The Holidays So Far

I had these grand December-y plans, see. Grand plans that involved a whole bunch of new festive recipes for you and stories of whimsy and Christmas cheer and what not. But, hey, guess what? Life happened, that's what. Life and work and to be totally honest, after months of recipe testing for the new book, the Inspiration Factory is running sloooow for brand new holiday goodies. The unexpected bonus of this, though, was that all the baking we've been doing around here has been about old favorites, the stuff that really tastes like the holidays to us. Heirloom Sugar Cookies with sparkling rainbow sugar. Thin, Chewy Chocolate Cookies (some with a splash of peppermint extract, hello, Yumtown). Blocks of Blonde Rocky Road, a confection so addictive that--I just--there are no words. And lots of Super Crunchy Chocolate Peppermint Bark in little ribboned bags--for friends, for teachers, for the husband's office, and for sport.

Earlier this month, in keeping with the warp speed at which we're putting together book #2, I bounced over to the warm, cozy studio of the fabulous Leigh Beisch, where I worked with her team and the ever-inspiring Sara Slavin once again to crank out dozens of delicious images over a three-day shoot. The creative energy was electric, people. I am really excited for you to see this new book. Final details will be coming your way soon, and the target release date is Fall 2012. Which means that next year you'll be getting a whole lot of me up in your area. The first book, Marshmallow Madness!, Is coming out February 28, 2012, and an advance copy arrived on my doorstep earlier this month. Not enough colorful language in my personal lexicon to cover the feeling of holding that fluffy, puffy cover in my hands, friends. Holy smokes.

A couple days after the shoot, I sent off another hunk of the new manuscript to my wonderful editor/ad hoc therapist, and promptly got on an airplane to Los Angeles for a 36-hour adventure in my old hometown. I shot a few fun videos with the good people of Kin Community, the sort of cozy recipes that will take you through the dreary days of post-holiday winter. They'll be up in a few weeks, so I'll let you know when they're up and running. But the best part of my LA trip was meeting my very best friend's day-old baby girl, who decided to be born ten days (!) late. Mad crazy new motherhood flashbacks aside (exhaustion! hand sanitizer! pain! elation!), it was a magical thing being in that hospital room with my dearest friend and a brand new life. So wonderful.

Back in San Francisco now, I'm doing it up end-of-year-style--focusing on wrapping up the the last few weeks of 2011. It's a funny combination of really wanting to cross things off the to-do list, but so not wanting the holiday season to end this year. Because Little C is so totally In. To. It. now, and it's a completely hysterical joy. Major requests to Santa, of the highly specific sort. The big ticket item that we've been reminded of every single day since early November is a "PINK HELLO KITTY SUITCASE. THE BACKPACK KIND, WITH WHEELS, MOMMY". So apparently she's planning on doing some traveling in the New Year?

Also, I have to give mad props to the Elf on the Shelf. Ours is named Buster (or "Busterd" as Little C says, and we're not really sure if that's like "mustard" with a 'B', or "bastard" with a 'U', but whatevs). And I'll tell you what--that little doe-eyed sucker is working for us. If anyone wants to invent a sort of set of kid bait like this with different seasonal characters that can take us through the whole year, I will pay you ten thousand dollars. Plus cookies. Let me know.

Well, friends, I really just wanted to take a minute here to check in, say hello, and wish you all the happiest of holidays. I hope you're all healthy, happy and ready to take on a brand new year. I'll see you around here again right soon.

NewsShauna Sever