Readers' best of 2021 at home and away

Welcome. Last week, my colleagues and I shared our best of 2021 , the movies and music, the hobbies and provocations that have enriched o...


Welcome. Last week, my colleagues and I shared our best of 2021, the movies and music, the hobbies and provocations that have enriched our lives this year, at home and away. (I’m still amazed that Tonya Douraghy, the artistic director of this newsletter, grew sunflowers in her kitchen.)

This week, this introductory week between one year and the next, we bring you your favorites. Here’s what readers of the At Home and Away newsletter loved about 2021. Answers have been edited for length and clarity.

  • “The best advice I have received this year is from my manager who told me to take care of myself first and that our job doesn’t have to be perfect. In a protracted pandemic, I really needed to hear this. ”—Cindy Chow, Mountain View, Calif.

  • One of the highlights of 2021 was the streaming of the production of the Metropolitan Opera in New York “The fire is extinguished in my bones” by Terence Blanchard. The opera tells a poignant and profound story about a young man’s journey through trauma and hardship. My husband and I were deeply moved. —Peggy Geary, Vancouver, British Columbia

  • “My favorite thing that I did to pass the time, at the start of 2021, was learning to stock, from scratch. My boyfriend and I had just moved in together in November 2020 – this is my first time living with a partner. It was a project we patiently undertook as a team, letting the simmering aromas of the stove fill our Brooklyn apartment for nearly 15 hours, while I completed my graduate thesis at the nearby kitchen table. Cooking with our homemade broth afterwards is great, but feeling close to him, at home, doing something fun together, is the greatest reward imaginable. —Steph Katsias, Brooklyn

  • “We built a cabin using 18th century construction techniques. It allowed the family to come together outside and do something rewarding. —Christopher Pryer, Fayetteville, North Carolina

  • “Best recipe: ratatouille. Despite the fact that I normally hate eggplants, it is the most heartwarming and delicious thing I have done (five times) all year round. It was also incredibly enjoyable for my vegetarian family members over Thanksgiving. —Katie Snyder, Kansas City, Missouri.

  • “One of the best books: “Speckled beauty: a dog and his people”, by Rick Bragg, read by him (for the audiobook) in his sweet Southern voice. It is a dog and much more. Funny, sad, sweet – a lovely read. —Teri Martine, Seattle

  • “My wife and I, after 18 months in isolation, went on a 44-day road trip in September and October. We drove and stayed in hotels or with family and friends. It’s definitely not for everyone, but for us it was fabulous. Nine thousand miles. Sixteen states. Seven national parks. Sixteen relatives. About twenty friends. A wonderful 50th high school reunion. A breathtaking landscape. We are so lucky. —Mark P. Proulx, Des Moines, Wash.

  • “I would be remiss if I did not name ‘The Mysterious Benedict Society’ like the best of the 2021 TV show. Although the series is short, each episode was full of intrigue and fun. The cast is absolutely sensational, with longtime favorites such as Tony Hale and Kristen Schaal and a wonderful group of young actors who clearly enjoyed their roles. Beware of Constance, expertly interpreted by Marta Kessler; her lines were delivered with such impassive poise that she made us burst out laughing. —Kimberley Kitzmiller, Portland, Ore.

  • “Shetland”Jimmy Perez in Season 6: A Tortured Detective Inspector in a tormented part of his personal and professional life. His face reflects every fight. As good as the Ann Cleeves Mysteries are, this is a TV case that surpasses the books – in large part thanks to actors like Douglas Henshall (who plays Perez) and Alison O’Donnell (who plays the Detective Sergeant Alison McIntosh). Cranky music, gorgeous shots of windswept islands, and singing Scottish burrs of the characters transport viewers to this world. —Ellen Girardeau Kempler, Laguna Beach, California.

  • “Dresses with pockets. How else can I walk around the house and walk the dogs comfortably and still have a safe place for my phone, so I can listen to podcasts all day? —Mary Beth Cox, Richmond, Virginia.

  • “Full episodes produced by “Funny people cooking food” (there are also livestreams) are hilarious and informative. —Erica Wides, Brooklyn

  • “Use the two-minute timer on your electric toothbrush to improve your balance. While brushing, stand on your left foot for the first 30 seconds, switch to the right foot for the next 30 seconds, and repeat. (This assumes you have the kind of electric toothbrush that alerts you every 30 seconds during the two minute brushing time.) ”—Christine Thornton, Topsham, Maine

  • “The piano music that plays when I solve the New York Times Mini Crossword. Pure validation. —Rebecca Hodgkins, Greenwood Village, Colorado.

  • In 1979, Michiko Kakutani introduced Joan Didion for the Times: “A gifted reporter with an eye for revealing detail – the frayed hem, the shaking hand – she is also a premonitory witness, finding parallels of the times in her own experiences. The voice is always precise, the tone without sentimentality, the view unabashedly subjective. She takes it personally, ”Kakutani wrote. Didion passed away this month, aged 87.

  • Darker days become a drag? Use ShadeMap to get an idea of ​​when your home will be visited by sunlight.

  • here is Amythyst Kiah performing “Wild Turkey” egg in Albany, NY

  • How are you spending the last days of 2021? Write U.S : athome@nytimes.com. Include your full name and location and we may include your contribution in a future newsletter. Were At home and away. We will read every letter sent. As always, other ideas for leading a full and cultivated life appear below. I’ll be back on Friday.

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