Thanksgiving lefftovers 3.0

There are only so many leftover Thanksgiving sandwiches you can eat. Iventive ways of preserving your feast are out there, and it goes beyond putting the same food between two slices of bread.

Leftover turkey makes a delicious jerky – a healthy snack to bring you into the new year. You don’t need a dehydrator, and since the meat is already cooked, there’s less prep time. Already-cooked meat can tend towards being dry once dehydrated, so unlike beef, it’s okay to add a little oil. The below photo demonstrates a delectable mix of fat, salt and heat. This hot sauce is addictive, and recently made the leap from Asian grocery stores to mainstream supermarkets.

Warning: This hot sauce is addictive.

Don’t stop there. The turkey has been stripped but is still fresh and full of flavor. Throw into a big stock pot and simmer, cover, and let sit overnight. The next day, remove the bones and strain the silky broth into mason jars. Leave a few inches at the top for when the broth turns to ice and expands in the freezer. Use as needed for soups, shabu shabu and more.

When packaging the broth, you’ll discover leftover meat and skin. Be sure to remove the tiny bones, and save in a container to mix in with the pet food at mealtime. This lean, seasoned meat will make it feel like a holiday for your furry friends too.

Leftover cranberries are perfect for the dehydrator, where you can turn them into Craisin-like snacks. They add sweetness and texture to salads, homemade trail mix and baked goods.

Since cranberries tend to be bitter, you have to blanch them to break the skin, and mix with simple syrup to sweeten them up. When you shake simple syrup with cranberries in a container, you are left with a festive cranberry simple syrup. Cocktail lovers rejoice!

These are but a few of many ways you can reinvent your Thanksgiving leftovers, and infuse new flavors. Happy holidays!

Diner en Blanc 2021: The glamour of it all!

This year’s event was proof positive that a global pandemic can’t hold us back from the sparkle, fizz & clink of Diner en Blanc! In 2020 we were still blindsided and figuring things out, but this evening was a breathtaking ride, and a reunion of sorts.

The Chloe wine was flowing, the dance floor throbbed – I even witnessed a proposal! The good kind, where he gets down on one knee. This revelry could not be possible, were it not for hosts Enjoli Moon, Christine Wansleben, and Ayana Obika.

Each woman embodies a spirit of creativity and entrepreneurship in their own way. Moon is the founder of the Afrikana Film Festival, Wansleben is the owner and chef at Mise En Place and Obika is the chief visionary at Gratitude Rising Events. I’m just lightly grazing their accomplishments – they bring the world of art, film, food and and culture to Richmond, and we could feel the culmination of their efforts at Diner en Blanc.

This year tried the Chloe Prosecco, and it was so refreshing, I stuck with it the entire night. And what a night it was! The location of the event is not revealed until the day of, and it was held at the newly-revitalized Monroe Park, by the VCU campus.

When I was a student at VCU, the park was dimly lit, falling into disrepair, and plagued by violence. After being closed for a time, it reopened into a thing of grandeur. A giant two-tiered fountain is encircled by enameled bistro tables and chairs. Students study and couples hold hands – it felt like Paris. Which is only appropriate, since Diner en Blanc started in Paris over 30 years ago.

Celebrating with artist Ryan Azia

Most notably, the sun set and the sky turned cobalt blue. The minarets from the old Mosque (now the Altria theatre) lit up, and matched the cobalt of the sky. The moon rose above it and a cool breeze swept in, offering respite as we danced with sparklers in hand.

I enjoyed an incredible meal. Garnish Catering featured a vegetarian beef wellington, with asparagus, hummus, and flaky pastry. They made kale salad, a cheese plate and vegetables. Croaker’s Spot provided their famous fried chicken and cornbread. l topped it off with a decadent red velvet cupcake from Melissa’s Cupcakes.

It was an evening to remember. We triumphed over these troubled times. It’s easy to rise above amidst the glamorous, inclusive, and beautiful spirit of Diner en Blanc. See you next year!

Ashley Jefferson (center) of Virginia Style Magazine, flanked by partygoers.

The Big Easy in RVA

Being a meteorologist in New Orleans is like being a Pilates instructor in LA. You are at the epicenter of where it all happens. My dear friend Michelle got the opportunity of a lifetime when offered a job to be a meterologist at the CBS station in New Orleans: WWL-TV.

