2021 MJR: Winning, Whining, Confessions, and Concessions

Welcome to one of my favorite posts of the month. It’s tradition to write about fixes (how I made something work) or failures and flops (the opposite, my attempt at a fix that flopped!), temptations, cheats, wins and fails. This My January Rest’s edition is about winning, whining, confessions, and concessions. This post gets to the heart of what has happened over the month of January and it also reveals the condition of my head and heart. Within a couple weeks, I’ll post one last MJR post to recap and reflect on how this year’s Rest went. That is helpful for processing this year’s Rest, but also next year’s, as I seek to establish what my 2022 Rest will look like!

Let’s begin! Speaking about the heart of it all. Now that I have been doing this for at least a decade, when November hits, I start envisioning what I might run out of. I seem to have a running subtotal of supplies in my head: I can’t help it. In December, there is a self-protective pull to stock up, but I avoid the temptation to buy something because I know MJR is coming: that I can help!

What happens is an honest dialogue about what I buy and what I value. In December, when I’m tempted to stock up, I know if it is truly an essential, then I don’t have to purchase it in December: I have the freedom to purchase it in January. But it does make me think about what my heart chases after, things like beauty, comfort, satisfaction, entertainment, to name a few.

We’ve been using up our COVID toilet paper. I am very glad indeed for toilet paper. When stores were bare, my husband happened upon a large package of toilet paper. He snagged it and we were set. But we soon experienced that it was not-premium-what-so-ever. As soon as he found better paper, he purchases some and we all thanked him. But guess what? We are using it now for MJR. While there is a bit of whining involved, we are winning because we have paper and we are using it up too!

As usual in meal preparation, I had to substitute several things. Because of MJR, I’ve gotten pretty good about that. To this day, there are substitutions I prefer, that I once learned because of MJR. When I made beef veggie soup, I didn’t have mixed vegetables I always use, so I had to make my own vegetable mix. And I added a few potatoes, that needed to be used, which I normally don’t. It was good!

I have quite a few small bottles of olive oil that seem to never get used much. I intentionally started using them and some of the less used oils. And, I made a new salad dressing with some Citrus Habanero Oil: I loved it! The heat paired with the sweetness of the roasted butternut squash, and the zest and crunch of the roasted garbanzo beans was a MJR win and treat!

A couple of my tasty salads. Top was with Citrus Habanero oil in the dressing, Yum!
A portion of my squash variety

Squash galore! We ended up with quite a few squash. Two of them I hadn’t heard of before, Mashed Potato squash and Sweet Potato squash. The Mashed Potato Squash was not so exciting. You can see my fix for it below. The Sweet Potato squash? Bring in on, yum! I also tried my new spiralizer for Thai Zucchini and Chicken Recipe, using butternut squash in place of zucchini. It was wonderful! I love being creative in the kitchen, so MJR gives me an extra excuse to play with my food.

Sweet potato squash finished with butter, milk, and a bit of cinnamon (spaghetti squash was for a separate meal)
Well, I tried (really hard) to make the Mashed Potato squash yummy, but I ended up covering it with Colby-Jack and calling it a day.
Butternut squash for the Thai dish, and remainder roasted for salads

I’ve had a couple of other great wins: one is that I haven’t snacked. When I truly couldn’t wait for a meal (often I’ve missed breakfast, or dinner got really delayed waiting for my teen to get off work) I’d eat an apple. I ate only a handful of them, because I only had a small bag, and I still have two left! Plus, I’ve used up a lot of tea! When my allowed drinks are water, one decaf coffee a day, and tea (and no snackingno, I’m not whining, yet), it is mind-blowing how exciting a cup of tea can become!

Let the whining begin! Coffee was my biggest obsession. Probably, because I had COVID, I have been super tired some days: I’ve so badly wanted an extra cup of decaf coffee. The boundary I set for The Rest was one cup per day: BUT I WANTED another cup of coffee to suck out that little bit of caffeine that it contains. I didn’t give in. The real whining is that while I was using up coffee that got buried in the freezer, it wasn’t yummy or even good. It was, however, coffee. While I had COVID, my awesome husband was making me a cup of my favorite every morning. When I got out of quarantine, I had to start using up the old stuff. Guess what? It lasted until the bitter end. On January 31, I finished off the old stuff. It was hard to drink, but I did it! And I had a win, I was grateful for having coffee at all, and the warmth of it in the cold. It was a victory that after complaining in my head, I was able to change my complaint into gratitude.

Just plain bad stuff (I don’t care if it did cost a pretty penny and it looked all classy too!)

I found Christmas Soda in the fridge. I bought it for our girl for a special Christmas Eve toast. She didn’t like it. Neither did my husband. Me neither, but I thought I would drink it: hey, I paid good money for it! When January hit and I became sugar free, I cut the losses, took a picture, and poured it down the drain. Christmas soda? Bah humbug!

