I’m no stranger to cooking chicken on a stove, but just about anything outside of that is foreign territory. A fact that’s always drove Alexis a little crazy. So I challenged myself to cook everyday of April. Seemed like a simple way to make her happy while also learning a thing or two along the way.

I focused on cooking dinners. It ended up not being an everyday event when leftovers were factored in, but it was somewhere a little over twenty days total. Also forgot to take a few pictures.

At the start of the month I was reading and rereading every recipe as if it were a complex math problem. But by the end, I was feeling more loose and fluent with it all and the time between prepping and eating was cut down a lot. Unfortunately after a month of working at it, I’m still not a Michelin Star rated chef. Go figure. The reality is, a lot was learned, I’m better off in the kitchen than I was on day one, and Alexis and I had some fun together.

My biggest takeaways? Recipes can sometimes be more suggestive than prescriptive. Roasted seasoned chickpeas are amazing. Sour cream is in more things than I’d ever known (or like to know). Zesting is a thing. You can never have enough olive oil in the house, but you can certainly have too much of it in a pan. I had the smoke filled kitchen to prove that last one.

I accomplished exactly what I set out to do this past month, and I’m honestly excited to keep up with it and have cooking be a more regular part of our daily life. I just hope the fire department never needs to get involved.

I challenged myself to track everything I ate for all of March. I wanted to get a better idea of what was going in the tank. Calories, nutrients, all that. Figured it’d be an easy one. Wow was I wrong.

Plenty of apps out there help you log what you’re eating and I started using one straight away. Learned pretty quick though, if I wanted accurate measurements, I’d have to do some actual measuring. Who’d have thought? That meant weighing food and preparing every single meal from scratch. That was way beyond what I mentally signed up for, and not really something I was interested in doing. So I quit.

I logged my best guesses of what I was eating, but they were just guesses. It wasn’t working, and I didn’t want to waste the month. So after just a few days I switched gears and took on about as unrelated a challenge I could think of. Learning to play the ukulele.

Alexis got me a ukulele for Christmas a few years back, and it’s hung on my wall untouched ever since. Always wanted to learn it, so figured I’d give it go. I know how to play a guitar, so there’s familiarity there, but it’s still a different instrument. If it were the same, I’d be able to play it the day I got it. I spent around 15 minutes every day watching and playing along with tutorials. Chord shapes, strumming rhythms, and a few songs. Some days even an hour would slip by while I played.

There’s still a lot to learn, but it’s pretty cool to think that just a few weeks ago my ukulele was just wall decoration, but today it’s another outlet for happiness. This one was a lot of fun for me, and I’m so glad I did it. Sure as hell beats weighing chicken breast seven days a week.

Some ukulele playing by yours truly.

I can feel the eyes rolling across the internet of anyone reading this, but they say writing it down makes it that much more real. What prompted me to do this, other than being the start of a new year, is just how stagnant my days have been feeling. This has been true for a while now. That may seem ridiculous to anyone who knows how my time is spent, and I agree. I’m absolutely doing a lot. I seemingly go to more birthdays in a year than I’ve had birthdays in my life. Always on the move, going here, there, or wherever. Traveling the world with my best friends. Last year I was in 4 new countries, Hawaii twice, Seattle twice, Nashville, Salt Lake City, Zion, Las Vegas and Florida. Laughing and making memories all a long the way. Life is not dull for me, I know this, and I do feel truly grateful for all the color my friends and family bring to my life, and grateful for the vibrancy of those colors.

Still I feel personally stagnant. I don’t feel growth. There are so many things I want to do that I’m not doing. So many things that I want to change that I’m not changing. This is me doing something about that, writing a list like every other starry-eyed sucker at the start of a new year. After thinking on it a while, I came up with three things that I want to strive for everyday of the year.

Learn Unreal Engine. This is a big one. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for years and has the potential to open so many new doors in life. It’ll take a lot of time, energy, and discipline, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t dreading it. Probably why it’s taken me so long to commit to it. But I kinda see it like when I first started learning guitar. Sore fingers, the awful sound of dead strings, and so much frustration. It was a real mess. But I did learn, and all that past frustration ended up bringing me a lot of happiness, still to this very day. So yeah, I’m dreading it. But I’m also hopeful and excited.

Exercise at least every other day. I’ll be 34 this year. At 24 my health and fitness was a very different picture. No question, I’m not as fit or as healthy I was 10 years ago. That doesn’t feel great, but it’s okay. I’m older, responsibilities have multiplied, priorities have shifted. I get it. But days, weeks, or even months gone by without honest exercise just isn’t gonna cut it for me. The goal isn’t working out hours on end, taking bicep measurements in front of a mirror. The goal is just to be more responsible about staying consistently active.

No more hangovers. Yes, this is seriously a goal. Shameful I know. Honestly might be the hardest one! When I drink, it’s very often an amount far and away more than what it should be. I know that. But when I’m in the right social setting, having a great time, it’s a breeze having somewhere in the neighborhood of ten drinks, and not even realizing it. The price is paid tomorrow, and I’m left angry at myself for giving up a day of my life. If I’m gonna take my ambitions seriously, I just don’t have that kind of time to lose anymore. So no more. Simple as that, but not that simple, I’m sure.

I also came up with some monthly challenges. I promise this isn’t self torture. The idea is to kickstart some new habits that I’ve been curious about for a long time. To see how they make me feel, what they teach me, and if any of them stick. I’m excited for them all. Well, all of them but maybe that 7AM wake up time (like I said, I can feel the eyes rolling).

The order of the months are meant to compliment the others around them, helping maybe build momentum. December was left open incase I come up something new. Some months will be tough, and some easy. There’ll be setbacks. I’ll miss days, get sick, be traveling, and swamped with freelance. Hate to say it, but there’s even a good chance I might be hungover! There will be days where I just won’t feel up to it. Every month is a suggestion, not a prescription. Guess the trick is not letting a setback become a deal breaker.

That’s what I got. We’ll see, wish me luck.