November 27, 2020

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Home Improvement

Getting Outside of Your Head and Your House

Welcome. It’s been a rainy week in New York City, a stay-inside, low-sun week and, in the absence of anywhere pressing to physically be, a week in which it’s been easy to default to staying indoors. While we’re safest and coziest at home these days, static scenery can really make a week drag. If the skies are clear where you are this weekend, make a point to be out under them.

Relish walking the dog or strolling without any particular destination. Volunteer to run to the store for flour, to drop a package off at the post office. Go for the outdoor run you could easily take to the treadmill. While I’d hardly suggest the era of sweatpants and comfort cooking is over, making an effort to be in fresh air while we can is still essential to keeping our days from assuming a rolling monotony. If you’re not able to go outdoors, try a different room, a new activity or recipe, something that shakes things up, that demarcates weekend from week.

Here are some good ideas from At Home readers for getting outside your home or routine this weekend.

  • “Although we spend a lot of time reading and watching TV, I am trying to get my 93-year-old mom to come into the very sunny living room and do needlepoint. Bach on the boom box. It is so peaceful and productive. We have a HUGE stash of canvases (whoever dies with the biggest stash wins) and fibres (never call it thread). Ding this gives me a chance to talk with her about stuff: Who in her family came over to Thanksgiving when she was growing up? What about for Christmas?” —Patricia Yeomans Salvador, 64, Cleveland

  • “Every Friday, I get an email from the Frick Collection titled ‘Cocktails with a Curator.’ A recipe for a ‘curated’ cocktail to complement the topic of the program is given. The 15- to 30-minute program about a specific object or painting is available on the Frick YouTube channel. Sip your cocktail while you enjoy the presentation.” —Patricia L Demirjian, Dayton, Ohio

  • “My neighbor and I are conducting an exhaustive study of the gingersnap cookie. We alternate weeks and leave each other samples of our latest recipe. At first the goal was to replicate her husband’s favorite gingersnap recipe that his mother made but we have since branched out to investigate very thin and crispy as well as soft and chewy. The possibilities are endless.” —Kate Gruen, 66, Mill Valley, Calif.

  • “I normally get up a couple hours earlier than my spouse and spend that time reading the news. Lately, I’ve found that practice disheartening, so instead of reading the news, I listen to one of the 35 performances of the band Throbbing Gristle. Between 1976 and 1981, they recorded all of their performances and released some them on cassette in a 24-cassette box set titled the ’24 Hours of Throbbing Gristle.’ A few years ago, all these recordings were released on CD. I find the barely controlled chaos of these recordings to be a calming force while watching the sunrise and enjoying my coffee. I find this perfectly prepares me for the day. —Paul Prescott, 52, Belize

  • “Watching my kids play on Sunday mornings is my new favorite thing. On Sundays, we meet in our front yard (socially distanced, of course) and have a worship service with some of our neighbors. Afterward, the kids run and play pirates with stick swords or jump in piles of leaves. We sit in our chairs and chat and watch them play. Somehow, that one hour each week is helping me get through this. It makes things feel a little more normal. We plan to bundle up and keep going as long as we can.” —Becky McCown, Searcy, Ark.

  • “Through my walks around my neighborhood, I’ve been able to see which fruits are in season, taking note as I stroll around. In the summer, rainier cherries were my favorite, and in the fall, it’s been pomegranates. I’ve also been enjoying being around things bigger than myself. It makes me feel insignificant to the vast world and gives me perspective that my troubles are not really troubles at all.” —Anne Wang, 25, Cupertino, Calif.

If it’s chilly outside and your own living room is feeling claustrophobic this weekend, I suggest transporting yourself to Rickie Lee Jones’s. Her at-home concert series is hypnotic and soothing, her storytelling style as smooth as ever. You might feel, just for a moment, like you’ve been beamed to her sunny New Orleans salon for a cozy concert for one.

With winter approaching, and the months of the pandemic dragging on, we’re wondering how you, your friends and family are finding and spreading joy. What gestures have you made — dropping off surprise homemade baked goods, sending a daily text, making a simple phone call — to bring happiness into the lives of those around you? Let us know, and we may share your submission with other At Home readers: [email protected] We’re At Home. We’ll read every letter sent. More ideas for leading a full life at home this weekend appear below.

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