I had to throw her a going away party. I wish I could have whipped up some cajun-style finger foods, or a giant pot of crawfish etouffee served in elegant bowls. But it was a surprise party, thrown together rather quickly, so we kept it simple. A stocked bar, bundles of fresh flowers, a kicking playlist (with a few zydeco songs mixed in) and unfussy foods, such as watermelon slices, hummus and a pocorn station, where you could sprinkle on a variety of toppings.

Michelle Morgan and her husband Andy

I decked the place out with Mardi Gras beads, hanging them en masse, just like it’s done in New Orleans, where fences or trees are chosen at random to become positively dripping with necklaces. I created a photo wall with splashy Mardi Gras colors: green, purple and yellow. There were masks and feather boas as props.

The music was blasting, many shots were thrown back, and people were so determined to party, that no one touched the food. What should have been a somber occasion (saying goodbye to a friend) was a raucous night of laughter, dancing and a plethora of blackmail photos.

For while we are sad to see Michelle go, we gained another friend in New Orleans. When we saw her off, she had our full bayou blessing. As they say in New Orleans: Laissez les bon tems roulez!

Gotham City Redux

Last year I wrote about how the pandemic put the brakes on my son’s birthday party. At the time, no one understood the virus and the world was prettty much closed down. On the bright side, it gave us pleny of time to craft a Gotham City out of giant cardboard boxes, a homemade Joker pinata, a comic strip photo window and so much more.

Fast forward one year, and we not only understand the virus, but vaccines are being distributed. So we created a socially-distanced party outdoors with masks. Was it awkward? The mask-on/mask-off situation is always difficult to navigate, especially when food is being served. But you only turn seven once!

Hamilton was happy to destroy his art project…because candy. It’s intoxicating, that excitement when the pinata bursts and kids scramble in desperation to grab all they can.

Part of the decor? An autograhed image by the best Batman in film history: Mr. Michael Keaton. This was pulled from my husband’s arsenal.

Stick a pile of high-stakes candy (no Smarties allowed! I’m talking Pop Rocks and 100 Grand bars!) in the middle, and play some dice. The kids get very cutthroat.

  • Roll a 1: Take 1
  • Roll a 2: Take 2
  • Roll a 3: Take one from someone
  • Roll a 4: Give one to someone
  • Rol a 5: Put one back in the pile
  • Roll a 6: Skip a turn and reverse order

The Gotham City Arcade featured a Pac-Man machine!

Batman villain Poison Ivy greeted guests, and the sign redirected guests to the back yard, to avoid having people in the house.

Instead of cake, the birthday boy wanted Rice Krispies Treats. So why not keep with the black and yellow theme, build it into a tower and feature Batman and Robin?

Kids love exclusivity, so no adults were allowed in the Bat cave! It was cool and dark inside, with a bat signal projected onto the wall.

Only brave children dare drink the Joker Juice, which could turn people EVIL!

The happy hosts!

Spring fever: Let it burn!

Spring is in the air, and I don’t care if it’s that old “fool’s spring” – the warm snap in March that makes daffodils bloom and gullible people dry clean their coats. I know Virginia winters, and we could very well be hit with snow in a week. But I don’t care. I blow past that unending stack of dirty dishes and into the backyard. I’m out there digging and watching the earth wake up until well after dark, when I get dragged in by the ear.

You wouldn’t believe all I’ve been able to do with repurposed materials. I used discarded slate from my neighbors’ roofs to stack up an elegant fire pit. I used extra slate and discarded pavers in the alleys to build pathways in the yard. It’s a mosaic-like hodge podge of marble (from broken kitchen countertops), concrete (from broken up hardscaping) and slabs of shale from my sister-in-law’s property in Pennsylvania.

Our Christmas card: Robert as Santaur!

The last time I had written was during the holidays. I spent many winter weekends hosting cooking marathons; the oven belting out serving after serving of comfort food, so that our freezer will be nice and stacked with homemade goodness. That’s what a second freezer really is: an excuse to turn your home into a food factory.

I liken winter cook-a-thons to saving for a sunny day, rather than a rainy day. You hunker down in bleak weather to cook ahead for sunnier times, when you’d rather be outside. Toss a few frozen goodies into your beach bag, and it will be delicious by the time you hit that salt air.

Not posting here hasn’t been for a lack of writing. I’ve been writing full time for a law firm (fascinating stuff, actually) and still have the privilege of being the lifestyle blogger for Ladles and Linens. Not to mention freelancing for North of the James! All pistons are firing right now, and it feels good.

