September Song

Cincinnati fireworks

A Labor Day weekend tradition, the Cincinnati Bell/WEBN fireworks display by Rozzi's Famous Fireworks during the P&G Riverfest marks the end of the summer season.

September 2011

Dear Friends,

September always feels like a time of new beginnings for us. Even though autumn doesn’t officially begin until the 23rd, the Labor Day weekend is like the last blowout party of summer. Perhaps that feeling overwhelms me because I first arrived in Cincinnati in 1999, just in time to join a crowd of nearly half-million people for a day of family entertainment at the P&G Riverfest and the truly awesome Cincinnati Bell/WEBN Fireworks display. That also happened to be the weekend I forged some of my strongest friendships with people in the area.

But even as children, the first weekend in September was a time to take a last-minute vacation, go camping at our favorite state park (like Big Bone Lick State Park in Kentucky), or simply grill out at home with friends. Regardless of the activity, this always seems like a moment of transition, a time to get together with our favorite people and wrap up yet another summer of fun in the sun. This is when we send the kiddos back to school, brace ourselves for another year of hard work, get geared up for fall festivals, and reflect on how this summer changed us.

Last month, I wrote about a good friend who died, Nelda Paschal, and I later posted a recipe in memory of my great-aunt, Editha Hayes Spencer. When writing those dedications, I thought that even though these women are now gone, the impact they had on those who knew them was transformative. Both women were the epitome of grace, and when they smiled at someone, it was as if they sent out rays of positive energy and love that enveloped the recipient. Memories of people like them, people who truly impacted our lives for the better, make times of change, months like September, seem like the perfect time to focus on what is truly important: reassessment and fortification of our authentic selves, and the ultimate redirection of our life’s path.

Recently I read a quote by Maya Angelou that really resonated with me. She said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” The more I’ve thought about those words, I realized that what she said is true. There are many instances in my life where the particulars of a situation are foggy, but the emotion surrounding it still burns within me, whether someone made me feel special, loved, inspired, or motivated. But I also remember those times when someone made me feel embarrassed, frightened, appalled, guilty, or angry.

Angelou essentially raised a question that makes each of us accountable for how we treat others. We all need to ask ourselves, ‘How do I make others feel when they are with me?’ Am I hospitable, empathetic and compassionate? Or do I criticize when I should praise? When I’m unsure how to best handle a situation, do I err on the side of kindness? Of course, none of us are immune from saying things we shouldn’t from time to time. But for the most part, is love the basis of my modus operandi? These are questions we all have to answer sooner or later. Doing so now, will help us improve our lives, ease stress, find contentment, and truly feel loved.

For as long as there have been writers, filmmakers, musicians and other artists, creative people have also focused on what brings true happiness. One of my favorite songs delivers a message I’m sure Angelou would approve of. Originally featured on Broadway in Do Re Mi in 1960, “Make Someone Happy” was composed by Jule Styne, Betty Comden and Adolph Green. I first heard Jimmy Durante sing this song on the Sleepless in Seattle soundtrack in 1993. Most recently, Barbra Streisand recorded it on her Love is the Answer (2009) and One Night Only albums (2010). You can watch Streisand’s performance of this tune at New York’s Village Vanguard below. I’m willing to bet that the lyrics will haunt you too.

There are countless ways to make others happy though, and they usually boil down to putting others ahead of self or doing something special for someone else. At work, we can give the best customer service possible and make everyone’s day a little better. In our personal lives, we can give a gift or make ourselves available to others by freeing up our calendar. For Heather and I, our favorite way to make others happy is by demonstrating hospitality, cooking for friends and loved ones and dishing up something a little extra special when we do. If you want to try making something memorable for your favorite people, try one of August’s many featured recipes, including our Banana Crunch Muffins for breakfast-on-the-go or Mexican favorites like Chicken Enchiladas Salsa Verde, Toasted Flautas, and Jalapeno Creamed Corn.

Want something a little more traditional? Make our healthy Ya-Ya Chicken, dished up with Spinach Béchamel and Pasta Rouge. In the mood for Italian? Our Rotini with Sugo Fresco Giardino is light and goes great with Neapolitan Green Beans. Complete your world tour with Asian-inspired dishes like Kung Pao Chicken with Peanuts, Chinese Celery Cilantro Salad, and Cold Sesame Ginger Noodles.

Need a little comfort food? Jathan’s Split Pea Soup and Skillet Cornbread are awesome at lunch or dinner. And if you want something yummy to drink, pour our Hawaiian Breeze or Blueberry Mojito. They both go down smoothly and seem to make even the harshest day a little easier. Finish off your meal with sweet treats like Banana Cake or our gloriously pink Strawberry Dream Cake.

Not in the mood to cook? Visit our favorite new restaurant, French-inspired It’s Just Crepes, a revolutionary dining venue in Cincinnati with three locations that pack both savory and sweet goodness into a paper-thin crepe. So good!

Whatever you’re doing this Labor Day, have a marvelous holiday weekend, be safe and remember that September isn’t just the end of summer, but the beginning of what can be the best year of your life!

Love,

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

Letters for our friends

Whether you’re a new acquaintance or an old friend, we love to catch up with you. That’s why we’ve added a new section to the site, Notes From Jathan & Heather, where you can get a sneak peak at what we’re up to each month. Take a quick glimpse any time during the month to read our personal monthly note. You can start right now by reading this month’s message.

December 2010

Dear Friends,

December is always one of our favorite months of the year. Winter arrives and suddenly the trees and rooftops are painted with glistening, dazzling white after the season’s first snowfall. Family and friends have time off from work and school, and suddenly our home is filled with gaiety and laughter as folks drop in to visit, indulge in a rich cup of hot chocolate with warm cookies straight from the oven, and share stories from their lives or simply swap a bit of juicy gossip.

December also brings our annual Winter Brunch and Game Day, which is one of our favorite parties of the year! Unlike our Fall Feast event, this party is casual and fun and is so much easier to put together. Friends from all over gather in our home to snack on delicious casseroles and baked goods, watch old movies, meet new friends or catch up with old ones, and play games which usually make us laugh until our sides ache. It’s truly one of the most jolly days of our year.

Whatever you find yourself doing this December, we hope you get the chance to spend a few moments with some of your favorite people (hopefully in front of a cozy fire) making treasured memories with those you love.

Love,
Jathan & Heather

© 2010 Jadeworks Entertainment.

The Cincinnati Zoo Lights Up After Dark

Ever since we were dating, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden has been one of our all-time favorite places to visit.

Open since 1875, it is the second oldest zoo in the country, and has been a National Historic Landmark since 1987. The zoo is a leader in the conservation, education and preservation of wild animals and wild spaces, and has successfully bred and rehabilitated animals since the 1880s. Today, many of these animals can still be seen on display at the zoo, including three new manatees (Wooten, Illusion and Betsy) who are on display at the Otto M. Budig Family Foundation Manatee Springs exhibit and the Sumatran rhinos, three of which were born at the zoo! Read more of this post