Checking In

While the rest of the world seems eager to eat healthy and work out and generally appears to have a lot of energy in January, this is not true for myself. My true urge at the beginning of every year is to curl up in a ball, and withdraw in a cave to sleep.

I suppose it has to do with all the wonderful, celebratory events happening in December, with New Year’s as the final Big Bang (to me) and the initial ignition (to others). Also, since the pandemic, I probably see more people in December than I do all year! It’s a lot for an introvert, and oftentimes, I’m just exhausted in January, this year being no exception.

Sadly, our society does not allow hibernation, nor do human bodies. Instead, I have developed coping strategies over the years, some of which involve food – no surprise for anybody who knows me or comes here regularly. Yet, all my IG feed seems to show me lately are workout or power yoga ads (and the vicious and very clever rants against the dieting madness from Jameela Jamil ;-)).

While I respect both, I mostly quietly bow out of all that and try to survive this very dark month undamaged. My daily walks with sweet Charlie help, both in terms of exercise and in terms of energy. If I’m lucky enough, I catch a few rays of lux while walking. If not, I bake. Just last week, I revisited Lemon Crinkle Cookies, of which I made a batch for my friend F. who was unfortunate enough to catch Omicron, and needed cheering up while in quarantine.

But of course I’m not completely oblivious to healthy eating, and today I’d like to share a new favorite of mine, which incidentally fits really well into the frequently proclaimed Veganuary, too.

Smashed Brussels

1 bag Brussels sprouts

Olive oil

5 sprigs fresh thyme


In salted water, boil the trimmed sprouts for 10 minutes. Drain. Drizzle a baking sheet with some olive oil, then tip the sprouts on. With a potato masher or a water glass, press on each little head and squash it. Add more olive oil, sprinkle with fresh thyme (and salt in case it needs more), and put in the oven at 200 °C for a few minutes. Take out the baking sheet and turn the sprouts over individually, to lightly brown them from both sides.

Serve. I promise they’ll blow your mind (only if you like them, mind you! It’s just a whole different experience from the usual stewed and buttered variety I grew up with, and also like.)

All around us, the numbers of infected friends make the pandemic very real, once again. Thankfully, next week is a week off. Personally, I’ll be very happy to submit my manuscript this Friday, and then drop the mike and leave for a week at the cottage, feeding the woodburner, finishing my cardigan, walking on the lakeshore, and maybe having a few pyjama days, if the weather continues to be the way it has been.

Also, renovating. There was an unfortunate incident with a chimney that wouldn’t draw properly, and certain young people who didn’t notice and went for a three hour walk instead, coming back to a cottage filled with thick black smoke … a paint job is indicated, ‘nuff said.

Nobody knows what this year will bring. A few things, however, will happen, because time stops for no one. Our son will be turning 20 next week, which is well and truly mind-boggling. Didn’t I teach the dude how to ride his Bobby-Car just the other day?

Cake needs to happen, of course. I don’t make the rules. Which one should I bake, do you think?

My personal favorite is cheesecake, hands down, but I can certainly see the appeal of layer cakes, buttercream frosting, and also the beautifully shaped whorls of a really good pound cake like you can see above, in the middle.

So, that is it for today. I’m a little tired, a little slower than usual, but all in all, content. Look after yourselves, friends, whether on a yoga mat or slurping a hot drink on the couch. The spring equinox is only 2 months away, now, and it gets a little lighter, every day. And, thank you for checking in.

It’s 2022!

Happy New Year, everybody! The flower arrangement you see above is a combination of withered but still beautiful things I found in the garden, and a bunch of salmon colored roses I rescued from the supermarket on my last minute grocery run on the 31st. It represents the old and the new, very fitting for a fresh start that honors what was, and looks forward to what is to be.

2021 winked out like a candle, quietly and without much fanfare. Dinner with lovely friends, a brief toast with our sweet neighbors who were partying a little in the barn, and a dance with my husband to the song that gets me moving every time, The Passenger by Iggy Pop. Then I cleaned up the kitchen, took off my make-up and joined my two furry bedfellows:

I made no resolutions, but I have a few suggestions to myself, regarding health, mental health, my business and relationships. Overall, I’d like to get out of my head a little, and the new year seems like a good place to start with that. Last year, I was literally too busy to read, so there’s a pile of books I finally want to find time for. I’m also writing my son a cookbook. He’ll be 20 in a matter of weeks, and his moving out may not be imminent, but I’ve been bracing for the inevitable for a while now. Once he does leave the nest, I want him set! Those are a few things I want to work on. What about you? Have you made any life-altering decisions?

Crafts-wise, the year ended with some speed knitting for a few of my friends who have December birthdays, and to whom I gave socks. Knitting socks is gratifying: The pattern is always the same, and for most of the process, I don’t even have to pay attention but can let my hands do their muscle memory thing. While knitting socks, I can follow a TV show, a movie, a conversation, even lectures and classes when I was young. Knowing what I know now, I’d call it goal-oriented fidgeting, or a soothing, repetitive motion that calms and centers me. Meditation, maybe. These four pairs were finished in December:

The last one was made from a vegan yarn, a bamboo, cotton and rayon blend. My friend says they’re very comfortable, and not as warm as woolen socks but warm enough still, so a good option for those opposed to using animal products. A very pretty yarn, too, I found.

Next on my list is finishing my fluffy mohair blend ribbed cardigan.

I’m really not quite sure if that color will even suit me in the winter. Since my current mindset doesn’t include the use of tanning beds anymore, my skin has returned to its natural melanin-deprived state, and looks best when I wear shades of red, or black, I find.

But I guess I could wear the cardigan next fall, too, when I still have a bit of a tan? I feel I should finish it.

Work-wise, I have two book projects lined up. One, I’ve already started, and need to finish end of January, so I should wrap up this lunch break and get cracking. May the universe choose to send some cool projects my way for the rest of the year.

Wishing you a smooth start into a happy, successful and healthy new year 2022. And thanks for dropping by and reading!