My father, right at home working with our pizza oven

But before spring is in full swing, before we’re all vaccinated and swinging from the rafters, I’d love to catch you up. Since entertaining and traveling is still taboo, I’ve mostly written about food. Much of it comforting, all of it delicious.

I finally tackled cocoa bombs! This was one of the pandemic must-do activities, and I fashioned mine after Terry’s Chocolate Orange. For those who haven’t tried orange and chocolate together, it’s a sublime combinaton!

I’ve been learning to make guilt-free goodies. Well, not entirely guilt-free. But I sweeten this chocolate coconut bark with honey, and these peanut butter cups are made with less sugar. Yet both are addictive! Both also use a bit of coconut oil, which not only has antioxidants and provides immune support, but it’s manna for your hair and skin.

I love pie, but if I had a choice between sweet and savory, I always go for savory. My husband finally fired up the new pizza oven he built, and we spent at least six hours making Middle-Eastern spinach pies, meat pies, cheese pies, zaatar pies and egg pies. We had a whole team on the case, and hours later, we had stacks of freezer bags filled. We passed them out to ecstatic family members.

I’d also like to think that I cast a wide net of relief, as I wrote about five foods that people traditionally believe are unhealthy, but are actually good for you! This is the reverse of the usual article, which tends to list “health foods” that are secretly bad for you.

Speaking of “bad for you,” I had to cover some classics for the Super Bowl spread. Buffalo wings, when done right, are life. And I think potato skins are underappreciated, considering the myriad ways you can slather them with sin.

I teach people how to build an epic bowl of ramen, using whatever you have in your home. People have plenty sitting around to keep their bowl interesting, and ful of color. The same goes for grain bowls, which are even more versatile. I also teach people how to make congee, a comforting breakfast porridge from China. This simple crock pot recipe only uses five ingredients, and fills your home with the scent of warm ginger.

Many Instagram friends have asked me to demystify my ramen porn

I think we’re caught up for now. Hopefully this content-rich post makes up for my absence. This is always my favorite place to write; free from editors, free from overthinking on SEO algortithms – just a place to celebrate the good life.

While I love good food, I’m looking forward to opening this blog back up to all the other topics I’ve covered, from travel to fashion to parties. Especially the parties, and I plan to make up for lost time! As we are all beginning to get vaccinated, I can feel the world opening back up. Or is just that my spring fever?

Happy holidays, it’s going to be weird

Let’s start with the obvious. Things are weird. The coziness of a crowded house party, with steamed up windows and people laughing over hot toddies…it’s a thing of the past. And the future. Coziness is in short supply. Right now people are huddled under heat lamps on the sidewalk just to enjoy their favorite sandwich. They’re still attempting happy hours on Zoom, which are sterile at best. This year Christmas cheer is more of a private affair, with smaller groups staying as local as possible, or as local as their families will deem acceptble before making trouble.

I can’t get caught up in feeling sorry for myself. Being annoyed that your favorite sushi bar changed their hours is a First World Problem. To quote the deadpan Kourtney Kardashian “Kim, there’s people that are dying.” I also can’t get caught up in the excitement for 2021. When the clock srikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, COVID will still be here.

festive holiday eggnog

Are there things to look forwward to? Sure. We’ll once again be restored with a competent administration and vaccines will extend to every corner of the population. Knowing this helps me accept the current weirdness of it all. We can acknowledge how hard this year has been, but still make the most of what we do have, no matter how small.

Like carbs! It’s a common joy, only reviled by people on the outside. Deep down, no one really wants the side salad. It’s sweater weather and perfect for hiding our little food babies we nurse thoughout the holidays. Because if you can’t indulge now, then when can you? Everyone loves potatoes and everyone loves pancakes. Put the two together and you have latkes! We tried this comfort food, and we like. The possibilities for toppings are endless too. Mazel!

