Friends, you know me. You know that we are still quarantined, or socially distant, or in the red zone, whatever you want to call it.
You know that COVID-19 is making me feel like a bad mom.
There has been a lot of womp-womp-ing over here, and so, as I sit here in my living room, my favorite room in my house, enjoying the light that pours in from the windows and the world around us, I have decided to share an upbeat post.
I bet you didn’t know I had it in me!
As I’ve mentioned, we’ve been in a strict quarantine bubble with my parents, and there is this thing my dad does, not infrequently, and this thing is that he says, “You know something? _______ has been one of the greatest finds of quarantine!” or “I have to say, ______ has had a a major renaissance during quarantine!” or, he posits, “Do you know what was COMPLETELY UNDERRATED before quarantine?”
(each time, as if he has not already said it. Love you, dad!)
We tease him (because he is, in fact, unintentionally funny), but he is also correct. We have discovered and re-discovered some things during this period of isolation that have made said time better, happier, more delicious, more fun, and, dare I say, tangy-er!
Yes, of course we’ve baked banana bread; I’ve enjoyed every bite of my bestie’s delicious sourdough when she’s dropped it on my stoop; I spent two weeks tie-dying every white thing I could find; we watched Tiger King.
Here, I am talking about the things that are not on a quarantine Bingo card. Well, mostly.
And, because they may make your life similarly peaceful and tangy, I’d like to share with you
11 things I’ve become obsessed with during quarantine.
1. Iceberg lettuce
I know. It has been reviled in the lettuce world. No nutrients! Colorless and flavorless! The lettuce they use in gross, camp salad bars!
Oh no, my friends. Say what you will, but I have gotten into iceberg lettuce and if loving it is wrong then…what is that you say? I cannot hear you over the loud sound of my chomping these crisp, delicious bites of lettucey goodness.
I keep at least 3 heads of iceberg in my fridge at all times, and though washing and drying lettuce is laborious, it is so worth it. I chop it up into fine, little bites, and munch away. More on this, soon!
(P.S. if it is any indication of how much I adore iceberg, I was just going through the running list I’ve been keeping so that I could, at some point, share these things with you, and I had accidentally listed iceberg TWICE!)
2. Cardenas Lambrusco Red Wine Vinegar
I have to hand it to my dad. He was right. Red wine vinegar HAD been underrated (by me, at least). Until I tried Cardenas Lambrusco Red Wine Vinegar. We go through this by the case. Unlike other vinegars, it is not sour. It has a bite, but just enough. It is sweet, tangy, and is currently bffaeaeae with my iceberg lettuce. I have been making the same salad every day for the last two months, and it never gets old:
Iceberg Lettuce, a peach, peeled cucumber, cracked pepper, a little olive oil, a lot of Lambrusco Red Wine Vinegar.
It is dreamy. I have no idea why.
Let me just say, last week we had run out of the good stuff, so I used my Whole Foods Brand red wine vinegar and I could not even finish the bowl. Too sour! Not my Cardenas.
3. Top Chef
Let me be clear: I watched the first seven or eight seasons of Top Chef religiously.
The Season 2, Marcel head-shaving incident will go down in history as one of the most dramatic reality tv moments ever, and Kenny and I are devoted members of Bachelor Nation. The night before that well-teased episode was set to air we literally could not sleep, giddy with anticipation.
Ahh, life before spoilers.
Then, we fell off. Until one of my favorite podcast hosts started talking about the new Top Chef All Stars season, and, by some stroke of luck, Kenny agreed to start watching with me, in real time, just like the good old days.
It was everything we wanted and more. Cozy, nostalgic, delicious, dramatic, suspenseful, inspiring, heart-warming, I could go on and on and on. Just in case you will, in fact, take my advice and watch this most recent season of Top Chef (All Stars, Season 17) I shall not spoil it, but let me tell you, I had a very exciting interaction with the winner before they were the winner and I now own merchandise that has to do with the winner and a package of food from the winner just arrived at my door, so I encourage you to watch so we can discuss this and you can also enjoy the cozy, inspiring, nostalgic, happy deliciousness.
(Top Chef has also been the gift that keeps on giving, as all of the seasons of the show are available on Hulu, so we’ve gotten to re-watch and catch up since we resumed our love affair with the show.)
I’ve been a tea girl for as long a I can remember.
Chai was almost a verb for me, “Hey, wanna chai?”
And don’t get me wrong, I still love it, but I’ve pivoted. I’ve gotten basic.
I’ve realized that with enough sweetener and creamer it is not only delicious but crave-worthy.
I like my coffee hot, but flavored similarly to coffee ice cream. Light and sweet. BUT, when Kenny makes it with with AeroPress I can even drink it black. It’s that good. Why someone would choose to drink it black instead of with milk and sugar is beyond me, but it no longer disgusts me. We chemex. We use a machine. We have Nespresso pods. I am almost like a big girl!
Which leads me to my next discovery which is…
5. Oat Milk
I get it, I get it, oat milk has not only been a thing, but it has been THE THING.
I am late on this! I am often late on things. I refused to get emojis until I turned 30, if you recall. I still don’t have Uber.
But oat milk, oh yes. You were right.
I have a complicated relationship with milk and so when I am trying to avoid it things (like coffee!!!!) become tricky. Vanilla almond milk is fine in smoothies, but it just does not taste good to me in a latte. Enter: Oat Milk.
It is creamy, the flavor goes beautifully with my coffee, and I would drink it straight. It reminds me of soy milk, which I also love but do not often buy, and I don’t know why I am telling you this, because you certainly know way more about oat milk than I do, as you were not, in fact, late to this oat milk party, but now you know I know, ya know?