Since coffee and my lack of satisfaction with it was my biggest issue, let’s start with the Dunkin’ Donuts yucky coffee confession! My daughter offered to pick me up coffee. Now, this was a kind but not an everyday request from my girl. I had a Starbucks gift card: my goal was to not spend new money. But, she went to Dunkin’ Donuts and since I hadn’t had coffee yet for the day, I cracked and said to get a black coffee. Bad choice and I paid for it, both ways: money and the bad taste in my mouth. Since it was later in the day, I envisioned that pot of decaf coffee sitting there, burning on the bottom. Or, at least that was what it tasted like. Call it stubborn or what-you-will. I made myself drink most of it, instead of making myself a new (old-yet-better-tasting) cup of coffee!

My last coffee confession might not be a cheat: I added cinnamon to try to make it taste better (I am laughing at myself!). I said no sugar, cream, or sugar free sweetener, and that I would drink it black. Technically, I didn’t cheat, it certainly was still black and regrettably, I cannot say it tasted any better!

A few confessions revolve around salsa. My husband helped a friend with downed tree limbs, and in return, she gave him some F’N hot salsa and some other hot goodies. Yes, it was flaming hot! Since I wasn’t snacking, I had a handful of chips with salsa as a part of my dinner. It tasted good, so I tasted some more and before long, my tongue was in flaming misery. That is why I cheated. In order to put my tongue out of its misery, I allowed myself a small glass of milk (not on my ok list). Next time, my family went and helped, and they were given more salsa. Sadly they ran out of taco chips! Normally, I wouldn’t purchase more, because we had other snacks that could be eaten. Salsa was their gift for helping and it is MY January Rest, so I okayed my husband to buy more, but I’m didn’t eat them.

Salsa with love for a job done in love

Usually I put things on my February grocery list (so husband doesn’t purchase them in January), but a couple days ago, I put items on the regular list, not knowing he would stop at the store before February. I should have known! Yes, he bought the few of the items on the list, two days early. Again, I didn’t use them until February. 

Oops! Lemon shake-ups anyone?

While I have done awesome with not snacking, early on I ate a bit of bacon as I was waiting for supper. No snacking makes this girl hungry, and it was in my mouth before I even thought about it! As time went on, I caught on and I didn’t mindlessly snack, absentmindedly snack, or even sneak snack! One shopping oops was that I forgot to check to see if we needed lemons, and I grabbed a bag. We had too many limes too. We have put them to good use, and they will not go to waste. 

One of the hardest temptations I had, was ginger ale. My stomach was upset and I wanted ginger ale in the worst way. It was more of an emotional want, because I didn’t feel well, than a need for it. I’ve been taking a daily injection for my bones and it makes me feel crappy most nights, which makes me want to eat. I drank a carbonated water (not sweet). The next day, I was glad I overcame the temptation.

I added a category this year, concessions. I set boundaries for myself, but there are times I feel that going outside of the boundary is warranted. There are always situations that come up during MJR that challenge me to assess my desires and choices. That is part of the beauty. A concession is permission granted or something that is conceded to where you allow a thing.

Years ago during MJR, I was more strict and I had the ability to be that way because my young daughter didn’t know any better. My husband wasn’t home all day, every day working from home: he had snacking opportunities outside my view when at work. And, as I said, it is My January Rest, but they have been supportive and even participated for the most part. There were situations that I conceded because of special circumstances. As years went on, I started building some allowances, aka concessions into My RestI just never called them concessions. I like the concept!

Dill Picke Popcorn

Besides taco chips for salsa, here they are! My husband called from the store and said they had dill pickle flavored popcorn. Our daughter’s friend loves dill pickles, so I told him to pick up one bag.

Shower goodies

One of the perks of having COVID is that the Health Department said I have around 90 days where I’m protected from COVID. That changed a lot of my perspective. Instead of declining an in-person baby shower, I went. I admitted to my accountability group that I was going, and that if they had a gluten free treat, I’d probably have something. They did and I did: two small cookies. My big win was that they had a hot chocolate bar, stocked with Andes Mints, chocolate chips, mini marshmallows, whipped cream, and other goodies: I did not have any!


Life is short. In January, I had someone give me a gift that blessed me tremendously. After a woman from my church died of COVID, then I got it, I decided that there were a few gifts I needed to give, now. I could have waited, but the world is hard right now and I wanted to do something to bless, now. Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Proverbs 3:27. I didn’t spend money on me, they were concessions. I simply granted myself permission to do something that brought me joy, and would bring joy—because it was in my power to do it.

Our friends brought two bottles of sparkling cider to celebrate finally getting our new refrigerator, after five long months of living out of two dorm fridges and a beverage fridge. Celebrate we did! Yes, I said no juice, other than a cup in a smoothie. But, celebrating was worth the concession: as a family we had a celebratory toast. I’ll probably remember the happy for the rest of my life!

The other concession occurred because I didn’t think about needing juice for home communion. With attending church online, we have communion at home. The only juice I had was apple cider. I don’t think Jesus would mind. Beside it is a bit poetic to take the preverbal apple, that Eve ate that got us into the problem to begin with, and use the juice of it to celebrate the covenant of His repairing the problem. With a grateful heart, I drank my apple cider communion.

I’m grateful for so much. I’m grateful for all that I have and that by resting from a few things, my gratitude increased tremendously. I’m grateful for those of you who follow my journey and those who enter into their own Rest. I’m excited to process this month and share my findings, like how limiting movie watching and not playing games affected me. And I’m excited to hear from those of you who participated. Each year I am encouraged and blessed by what I learn.

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