Just because you’re not squeezing yourself into a seqined cocktail dress, doesn’t mean your drinks have to suffer. Drink your red wine out of decadent stemware – it will give your sweatsuit more polish. Even better, shake up a new festive cocktail. We are faced with a lot of sameness these days, and a fizzy drink with a sprig of rosemary on top will give you a hint at the holiday glamour that lies ahead. Ahead as in next year. Don’t pout, I doubt your feet miss those stilettos.

marshmallow hot cocoa with lucky charms mashmallows

While we’re making cocktails more meaningful, why not take hot cocoa next level? Hot cocoa bombs are making the rounds and I’m here for it. In fact, I’m going to learn how to make them. In the meantime, there are so many ways to enjoy hot cocoa, beyond tearing open the packet and pouring it into hot water. Lucky Charms marshmallows, candy cane stirrers and a myriad of different spices and essential oils can complement the chocolate in exciting ways.

Count your blessings. If you’re reading this, you weren’t one of the 1.71 million people who have succumbed to COVID-19. You’ll be around to see Kamala next month. Working from home may not be ideal, but you get to spend more time with your pets, your kids and the home you’re spending so much on. You experience less gas stations, packed freeways, cubicles, flouorescent lighting and soul-extinguishing coffee.

Christmas will be different, but differen’t doesn’t mean bad. Happy holidays and may your new year be 2021!

Witchy women

Witchy women

I have a girlfriend with an affinity for “witchy” friends. She and the girls in her circle are a touch hippie. They tie dye clothes in their backyards, have a penchant for handmade soaps and scented candles and hell if they don’t have crystals on their windowsills.

Witches Altar tarot readings

As we are over nine months into a global pandemic, most of us have had to deal with a COVID birthday. My girlfriend is not one to let a birthday go by uncelebrated. There are two things she loves to do on this occasion: Eat at a hot new restaurant and meet with psychics. Or get her palm read. Something witchy. When COVID hit, a chic restaurant was out of the question, as girlfrinds who are semi-isolated would have to gather indoors, sans masks.

Laura Lee's RVA
Comfort food

However, she didn’t see why COVID should have to deprive her of a witchy good time. We gathered in her backyard, Adirondack chairs spaced six feet apart around a roaring fire. We ordered take-out from Laura Lee’s and tucked into a decadent chocolate cake.

I brought marshmallows for the fire and goodie bags to keep things festive. And a book about Salem to stay on theme. But the highlight of the night was the tarot card reading with Maria Badillo of The Witches Altar. She could not have been more acommodating to our safety practices. She wore a mask, and gave a tarot reading on the far side of a large table, for social distancing. To accommodate all anxiety levels at this time, The Witches Altar also does tarot readings via Zoom. We’re glad Maria came in person. She pulled candles out of her bag along with the cards, and took time to explain the spread to each of us.

tarot reading

As we sat around the fire sipping peanut butter whiskey and pretending not to eavesdrop on our friends’ readings, I marveled at how strange it all felt. The faces were familiar, but socializing in peron felt new. The rythm of life has changed quite a bit thanks to COVID, but it also helps you to better appreciate things, like witchy little gatherings under the stars. Nights when you and your friends carry on almost as if there weren’t a global pandemic. It’s the best way to be reminded that our circumstances are only temporary, and that better days are ahead.

Before you get tangled in tinsel….autumn

Before you get tangled in tinsel….autumn

I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s a determined optimism in trying times, or the joy that comes from a new political era on the hoizon. But Christmas has come a lot earlier this year. It’s as if they’re skipping over Thanksgiving entirely. Houses are lit up, and a station has begun playing holiday tunes 24/7, three weeks before the turkeys are even trotted out. I get that Thanksgiving is an overrated holiday, but this eagerness for Santa blows over the last of this beautiful, fleeting autumn.

rare pumpkin

The leaves are still gold and the weather hasn’t gone cruel, so let’s not get all tangled up in tinsel just yet. Here are some ways to enjoy the glorious last days of autumn, and be in the moment. And yes, these suggestions are all food-based.

Do you, like me, feel that a turkey dinner is… basic? This doesn’t apply to mashed potatoes. Nothing can touch mashed potatoes. But turkey? It works well in deli but there’s a reason we don’t cook that bird all year. It’s not that good. Switch things up. You can support local businesses by ordering through them, because they will most certainly be struggling though an economicaly nuclear winter. Or just switch up a boring staple with a delightfully warming dish, like coconut curry butternut squash soup.

coconut curry butternut squash soup
A simple recipe, with few ingredients

You’re going to see lot of pumpkin pie from November to January. What if I told you there was a chewy, gooey, sweet and salty alternative to the same ol’ same ol’, and you probably have the ingredients in your kitchen right now? What if you end up hating me for telling you about it because it’s so deliciously addictive?

