how to know it’s january.

January 3, 2018

By the radiator, woolly layers laid out to dry.

On the windowsill, flowers. White ones.

In strollers, toddler cheeks greased to shining with salve, or else red and ruddy and in need of it.

Between the nape of your neck and the thick of your scarf, a rat’s nest.

Bedside, a new novel and a resolve to finish it before February.

In the shower, exfoliants. (Two kinds).

On the floor, pine needles. 

En route, a calendar.

On the streets, salt. 

In the fridge, a vegetable pot pie.

On fence posts, missing mittens. 

On the couch, a slipcover retucked and ready for toddler acrobatics.

In a bag, sneakers and leggings and a lock for the locker.

In process, a scarf.

On stoops, cardboard boxes marked FREE.

Curbside, trees.

Inside, the smell of peppermint and eucalyptus and lavender.

Everywhere, hope.

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  • Reply CN January 3, 2018 at 10:37 am

    Exciting …what scarf are you making /

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE January 3, 2018 at 10:38 am

      the simplest kind!

  • Reply olga January 3, 2018 at 10:48 am

    Can you suggest where to buy knitting supplies and also which exfoliants? I am happy to make mine, because I am desperate and cannot find what I like!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE January 3, 2018 at 10:57 am

      Not sure where you are, but I love the local shop Brooklyn General Store (they also ship!) and Fringe Supply Co.!

      • Reply olga January 5, 2018 at 11:50 am

        Kensington, Brooklyn, so will absolutely check it out! Thanks so much! And thanks re: exfoliants. Will make a sugar one this weekend.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE January 3, 2018 at 10:59 am

      Exfoliant-wise, James got me a Fig and Yarrow scrub for Christmas, but I also have a homemade sugar scrub going!

  • Reply Kelly Libby January 3, 2018 at 10:56 am

    So beautiful. Glad to read your words on the beginning of a new year.

    Are you working on any goals (that you’re interested in sharing)? I’m focusing Acceptance for creating a world with more calm — in my home, in my work and in the larger world. Specifically, cultivating a life with less noise and clutter — less mental clutter, less physical clutter, less emotional clutter. I cannot function well with all that junk although, it “seems” like others are just fine with it which has caused tremendous feelings of being odd, strange, weird and general not fitting in. This year, I am embracing and accepting that I cannot be somebody else. I am who I am and there is NOTHING wrong with craving a life of simplicity. For me, simplicity is more than just a simple home as I have a cozy home with extras but more so, I’m craving a life with less NOISE and clutter! And, that is my goal for ’18 — acceptance and embracing who i am (and that others are exactly who they are).

    Here’s to new beginnings and progress and simplicity.

    Happy New Year, Erin!

    • Reply sasha January 3, 2018 at 6:00 pm

      Kelly, on a similar path myself. I love Gretchen Rubin’s rule to Be Gretchen (of course you get to be Be Kelly). That simple mantra has helped me with self acceptance so much. I too am a quiet person who craves calm. And that’s a great kind of person to be.

      • Reply Kelly Libby January 4, 2018 at 11:33 am

        Thank you, Sasha. I love your name so much, I named my favorite kitty that. 🙂 Happy New Year!

    • Reply Monica Babich January 4, 2018 at 11:00 am

      Kelly, you took the words right out of me. You are definitely not alone. Well said!

  • Reply Molly January 3, 2018 at 10:59 am

    Oh January is my favorite month of the year! I try and savor every day. Nice long evenings filled with candles and glowing lights in my cozy home. Lots of guilt-free time for my favorite things …. embroidery, hand quilting, knitting, baking while enjoying a fire or binging a good show. I consider it a stress-free extension of the holidays. I wish it lasted longer!

    • Reply Katie Erin January 3, 2018 at 11:31 am

      What a lovely mindset, Molly! I usually dread January, but I’m going to practice savoring the enjoyable parts this year.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE January 3, 2018 at 11:36 am

      Agreed: lots to love!

    • Reply anne January 3, 2018 at 2:14 pm

      love this too. such an overlooked time! i will be remembering your words while savoring this winter month along with you.

    • Reply sasha January 3, 2018 at 6:02 pm

      Thank you for that Molly! I tend to get a little down this time of year, but you are right, so much to enjoy.

    • Reply Miss A January 4, 2018 at 1:05 pm

      Reminds me of the children’s book Ox Cart Man. There’s so much delight in hunkering down and keeping hands busy. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Reply Anna Maria January 3, 2018 at 11:21 am

    Absolutely loved this post, especially the end

    Also, welcome to the world of knitting. You’re going to love it.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE January 3, 2018 at 11:26 am

      Ha, thanks! I’ve been knitting for a long time, but never really advanced past the simplest knit stitch! Maybe this is the year!

