Believing in Humanity…and Curtis Stone, too!

100_6437

I am a firm believer that people come in and out of our lives for a reason. I also believe that the kindness of strangers is still alive and kicking. Whether it’s the person you pass in the street you exchange smiles with, or it’s the server at your dinner table…we all meet for a reason. That’s why it’s important to show kindness to everyone you meet, because as the old phrase goes, you never know what struggle someone has in their own life.

All through life, I have tried to do my best to share my smiles (what’s the point in hanging on to them?). I will always try to make you laugh (with clean or naughty humor). I will always believe in you (even when you doubt yourself). Also, I will always respect you (because you’re human, and you deserve it). I don’t care where you came from, where you live, what you eat (unless I need a recipe), or how you prefer your steak cooked. You are you, and I will respect you and do my best to inspire you.

Onto today…

There were quite a few people that came into my life today, and I am very grateful they were brought into it.

Today was the day I got to meet Curtis Stone. *big smiles* Mom and I started off early for the hour drive to A Southern Season (one of our favorite gourmet stores!), and were completely expecting a large crowd waiting. We were the fourth car in the parking lot…*smiles*. We made it inside the store and walked towards the area Curtis would be demoing some of his items. The first person we met…Johnnie. Johnnie was a true delight and knew food like the back of his hand. It was great spending time with him and hearing some of his great recipe ideas. Next, we went to the “gathering” area where we were first in line. Luckily for us, Katy was there to greet us. We had no complaints at all with spending time with this vibrant and kind woman. There were quite a few things we could relate to: her brother has a food blog, she loves fashion, she does design for your home, life, or wardrobe, and she smiled warmly. What wasn’t to love about this woman?

Elaine joined us shortly thereafter with a super warm smile as well. She told us about a movie called Strictly Ballroom…an Aussie film that she loves. She also educated us that she had heard the Julie person in real life from Julie and Julia wasn’t actually the most amazing person you would want to know. Hmmm….that sucks. Then flew in Stacey. Stacey, Stacey, Stacey. We had to let the Security Guard Ryan know that he might want to watch her. For the simple reason that she knew where Curtis had stayed. *wink* With her pearls and sparkly personality she was sweet to bring us tastings as we waited. By the way, the Peppermint Bark at A Southern Season is simply delicious! I adore a good and smooth Peppermint Bark.

Now to back track a bit. All of the above were employees of A Southern Season. There was one more key player in today’s events. About 30 minutes after we had been standing in line, a young gentleman began standing in line with us…Ap. When I say gentleman, he really was one. Well dressed, well groomed, articulated his words, polite, and he knew his food! Oh yeah, and he loves a good steak (can’t fault him there). We exchanged contact information and are definitely planning on keeping in touch. He also let me know about Anthony Bourdain coming to Richmond, VA, in April 2013. Woohoo!!!! *big smiles*again* I always love a new Foodie friend. Might start watching Top Chef Masters because of him, too. *wink*

Right behind Ap, stood a mother of two toddlers and her friend. She had a blog as well. Shamefully, I didn’t catch her name, but I definitely got her blog address. *wink* Go check her out at The Stir Crazy Moms Guide to Durham. It has tons of great ideas to do with your children in Durham. I believe I just saw where they do giveaways once in a while also!

Enter…Curtis…

I had flashbacks of meeting Gordon Ramsay when Curtis Stone walked behind his curtained area to get ready for us salivating women (and a few men). I believe the organizers thought we would be a stampede mess, because a few of them kept telling us how to stand and where to go. But, we knew what we were doing…Curtis couldn’t see us acting like fools. *wink*  By the time 8:30am-11am was gone, we had already “adopted” Ap as one of the family, and we stuck together to make sure we all made it to the front row. Of course we did (it’s the Southern way to look out for your neighbor).

We finally were let in, and now we were standing in front of Curtis Stone while he was showing us a few of his cookware items. I found it to be a little pricey for the average home cook with an average job (like myself), but I can see where everything was practical, great quality, and would be worth the money with some saving. Just as a note…his basic 12″ NonStick FryPan was voted #1 by Good Housekeeping magazine, and his Oil Can was featured in O magazine as one of Oprah’s Favorite Things. I’m not sure you can get better than those two things.

Let’s be honest here. It was hard to focus on much, as he was so damn attractive. *smiles* He shared cooking tips, stories, history, joked around (there’s a naughty side there ladies and gents), and smiled a lot. It was obvious he was passionate about his craft, and I can appreciate that greatly. He took pride in the product he was presenting to us, and he knew how to make you feel important when you met him. Towards the end of the presentation, he sat the plates of food that he had prepared out for us to see as we waited in line for him to sign our cookbooks. But, come on, if you know me, I’m not afraid to ask for what I want. I also don’t believe in just LOOKING at food. So, without hesitation, I proclaimed to him…”I want to try that!” He kindly handed me a fork and the plate, and Mom, Ap, and I enjoyed a bite of his stir-fry dish (which was stunningly flavored). Such a sweetie.

