Fresh Start


The kids are back at school and I’m totally tuning out the holiday decorations for a few more days. With a quiet house post two weeks of hustle and bustle I finally have a chance to stop and reflect — on the year past and what’s ahead. I’m going for realistic goals in 2016.

There’s so much I want to do and so much I’ve already committed to…maybe 2017 will be the “no” year, but this one is going to be packed. So, I guess it’s more sort-of-realistic goals…. Thankfully, I’m truly excited by all the circles on my calendar.

I’m digging in and finally following my dream to become a master gardener — seventeen weeks of intensive training stand between me and accomplishing something that’s been on my wish list for years.


I’m excited to be collaborating with the Four Seasons Biltmore on a cooking school series. These cooking lessons will focus on fresh and beautiful family meals with a dinner and wine pairing to follow. I’ll share more details soon; it’s going to be fun!

Personally, it’s that time to recommit to eating fresh, produce-driven meals (see all the links below), drinking less (I didn’t cut out alcohol completely — realistic goals!) and exercising regularly (Jenny, I’ve missed you).

I spent the morning collecting some of my favorite recipes from the blog to get my menu planning mojo going. Maybe some of these tried and true standouts will help you get a fresh, jump-start on your year as well.


Crispy Chickpeas


Fennel and Grapefruit Salad with Avocado

black eyed pea soup

 Black-Eyed Pea Soup with Calamari 


Crispy Chicken Drumsticks with Zaatar and Potatoes 


Raw Carrot Salad with Mint & Parsley 


Broiled Grapefruit with Almonds 

baked falafel

Oven-Baked Green Falafel 

What are your goals for the new year?

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7 thoughts on “Fresh Start”

Cheers to 2016!!
I would love to try one of your classes at the Four Seasons Biltmore sometime:) Keep me posted! xo

Congratulations, Val! I’m so happy for you. You will make a wonderful master gardener as you already are one, now you’ll just have the paper to prove it! We still make the chickpeas:)

Thanks for kicking off the new year for me! Please keep us posted on your classes. I live in San Francisco but would mak I down fr a class or two just to meet and learn from you!

Becoming a Master Gardener has been on my wish list for a long time too and I congratulate you for taking the plunge! I am finding myself with a lot of time on my hands for the first time in my life and have a lot of catching up to do around the house and garden, so I think I will wait til next year. But what a great endeavor. Enjoy!

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