Saturday, January 4, 2014

2014 Non-Resolutions

Hello Chickens!  Welcome to 2014.  And the month of writing the wrong year on checks.  I've already done it twice.

I hope your New Year's festivities were wonderful, and that you are surviving whatever your local version of this weather is delivering.  We are hunkered down here at The Castle, having returned a day early from the wilds of McHenry in light of impending snow dump.

Many people are posting and discussing "resolutions" right about now, sharing their plans for shedding weight and eating healthy and exercising and organizing their lives and keeping their homes spotless and being better people.  And on the flipside, many are posting their vitriolic hatred of these same self-defeating resolutions, or their mockingly achievable resolutions "take more naps, watch more TV".  Whichever camp you fall into, I don't think any of us can escape the way a new year makes you think a little bit about long range planning.

This year that is especially true around here, since much of our life is now consumed with the scheduling of construction and projects.  Later this week I will post an update on that with some awesome pics, but suffice it to say, we are very much thinking about the road ahead!

Charming Suitor and I aren't much on the whole "resolution" thing.  We agree with the camp that thinks making grand pronouncements about personal changes you want to make can be a little bit intimidating and ultimately unachievable.  But we do believe that it is possible to make series of small changes along the way that make your life better.  So while we would never say on Jan 1, as so many do, "We will exercise EVERY DAY!", we do indulge ourselves in committing to being active together as much as we can.  We talked about this last year at this time, and have succeeded in maintaining our once a week tennis lesson together, and the occasional visit to the gym for treadmill time together.  Is it as much as we wanted to try and do?  Of course not.  But our tennis is improving, which made us play more over the warmer months.  We now have those once weekly lessons on the permanent schedule, and we are both enjoying it and making it a livable habit.

We committed to low carb, healthier eating, and for the most part, we have succeeded in sticking to this.  We are better about sticking to the low-carb than the healthy part some days, but that is a big step, and we don't beat ourselves up when our version of low carb involves a prime tomahawk steak the size of our heads served with buttered broccolini.

This year we want to build on both of these, re-committing ourselves not just to tennis, but to more physical activity in general.  Towards this end, we set aside space for an exercise room in the construction plan.  Often we find our inability to get to the gym in the evening after CS gets home is the weirdly daunting task of getting out of the house and driving the 2 miles to the gym, battling the post-work gym crowd.  Especially when the weather is crappy.  We hope that having the equipment here and supporting each other by doing it together will make it more of a habit.  We aren't expecting to do it every day.  But even if we do it once a week, that is a step in the right direction.

We have to stick to the low-carb thing due to my diabetes and our desire for CS to not join me in that particular endeavor.  So when we looked at the changes we wanted to make food-wise this year, for me it was about three things.  I want to spend less money on food, and throw away less spoiled food.  We definitely fall into the trap of overbuying, and food waste bothers me a lot, since I am both grateful to have the abundance we have, and always aware of those who do not.  Also?  I want to be a little more creative about everyday cooking, since I think often when we succumb to the ease of take-out or are a little more indulgent that we should probably be on a weeknight, it is because we are bored of the "usual suspects".  And since we have undertaken a massive financial commitment to this house, reducing spending is very much the name of the game for the foreseeable future.

To combat both of these things, we have decided to try and do two dinners a week out of the freezer and pantry.  There is no need for us to be hoarding a zillion kinds of dried beans and grains, they are good for us and can be used in myriad ways, and we need to start getting creative about incorporating them into our diet.

We have a massive chest freezer in the basement, chock full of delicious proteins, and often we either forget they are there, or don't remember ahead of time to thaw them out.  But we need to remember that our freezer isn't a cryonic facility protecting these meats for a future cure, we need to eat them so that they don't go past their prime.  Nothing made me sadder this year than finding a horribly freezer burnt whole duck in the bottom of the freezer that needed to be tossed out.

In a perfect world, my spring cleaning, which always involves a massive pantry-purge that makes me terribly ashamed, will become both easier and less wasteful.  I'm sure that there will be weeks we won't succeed, but I think the goal of twice is reasonable.  After all, we do try to cook dinner at least 5 nights a week, and are pretty successful with that.

So, stay tuned, because I really hope that one of the side-effects of this "waste less, spend less" project will be that I will be inspired to create some new recipes that I can share with all of you!  In the same way that joining a CSA forced me to invent several new ways to enjoy Swiss Chard, I'm hoping that rediscovering the treasures I've forgotten in the pantry and freezer will keep me on my toes.  Sort of a year-long Chopped episode, but hopefully without any scary ingredients.

That is the extent of the non-resolutions we made for this year.  Small, baby steps.  The kinds of little changes we hope just become habits that we keep.

What resolutions or non-resolutions did you make this year?

Yours in Good Taste,
The Polymath


  1. No detailed resolutions...just spend less, eat fewer processed foods, and move more.

  2. Not so much of a resolution, but just more of a recognition of something that needs tweaked... Travel more. I always get trapped in the 'no time, no money, no way' loop and really, when there's a will there's a way.

  3. My husband and I are childless by choice (yay!) and have put together a financial plan that will, in the near future, allow us to do the things that are possible due to this status... Travel on a whim, indulge in the amazing restaurants around chicago, escape every winter (because if I could be on a tropical island right now and for the rest of the week, life would be much better) and provide a substantiy gift to our niece and nephews for college.
    Additionally, I have similar goals to you in regards to cooking and meal planning. I've put up a list in the kitchen of all the proteins and meal possibilities, so it becomes easier to choose and defrost in advance.
    I am also being more dilegent in fitness and have goals for weight management and becoming more active ( especially in the winter)

  4. 2013: The year I conquered my fear of baking cornbread:

    2014: Will be the year I grow something. Not sure yet if it will be just herbs to get me started or if I'll try a few vegetables as well.

  5. Love this post. I'm trying to spend less and waste less, as well. I was working on it last year and I'm going to do more to increase it. Canned foods, I buy so little of these days, but I keep them around in case the zombieapocalypse comes.

    My goals are to complete my first marathon (which has been a twarted goal since 2011) and learn to drink scotch, play chess, and weld something. Other than that, I'm just waiting for big changes in my life to finally happen.