Marking The Year

Marking The Year: The Traditions That Sustain Us

As you read through the blog posts here on Pickles and Bacon you will find a that there are many traditions we adhere to in our household. These traditions act as an anchor throughout the year, designating the seasons and pulling us through the year more intentionally. These traditions mark the year for us as a family.

Marking the year is simply recognizing the daily, weekly and monthly observances related to feast days and celebrations within the Catholic Church, birthdays and anniversaries within the family, and seasonal cultural celebrations. As we do this we are drawn to look forward in anticipation to the traditions that have sustained us throughout our lives and develop fond memories of times spent together, whether it be in a dimly lit chapel with incense swirling and monastic chant or in our living room unwrapping presents from under the tree to Christmas melodies.

As a family we have even created a Shutterfly photo book outlining the traditions our particular family adheres to, with pictures from past observances to capture the memories of those times. The photo book is used as a compendium to our family calendar to help us remember and sustain the traditions that have been engraved in our hearts.

To learn more about the traditions that sustain us, search the site for the tag “traditions.”


Hygge and Health

Hygge and Health

Happy New Year!

It’s 2022, yet still no flying cars. Who would have thought?

This year we are hoping to focus much of our time, effort, and money on hygge and health. We are excited about this focus because we feel it’s something we need in our lives to help combat our chronic stress. You see, much chronic stress has developed for us over the years because we have feverishly and compulsively reacted to the demands of each thought. This had led to packed schedules and an overactive focus on ‘getting stuff done’ to return to a place of peace in our lives. The problem with this approach, however, is that the more we get done the more there is to do. Thoughts are never ending.

Reflecting back on our lives over the past decade and a half we have always felt the need to have space to process, to think, to be. We have lost this in recent time and since our thoughts are never ending, and we cannot create more time, the best thing we can do is create space. In creating space, we want to create space that is cozy, relaxing, intimate. There is a word for this type of experience, it’s called hygge (pronounced hoo-ga).

Naturally, we did what any crazy person who is trying to learn to relax does – we grabbed books from the library and researched hygge a bit. We then crafted a list (see below) of both indoor and outdoor activities we could look to when we have space created and want to break out of constant churn of to-do’s and settle into something like reading a book out loud to the children while drinking a hot beverage or lowering the lights, putting the fireplace on, and building a blanket fort. This list would serve to function not as a to-do list but as an ‘at-a-glance’ worksheet to help us think differently since our brains are so stuck in automatic thought patterns that focus on action.

In order to build space into our routine, we deflected some of the items on our schedule that normally take up that space, let go of the guilt that accompanied by not doing those things, and adopted a mindset of flexibility (i.e. it’s late, but let’s let the kids be up another 30 minutes and not feel so much pressure about bedtime since we’re doing this thing as a family right now).

With regards to health, I have decided to alter my diet this year and adopt the diet the family has, which is gluten free, dairy free, and egg free. I have also decided to eliminate beer, go off coffee, cut back significantly on eating out (think greasy, non-quality food) and late-night snacking, and to focus more strategically on eating a diet that could assist my autoimmune disorder. I went through the cabinets, got rid of the food that did not align and began aligning the shopping list with my new go-to’s which includes items like fermented foods and drinks, chicken breast, bone broths, paleo granolas, tuna, salad, and yogurt.

The transition to adopt the GF, DF, EF diet wasn’t as hard as I’d assumed. I mostly ate that way at dinner because it was a family meal, I just had to adapt my breakfast and lunch staples and what I snacked on. Cutting the beer was emotionally difficult because I enjoyed it, but I didn’t always feel the best after drinking it anyways – I typically felt lethargic and tired. Learning to ‘want’ fermented foods has been more difficult, but with time I know these things will help my gut health and help me feel my best.

We’re also focusing throughout the year on making our own fermented foods, crackers, breads, etc. because it’s cheaper and healthier. We even tried making our own yogurt, but that didn’t turn out so hot. In addition to changing diet and making more of our own foods, we also are added more supplements into our routine – taking cell salts, apple cider vinegar, probiotics, and upping the kids’ daily vitamins. I even decided to get a manual treadmill for the basement (which was cheaper than my gym membership and gave me greater flexibility). In a truly hygge-esque moment that treadmill box has now become a fort for the kids and takes up 1/8th of our bedroom!

