I have come to truly savor the moments when it is just the two of us.
Cuddled on the couch with a book. Swaying back and forth in front of the crib right before I lay him down for the night. Crawling across the floor after one another, teasing and tickling and collapsing into fits of giggles. Splashing and playing in the tub, as soaked sitting out of it as he is sitting inside. Building Lego towers he immediately destroys, fitting puzzle pieces in their place so he can throw them across the room, clapping excitedly with every basket he makes. Watching as he mashes food in his head, on the wall, in the dog's fur. The way he hops and sways to the music—any music—in a dance all his own, the shaking and jumping overtaking his entire body in a wave.
And his kisses. Oh, his sweet slobbery open-mouthed kisses. There is nothing better in this entire world.
It took me a while to get used to being a mom, to feel comfortable with the rather heavy and all-consuming responsibility of caring for another human being. It took me a while to get past the point of overwhelmed, overtired, insecure. (OK, so maybe I'm not totally past it yet. But is a mother ever there?) Now I wish I could go back to when he was an infant, to savor those moments more. They went too fast, in a blur. I blinked and suddenly he wasn't a baby. He was a toddler. He was his own person, not a tiny swaddled figure in my arms.
But now, despite all the things I haven't yet figured out, I have figured out this: I must savor every moment. When he looks up at me with his big blue eyes, when he calls out for me or rushes over to me with his arms outstretched, when he sits contentedly in my arms, his read resting on my shoulder. These, too, soon shall pass. So I must not take a single second for granted.
Of course, it's not all sugar and light-filled memories. He has a wild streak, a bit of daredevilry that I simultaneously praise and curse. I imagine many trips to the hospital in our future. I can't even fathom how many times I've already said "no" or "that's not a good decision" or "be nice." He knows exactly what buttons to push, what limits to try. Already he's mastered the fake fit, the temper tantrum to end all tantrums.
But he also knows exactly when to smile sweetly and say "hi" so you forget what you were about to scold him for. How can you scold, when he goes to wrap his arms around you in the warmest, softest hug you've ever had?
He is curious, inquisitive. When he focuses on something he's completely lost in what he's doing. He can sit by himself with his books for long minutes, lost in his imaginary stories. He will play quietly, talking to his toy friends. But in the next breath he's up, running around, yelling at the top of his lungs. He's a social butterfly, a flirt, not afraid of anyone or anything.
I admire him for his fearlessness, his playfulness, his sweetness, his light. I want to freeze him in this moment, at this age, forever. But I know it's fleeting. So I try with all my might to savor the moments as they happen rather than fighting to keep them in my grasp as they slip away.
Because they are never as bright and true on film or in memory as they are when we are in their midst.
It's hard to believe it's been nearly a month since I quit eating wheat. Honestly, it has been a lot easier than I imagined—in large part because I researched what my baking options were in advance and stocked up on a great selection of gluten-free flours to get me started.
You know I can't possibly give up baking in the name of my health.
I know there are plenty of gluten-free all-purpose flours available, but I've heard mixed reviews about most. I knew if I was going to make going wheat-free work, I needed to find not just an okay alternative to wheat flour but a great alternative. So, mostly, I've been relying on the advice of experts, like Gluten-Free Girl and a few others.
So far since I ditched wheat I've made all the things I'd normally make—chicken and dumplings, pancakes, snickerdoodles, peanut butter cookies, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, flourless chocolate cake, pizza crust (multiple recipes—you know I have to have my pizza), all sorts of muffins. And I've yet to find anything I didn't like or wouldn't make again, in part because I've been so selective of the gf recipes I'm willing to try.
One thing that's really helped me in my new baking endeavors is a recipe for all-purpose flour from Gluten-Free Girl. I mixed up a big container of it and used it to make all sorts of cookies and as a thickening agent in recipes on occasion. I'm about out, in fact, so I need to make up another batch. I really do think a good gluten-free AP flour recipes may be the key to my survival.
Here's what my recipe of the moment includes:
- 200 grams superfine brown rice flour
- 150 grams sorghum flour
- 50 grams potato flour
- 250 grams sweet rice flour
- 150 grams potato starch
- 100 grams arrowroot powder
- 100 grams cornstarch
Vitacost (free shipping—yay!). I stocked up on the flours I thought I'd use the most, including what's listed above plus a few others. I'll probably place another order again before too long, but my initial order is lasting me quite a while given how frequently I bake.
