I finally finished filling out my Year Compass over this past week. Man, that was a doozy!
It suggests setting aside three hours for the reflective portion looking back at the past year, and one hour for the forward-looking portion that goes through the year ahead. On the contrary, I found that I flew through the retrospective (maybe I did it wrong?) and the section for the year ahead took me several hours.
I completed it over three sessions on three separate days, and when I finally got to the end felt a huge sense of relief. Some of the questions I found really difficult to answer, like what three things I will love about myself this year. I dunno?!
Some were difficult because of the nature of the world right now. What three places will I travel to in 2021? Geeze, I hope I'll be able to travel back home this summer, but I have no idea. I hope I'll be able to go to the conference I have tickets to in New York in September, but that still feels pretty unlikely at this point.
I also found the sections on my ambition for home and family quite murky to wade through, for obvious reasons. There is so much up in the air, so much still unknown.
Still, I'm glad I did this exercise, and I plan to do it again at the end of the year. It will be interesting to read through it after some time has gone by and reflect on what I wrote! For now, it's tucked away in a drawer, resting, and waiting.
Did anyone else fill it out? How did it go for you?
This week I finally bit the bullet and bought studded tires for my bike. I kept hesitating because a) I hate spending money on stuff like this unless I absolutely need it, and b) I was convinced it would be a waste of money because as soon as I bought them the weather would change and it would be an unnecessary purchase.
But, no. Stockholm delivered one of its signature weather moves this week where on Monday (the day I took my bike in to the shop) there was a bit of snow on the ground already. Then it warmed up slightly and dumped slush rain on us in a thick layer, which I biked home in.
Then, overnight the temperatures dropped considerably and that thick layer of slush froze into a solid sheet of ice. Then it snowed, so we had snow on top of ice. Tuesday was treacherous AF out there whether you were travelling on foot, by bike, or in a vehicle.
It has continued to snow throughout the week so it turns out that the studded tires were a very, very good investment. The summer tires I was riding on were also essentially bald, and the rear tire's sidewall was nearly blown out, so it was time for a change. I also got new brake pads, and whee! It's so much fun to actually be able to stop now.
The worst part right now is not the slippery surface, because the studded tires actually get great grip. It's all of the frozen wheel grooves from other people's bikes that you need to try and navigate through. At one point yesterday I thought for sure I was going down, but I just held on and hoped for the best. So far so good.
The kids are quite cold in the wagon, especially when I pick them up from school and they've already been outside for a few hours. I've started trying to pick them up early in this cold weather so they're not so frozen when we head home.
I'm also testing out a new system where I warm up a couple of those microwavable heat packs filled with wheat and take them with me in an insulated cooler. They each get to hold one on their laps on the way home, which I think provides a bit of warmth. But if anyone has good ideas for keeping kids warm during a bike commute, I'd love to hear it!
The commute has been crappy enough this past week that I actually looked into buying a car. It's been more than 10 years since I last owned a car, and I really don't want the headache of parking / insurance / repairs / etc, or the expense of buying a car, but I don't know. It might be time.
Especially with the kids getting older, being more interested in doing activities, and us doing substantially less travel at the moment, it might be fun to have a car so we can bomb around to local destinations.
For the past several months I've been getting up early every morning and doing this Morning Pages writing exercise where you open a notebook and write three pages of whatever comes.
I have a love/hate relationship with it. It's been therapeutic and revealing, and has been tremendously helpful in helping to wrap my head around some of the big changes in my life over the past year. But it's also incredibly time consuming, and I resent the time it takes away from working on the blog.
With a full-time job and two kids, I work on the blog in the margins most of the time. The blog has been growing steadily over the past couple of years, though, and has evolved from being a hobby into being a profitable business.
I once read that when life gets hectic and you have a lot of balls in the air, it's important to know which balls are made of plastic and which are made of glass. The glass balls are those which will shatter if dropped, and the plastic balls will bounce. You can let them drop, pick them up again later, and it's not a big deal.
I've recognized that the blog is made of plastic. If I need to drop it for a week or two, nothing will break.
