Simple Pleasures: Relaxed Weekend at Home

So often we look forward to the weekend, but once it arrives, it gets swallowed up by errands and chores — and before we know it, it’s over. That hardly seems fair! If you’re ready to reclaim your weekend, begin by shifting your thinking and consider your weekend a “mini retreat” — a well-deserved opportunity to rest and recharge. And while not every weekend lends itself to this relaxed approach, even when life throws you a super-packed weekend, pulling even a few ideas from the list that follows can help slow things down enough that you can catch your breath and savor the abundance around you.

Morning Ideas Start your weekend off right by savoring your first cup of coffee (take it outdoors if the weather is agreeable) and using this moment to simply breathe and relax, without feeling the need to check your phone or fire up the laptop. Instead, pick up an old school pencil and paper and make a list of things you would love to do and (equally important) things you don’t want to do over the weekend. Really dreading the weekly cleanup session? Consider calling in a cleaning service, even if these chores are something you usually do yourself. If you must clean, plan to set a timer and get it out of the way as quickly as possible.

Scoop up armfuls of blooms. What could be more cheerful than flowers all around the house? If spring is blossoming where you live, all you may need to do is walk out to your garden and start snipping away. If it’s still cold (or you don’t have a garden) stop by a market, farmstead or flower shop and treat yourself to some beautiful blooms. Once you get home, trim the stems a bit (a fresh cut makes it easier for the flowers to drink water) and place them in vases of fresh water immediately. But don’t stop there — even if you bought just one bouquet, you can get more out of it by pulling out a few blooms to fill bud vases. Place a bud vase beside your bed, on the bathroom sink and in the kitchen to spread good cheer throughout your home.

Take a neighborhood stroll or bike ride. How much have you really explored your neighborhood? Take a walk (bundle up if you need to) or bike ride if it’s a lovely day, and set out to discover something new. Your eventual destination could be your local farmer’s market or a favorite neighborhood cafe or shop, or you could simply wander and explore, taking inspiration from the houses and gardens you pass.

Set up your own spa-like accoutrements. When you come in from your walk or bike ride, refresh yourself by making a pitcher of fancy water with slices of lemon, orange or cucumber and sprigs of a fresh herb like mint. Pour yourself a tall glass and sip it while paging through your favorite coffee table book.

Refresh your living space. If decorating is your cup of tea, put on some music and spend some time restyling your living room. There’s no need to buy a thing — just challenge yourself to be creative and work with what you have. Sometimes moving things from room to room, putting up some new art (you can always pull from your stack of family photos) or pulling a few textiles out of hiding are all that’s needed to give a space a fresh look. Of course, if shopping is on your agenda, it’s your weekend to do what you like — but consider checking out a small, local shop or flea market instead of hitting the big stores, as you never know what treasures you’ll come across (and it’s surprisingly satisfying to stay close to home).

Invite friends over for tea. When was the last time you got together with a few friends just to chat and catch up? Having tea together is a lovely, low-pressure way to host a gathering, since all you really need is a selection of tea and enough cups to go around! Teatime treats are always nice, but they can be simple — good cookies from a box along with a bowl of berries is totally fine. No need to bake scones from scratch (unless you want to).

Think of the transition from morning to afternoon as a natural time to pause and “reset” your day. If something came up in the morning — soccer practice, errands — make this your chance to reboot your weekend and intentionally choose to relax and enjoy the rest of the day.

Picnic in the backyard. Whether you stopped by the farmer’s market on your morning stroll or are using what you have on hand, keep lunch simple and fresh. Think crostini with tapenade, crunchy veggies sprinkled with a bit of flaky salt, a prepared whole grain salad and a bowl of berries for dessert. If the weather is good, why not pack up your lunch and head out to the backyard? Everything tastes better in the fresh air! And if it’s rainy or cold, simply relocate your picnic to the dining table, and warm up with the addition of hot soup and mugs of tea.

Sneak away for an afternoon soak. Taking a leisurely bath in the afternoon feels luxurious, improves the spirits and helps release any lingering tension from a long week. If you have fragrant essential oils or fancy bath products you’ve been saving, now’s your chance to use them.

Read, journal and daydream. Whether it’s a sunny window or a backyard hammock, choose the best seat in the house for getting lost in a good book. Take along a journal and pens in case you get inspired to write down your thoughts — and if you’re not sure what to journal about, making a “things I’m grateful for” list is always a winner.

Kindle an old flame. Did you always love photography, art or poetry? Whatever your passion, take a little time-out to explore what sparked your interest in the first place. Pull out your old sketchbook and draw for 10 minutes; take a neighborhood walk with your camera; write a poem on the first scrap of paper you find — it doesn’t have to take up much time to feed your old flame, and it’s worth every second.

Evening Ideas Unlike on a weeknight — when you’re probably already tired from your workday — after a day of rest, relaxation and creativity you should be feeling renewed and ready to have some fun. Make an official start to your evening hours by putting away the to-do list and setting aside your devices.

Put on your favorite music. Music, more than just about anything else, has the power to quickly shift our mood — so put on an album that lifts your spirits. If you have records, play DJ and curate a stack of albums to play throughout the evening. If you’d rather let someone else do the curating for you, try one of the many new online music streaming services … or invite a friend with great taste in music to come over!

Plan a vacation-inspired dinner. Whether it’s impeccably fresh fish in the Caribbean, tender Maryland crab cakes, a lobster roll within view of the beach in Maine or a warm and comforting meal in a tiny Italian trattoria, on vacation, dinner is often an event — something to really look forward to and savor. Whether you decide to cook or order in, choose something for dinner that captures the excitement of being away. Set the mood with music, candles and good friends or family to share the experience with.

Serve aperitifs or digestifs outdoors. So often it’s the little things that elevate everyday life into something special. One way to do that around the nightly meal is to change the venue before or after dinner (or both). Serve aperitifs (before-dinner drinks) and small nibbles in the garden before the meal, or head out onto the patio after dinner for a digestif surrounded by candles and strands of lights.

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