Posted in New Year, Product Recommendations, Tips and Tricks

We’ll Take A Cup of Kindess Yet, For Auld Lang Syne…

In just 2 days, I will pull the 2014 calendar off my wall and 2015 will quietly sneak its way in. In the 48 hours before 2014 makes its quiet escape, however, I’d like to pause and reflect on the year that was. Turn on any news station these days and you’re bound to run into some form of year-in-review. If you watch those reviews, it will seem 2014 was a dark year- one in which planes mysteriously fell from the sky, ebola ravaged a nation and claimed far too many lives, and celebrities and commonfolk alike left us wondering what has happened to the moral compass of our society. Despite my proclamation to the contrary, this year left many of us shaking our heads and echoing the eternal question of Fergie and the Black-Eyed Peas: Where is the love?? Well, I can personally assure you it was there. It may have been overshadowed, as it often tends to be, by the more disheartening news stories…but I guarantee if you stop and take a look at your own year in review (and I don’t mean the one so graciously provided by Facebook), you’ll realize that even if this was not one of the better calendar years in your history, I have no doubt that you also had moments of love. If not, it’s still 2014 and I love each and every one of you: so there you have it 🙂
For me, 2014 will go into my history book as a successful one. I left a job that I loved to try a new job that I’ve also come to love. I gained a whole new set of colleagues and students whom I have grown to love, but I have maintained relationships with the colleagues and students I left behind as well. I DIDN’T MOVE! That’s right: for the first time since 2009 my mailing address has remained unchanged for more than 12 months. (Unbeknownst to many of you, I came very close to moving to New York in 2014…but that’s another story for another time 🙂) I became a godmother to the most adorable little boy I’ve ever seen (granted, I’m a little biased).  I watched the first of my “ACE brothers” marry the love of his life. I watched as my only non-ACE brother proposed to the love of HIS life. I became an official blogger AND GOT PAID TO WRITE!!  I ran my 2nd half-marathon. I spent time in nearly 20% of the states in this great nation (Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Ohio, Alabama, West Virginia, and Michigan- in a few hours anyway). I found love in so many places, and I’m hoping I spread love in even more. Sure, the year had its share of struggles too. I fell short in my quest to make it through a year without my body attacking another food (farewell, oats…it’s been real) and my car and I have a bit of a love-hate relationship going on…but all in all, it was a year of joy, laughter, blessings, and love.
2014: A great year in my book 🙂


So, as we round out another year, what do I wish to share with you? Well, as I’m sure you can predict, there will be words of advice and encouragement for a new year…but today is not the time for that. Today all I encourage you to do is to end the year on a positive note and dive into 2015 on an even more positive one! Take some time between now and Wednesday night to think back over your 2014, maybe identify a few things you’re going to leave behind with the calendar year when the clock strikes midnight, and then celebrate a hard-earned end of 2014 and fresh start to a beautiful 2015. The best way to do that? With you-safe foods of course! So here are some suggestions for your last-minute NYE feast preparations:
1)   Celestial Seasonings holiday teas: As the year winds down on Wednesday, I can think of no better way to sit and reflect on the year gone by than with a cup of tea in your hand. Celestial Seasonings outdid themselves this year with their holiday tea line. Cranberry Vanilla and Gingerbread Spice have been my personal favorites, but there are so many other kinds. Just be careful to read the label: some have barley in them (AKA NOT GLUTEN-FREE) but those fantastic people label it rather bluntly. Plus, there are caffeinated and caffeine-free options…in case you need that extra boost to make it to midnight!


2)  Pork and Sauerkraut!: I only learned last year that this is even a tradition, but it’s true. Thanks to my New Year’s Date last year with my favorite octogenarian couple from central Pennsylvania, I learned about this tradition. It supposedly brings luck to eat pork on New Year’s, as a pig roots forward, so you will do the same all year if it happens to be your first meal. The best part is IF you double check the pork tenderloin you purchase, this is an easy Katie-safe (and hopefully you-safe) meal! Here are some great recipes. Adjust as you see fit!

Last year’s pork and sauerkraut dinner!
3)  Shrimp cocktail: Nothing says festive and fancy like shrimp cocktail. At least that’s how I feel. I have a feeling it’s because when I was growing up, the shrimp ring only made appearances at birthdays, Christmas, First Communions, graduation parties, etc. The only time I remember having one in our house when it wasn’t accompanied by dozens of invited guests? New Year’s Eve. A whole shrimp ring to share with no one but my dad…since the rest of the family weren’t shrimp lovers. Now the shrimp part is still easy; the cocktail sauce not so much. Thanks to my frugal/clever ACE roommates, I learned an easy recipe for cocktail sauce during my time in D.C.:
½ cup ketchup (careful! Most have corn syrup!)
2 Tbsp. horseradish
Lemon juice
Worcestershire sauce  (Lea and Perrins is gluten-free, dairy-free one)
(Note: if you have corn issues, Lea and Perrins can’t confirm that the natural flavors don’t contain corn…so this link is for you.
 Yes, it’s a little more complicated than buying that little plastic tub in the middle of the shrimp ring…but better to ring in 2015 with a smile, rather than curled up in a ball on the bathroom floor.

30% off shrimp rings!! Get out there!!


4) Sparking Cider!!: If you’re like most people, ringing in a New Year involves a festive beverage of some kind. While champagne toasts at midnight can certainly be a worthwhile tradition, I prefer my own tradition: sparkling cider. Now I suppose I could come up with a list of reasons why, but the honest truth is that I am cheap. And so is sparkling cider 🙂  It does also stem from another longstanding childhood tradition which involved drinking sparkling cider on Thanksgiving, sometimes at Christmas Eve dinner, and always on New Year’s Eve. And lucky for me, there are still some Katie-safe varieties out there. I recommend Martinelli’s. So many choices, all gluten-free/corn-syrup-free! Granted, if your heart is set on champagne, those are almost all gluten-free too…but really, is it worth the extra $20?? I leave that for you to decide.

Bubbly, delicious, and gluten-free!
And I’m sure they’re on sale somewhere 🙂
Of course you can get creative but hopefully that gives you some ideas, or at least gets you started on thinking about your plans for Wednesday night. Thank you for a great year of writing/reading…your messages really do make my day. And for those of you who read this to the end primarily because you were hoping to find the answer to one of the more frequently asked questions recently: Could it be that one of those examples of love I found this year during the self-proclaimed “Year of Love” was of the boyfriend variety?? Well, to that I say the same thing I’ve told my students for years: You won’t get any information out of me until the day I’m engaged. Until that day, all the characters in the story of my life remain saints and friends. If/When one of those people is elevated to co-pilot status, I promise you’ll know 🙂

Now, soak up the last 36 hours of 2014 (or plow through them if this wasn’t the best of years for you), get excited for a new year of possibility, and I’ll see you in 2015!

Farewell, 2014!


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