If you're still a bit alarmed about the idea of mixing your own AP flour, check out this Gluten-Free Girl blog post on the topic. It even includes a video to show you how easy it is. And it includes a list of all the options, because you can even make your own special, personalized gluten-free all-purpose flour combo. All you do is follow the recommended ratios she explains in the post.
Come on, give it a try ...
Or, if you're a wheat-eater, just stick to what you know. No peer pressure here. But expect to try some delicious wheat-free baked goods if you come to visit me.
For a week and a half, we packed up the necessities in our house (which, I've discovered, is more than a carload of things when you have a little one, a dog, and a kitchen full of food items you need) and moved over to Conservative Mom and Dad's house.
They were headed out on vacation and asked if we'd help dog and house sit. So, rather than have two big labs underfoot in our own small ranch house, we moved into their much larger ranch house.
It was ... chaotic, to say the least.
At least once a day Conservative Hubby or I or both would have to stop by our house to pick up something we forgot. Collar stays and suits for him. Flax seed and coconut and chocolate chips (very important) for me. Extra pajamas for Little Man. A brush for Butter. You get the idea. (By the end of our stay, I think we'd moved pretty much our entire house down the street.)
On mornings when I woke up early, I'd have to try to get ready and get both dogs out and fed without having them notice when the newspaper delivery person stopped by, because then they'd go beserk and everyone in the house would be up.
I won't even tell you about the many things we have to move around or hide once Little Man discovered them—even though Conservative Mom baby-proofed their house more than ours before we moved over there.
There were pluses though—like the nice, clean new shower instead of ours with the grout that makes me angry every time I step in. Having a front door with a knob that actually works. The treadmill and the elliptical in the basement, which saved me from making the trek to the gym after Little Man went to bed. The spacious kitchen (even though I could never find what I was looking for because I hadn't put everything in the cupboard myself). The newspapers on the doorstep every morning for me to read with my coffee.
Still, at the end of our time there, we were definitely ready to move back to our house, flaws and all. We were all happy to sleep in our own beds and to have all the necessities of daily life at our disposal.
Adventures in new places (even if they're right down the street) are fun.
But there's no place like home.
Remember a while ago when I talked about my comfort food-making spree?
Well, along with meatloaf and mashed potatoes and quinoa and cheese, I made chicken and dumplings. (Apparently, comfort foods must be a combination of two key ingredients connected by a conjunction. ... Sorry, word nerd.)
I first grew fond of chicken and dumplings as a little girl, when my grandma made this dish for dinner one night. I don't remember a lot of the details about the chicken and dumplings I ate back then, honestly. I just remember that I loved the light, fluffy biscuits floating on top of the stew.
So I was excited to come across this recipe, because it's quick and easy and hearty. I've made it twice since I found it and will undoubtedly make it again.
This version calls for gluten-free Bisquick (it's one of many swell gluten-free recipes from the Betty Crocker website), but you could just as easily make it with regular Bisquick, I'm sure, although you might want to follow a slightly different dumpling recipe than this one if you do that.
What You Need
For the Stew
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups cut-up cooked chicken
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons cornstarch
For the Dumplings
3/4 cup Bisquick Gluten-Free mix
1/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (or, if you're like me, this time of year you'll just add a few shakes of the dried stuff instead)
What You Do
Happy Valentine's Day!
We don't get too into celebrating Feb. 14 around here, simply because Conservative Hubby insists it's a manufactured holiday created solely to sell greeting cards, candy, and overpriced roses. (And, as much as I hate to admit he's right, he's kind of right.)
Plus Conservative Hubby is so darn romantic every day, we don't really need a special occasion to show one another we care. (Hahahaha ... I am so funny sometimes.)
But in all seriousness, last night my boys took me out for a nice (not romantic) dinner. And I gave Conservative Hubby a box of chocolate covered strawberries. And tonight, if I'm really lucky, I'll get to watch the season premiere of Swamp People.
What more could a girl ask for?
