Thursday, May 23, 2013

I met Paula Deen, y'all

A few months back, I was bouncing around the recipe sites that I haunt and on diabeticlivingonline.com, there was a banner ad for a contest via diabetesinanewlight.com to meet Paula Deen in Savannah.  All I had to do is write a short essay on what positive steps I take to manage my diabetes.  So, on a whim, this is what I submitted:

"I cook and eat a 99% whole, real food diet while watching fat and sodium.  The men in my life have high blood pressure so this way of cooking benefits us all!  And I've rediscovered a love for cooking as I make things completely from scratch now, from bread to all my sauces to even branching out to try making my own cheese!  I do not use artificial sweeteners of any kind in my cooking but limit carbs and starches overall and still allow myself the occasional treat.  I've gotten more active by doing simple little things like parking further away and taking the stairs more to increase my activity.  I've also discovered electro-swing music and play that often while cooking so I end up dancing (though not well!) while working in the kitchen.  It's a win-win!  With these changes, I have lost over 50 pounds since last summer, my numbers have improved, and I am feeling better than ever physically as well as mentally and emotionally. Life is good!"

Flash forward to about 3 weeks ago:  I found out I won!!!  Out of over 10,600 entries, mine was 1 of the 6 they chose.  Can you believe that??  I, like the other contest winners, thought it was a scam when I first got the phone call and kept waiting for the "catch."  But it was truly a prize trip with no ulterior motives.  :)  So last weekend, Hubbyman and I went to Savannah and got to meet Paula Deen and her son Bobby.  It was an amazing experience!

One of the coolest parts, for me, was the contest people sent a town car to bring us to the airport!  Our driver was a grumpy old guy named Steve but he got us there just fine. :)  Unfortunately, I did not get any pictures of the other various drivers during the trip because I was always just too caught up in the moment. :P


My usual walking boots ended up giving me a huge blister on the bottom of my left foot which made the rest of the weekend a little challenging. :(



We got to stay at the Hilton Desoto pretty much smack dab in the middle of Savannah.  We got there about 10pm so ate a quick dinner in the lounge and headed to bed since we had to be up and ready to go by 8:45am.

A view of the lobby from the lounge

The hallway of the main floor

A painting of what the hotel looked like before it was torn down and rebuilt in the 60's.

Chandelier from the original hotel

Early morning view from our window


We met with the other winners and our 2 "contest guides" early in the morning to head over to the Taking Control of Your Diabetes Conference. 


Being silly on the escalator at the convention center :)

Dr. Steve Edelman, founder of TCOYD.org

Boring doctor guy

Really boring old doctor guy

My feet at the conference.. I was a little bored ;)

Little perky lady who tried to make us exercise in the middle of the conference :P
FINALLY!  The guy we came to see!
BOBBY!

DEEN!
He was so very sweet and down-to-earth.  It was cute the way he fidgeted while he talked. :)

There was a meager lunch at the conference and then all the winners got to have a quick photo op with Bobby.  Rich managed to get this one while standing in the crowd behind the photographer.

The 6 winners, L-R: John, Susan, Bryan, Bobby, Margaret, Kimberly, and me :)
After the conference, we went back to the hotel room to rest up a bit and then met the other winners and people from Novo Nordisk (the sponsors) for an amazing dinner at Sapphire Grill.  Again, so caught up in the monent that taking pictures completely slipped my mind. :P
The next morning, I got up bright and early and met with a diabetes educator for 45 minutes.  She kept saying "There *has* to be something I could teach you or help you with!"  LOL  Apparently, I am an anomally for researching and learning everything I can on my own.  She said I could probably teach her a thing or 2. :)  After that meeting we met up with everyone for a walking tour around the area.  It had rained the night before so it was hot and so so so SO humid.  And remember that blister I mentioned earlier?  Yeah, that was not a fun time for this Sashi.

After the tour, it was back to the hotel room to shower (again), change, and pack so we could check out of the hotel before the lunch with Paula Deen.  When we got to the catering hall next to Lady & Sons, I noticed who was slated sitting next to me. :)

They had 3 tables with 2 winners each flanking Bobby, Paula, and Dr. Steve Edelman.  During the salad course, Bobby was at our table.  For the entree, we got to sit with Dr. Steve and Paula was at our table for dessert.

And then the beautiful Paula Deen showed up!  She is so freaking sweet and bubbly... she is just like she is on her show.



This is Claudia, Bobby Deen's fiancee. :)  She is just as sweet as her family-to-be!
Paula signing autographs while sitting next to me :)

 
I found my balls and said to Paula "I have a gift for you... or would that be too weird?"  She said, "Oh, honey!  I love gifts!"  So I gave her a couple packs of my notecards that I designed.  :)  She recognized the one on the right as me right away and seems really pleased with them.  She even showed them to other people later on!

Another photo op :)
Yes, I stole the Sharpies that they used to do autographs.  Sharpies... it's not a disease, it's a way of life.

 My only regret with this trip is that I did not get more pictures, but it was such a positive experience and I will always carry that with me. :)

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