Connected \\ March 25, 2020

Hunkering down in New England

Winter in New England often means staying inside until the storm blows over. For many, being relegated to our homes when it is not safe to carry on with the regularities of day-to-day life reminds us of the Blizzard of ’78. School and work were cancelled, cars were not going anywhere for days and it was weeks before things seemed normal again. It is why we have the French Toast Emergency Alert System in place — storm’s coming, better fill up on bread, milk and eggs!

A painting of the Boston Public Garden in Winter, 1930s. Oil on canvas

Arthur Clifton Goodwin, Boston Public Garden in Winter, 1930s. Oil on canvas. Collection of Carolyn A. and Peter S. Lynch. Photo by Bob Packert/PEM.

If there is one thing New Englanders have learned, it is the fine art of staying indoors and getting cozy. And while we secretly (or not so secretly) relish the unexpected free time that a snow day provides, what we are facing now makes a blizzard seem like a walk in the park. It is an unnerving and confusing time as we all come to terms with the fact that, for the health and well-being of our communities, we may be “snowed-in” well into the spring.

Abner the orange cat seated on a red bench at a table filled with spice jars, next to Victor.

#PEMfromHome with Abner, pictured left, and Victor. Photo courtesy of Victor Oliveira.

So I thought I could provide an inside look at how to pass the time, besides the obvious and unimaginative binging of streaming TV (time to watch all eight seasons of that show you have been meaning to get to, if you can remember what it is called).

You can tackle some household projects that you have been putting off. Here are some I am working on:

  • Finding the right blue for our living room. (We are leaning toward Saxon Blue.)
  • Organizing my shoes from a single monk strap to the rarely-seen triple monk. (I cannot resist a monk, it is a problem.)
  • Sorting out the spice rack with Abner, my cat. (He abhors disorganization.)
  • And as the buyer for the amazing PEM store, here are some items from the shop I am trying out at home:
A row of mens shoes lined up on a flowery pattern rug

Organization in-action! Photo courtesy of Victor Oliveira.

A red drink in a cocktail glass sits on a windowsill with a view to a grass filled park outside

A “Quarantini” photo courtesy of Victor Oliveira.

Planning a tele-date with friends. It’s a virtual happy hour where we discuss how to mix the perfect “Quarantini” using The Flower Cocktail Kit, an array of floral elixirs. Here is my favorite concoction, so far:

  • Vodka
  • Fresh Lemon juice
  • Violet Elixir
  • Shaken with ice

At first glance, the game Photosynthesis appears to be about growing happy trees that would make Bob Ross proud. But really, it's a game of strategy. Plant your trees to get the best sunlight so they will grow faster and position them to block the sun from your opponent’s plantings. Once the sun has revolved around the board three times, the game is over. I like this game because the directions are fairly straightforward and because it is sustainably made and uses very little plastic.

A board game with cut cardboard standing trees, grassy paths and streams

Together, we can bring paint-by-numbers back into Vogue! Oh, the smell of the paint and the tininess of the brush. My inner frustrated artist is finally appeased. Who needs therapeutic coloring books when paint-by-number kits are just waiting to push our digital dexterity to the limit?

A painting of two golden brown and white owls facing the viewer perched on a branch

Royal & Langnickel Paint-By-Number Tawny Owls.

An orange tabby cat sitting on a table facing the viewer

Abner and his solar system puzzle. Photo courtesy of Victor Oliveira

Puzzles, Puzzles, Puzzles: They are back and just in time. The perfect indoor activity. Toss one on a table and work on it at your own pace or as a group. Leave it out for however long it takes. Come back to it in between cleansing episodes of The Good Place. Abner chose this one.

A cozy pair of socks. The PEM store has dozens of different socks, each of which I will describe in detail right now. Not really, but I will point out Zkano, an independent, woman-owned company. These organic cotton socks are made in Fort Payne, Alabama, a town that was once known as the sock capital of the world before outsourcing all but put an end to American textile manufacturing. Zkano uses sustainable methods, and they’ve been keeping workers employed (and feet toasty) since 2009.

Rows of colorful and patterened sock pairs wrapped in paper Zkano branding

Zkano socks at the PEM Shop! Photo courtesy of Victor Oliveira.

Spring planting season will soon be here, so start thinking about gardening and cultivating your wee seedlings indoors. Each year, Hudson Valley Seed Company challenges artists to create art for the cover of their packets that illustrate the story of the seeds. The company is committed to providing seeds that are cultivated organically and sourced locally and sustainably, preserving crop diversity by selecting unique varieties. Every seed variety is open-pollinated, many are heirloom and organic and never GMO. Guess which one of these is a priority at our house?

A catnip seed pouch cover with a fancy illustration of a cat in a victorian dress with beads and butterflies as a headdress, holding a flower

Plant priorities! Photo courtesy of Victor Oliveira.

Follow the PEM Shop on Instagram for the most up-to-date items to enjoy while spending time at home!

A vies of the PEMshop store filled with unique items

Inside the PEM Shop. Photo by Bob Packert/PEM.

We sincerely appreciate your PEM Shop purchase, now more than ever! All purchases directly support the Peabody Essex Museum and its educational programming.

The PEM staff wishes everyone health, safety and calm during the COVID-19 shutdown. Museums provide light and inspiration during challenging times. We will be creative in maintaining PEM’s relationship with you in this time of crisis. We look forward to welcoming you back to the museum when the public health crisis has subsided. For more information and updates, please visit and keep in touch through our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. And of course, shop PEM online at for all of your quarantine-entertainment needs!

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