Hey, hey! Welcome to my January Sunday Letter.
January represents a new year and a new start (according to the Gregorian calendar anyway). Packing up our Christmas decor, sweeping dry fir needles from the floor, and dusting away the glitter that always seems to sprinkle all the surfaces—these are some of my favorite early-January things.
I also like to spend time thinking about goals for the new year. Call them what you will—goals, resolutions, bucket list items—January is the time I review what I accomplished the year before and contemplate where I fell short. I think about all the things I never got around to doing, and decide whether or not those goals really were/are a priority. While I do these things, I keep something in mind, specific to January…
January is not the time to start anything new, not according to nature’s calendar anyway. Instead, it’s the time for rest and hibernation. We are barely into winter, and even though the days are gradually lengthening, this is a dark and cold time of year. Hibernation and starting anew pull at me in opposite directions. Being motivated about anything beyond reading a book and making a pot of stew can be a real challenge when the sky is gray and the air bone-chilly.
Yes, January is a puzzle. While I’m contemplating new year goals and trying to decide on my One Little Word for 2024, what I really want to do is burrow under blankets and nap the afternoon away. Especially these past few days as I’ve been under the weather.
(Is everyone sick right now? Ugh.)
One of my favorite things about January is the slow down that follows the holidays. Since I retired from banking (hallelujah), I am no longer tied to a specific schedule; I can arrange my calendar in a way that works for me. It’s okay for me to align myself with nature’s clock. This winter I’ll spend time dreaming and organizing and resting. January is perfect for that. By nourishing my body and mind now, good things will come later.
Winter is for Puzzles
During the wintertime, we always have a jigsaw puzzle spread out on the dining room table. Galison Puzzles are our favorite brand—each one is a beautiful work of art.
Momma gave us two cute 500-piece ones she won as part of a silent auction item. We finished the first one only to discover it was missing a piece! We started the next one, finished it in a few days, and it was missing two pieces!
These were brand new puzzles, and I knew Galison Puzzles was NOT to blame.
When we worked puzzles as a kid, Daddy always managed to steal a piece so that he could ALWAYS put in the last one. So I thought our problem might be a wink from Daddy. But really I suspected Gracie. Yes, I honed a few detective skills reading all those Nancy Drew books years ago.
Sure enough, I soon found a mostly chewed, barely recognizable piece on the floor.
Now we are working another Galison Puzzle, and this one is taking us longer because it’s more challenging at 1,000 pieces. Gracie doesn’t like all the attention the puzzle gets, and so she sits at our feet, paws at our legs, trolls underneath the table waiting and hoping a piece might fall.
Yesterday I caught her in the act!
Gracie is now firmly sitting outside the circle of trust, and I’m trying to figure out why on earth we drop so many pieces!
(Purchase from the Galison website in January using the code GALISON25 and save 25% off!)
Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
When so many horrendous things are happening around the world, the celebration of small things becomes even more important. For me, a big win of 2023 was learning to make homemade dinner rolls. I’ve never been much of a baker, but I followed Dining with Debbie’s mystery roll recipe to great success. After making dinner rolls twice now, I can say it wasn’t beginner’s luck.
Y a y !
Then, using Debbie’s same basic dough recipe, I made cinnamon rolls for my husband’s NYE birthday by simply rolling out the dough and adding a butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar filling.
Y a y a g a i n !
If you like lots of ooey-gooey, you could add a sugar glaze or cream cheese frosting, but we preferred them plain and not too sweet. John said they were like the cinnamon rolls his mother made, and that’s a high compliment.
For Debbie’s roll recipe, click HERE.
One Little Word
Do you choose One Little Word for the new year? I began doing this nine years ago and find it to be a powerful thing. Having a word to rally around throughout the year helps keep me focused.
In past years, I’ve chosen believe, balance, focus, savor, grow, refresh, nuture, and light.
This year, after much contemplating, I have chosen SIMPLIFY.
After the busyness of last year, I feel this word deeply.
Off the top of my head, here are a few ways I plan to simplify my life:
- House: continue decluttering / cleaning / purging / organizing
- Finances: use up what I have before buying new things!
- Media: unsubscribe from groups I don’t enjoy / declutter email / stop with mindless scrolling
- Routines: work smart / say no / choose wisely / streamline processes
- Health: more plant-based meals / continue exercise routine / less caffeine
Yes, I see the irony in talking about healthy meals just after teasing you with cinnamon rolls, but I’ll never be one to totally eliminate baked goods from my diet.
One Year of Phenology
One of my goals for 2023 was to spend more time noticing nature AND to keep a daily nature record via hand-drawn phenology wheels. Last week I added the last entry for 2023 and began sketching out my phenology wheel for January 2024.
It’s fun to look back on the year and see how my artwork changed, the materials I used changed, etc. Now, going forward, I can compare weeks and seasons and track subtle changes in my garden, neighborhood, and NW Arkansas. Imagine the data I will have in 5 years, 10 years, 20+.
We can all be backyard scientists. All we have to do is open our eyes.
Things Momma Says:
This morning my scale said I weigh either 83 pounds or 830 pounds. I’m not sure.
Thanks for reading today’s January Sunday Letter.
Let’s do this, 2024!
Grace Grits and Gardening
Farm. Food. Garden. Life.