For breakfast, I love a fresh, fluffy biscuit or a nice, crumbly muffin. If you stop by here very often at all, you already know that I'll take a cookie with my coffee or for an afternoon snack with my tea any day. Few things make me swoon like a flaky pie crust. And a warm, crusty slice of bread with dinner? Don't even get me started.
And yet, about two weeks ago, after a pizza and breadsticks binge, I gave up wheat.
Because a few years ago, when I had surgery to remove a giant cyst from my ovary (which also resulted in the removal of my ovary, too), I learned that the cause of that darn cyst was endometriosis.
To make a long story short, once the cyst was gone, I was pain free for a while. But a few months later, all sorts of symptoms that I soon found out were related to endometriosis started cropping up. Then, I got pregnant, and for my entire pregnancy and most of the time I was nursing Little Man, I was once again symptom-free.
But now, in the past few months, my symptoms have come back full force. I'm not going to bore you with an explanation of endometriosis or the many symptoms it causes, but if you're so inclined, you can learn the basics.
Please note: I don't tell you this to make you worry about me or feel sorry for me or anything of the sort. Endometriosis is a chronic illness that affects a lot more women than you might realize. In fact, odds are you know more than one woman who has it, although it's not the sort of illness most women talk about openly. (Which is actually something I'm hoping to help change, by the way.)
Fortunately, although there is no cure for endo, there are a variety of ways to manage it. And one of the natural ways many women are able to keep symptoms somewhat in check is through diet.
Guess what's at the top of the list of foods to avoid if you have endo? Yep, you guessed it.
I'm not going into all the details on why here, but needless to say there is quite a bit of evidence—scientific and anecdotal—that for many women with endometriosis, eliminating wheat from their diet has a positive effect.
I'm not interested in trying the different drug therapies that are out there for endo, because most of them are only somewhat effective and come with some nasty side effects. (Uh, no thanks on the excess facial hair or starting menopause at age 30—although I know these treatments are very necessary for some women.) And I'm hoping to avoid having surgery again, although laparoscopy is often a woman's best chance at obtaining relief from endo.
So that leaves natural treatments, one of which is diet.
Perhaps giving up wheat will help. It's too early to really know for sure. Maybe it won't. But either way, it's worth a try.
I can tell you that if it doesn't seem to make a difference, I'll be back on the wheat train. I don't think wheat is something to deprive yourself of unless you have a medical reason to do so. An increasing number of people are hopping on the gluten-free bandwagon just because they've heard it makes you feel better or because celebrities do it. That's crazy. Sure, everyone should probably eat wheat in more moderation than most Americans do (the same with pretty much everything Americans eat). But to cut it out completely just because it's trendy is nuts—and it may even have unintended health implications.
Anyhow, random soap box again. I keep jumping up on those darn things.
For now, my goal is to make going wheat-free as easy as possible. I'm not going to be nuts about it. If I slip up a few times, it's not the end of the world. I'm going to be as low-maintenance about it as I can—skipping the items that contain wheat when eating out or at someone else's house, but not freaking out if I have to eat something with wheat on rare occasions. (Trust me, if you've seen me in need of a snack, you will understand that eating something with a bit of wheat is preferable to a hungry Julie.) I don't have celiac disease, in which case any exposure to wheat can be incredibly harmful. So a little wheat here and there, if absolutely necessary, won't be the end of the world.
Fortunately, it's a lot easier to skip wheat than it was even a few years ago when I first starting investigating natural endo treatments. (At that point, the thought of actually giving up wheat never even crossed my mind because I didn't see how I'd survive!) Now, there are fabulous blogs and books devoted to making incredibly delicious gluten-free meals and even baked goods to rival those with gluten. There are also some pretty darn good gluten-free breads, snacks, cereals, you name it available at many grocery stores.
I knew all of this well before my no-wheat diet began two weeks ago, because over the past few months an increasing number of gluten-free recipes and products have been sneaking into our house anyway. That's because there's a chance Little Man has a sensitivity to wheat, too.
I know, I know. Now you think I really am nuts. It's OK. This one is a bit more of a stretch. It isn't really grounded in any research or trials, like ditching wheat for endo is.