      • Reply Asmah January 3, 2018 at 11:59 am

        If you’re interested in knitting socks, check out The Winwick Mum’s wonderful and simple Sockalong sock tutorial!!!! She goes through everything from different types of needles and ways to do it, with clear directions and pictures! I had only knitted scarves before this tutorial and found it surprisingly easy to make my comfy-cozy wool socks!

      • Reply Anna maria January 5, 2018 at 3:52 pm

        You can do it! I learned to knit in a little yarn store in Chicago & love the community of people that gather to knit together, I’m sure there’s similar places in Brooklyn! Also, YouTube is the best knitting tutor, especially late at night ;).

  • Reply MA January 3, 2018 at 11:25 am

    Happy New Year, Erin! This makes me smile – my world looks similar. 🙂 I’m a big fan of January. Bring on the good books, dark thrillers on Netflix, and knitting projects!
    When i was younger I loved to go cross country skiing at night in January. Now with kids, I don’t do that very often. BUT! We have a new-ish dog in our house this winter who needs a nighttime walk. So I still get outside at night, and that walk makes me really appreciate the warm couch when I get back home!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE January 3, 2018 at 11:36 am

      Lovely! I love a good nighttime walk!

  • Reply Mary Kate January 3, 2018 at 11:42 am

    In the past, I’ve always felt sad after the holidays (Christmas and fall are over! It’s cold! Undecorating is depressing!) but this year I, too, find myself happier and more hopeful than I was last month. Maybe it’s the metaphorical shedding of the past year (which was not my fave) that’s doing it this time around. In short, your post is perfect. Thanks for articulating how I’m feeling!

  • Reply Karen Trosino January 3, 2018 at 12:17 pm

    This was such a beautiful post Erin — both the writing and the photos. It almost read like poetry providing comfort and inspiration at the same time. Thank you Erin!!! Now where are my knitting needles and that book I have been meaning to get to.

  • Reply Kate January 3, 2018 at 12:43 pm

    Beautiful post! I’ve been having a tough time leaving the holidays behind this year and will use this mindset as my inspiration for the month.

  • Reply Susan Crane January 3, 2018 at 12:45 pm

    Which novel?

  • Reply Shannon January 3, 2018 at 12:53 pm

    Lovely – your words ring so familiar, and true. Here’s to hope!

  • Reply Janean January 3, 2018 at 12:54 pm

    Oh, I hope you will consider to continue this kind of format for other months or seasons. Lovely!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE January 3, 2018 at 12:55 pm

      On the list for 2018 ;)!

      • Reply Kelly Libby January 4, 2018 at 11:35 am

        I loved this format, too. But, I love all your musings. 🙂

    • Reply Molly January 3, 2018 at 1:09 pm


  • Reply laura January 3, 2018 at 1:20 pm


  • Reply Kari January 3, 2018 at 1:21 pm

    Love this. Such simple, evocative detail.

  • Reply Juliette January 3, 2018 at 2:40 pm

    Such a lovely post, it made me feel all good inside, thank you.

  • Reply Kim B. January 3, 2018 at 2:45 pm

    And, in our apartment:

    On the table, birthday cards.

    Loved this post Erin. As someone mentioned above: poetry.

    Happy New Year to you and James and your little ones.

  • Reply Bernadette January 3, 2018 at 3:20 pm

    I liked that. Your words make such nice pictures. Hoping for a good and kind year in 2018 (dare we hope for peaceful?)~warmest greetings from northern New Mexico~

  • Reply Abby January 3, 2018 at 3:48 pm

    Gorgeous. You’re making me feel way better about January (usually my least favorite month). And inspired to make my own list.

    Quick question–what kind of salve do you use for those toddler cheeks? My little one seems to get dry skin at the drop of a hat, especially now that we’re dipping down to arctic temperatures.

  • Reply Meghann January 3, 2018 at 4:19 pm

    Beautiful Erin!

  • Reply Laura January 3, 2018 at 4:39 pm

    Love this. Thank you.

  • Reply C January 3, 2018 at 5:00 pm

    More info on the salve, please? My baby’s cheeks are very much red and ruddy and in need of it 🙂 Thank you!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE January 3, 2018 at 8:55 pm

      We love this calendula salve from Skipping Goat Farm! Egyptian Magic is another forever-favorite of mine! It’s just olive oil, honey, beeswax, honey, royal jelly, and proplis! It’s a little expensive, but honestly a miracle worker! I’ve made my own, too, which is fun, but a bit more labor intensive and requires the raw materials, of course! Maybe a good idea for a wintry post though! Will think on it! (PS. I imagine this might be the same Cerise who we met on Christmas! Happy New Year!)

