Gratitude at Year End

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As we wind down the first half of the school year, the kids are both home with the sniffles. I’m pampering them with high C treats, and I know they’ll be in high spirits for the holidays.

The fast-approaching new year makes me look back at an extraordinary 2008. Personally, I was soaring with the sneaky chef, and lots of happy home time. But what about that last quarter, that economic bruiser out of the blue? Well, here we all are...

In our house, the upside is that we find ourselves more grateful for everything in our lives on a daily basis now. We don't take things for granted like we used to. And we’ve decided to get more creative with gifts this year. It's far more than just bargain hunting. It's about making something truly meaningful from what's readily available.

I can't help but use a kitchen analogy here. Have you ever noticed how some of your greatest creations come about when you have to improvise a little bit on recipe? Maybe you’re missing an ingredient or don’t have enough of something. The recipe becomes a guide to your creation. Without it, you couldn’t have even started. But in the end, it becomes your own. There's a unique creativity that emerges. And that's where the flavor is.

While I’m still in “kitchen mode,” let me add this: I have to admit that I get completely warm and fuzzy when I think about all of the families who have invited me to join them for meals and snacks on a daily basis this past year. I am truly humbled and honored. Thank you! I'm also excited that Tyler Florence has agreed to write the forward for my next book, due out in April.  I'm finishing up the final proofreading and retesting recipes for about the sixth time! There's a media tour scheduled for April, so I'm trying to lose 5 lbs now, at the worst time of the year. But I figure this year, I'm going to outsmart the holidays in more ways than one ; )

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