We're Half Way There

We're Half Way There

There are 14 more days until Lockdown 2.0 is meant to end, and perhaps the second time around has been just that tiny bit harder than the first. Having come out of a two-week quarantine, only to go straight into continuing to quarantine, I know I’m feeling extra stir crazy this autumn. Let’s take a break from vegetable chat and mix up the at-home routine with some different ideas to help the days from forming into one monotonous blur. We really are half way there, and we can help each other make it to December with most of our sanity intact.

1) Get into Art.
Museums may be shut for the moment, but don’t let that stop you from appreciating culture and the beauty of art. This time of year, the Affordable Art Fair would be buzzing in Battersea Park, but it can still come to you in the form of online browsing. Find the AAF and many more virtual art shows happening here. An affordable piece of art will support a burgeoning artist, and enliven your home for however long you have to stay in it. If you’re more of the art history type, get https://artsandculture.google.com/ on your browser now. Bring famous works of art to life, virtually visit a museum or explore the architecture of a far off city you hope to be able to visit by 2025. Already know the big names in the art world? Get stuck in on the lesser-known figures who shaped the celebrated names we know today. Ever heard of Fanny Eaton? Neither did I until Google created a doodle in her honor. Learn about her influence on the Pre-Raphaelites and then stumble down the gorgeous Wikipedia hole of your choosing.

2) Binge Listen.
Give your eyeballs and screens a rest and let your ears start doing the work. Attempt to listen to “all” of something. My brother claims to be a Led Zeppelin “super-fan” because he listened to every single album during one summer of unemployment when he was back with our parents. For you, maybe it’s every work by one Classical composer, or understanding the fundamentals of Jazz by listening to a Coltrane compendium. Dive into French Reggae or K-Pop, or decide for yourself if Tupac was really a lyrical genius. The options are endless. Turn on Spotify, iTunes, etc. and let your ears get to work. It’s a more enjoyable way to fill your ears then with endless dings and chimes from video calls and work emails.

3) Find a new kind of exercise.
If lockdown has given you the exercise bug, you probably are well familiar with the videos and classes out there. And potentially also quite bored with them. In the same vein as idea 2, put on an entire album that makes you get up and move, and have a dance party instead. Dancing lets you shake it all out, and can work many muscle groups while getting your heart rate up. Depending on how you like to bust a move, 30 minutes of dancing can burn several hundred calories! Nothing gets me jumping more than a private mosh pit session with Nirvana or Pearl Jam blaring in the kitchen. Also, when was the last time you listened to an entire album, track 1 to the end? Give yourself a break, dance like no one’s watching and get your workout on.

4) Get really good at cooking one thing.
In the springtime, it was baking for many people. With winter coming, I want to get really good at making soup. Soups are a great format for using up odds and ends of food, hiding excessive or less loved vegetables, and generally just a superb, comforting food. The prep is generally easy, with a lot of hands off simmering time. You can make them lean and healthy or full of cream; have it as a starter or a full out meal; eat it by the potful or stash it in the freezer. Soup, and its cousin the stew, is so versatile with nearly limitless possibilities. I’m going to spend the next few weeks working on my soup techniques, which will get me through this winter, and many more to come. Here are soup lists from the BBC and Food & Wine that I’m cooking through. Find your one food or dish and become the expert in your home.

5) Light up your life.
Take a cue from the Scandinavians and learn to bring light into your home and brighten up both your space and your mood. They survive long winters in near darkness, after all, and yet are consistently rated as some of the happiest countries in the world. (Facts: a study from the Danish Ministry of Climate and Energy showed that there were only 44 hours of sunlight in Denmark in November. That’s just over 10 hours a week – less than an hour and a half a day. Meanwhile, Denmark always comes in among the top three happiest countries in the world.) Like winter, Christmas is also coming, and stringing up the fairy lights a little earlier than normal could give you that Scandi boost. Get creative with how you use them. Turn a lantern or a jar into a bespoke illumination, or try using mirrors to amplify their glow. An affordable paper lantern can add soothing, portable light to your space as well. Create layers of light by lighting candles along with the lamps or light sources you already have. It’s fine to have them all on during the day too. If you need an even stronger, glowing pick me up, consider getting a body clock light, such as Lumie. These lights can simulate sunshine, treat seasonal affected disorder, restore energy and combat jetlag. All this light therapy may inspire you to venture out to see the Canary Wharf “Connected by Light” outdoor exhibit, conveniently launching on December 2nd. A brighter environment could lead to a brighter mindset, where light is at the end of this tunnel.