The holidays are drawing to a close and 2016 lies ahead. As I pull myself out of a holiday sugar-induced stupor with a visit to the local winter farmer's market (where I bought only green vegetables), I begin to feel the familiar stirrings that accompany the dawn of every new year; looking forward to fresh opportunities and rekindling my curiosity for new knowledge and experiences.

As the calendar year ends, I don't make any formal resolutions. I've fouled them up enough times in the past to know that I do better heading in a general direction and trying to stay the course, correcting by degrees when necessary. I work to identify the things that I want to give more attention to and then try and honor them in such ways that help me to feel I have done my best at making progress. This year, I've decided I need to tighten my focus and use more energy spending time with my family and taking care of myself. And, after a lot of thought, part of the means to this end includes suspending my writing of this column.

Let's face it, I've got one kid about to learn how to drive (ack!) and another who practically needs a secretary to keep track of all her details. They are growing up quickly and I don't want to miss a bit. And let's not forget about my husband — we can always use more date nights (when we do manage to get out of the house together he jokes we are carrying on an "intra-marital affair"). At the same time, I find myself wanting to expand my horizons — learn to knit, finish painting the trim throughout the house, maybe redo the kitchen and finally figure out how to put up a website and start a blog about food, family and real life.


And so, I say goodbye to this version of Simple Gifts. I've loved every minute of it — sharing stories, putting together the sentences to describe the fun, and sometimes crazy, things that my family and I have done, swapping recipes and answering emails. I will always believe that through food we are given the opportunity to learn about one another, sharing some of the most basic human pleasures in daily, necessary rituals. Cooking is a life skill, and that no matter what your skill level, there is always more to learn — if not in technique, then about people.

My encouragement for you this new year is to write your own recipe for happiness. Enjoy your food. Choose what is fueling your body and mind consciously, with best intentions. Slow down. Support yourself and those around you, be they your family, your neighbors, your farmers, your community. A happy and healthy 2016, and many thanks for your years of reading.