The thing with Little Man is totally different. You see, around the time he started eating solid foods beyond his introductory all-fruit or veggie purees, he developed one cold after another—and every single on turned into a sinus infection that required at least one, sometimes two, rounds of antibiotics. Within a week of clearing up one sinus infection, his runny nose would be back, and we'd start the cycle all over again.
I started to do some research, talked to some other moms, and heard of other kids that had similar issues. Eventually, in a few cases, it turned out wheat was a culprit. I was desperate for anything that would prevent our almost-monthly trips to the doctor's office and the pharmacy, so we took Little Man off wheat to see if it would help.
Since the wheat was finally out of Little Man's system, he hasn't had a sinus infection. Not a single one. He's had a few colds (but who hasn't this winter?). None of his recent colds has turned into a sinus infection like every single one used to.
Is wheat the culprit? Who knows for sure. It could be an environmental allergy or a seasonal allergy that's the problem. Kids can't really be tested for allergies until they're three (I guess their bodies don't really respond to the tests until around then), so it's going to be quite some time before we know for sure. But as long as he keeps doing well sans wheat, I'm not going to mess with what's working.
And so now, after I'm pretty sure no one is actually still reading, I get to the point of this long, rambling post. Which is this: I'm probably going to be trying all sorts of gluten-free recipes in the near future. And I'll probably post them here. But I promise not to turn this into a gluten-free cooking and baking blog. I promise to post lots of things you wheat-eating people will still like.
And if I do post gluten-free recipes? It will be because they're just plain good. And because they've gotten the ultimate endorsement from Conservative Hubby: either he liked them enough to eat them knowing they were gluten-free, or they were good enough he never realized they were gluten-free in the first place.
That's how you know a recipe really is fit for the masses, or at least a couple of loyal blog readers!
(I also promise not to really post about endo on this site at all, or only very rarely. I'll save all that info for my fellow endo sufferers over at this blog, which is a work in progress but the beginning of a bigger project I'm actually pretty excited about. I'm not expecting most of you will read it, but if you have endo or know someone who does, perhaps you'll be interested in checking it out.)
When I say "comfort food," what do you think of? Mashed potatoes and meatloaf? Chicken and dumplings? Homemade macaroni and cheese?
Well, that's what I think of. And apparently I've been in a comfort food kind of mood lately, because we had all three of those things in the past week. Only the macaroni and cheese didn't actually involve macaroni. Instead, it was with quinoa.
In case you're not familiar, here's the scoop on quinoa. It's actually a seed, but people often treat it like a whole grain. It cooks pretty easily, has a great texture, is gluten- and cholesterol-free, and offers 9 essential amino acids (hello, protein!). Plus it provides a nice alternative to rice or pasta.
It looks much prettier when you see a scoop of it on a plate. But guess who forgot to take photos of that? Fortunately, you can see the lovelier version when you visit the recipe here. (One note: I used fresh spinach rather than frozen, since that's what I had. And I went light on the spinach so it wasn't too "green" for you-know-who.)
Plus, I served it with a rosemary dijon pork loin. Having meat is incredibly important if you're going to make you-know-who try a new dish.
Generally, I gauge whether a recipe is fit for the general public and not just wacky-me consumption by you-know-who's (aka Conservative Hubby's) reaction. The night I made quinoa and cheese, he said, "This is kind of weird." But he said it as he was scooping up seconds.
And when we ate leftovers the next night, I figured he'd pass on the reheated dish. But instead, that's all he wanted for a side.
I liked it, Little Man liked it, and I guess that means Conservative Hubby liked it too. So take that for what you will.
Remember that time I tried an at-home avocado hair treatment and it yielded ... um ... less-than-stellar results?
It's OK, I forgot it too, which I why I approached another make-at-home hair recipe without an ounce of trepidation last week.
I did it for a couple of reasons.
One, with my current employment status and the expense of having a human garbage disposal er ... I mean, an adorable, hungry son that won't stop growing ... I am looking for ways to save cash.
Two, I've written before about my quest to use less toxic beauty products. Many shampoos and conditioners have chemicals in them that have been linked to cancer and reproductive and developmental issues. Blech.
