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“Don’t get lost. Don’t be late. It’s good to smile, but easier to get bugs stuck in your teeth.”

When I was 16 and an employee at REI, I discovered this message on a handwritten note in my bike bag. My first thought was to blush, “Oh, that’s sweet.” An older colleague who happened to be a professional triathlete had tucked the note there in the bike closet. And my second thought, sitting up abruptly, was “Am I that transparent?”

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“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

—Martin Luther King, Jr.

Back in 2010, I became a volunteer for cooking classes that taught basic culinary skills and healthy recipes to families on a budget in East Palo Alto. I was new to the Bay area and something about the idea spoke to me.

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chicken tortilla soup

I ran twice this weekend—a rarity these days—and drove home with my heart feeling so full. The sunshine, the post-endorphin buzz, the crunch of my iced coffee all reminded me that I am embarrassingly blessed. I walked through the front door to discover my son sleeping in his crib, my husband washing dishes. I had time to shower. To shave my legs, even.

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roasted asparagus and prosciutto

I had hoped to get this recipe to you before Easter Sunday, of course, but life intervened. No matter. Surely you have leftover eggs and asparagus that need a second destiny. If not, allow me to give you a scrumptious excuse for yet another springtime brunch.

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potato harvest

One of the joys of gardening is that it sends you back to childlike thrills: buried treasure, mud pits, Easter Egg hunts. Potato harvesting combines all of these.

Our backyard garden is currently fallow, but last year we had a potato-harvesting bonanza. I tell you this now, in February, because here in California planting season has nearly arrived. And despite the recent blizzard throughout the Northeast, spring will be whispering wildflowers and blooming magnolias before you know it. It’s prime time to plan your garden.

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massaged kale

If you subscribe to food or lifestyle magazines, or even if you glance at magazine covers from the grocery store checkout line, you know there is a tried-and-true pattern. January ushers in austerity—juice fasts, diets, and low-fat vegetable drivel. Where did all the prime rib and truffles of December go?

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gluten-free peanut butter cookies

There is a classic Christmas story, The Gift of the Magi, about a young couple that is poorer than poor. The wife, with only a dollar and eighty-seven cents to her name, sells her beautiful hair to afford a gift for her husband—a chain for his pocket watch. Meanwhile, he sells the pocket watch to buy tortoiseshell combs for her hair. On Christmas Day, they exchange gifts and see the tender irony.

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rhubarb from the garden

The first time I remember tasting strawberry rhubarb pie was in Aspen, at a backyard party meeting my husband’s family. With its gemlike strawberries and ruby stalks of rhubarb, this pie has marked many special occasions since then. Our honeymoon, a post-wedding party in Colorado, and the birth of our son, Noah, who arrived in this world on August 31. Mike, the proud papa, has whipped up no fewer than four strawberry rhubarb pies since Noah’s birthday.

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baby belly

It’s official. I can no longer see my feet. Oh, they’re down there—sometimes I lean forward to greet my toes and confirm this fact—but without question my view to the floor is looking more rotund these days.

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Isabelle the chicken on the prowl

I ate eggs for dinner three times last week, the only meals I cooked all week. Let it be a testimony: backyard chickens provide a bounty, and pregnant women (at least this one) are less inventive in the kitchen.

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