      • Reply C January 8, 2018 at 1:25 pm

        🙂 It is me, and I still owe you the email that’s been in my drafts for so, so, so long. Coming to you soon!
        And in the meantime, thank you very much and happy to see your post today!

  • Reply Maggie Rose January 3, 2018 at 5:44 pm

    What a lovely post Erin. I am trying my best to embrace the wonders of this month as well. I consider this month a time where we do not have to feel guilty about retreating indoors, as opposed to warmer months. Yay for new beginnings.. while many consider January 1st “just another day,” I consider it a time to reflect on what we do for ourselves, each other, and the world. I am an art teacher, but also a graduate student in Media Literacy and Digital Culture & I frequently mention your blog as an example of a positive, pleasant, and productive form of media. Thank you for your thoughtful posts, as always!

  • Reply Mackenzie @organicbutterflyblog January 3, 2018 at 5:52 pm

    Beautiful post!

  • Reply sasha January 3, 2018 at 5:56 pm

    This might be my favorite tea leaves post yet! Just lovely, thank you.

    A note about snarly hair: I just cut my longish hair to shoulder length because I could stand it no longer. We’ve been weeks at below zero weather, so hats and balaclavas and hoods and hair tickling my face and tangling. It felt quite liberating to see it hit the floor!

  • Reply Kate January 3, 2018 at 6:10 pm

    Love this! Curious about your winter workout routine with the sneakers and leggings as I could use a little gym inspiration on these cold and dark days!

  • Reply Rebecca Leduc January 3, 2018 at 6:17 pm

    Lovely post. Makes me long for New England and the cold winters of my childhood and 20s. Not sure I could ever live through another East Coast cold snap again—California has made me soft!—but I sure do miss the quiet calm of a good snowstorm and all the other wintry things you list so poetically.

  • Reply MissEm January 3, 2018 at 8:31 pm

    January’s always been a favorite month of mine, too. It always feels like clear light to me. Struggling more with it this year but I’m taking a social media break to help me on my way.

    • Reply Kelly Libby January 4, 2018 at 11:39 am

      oh, beautiful new england. I’m cozied up in pjs, twinkle lights on, tea steeping beside me in Boston as we await the blizzard. I love the forced hibernation!! 🙂

  • Reply Matilda January 3, 2018 at 8:59 pm

    This post has inspired me to observe the little things each day that bring energy and light in these winter months! Thank you.
    I was wondering where you got your wooden drying rack from? What a great idea to dry bits and pieces by the fire or radiator. Thank you!

  • Reply Roxanne January 3, 2018 at 9:40 pm

    Erin, this was a total delight to read. Thank you! xo

  • Reply Anna January 3, 2018 at 9:53 pm

    The rat’s nest line made me chuckle – it’s just sooooooo true!

  • Reply Lesley January 4, 2018 at 1:39 am

    Long time (silent) reader and I loved this post, too. Thanks for sharing your experience of this time of year. Rings true for me as well. Let’s all enjoy and take lots of deep breaths.

  • Reply April January 4, 2018 at 12:59 pm

    How lovely! I especially liked the ruddy cheeked toddler line as I have one of those myself right now.

  • Reply Liz Finch January 4, 2018 at 2:56 pm

    I adore these words, you truly capture the time. I will print this post and tuck inside my 10 year journal to read every January! XO

  • Reply becky January 5, 2018 at 10:19 am

    Also a scarf in progress, a new book fresh from the library and list of requests so I don’t miss a day of reading, and a large jar of eucerin that goes everywhere I go!

  • Reply Katharine January 5, 2018 at 10:42 am

    Oh those shiny toddler cheeks! I always remind myself to rub a little into my hands when I’m done greasing up my little guy. Squeezing tiny moments of self-care into the constant moments of kid-care makes a big difference!

  • Reply Valerie Coulton January 5, 2018 at 11:21 am

    Beautiful post

  • Reply Shelly January 5, 2018 at 5:54 pm

    I’ve asked this on another post’s comment section, but I think it got overlooked. How do you store your paperwhites in the off season? Do you freeze them, discard and buy new?

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE January 5, 2018 at 10:36 pm

      I usually compost them! Put in the fridge one year, but they shriveled!

  • Reply Cussot January 7, 2018 at 6:54 pm

    Ooo, the rat’s nest at the nape! Truth!

  • Reply Mun January 12, 2018 at 6:06 am

    So dreamy.

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