By now, you’ve miraculously matched every sock to its mate and purged every closet. Week 1.
Crushed copious cases of wine, cookies and other home-baked goods you never ever would have attempted. Um, Hue attempted scratch-made sweet potato biscuits and homemade hamburger buns?! Week 2.
Had a few minor meltdowns/panic attacks while secretly questioning family planning decisions. Hello, Week 3.
Then came the unimaginable mandate of “sheltering in place.” Wow.
There was a huge simultaneous sigh of relief, however, when we received confirmation that Mississippi considers liquor stores essential.
And we’re “totally prepared”…
By Week 4, there were other issues no one wants to re-live, but we’ve all settled in to the new normal. (We’re gonna hate that term…)
With harrowing home-schooling schedules, grueling economic uncertainties and the brutal reality of extended self-quarantine isolation, anxiety levels have hit an all-time high!
When we keep it all in perspective, though, social distancing and staying home is not all that bad, amirite? Thank goodness for technology, takeout, group texts, booze and pets!
And good health, of course. (Phin totally smells like Fritos, btw.)
For Pinterest crafting and home organization projects, I am not your girl, but I can share some really good recipes and wine pairings, inspire a little retail therapy and hopefully a few feel-good gestures along the way.
I’m by no means killing it over here, but here are 27 WAYS I’m staying sane and trying to stay healthy and positive while supporting others.
- 1Turn off the news & ROCK OUT!
“In the end, rock ‘n’ roll will save us all.” No, really, music is totally saving my soul and sanity over here in Backyard, Tiny Town, U.S.A. Wipe away the tears, turn off the news and tune into 93XRT Chicago’s Finest Rock on Radio.com. Add to your Sonos app unless you hate Tom Petty, Bruce, Marcus Mumford and ’90s music.
- 2Lift a creative spirit
Remember care packages at summer camp? The best! While cooped up yet trying to be productive, it has brought me much pleasure to pause—and create a punchy-pink care package to brighten someone’s day. I’ve included something homemade with the recipe or an idea to inspire a creative project. Think especially of those dealing with compounding life issues: job loss, those with sick family members they can’t visit, divorce drama, high-risk pregnancies and single friends quarantined away from family who are likely pretty lonely. Who couldn’t use a little lift?
- 3Shop SMALL to make a BIG difference
In the words of an Alice + Olivia campaign, CUTE HAS NOT BEEN CANCELED! Imagine the retailers whose businesses have come to a screeching halt and have spring merchandise arriving daily! Keep shopping, y’all! Pay it forward by supporting both small biz web sites and brick and mortar retail friends (aka personal shoppers). They are ready to DM you back and text pics of new merch, like these new Made Worn tees Ashley sent me pics of from Nola! Most shops, of course, are offering curbside service or free shipping. Reach out!
Shop it: Call Hemline French Quarter (504) 592-0242 or text Ashley (504) 608-7294.
- 4Say YES to an Easter dress!
And, yes, we are getting dressed for Easter Sunday, too—even though we’ll be watching televised services. Start planning your smallish outdoor family picnic and dresses for every girl in the household—including you! “Hunt” for your dress via concierge shopping. At Em’s Boutique in Metairie, they will even try the dress on for you!
- 5Re-create a craft cocktail at home
Cocktails have not been canceled either! It’s the perfect time to take a few extra steps like making a homemade simple syrup and squeezing fresh citrus and dust off the shaker! Pick a recipe archived in your Saved posts on insta or re-create a cocktail that takes you back to a fun night out! If your home bar needs updated tools, Cocktail Kingdom is where I get the good stuff.
Here, a few favorites on Milk Punch from Nola restaurants:
Little Red Corvette, Pêche
Jardin de Même, Bar Marilou
Midnight Espresso Martini, Marcello’s
Wild Thoughts, Willa Jean
- 6Recreate an incredible restaurant dish at home
While New Orleanians are feasting on some mind-boggling takeout options (caviar and Champagne at Effervescence!), go get your hands on good groceries and find a recipe for a restaurant dish that makes ya happy at home. With fresh Gulf shrimp from Delta Meat Market, we emulated the famous Barbecued Shrimp dish from Mr. B’s to our own rave reviews! Tips: You can easily cut back 1 stick of butter and cook without heads on.
