Recreation – and re-creation – at home

Need to relax and recharge this August? (Do we ever.) Wares columnist Cami Weinstein has some great suggestions.

By the time this issue comes out, I hope that we will find a path forward on some of the more challenging events that we have been dealing with, including the coronavirus, health care inadequacies, massive unemployment and racism. For many of us, summer is a time to take a deep breath, relax and enjoy family and friends with leisure activities, including barbecues, picnics, concerts, sports, travel and home. This summer I’m looking forward to doing at least some of these activities, as we need to unwind more than ever.

Although many of us enjoy pastimes in large groups, this summer is different.  We have been relishing activities in smaller groups and staying closer to home than we normally do.  For me these past few months have felt overwhelming and I am craving ways to unwind and de-stress. A walk or run on the beach, hiking, a bicycle ride, gardening and painting are some of the things I have been doing to relax and recharge. Some other leisure activities that can be played on your lawn in smaller groups — and were actually more popular in the past — are badminton, croquet and bocce ball. They remind me of my childhood and can be so much fun to introduce to younger generations.

Think about working on projects or leisure activities that you never have had time for in our fast-moving world. If traveling becomes untenable, maybe take some day trips. There are many wonderful places to visit and explore that may be only an hour or two away. The Hudson Valley in New York state, which includes the Rockefeller State Park Preserve; Mystic, Connecticut; and Jones Beach on Long Island are but a few. Most parks and beaches are open now and can easily be done in a day. Or create a picnic in your yard or nearby park with a more exotic theme from a place you were planning to travel to.

I enjoy painting and though I had not picked up my paintbrushes in a long time, I took them out and started painting again during the Covid-19 shutdown. Now that the weather is beautiful, I have taken my paints and canvasses outside to paint en plein air. I also love knitting and to date have made some scarves and hats and I am ready to work on some knitted gloves. Creating things has always been a way for me to relax. 

A fun family activity is to work on puzzles together and during these past months I have seen many on social media. For large puzzles, clear an area in a hardly used dining room and set up a puzzle to complete there. Or use a game table and leave the puzzle set up there. Since we have had the time to make several puzzles, we have traded them with friends once completed. When our kids were younger and we were away on vacation, we worked on crossword puzzles together on the beach and now on Sunday when we are all together at our beach house, we still do them together. A few heads are always better one. 

Most of us who have been staying close to home might want to try out some new recipes. Take the time to learn a new, more complicated recipe or dessert. I personally don’t love cooking the same thing week after week. When our kids were younger, we would try a new recipe and then vote on it — keep it or leave it.  We needed a majority vote to keep it in our arsenal of recipes. It was a great way to get the kids to try different kinds of foods and kept mealtime from getting boring. Cut some flowers from your garden and light some candles to put on the table and pull out your nicest china and recreate a restaurant experience right at home with your new recipe as the feature. Add a new cocktail, dim the lights and have a memorable evening.

No matter how you like to spend your leisure time, either alone or with family, there are plenty of ways to enjoy it. 

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