I'd say, that January 1 rolled over me, right over me, on me...I got the flu for the first time since I was 19. (I am 61). Then, January shocked me with news I thought I would never get and have wanted my whole life-I got a book contract to publish my memoir! I still can't believe it's true, but it is. Enough about me. I can't say I've ever enjoyed reading mysteries. I did enjoy the movie (and sequel), "Enola Holmes" (sister of Sherlock Holmes) on Netflix. Does that count? Those Lemon squares look divine! (Note my complete lack of transition sentences here...I am giving myself permission to ramble) "Yes" to fuzzy blankets and hibernation. Yes to going to bed early when it is pitch dark outside. I like to think of it as honoring nature. To try and stay awake is futile and I just get cranky. This is good for no one I live with and I'm sure they would agree. Holly, as always, I love Release and Gather and am honored to be a part of your community.

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It's hard to be "up" for anything when the days are still so short and the weather is bleak. I try to work around that by taking a vacation week at the end of January every year.

I used to it because I had to (it was often the only open week left). Now I do because I've somehow convinced myself that when I get back, winter'll be almost over. It's just enough of a lift to carry me through.

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Such a great post - a really cosy afternoon read - like that beautiful polar bear blanket of yours, but in words! I know it's not afternoon in Mississippi right now, but it's nearly 4pm over here on a darkening grey and rainy day, so cosiness is exactly what I need!

Thank you for the mention, and I'm delighted that you're enjoying 'Murder on the Orient Express' - it's a riproaring yarn, that one. Poirot is a delight: of Christie's two main characters in her better-known works, Miss Marple being the other, he's my favourite. The Miss Marple books are great, but Poirot's a little more 'me' - and no, I don't mean that I'm Belgian!

The food all sounds amazing - wow! That menu - and recipes - for the ladies' lunch, gosh, lucky ladies. I had a bit of a giggle about US English names for things compared with British English ones - I adore these language differences!

A 'Dutch oven' is a 'casserole dish' over here, or indeed a 'casserole' - and what you call a 'casserole' is for us a 'bake' or a 'gratin'! Some people over here call stew 'casserole', which comes from the fact that it's made in, well, a casserole.

My dad, the baker in the family, makes 'bread pudding' - which is a dense and delicious cake-like slab made of breadcrumbs, suet, a tonne of dried fruit and sugar all soaked in milk and egg, poured into a deep tin, baked slowly and cut into squares to eat on the go - that's his fuel to keep him going on his long days working in the garden. What you've called 'bread pudding', though, is similar to what we call 'bread and butter pudding', which is a pudding (dessert)!

Oooooh, this is all making me hungry!

I feel the same as you about January. As usual I feel a weight of overexpectation surrounding me - a new start, a new year, 'everything will be amazing, you'll see', new years' resolutions, the lot! Not that I'm unhappy: I'm giving in to that dark cosiness and excellent reading matter, just as I mentioned earlier. I'm not making any unrealistic overpromises to myself: I'll go with the flow, thanks!

Such a great read, Holly. Thank you!

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I agree with Reid (and the chipmunks). Hibernation is an important part of the lifecycle and coming out too early doesn't make sense. We need to be ready both physically and mentally. Neither of which I am!

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Jan 14, 2023Liked by Holly Rabalais

"Just because it’s January doesn’t mean I’ve gotten this magical power-up to 100%."

Yes'm. Easy does it.

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I normally take the time to continue hibernating in January. This year is different - the weather is unusually warm, and I'm preparing to head directly into summer in a couple of weeks - a much-needed 2-month holiday and odyssey awaits 😁

I'm an Agatha Christie fan. I've read nearly all of her books earlier in my life. Coincidentally, I recently considered re-reading her novels, but shifted to Sherlock Holmes suddenly…and I'm happy I'm finally reading the many tales of this eccentric detective.

Jalapeno and sweet potatoes - I'm intrigued...a melody of sweet, starchy, and spicy - a lovely symphony for sure 😊

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-Interesting menu for sure.

-Even Agatha Christie's life is a bit of a mystery. I think there was a biopic a few years ago.

-I think we hope that a new year is a 'new you', but mostly our minds and bodies just think it's the next day, not a new year. So we have the same struggles and comforts.

Thanks for a great post!

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The Glass Castle: A Memoir and Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel by Jeannette Wal

Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

LOVED these books too. I love reading memoirs and I love Anne Lamott. (great quote) I haven't gotten into mystery books but my husband has read all of the Agatha Christie books and loved them. He wants me to read them so maybe 2023 is the year! :) LOL

Have a great weekend Holly. We missed you Friday and hope to see you again soon. :)

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The Jalapeño Sweet Potato Soup immediately jumped out at me, so I may give it a try. But I definitely will up the dosage of Jalapeños. As you know, I like things hot!

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I want to get into reading more mysteries. The Sherlock Holmes collection is always on standby but for recent works, I read The 71/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton which was very interesting and am looking forward to quite a few more titles. I haven’t really delved into Christie, though I’ve watched Murder on the Nile and Orient Express, both interesting stories. We’ll see what the new year brings.

As far as the new year, I have deep thoughts on it I’ll be publishing on Monday.

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I head to bed early in January, too. January in Seattle is rainy and dark, but our temps generally stay in the 40s or low 50s which is a huge bonus to me after growing up in frigid Minnesota. I'll take the rain any day over feet of snow and below zero windchill. But as a gardener, January is when I can start getting excited about the next growing season. I have January Garden Chores like pruning the dead raspberry canes and espalier apple tree; cutting back the cauliflower and cabbage plants that never seem to thrive but I keep trying anyway; and spreading compost around my perennials. And all through January I'm constantly reminding myself that it's too early to start seeds, but I still buzz with the anticipation. It's the hope of planting that keeps me going LOL.

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Love the reminder to combine those flavours in your Jalapeño Sweet Potato Soup! I usually bring a load of canned green chilies back from the US to the UK with me to add to anything and everything. I miss their ubiquitous presence here, and I'd forgotten about adding them to sweet potatoes (still working on convincing my UK family here that sweet potatoes are savoury).

And I so agree with the difficulty of overcoming the January darkness. I make a note of every extra minute of light when it starts increasing again. And I sit in front of the SAAD light each morning for as long as possible to help trick my brain into whatever that light does to keep the depression at bay. Hope the wonderful cozy blanket keeps good company and the increasing light helps start the positive vibes flowing again when the time is right.

Thanks for your lovely blog-I'm really enjoying it!

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I definitely hit the ground running starting Jan 1. I consider it a New Year, New You (or Me). Things are progressing nicely at my work. I just wrapped up my 9 day straight working marathon. I have more responsibilities now, which is good but also makes the job more stressful at times.

There is nothing wrong with going to bed early. Those early morning work days, I actually do go to bed at around 7:30 pm. It's funny, I used to not be able to sleep. Then I got this job. And now I have nooooo problem getting to sleep. I am soooo tired when I get home.

Hey, send that blanket this way! 🤣 The last few days have been in the range of 26 to 48 degrees in the morning. And that persists into the day when it doesn't warm up in the condo.

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