Get the recipe: New Orleans Barbecued Shrimp
- 7Slay your side dish on the grill
Not as good as those truffle fries are gonna taste when we break free, but potatoes on the grill rock! The key: parboiling. Cut potatoes and sweet potatoes into even slices and pre-cook in boiling water, about 8 minutes. Remove and toss in olive oil and seasonings and grill on low heat.
- 8Slay your side dish in the oven
Dude, don’t hoard the toilet paper, go grab all the cauliflower! There’s nothing it can’t do, even if that sounds like a Coronavirus meme. 😂 I make “my” Cauliflower Mash practically once a week: a head of cauliflower cooked in chicken or bone broth and pureed until silky smooth. Stir in Greek yogurt and Parmesan and season. It’s sooo dang delicious as an easy, nutritious side dish.
Get the recipe.
- 9Kick cooking to the curb!
Takeout, takeout, takeout! As you know, restaurants are taking a huge hit and working their buns off to feed us. Can you imagine this emotional situation without curbside pick up and delivery? When you can get Doe’s Eat Place steaks delivered, you know we’re all gonna be lazy and spoiled when this is over! Trish is always cooking up comfort at The Blue Biscuit and we can’t get enough of whatever Delta Meat Market and Taylor at Fan and Johnny’s is currently cooking. Family-style menus change daily so stay tuned to social media feeds.
- 10Hone your sabering Champagne skillz
Fun, fresh-air backyard project: practice sabering! No kiddos though… Assemble a handful of neighbors (or just your hubby) and ask them to bring a few bottles of not-so-fancy bubbly. Follow these steps and be sure to read these pro tips and rules (add hand washing!) to the group. Note the specific bottles that pop! You’ll be ready to host a Champagne Saber contest in the backyard when this is all ovah!
Shop: The Champagne Sabre you need
- 11Send godchildren a crazy-fun care package!
Children are safe and cozy at home, but likely going a little cray too. While cleaning out, my mother-in-law brought over two banker’s boxes full of Hue’s childhood keepsakes—and it gave me an idea. How fun to send some of these sentimental items like goofy photos and gather random things from around house (including Mardi Gras beads, sanitized!) and send to each of our godchildren? Hunt in your library for books (I found my old Charlie Brown Dictionary set!) and dig through drawers. I didn’t spend a dime except for shipping and it made my sentimental heart so happy to send them a DIY surprise.
- 12Make an aloe honey hair mask
Ever since we published “Home Sweet (non-toxic) Home” by Jessica Milam, I’ve had two aloe vera houseplants: one in my home office and one in the kitchen window. It’s the “healer” for scrapes and burns, but I love scooping out the gel to use as a DIY hair mask!
Aloe Honey Hair Mask: Cut about 6 to 8 inches of an aloe leaf. Cut lengthwise and scoop out about 1 tablespoon aloe gel. In a bowl, mix with 1 teaspoon honey and whisk. Apply scalp to root and leave on at least 30 minutes. Rinse and wash hair.
- 13Obsess about your vit C serum!
Should we go all desert island-style quarantine (Oh, wait, we are!), I’m grabbing cases of bubbles, OJ and a two month’s supply of Vitamin C serum! I personally tested about 12 products for almost a year to chose “6 Vitamin C Serums We Love” on MPM. I apply day and night…
Make a mimosa and shop the story.
- 14Plunge into pimento cheese and pair with Cabernet!
If you haven’t had pimento cheese while social distancing, are you even doing it right? Wine pairing alert: Pimento cheese pairs beautifully with Napa Cabernet. There is hope in Happy Hour at home with Southern comfort food and a glass of good Cali wine! Make your mama’s recipe, support a small biz takeout (don’t walk out of Delta Meat Market without their PC!) or make one of our Greek yogurt pimento cheeses (see “Pimento Cheese Hack” by Leslie Sorrell). Serve with celery sticks or go full mayo on the classic and bring on the Saltines!
Bourbon Pimento Cheese
Spicy Tangy Pimento Cheese
- 15Open up the Champagne, pop!
On the healthier side of comfort food, there’s always shoveling handfuls of POPCORN in your mouth with a glass of bubbly! Who knew popcorn wasn’t just skinny-girl faux food and has actual health benefits?! Here’s the $20 airpopper I use from Target and the magical topping combo I make at home, inspired by the popcorn they bring to the table at Effervescence (bookmark Girls’ Night in Nola) in New Orleans:
Drizzle empty bowl with avocado oil or high quality extra-virgin olive oil and toss cooked popcorn to coat. Add nutritional yeast (mimics a cheesy taste), smoked paprika and Himalayan salt. Pair with sparkling wine.
