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One of the things I love about my husband is his enthusiasm to try new things. I can’t think of a time when he’s said, “I just don’t think that sounds very interesting,” may it be a museum exhibit, a book, a film, or even something simple like a new route for a walk in the neighborhood. Not only do I consider myself lucky to have married someone so curious, but also to have married someone who does the grocery shopping. Though, his enthusiasm for the new extends to food so much so that if you happen to have a consistent favorite, of say coffee, you’d likely be waiting a long time to enjoy it again.

Another result of his culinary zeal is the tendency to take no shortcuts. If a recipe advises that homemade mayonnaise works best he commits to make homemade mayonnaise. “Don’t worry, it won’t take long,” he tells me as we plan our holiday meals that we don’t sit down to until 8 PM.

This year was no different. He decided to make his own candied orange and lemon peel, versus buying them, to be used in his favorite Christmas Stollen. In previous years he added only dried fruit and left out the candied peel, but this apparently was not as “authentic”. In the days leading up to Christmas, the copious amounts of preparation for our meal left no time for candying fruit peels. His disappointment was visible. Having many more vacation days than him, I offered to candy the peel.

For anyone who thinks that candied peel is overpriced – it’s not. By the end of it I found myself opening the refrigerator to put away the vacuum cleaner. Vacuuming, of course, after the cat had already rolled around in the fruit pith and sugar that was all over the kitchen floor.

It is the quality of our expectations that largely determines our happiness. Setting expectations we cannot meet leaves us feeling we have failed, just as setting expectations that are too low leaves us filling empty. Aim high but in reasonable increments.