Even the "natural" or organic hair care options aren't always stupendous when it comes to their ratings in the Skin Deep cosmetics database. And most of those natural shampoos and conditioners I've tried are incredibly expensive and don't always leave your hair feeling or looking all that stellar.
So when I came across a grist blog post on washing your hair with baking soda and rinsing it with apple cider vinegar (hence the title BSV hair treatment)—and the girl who wrote tried it out gave it rave reviews—I decided to try it myself.
I followed her directions to a T, mixing a tablespoon of baking soda with a bit of water to make a paste in one cup and about a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with a tablespoon of water in another cup.
The moment when I set about combing my hair post-shower was the ultimate test, as my locks are usually a bit on the tangly side after I use most natural shampoos and conditioners.
After my BSV treatment, my tresses weren't any more tangly than before—and they were perhaps even a bit less so.
I didn't see the miraculous difference in my hair the Grist blogger raved about. But my hair combed, dried, and styled pretty much the same as it always does.
That, as tame as it sounds, is a ringing endorsement. You know why? Because it means I don't have to spend a zillion dollars on natural hair products, because baking soda and apple cider vinegar yield the same results.
The only downside—and the reason I haven't used the treatment more frequently—is that it's a bit of a pain to prep the ingredients before each shower. And sometimes I forget all about it until after I step in the shower, at which point it's too late to hop out and mix a shampoo and conditioner cocktail.
Luckily, I just came across an Ask Umbra video (also on grist) that gives you the ratios for making up an entire bottle of the baking soda shampoo and another of the vinegar conditioner. I have a bunch of partially used shampoos and conditioners in the bathroom closet I'll probably never touch again, so I think I'll empty them out and use the bottles for this precise purpose.
Now you go give it a try and tell me what you think.
I love oatmeal.
I love regular oatmeal with brown sugar. I love oats with nuts and fresh berries or dried cranberries and a touch of honey. I love fancy, schmancy oatmeal combos, like baked pumpkin steel cut oatmeal.
I love cookies with oatmeal (particularly homemade Mrs. Fields chocolate chip cookies, in which the ground oats are a super-special secret ingredient, as well as these loaded oatmeal cookies). Not long ago, I discovered I also love no-bake energy balls which, naturally, contain oatmeal, too.
So it should come as no surprise that I have a whole list of must-make recipes that include oatmeal. One, which I tried a few weekends ago, is a baked oatmeal casserole.
The result was so rich I almost felt guilty eating it for breakfast. Almost.
I ate it for days afterward, too, so it was a good thing I liked it.
(Conservative Hubby, on the other hand, wasn't a fan, but then again after I made him eat a piece he told me he hates oatmeal. I don't understand how you can hate oatmeal. It's delicious. But, alas, lesson learned on that one.)
I think next time I make this, I'll use fewer chocolate chips. And maybe try adding a bit more fruit. And a bit less sugar.
No, my blog wasn't just taken over by an alien from another planet posing as me. I really did just say I'd reduce the amount of chocolate and sugar. Don't worry. I'm feeling OK. It's just sometimes I like my breakfast a little healthier.
Unless, of course, there are Mrs. Fields chocolate chip cookies available to eat with my coffee. Or sugar cookies. Or snickerdoodles.
(See? It's still me!)
I'm sick of buying granola bars and random snacks from the store. They're expensive and loaded with unpronounceable elements that have been manufactured in some lab somewhere and deemed fit for human consumption.
So I've been on the hunt for healthier, homemade, but still portable snack ideas. Because you know I need snacks—often. My friends didn't give me the name Snickety Snack for nothing.
First on the list to try: No-Bake Energy Balls. I spotted them on Pinterest.
(Pinterest, by the way, is the best and worst creation ever—the best because I always get great food, decor, fashion, parenting, cleaning, you-name-it ideas; the worst because it is so horribly addictive. Case in point: I had a student in a web publishing class last semester tell me she spent 8 hours one day on Pinterest. Eight hours! I spend 5 minutes here and there on it. But 8 hours? Wowza. Pinterest may be the downfall of our society.)
So about these energy balls. I snagged the recipe from Gimme Some Oven. It's pretty much just like she recommends making them, although I did dial back the coconut a bit from what the recipe calls for. Just personal preference.
