If you were 2017's Welcome Mat, I will gladly wipe my feet and walk on!
Despite the ups and downs that so many around our country are facing, you were kind to us.
You were a month of old traditions and new routines.
Waking up on New Year's Day, I did what any good southerner does: I made a traditional meal of black-eyed peas and collards! (After realizing I had forgotten to soak them overnight--doh!)
Last year I served our peas as a salsa, and while that was okay, I knew this year I had to go back to my roots... kinda. I found a recipe via The New York Times and made hands-down the BEST black-eyed peas and collards I've ever had!
It was also the first time I cooked with a ham hock. In the past, if I saw this ingredient listed in a recipe, I would immediately dismiss it. Not this year. I'm challenging myself in 2017 to up my cooking game; to try things I wouldn't normally eat, learn a little more jargon, and perfect my technique a bit. So ham hocks it was... and we were all rewarded with a most delicious meal!
January, you were for adventures in baking, too. I tried substituting ingredients-- something I haven't been confident enough to do in the past. It didn't work out so well, as the cranberries sunk to the bottom of my White Chocolate & Cranberry Bread... what wasn't reduced to crumbs.
But January, being a month of fresh starts, you reminded me that being no good at something is usually the case when you begin something new. Instead of becoming frustrated, I leaned into patience (something I have very little of), and turned it into an opportunity to keep three promises I made to myself: to practice food photography and radical empathy for myself, and to be grateful, which I was. The bread was still edible, and even quite yummy! Looking back over my entries, I wrote more than once in my journal about how grateful I was for the food I have available to me when so many around the world do without. This is something I never, ever want to take for granted.
In the dark mornings of your wintry days, I woke early and began to practice meditation... and found contentment in my attempts. I continued to journal, and made good on practicing gratitude daily.
You were a month of quality time.
January, you brought a historic snow storm that kept us holed up in our little home for days upon days.
SO. MUCH. SNOW.
It forced us all to shut down, get still (at least for a few moments), and appreciate the quiet. (Again, for a few moments).
Then it was all snowball fights and bloody fingers, igloo-building, and neighborhood walking, Rotochik Chicken Noodle Soup slurping and movie watching.
Side Note: I have no idea where this head gear came from, but Gibson is all about it. Every time I looked at him I laughed, as he reminded me of a character from The Monty Python!
I am thankful to you, January, for the time I was able to spend with Logan, alone. Just when we seemed to need it the most. There were nights of long talks about politics, our past, and our dreams for the future. Minutes I didn't count, and seeped in the presence of my husband, of who he is at 34.
There were answered prayers, healing, transformation, and the prettiest bouquet of red carnations I ever saw.
You were a month of unsettling changes, a call to action, and moments of solidarity.
January, you brought me closer to the brilliant women in my life.
With these women at my side we shutdown a coffeehouse (HA!), filled the corners of a quiet house with tears of sadness and peals of laughter, and used up data on meaningful conversation.
We also marched.
You gave me time to be alone. To walk along the banks of the bay in the fog, armed with a camera around my neck and rain boots on my feet. And you gave me time to indulge in passion projects that make my heart full. (More of that to come).
You were winter travel for my boy, and life as a family of three for a bit.
The end of the month and return of Justice was toasted at our favorite haunt, Fin, during Newport News Restaurant Week. It was a delicious top-off.
Looking back, I am so thankful for you January, and can't believe it's only the beginning of what will surely be a banner year.
Here's to February, and many exciting things to come!
All my love,