This is TOTALLY new to me. I talked about my love of puzzles just last week, and this love has only grown. I won’t repeat myself. I will, however, say that I tackled two 1000 piece puzzles in this last week
(Love Lives Here puzzle and All Good Things Are Wild and Free puzzle).
I have a crazy idea about puzzles, but I think I’ll keep that one up my sleeve.
7. Professional home self tan kit
I don’t think I have ever felt less cute or confident in my life.
Hyperbole or not, I hardly ever think, “Oh! That looks great!” these days and I have been my own very harsh critic.
Cue: Flawless Bake By Sophia.
Full disclosure, Sophia is my friend, but I paid for my kit, this is in no way sponsored, and the fact that Sophia is my friend simply allows me to confidently vouch for her skill, style, and immaculate cleanliness. I ordered my first ever home kit by Sophia right before my 35th birthday in April, as a little treat, and I have used to twice since. Let me just tell you, it has done wonders for my mood.
I mean it. Something about the subtle, natural glow (that I did not mess up and I mess up everything like this) made me look healthier, less like I’ve been indoors and sullen since March, and was a “self care” moment, when such moments are scarce. I used to treat myself to bi-weekly manicures, and have not been since February, but let me tell you that tanned, bare-nailed hands look much better than pale ones!
If you are looking for a similar burst of confidence, I cannot recommend this enough! Sophia is amazing (you’ll want to be her) and she will drop to you, ship to you, FaceTime with you, work with you, and you will feel better.
8. Spice House Spices
Another Robb Fox find, here, and I must give the man credit where credit is due.
When he told me he was buying a set of spices from Spice House I was, to be honest, mildly skeptical and somewhat indifferent.
I was also completely, totally wrong.
As someone who has never liked dried herbs, I will tell you that this set of essentials is so good we have purchased two more sets during quarantine. My personal favorites include the sweet curry, garlic powder, celery seed, dill weed, onion powder, and cumin. You have no idea how big this is for me. I think you’d enjoy, as well!
Look, I cannot say I find the process to be meditative. If I could outsource it, I would. I get that some people like the act of purging, placing, folding, etc. but I am not one of these people. It is, still, a chore.
But, alas, I have been stuck at home for eight months, and the clutter and disorder was really getting to me. Messiness gives me anxiety and my anxiety is already so high. I read articles and followed Instagram pages and made some Amazon orders and let me tell you, tackling one, small area or project at a time has been manageable and the rewards have been awesome.
I bought different kinds of bins, set up two donation pick-ups, dropped bags off on my best friends’ stoops, and went to town (again, one one, small space at a time). I recommend this.
Now, every time I look in my pantry to see neat rows of snacks all organized by type and size, with each type of item in its own, sorted bin, I feel accomplished; less anxious.
Late in 2019 something embarrassing occurred to me: during the year prior I had WRITTEN more books than I had read.
I was mortified!
I was also completely unsure of how to find time to read when I had children and dogs and a husband and a pandemic to keep an eye on.
Audiobooks, for the win! I have been “reading” with my ears nonstop, even replacing my beloved podcasts with audiobooks (from all different genres). Not only do I find these books enjoyable, but having read more than one book makes me feel accomplished. Imagine that!
I often share my book recommendations over on my Instagram page, so you can follow along there. I have been really into junky, fluffy, easy thrillers lately, but this summer I also read some non-fiction pieces (ranging from Andy Cohen to Bob Woodward) so I have a lot to recommend.
11. Putting it out there
Ok, this is not new, and I would not say I am “obsessed” with this, but I want to use this opportunity to thank you.
You have allowed me to continue to put it out there, whether “it” has been my twirling, magical dance parties with baby Belle in 2010 or “it” was the bleakest days of my postpartum depression, and you have followed along, supported me, and given me an incredible sense of solidarity.
In this case, though, I want to thank you on behalf of my kids. I put myself out there a few times this summer, with their permission, and I admitted (on social media) that we are still “staying home” as a family, and that it can be lonely. I shared that Beau is obsessed with Minecraft, and could use a virtual buddy to play with. I explained my kids’ unique school situation, having gone back to public school just last year, right before quarantine, and how we all long for connection. I know that by sharing my clear, potentially controversial viewpoint on the pandemic I am opening myself up to criticism and judgement. I am, potentially, further isolating my kids.
But, by putting it out there, I found some brave, bold, honest, good, kind people who, I now know, are my people.
Moms who also want to set up Minecraft dates for their kids and with whom I now text daily, about Minecraft, yes, but also about motherhood, health worries, and life.
Parents who are working to welcome my kids to their school community.
Strangers who tell us that what we are doing is helping others to stay safe, giving us a sense of purpose during this sea of worry.
If you are also staying at home, reach out. To me! To someone. The loneliness is crushing and it does not have to be.
If you are not, reach out! To those who wish they could, also, be out having fun but, for one reason or another, cannot.
It is hard to display vulnerability. But, when you do, you often reap the sweetest rewards.
There you have 11 of the things I have been obsessed with during this period of time.
As I finished typing that last paragraph I realized that I left some incredibly important items off the list (my daily yoga practice, if you can even call it that, Beau’s newfound love for basketball and The Sixers, sweet munchee cheese, to name a precious few), but maybe I’ll just use those missed opportunities as a chance to connect in the future. See #11.
I hope you have as happy of a day as is possible, considering. For many, it is the first day of school! You’ve got this!
For others, change looms in the air. We’re in this together!
Now, go make yourself a delicious iceberg salad and eat it in front of the television as you start season 17 of Top Chef as you wait for your sunless tan to develop. Just don’t trip on the puzzle piece!