Tales From A Hungry Life

January 16, 2015

January’s Makeover

by Maria Schulz

Here it is, January 16th, and I’ve already managed to completely forget my New Year’s resolutions. I haven’t been to the gym in a week; decided that cookies were the enemy of my enemy and therefore my friends; and have been wallowing in writer’s block for weeks now.


The rush and excitement of the holidays are over, and January is like that high school friend you see on the train that you wish you had continued to ignore. But no, you made eye contact and now you’re stuck with her. So here are my ways to make January a better friend, if only because the ride has to end eventually:

10 Ways to Make January Prettier, Funnier, And Less Annoying

  1. Start a petition for a new Charlie Brown January special. I just lived through three consecutive months of Charlie Brown shows including, It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown; Happy Thanksgiving, Charlie Brown; and A Charlie Brown Christmas. How can I be expected to be cheerful in January without a Charlie Brown fix? My show would be called January’s A Bummer, Charlie Brown, and it would be filled with scenes of a snow bound “Chuck” contemplating how bored he is while Linus quotes Sartre and Goethe; an angry phone call in which he tells Peppermint Patty that no, she can’t come over uninvited and yes, she should go to hell; and one where he finally kicks the football before Lucy pulls it away, and then possibly slaps/chokes Lucy for being such a jerk.
I look as sad as Charlie Brown did in "Snoopy, Come Home"

I look as sad as Charlie Brown did in “Snoopy, Come Home”

  1. Notice January’s best qualities and try to hold onto them. For instance, when I get out of work at night now, it’s not pitch black outside. This may seem like a small thing to most people, but when you get to work in sunlight and leave in utter darkness, it makes you feel like you just worked an 18 hour shift. Any sunlight is an improvement, even if it only lasts a few minutes.
  1. Clean, clean, clean. Welcome January as a time that you can clean out your closets, recycle unused clothing, and donate library books you haven’t read in a dog’s age…because who wants to do any of that once the sun is shining and the weather outside is less than frightful?
  1. Embrace your inner Julia Child. The kitchen may be the one place you can actually wear a tee-shirt and cropped pants thanks to that hot oven and stove. Now is the time for soup, stews, casseroles, and lasagna. See? If you look hard enough, you can always find something good about January.
Julia Child photo. Bachrach/Getty Images

Julia Child photo. Bachrach/Getty Images

  1. Catch up on your reading. I always feel a little bit guilty sitting inside reading a book in the Spring, Summer, and Fall. But Winter—January especially—is the perfect time to lounge on the couch like Cleopatra in a snuggly. I try to avoid anything too deep or depressing, since being trapped inside already makes me want to end it all. This is the time of year that celebrity memoirs were made for.
Let's read. And talk. And eat.

Let’s read. And talk. And eat.

  1. Go for a walk. Yeah, I know that January stinks weather wise. It’s cold out! It could start snowing at any moment! I could slip and crack my head open like a watermelon! So what. I’m not saying you should hire a Sherpa and go to the top of Mount Everest. Just grab the dog (or sign up to walk a dog at your local animal shelter) and get out there. A 20-minute walk around the ‘hood will get your blood pumping and make you less depressed. Plus you can rationalize that not going to the gym is okay. Win/win.
  1. Go to the gym. You could look at a gym visit as totally depressing and a waste of time because you’ll never lose the weight, and all the good machines are taken up by other fatties like yourself who won’t even be here come March. OR…you could wait until the peak times pass (don’t go at 6 or 7…go at 7:45 pm, when everyone is home eating cookies) and get in an hour of exercise. You may never look like Jane Fonda (even at 78), but at least you won’t be laying on the couch crying that you’ll never even look as good as Jane Fonda.


