Weekend Recs #26: Puzzles, end-of-year recaps, and chicken noodle soup
Plus: What to do after a draining family visit
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This is Weekend Recs, a weekly send of ideas and diversions for your downtime. Not subscribed yet? Here you go:
Editorial note: Alisha is on maternity leave. In the meantime, Downtime is edited by Aliza Abarbanel.
Four ideas for your weekend…
I gulped down this darkly funny, contemporary take on the campus novel by Elaine Hsieh Chou. It focuses on hapless PhD student Ingrid Yang, who is miserably studying a canonical poet when she finds an unusual note in the archive, and snowballs into a suspenseful academic whodunit featuring incisive commentary on privilege and power. It’s a voicey, energetic read that ramps up until you won’t put it down.
🧩 Puzzle time
My family spent hours (and hours) hunched over a 1K piece jigsaw puzzle last weekend, piecing together pickles, burgers, and vinyl seats from this maximalist and slightly infuriating New York diner scene—a special Piecework collab originally printed in New York Magazine. The perfect group activity! If you’re looking for something slightly easier, I’d go for this baroque still life.
I also simply must share my mom’s genius “puzzle spatula” trick, in which you can work on assembling sections anywhere on the table and then use a firm spatula to smoothly transport them into the main puzzle. Kinda goofy, highly effective.
🎵 Your year in music
I always love when the annual Spotify Wrapped feature hits. It’s fun to compare and psychoanalyze the songs everyone listened to most—why yes, I did have a crush when SZA’s SOS dropped in March—and revisit memories. If you use the app you can find yours here or Apple Music here. I also enjoyed getting even more data about my listening habits through the website Receiptify, which pulls stats like top artists/songs from Spotify or Last.fm into a cute old school receipt. And, in an incredible display of bravery, here’s my top songs of 2023 playlist.
🍜 Recipes to cook right now
Butternut squash baked pasta. A creamy, comforting pasta that delivers big creaminess with just a little cheese—and a lot of peak-season squash.
Chinese chicken noodle soup. A quick, gingery chicken soup with lots of chewy noodles. Drizzle some chili oil onto your bowl!
Thai tea tres leches cake. I go to Golden Diner in Manhattan almost exclusively to eat this luscious dessert, so it’s a delight to get the recipe here! A perfect celebratory holiday dessert.
Vegetarian pot pie. Kale, mushrooms, and white beans combine for a satisfying veggie pie that’s good for a weeknight or an occasion.
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A grab bag of links and reads worth sharing with the group chat.
Just…leaving this here for the holiday season.
After Barbie, Greta Gerwig Has No Plans to Rest [Vanity Fair]
A fun long-form profile of the inspiring and singular director
Make a difference in a way that works for you.
The 10 Best Books of 2023 [New York Times] *gift link*
I’ve already added a few of these stand-out fiction and non-fiction picks to my library queue!
Why Spotify Thinks You Belong in Burlington, VT [Washington Post]
A funny and informative peek into the “sound town” feature matching listeners to cities on Spotify Wrapped. (P.S. I’m a Berkeley).
🌼 And more fun fluff…
How to get better at being grateful year-round. // The cutest quilt cookies. // A genius way to crochet without messing up your posture. // The best tips for getting over a breakup. // How to grow a giant pothos. // How to manage money when you have ADHD. // A sweet holiday party decor idea. //