Whew! Christmas was a whirlwind around here…how ’bout for you?
Every year, it takes me by surprise how much planning we (I) put into everything–all for approximately 2 days of enjoyment. I spent countless time and energy on menu-planning, home decorating and gift selecting. I love it all so much, but man alive, does it go by quickly!
So, after having a few days to marinate on our Christmas, I thought I’d do a round-up of our Christmas 2016 successes today–from gifts to recipes.
Years ago, when I realized that I needed to make a change in my drinking habits, I decided that I’d simply “moderate” my drinking. I’d make a plan and have “x” amount of drinks per week/day/event. This sounded way more doable than flat-out quitting entirely.
So, the first few weeks, it worked brilliantly. I held myself to that one glass of wine with dinner. Then, in the coming weeks, when confronted with the temptation to have more than my allotment, I bent the rules…just a smidgen.
Then, the next event or dinner out, the rules bent even further.
The next thing I knew, I wasn’t “moderating” my drinking at all. I was right back where I started.
You see, my brain is funny like that. It’s a master at talking me out of or into things. Here’s how the dialog went in my head when I was trying to moderate:
Jenny: “I’m only having 2 glasses of wine at the dinner out with friends tonight. That seems like a reasonable amount and won’t get me into too much trouble.”
Brain: “Absolutely! 2 glasses is the perfect amount! Let’s do this!”
Jenny (over dinner): “I’m having a great time! We’re enjoying a leisurely meal with good friends. Everyone else is finishing up their second drink too and the main courses haven’t even arrived yet. What should I do? I really want another drink…”
Brain: “You know, this IS a special circumstance. I mean, how often do you get to have dinner with these good friends? And, you got a babysitter, so you’re foot-loose and fancy-free tonight. I wonder if just 1 more drink wouldn’t hurt?”
The next thing I know, I’m in a pickle.
My brain talked me out of moderating so many times. It became exhausting trying to keep up with the rules that I’d established beforehand for my drinking and then keeping up with the change-on-the-fly rules that I had as the evening progressed. Then, after that evening was over, I had to reevaluate my whole system for moderating. It was way too much work and spent too much of my mental energy.
That’s when I decided that I needed to abstain all together.
Abstaining completely took away all of that extra psychic baggage that I was carrying around, constantly dividing and multiplying in my head; negotiating and re-negotiating all night. Abstaining from alcohol set me free and made my decisions easier. It allowed me to be present. It took the guesswork out of drinking and eliminated those inner negotiations that made me crazy.
Moderating works for many people. It’s a good place to start if you’re thinking about curbing your drinking. It helps you to step back and take a look at your drinking habits. From there, you can determine if you can continue moderating or if you need to abstain entirely.
I wish I could have made moderation work for me–I really do–but in the end, I needed a finite rule to my drinking. I needed to stop completely. And this is what worked for me.
Have you ever tried (successfully or unsuccessfully) to moderate your drinking?
This week, I whipped up a batch of Simmering Stovetop Potpourri to scent our house while we’re at home, baking, watching Christmas movies and bickering enjoying each other’s company over Christmas break.
This stuff smells divine and is better for you than chemical-y candles and wax warmers. Plus, I can leave this pot simmering on the lowest heat possible on our stovetop all blessed day. At bedtime, I just put the lid on it and turn the burner off, then fire it back up again first thing in the morning. I add water as needed and will likely only need a fresh batch every few days or so.
There are lots of variations of this recipe so feel free to add or omit as you like. I’m planning to add in some rosemary sprigs in the coming days and I’ve read that you can add in small cuttings from your live Christmas tree as well.
This would also make a lovely handmade gift for someone–you could put the ingredients in a jar with a gift tag, explaining the directions. Voila! Thoughtful neighbor gifts that are consumables and diet-friendly (like my homemade sugar scrub!)!
How do you like to scent your home during the Holiday season?
With Christmas knocking at our door, our boundaries are about to be stretched and compromised. Families draw near and with them, drama. You might feel pulled in 80 different directions. You might desperately need to “actively introvert.” You might feel your sobriety questioned, marginalized or made fun of. It’s a difficult time indeed.
I’m a people-pleaser by nature so protecting my boundaries is something that I constantly struggle with and probably constantly fail at.
So many of us place our self-worth in the hands of other people’s opinions and expectations for us. The Holidays magnify this, as we’re put in the same room with our biggest fans and our toughest critics (sometimes all wrapped up in the same person).
Remember your boundaries this Holiday season:
~Write them down
~Make them your mantra and repeat multiple times a day
~Honor and protect your boundaries
~Don’t worry about disappointing others
The fact of the matter is that you WILL disappoint people. All the time. Probably everyday. But the person who you’ve got to do the best by is yourself.
What boundaries are you guarding with your life this Holiday season?
