After our whirlwind holiday travels, I've been excited to get back home and get back to work. I've had big plans for the blog–for healthy new recipes and tips to stick to your New Year's healthy eating goals–as well as all sorts of projects I want to do around the apartment, like clean out the closet, the pantry, the bathroom, and the file cabinet. (OK, in all honesty, Brandon's the one who usually initiates these organization projects, but I'm all for following his lead!) I have lists of stories to pitch, emails to send, books to start reading, and resolutions to begin, like more running and yoga. And then the cold hit.

The day after we got home (Monday), I woke up with a stuffy nose. Which turned into a sneezing, dripping, red-nosed, puffy-eyed head cold. Luckily it hasn't spread to my throat or chest, but it's left me feeling bad enough to pretty much stay in my PJ's, down zinc and vitamin C, chug water, and blow through boxes of tissues. And eat lots of grapefruit and blood oranges.

Though the blog has stayed a bit neglected (I haven't had the energy to cook plus photograph and write) and the clean-out projects have been left undone for the moment, I have been reading. And brainstorming and journaling. The cold has forced me to actually slow down for the first time in a long while, and pay attention to the parts of me–namely, my heart and my soul–that often get pushed into the background as more immediate concerns demand my attention.

It has been amazing to have time to reflect on 2011: on struggles and victories and things I learned, on goals–some reached and others left undone, on friendships deepened, on trips taken, on books read, on dinners shared. And most of all, on the Lord's goodness and faithfulness. Brandon and I took time this week to reflect on our first year of marriage (with all its joys and upheavals), and to talk about through our goals and dreams for 2012.

Though my head is still stuffy and my nose is still raw, I feel so inspired by all that 2012 holds. I feel like this is going to be a year of purpose, of healing, and of dreams fulfilled. And of course, lots more cooking and writing and yellow table dinner parties!

As much as I love getting my apartment cleaned out and re-organized at the beginning of the year, I've loved even more this quiet, reflective time. I haven't stopped cooking, but my cooking has been simple and cleaner–lots of veggies and soups and grains–and I've replaced wine (for the time being) with water and herbal tea and my new favorite drink Kombucha. As I mentioned in my last blog post, we're following a special Lyme diet full of vitamin- and mineral-filled anti-inflammatory foods (veggies, grains, fruits, lean proteins, healthy fats) and little to no sugar, dairy, or white carbohydrates. If it weren't for this cold, I'm sure I'd be feeling incredible by now...

Anyway, my real purpose in writing this blog post is that I wanted to share with you my favorite at-home cold remedy (besides citrus fruits and Kombucha): homemade chicken noodle soup. It is super-easy to make, and there is something so comforting about warm broth filled with veggies, noodles, and shredded chicken. I love adding spinach at the end for extra vitamins and color. I made this soup a few days ago, and have been eating it every day since.

Keep in mind that this soup is intended to be restorative, so it will only be as good as the quality of the ingredients you put in it. Meaning, buying broth or meat from mass-produced chickens (often pumped with hormones and antibiotics) is not going to help you get well. I recommend buying free-range organic chicken stock (or making your own) and roasting organic chicken breasts to shred and put in the soup.

Healthy or not, I would recommend easing into 2012. Take time to think, pray, journal, and reflect. And to make a pot of chicken noodle soup. You will thank yourself.