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Every once in a while I like to get creative in the kitchen.

My family LOVES it. I spend hours surfing the Web, perusing the pages of my cookbooks, or watching Rachael Ray, Bobby Flay, Giada, et al on the Food Network, and I whip up five to ten meals of prize-worthy meals in a row for gang. Then it’s back to sandwiches, take-out, cereal, or refrigerator left-overs for the next week or so, until another burst of culinary creativity hits me.

About a year ago, during one of these culinary marathons, I discovered Paula Deen, and man, does that woman know how to cook. She brings a whole new meaning to the words “comfort food.” Mama Deen also knows how to keep us stay-at-home/work-from-home moms watching by having a little extra motivation on hand, that handsome, southern, tall drink of water, son of hers, Jamie. It keeps my eyes glued for the duration of the show having that piece of eye-candy in view. It doesn’t hurt that he’s a man who can cook! (Don’t worry Mark, you’re still the love of my life.) Paula’s son Bobby isn’t too hard on the eyes either.

That's Jamie on the right. Did I lie? He's cute, right?

Thanks Paula.

Anyway … I know Paula Deen has gotten some slack in the press recently regarding her diet of butter/fat-laden foods (See: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/compost/post/paula-deen-and-our-unhealthy-fixation/2012/01/18/gIQAtuYx8P_blog.html or http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidthier/2012/01/18/paula-deens-5-least-healthy-foods/ or http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/01/17/145341106/does-the-queen-of-unhealthy-eating-have-to-eat-her-words) since she revealed her diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes back in January, but I don’t care. I still love her!

I recently became more acquainted with Ms. Deen, after watching an episode of “Oprah’s Next Chapter.”

And let me say, that just made me fall in love with her more. That woman is as real and honest as they come, and she surely epitomizes the “Renaissance Mom” that I have defined in my mind.

Paula Deen is a true self-made woman, beginning her journey in the culinary business world, when she began The Bag Lady, a lunch delivery service, out of her home in 1989. I saw an interview once where she talked about her sons “peddling their mama’s sandwiches” to people in the neighborhood. Even then, the business was a family deal. Her innovative business idea became so successful within the next several years that the family moved operations into a local Savannah Best Western, and then opened the doors to The Lady & Sons restaurant in downtown Savannah in 1996, expanding and changing locations again in 2003.

The attention garnered locally, regionally, and internationally resulted in Deen being offered her own show on the Food Network in 2002, and as they say, the rest is history. From multiple shows, national appearances, cookbooks, a line of cooking products, and more, this women seems to have it things all wrapped up in a neat little southern box. Seemingly a woman who has it made, so to speak.

But as Dean pointed out with Oprah, she still has her demons. She still fears that one day she will lose it all, and she expresses great shame over a 10-year-affair she had with a married man, prior to meeting her husband xxxx. But in my eyes, that only makes Paula Deen more human and more likable. We all make mistakes, hopefully we learn from them and move on.

Ms. Deen has lived through adversity, and found herself on the other side, smiling and living with a spirit that I only hope to find through this journey of mine (and my blogging). She lives life to its fullest whether she’s cooking, fishing in her nightie, or bouncing on her trampoline, and she does that all surrounded by a large extended family! And that laugh and her catchall “y’all” — they’re infectious.

*** Paula Deen, I love you! And if you every want to grant me an interview for my blog, I would gladly feature you as one of my favorite Renaissance Moms.

ANOTHER QUESTION FOR TODAY: Do you have a favorite Renaissance Mom (celebrity or noncelebrity)?