- 16Write a belated thank you note
Remember that super-fancy candle or cool cocktail book a friend gave you months ago for your birthday? It’s never too late to write a handwritten note to say how much you’re enjoying it, especially now. Include a full report on everyone’s mental state and the creative ways the family and pups are filling time, 21st century style. What a delight to receive!
Shop it: Need pretty new thank you cards? Fresh Ink (my go-to) is offering buy 25, get 25 free!
This Baobab Collection candle is seriously fabulous! Order it online from Memphis boutique 20twelve.
- 17Send a toast to a quarantined bride to be
While we’re socially isolated and simultaneously erasing underlying societal guilt, now is a darn-good time to knock out some wedding gifts, too, past and future! Jonathan Adler keeps throwing up promos where you can snag some discounted pottery, but think of your local gifts shops, too. The Veuve Clicquot coffee table book I just picked up at Mod + Proper would be an amazing unexpected wedding or engagement (I’ve seen 3 so far!) gifts for a fun bride! 662-400-3111 for curbside pick-up.
- 18Go bananas for smoothies!
There was a run on bananas in my little town so when they finally re-stocked, I bought up a grocery basket full. Karma? Peel and freeze bananas to up your smoothie game! Unripe bananas have more resistant starch and less sugar than ripe bananas. As a natural sweetener and skin-loving ingredient, frozen bananas put the smooth in smoothie, add fiber and help keep you full.
Favorite smoothie combos lately:
Red Velvet Smoothie*: 1 frozen banana, 1/4 cup cooked beets, 1 tablespoon cacao powder, 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, SteviaLeaf liquid stevia drops.
Sweet Potato Cinnamon: 1/2 cooked leftover sweet potato, 1 frozen banana, 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, sweetened to taste.
*Add Sakara chocolate metabolism powder to any smoothie to offset the wine-drinking bloat!
- 19Feed your face
Save one of those bananas for DIY facials! This Matcha Avocado Honey mask is one of my make-at-home favorites, but I also love this two-ingredient, all-natural moisturizing combo:
1/2 ripe banana, mashed
1/2 ripe avocado, mashed
Combine in a bowl and whisk well. Apply to face and leave on 20 to 30 minutes. Rinse and wipe away with cool water. Ahhhh…
- 20Keep up those fresh-air power walks
Have you ever seen so many people walking the neighborhoods for fresh air? Never! I’ve been loving hour-long “walk and talks” with a friend (1 hour is around 4 miles and 350ish calories) and also utilizing the Outdoor workouts on the Peloton app. I’ve even made peace with the pot holes and the dogs in the ‘hood that have always scared me! It’s been pretty eye-opening to discover the springtime beauty all around you and wave a little kindness to neighbors. All ya gotta do is leave the house.
- 21Make your own spa water
Hydrating hasn’t seemed quite so hard lately, has it? My water is super clean and tastes so good for two reasons: it’s filtered through my Berkey (Germaine uses one, too) and because it’s infused with Pure Inventions Water Infusion Drops. They’re sugar free and add natural electrolytes. Coconut Chocolate is an easy favorite flavor, but I also love Cranberry and Elderberry (cocktail friendly!) as well as Green Tea Peach. Shop local: call a local spa or Kelly at The Alluvian Spa to ship, (662) 451-6703.
- 22Splurge on designer sneaks! Shhhh...
While you’re shopping small but mighty, perhaps it’s the pick-me-up time of year to drop down on new geese! The sparkly new Golden Goose styles this season are killin‘ me! I’m partial to Slides all winter, but there are tons of spring sneaks with insanely fun details and printed laces. Online shopping alert: I spy some now-shoppable styles online, not just in two of my favorite boutiques: both Blithe and Vine and Cicada now have merchandise on their web sites! It’s an add to cart/shop local kind of day…
- 23Basil is baaaaack!
