My Next Book

I’m so excited to write these words: You are looking at my next book, How to Celebrate Everything, which will be published on September 20, 2016.

I know I’m prone to overstatement, but when I say this is the most meaningful project I’ve ever worked on, I’m not lying. (And yes, I realize I’m saying this as somebody who can find deep meaning in a braised pork butt and a U12 soccer roster.)

I started writing How to Celebrate Everything three years ago because of a vague, nagging feeling that my family’s jam-packed days were flying by too fast, disappearing behind me like a jet trail, and I wasn’t doing a whole lot to stop, turn off the phone, clear the family calendar and remind myself “Hey! This is not a race to the finish line. This is it.” My daughters were about 10 and 11 at the time, and I began obsessing: What am I holding on to? What are my kids holding on to? Do they feel connected to their family? Their community? Am I running out of time to figure all this out? (I always think of my friend Jodi who once asked me “Do you ever feel like these are our practice kids, and any day now the real ones are going to come along?” Yes! Yes! Yes!)

Mostly, though, it came down to this: How do we slow down to make sure our kids are recognizing moments that matter.

The answer of course, is there is no answer. How can we really ever know what is sticking? As parents, we do our best and hope for the best and for God sakes isn’t it enough to just get a freaking pork chop on the dinner table every now and then? But most of you know me by now. You know I like to pretend I have control over things that I have no business whatsoever controlling (Exhibit A: Dinner Diary) and also that I like to drag all you guys right down that path with me.

So here is the strategy I’ve come up with and wrapped up between two covers and bound with a Liberty-cotton flowery spine: Savor Family Rituals. Optimize Family Holidays. Celebrate Everything.

And whenever possible, do all this with food, just to be sure people show up.

When I say “celebrate everything,” I mean the biggies, of course. In my book, you’ll find recipes and stories and all kinds of ways to infuse both meaning and deliciousness into major holidays. You’ll find recipes for your Thanksgiving turkey, your Easter ham, your Friday night challah. (Yes, both. Trust me.) You will find menus to help you plan Fourth of July barbecues and New Year’s Eve feasts and killer birthday parties that your kids and your kids’ friends will look forward to all year long.

But the heart of this book lies in family rituals, in the less obvious, but way more personal ways we find meaning and connectedness in day-to-day life with kids. For our family that means walking to the farmer’s market every Saturday to collect the ingredients for a tomato sandwich; it means serving creamy, soothing mashed potatoes after every brutal braces-tightening session; it means making a huge-ass breakfast on birthday mornings complete with candle-studded chocolate chip pancakes; it means writing poems for graduations, weddings, first birthdays and other milestone moments; it means dinner at our neighbor’s house every time there’s a snowstorm; or pizza and sushi at the coach’s house at the end of a triumphant (or even not-so-triumphant) season.

These are our family rituals, but you get the idea. What I hope to illustrate in How to Celebrate Everything is how family rituals do not have to have their own Hallmark aisle or be accompanied by a six-course bacchanalia in order to be meaningful. They don’t have to be perfect and they don’t have to be huge. They just have to be yours.

Of course, having good food around to lock in the memories does not exactly hurt. So naturally, the book contains 100+ recipes, all of which are attached to traditions and moments, big and small. And because I can’t seem to publish a book without “dinner” in the title, you’ll also find an entire section devoted to the ritual that really started it all: The family meal.

OK — time to let the rituals (and the food attached to those rituals) do some talking. Here’s a little teaser of the book…

Sleepover Breakfasts! Every time we have a sleepover guest, we try to go all out on the breakfast front. On our best days, this means warm popovers with homemade strawberry jam. But it also means apple fritters, chocolate chip pancakes and buttermilk biscuits.

Birthdays and Parties. We have about two dozen birthday parties under our belts at this point in our lives…and we’ve lived to tell! The book offers a stay-sane at-home party guide, complete with theme ideas, cake recipes, and lunch ideas (like these subs) that openly and deliciously defy the law of There Must Be Pizza.