Here are the details ...
What You Do
Reasons to love these: They take minutes to make. They require no cooking or baking of any sort. And they include some of my most favorite ingredients ever: peanut butter, chocolate, honey, oats. Yum.
Although you don't have to refrigerate these babies, I'd recommend it. They stay nice and firm when they're in the fridge.
I imagine this first batch won't last long ... considering Conservative Hubby went to bed last night smelling of peanut butter, and I was in them myself this morning before the coffee even finished brewing.
I know you're probably all anti-decadence right now because it's January and that's what people are supposed to do in January: deny deny deny their sweet tooth. Eat healthy. Work out more. You know the drill.
And yet I'm going to go ahead and post this anyway, even though it might make you groan. And even though most people would argue that peppermint ice cream is only a holiday treat.
I don't know why. I think it's a holiday conspiracy, actually. Peppermint ice cream is so refreshing, wouldn't it actually make a great summer treat? Or a January treat, if you're into that kind of thing ... which obviously I am or I wouldn't be posting this now.
So. Back at the ranch.
For one of our many Christmas feasts this year, I was assigned the very important task of making dessert. Something with chocolate.
I developed a big, long list of chocolate-y desserts one day. Then I crossed them all out the next day because I did some searching for chocolate holiday desserts online and found a slew of recipes that seriously made me swoon. Some of the recipes were a bit over the top, though, so I finally decided on one that looked festive, delicious, and relatively easy.
This is it. It's a fudgy chocolate malt-peppermint pie from Southern Living. The cool thing I didn't realize until I started baking is that it's not your traditional chocolate crust. It's more of a chocolate brownie that you press down a bit to make room for the ice cream.
The peppermint ice cream keeps this dessert from being over-the-top rich, but don't let that refreshing flavor fool you. Even a small piece is plenty.
One warning, though: We discovered the pie is pretty much impossible to cut if you follow the instructions and freeze the whole darn thing for 8 hours. Conservative Dad almost broke numerous knives trying to get a few pieces out of the pie pan.
So next time (yes, there will be a next time), I think we'll just leave the brownie crust out until it's time to serve, then will scoop in the ice cream and throw on the homemade whipped cream topping at the last minute. That should save a lot of trouble.
(Oh, and should you get the urge to break all your January healthy eating vows and make this pie only discover there isn't any peppermint ice cream in the store because of that darn holiday conspiracy, you could always make your own. Been there. Done that. Have the link to prove it.)
I love a steaming mug of hot chocolate on a cold winter's day. But I decided the usual packet-o-Swiss Miss wasn't really cutting it anymore. So I trolled the 'net for a homemade hot chocolate recipe or two and came across a few winners.
Martha's looked super easy to make, although ultimately I ended up deciding on the homemade hot coca mix from Brown Eyed Baker. There was something about the combo of powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and white chocolate chips that sounded too decadent not to try.
So I whipped up a big batch of the mix. Although I kept a jar of it for myself, I gave most of it away for a little gift to accompany a few cookie plates I doled out over the holidays.
Do you have a homemade hot chocolate recipe that would put the one I made to shame? Let me know. There's still plenty of winter left for trying more!
I live by my to-do lists. I always have at least one—sometimes many more—going on a given day. And I'm a goal-maker. I always have something new I'm setting my sights on, that I'm trying to do or accomplish.
So it should come as no surprise that I've also always been the sort to make new year's resolutions.
In the back of my mind, I know full well that before January even ends most resolutions are abandoned, forgotten, left to gather dust on a note pad shoved in the back of a drawer. And yet each year, dutifully, I make my list. I've done it since I was in high school.
Those lists from my later teen years are buried in my old journals which, in turn, are currently buried in tubs in our laundry room closet. If I were to dig them out right now, they would likely sound awfully similar to the resolutions I've made every year for more than 10 years now.
There's always something jotted down about health and wellness, about working out more and eating less junk. There's always something about improving relationships. Often I have some variation on "read more" or "write more" or "worry less."
Each year around this time I read the many magazine articles about how to make this year's resolutions stick. I know all the things you need to do to succeed: Be specific about what you want to accomplish, rather than writing in general terms. Limit yourself to three or five or however many single-digit resolutions you can realistically accomplish. Put your list in a visible place so you are reminded often of what your goals are. Ya da ya da ya da.
