Ok, y’all (now re-read that in Mrs. Paula’s drawl), my good buddy, Brandon Branch and his boss lady, the fabulous Mrs. Paula Deen, hosted a book party for me to celebrate the release of my new cookbook, A Time to Cook. The party was divine, y’all!
Mrs. Paula opened her lovely home to me, my family,
my staff and my friends and some of hers too for a night of book signing,
fantastic food, fun laughter with old friends, fun laughter with new
friends and the chance for worlds to collide – allow me to divulge.
Brandon, Mrs. Paula and my Savannah friends are dear
friends indeed. They had met my sisters before, but never my parents,
aunt and uncle (other parents basically), Susie and Lady and the super
cute gals that run James Farmer Inc. My family world, my work world, my social
world – they all collided into a night of tremendous delight! It is
not that I was worried about the folks not liking one another; it was
that I was worried, moreover, that my family would merge with Mrs. Paula’s
and Brandon’s and we would never leave! When you spend so much time
with one group, then so much time with another, the time when those
groups converge can be magical, heartwarming and joyous – thankfully
that was the case.
How could anyone not feel welcome with Brandon Branch
and Paula Deen as your hosts? Hugs and kisses, not to mention hors d’oeuvres and cocktails, greeted us upon entering Mrs.
Paula’s house for the party. My group is usually a party to begin
with, and the flat tire en route ( 96 Tire and Collision is an amazing
institution) didn’t even flatten our enthusiasm, zeal, excitement
or even our hair – Mama kept her rollers in her hair until we reached
the city limits of Savannah. My sisters and I can attest that we are
the victims of Aqua Net affixation and minor brain cell damage from
our childhood, but what Southern children are not? Anyways, I have digressed
into the topic of “big hair” which, as y’all know, is an in-depth
discussion for another day and time. I’ll just say that not only did
my mother flip her head upside down to “fluff up” her hair before
entering Mrs. Paula’s home, but Mrs. Paula also did the same thing
before taking a photo with me – bigger the hair, closer to God.
After the good folks at 96 Tire and Collision got
us back on our way, we merrily zipped on our way to Savannah and onto
a memorable night. Of course, in true Farmer fashion, I had to change
from my driving shorts to party pants upon arrival. Luckily I know the
house, so I skipped on to the guest bath to find it occupied, so I figured
Mrs. Paula’s nearby laundry room was vacant – but so did the wait
staff catering the party from the Lady and Sons, so I wasn’t alone
– ha! Oh well! I changed and they sorted plates! Spiffed up and wearing
pants, I scurried into the living room where folks were gathering, mingling,
admiring the house, perusing the pages of A Time to Cook, and taking in the gorgeous views of the waterway.
I briefly was reminded of Mumford and Sons song “For
Those Below” and the line “…whispered notes from the piano
in the corner of the room…” when I caught a gentle earful of piano
music, and I thought to myself, “Listen up, James Farmer, soak up
and enjoy every minute of this night. Say yes ma’am, please and thank
you, smile and relish in the thought of how great your friends and family
are to love and support your new book – all here together at PAULA
DEEN’S HOUSE!!!.” The rest of the party was a blissful evening for
all the senses: I could see friends and family milling about,
I could smell the jasmine and magnolia wafting in from the garden, I
could hear music and laughter and conversation in harmony, I could taste
the fantastic food, and I could feel – feel the warm hugs, handshakes
and pats on the back.
Y’all know that I love to fluff and do flowers for any occasion. Brandon Branch is notwithstanding
from this love either – he outdid himself! Hydrangeas billowed from
every container, cache pot and vase in the house. The lanterns cast
their romantic glow from outside in the garden. Tables boasted flowers,
food and candles and the whole house shined like warm sunshine for us
all to bask! You can truly tell who a good friend is in your life –
especially when they fluff up Mrs. Paula’s whole house for your party!
Thank you BB!!
The Lady and Sons catered the event, and every bite
was scrumptious! Collard Green Wantons, Brie and Ham Puffs, Bacon Wrapped
Asparagus, Macaroons in every shade and flavor imaginable and Crabcakes
that were absolutely marvelous. The bar outside on the back terrace
served libations and cocktails overlooking the marsh and river. I could
have eaten my weight in those wantons!
For someone who loves a party, hosts a fair amount
of them and even coordinates them for a living, it was a true honor
and privilege to be the honoree. It is a pleasure to call Mrs. Paula
a friend and to have been so blessed by her love and support. I cannot
express my gratitude to Brandon for all he did and does for me. If I
can be as good to my friends as they are to me, then I’ll be a good
friend indeed. I hope y’all are blessed with great group of folks
in your lives as this Farmer is – especially friends that will open
their homes and heart and then decorate them with hundreds of hydrangeas.