We continued to wait in line for our book signing, and with each person, he took a quick moment to talk to them while signing their cookbook. He got to me, and saw that I already had his autograph in my cookbook (a friend had obtained that one for me, thanks Andrea!). I told him this time I wanted to see it being signed myself, and we could have it signed to “Jennifer” this time, instead of “The Onyx Plate”. He obliged, acknowledged my Fork Bracelet I was wearing, and listened to me briefly jabber about him being an inspiration in my own food passion. We shook hands and he took a photo with Mom and I…damn he’s attractive. Oh wait…did I already say that? Oh well, it bears repeating!

We said goodbye to Katy as we shared a hug, and goodbye to Ap as we recommended he dine at The Weathervane before driving 2 hours home. Unfortunately, they were on a wait for parties larger than one, and we headed back towards home. However, we did stop at a nice little place in Hillsborough called Saratoga Grill. Quite tasty on Churton Street. Delicious Honey Almond Salmon, a light salad, sweet Scones, and a sliver of Caramel Walnut Torte made a nice cap to the day with Mom.

There’s nothing I love more than going on Foodie Adventures with Mom, and even though she says she only goes on these things because it’s for me, I think she secretly enjoys them. Simply put, she got a little too excited when we got to put our arms around Curtis for a photo. And I quote “Ohhh, we get to touch you!” I love my Mom. When I can’t seem to get the words out, she always knows exactly what I’m thinking.

So…in closing…

  • From Johnnie – fantastic recipe ideas for Collards and Fish
  • From Katy – TwentyFiveBucksAWeek.com is her brother’s blog, and her company is Katy Delaney Design. Beautiful Woman/Beautiful Website
  • From Elaine – a new movie to watch!
  • From Stacey – a new brand of Peppermint Bark to indulge in
  • From Ap – a future meeting with Anthony Bourdain (hopefully Ap will be there as well), and a new show to watch – Top Chef Masters
  • From Blogging Mom – a cool website to introduce you Moms to…maybe one day I’ll need it as well.
  • From Curtis Stone – INSPIRATION, INSPIRATION, INSPIRATION and another reason to save money. *wink*

Life is about the people you meet in it as well as the small things you’re surrounded by every single day. When you meet someone, make sure you leave their lives just as enriched as they left yours.

Aspire to inspire.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Dreams of a Restaurant of Kindness…

SAMSUNG

In the grand scheme of life, we are put here to be good human beings. I am finding more and more that kindness is actually catching on. It’s becoming “trendy” might I venture to say? Seemingly, people are more aware of the human condition than ever before. We know that our neighbor was laid off a year ago and it’s hard to put food on the table. We understand that it’s hard to find a new job with rejection around most corners. We see the foreclosure signs around town, and we feel for the ones going through that. I can’t even fathom what it would be like to have to up-root from everything you know and love, because you couldn’t make your mortgage/rent payment. Unfortunately, this does happen. Now, I don’t have a plan to fix all of this. That’s not my job or my passion to “fix” this. My passion is to provide to others what I can to help others feel their own worth, find their own talent, realize their own dreams, and eventually live out their own success in life. I find that sometimes just a warm meal, good conversation, and a moment to relax is just what’s needed…

With that being said, there is this one dream I have that I finally want to share with you.

At least once a week, I pass this house for sale that’s been labeled “Commercial” now. It’s quite the pleasant house to look at. In fact, it looks as if it would make a nice house to live in. (Keep in mind, I haven’t seen inside this house…but that doesn’t change the dream.) I can completely envision a restaurant in there. Not just your everyday restaurant, but one that would have a set menu each night of the week. Spaghetti on Mondays, Grilled Chicken on Tuesdays, Meatloaf on Wednesdays, Chicken Pie on Thursdays, Potato Soup on Fridays, etc. You get the point. Each plate would cost $4 for adults and $2 for children. It would be a place where people who are struggling could come and have a warm inexpensive meal and sit in a warm house for a while. I’m thinking the hours would be limited to just dinner time, and only open for a few hours. No need to be open late, because it wouldn’t be a bar…just good home-cooked Southern food. *smiles* The guests would walk right into the front door, grab a plate and sit where they wanted to. They could sit at the dining room table, or if they wanted to catch some television time, they could sit on the couch in the den. It would be their house for a few hours where they could feel warm and comfortable away from the worries of their everyday life.

