‘New normal’: Suggestions on creating fun

by Julianne Milner

In these uncertain times, there are so many “new normals” with Plexiglass barriers, gloves, masks and social distancing to name a few. No backyard barbecues, baby showers or supper club get-togethers. No book clubs, Sunday school parties or spring weddings to attend. 

While we’ve found other creative ways to spend our days, we’ve discovered new interests, new hobbies and learned new things about ourselves and our family. Come along with me as I share some of the things my family and friends have been doing to stay busy, creative and upbeat!

Mexican Train Dominoes – One of my family favorites! If you don’t own these dominos, you definitely should. I saw these available at Kroger and also from Amazon. It is fun for the family. We’ve been known to play this until the wee hours of the morning.

Mexican train dominos is a fun game for the family! The object of the game is for a player to play all the dominos from his or her hand onto one or more chains, or “trains,” emanating from a central hub or “station.” (Mike Kemp photos)

Jigsaw puzzles – These are great fun while challenging your mind! Choose from famous paintings, landscapes, modern art, famous cities and more. You can find puzzles in 3-D, reversible and even floor puzzles for the kiddos. They are great fun by yourself or with a small group. 

Designate a corner of your den or living room for a puzzle table and keep one going. The selections are amazing!

Try a new recipe – Remember that recipe you tore out of that magazine or the one that looked so delicious in your new cookbook? Well, now is the perfect time to try it out. Gather the ingredients and cook it up for the family. Contacting a favorite relative to get a copy of a recipe they cherish is a wonderful way to pass down family traditions to your children. Cooking feeds the soul and warms the heart.

Read a best-seller – I love to check out the New York Times best-seller list each week and read the summary and reviews on each one. Order a book from Amazon to be delivered to your door, or, if you have a public library card, download a book to your device using the ABBY app. Reading books helps you learn, understand and makes you smarter. Not to mention the knowledge, vocabulary expansion and thinking skills it develops, so read a good book today!

There’s nothing better than diving into a great book — it takes you to another world!

Clean out your closets – Go through one piece at a time. If you haven’t worn it in one year, it goes in the donate box! As Marie Kondo, author of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” tells us, if it doesn’t “SPARK JOY,” out it goes! This is one of my least favorite things to do, but I will have to say, nothing is more gratifying than a neat, organized closet.

Listen to a podcast – It’s safe to say we’re living in the golden age of podcasting! If you’re not familiar with podcasts, this is the best definition I found: It’s all of your favorite blogs, shows, topics (some you didn’t even know you’d enjoy) wrapped up in a huge hub of recordings that you can listen to on your own time — in the car, at work, at home, working out, anywhere. They come in a range of genres, from comedy podcasts to true crime, storytelling, cooking and even celebrity interviews. The options are endless. You can Google top podcasts to binge. Warning: These are addictive!

Write a letter – Yes, I’m serious! Actually write a letter. It’s a hug in an envelope, and I guarantee it will make YOU feel as good as the recipient.

Start a Saturday morning breakfast tradition – Now is the perfect time to start a new tradition that the kids look forward to each week. You can search under “fun food ideas for kids” on Pinterest. There is a plethora of cute ways to serve breakfast foods that your kids or grandkids are sure to love!

Research and try a new hobby – Always wanted to play the guitar, learn to knit, paint with watercolors, but never found the time? What better time to dive into a new hobby than now. My friend ordered a sourdough starter from King Arthur Flour and is creating all kinds of yummy breads including loaves of cinnamon pecan bread! I’m trying my hand at ornaments made from cookie cutters and air-dry clay!

Board Game Night – Gather the family around for game night with a collection of “old school” board games! Scattergories, Monopoly, Clue, Scrabble, Sorry! These are classics. Break one out tonight and fun is sure to follow.

My wish for myself and each of my readers is that in the process of slowing down and practicing social distancing, we will discover new interests and make some wonderful memories with our families. We will listen harder, love bigger and laugh louder. As we move back out into society again, we will not forget to enjoy the simple things, take care of each other and use the talents God has given each of us to make this world a much better place. Follow me on Instagram @juliannessoutherntable for summer happenings ahead!