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.

3 charities that make a difference

Winston Churchill once said that ” We make a living by what we earn—we make a life by what we give.” Many at this time of year are indeed focused on giving, but many times it is difficult to know what to get the person who seems to have everything. Cash? Clothes? A gift card to their favorite store? This year, why not give a gift that makes a difference: a charitable donation to a great organization on behalf of your friend or loved one. But which organizations deserve your hard earned dough? Here are three of our favorites.

Oceana

Atlantic Blue Fin Tuna

Oceana protects many fish populations, like this Atlantic Blue Fin Tuna.

Although 70 percent of our planet’s surface is covered by oceans, until 2001 very little environmental funding went to protecting them. That is the year a group of leading foundations created Oceana, which has become the world’s largest international organization focused solely on ocean conservation.

Since its inception, Oceana has launched international campaigns to create policy changes with real results that preserve and restore marine life. For example, in a recent campaign, Oceana sent the Chilean Minister of Economy a report that analyzed the annual quota for jack mackerel during the past 10 years. The study found that for the past eight years, the National Fisheries Council set the catching limit higher than was recommended by the Institute for Fisheries Development. Upon reading this study, the Minister of Economy vented his frustration to the National Fisheries Council and asked them to set smaller quotas for next year.

Now Oceana has turned its attention toward protecting bluefish tuna and sharks, because overfishing is pushing these fish toward extinction. Some shark populations have already dropped by an astounding 99 percent! If something’s not done soon, oceans will be irreparably changed when these top predators disappear forever.

“No other organization does what Oceana does,” says ocean protection advocate and actor Ted Dansen (of Cheers fame). “No organization works exclusively to fight ocean threats on a global scale.”

One of the reasons Oceana is so successful is that it chooses “battles that are big enough to matter, but targeted enough to win,” Dansen says.

To find out more about Oceana, visit their Website or check out their Guidestar report today.

The Nature Conservancy

Nature Conservancy Santa Fe Canyon Reserve

Hundreds of birds call the Nature Conservancy's Santa Fe Canyon Reserve home.

Our first contact with the Nature Conservancy occurred during one of our many trips to Santa Fe, New Mexico. There they manage the Santa Fe Canyon Preserve, which consists of 525 acres and is home to a colony of beavers and more than 140 species of birds. The preserve offers a 1.5-mile interpretive loop trail and also serves as a trailhead for the 20-mile Dale Ball Foothill Trail System. The preserve is a gorgeous sanctuary where you can exercise, commune with nature and discover ruins from Santa Fe’s historic past.

The Nature Conservancy is dedicated to protecting the lands and waters on which the diversity of life depends. And they are successful in doing just that! In fact, with over 1 million members, the organization now  manages 1,400 private nature sanctuaries which are equally important and as fascinating to visit as the Santa Fe preserve. Together, they protect over 14 million acres in the United States and more than 84 million acres in Canada, Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific.

One of the reasons for the Nature Conservancy’s success is that it has partnered with numerous agencies and organizations around the world, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Park Service in the United States. They’ve also teamed up with other non-profit organizations like Conservation International, NatureServe and WWF to create campaigns like the Natural Capital Project which makes conservation an aesthetic and economically sound choice and Rescue the Reef to protect coral reefs worldwide.

Now you can help make a difference too! Simply visit the Nature Conservancy home page or find out more by reading their Guidestar report online.

Big Brothers Big Sisters

Big Brothers Big Sisters
Little moments truly are big magic when mentors share activities like reading with Big Brothers Big Sisters.

In his bestselling novel Dead Even, our pal Brad Meltzer wrote about husband-and-wife lawyers who were pitted against one another in the courtroom. At home, however, they were like any other couple, with shared interests and passions. One of those passions was their involvement with Big Brothers Big Sisters, an organization that paired them as mentors to a little girl. That story changed our lives.

In the ’90s, Jathan contacted Big Brothers Big Sisters and became a “big” himself to a young man in Dallas, Texas. After he moved to Cincinnati, Jathan took another step and interned for the organization’s offices where he helped with fundraising and created a radio campaign for BBBS at the University of Cincinnati’s radio station, Bearcast. Shortly thereafter, both of us became “bigs” to an 8-year-old Hispanic boy named Junior. It was a marvelous experience that taught us that simply being a strong role model and good friend to a child in need can change a life forever, in as little as four hours per month! This is a perfect example of why the organization’s motto is “Little moments, big magic.”

The organization got its start in 1904, when a young court clerk in New York City started seeing an increasing number of boys coming through his courtroom. That clerk recognized the need for trustworthy adults in the boys’ lives and started finding volunteers to mentor them, and as a result the Big Brothers movement was born. By 1916, the movement had spread like wildfire to 96 cities across the country. At the same time, a similar movement began for girls elsewhere in New York. It wasn’t until 1977 that the two movements joined forces and became Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. Now the organization operates in all 50 states and in 35 countries worldwide!

BBBS has three wonderful mentoring programs that help children in various situations. With community-based mentoring, Bigs and Littles meet in their community for as little as one hour each week to share fun activities, such as going to the park, bowling, reading, visiting the zoo and more. Site-based mentoring allows Bigs and Littles to meet once a week in schools to talk and have fun, help with homework or simply chat, draw or play games. Some cities also have a program that provides mentors to children of prisoners which helps these kids beat the odds of winding up in jail themselves.

Whether you can open your hearts and serve as a mentor yourself or simply make a donation, your help is greatly appreciated and makes a huge impact on the life of an otherwise at-risk child. To find out more, visit Big Brothers Big Sisters online or check out their Guidestar report for details.

© 2010 Jadeworks Entertainment. All rights reserved.