I’m sure there are other places like this around, at least I hope there are. So when everyone tells me in my daily life that I need to open a restaurant…I’m flattered. I truly am flattered. However, the type of restaurant I would want to open, wouldn’t be what they’re thinking about. It would be a restaurant of kindness, specifically designed to help those that need it the most. Because that, my friends, is what’s truly important in life.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You can certainly view the property I’m talking about if you’re curious with the link below…However, the house isn’t viewable. It’s more focused on the surrounding property. I do see though that it is in “Pending” status. I pray that whoever is buying the property, that they do some good with it. Honestly though, I would be sad to see the house tore down, as it has been a source of my dreams for quite a few years now. *frown* There is always a plan though…we just aren’t always privy to what the plan is…trusting.

http://www.richardjonesrealestate.com/PropertyDetail.aspx?PropId=41&ListId=&CatId=1&SubCatId=

The above was the best photo I could get of the house on a drive by photograph….so pardon the blurs.

The real estate site says….The 3,000 sqft house on the (7 acre) property features: Main floor has living room, music room, bathroom, 1 bedroom, den, dining room, kitchen and breakfast area and utility room. The second floor features 3 bedrooms and 1 bath. The roof is 12 years old, the HVAC/Hotwater Heater is 13+ years old. The cellar has a concrete floor and is accessible from inside the house.

(Seems like lots of Restaurant space to me!!! *smiles*)

The Masterpiece that is Life…

You ever have those days where you just feel like not being sugar-coated?  I have those days occasionally.  Those days where the world has turned against you.  Your tire has become flat, you locked yourself out of your car, you dropped a bag of groceries and broke your eggs, or you missed an important phone call.  We’ve all had those days.  The days where all you can think about is curling up in bed and calling it a day early, maybe even before supper time.  It’s on those days though, that we need to draw strength off of the wonders around us…..a sunrise, sunset, pretty clouds, or just plain ol’ improving someone else’s day for a change.

Your tires flat?  There must be something that God wanted you to stop and take notice of.  I know it’s hard to believe sometimes, but things happen for a reason.  We have choices that we can make, but He knows what He needs to have happen for His plan to come together and will take actions needed.  OK, so back to the tire.  Let’s think about some reasons it could have happened.  I got a flat tire in the parking lot of a post office one time…let’s go back there.  Maybe the person that came to assist me needed a break in their hectic day.  Yes, helping someone with a tire is hectic sometimes, but I am quite nice and fairly easy to get along with (in my opinion at least).  I may have added a ray of sunshine to his day.  What about the place I bought a tire from???  Maybe they had to make goal for the day so the boss wouldn’t be upset with them, and were just a tidbit off of that goal for the day.  What if the guy behind the counter had just ended up with a nasty customer before me, and I made his day better with showing him a kind heart?  You know what else it could have been?  God may have known there was a bad situation up ahead in my day, and He needed me to not go there.  So, being the stubborn redhead I am, He had to stop me since I might not have stopped myself.

You locked yourself out of your car???  No biggie…let’s go back to when I helped my friend get into her car.  We called AAA and were met immediately to unlock her car.  The tow truck driver was on his way to a bigger call, and knew he had a chance to swing by and unlock her doors really quick.  What if the guy was headed to something that may have put him in danger at that very second of arrival?  He could have been responding to a call off the side of the interstate and if the timing had been right, a dangerous driver could have swerved by them. 

The other two should be self-explanatory at this point of my post.  I shouldn’t have to explain them.  There are reasons for things.  Life is one big…..masterpiece.  Life isn’t all about you, as an individual.  You are a part of His masterpiece.  Where do you fit in to that masterpiece?  Remember, things that happen to you may not always be for your benefit in the book of life.  But, they do happen.  Your decision is whether you roll with the punches and make a decision to be happy, or do you plop down where you are in life, stick out your bottom lip and pout until you are drowning in your drool and self-pity.  Myself?  I choose the first option.  This is my life and as much as I hate to do this…..quoting Bon Jovi *sigh*….”It’s my life.  It’s now or never.  I ain’t gonna live forever.  I just wanna live while I’m alive.” 

Are you living today?  While living…are you killing the ones around you with kindness to make their day better?

To quote a wise woman no longer with us, much more worthy of quoting than Bon Jovi…my Granny…”Kill ’em with kindness.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

On a completely unrelated note and to lighten the mood now…Enjoy pics of the kitcat snuggling up with her Christmas Present, organic catnip…I swear, it is catnip…and, some pretty snow pictures…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.