I've mentioned this before but for the last 8 years, I've been teaching a volunteer cooking class at Adsum Center, a transitional home for women and children. A couple of weeks ago, I had the great pleasure of speaking in front of friends, advocates and long time supporters of this amazing organization at their annual Blooming Tea Fundraiser. Although I'm a fairly comfortable public speaker ( because I'm a chatter box by nature I imagine,) I was a little nervous this time around. Speaking publically about things that are meaningful is difficult for me, mostly because I'm afraid I'll hit a note that will make me cry and I'm not particularly emotional by nature. I show emotion and feel emotion, but I prefer to let it simmer quietly rather than make a big fuss about it. It makes me feel exposed and vulnerable to think I might fall apart in front of others.
Do you know what helped though? My daughter. She cupped my face with her little hands right before I stepped up to the podium and looked me straight in the eyes. Mommy, when you feel really nervous, just look over at me and yiayia and Emily and Ellina and baby Harrison and baby Elias. We'll smile and you'll keep going! And that's the very best advice you can give someone who is about to give an emotional talk. Look at the people who are there to support you when you feel fragile. Their familar faces are exactly what you need when your voice is beginning to crack and your eyes are welling with tears.
When I first began my journey at Adsum Center, I had no idea what an impact it would have on my life. The staff. The residents. Their children. I couldn’t have imagined what an imprint they would all leave on my heart. It has been a privilege, a life changing experience to witness the power of community and how it fits together like an intricate puzzle. A puzzle with a million details and a million pieces and a million colors. And it is this power of community that sustains love and growth and fosters a sense of renewal. It is this unity that gives meaning to our plight as members of society. As people with a need to do more and see more and be more.
My time at Adsum has given me a new perspective on the world, on the resilience of the human spirit, on the strength that is present every single day as a result of tireless efforts, committed staff and leadership that is steadfast and strong. What it really teaches me week after week is that we are all the same. Mothers. Daughters. Sisters. Friends. People with hopes and fears and dreams and ambitions. People who want to run and taste and live and breath.
People who support and want to be supported.
People who love and want to be loved.
We are united as we travel along this amazing journey of life together, armed with the knowledge that small words or gestures can indeed change the world. What a grand impact it makes to help one person who helps one person who helps one person. And before we know it, we have a world of helpers and believers. A world where change is viable and doable and sustainable.
I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to the entire staff at Adsum Center who welcomed me with open arms from the very beginning and who've worked diligently for the Lunch With Nic program. I want to thank the residents for allowing me to come into their home every week, allowing me to witness what strength looks like. What hope looks like. What real courage looks like.
I couldn't possibly end this post without mentioning how completely in love I am with The Prince George Hotel. It has been the venue of choice for the Adsum Blooming Tea since inception and every year, they host the grandest and most spectacular tea party. They served dainty finger sandwiches and scones with clotted cream and strawberry preserves, an assortment of delectable desserts and of course, traditional English tea. It reminds me of a boutique Hotel in New York City- avant-garde and absolutely breathtaking on every front. I first got to know Penny Mackinnon, the catering manager, a few years ago when my mom, sister and I hosted a bridal shower at the hotel for my sister-in-law. They were in the midst of a massive renovation project at the time but she still found the energy to entertain my never-ending questions and requests. She was incredibly helpful and accommodating and she made the entire planning process effortless. You can imagine my delight when I saw her again at the fundraiser doing what she does best- facilitating and organizing and making sure everything was perfect.
I e-mailed her the very next day and asked if she could give me the recipe for the scones because they are the very best scones I have ever tasted. In a selfish attempt to secure the recipe, I promised Penny I would take it to the grave and not breath a word of it to any living soul ( stick a needle in my eye kind of promise.) She assured me that wasn’t necessary and even gave me permission to share it with all of you, right here on this little blog. So here it is. Straight from Jennifer Turner, the talented pastry chef at The Prince George Hotel.
We are lucky my friends.
You'll notice that she uses metric units of measurement but since I don't have a food scale (what kind of food blogger am I anyway?!) I converted everything to volume.
Don't do that.
My scones were a little tough and that's because I didn't adhere to the recipe exactly as it was written. Don't tamper. Get yourselves a food scale and measure everything the way it was intended. I’m planning to do just that this week.
Maybe I'll see if Jennifer Turner can have me to The Prince George kitchen and show me how it’s really done?