Welcome. The weekend is upon us again, though for many it’ll be no different from the other days that we pass by like towns off the interstate, long-haul truckers driving endlessly through the night. It’s hard to distinguish between them when we spend so much time in the same space at home, working or not working, screening or not screening, marking or not marking the time. Everything looks like blacktop.
Some seek routines, established activities at established moments in the day or week: a regular bike ride or walk or run; lunch at 12:10 p.m. daily; a Friday evening meet-up in the park with friends in masks. Others seek distraction, refreshing their browsers for “The 50 Best Things to Watch on Disney+ Right Now,” or gobbling down beach reads even if they’re not at the beach.
Still more seek advice, which is where At Home comes in. You ask, we answer.
I was wondering if you could suggest some good date night ideas. I’m looking for ways to spend time with my boyfriend at home that feel special. I think what we are missing from life pre-quarantine is the ability to go somewhere (a restaurant, the movies, a museum) and be taken care of. To that end, can you recommend any recipes that feel elegant but require minimal cleanup? Or maybe something that can be made ahead of time? I also would love to know some simple ways to transform a normal room into a date-night room. (I don’t know if that makes sense, but I feel like you’ll get it.)
I do! There’s nothing more elegant than a dinner of steak Diane for two (here’s the recipe), served aside a thatch of sauteed spinach and a whole bunch of supermarket fries that you can roast on a sheet pan in the oven while you’re making the meat and greens.
While one of you does that, the other can do a deep dive on the area in which you’ll eat, tidying madly. Set out lots of candles, douse all artificial light, set the eating surface carefully, with real napkins if you have them. (It’s okay if you don’t! Just try to make the set look special, intentional, nice.) Open a bottle of red wine. Cue up Smokey Robinson’s “Quiet Storm” on the speakers. Date night is great.
Now, to some housekeeping. I’ll be off for the next two weeks. My colleague Melissa Kirsch will write to you in my absence. She’s great and I hope you’ll make her feel welcome.
More ideas for living a good life at home and near it this weekend appear below. Please write and let us know what you think and what you want to know: firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re At Home. We’ll read every letter sent.
How to pass the time.
To mark the anniversary of the 19th Amendment, we’re revisiting the stories of how women won the right to vote in the United States. See photos of suffragists’ descendants and read their reflections on the movement’s legacy. Learn about the women who fought against the vote. And read an excerpt from “Finish the Fight!,” a history of the suffrage movement for middle-grade readers.
While there are about 750 species of butterflies in all of North America, moth species number more than 11,000. Those intrepid enough strap on a headlamp and venture out into the dark might meet, as Margaret Roach did, a moth from genus Catocala, its “hindwings patterned like colorful petticoats.”
Among the new books we recommend this week are David James Poissant’s novel “Lake Life,” a tale of a dysfunctional family vacation; and “Luster,” by Raven Leilani, about a 23-year-old Black woman who gets involved with an older white man in an open marriage.
What to watch.
“An Easy Girl,” the new feature from Rebecca Zlotowski streaming on Netflix, tells the tale of a 16-year-old French girl whose Cannes summer is transformed by the arrival from Paris of her older, more sophisticated cousin. Jeannette Catsoulis calls this coming-of-age story “sultry, but never sleazy, observant yet nonjudgmental.”
Most summer camps are approaching their final virtual bonfires, but the 20 episodes of the PBS series “Camp TV” are still available to stream free online. The show, hosted by the head counselor Zachary Noah Piser (“Dear Evan Hanson”), aims to prepare campers ages 5-10 for school with storybook readings, science projects and more.
When the coronavirus shut down concert halls and opera houses, musical performances moved online. While these concerts were often free, some institutions are now asking viewers to purchase tickets. Anthony Tommasini has selected livestreams by Renée Fleming, Sandbox Percussion and others that are worth the price of admission.
How to deal.
Your pets have grown accustomed to having you around lately, so when it comes time to return to work, they may experience separation anxiety. One thing you can do now, veterinary behaviorists told us, is start taking short walks without your pet so they begin to get used to being alone again.
New coronavirus protocols at colleges translate to new coronavirus fees for students. They’re being asked to share the costs of testing and reconfiguring campus facilities, which can range from $45 to $475 per semester.
And experts are telling us that indoor air is riskier than outdoor air. So what do we do when it’s really hot outside? When in doubt, open the windows, says Jose-Luis Jimenez, an aerosol scientist at the University of Colorado Boulder. “The more outside air you have, the more you dilute the virus.”