How To Turn Things Around, George Costanza-Style

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Seinfeld’s George Costanza in action

It was my birthday last week! Patrick and I had a great time away despite everything that’s going on in the world today.

But if you’re like me, not every day can be a fun-filled extravaganza. Not even close. I’ve realized over the years that my natural tendencies are toward procrastination, avoidance, and inertia. If I went with my gut, I’d stay in bed all day every day, reading endless piles of library books while grazing on whatever was the easiest/closest food on hand. I’d never exercise, shower, work, or talk to other people.

You should know better.

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Photo by Mathilda Khoo on Unsplash

I have a lovely friend with four kids, ages eleven to two. They’ve been quarantining since March, just like the rest of us, and it’s been tough. This friend had major surgery last week, and her husband has been juggling childcare and housework and his full-time job ever since. I was texting with him today, expressing empathy, and asking how we could help. While we figured out a plan, he wrote as an aside, “The next person to say ‘you’ll miss these days’ might get punched.”

Oh, I got mad when I realized that people have…

A Holiday Shopping Guide

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Photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash

I’ve been working on a second edition of my cookbook for a while and had hoped to have it ready for the holiday season. Alas, no — but hopefully it will be out in the early spring.

In the meantime, here are some cookbook suggestions for everybody on your holiday gift shopping list. Well, almost everybody. I can think of one person who would interpret a gift of a cookbook as veiled criticism. But for the rest of the world, a cookbook is a gift that keeps on giving — often right back to you, the giver.

If I could…

The Best Music for the Best Season

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Annunciation to the Shepherds, Master of the Houghton Miniatures, 15th century

True confession: I own over forty Christmas CDs. That may seem excessive to some; this I acknowledge. Whenever I feel tempted to judge someone for a shoe fetish or other acquisitive hobby, I remember my drawer of Christmas CDs and realize that I live in a glass house. I’d be hard pressed to give up any of my CDs, but if forced at knife point, I would whittle the collection down to the following ten (not in any particular order).

Mariah Carey: Merry Christmas No, Mariah’s not my favorite artist; I wouldn’t want…

Better late than never….

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You’re all probably smarter and more organized than I am and have already finished your holiday shopping. But just in case you haven’t, I’ve written about some of my favorite sources for unusual and delightful gifts. (And here’s another great list.)

This year especially, it feels important to me to support independently-owned businesses as opposed to big box stores/monopolists, so that’s what you’ll find below.

One way to support your local economy is to buy gift certificates. Everyone from your local ice cream shop to your favorite spa, aesthetician, or massage therapist, to a neighborhood restaurant

A Different Kind of Advent Calendar

The holidays are just about upon us. This year, many of our usual activities are out of the question. There will be no Christmas concerts. No craft exhibitions at the schools. No caroling in groups. No parties or cookie or ornament exchanges. No live nativity scenes. It’s time to come up with some creative ways to mark the season while staying safely at home.

Patrick had the great idea that we’d watch one Christmas movie as a family for the first 25 days of December. I put together a list that included family favorites as well as some that are…

Set Yourself Up for Success

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Photo by Ashley Batz on Unsplash

My friend and former classmate, Kim Purcell, recently wrote a terrific piece on building a writing habit. I highly recommend it.

Kim’s article got me thinking about my writing ritual, one I developed after reading Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art. Pressfield encourages artists to have a set of behaviors that tell your brain and creative muse, “Let’s do this.”

These days, we can’t go write at our favorite library carrell or cafe. Depending on your life and work circumstances, you also may not be able to write in the same place at the same…

Your Complete Guide to Addressing Holiday Cards

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Photo by Tomáš Malík on Unsplash

Since we’re nearing the end of the year, I’m here with a timely public service announcement about how to pluralize last names. We’ll go over indicating possession while we’re at it.

First, some context. Since taking the last name “Perkins” when I got married 31 years ago, I’ve noticed that a lot of people don’t know how to pluralize properly. It can be tricky and confusing; I get it. Take, for example, my name in contrast to that of my friend Jana Parkin. Our last names are similar, but crucially different for our…

Now more than ever, make Date Night special.

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Photo by Zack Marshall on Unsplash

We’ve been committed to a weekly Date Night for decades, and it’s done our relationship a world of good. Even when you’ve been happily married for more than 30 years, like we have, it’s easy to slide into complacency, get distracted, and start taking each other for granted, particularly when it comes to Date Night. To combat that, several years ago I came up with a strategy I call “Friday Night Lights (FNL).”

FNL has nothing to do with football and everything to do with romance. We chose Fridays because we can…

How I Organize My Life

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Photo by Julia Joppien on Unsplash

A reader asked me to write an article about my notebook system, so I’m happily obliging her. I call it my carnet (kar-NAY), which means “notebook” in French.

Lots of people keep track of their lives on their phones. That just doesn’t work for me. There’s something about actually writing things down that helps them stick in my head and helps me think better in general. I take my carnet with me everywhere.

What I use it for: my carnet is a combination journal, list keeper, habit tracker, doodling pad, and commonplace book. …

Luisa Perkins

Novelist, foodie, francophile. Top Writer in Books. My Patronus is our corgi, Moneypenny.

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