As an introverted, Enneagram 6 homebody (who also already worked from home!), I feel like I was oddly prepared for life in quarantine. In fact, I’m actually less alone than before because now John’s here with me all the time. It’s so funny though because we still spend most of our days separate as we work, and even do our own things for breakfast and lunch and then reconvene for dinner as though it’s a normal, non-quarantine day. Even though I like my alone time, it’s been really nice having someone around during the day. And let’s just say I’m unloading the dishwasher way less than I normally do with him being here. DOUBLE PERK.
In Sonoma County, some businesses are slowly being allowed to re-open, but the general public’s stay-home orders were extended indefinitely last weekend. So we might as well keep getting cozy and used to being here (which bodes well for our pup recovering from knee surgery). As completely weird as this whole thing is, I don’t HATE the whole slower pace part of it.
It’s allowed me to plan and work on things I’d put off for a while (like the gorgeous new branding of my website, thanks to my friend behind Ink + Ellie). And I’ve been able to lean into hobbies that a normal pace would keep me from (or more truthfully, that I’d say I didn’t “have time” for). Reading in the middle of the day, gardening, painting, and baking up a storm are on my short list of things I can’t quit right now. So I thought I’d share all the little joys and bursts of brightness that I’m leaning into while we’re under quarantine, in case you need some ideas or are getting tired of the same old things every day.
1. Baking this bread.
I freaking love Half Baked Harvest (her Instagram makes me hangry, in a good way, every day), and while I tried and liked her honey beer bread from her new cookbook, this cheater’s sourdough is even better. And you don’t have to mess with the whole sourdough starter fiasco. (That sounds like a cool project for people with patience, aka not me.)
THIS bread, however, is ready in just a few hours and is SO GOOD. You do need yeast (I know it’s sparse but I was able to get a big 1-pound package on Amazon so we’re stocked up for like… years), and Greek yogurt is what gives it the “sour” flavor. It’s also the first bread I didn’t mess up or turn into a brick, so it has a soft spot in my heart. I’ve made it a few times already and I know you will love it.
2. The most heartwarming home & travel show.
I was randomly scrolling Netflix one day and came across a show called The Most Extraordinary Homes in the World. As an avid HGTV fan and someone who just had to cancel an international trip, it tugged my heartstrings in lots of ways. I popped on the first episode, and we were instantly hooked. This is a big deal because we don’t just *start* new series on a whim over here… John is very much against watching “too many shows at the same time” or binge-watching of any kind. The guy likes to savor his television content, what can I say?
But THIS SHOW. Something about it — probably the quirky pair of Brits who dorkishly and adorably detail the most insane homes all over the world — captivated us. It’s just light and feel-goody and super nerdy in all the right ways. If you need something that is breezy, no-drama (we have enough of that going on in the world), and also astounding to watch, this is it. Especially if you like home and travel content. We’re already done with the series (so much for not-binging) and I’m sad about it. Please watch it so I can vicariously live through you.
3. Fancy mocktails.
K hear me out, I love wine as much as the next person, but mocktails have been keeping me from indulging a little more than I’d like to. (To be fair, the first few weeks of quarantine were VERY indulgent, so I’ve pulled back. Enter: mocktails.) I don’t know, there’s just something more carefree about them. And drinking less alcohol has helped me sleep better. (Side note: has anyone else’s sleep been SO weird during all this? I’ve been having the craziest and most vivid dreams.)
My favorite concoction right now: a lime or peach Waterloo sparkling water over ice with a splash of pure tart cherry juice and fresh squeezed lime. It’s like a cherry limeade but better. And bonus! Tart cherry juice actually helps with sleep! So double-points for sleep benefits with this bev.
4. Painting and gardening.
Why are these two paired together? Because I’m not very good at either, but I love the feeling of doing both. There’s no deeper pride than using your own, homegrown veggies in a meal or ordering a frame for something you created… WITH YOUR HANDS! As a writer who puts together content for other people all day, every day, these little activities have brought me so much joy. And for every painting that’s un-framable or every plant that didn’t get quite enough water, it’s a reminder that not everything we do will be fruitful, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.
