Monday, December 29, 2014

Sweet home Alabama

I suppose that I should start at the beginning by answering some of the questions that I've been asked over the month or so.  So here it goes:

What are you doing in Alabama? 

Well about six months ago I connected with Evan G. Cooper on Instagram.  He asked if I shipped cookies and I said Yes!  Truth is, I had only just shipped my first set of cookies to California and that was for a family member.  Shipping was not something that I had any real experience in and it was something that I really didn't expect to be doing very often.  I was wrong.  

If you don't know Evan, let me tell you that once he finds a product or a person that he believes in, he sticks with it.  If you happen to be that person with that product, well you have a friend for life, not only a friend but an advocate, an inspiration and a cheerleader!!  With that being said, Evan has been a huge supporter of "A Place to Gather" cookies, formerly known as "Sweets for your Sweet".  I have developed a friend/customer base in The Heart of Dixie and it was time to go meet some of them!!

Another part of this trip for us was exploring our dreams.  No, we haven't had dreams of Alabama per se, rather finding opportunities to do what we love.  It just so happens, that the dream trail led us to consider Alabama as a possibility.  Life since the job loss has been....interesting. It's had it's moments, but overall, it was a good experience.  God carried us and continues to do so, but it also gave us opportunity to ask ourselves some good questions.  Like, what do you really want out of life?  What is the one thing that makes you "come alive"? If you could do anything, what would it be?

I honestly fell into this cookie thing by no attempts of my own.  God has definitely had His hand in this and it's been fun to look back and see just where He has shown up.  Now I'm not saying that we're moving to Alabama but I am saying that we are open to what ever and where ever God has for us!  It's a freeing place to be!  We're not trying to write our own story, we are simply giving God the pencil and letting Him do what He does best.....write His own story on our lives.

How did you get invited to the Governor's mansion?
In addition to that, I had 8 dozen holiday open house cookies for Evan and he had invited me to provide some special cookies for Governor Bentleys' holiday mansion tours!  So this was a chance to hand deliver these sweet treats and save my friend some crazy shipping costs!   We picked Thanksgiving week because Bill would just be finishing a month of working six twelve hour shifts per week and we needed some time away!!

Our time there was incredible!! My emotions and feelings fluctuated between feelings of being a "star gazer", if you will, and the confidence that I'm gaining in knowing that I was supposed to be there and it was "no big deal"!  For example, the south jersey stay-at-home-mama in me is still freaking out that an event planner in another state wants my cookies!  I'm still freaking out that I actually went to Alabama to meet said event planner and on top of that.....THE GOVERNORS MANSION!!!!  I.Can't.Even!!

Then the flip side is taking all that I've gained over the past two years, specifically the past six months and feeling like I was exactly where I was supposed to be!  The fan in me wanted to take pictures of every little thing and "selfie" the heck out of Evan and Laura, but the cool, calm, collected side of me wanted to just take the experience as it came, like I've been there all along.  It was weird.  And I loved every minute of it!!

 What a stair case!!!!

Okay, here's a word from the "fan girl" in me.  When you are going to meet a very talented event planner and his super adorable assistant for the first time, and you get the opportunity to have your very first picture taken with said "amazing people", the above conditions are NOT the conditions that you would consider for said opportunity.

Please note:

          1. While I am considerably shorter than both of these individuals,  I have to inform you that I ended up standing in a drainage ditch for the governors pool.  So, to be accurate, I'm not THAT much shorter!!  lol  

          2.  In the bundle of nervous energy that I was in, I was talking to Bill when he took this shot.  This ONE AND ONLY SHOT!!!!!!!  Have I not taught that man anything about taking pictures????  Who doesn't know that you never, EVER take only ONE SHOT!!!!  I was going to bury this pic for.ever.  But what fun would that be!!!  So there you have it, my awful, first picture with Evan G. Cooper and Laura Jean Belle!  

Lorraine D. Richie

Okay, back to the story!!  Here are a few more pictures of the mansion. 

 We're so teeny tiny!!!!

 The Governor and First Lady Bentley have seven granddaughters and a grandson on the way.  Evan went with a family friendly theme in the dining room and I made cookie place cards with their granddaughters names on them.  Evan and his team finished them off with beautiful red ribbon and sealed them so that they could be keepsakes for the children.

 The master at work. Evan G. Cooper

 This is Collier, she is the Initiatives Coordinator for the First Lady.  Bill and I made up bags of mini cookies in four different flavors to hand out to customers and other people that we met on the trip.  Collier was through the roof about this tasty little treat and promptly sat on the floor in the dining room and ate those cookies up!!!  

 Mini-Dippers; mini sugar cookies in chocolate, vanilla, chocolate chip and brown sugar n- spice.  Comes with it's own little tub of icing to dip in.  They were a hit!!

 We went through them pretty quickly and had to make up more bags each night!

 Bill and I hit Hobby Lobby on Monday night for some supplies for a project I had that week and I came across this bracelet.  It's says "Just Breathe".  This short statement got me through some tough times during the job loss and unemployment.  It was a good reminder on the eve of meeting Evan and Laura and going to the governors mansion.

Well, that's it for now.  That's only day two of our week stay.  I'll be back with more info and pics from our time in Montgomery!!

I originally wanted this post together and out to you the week that we returned, but as life would have it, I have been swamped with orders since we returned and have only now had the time to sit down and process!!

Hope you had a blessed Christmas and will have a super New Year's Eve!!

God Bless,


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