Speaking of sweets, you may have a wealth of leftover Halloween candy sitting in your home. There are so many ways to repurpose it, whether for a homemade advent calendar or a way to sweeten up your gingerbread house. Find great ideas right here.

fall apple cocktail
Apple cider spiked with bourbon, ginger beer and cinnamon is peak fall

Working from home with kids in virtual school can breed chaos; more dishes, too much noise, lots of juggling. The last thing you want to do is spend more time in the kitchen. Healthy doesn’t have to mean time-consuming. Apples are still in season. Grab them in bulk and make them three ways; a meal, a dessert and a snack. And parents, I’m thinking of you too. This fresh apple cocktail will help you recover from those endless Zoom meetings.

Speaking of easy meals, how about one chicken, three ways? Chicken is only boring if you A) boil it or B) Don’t treat it like the blank slate that it is. Seasoning can bring out the best in a bird. Variety is the spice of life, and one full-sized chicken will provide three distinct dishes. That being said, healthy proteins aren’t always animal-based. This tasty, freeze-ahead staple will be a miracle in a pinch. Throw in the slow-cooker, ignore, then pack it up for later, when you are in need of guilt-free prepared food.

fried green tomatoes
Bumper crop of produce this harvest? Make a goal for zero waste.

When it gets cold outside, you can treat yourself to crock pot cocktails. This recipe for pumpkin-spiced hot cocoa is a creamy, soul-affirming dose of self care. Pour into a big mug and curl up with a book.

The extended warm weather this season has produced bumper crops of produce, sometimes too much for us to know what do do with. Have no fear. The thought of wasting food is equally repugnant to me, so here’s some smart, sustainable options for what to do with all that produce.

Pumpkins are the symbol of fall, used more as decor than food, because its contents tend to be a little plain. Without pumpkin spice, pumpkins would be over. But there are other gourds in the patch. Read on for some gourd greatness.

Savor the deliciousness of harvest time, and the last of the rainbow of falling leaves. It’s going to be a long winter, so enjoy autumn while it lasts.

Glimpse of a pre-COVID world

ladies in the library

I’ve been preaching positivity in 2020 because it’s been proven that the ability to adapt is a key component of happiness. And if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that adaptation is necessary. I don’t need to go down the litany of examples of how things have changed. We can all feel it.

I’ve been relatively quiet about the fact that 2020 has been a good year for me. I’m mindful of the people who have contracted COVID-19, including my own friends and family. There have been over a million deaths around the world. Almost a quarter of the fatalities have been in America alone, surpassing all other countries and showing no signs of slowing down.

wine tasting

For all the quality time I’ve had with my family, all the outdoor adventures and gobbling up everything in my Netflix queue, the old world started haunting me. I had embraced the fact that most of my favorite places were closed and that traveling would have to wait, but that’s when I believed people would follow CDC guidelines and squash this thing, like so many countries have been doing. I thought that like me, people couldn’t wait to escape the summer heat in a dark movie theater, or jump on a plane to explore a place they’s never seen. Come Ocober, I’m here thinking, “No? Just me?”

Make no mistake, I’m still out and about. I don’t live in fear because I follow CDC guidelines. But working from home while my son is home-schooling is tough. Even with a teacher for a husband. Even though he’s suportive and very involved. It’s just not ideal.

girls in a heated pool

I also miss my friends. I miss spas. I miss going to spas with my friends, which explains these photos. In January, when we were just beginning to hear whisperings of the coronavirus in the news, my friends and I luxuriated in a plush resort in Virginia. There was a steaming, heated pool that was reminiscent of the Blue Lagoon in Reykjkavic. There were elaborate dinners, Chamagne toasts and beauty treatments.

archery

But also? My friend Sarah signed us up for archery and axe throwing because, well, you’d just have to know her. She once said that she liked camping because it’s a “shock to your senses” – as if that’s ever a positive. One of the things that made this spa trip special, was that she invited two other girls that I hadn’t met. Having moved to Richmond from Los Angeles a few years ago, I relish meeting new people. The more I meet, the better I’m able to curate a nice social circle. It’s hard to put in the work when you’re a working mother with some serious hobbies. The girls were sweet, and we clicked as if we were in junior high. Coronavirus swept in soon after, putting a halt to new friendships. There’s just a placeholder for now, in the form of social media.