Fourth of July with Cousins The most addictive sweet-and-smoky barbecue chicken stars in an Independence Day feast, which we do every year with my brother, sister, and all the (adorable, but truly insane) cousins. Also on the menu: Crowdpleaser Slaw, German Potato Salad. (You’re on your own for the s’mores.)

Only Child Night. For the past few summers, it’s worked out that our two daughters are at sleepaway camps during two different weeks, so it’s become something of a tradition for the child left behind to be in charge of dinner ideas. Here, Abby makes homemade gnocchi, a dish her sister wouldn’t eat if she was stranded in Siberia with no prospects of a nourishment for weeks. Naturally, it’s Abby’s favorite.

The Walk to the Farmer’s Market. For as long as I can remember, we’ve used the weekend farmer’s market as a way to tear the kids away from morning TV, get out of their PJs, and get outside. Soccer schedule permitting, we walk there every Saturday, then spend the rest of the day living off the bounty we’ve assembled. Shown here, easy Strawberry-Almond-Milk smoothies, but this section of the book is PACKED with fresh, easy, memorable menu ideas, all inspired by our lower Hudson Valley farmer’s market.

Eating Dinner in Front of the TV
. Yes, you read that right. Obviously I’m a big believer in having the TV off during dinner. But I am an even BIGGER believer in breaking some rules every now and then, especially when a Big Event is on TV — think World Series, Presidential Election, World Cup. (Sponge Bob Christmas Special? Not so much.) On those nights, it’s practically a command: You must watch this event with the rest of the world, you must eat Super Nachos with stewed chicken and all the fixings, and you must do so with your fingers.

Apres-Ski Dinners.
I am a world-class wimp on the slopes, but I like to think I make up for that in the apres-ski portion of the program, beginning with this Chickpea Pizza with Broccolini and Salami…

..And ending with these Sweet-and Sour Meatballs with Polenta. Possibly the best recipe I’ve ever developed.

The Rosa’s Mud Cake Tradition
 Longtime DALS readers will recognize this cake, which no birthday of mine is complete without. In the book, I share a half dozen new ways (and new excuses) to serve it, including as a base for Phoebe’s favorite ice cream cake, a heart-shaped Valentine’s Day treat, and this double-layered and fudge-frosted beauty decorated with dum-dums. Yes, dum-dums.

{But FYI, in between rituals and recipes….you will also find mantras. Like this one about mashed potatoes, which informs my 14-year-old’s entire life.}

The Bake-A-Gift Ritual.
This looks like just a regular old coffee cake, but ohhhh it’s so much more. It’s a riff — a really deliciously accurate riff — on a famous Entenman’s treat that my dad and I used to obsess over. The learning here: You can never go wrong when you bake a store-bought favorite from scratch and present it as a gift.

One guiding principle of Vacation Rituals: Try to get as far away from your daily life and routine as possible. Hence: Coke with dinner. Pop Tarts for breakfast. Ice Cream every. single. day.

The Dog’s Half Birthday
! Just kidding, we don’t celebrate that. (Though maybe we should!) I just wanted an excuse to show my beautiful, batty Boston terrier, Iris, largely ignored these past six years on the blog and in the books, but who now finally gets her day in the sun.

Holiday Parties
. I know it’s hard to think about latkes this time of year, but it’s good to know they’re in there, right? Related: So are “interfaith slides.” Again, trust me.

Sunday Dinners.
Family Dinners. Easy Dinners. Just because this is the first book I’ve written where the word “dinner” is relegated to the subtitle, does not mean I wouldn’t include recipes for our most cherished ritual of all, including these pork lettuce rolls with pomegranate seeds and apples.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that all these beautiful photos were shot by the gifted and talented Chelsea McNamara Cavanaugh, and styled by my genius friend Victoria Granof.

Much much more to come, you can be sure of it! For now, How to Celebrate Everything is available for pre-order from all the usual suspects: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, and Indiebound. ThankyouthankyouthankyouTHANKYOU for your support.