5. Solo walks.
I don’t know if the solo walks are so much a quarantine result as they are a my-dog-is-hurt result, but nonetheless, they’ve been so nice. Dog walks, at least with our dog who likes to stop and sniff every blade of grass and then drag us down the sidewalk, aren’t exactly the peaceful, ~mental health~ kind of walks. So while she’s been taking it easy this past month, I’ve gone out alone for the first time I think ever just to WALK. I go on runs all the time, but walking is so different. I find myself breathing deeply and taking in small beauties in my neighborhood, like a neighbor’s gingko tree or wild poppies on every corner. It’s so nice to just move outside in fresh air, in no hurry and all alone.
6. Simpler workouts.
On the topic of walking more, my workout routine has shifted too. We luckily bought this spin bike at the end of last year and use the Peloton app on the iPad to get super good cardio workouts in. (It’s such a good budget option if you can’t wrap your mind around the full Peloton investment.) But I’m also used to going to the gym multiple days a week and doing intense HIIT and heavy strength workouts. Aside from the bike, we have a couple yoga mats, 15 pound dumbbells, and some bands (which holy cow, I’m so grateful to have now especially). We also haven’t done anything with our third bedroom yet since moving in, so it’s been dubbed the workout/yoga/puzzle studio. It’s multifunctional.
And while I do get some higher intensity workouts in, it’s just not what I’m craving ALL the time. I actually have loved to slow down and do low impact bike classes, yoga, body weight strength workouts, and walks instead of the fast and furious stuff all the time. I think because we’re just doing less in general currently, and there’s a lot of craziness in our world, I don’t want to add extra stress on my body. Slow and steady just feels better for now, you know?
7. Yard clippings.
I got this tip from Young House Love (their podcast and blog are so good for DIY or home design fans and I just love their outlook on everything). They have shared how you can pretty much clip anything from your yard to add freshness to your space. Flowers are good, yes, and our roses bloomed beautifully recently. But you can also just clip a pretty branch and stick it in a vase with some water and call it a day. A few perks: A) i t’ll last longer than flowers and B) it automatically adds that boho, green vibe to a space that just freshens it up. Oh and C) it’s free and you don’t have to go anywhere! So simple, so joyful.
8. Dinner actually at our table.
K don’t judge, but before all this, we’d eat at our table maaaybe 1 to 2 nights a week? Even though we’re around each other more than ever now, we don’t necessarily connect and spend intentional time together all day. So we’ve challenged ourselves to not “just eat on the couch” (our previous nightly mantra, pretty much) and instead, actually sit down at our kitchen table together to eat.
It was for sure easier and more mindless to just chitchat on the couch, or eat our food and turn on some show in the background. But even spending 15 or 20 minutes sitting together eating dinner has been the most grounding, connective experience to end each day. We are praying together more and talking about all kinds of things just because the opportunity is there to face each other and have a conversation about whatever comes to mind.
Full disclosure: I got the idea to do this from my sister, who is staying with my mom and her partner right now. She mentioned something about their conversation at dinner on a random weeknight (I can’t even remember what it was). But I was like, “Wait, do you guys sit down to eat together every night?!” She said, “Yeah! I mean, sometimes we have nothing to talk about and usually mom talks most of the time, but it’s nice to have the opportunity to talk if we want to.” I thought, huh, maybe that’s a healthier way to do dinner than just plopping on to the couch and having to crank our necks if we want to talk, but mostly just turning on the TV because we’re “too tired” to talk.
It has been a highlight to my days right now, even on the nights when I’m tired and it would definitely be easier to do the casual couch dinners. I think we’d just gotten into a habit of it without thinking much of it, but this little bit of purposeful time with each other has been really, really powerful for both of us.
What are you doing to stay sane and grounded these days? I know for me it’s more about the small bites of happy things, and not constantly feeling the need to go and do and excel every day. The slowness has been so good and refreshing in a lot of ways, and I hope you’ve found little things to infuse into your days to make them a little brighter too.