Even friends I’ve had for decades are circling a small orbit in a galaxy, far far away. Before coronavirus, I just called it the suburbs. So, I’m mourning the milestones I didn’t celebrate with them. I’m mourning that trip to Charleston and Savannah that our family never took. I’m mourning the new friends I haven’t yet gotten to know . I’m mourning Obama. I’m mourning eucalyptus steam rooms and deep tissue massages.

I look back on that weekend in January, where the four of us weren’t moms, or wives, or attorneys or writers. We were women. Innocently jumping on luggage carts and taking ridiculous photos. Laughing the way you do before you realize that a gobal pandemic is going to sweep in and change the world as we know it.

These photos are a reminder that eventually, things will get better. You have photos like this too. Take a good look, and feel free to mourn with me. But never lose sight of the fact that these photos are also glimpses into our collective future. Whatever we used to do, we will do again. I’m not sure when, but we’ll get there.

Be safe, friends.

Everyone okay out there?

One of the gifts of this pandemic is seeing “influencers” being replaced by hilarious TikTok videos. People need to laugh. Overly-edited selfies of girls on boats feels tone deaf at the moment.

Right now, the country is fighting for social justice, and rallying against an increasingly fascist White House. Influencers, already teetering on shaky ground for the shameless pursuit of followers and fame, seem out of place in today’s America.

Let’s put a hold on diet teas that cause gastrointestinal disasters. It’s not as fun watching high-end make-up tutorials when, if you aren’t one of the 40 million who are unemployed, are likely working from home anyway.

Let this time be a refresh, to focus on things that enrich our lives. Things that make us happy, and things that make a difference.

There are hilarious memes dedicated to the slow descent into madness for 2020. But if my previous posts have told you anything, it’s that I’m fighting the negativity tooth and nail. Instead of feeling helpless about the state our country is in, I get up and go to Black Lives Mater protests. I sign petitions and I registered to vote by mail. I turn my grief into action.

I miss entertaining and traveling. But I’m using the extra time to brush up on home projects, because life is giving me the world’s longest weekend. I built a slate fire pit and a curving, slate sidewalk leading up to it. I wallpapered the stair risers. I explored new parks with my six year-old and was able to binge watch everything in my queue. Highly recommended: Fleabag.

Here are some other things you can do to make the most of the current situation:

When life hands you peaches…. Get outside for fresh air in an orchard and pick them. It’s perfect for social distancing. If you don’t live near a farm where you can pick your own, hit up the market. Peaches will never be more juicy or wallet-friendly than they are right now in season, and delicious things can be made with them.

The same goes for tomatoes!

The kids need to have a little fun too. Integrate literature and food by making real-life green eggs and ham!

This winter, when news of the pandemic hit, it was nature that saved us. As if sensing our pain, she saved us from sleet and frigid temperatures. Like magic, winter was mild and spring came early, allowing us to get outside. My husband took up fishing, and with it, the exploration of unvisited state parks and local fishing spots. It meant days in the sun, leisurely picnics and fresh fish! Nothing beats my husband’s fried bass with Thai chili and tamarind sauce. Nothing.

Most pools are closed, but it isn’t the only way to make a splash. Research the best places to take a dip, whether an old quarry or local lake. If you’re not land-locked, get to the coast. Well and Good even has a guide that lists the best natural places to swim in every state. To make the most of it, go prepared. Pack river shoes to avoid broken glass or questionable surfaces. Bring water to stay hydrated. Come with friends, because there’s safety in numbers. Since you’ll be far from civilization, pack great food and stir up a fresh summer sangria. These will likely be the best days of your summer.

It’s true that the pandemic isn’t over, but neither is summer. This season can be fleeting, which is why we need to stop and savor the little things. Instead of frozen sugar water, get creative with homemade popsicles. Arnold Palmer, strawberry and basil and cappuccino are among the surprising flavor combinations. Have fun with it!

Perhaps most importantly, don’t let helplessness take over. It’s easy during a pandemic to feel down, especially with the relentless news cycle spitting out one treacherous act after another. It’s healthy to shut it out in small doses, but be sure to stay informed. The only way to beat helplessness is to be part of the solution. Register to vote by mail, march with protesters for Black Lives Matter, sign petitions fighting against corrupt government practices, then rest and regroup as needed.

Blink and it will be fall. There will new things to look forward to. Until then, take care of yourself.