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Yes! I already love everything about this book. And I will admit that I got a bit misty reading this now (why? why do all your blog posts make me misty?). Your writing about family and ritual and tradition has always meant so much to me. This book. I can’t wait. Congratulations!


Looking forward to it. Interested to hear your take on how to create new rituals. (We have only one birthday under our belt so far). Which was a non-event. But I am o so excited about celebrating the halfway point of 18 months! Cake, candles, cheese, wine!

And how do you remember from year to year what the ritual is? Thanks 🙂


The way I remember is this: THE KIDS NEVER LET ME FORGET!
So many thoughts on creating new rituals in the book, but mostly it’s just to pay attention to the small things that you do every day or every week that are so natural to you that you don’t even think to call them rituals. Start there and I’ll bet you find a lot!


That is such an excellent idea for a book – I too will pre-order, gleefully.


I’m back! Congratulations!!! This is MY kind of book! As it turns out, we have your ‘doughnut pile’ happening next week for my son’s birthday while at camp. I can’t wait to see what you have put together, Jenny!


Now THERE’s a great ritual. Nothing will ever beat the Doughnut Cake.
Thanks Amanda!


SO Excited about this book! YAY! Looks fantastic. (and? I’m totally with the 14yr old about the mashed potatoes. They’re perfect for everything in every stage of life. I could probably just live on them )


Congrats! Looks amazing – can’t wait to get my copy and start celebrating!


Yay! This gives me something to look forward to in September, when I usually feel blue about summer ending and the inevitable darkness of winter approaching. SO looking forward to it!


How wonderful! Had no idea this was in the works…can’t wait to check it out come fall. : )


Woohoo – I just pre-ordered my copy and can’t wait til September. I have a feeling this will be my favorite book yet. Congratulations!


Yay! Congratulations! I love this blog, LOVE your DALS cookbook, and love the idea of your new one! Can’t wait to get it!

Robin Parke

I’m suddenly looking forward to September. Many of your recipes are now tried and true go-to’s. I’ve borrowed your birthday party ideas a few times – for my daughter’s 8th birthday, we used your Japanese theme (candy sushi, viewing of My Neighbor Totoro) and called it “Sayonara Seven”! The following year, the b’day girl had fallen in love with the book, Harriet the Spy so I followed your secret agent party almost to the letter and then gave out copies of that beloved novel as party favors. On Sunday, Ella turns eleven so she and a dozen of her closet friends are headed to Finding Dory at the movies and, sigh, pizza. In other words, this long comment is my way of saying your poignant post captures my panic that my kid is growing up and I want to squeeze the living daylights out of every single moment of her childhood before it’s too late. Thank you for helping me along the way.


Wow, that is awesome Robin. And giving Harriet the Spy as the party favor is GENIUS! As for her aging out of the bday party, at least she still has amazing taste in movies. Our Finding Dory tickets are already reserved!


I can’t wait! With a 10, 9 and 5 year old I feel the years are flying by and I need to slow down. Looking forward to inspiration from your new book!


I LOVED your first two books and gave away many copies as gifts… Can’t wait to get this one as well. Congrats!


I am LOATHE to ever register for a website (gasp!) so that I can leave a comment (double gasp!) BUT my Love Story with your website, cookbooks, and your positive messages to families about the sacred stuff that happens around a meal has left me no choice. I CAN’T wait to see your new book and look forward to really embracing the advice all of those years ago when grandmas would stop me on the street with my Screaming!Red Faced!Colicky! First born and say “oh, honey, it goes so fast….”


Jesus – you are freakin’ adorable! Mazel Tov! Can’t wait for this one to join the other two on our shelf! Love you!


Holy cow, it sounds + looks AMAZING. I seriously cannot wait!! Congratulations! xoxo

Symphonic Chef

Looks amazing! Can’t wait to get my hands on this book. Thanks for all the great recipes and posts- you’ve become a favorite blog and I can’t wait to try more of your great looking meals.

Beck @ Golden Pudding

Yay! Food is so central to so many of my family’s important events and rituals, so I can’t wait to read about yours – and have another go-to book to give all my friends!