We’re excited for 2022. We know we won’t accomplish all this overnight and it’ll be a year long pursuit of making small changes regularly but having the focus on hygge and health helps to keep us focused as we make decisions each day.

We hope your year is full of anticipation and promise!


Building Community

Building Community

“It takes a village to raise a child,” right? We’ve all heard the African proverb, whether relating it directly to raising a child or otherwise. However, in today’s culture we scarcely find a consistent villager let alone a whole village!

This proved to be the case for us when after college we moved out of state leaving behind the initial community we had forged in our first years as a young married couple. After a few hops between states as we sought to find a place to take root, we once again began that work of building out our community.

The loss of community can be quite devastating. The relationships you relied on can significantly change in the blink of an eye. To have community, true community, is to not only have digital connections but to also have geographically close friends whom you can rely on. It’s about having mutual connections to support each other as you navigate life, raise children, and to give each other the much needed reprieve in often busy, chaotic, and stressful lives.

In our experience the foundation of community has been through shared mutual interests. When seeking to build community we have followed the steps below to guide us:

Plan

If you know something is on the horizon that will change your community life, such as you’re planning to make a move, first consider the impact. Consider whether the change will improve your community life overall or if it will it be detrimental. If its going to be detrimental, is the change necessary? If it is, then plan ahead and get engaged, for example, with local groups or individuals who have shared interests. Social media helps a great deal here because you can begin connecting with other communities ahead of time to get a sense of what opportunities exist for “plugging in.”

Fortunately, for us, our last move we had a couple of connections in the area already through mutual shared interests. When moving that was immensely helpful because they helped organize people to assist with unloading our moving truck, they brought us food when we arrived, and they actively checked in on us early on while we were settling in. We quickly became friends with these individuals through this experience and have since only strengthened those bonds.

Get Involved

Get out and get involved with the local community by volunteering or joining local shared interest groups, whether it’s a gardening club, an exercise club, a hiking group, or a local church. For us, we are Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) Catholics, so when getting involved in the community we looked for TLM parishes and were able to connect with families of similar age groups. Because of the array of TLM communities and traditional monasteries in our area we were able to connect not only with the chapel we attend weekly, but also with other TLM communities and monastic communities. This has helped us find our “place” in the community and gave us a diverse resource pool to access, including sourcing us when we recently sought a “Mothers’ Helper” to assist us around the house during the week.

Host Events/Groups

Beyond getting involved with already existing local shared interest groups, think about what interests you have and what you could offer others. The interests may overlap with existing groups or events and from there you can share an invite with that audience. Or your interest may be a niche interest. If so, that gives you the opportunity to offer something new to the community. When thinking about where to post flyers about your event, think about places where you are most comfortable and where you think you’d connect well with others in that community.

If you were able to connect with other families in the area through getting involved (the previous step) you could then also host events for those individuals/families to gather together. Offer up your home for a girls’ night or guys’ night, crafting, seasonal holiday events, or play dates. Outside the home offer up outings for fall cleanups, going to the park, playground, museum or brewery. Cast a wide net and don’t be discouraged if everyone cannot make it.

In the past I have hosted a monthly hiking group and as a family we have hosted book clubs, girls’ nights, countless playdates, and celebrations for anything – including annual Halloween movie-a-thons and a “Pie Friendsgiving” event for our friends where we all brought pie to share the week prior to Thanksgiving. Any event can bring you together with community if you find a way to celebrate it!

Next Steps to Consider

  • List out all your interests, even the most benign mundane crazy niche interests. Get them written down.
  • Think about the local volunteer opportunities, groups, or events that correspond to your interest. You can check social media or any number of local meetups, coffee shops, parishes, etc for information on local groups as well.
  • Consider if you would like to host events or groups related to your interests. If so, consider:
    • Which interests you want to pursue first. If you have various interests, prioritize them and start small with one or two as your focus
    • Decide what the format or agenda of the event or group would be
    • Decide where the group would meet
    • Decide on your target audience (young families? fathers? mothers? Catholics?)
    • Offer enticements (cocktails, coffee, tea, an activity)
    • Decide on a cadence for meeting
    • Promote your new event or group online, with your social network, at coffee shops or libraries, or at your parish!

Some Examples of Flyers