January is normally a doldrums month for me. All the light and glitter and celebratory spirit of Christmas has been put away, it’s dark and cold, the landscape is almost barren, nothing exciting is going on, and it will be months yet before spring. But this year it hasn’t been so bad. There were a few overcast, very cold days when I only wanted to hibernate, but overall I think keeping busy has kept me distracted. Maybe I’ve been taking my own advice for the winter blues. 🙂
We’ve had two family outings this month, whereas we normally might have only a handful a year, so that might be one thing that livened up January. One Saturday we went to the Ripley’s Mirror Maze in Gatlinburg and then a favorite Mexican food restaurant. Last Saturday we went to the Chocolatefest in Knoxville – or, as Timothy put it, the “chocolate party.” 🙂 The event itself was a disappointment, though. I had envisioned a large room with rows and rows of chocolate-themed items. There were a few tables of chocolate items, but the others were mainly jewelry and clothes with assorted other odds and ends. There was one section you could only go into if you bought a “tasting ticket” for $20, and that’s evidently where most of the chocolate was. If you went there you got a box or bag you could fill up with goodies. But I don’t know if we could have collected enough to have made it worth $20 times four people. We didn’t think until afterwards that we could have had one of us go there and then we all could have shared the loot. 🙂 But I did bring home a few chocolate purchases, and Timothy enjoyed some “monster blue” ice cream (and showing me his blue tongue and teeth) and got to do a little activity at a kid’s table, and we enjoyed looking at the cake-decorating entries. And we went to one of his favorite restaurants afterward, so we had fun together even if the event itself wasn’t the best.
Jim and I have also done a bit of furniture-shopping. The padding on our couch and loveseat arms has gotten so thin we can feel the wood underneath when we lean against them, and the fabric is worn, with a few holes starting to show. We spent one Saturday looking at a few places and found one set that might work. There’s at least one more place I’d like to go. We found one place that had the Magnolia Home furniture. I loved the style, but they didn’t seem to have a combination that fit what we needed. It also might have been more expensive, but I don’t think I looked at prices much since I didn’t see anything I thought would work. We’d like to find a sofa, loveseat, recliner combination, or at least a sofa and loveseat, and then we can buy a recliner individually. We saw a lot of sets with, instead of a recliner, a huge oversized chair and footstool. I don’t think we’d have the space for it, and besides, some of the family like the reclining function.
Speaking of furniture shopping – furniture showrooms are my least favorite places to shop in. We almost never buy anything on our first look-through: we’re just seeing what’s out there, checking prices, testing out how they feel, etc., then we go home and think about it or go other places and look some more. I’m generally slow to make up my mind anyway, but I want big purchases to last for years and not have to go through this whole process again any time soon. As soon as you walk through a showroom, a salesperson greets you, which is fine, but they don’t seem to want to leave you alone even though you tell them you’re “just looking.” It’s good if you can find one easily when you have a question, but they can’t help you decide what you like and don’t like. It just takes time and looking around to decide that, and their constant questions and suggestions just make me want to leave, which is, I would think, not their goal. I’ve enjoyed more some little out-of-the way furniture places over the years, but the ones we went to when we first moved here have gone out of business.
During a lot of the year, Jim has grass to mow or projects to work on Saturdays, so it has been fun to do some other things together. Altogether I think I have begun to appreciate January as a restful spot between other busy times.
On the creative front, not much has been going on except that I have been sorting through, cleaning out, and shaping up my craft files. Seeing what I have there has been stirring my creative juices. I have not sewn clothes in a very long time – just curtains and pillows and such – but I saw a dress the style of which I loved in a catalog a few days ago. But the dress itself was around $135 – which is about 3-4 times more than I usually pay for dresses. I’ve been looking around to see if I can find a pattern similar to it. If I can find something I can adapt, I just may be spending some time with the sewing machine soon.
Around the house, besides the usual tasks and the files mentioned above, I spent some time rearranging my books shelves, making a place for new books I want to keep, pulling a few books out to give away. I love looking at the neat and tidy (is that redundant?) results. There are a couple of boxes of books in two different closets I want to go through next, and then our other filing cabinets. I’ve been in a sorting and organizing mood lately, and I usually don’t have time (or inclination) to tackle a whole room at once, but these smaller spaces catch my eye and call to me occasionally.
January was also a good month for reading, as I shared yesterday. Last year for the Back to the Classics challenge, I thought it would be good to get my biggest book (Middlemarch) out of the way first. But I felt like I was stuck on the one book for a very long time. This year I started off with some of the shorter classics, and I think I like that approach better. It feels like I’ve made good progress on my reading goals already. Trust: A Godly Woman’s Adornment by Lydia Brownback has been both a challenge and and encouragement. I’m about finished with Isaiah in my current trek through the Bible, and Trust has been been gently hitting some of the same lessons, that anything we’re trusting in other than God will fail us, and that He is the only perfectly reliable and trustworthy One. Not reliable in the sense that He’ll always do what we think best, but He will always do what He knows best, even if it means letting our false props fail us in order to draw our attention back to Himself.
The other thing we’ve been into the last moth – don’t laugh – is HQ Trivia. My oldest son told us about it when he was here for Christmas and now we all play. It’s an app for your phone where there is a live quiz at 3 p.m. Eastern time on weekdays and every evening at 9 p.m. There are 12 trivia questions (occasionally 15) that start off ridiculously easy and then get much harder. There is a cash prize of $2,500 (sometimes more!), and the people who win that quiz split the money. So far the highest I have gone is 7 questions: Jim got all the way to the end before missing the last question last night. It’s been fun to do together, and if Jason and Mittu are here at 9, we all play together. And, you can get extra lives by referring people, so, though I am NOT mentioning this just to get extra lives – if you decide you want to try it out and wouldn’t mind putting barbarah06 in as a referral code, I would be very appreciative. 🙂
- When everything fails. “It’s not that God orchestrates problems in our lives to create a need for Him: rather, He strips everything away to reveal a need that was already there that we couldn’t see or hadn’t paid attention to. Sometimes He has to show us that nothing else is sufficient to meet that need before we’ll turn to Him.”
- What do you know? “It’s true that knowledge can “puff up” with pride, but rather than avoiding gaining knowledge, we need to remind ourselves that “If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know” (1 Corinthians 8:2), and we need to remind ourselves that the purpose of gaining knowledge is to better know the Lord and serve Him and others.”
- God’s Back. “If this is the back of God – merciful, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love, forgiving sin – what must the front be?“
And I think that about wraps up January. In February, we look forward to Valentine’s Day (which we make kind of a big deal of as a family), my daughter-in-law’s birthday, and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Reading Challenge! And maybe some new furniture! And one month closer to spring!
(Sharing with What I’m Into at Leigh Kramer)