What is there to say about 2022? We’re here, and we’re doing the damn thing. Every day that the kids are in school feels like a miracle and a gift; same with each time the sun comes out (11 degree temps notwithstanding). Our days are both long and short, and punctuated by frequent Encanto dance parties (Finn’s favorite song is “Surface Pressure,” also known as “Donkeys!!!!!”). I love our little chaos factory but am also already intimidated by the between here and warmer, brighter days.
My friend Melanie introduced me to Youngna Park, who has a wonderful, highly relatable newsletter filled with kid and grown up recs. Her latest, “20 Things Getting Us Through January,” is exactly where I am: What is the universe of fun, delicious, and entertaining things that will distract us from the fatigue of another pandemic winter?
Here are some of the things on my list:
Dressing up for myself: After basically giving up on makeup, I’ve started to wear it again, even on days when I barely leave the house. It feels like a small thing I can do to feel more polished and pulled together. After admiring Kulfi Beauty’s brand for months, I finally ordered their kajal eyeliner in Cheeky Chiku and I cannot stop raving about it. It’s ultra rich and smooth and makes it easy to get a clean, wobble-free line. Pair it with my Kosas brow gel and I’m almost ok staring at my video for 6 hours straight.
A true skincare game changer: I recently discovered Soft Services, a new line of solution-oriented bodycare products. Everything I’ve tried has been great but the Buffing Bar is next level — it’s a solid bar embedded with tiny crystals that smooth away dead skin, bumps, you name it. I’ve never used a physical exfoliator that works as effectively, and I’ve heard from many friends that it has changed their skin as well.
On-demand coffee, here and away: We love coffee and are also picky so when we travel we either bring our own cold brew or a full travel setup. But on our last Maine trip I ordered Cometeer to have at our rental house and it was a huge success. They make coffee pods that are filled with flash-frozen coffee concentrate from a wide range of roasters (including my favorite Go Get Em Tiger). I wasn’t sure what to expect but you just pour hot water over the frozen block and it melts into stunningly good coffee. Like really, really good. I originally thought of it as just a travel thing but we have some extras in the freezer and I love having them as an emergency stash. Here’s my referral link if you’re interested 🙂
Perking up my winter uniform: The other day I hadn’t worn anything besides a neutral sweater and jeans in weeks. I love gray and taupe but it was just making the groundhog day feels more acute. Solution: quick trip to Alex Mill for two pick-me-ups: this citrus bright scarf, which just instantly brightens my mood; and these fun denim overalls, which I’ll wear with turtlenecks now and tees in the spring.
Keeping those extremities toasty: In anticipation of spending a lot of time outside this winter, I decided to invest in some actually-warm socks. My friends Becca and Devin (who live in Vermont and regularly brave sub-zero temps) recommended VT-based Darn Tough. I wore my new DT socks last weekend and they kept my feet warm during a snowy jaunt around Storm King in 11-degree weather. Thumbs up.
Escaping into books: I have been trying to get back into the habit of reading before bed and it’s working almost too well. I picked up Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead in early January and routinely found myself staying up way too late because I couldn’t put it down. I won’t be able to do it justice here but: it’s a detail-rich, far-reaching story that switching between current day and the first part of the 20th century, and mostly centers on the brilliant and brave Marian Graves as she falls in love with flying and eventually attempts to circumnavigate the globe via the North and South Poles. I can’t stop thinking about it.
Grains, what else: We eat grain bowls almost every day for lunch and I mostly haven’t tired of them. But I’m always looking for new ideas, which is why we were excited to get our copy of Joshua McFadden’s Grains for Every Season. It’s full of fresh and appealing ways to use whole grains across savory and sweet, like his Farro con Pollo and mix and match grain salad. We (Rob) also made the whole wheat English muffins and they are ideal for breakfast sandwiches.
Cultivating my little planner: A couple weeks ago, Lilly and I were talking about who was a silly goose. “Is mom a silly goose?” “No,” Lilly said, earnestly. “You’re a planner.” Then she pulled my ear to hers and whispered: “I’m a planner too.” My heart! In early pandemic days, I would draw Lilly’s day for her and she delighted in checking off each thing (wake up! breakfast and grown up coffee! story time with Grandpa Jay!). We still do it on the weekends, and it helps organize the days and get us jazzed for our mini adventures. Some Covid-friendly past and future ideas: Bronx Zoo, Museum of the Moving Image, Governor’s Island (now open on weekends), ice skating at Prospect park, and high tea in Brooklyn High Low‘s heated outdoors. Also: popcorn and movie watching, hot chocolate breaks, and all-important rest time.
Tracking down every last piece of Heattech: It seems like Uniqlo has fallen victim to supply chain challenges, because they’ve been mostly out of their kid Heattech products. We managed to snag some earlier this week and I’ve been checking intermittently to see if it comes back into stock. This LL Bean long underwear is a good backup, though a little bulkier than the Uniqlo style. Reminder to self: order earlier next year!
Building quite the library: We seem to acquire new books weekly, which I’m pretty ok with. These Container Store bins have been great for keeping them all somewhat tidy, and I love the cheery colors. Lilly continue to love chapter books, especially the Princess in Black series, which has also grown on me — plus Finn can follow along with all the pictures. We also just started the Ruby Booker series and it’s charming. As for Finn, he can’t get enough of Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site, which is very cute and has both kids saying, “Hey, pipe down!”
Whew. Thanks for reading and see you soon.
P.S. Old editions live here.
P.P.S. This month’s suggested organization to support is: your local mutual aid group! They are rooted in the community and often know exactly how to help people immediately. As a tiny act of service on MLK, we took the kids to shop for items off the Gowanus Mutual Aid wish list, then stocked their Free Store just a few blocks away from us. It felt like a good way to get them involved, and something we plan to do more of in the future.