Thing 20: Masks

It’s definitely a year for masks. Wear a mask to protect others and yourself. The CDC has a lot of mask guidance for coronavirus, and I honestly look forward to mask wearing being more normalized when people are sick for years to come. If you’re running low, there are lots of small businesses making masks. If you don’t know anyone locally, just search Etsy!

And even though we spend all our time hiding our face, you still need to take care of your skin. Enter a different mask; the skincare mask. I am sort of obsessed with skincare, and love to give my face a special treat. Meet Onå, which means “she” in Slavic languages. Onå is a skin care line made without sulfates, parabens, formaldehyde, artificial coloring, dimethicone, mineral oil, or phthalates, so it is perfect for any skin type.

I may have been charmed by their masks originally due to the branding (hello airplane), but I kept using them because they make my face feel incredible. The gold shimmer feels extremely regal and special too. Megan in Lakewood has an Airplane Mode and a Spotlight mask coming her way this week.

Mask up, stay safe. And give your face a treat too.

🚺 Woman owned 

Thing 19: Calabash Tea 🍵

bag of loose herbal tea

Big tea fan here. Bags, loose, hot, iced, whatever. Just keep it herbal and unsweetened (or chai). While there can be countless benefits to a variety of teas, I mainly drink it because it’s delicious. And Calabash makes great tea blends. 

Organized into herbal, chai, green, and black, with great images and descriptions, it is easy to search your preferred category and find a new tea to love. You can stop by their DC shops, or get things shipped. And there’s currently a sale so stock up. Their boxes they offer are amazing gifts when you’re looking to buy something fun for someone who has everything (or is just hard to buy for). If you want a little more info, you can also read the fun origins of Calabash and more about their founder, Sunyatta Amen.

Maite in Houston is getting a bag of the Rescue Me blend which includes: Organic Egyptian Mint, Elderberries, Echinacea, Rose Hips, Ginger, Fennel, Anise, Lemon Thyme, Yarrow, Mullein, Calendula, Spices & Love. And a bag of Triple Goddess Tea with Turmeric, Ginger & Galangal Blend Jamaican Ginger, Sri Lankan Turmeric, Thai Galangal, South African Redbush. Organic, highest grade, hand-ground goodness and L❤VE! 

✔️ DC Based 

🖤 Black owned 

🚺 Woman owned 

Thing 18: Baked Goods from Paola Velez

We can’t even begin to know what the full impact of the coronavirus pandemic will be on local and independent restaurants, but we know it will be bad. Tens of thousands of places have closed already and millions of restaurant workers have been laid off or had their hours/pay reduced. But despite all the many stresses that come with all that, some restaurant workers, chefs, and owners have found additional projects and causes to champion. Projects like Chefs for America, Brigaid 101, and Bakers Against Racism provided meals, education, donations, and awareness to issues faced by all of our communities.

A 2020 James Beard Award finalist for Rising Star Chef, Paola Velez is a co-founder of Bakers Against Racism, and executive pastry chef at Maydan and Compass Rose (formerly at Kith/Kin). From her Washingtonian Magazine “Heroes of the Crisis” profile:

It all started small: In May, Velez raised $1,100 at a pop-up doughnut shop benefiting the DC immigrant organization Ayuda. That modest idea—making desserts as a way to combat racial injustice—grew into Bakers Against Racism, the collective she founded with chefs Willa Pelini and Rob Rubba. A global virtual bake sale they organized for five days in June raised $1.9 million for racial-justice organizations. With another large-scale BAR event planned for December, Velez—whose main gig is making desserts at the acclaimed DC restaurants Maydan and Compass Rose—has decided to assist hospitality workers who are struggling financially. She recently helped launch Bee’s Grocery Fund with BAR to distribute $50 mini-grants for workers’ food needs.

Oh…her food is delicious. A loaf of babka was perfect for Hanukkah but would be awesome at any time. And now you don’t have to be in DC! You can get her La Bodega offerings shipped right to you. A Thickems Trio should have arrived at Jason’s place in NJ earlier this week. Buy from La Bodega, buy from your local restaurants. Order take-out direct or through an app that doesn’t exploit, and tip like you’re dining in. We need restaurants and passionate chefs in our communities. 



Thing 17: Puzzles 🧩

Puzzles may be the real winner of 2020. Our ability to constantly go from Good Screen to Bad Screen; small screen to big screen was tested. When you take away the in person gatherings, commute, the time spent in restaurants, museums, and other things we love; and move work, school, meetings, and gatherings of all kinds to a digital format at the same time, suddenly all we were doing was staring at screens. More than normal! Enter the humble, analog jigsaw puzzle. 

Millions of individuals and small households used puzzles to entertain and distract themselves with puzzles this year. The engraver and cartographer John Spilsbury, of London, is believed to have produced the first jigsaw puzzle around 1760. Little did he know that 260 years later, a global pandemic would lead to me sitting on my floor at 3:00 am with gummy-induced synesthesia multiple nights in a row, solving puzzle after puzzle. 

Labyrinth Games & Puzzles in DC was invaluable. I bought six puzzles from them online, via the easy and safe pick-up option. But they ship too! And Meredith in Pittsburgh was gifted a 1000 piece puzzle just this way. It’s going to be a long winter; get yourself some puzzles from a small business like Labyrinth.

✔️ DC Based

Thing 16: Books, from a indie shop

It’s about to be the fourth year of my online book club (the original idea I stole from Oprah), and all are welcome. Many join, but few participate…and this is OK! Sometimes people need book ideas, others need aspirational reading goals; there are no obligations or bad reasons to join. We read one book a month and discuss it on a chat platform (text chat only) for an hour at the end of the month. I choose all the books (muahaha), and we only read things published in the past 18 months. 

I am using Thing 16 to celebrate the end of Book Club 2020, and invite you all to participate in Book Club 2021! The world debut of next year’s titles is right here, right now! The actual physical Thing #16  is our final book for 2020, Real Life by Brandon Taylor. Since I chose the book last December, before it was released, it has received much acclaim, including being shortlisted for The Booker Prize! (This is a brag about how I pick good books.)

Books are also a great thing to buy locally. Support independent bookstores in your area. You can use sites like Bookshop to browse availability (if they don’t have their own ecommerce), but you should always try and email or call in your order if possible. Meg is getting her copy of Real Life from Loyalty Books, which is a great Black and Queer-owned bookshop in DC and Silver Spring. They have a fantastic ecommerce platform and have many things available for pre-order too (which can be hard to find in independent bookshop sites).

Pre-orders can be so important for authors. If there are authors you want to see thrive, pre-order their next book from a local, independent book store (if you don’t have one, borrow mine). There are a few unreleased titles you can pre-order on the 2021 Book Club list: How the Word is Passed by Clint Smith, Kink edited by R.O. Kwon and Garth Greenwald, and Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia.

And don’t forget about libraries when you pre-order―request your local library also purchase (this link is for DCPL and requires you to be logged in) a copy too. This is also a great way to show support if books aren’t in your budget: requesting is free!


✔️ DC Based 

🏳️‍🌈 Queer Owned

🖤 Black owned 

🚺 Woman owned