Pre-order is in! I love the original DALS…so many of those recipes are in our regular rotation (the actual book is held together by an elastic band at this point.) Dinner the Playbook has my go-to sandwich slaw recipe…I can’t wait for the gems in this next book! Thanks for all the great ideas, written in a way that feels so unfussy. Cheers!


I’ve been doing this simple celebration with my kids for breakfast on the last day of school and the last day of summer break. I make them frozen hot chocolate milk shakes. I also makes something my son named birthday soup. It’s a rich creamy chicken noodle soup. I made it one year for after trick or treating. My son said it was so good he wanted it every year for his birthday. Both of my kids have winter birthdays. Good luck with the new book.


So excited. As my kids get older I’m in a contestant state of…….”am i enjoying it enough?! are we connected?! it’s going by TOO fast?!”
I cannot wait for this book. Your first makes a weekly visit to our table. How I wish I could take you to lunch and pick your mom brain. I feel like i’m drowning most the time. And as my oldest turns 10 this year I find myself asking anyone and everyone what the heck to do.
Happy Summer!

Sara @ Cake Over Steak

I can’t wait for this!!! Your books and recipes are always amazing, and what makes them even better is your stories and how they work into your actual life. This one sounds perfect and I love the heart of it. Can’t wait to cook from it!


This looks great. I just ordered it for my best friend who is pregnant with her first, I think it will be a wonderful surprise!


Why did this make me cry? Sometimes I feel bad for my “practice kids,” but then I remember that we had Showstopper pancakes with sausages and homemade applesauce to eat while watching the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics one year, and I know they will be fine. I really, really love you. Congratulations! Can’t wait to try those sweet and sour meatballs with polenta.


You had me at “new book” and it was pre-ordered by “only child night”

Can’t wait!


Book sounds great and we love to celebrate. My daughter took (and passed!) her driver’s test yesterday. Her dad had to leave before she got up so he cut up a big plate of fruit and left it in her place at the counter with a photo of her as a 2 year old ago riding a horse at a playground. On the photo was a post-it that said “Time for a real ride — good luck today”. The perfect celebration for a special day — there’s a a lump in my throat as I type this.


I’m so excited for this book! I’m a vegan, so I can’t always cook all of the recipes from your books (I own your first two), but your writing and your thoughts on family have always meant to much to me that I happily buy all of your books anyway!!


Yay! I’ve been waiting for your new book to be announced and now here it is. Now I have to wait a few more months for the actual wonderful book, but that’s okay. I have your other two books and anxiously await the next in the series. Nothing is better than cooking and eating at home with the family. Good luck and Congratulations!


your book sound amazing..
i also like the idea of each child going to camp at a different time.. must remember that for the future when the boys are old enough


Wow! I feel like I’ve just been given a surprise gift!!!
Congratulations, Jenny! I’m so excited to pre-order my copy! (I love DALS and playbook!)


Congratulations! It looks fabulous. I pre-ordered and can’t wait. Iris is just adorable!

Melissa@Julia's Bookbag

Jenny Jenny JENNY! I love all of your books, and I own and adore the playbook and use it often but THIS. THIS is the book that I was hoping without knowing it that you would write. Oh I’m so excited. I can’t wait! SO MUCH YES.


Omg, I need this! Every year I write this gets added to my resolutions – start acknowledging milestones, big and small. And yet, I still go through life at 60 miles an hour with blinders on. And then I feel bad about myself.

Yet, when I think back I remember ONLY these milestones and steps – they are worth effort! And it really isn’t that much effort, just the effort to pause….. I will take your lead and work on this for real. Thank you.


So excited! Wish I had it for this month with two important moving up ceremonies coming up 🙂

Amy P

Why why WHY did you have to tell me about this now – three and a half months before I get to have it?! I suppose patience is a virtue…hmpf.