It's still a side hustle to be sure, but when life/work/kids get in the way of keeping up with my editorial calendar, it stresses me out. So on Friday morning this past week, at the end of a very hectic week, I decided keep my notebook in the drawer and spend the quiet, early morning hours working on the blog instead.
It felt SO GOOD to be able to accomplish something, and keep up with my schedule. I realized that while the Morning Pages are a valuable exercise and good for my mental health, so too is being able to work on the blog in a way that doesn't require me to be working bleary eyed into the night, or sneaking some work in on my lunch hour.
So I made the decision to start alternating mornings. One day dedicated to Morning Pages, the next dedicated to the blog. Feels like such a good, and mindful decision. Ahhhhh.
We just wrapped up the second week of Batchuary, and the feedback has been really good! It's such a simple "challenge" which is all about filling your life (and your belly) with an abundance of healthy food, adding things rather than being restrictive and taking anything away.
This week's challenge is to make friends with your freezer! When life gets crazy and I don't have time to cook up a big batch of veggies (it happens!), I rely on frozen soups, stews, and casseroles that I've stashed away.
The best news is that batch cooking and freezer meals go hand in hand. So for example, if you cooked up a big batch of quinoa and a big batch of black beans, you could use them as ingredients to make Black Bean and Quinoa Freezer Burritos.
I've got a great list of 30 Vegetarian Freezer Meals that you can pull from for inspiration for this week's menu!
Here's what I'm making this week:
Grain: A batch of brown rice.
Green: Roasted Brussels Sprouts, steamed broccoli, and another Kale Salad.
Protein: A big batch of Spicy Instant Pot Black Beans.
I'm also planning to make a batch of my favourite Lentil Soup for the freezer.
ON HEY NUTRITION LADY THIS WEEK
This week started with a reboot of an oldie but goodie from the HNL archives. This Vegan Carrot Ginger Soup is packed with protein thanks to the addition of red lentils, which make it a thick and satisfying soup. The recipe has stovetop, Instant Pot, and Slow Cooker instructions.
And then we have a brand new recipe that I'm super excited about. These Vegetarian Instant Pot Stuffed Peppers are made with brown rice and lentils (perfect for batch cooking!) and take just 10 minutes at high pressure! Oven baking instructions are included for those who don't have an IP.
WHAT’S TRENDING ON HNL
1. Turmeric Latte Mix. Always a good idea.
2. 10-Minute Vegetable Ramen Noodles. Such a quick and easy dinner.
3. Chia Fresca. Gotta stay hydrated!
4. Black Bean and Quinoa Freezer Burritos. Mmmmm. So good.
5. Red Lentil Dal. Easy and delicious.
COMMENT OF THE WEEK
Sylvie left the following comment and 5-star review on my Spicy Roasted Butternut Squash Salad recipe:
Yasss! This was so simple & quick I had time for a quiet glass of wine before calling the kid to the table and serving. So delicious and simple, and filling!
Mmm, that quiet glass of wine sounds like a real luxury.
THIS WEEK’S MENU
This week again is focusing on a combination of using up batch cooking ingredients (although a lot of those go into my weekday lunches), eating down the freezer (need to make room for new stuff!) and some super simple weeknight dinners.
HERE’S WHAT’S ON THE MENU THIS WEEK:
Sunday: Homemade Pizza with some Spelt Pizza Dough from the freezer. I always make a double batch of dough and freeze balls of dough for future easy dinners.
Monday: My company is having a socially-distant sledding event after work and providing spiked hot chocolate, snacks, and wraps for dinner.
Tuesday: Big kale salad with soft-boiled eggs for protein.
Wednesday: Tortellini and steamed brocccoli.
Thursday: We're going for beans n' buns tonight!
Friday: 10-Minute Vegetable Ramen for one.
Saturday: Celebrating a friend's 40th birthday, which includes a safe yet fancy dinner at an undisclosed location.
WHAT’S GOOD AROUND THE WEB
2. Eating as an art of living: what we can learn from ayurveda.
4. This study (which was funded by the Hass Avocado Board) supports the link between daily avocado consumption and increased gut microbiota diversity.