Hello, Friday. I can’t believe the holidays are almost here. I’ll be spending the weekend finishing up some shopping and trying out a new gluten-free recipe: Hearty Vegan Minestrone Soup. What about you?
As we head into the weekend, here are five things I’m feeling gratitude for today …
1. I’m really grateful for conservationists and their tireless work. Our world needs more of them, especially when you have so many animals facing extinction, such as polar bears (due to shrinking ice in the Arctic) and the American eel (from overfishing). Those are just two examples of animals vanishing from the wild, but surprisingly, now giraffes need saving, too. According to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, the numbers of these gentle giants have dropped an alarming 40 percent in just 15 years. Scientists are working on the paperwork now to help giraffes make it onto the official endangered species listings. On a related note, 31 new species of animals recently gained special protection status by the United Nations (including polar bears), and plenty more should (like the beluga whale in Canada).
2. Singing dogs: When the news of the world gets me down, something simple like a funny animal video can make me smile. Check out this adorable Aussie shepherd puppy singing—yes, you read that right—“Let It Go” from the movie Frozen.
3. Gingerbread houses: Every year, my daughter Indigo and I, along with Grandma, construct beautiful, candied gingerbread houses. We’ve already made this year’s, but after seeing this article with construction tips from a pro, I’m excited to make next year’s gingerbread house extra elaborate. And how cool is this: Until January 4, you can dine inside a life-sized gingerbread house at one of the Great Wolf Lodge resorts and help a charity at the same time.
4. Howard Stern’s wife, Beth Stern, does a lot to help homeless animals and is a big supporter of the North Shore Animal League America animal rescue and adoption center in Port Washington, New York. Recently she wrote a children’s picture book about her rescued Persian cat, Yoda, and how his heart healed after taking care of a group of foster kittens. Yoda: The Story of a Cat and His Kittens is on sale now; 100 percent of the proceeds will support a special addition to NSALA: an innovative 14,000-square-foot, cage-free area for cats, kittens, dogs and puppies with outdoor habitats, a 24/7 nursery, grooming facilities, an adoption center and more.
5. I’m happy anytime I hear of another reason to love chocolate. This time, the decadent confection is apparently linked to improved memory. Bring on the Vosges bars and truffles!