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Linda Newmark-Marcus doesn't simply cook for the holidays: She creates beautiful menus geared to her large family's tastes.

She and her husband, David Marcus, blended families and traditions when they married 10 years ago. Their celebrations meld old and new.

Newmark-Marcus makes favorite shortbread cookies and chocolate-caramel bars to please her grandchildren. She and daughter Michelle both enjoy specially selected wines and cheeses. Cherry kamish bread is a best-loved cookie recipe she bakes following her mother's handwritten instructions.

Throughout the year, Newmark-Marcus collects and tests recipes to turn out a feast. She's not just a special-occasion cook, however. She believes busy people can cook healthy dinners most nights. "I'll often make fish with a little olive oil, roasted vegetables and a salad in under 20 minutes," she said. "Or a simple soup … It's not difficult to eat well."

Newmark-Marcus exudes positive energy, which she channels into her home life, her design business and her travel work. "I love life, no matter how many bumps in the road," she said.

She and David each lost their spouses after long marriages. "When we married, we wanted a home that reflected our new life, with room for our friends and family." An open plan and two years of hard work transformed David Marcus' traditional ranch into an ultra-modern space.

"Linda had several ideas and high standards for the kitchen," David said. A double oven, convection oven and cooktop function perfectly for simple meals or extravagant spreads. Two smaller, quiet dishwashers make for easy cleanups throughout a party. Spacious cabinets, wrap-around counters and an island make visiting and cooking easy.

Inside one cabinet, Newmark-Marcus keeps her best recipes in a payroll binder. Stacks of neatly clipped recipes from newspapers and magazines sit in the cabinet, too, waiting for her to test them.

For Newmark-Marcus, cooking is just one expression of creativity. She also embellishes and sells uniquely shaped stainless-steel serving pieces with jewel-like glass beads and coiled silver accents.

She also finds time to take family trips and to make birthday cakes for each of her 20-plus co-workers at TravelPlex. "Everyone should have a special cake for their birthday," she said.

The top three requests are for her German chocolate cake, carrot cake and lemon-poppy seed cake. "I do use box mixes and the 'Cake Doctor' cookbooks," she said.

Her baking know-how often moves her to experiment with cakes, jotting down the recipes she likes the best, then saving them in her recipe binder.

Every aspect of her life and home reflects this artist's shining spirit.