January Reprise

I view 2014 as a year of fun, learning, and exploration, and I hope it will point me toward what I want to do in 2015 and thereafter. To this end, I thought it might be useful to review my journals (I have a sabbatical journal and an herb journal) and summarize some of my key activities.

My biggest accomplishment was getting this blog up and running, including eight posts. I’m really happy about that and am still patting myself on the back. It’s nice to have a writing outlet in addition to my journals and correspondence.

Cloister WalkBooks. I read 22 books in January! That’s a lot, even for me. Mind you, much of January (it seems like ALL of January) was below zero, which is perfect reading weather. Also, 12 of the books were poetry, and poetry books in general are much shorter than other books. I have gotten back into poetry in a big way this year and I’m quite pleased. Of the remaining 10 January books, most (8) were nonfiction and 2 were novels. My favorite books from January are The House By the Sea, by May Sarton; Consider the Birds, by Debbie Blue; and The Cloister Walk, by Kathleen Norris. I particularly liked this line from The Cloister Walk:

[T]he more I can distinguish between my true needs and my wants, the more I am shocked to realize how little is enough.

I am finding the same. I’ve pulled in my spending horns in a big way this year, and at least so far, I am not feeling one iota bereft. I have found I don’t have to buy every new book that catches my attention (and I’ve renewed my library card!). And since I’m cooking (mostly not horrible things), we are spending far less on dining out.

Cooking. I made the following for the first time:casserole

  • 4-grain soup
  • Make-and-save French toast
  • Tuna noodle casserole
  • Chili
  • Tuna rice casserole
  • Pumpkin puree (after baking the pumpkin)

Not a very impressive list, I know. And seriously, who has never made tuna noodle casserole in their life? I have not been much of a cook, and now I am learning. Comfort foods are a good place to start and our cold January called for plenty of comfort food.

OilsMedicinal Herbs. In the herbal world, I’ve made three oil infusions: turmeric in olive oil; lavender in olive oil; and calendula, rosemary, and turmeric in olive oil. They are still in process—macerating in the linen closet by the radiator pipes. I shake them every day and occasionally open them up to check on them. They smell good! I’ve also been macerating two liniments that I made at the end of December. They are almost ready to decant! And I’ve done reading and research on various herbs and conditions. The world of herbs is absolutely fascinating and I have been very surprised at the medicinal properties of some of our most common kitchen herbs: rosemary, sage, thyme, turmeric, and chamomile, for instance. There are tons of others, of course, but it’s nice to know you can start a home pharmacy with your kitchen pantry.

Those are the big buckets of my January life. A few additional items: I organized (almost) all of our CDs and got rid of the duplicates; I started a pub crawl with my friend Kathleen (a new brewpub every month); completed the third month of my haiku challenge (more on that in another post); met with staff from the Land Stewardship Project for a potential volunteer gig; and have just started to dip my toe into a “gift economy”—at least with a few friends.

Not a bad start. I am excited to see where February goes.

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