I enjoyed your first book and your blog posts. CAn’t wait to read this one. Now that we have two girls, I’m really into creating rituals for them as they grow up, I think these make the best of childhood memories. I also love cooking (and my husband eating) so incorporating food into our rituals would be perfect for everyone! 🙂


Wow, I teared up just reading this description of the book – maybe because my girl is 10 years old too and I am having the same feelings. I love your ideas and I look forward to getting this book!


I love you. I know this sounds absurd because I don’t know you but you make an impact on my life, my mothering and I am eternally grateful.
You have a gift and thank you for sharing it with the world!


My son graduates his 2’s program this week and I’m already getting teary, which leads me to ask myself how I’m going to get through the rest of his life [without a big box of kleenex!] Your next book is obviously pre-ordered; I can’t wait until Sept! xo


I love this! I’m so glad I find this link on A Cup of Jo. What a wonderful idea for a book and like you, I am a huge fan of creating family traditions with my husband and two daughters (ages 6 and 9). I’m inspired by this post. Thank you.


I can’t wait to get your new book. Just reading this post brought tears to my eyes. Family rituals matter! (And food is not bad either!)


I’m so excited! Just pre-ordered it! We love all your work! Even my 14-year-old will pull out DALS just to read it.

Kristen Barstad

AHHH! I am obsessed with this! I can not wait to read it!! Would you mind emailing us an address we could send you one of our shirts? We are just two best friends who started a tiny etsy shop where we make shirts that, you guessed it, inspire celebrating! You are the most perfect role model for our motto and brand and we would love to send your family some shirts!!

Zoe Persina

Congrats! I love your cookbooks and I am always trying to remind myself to start family traditions to make ordinary occasions feel more festive. Can’t wait to get some much needed inspiration from the book.

P.S. Does this mean we have to wait until September for the sweet and sour meatballs recipe?


GAH!! This gives me the warms and fuzzies just reading about it! Can I pre-order in Canada? I want…no, MUST have it as soon as humanly possible!! 🙂

Katie Erin Sullivan

I just pre-ordered this. Your book gave me an idea: what if, every year, when I’m buried & working (uphill, in the snow) the first weeks of school (I teach 8th Grade), I send myself a book that reminds me to celebrate EVERYTHING? Including learning 200 kids names, gifts, challenges, and quirks? I like it. Thank you!

Laurie Mobley

I just pre-ordered! I’m so excited because your rituals posts are always my favorites… Can’t wait! Please come to northern Virginia or DC for a book signing – you have lots of working mom fans here

Kate Bentley

Hi there!!! 3 year old birthday party soon-do you already have a recipe for that sub recipe or a source for it? Thanks-love the blog already!!!

Brooke Menconi

I can’t wait for September for this little present to myself to arrive! Thanks for consistently putting out such insightful, relevant and engaging material for all of us readers. Excited to add it to my DALS collection!

Erin Matthews

On vacation in London and I woke up feeling guilty about all the junk we’ve been eating (guilt mainly focused on what we’ve been letting our six year old eat) and guilt led to plans in my head to do better on our last few days here.

Guilt all gone no now. Thank you for snapping me out of it. Of course we should eat ice cream everday while on vaction — duh!


Jenny…I do not know what to say other than I cannot wait. I have been so busy I have not had time to browse the site, but so glad I did today… pre ordering now!!

Happy Summer…


looking forward to your next book! We have an annual ritual; “blue cake” in August for Percy Jackson’s birthday.


Jenny – You are amazing! I cannot WAIT to read this. I still read DALS, cover-to-cover, like a novel, on occasion just for fun. (On top of using all of your books in my regular rotation of dinner menus.) Congratulations, and my best to you and your sweet family!

sarah ahearn bellemare

i’m tearing up / SO excited!
Mama of a 2 & 6 year old girls and it already feels like it all needs to just SLOW DOWN already! Your Dinner A Love Story cookbook & recipes have changed our family dinner lives and I bet this special one will too 🙂 Cannot WAIT! Thank you for this book! 🙂
happy summer!


at 18 and 20 my sons are aging out of the family dinner every night…but I love your recipes and can’t wait for your next book