It’s been a rough couple of weeks in the kitchen, y’all!
Between evening choir and 4th grade musical performances at the school and a party that we hosted, I haven’t had much inclination to do my usual meal-planning and cooking routine. I’m guessing a lot of you are in the same boat.
This week isn’t looking much better either and the only meal planning that I’m up for right now is trying to puzzle through what we’ll be eating for Christmas Eve, (typically we do a spread of finger foods, appetizers and cheese-ball type stuff) Christmas morning, (my husband wants to attempt The Pioneer Woman’s infamous cinnamon rolls) and Christmas dinner. What are you serving? I need some inspiration…
I did manage to crank out one successful, healthy Cook Smarts meal for my family last week, amidst all of the Holiday hullaboloo and wanted to share it with you today.
I made Chicken with Mushroom White Wine Sauce for dinner on a busy school night. It came together rather easily and was healthy and delicious. Here’s what was in it:
I’ve spent years avoiding mushrooms, thinking that I didn’t like them. Thanks to Cook Smarts, I’ve learned that I do, in fact, like mushrooms! Cook Smarts is a weekly meal planning subscription program that provides you with menus, grocery lists and prep ideas to make getting a healthy meal on your family’s table easy and cost-effective each week.
From now through December 23, enjoy 15% off of meal plan gift certificates with the code: GIVECOMFORT at Cook Smarts.
After the Holidays, I can’t wait to dive back into Cook Smarts meal plans. I always crave order (not to mention VEGETABLES) after the Holidays are over and Cook Smarts is the best tool in my arsenal for getting us back on track in the kitchen.
Speaking of food successes lately: For our little party that we had last week, I put together a cheese tray for noshing on when our guests arrived. It turned out pretty cute and was easy peasy to put together. You might want to give it a whirl at your own Holiday get togethers.
Please share what’s on your Holiday menu this week to give us some inspo and ideas!
Disclosure time: I consider myself a darn good host but I haven’t always been. It’s taken me years and years to perfect the art of making my house guests comfortable in my home. Let’s just say that there were some incidents, early in my hosting, that maybe involved a moldy coffeepot and cat pee on the bed. But, enough of that…
I first discovered this recipe for homemade sugar scrub during our first Christmas in this community. I’d made friends with a neighbor whose whole family has extreme gluten intolerance. I obviously couldn’t take them a tin of my homemade Christmas cookies–and I wasn’t feeling ambitious enough to attempt gluten-free baking (plus, the risk of cross-contamination) so I set out to find something that I could make for them that also wouldn’t harm them.
That’s when I found a recipe for this homemade sugar scrub. It’s simple to make and is a skin-saver in the winter when skin is dry and chapped.
1 Cup of granulated sugar
1/4 Cup (add more if you need to, as you go) coconut oil
Melt coconut oil in the microwave–30 seconds or so–until it’s liquified. In a large mixing bowl, mix the melted oil with the sugar. Mix until it’s a slushy consistency. Add the essential oil of your choice.
Add more coconut oil as needed to reach a spreadable consistency.
Scoop a small handful and scrub into your skin then rinse with water. This scrub will leave your skin refreshed and moisturized.
My husband uses my homemade sugar scrub for shaving every morning. I also use it for shaving my legs and like to use it on my hands after a long, Holiday dish-washing session. I like to use lemon essential oils when I make this for others but I add a more masculine scented oil (sandalwood is one of my favorites) when I mix my husband’s shave scrub.
This time of the year, giving “consumables” is such a kind gift because no one really needs more stuff to take up space in their home. Also, it’s nice to give a homemade gift that won’t bust anyone’s diet plans, like sweet treats will. I enjoy mixing up a large batch of this sugar scrub and then packaging it in individual little jars that can be purchased at the dollar store. I put a cute gift tag on them and attach with some rustic twine and it makes a lovely gift that my neighbors not-so-subtly ask me for every year.
Full disclosure: I’ve been sober for 6 years and Holiday parties are still difficult for me.
We went to a Holiday party last night and, one would think that after 6 years of doing this sobriety-thing, I’d have it down to a science. But, I still struggle. Today, I’m holed up at home, rehashing the awkward social exchanges and wondering how people are feeling this morning. I had a great time…don’t get me wrong. We have a wonderful group of neighbors and I got to visit with many of them last night. I also was tested by a few of my least-favorite neighbors being in attendance last night. These are all things that, in my past life, would’ve sent me directly for the nearest bottle of wine. Holiday parties are a unique struggle for me. I love the idea of them, but there’s no other time during the year that I miss drinking more.
Part of it is due to me being an introvert and part of it is everyone around me drinking with wild abandon–just like I used to. But, over the years, I’ve come up with a few tried and true tricks that help me to navigate a Holiday party sober. Today, I’m sharing these tips with you.