As a child, January always seemed like a bit of a let down. After weeks of build-up to Christmas, the big day itself finally arrived, stuffed full of opening presents, wonderful meals, and family get-togethers and games of Crazy-Eights and Monopoly. Of course, thank-you notes had to be written, but the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve was a wonderful time to sleep in, hang out with friends, catch a movie or two, play with the dog, and go with my parents to take one last look at the Christmas lights and visit a local museum. And then January arrived and suddenly all the Christmas decorations disappeared, it was back to school and winter loomed for weeks ahead.

When my sons were young, January went by in a blur. Those Christmas decorations didn’t just disappear – they had to be put away. Having expended all my kitchen creativity during the month of December, I found myself making the same old boring dinners night after night. Getting the boys back into the routine of school and homework was always a challenge, as was getting myself back into work. I have worked at various times in my life in a fabric shop, managing a craft and gift store, being the sole proprietor of a restaurant, and selling cars at several dealerships. I didn’t focus solely on writing other than stories, songs, and poems for my sons until I was in my 40s.

Hanukkah, the eight-day Jewish festival of lights and religious freedom

Mount Baker at sunset. Piper and I love our walks—although she objects to rainy weather. But every now and then, the cold, clear winter air is perfect for snapping pictures.

Nowadays, I look forward to January. It’s become a month of rejuvenation for me. Yes, the Christmas décor still has to be put away, the house tidied up and I still have to cook dinner, but I also make time to take care of myself. Living in the Pacific Northwest with its abundant seafood makes getting back into my regular eating habit of grains, fruits, vegetables and lean protein easy. With the daily treat of dark chocolate, of course!

Zucchini Pizza Bites

3 large zucchini, sliced into 1/4″ rounds
Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
1/4 c. marinara or pizza sauce
1/3 c. shredded mozzarella
1/3 c. mini pepperoni
Dried oregano, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 400°. Place zucchini on a baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Bake until slightly tender, 5 minutes.

Spoon a thin layer of sauce over each slice, then top with mozzarella and mini pepperoni. Sprinkle with dried oregano and bake until zucchini is tender and cheese is melted, 10 minutes.

With the Christmas tree out of the way, I will reorganize my reading nook, add a new throw pillow or blanket and some fresh flowers. I’ll pour myself a cup of tea, enjoy reading, or polish a manuscript.

Enter Kate's giveaway by April 25

To help you take some time for self-care this month, I’m giving away a $100 Amazon Gift Card plus a copy of my latest novel, A Lancaster Family Secret or another of my books if you’ve already purchased a copy. US and Canada only. Winner will be announced Tuesday, January 24 and has three days to respond to my email. Only by responding to my email can you win.