  1. Help someone else. Are you related to an older person who won’t leave the house from October until May because they could slip and kill themselves? Drop by their house and visit them. Bring some groceries, the last book you read and enjoyed, and some amusing stories from the outside world. You may just learn a thing or two from someone who has a lot to teach you. Plus, you’ll both feel better about life in general, and you will have spent at least some time this month not being a slug.
  1. Call a friend. You know how you always say, “I meant to call So and So, but I’ve been so busy…” You’re not too busy right now. You’re stuck inside! There’s nothing to watch on television! YOU’RE BORED SENSELESS! Nothing will cheer you up faster than talking to someone special on the phone. Laughing and reminiscing with them will leave a smile on your face for at least the rest of the day. Plus, your friend will be so happy to hear from you (finally). Again, win/win.
Go old school

Go old school

  1. Dress to impress, or at least not to offend. Yes, it’s tempting to wear your ratty old sweatshirt, baggy pants, and no makeup all January long. But if you make the effort to NOT look like a big fat loser, maybe you won’t feel like one. Or maybe you’ll just treat yourself a little bit nicer, instead of wasting the whole month thinking about how awful you look. I’m not saying you should hire a designer and start walking the red carpet…although that would be kinda cool. You know what? Go for it! And let me know how that works out for you.

Just don’t stand next to Jane Fonda.


Recipe: Lasagna

I love lasagna, but I also love not feeling like I just gained 20 pounds after one meal. So this collection of healthier lasagna recipes appealed to me. However, I doubt I will ever make Butternut Kale Lasagna. I will try the Classic Light Bolognese Lasagna and the Turkey Sausage and Spinach Lasagna. Check it out—and find a delicious, healthier lasagna recipe to enjoy this month.


So, Hungry Lifers…what’s your favorite way to spend a January day? Which lasagna recipe looks good to you? Do you wish you looked half as good as Jane Fonda? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks!



  1. January always felt good And Bad to me. I was like that Roman God with two faces, one looking backward, at the opportunities missed, people I will no longer see and the other looking forward to new opportunities, solidifying current family and other relationships and a whole host of new, good things that should, and will happen. But January AND February are the two rawest, coldest months for us New Yorkers so I’d like to see them come and go quickly. I have to admit March and April are a bit rough months too, the blizzard of 1888 which changed New York City completely with all wires going underground happened March 13. But even though these months can be fickle they aren’t as bad Jan. & Feb.

    Comment by Bglou — January 16, 2015 @ 10:38 am | Reply

  2. It’s funny (ironic) you post this because if you go to my page ‘timeline’ page for last Saturday the 10th, you will actually see how it is that I spent a January Day… I accomplished 7 out of the Top 10 you listed. I didn’t do #10. I didn’t do #7. And, well, # 1 is out of the question. So here’s hoping that I will have the same day tomorrow, actually it will be better because this weekend is a 3 Day weekend!! I will probably roast a chicken (since I think we are all souped out) and I will try and use my new Pilates Studio that I ordered and work out my old and creaky limbs! Here’s hoping and later in the evening i have some rum or wine to get cozy with! Happy January! Oh yeah and chocolate candy! Drinking always goes good with chocolate candy.

    Comment by Anne — January 16, 2015 @ 8:20 pm | Reply

  3. Besides the lengthening daylight, the best thing about January is once you’re almost to the end, you realize February is a short month and that means March will soon arrive. Then spring, Easter, and glorious summer! Frightening that I feel this way, and I live in the south now!

    Comment by wordimprovisor177 — January 20, 2015 @ 11:37 am | Reply

  4. At this stage of the game I am more realistic & know if I take on less and actually do it – it makes me happy. Am forced to do #6 ever since daughter adopted hyperactive dog that put me in unwelcome position of its main caretaker & will do #9 – need to call & talk to you more often this year!!

    Comment by pml — January 21, 2015 @ 11:30 am | Reply

  5. Maria, I hate January! I feel trapped in the house and if I have to go out with the heavy coat, hat, gloves, and scarf I feel like the kid in A Christmas Story. I am taking advantage of reading the books I got for Christmas and catching up on shows I taped over the Christmas season. Unfortunately my appetite has grown and its a fight not to eat everything in sight. Would I like to look half as good as Jane Fonda, hell yes, I’d even wear a dress!

    Comment by Tony Lagalante — January 24, 2015 @ 4:06 pm | Reply

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