What are you thankful for?

Melissa Stagnaro

Everyone has something to be thankful for, and when better to share those blessings than with The Evening Sun’s readers on Thanksgiving Day? At least that’s what my coworkers and I try to convince people of every year around this time, as we pound the pavement looking for “Thankfuls.”

“What are you thankful for?” we ask basically everyone we meet until we find the requisite number of people (this year 6) who will agree to both a.) answer said question and b.) have their photo taken for publication.

In past years, it’s been something of a chore to fill my quota. I’ve had to use all manner of persuasion. But for some reason, that wasn’t the case this year. Maybe it’s the economy, or too many families touched by the Big C, but people seemed more willing than usual to share with me what they are most thankful for.

Sure, I still had to strong arm a couple of them on the photographic end, but it wasn’t too much of a hard sell. (Honestly, I can’t believe they fell for the whole “touch up” thing. Tee hee.)

The exercise really got me thinking about all of the things I’m thankful for as well. The biggest tickets items on that list, so to speak, will once again be the topic of my Thanksgiving Day column. This will be my third year penning the piece, so I guess you could say it’s become something of a tradition for me.

But there are a lot of other, smaller things which I’m thankful for as well. Some of them may seem insignificant to some of you, but they are blessings in my opinion none the less. So, with your reading enjoyment in mind, I’ve decided to make them the running theme in my blogs this week.

Here are just a few of the things I’m thankful for…

- My Franklin Covey 2-page per day planner. I learned the hard way last January what life would be like without this life-saving piece of planning equipment. It’s an experience I never want to endure again – which is why ordering my 2011 refill is on my to-do list this week. I rely heavily on this planning tool to keep my life in order. And it never lets me down.

Unfortunately, there is such a thing as “operator error.” Like, say, when you write down an appointment on the wrong day. Which is what I did when I made note of a program at Oxford High School I’m attending this week. Tomorrow, actually. Unfortunately, I had it written down today. While I try to be a little early, 24 hours seems excessive, don’t you think?

But that’s okay. Because I used my time in Oxford to gather the aforementioned Thankfuls.

- The chocolate chip cookies at Hoppie’s. I can never seem to resist these freshly baked, chocolate laden treats. They are the ultimate comfort food, and can basically heal all wounds. Such as the shame and guilt of showing up for an appointment a day early. (See above.)

- Pizza. Whether it’s by the slice – my fall-back lunch option of choice – or an extra large pie enjoyed with friends, there is just nothing about pizza that I DON’T like. While I’m not averse to toppings, my old stand-by is plain cheese. New Park Pizza in Howard Beach will always be the gold standard to which I compare all others, but I’ve scoped out many a worthy slice in good old Chenango County.

- Wing Night at The Stadium. I’ll take The Stadium’s always-crispy wings (preferably the honey barbecue variety) any day of the week, but Thursday nights are my favorite. Not because of the price break, although, hey, that’s not a bad thing. I actually like how crowded the place gets. It’s like a high school reunion every week! And some times it feels good to reconnect with people you haven’t seen since, well, the last time you logged on to Facebook.

- Cupcake Euphoria. I know, I know, you’re probably sick to death of hearing me go on and on about the Oxford Community Youth Center’s now-annual fundraiser. I simply can not help myself. I’m a huge fan of their highly entertaining, utterly decadent take on the traditional bake sale concept. Even if I will have to spend some serious time at AIM Fitness as a result of my cupcake intake this weekend.

Friday night did not disappoint, as I’m sure anyone who attended the event can attest. The restaurants, caterers and bakeries who donated cupcakes for the cause simply outdid themselves. With so many incredibly delicious entries, my fellow judges (the true experts – Sue Ryan from Canasawacta Country Club and Kelly Banks of Kelly Banks Cakes in New Berlin) and I had our work cut out for us. But don’t worry, we were more than up for the task.

When the last crumbs had settled, it was Jennifer Rice of Ideal Sweets who walked away with the Fairest Cupcake honors in the Best Tasting categories with her sinfully delicious Triple Raspberry Chocolate concoctions. (Jennifer – I’m still dreaming about them!)

Most Creative went to Mimi’s Italian Cuisine of Greene, for their truly creative contribution to the event – pizza cupcakes! (I know you’re shocked I was a fan.) And in the Best Decorated class, DCMO BOCES Culinary Arts student Jessie Tayler from Greene stole the show with her snowflake design, which took top marks for difficulty and execution. She should certainly be proud because she was up against some very tough competition, and both Sue and Kelly said her entry showed amazing technique.

We three judges also chose to recognize 4 other contributions for Best in Show, for their overall effort and the creativity of their display. In no particular order they are:

- Patty Izzard, whose groovy tie-dyed cupcakes and 70’s themed display were a show stopper to be sure.

- Jessica Cole of The Stadium for what I like to think of as the Football Field of (Cupcake) Dreams – complete with mini cupcake players sporting Nilla Wafer helmets.

- Karolyn’s Krossroads Cafe in Norwich, whose chocolatey cream cheese confections topped with chocolate swirls were both delicious and delightful to the eyes. (I particularly loved the striped chocolate pigs which complemented the display.)

- Price Chopper of Norwich, for their tremendous support of the Youth Center and Cupcake Euphoria. Representatives from the local store set up a huge display with dozens of cupcake varieties, all of which were a huge hit. Particularly, ahem, the Boston cream cake in a cup. Or at least that’s what I heard…

A special thanks (again) to Linda LaRosa-Mosner and the entire Youth Center board for all their hard work and, most importantly, for the invitation to judge the delightfully tasty competition.

Pictures of the event will be going up soon on The Evening Sun’s Facebook page.

Follow me on Twitter … @evesunmelissa.