I resolutely follow the advice each year. I write down everything I want to do. I usually have some semblance of success at first. But ask me on Feb. 1 what this year's resolutions were and odds are I'll only be able to recite a vague approximation of what I put down.
Yesterday, on Jan. 1, as all good resolution-makers do, I started thinking about what I wanted to resolve to do better, to do differently, or just to do in 2013.
I want to work out more consistently, something I need to do for my body and my sanity and my overall health but that often falls to the wayside recently. I might want to try the run 365 miles in a year goal. I want to get back to doing yoga at least (at the very least) once a week.
I want to get organized—really organized. I want to declutter the house. Seriously declutter. Like, donate or recycle half of the items in our house. I want to remodel our kitchen, sand the front window Butter has destroyed, repaint a few places, replace the dreadful front door, tear out the bushes ... I better stop that list now, because it could go on forever.
I want to devote more time to my family, to keeping in touch with my dear friends, to actually responding to the emails I read.
I want to step outside my comfort zone and try something new. I want to meet some new people, to be more social.
Sometimes the things I want to do seem to stand in direct opposition to other things on my list.
I want to eat healthier—more whole grains, more fruits and vegetables, less junk. But I also want to bake more. I want to stop multitasking and learn to focus on one thing at a time. Yet I also want to ramp up my freelance career; get a steady teaching job; blog more; stay on top of all the cooking and cleaning and household to-dos; read more good books; write more for myself; take up knitting or crocheting (I think I say that every year and never do it); on and on and on. And there isn't enough time to do all those things!
I want to be fully present in every moment. I want to stop making so many damn to-do lists. I want to realize it's OK to play with Little Man for an hour and not try to sneak in dusting the living room or scrubbing the toilet in the middle of play time. I want to appreciate quiet moments sitting and drinking tea and staring out the window, rather than spending every waking moment thinking, "OK, what do I need to do next?"
I could go on, but I think you're getting the gist of it.
So how do I take this big, long, rambling list of wants and wishes and make it nice and compact and manageable and specific and attainable?
I've decided I don't.
I've decided making new year's resolutions in the traditional form is a waste of my time and my energy and in the end probably just stresses me out more, because then I spend time trying to figure out how to add those resolutions to my already too-long to-do list.
Besides, I don't need a list of resolutions because, I realized yesterday, everything I want to accomplish in the coming year boils down to one simple statement:
I want to do what makes me happy.
Cliche, I know. But it encompasses everything I try to do with my resolutions each year.
Some days, decluttering the whole house will make me incredibly happy (at least when it's accomplished). Cutting all junk out of my diet for a while will likely make me happy (and will make me feel better). But if whipping up a batch of scones or chocolate chip cookies will make me happy, I'll do that instead (and maybe eat just one a day instead of three). If relaxing on the couch with the boys will make me happier than crossing six things off my Sunday to-do list, I should do that. In this scenario, anything that makes me happy is a big, important accomplishment.
Will this new, single, non-resolution resolution work? Will I remember it and still be trying to accomplish it on Feb. 1? Who knows. But it's worth trying.
Happy New Year!
I hope you ushered out 2012 with a big, festive party and are welcoming 2013 refreshed and ready to tackle a new year.
In case you're hankering for something bacon-infused to battle your post-New Year's Eve brain fuzz, might I suggest the Maple-Bacon Biscuits from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook?
I made them last week while My Parents were in town for the holidays, and they were as delicious as they look. What's not to like about copious amounts of butter, bacon grease, and a bit of maple syrup on a holiday morning?
I will be making them again. Probably often. Probably today, actually, because I took the author's advice and made a double batch to freeze (pre-baking).
So we'll be enjoying some fresh-from-the-oven maple-bacon biscuits ourselves this morning for Conservative Hubby's big 3-0. (Yes, that's right, it's not only the first day of a new year. It's also Conservative Hubby's birthday.)
In case you want to try them yourself, you can snag the recipe from Confections of a Foodie Bride. (Or go buy the cookbook–I highly recommend it!)