrival of warmer weather.

By the end of the month, spring will have officially begun, and with that comes the beginning of daylight savings time. The longer days push the doldrums of winter into the recesses of our minds, and suddenly everything seems better, brighter, and increasingly verdant.

This is the time of year when we can throw open the windows on a clear, brisk day and air out the house. We also start spring cleaning, plowing through the clutter in our basement, tossing out forgotten items we no longer use or donating them to Goodwill, all the while clearing the spaces in our home for a new beginning.

We also discover that we have renewed energy, and are eager to face the world again with a new sense of purpose. For example, after our last gym closed a year ago we just never got around to purchasing a new gym membership. Finally, in the last week of February we joined Urban Active and we love the energy and smaller waistlines we’re getting from working out every day!

 We also started tutoring at our local elementary school, helping children develop their reading skills. It doesn’t take very much time, as little as an hour a week, and yet it is one of the most rewarding experiences we’ve undertaken in some time. The children are terrific, eager to learn and appreciative of the one-on-one attention they receive. In just a few lessons, we can already see improvement in their reading and vocabulary skills, and that brings us tremendous joy. We encourage you to look into tutoring in your community. Simply call your local schools and most likely they have a community involvement director that can help you get started.

On March 22, World Water Day will be celebrated around the globe. Started in 1993, this event focuses attention on the importance of freshwater and stresses the importance of protecting this valuable resource. Find out what your community is doing and how you can get involved by visiting the World Water Day website.

Whatever you find yourself doing this month, we hope you find yourself smiling more, getting out of the house and jump starting your life with the warmer weather, longer days and sunny skies!

All our love,
Jathan & Heather

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