Basil may not be growing in the garden quite yet, but if you’re willing to stand six miles back spaced six feet apart in line to get groceries, it’s starting to hit shelves! Pesto is my annual springtime food obsession and about that aforementioned Easter picnic: two of my go-to seasonal dishes are made with homemade basil pesto! Aka Glow Pesto will pair with most any menu: toss pasta generously with pesto for an easy side dish (always a hit) and make these delicious pesto deviled eggs! If you don’t have pumpkin seeds for this recipe or the traditional pine nuts, you can also make pesto with walnuts—good for activating immunity.
Get the recipes:
Pesto Deviled Eggs with Smoked Salmon
- 24Order LOBSTERS, table for 2!
The price of Maine lobsters has plummeted due to a slowdown in imports to China. Support and eat like queens and kings in quarantine! Although we have thrown many a lavish, loud, late-night lobster party at my own house, this scenario is quite different: split a shipment with friends and everyone cooks their own lobsters at home! We order from Harbor Fish Market in Portland, Maine. Twenty four lobsters right now including shipping comes to about $24 per person! Hue steams them in a big crawfish pot for 15 to 19 minutes. All you need is a simple salad, roasted or grilled potatoes and drawn butter.
- 25Cabernet + C H O C O L A T E!
And for dessert, we’ve been nibbling on dark chocolate—nightly! We can’t survive another quarantine night without it! Cabernet and chocolate is also a wonderful pairing so keep sippin’. Lily’s 70% chocolate is my go-to favorite since it’s made without added sugar. Pick up at Whole Foods or order a box online and keep in the freezer.
- 26Write down your weekly workout!
Even if you’ve been exercising at home or outside, it’s easy to have days where you forgot to move. Write down your workout goals for the next 5 days! Studies have shown, says wellness editor Germaine Benoit, that if you “write down goals and keep them in front of you daily, it gives your mind the direction to bring everything you need to accomplish for that goal.”
Personal trainer Tiffanie King sent me this 5 Day Home Workout:
Day 1: Lower Body
3×8 Squats (back straight, knees should not go over toes, use chair to sit in if needed)
3×8 Pile Squats (toes pointed outward, back straight, use chair to keep balance if needed)
3×8 Lunges (use chair or something to help balance as needed; separate legs, knees should not go over toes)
3×8 Dead Lifts *light weight* (feet shoulder length apart, slight bend in knees, back straight and bend over and bring weights to toes and back up straight)
3×8 Calf Raises (standing, push up onto your toes and back down. Use something to assist balance as needed)
25 Dumbbell Side Bends (standing straight up, slight bend in knees, arms by each side drag weight as far to knee and back up and switch sides. Should be on side of leg, not front)
Day 2: Cardio of choice (Walk, run, bike, jump rope, etc.) 1 mile; time efforts and track!
Day 3: Upper Body
3×8 Arm Circles (arms out to the side and rotate in circular motion forwards and backwards)
3×8 Pushups (Keep body in straight line, don’t let booty drop. If needed, do on your knees!)
3×8 Tricep Kickbacks (Slightly bent over, shoulder to elbow is locked into place, forearm pushes weight back to make arm in straight line and back)
3×8 Lateral Raises *light weight* (Arms to side and out to sides to shoulder height and back down)
3×8- Rows *light weight* (Slightly bent over, arms extended in front of you and pull weight back to chest, squeeze back 5 seconds and release)
3×8 Bicep Curls *light weight* (standing with arms to each side and curl weight up with elbow locked into sides)
30 second Plank
Day 4: Cardio of choice
(walk, run, bike, jump rope) 1 mile; track time!
Day 5: Total Bodyweight
15 each Mountain climbers, Touchdowns, Shoulder taps, Squat jumps, Speed skaters, Pushups, Plank jacks
Day 6: Rest
…then go pop a cork!
- 27Have magical melatonin dreams...
I’ve been weaning off the bennies (Benadryl, increases risk of dementia?) in 2020, so thank goodness the Vitafusion extra strength melatonin gummies arrived before Amazon practically shut down! Ah, yes, I can sleep now! See you in my crazy vivid melatonin dreams…
Apologies to Steve Azar, but it’s not often you have a country music star play and sing an impromptu birthday song in your own backyard (2018). Special thanks to Courtney Ayres and Gene Stock for helping lighten the mood with the videos!
Let’s get a little more social: the main bar is @milkpunchofficial on insta, like the Milk Punch Facebook page and if you dig the beauty product talk, join us over cocktails in the Beauty + Booze Group.