Sunday, December 27, 2020

Sam's Weekly Quarantine Digest #38: December 27, 2020

 Hi all,

This week has been a breath of fresh air in an otherwise stifling year for me.  I'm finally back home with Luke, and I spent the whole week working at a table set up in front of our gorgeous Christmas tree, often with the other lights out so that the room was lit only by the soft glow of the tree (and the Seahawks-colored LED lights strung around the TV).  I've baked, I've watched movies, I've binged Bridgerton in its entirety (highly recommended), I've slept in til 11am (a record for me), I've watched football with Luke, I've played video games, I've read books, and I've called friends.  Most importantly, I've started to feel a little bit more like me.

Most of our belongings are currently in boxes, which has only amplified a common theme of this year for many people - not only alternating between being grateful for and wanting to purge our belongings as staying home made us realize just how much we have, but also reveling in just how little we actually need.  I even managed to concoct a dish vaguely reminiscent of Eggs Benedict (a holiday tradition for Luke) out of the scraps we had in our fridge and pantry, replete with a homemade Hollandaise sauce I whipped up using my KitchenAid whisk attachment by hand - I felt like the winning contestant on Chopped.

The reason our stuff is all packed up is that Luke and I are preparing to close on a house in a few short weeks, which has been the light at the end of the tunnel for me this year - the thing that has been giving me focus and hope, and optimism about 2021.  I, like many of you, I'm sure, could really use a fresh start - in so many ways.  This house represents so much of what I've always envisioned my life would one day be.  There's a kitchen where I see thousands of family meals being eaten and tens of thousands of cookies being baked.  There are beautiful spaces where I see you sitting when you come to visit, and a guest room so you can stay awhile.  There's a big backyard for dogs and kids, and a gorgeous, tree-lined walking and biking path that I intend to take advantage of nearly daily.  There are bakeries and restaurants within walking distance, and even a theater and multiple nature preserves and parks.  There's room for all of our video games and board games and puzzles, our artwork, and our books, and most importantly, for all the people with whom we want to share them.

As we head into 2021 (and bid 2020 a long-overdue farewell), I hope you all find something to look forward to in the coming year.  I realize that buying a dream home is a bit dramatic, but there is so very much to look forward to for all of us.  For me, it's the hugs and smiles and laughter that I know will be in abundance once we're able to be together in person again (with occasional Zooms with those who don't live nearby), but it's also the new routines I'll settle into in the meantime, the new resolutions I will steadfastly obey for at least 2 whole weeks before sending them to the resolution graveyard with their predecessors, the new traditions I'll create, and the new memories with dear old friends, whether virtual or otherwise.  So, with that, good riddance to 2020, and here's to a wonderful new year for each of us!

As always, previous digests can be found on my blog at  If you have suggestions or would like to stop receiving these emails, just let me know.


Ringing in the New Year
  • This year's NYE celebration in Times Square might be the best ever - the ball will still drop, the year will still change, and Times Square will still be "rockin'," but the live celebration will feature only a small number of in-person honorees in lieu of the gazillions of tourists that usually leave the entire area strewn with trash for days thereafter.  To join the fun from afar, see the details here.
  • If it's not NYE without a nightclub for you, then check out Eschaton's "The Dissolution, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the End," virtual performance art that allowed you to move your Zoom avatar through various online experiences, complete with an afterparty.
  • Prefer to laugh 2020 into distant memory?  Check out "NYE Comedy Mega Show 2021" featuring Fred Armisen, Reggie Watts, Natasha Leggero, Moshe Kasher, Brent Weinbach, and Andrew Michaan.
  • If you're intent on ringing in the new year with some bubbly, please remember that there are plenty of ways to get alcohol delivered these days so that you don't need to take the risk of running to the store.  If you're in a city, you can try DrizlyMiniBar, Swill, or even FreshDirect, which has a shockingly large (and pretty good) variety of alcoholic beverages (yes, including sparkling wine).  If you're outside of those services' delivery zones, try calling your local liquor store - many of them now offer delivery (either directly or through various services, like Instacart or Uber Eats) or curbside pickup.  Since the quarantine began, NYC and other cities even began allowing patrons to order premade cocktails from various restaurants for pickup or delivery, so check with your favorite restaurants, bars, or delivery services like Seamless and DoorDash to see the options available in your area.
  • Once you've obtained champagne, why don't you try toasting with a twist this year by trying one of these champagne cocktails?
  • PopSugar has created a list of festive virtual backgrounds for your New Year's Zoom soirees, following on their lists for Christmas and Hanukkah.  See here for instructions on how to change your background.

  • Miss exploring New York City's architecture and neighborhoods?  I sure do.  Try this virtual tour of Lower Manhattan led by cultureNOW.  If you haven't already checked it out, the New York Times also posted a series of virtual architectural walking tours led by one of their architecture critics that I shared a few weeks ago.
  • The New York Times' "At Home" newsletter has provided me with tons of inspiration this year.  You can check out their editors' "Best of" lists here, featuring some of the highlights that have carried them through this crazy year.
  • Pixar recently released its newest animated movie, Soul, featuring the studio's first black protagonist.  It's only available on Disney+ for right now, but you can read the story behind the scenes here.
  • Did you know that the most-played music in 2020 was...white noise?
  • Curious how dancers see the arts evolving in 2021?  Check out this Instagram Live conversation between Misty Copeland and Alex Poots, the Artistic Director of the Shed in NYC.
  • If you live in NYC, LA, Philly, San Francisco, or Oakland, keep an eye out for gigantic tweets on billboards, murals, and more, as part of Twitter's new ad campaign intended to spotlight some of the funniest and most uplifting tweets that made the Twitter community feel connected and made people laugh over the past year.
  • The American Cornhole League's National College Cornhole Championship kicks off on December 31 on ESPN.  That's all.
  • Shonda Rhimes' latest masterpiece (and her first as part of her new deal with Netflix), Bridgerton, dropped on Christmas, and it's fabulous.  I saw a Google News alert that informed me that it was perfect for fans of both Downton Abbey and Gossip Girl, so I wasted no time devouring it this weekend.  It made me laugh, it made me cry, and it made me terribly sad that it was over far too soon.
  • As if we all don't have enough reasons to bid 2020 adieu and look forward to 2021 as a fresh start, check out this list of things for New Yorkers to look forward to in the coming year.

Festive Foods
  • Can't wait for the 2021 Cookie Party?  Many bakeries across the country are offering cookie boxes for the holidays this year, including some that are shipping them across the country.  Check out this long list of some of the standouts, and get clicking!
  • If you're still too nervous to try indoor dining and don't feel like wearing a parka to sit outside, there's a new quarantine trend popping up - restaurants that are teaming up with hotels to serve meals in private hotel rooms in order to minimize exposure to other patrons.
  • Ever feel sad that your dogs can't share your sweet treats when it comes time for dessert?  Well, now they can!  This new cookbook is chock full of recipes for you and your dog to share together.

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