It’s all over. Christmas, and the big turkey feast. Trips to the grandparents for the kids to ice skate. A big evening out for Eli and I. A New Year’s Eve feast with the grandmas. In one short week, we filled our lives with wonderful meals, company, and so much of everything – fun, work, joy, celebration. So much time with family. Our hearts are filled with love from it all.
But we’re also weary.
But from here, it’s mellow. It’s January, and oddly warm as it is here, it’s the quiet part of winter. We have another couple days of vacation before life comes back to greet us, and I intend to use that time well for both rest and restoration, as well as to get a few things done.
We still need to dismantle the Christmas decorations, but from now until late February when I start my garden seeds, it will be the small things that really matter. Meals, routines, small cleaning or home improvement projects, time to do a puzzle. Later this month or in early February I’ll order more seeds, but not yet.
Because today and tomorrow the plan is to rest, to cook, to organize, and just be. It’s time to get my training going for the 10-mile race I am planning for April. This year is home-centered. We’ll spend some time away in the mountains and in Maine this summer, and depending on the adoption situation we’ll maybe get away for a few days over April vacation, but most of our time this year will be spent at home, and that contents me. Last year was a big one for trips, but being away from home so much meant that some things, like being an attentive gardener, or keeping track of what was in the freezer went by the wayside.
This year the focus will be much more on making sure we have time to breathe and spend in the yard.
Garden. Kids. Home. And in May, baby chicks. Most of our flock is almost 4 years old now, so it’s time. While we are still getting eggs after a prolonged pause, we are sporadically losing chickens and it’s time to replenish our flock.
But first, we are in day 1 of our pantry eat down and frugal month challenge, which means overall we’re just not spending money on anything other than bills. The biggest part of this is the pantry challenge. The rules are this – for the full month of January we can buy vegetables for planned meals, milk for drinking, coffee augmentation & cereal, as it’s an essential in this house, and fruit. Alternatives must be found (for example, toasted tortillas if we’re out of tortilla chips, etc) for anything we don’t have. Other than our monthly meat delivery, which I forgot, in the holiday madness, to put on hold for January our total budget for the month for food is $198, which is about 1/4 of the usual expenditure in this area, and we may be able to do it for less.
And a perk of the big cleanout is…cleaning out. As things empty – and our time is put into cleaning out closets and drawers, we clean as we go along. To say the house needs it is an understatement as clutter is creeping in everywhere.
Since we had our big Chinese feast last night, most of the meals so far today have been leftover oriented, but tonight we’ll need something healthy to offset all the heavy meals of the last week or two. I have some fresh broccoli and cauliflower, so I’ll pan roast them with a little garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil and serve them up with a simple chicken dish, maybe Butternut Squash Butter Chicken, or a simple stir fry. This week is the race to use up all the veggies in the vegetable drawers that I bought around the holidays. My budget starting next Friday is $72 including all groceries, and milk. If I want delivery, in order to stay out of the store, that has to include delivery and tip, so I’ll be very careful about our meal plan, but this week we have to be a bit more flexible to use up what we have.
Tomorrow I’ll make Chicken Parmesan that will cover lunches for my son as well, and prepare some sort of turkey soup with the broth I made for Tuesday, when everyone is back to work and school, and likely to be tired at the end. I’m thinking something along a Mexican theme, with salsa verde and tortillas toasted into chips.
Wednesday is just Eli and I, and I have the ingredients, minus the ground chicken (I’ll sub in ground beef) for a re-creation of Buffalo Chicken Enchilada Bake.
Thursday Eli is planning to make us Broccoli Cheddar Soup, and then this weekend, while the kids are at their Dad’s and we’re cleaning out closets and doing projects, I’ll stuff spaghetti squash, roast sweet potatoes, and maybe make some homemade Indian food dishes for us as well as preparing something delicious for Sunday night when the kids come home. Probably Shepherd’s Pie, which we haven’t had in ages, and will help use up the last of the red potatoes we bought for Christmas dinner.
Tuesday and Wednesday of next week I have to travel, getting home Thursday morning, so Eli will be on his own for food prep, but I’ll pick back up for Friday night dinner with the kids on the 13th, and cook straight through the weekend.
It might sound funny to take so much pleasure in using up what we have, but there’s something about January that makes me want to use things up and tidy, maybe making space for all the new that’s on the way in.
Happy New Year to you and yours. May today be restful for you, body and spirit.