Friday, April 17, 2020

Quarantine Chronicles

What a crazy season we're living in these days!  These are surreal and unprecedented times, for sure.  How are you all holding up?

As we practice social distancing and self-quarantining to protect ourselves and others from this very vicious COVID-19 virus, some people are feeling everything from fear to panic, boredom to resignation, and despair to irritation.

Most of us are just hanging in there, waiting things out.

We're all wondering what a post-virus world is going to look like.  Will we go back to the way things used to be, or will things never be the same again?  I'm not sure where I stand on that question.

While on the one hand, folks are chomping at the bit to get back to their normal lives, to go back to work, to take vacations that have been delayed, to celebrate birthdays and weddings that were waylaid by an unwelcome guest ... a small part of us wonders whether that's really going to happen.

On the other hand, the world has seen pandemics and other scary viruses before.  The Spanish Flu hit a century ago, and life did go on afterwards.  The world has seen other vicious viruses like Zika, SARS, West Nile, etc., and still life went on.  I tend to think that we must have faith that normal life will return.  Somehow, some way, life always seems to find balance and stability, even after suffering a collective threat and trauma.

For some reason, this disruption has been imposed upon us, whether we like it or not.  Okay, no one likes it.  Nevertheless, it has happened, so perhaps we should seek to see if there could be a deeper reason for it.  While we nervously ponder whether life will ever be the same again, perhaps the purpose was to remind us to never take our comfortable lives for granted again.

Maybe something happens every few generations, when the world reaches a certain level of seeming ungratefulness, to remind us of just how thankful we should be for what we have.

I wonder if some who were complaining about their jobs only weeks ago, now dream of nothing more than going back to work.  If those who were bored at school now wish they could sit in class again, enjoying a lecture in person with their peers.  When the grocery store shelves are bare, it reminds us how often we've taken for granted that the products we want and need will just be available at our fingertips whenever we want them.  Somehow our old, boring lives now sparkle as a magical time in our memory.  How quickly perspective comes clearly into focus during hard times.

We are no where near Thanksgiving, yet it strikes me how appropriate it is for us to give thanks for our regular, old lives that were near perfect until a virus came along to wipe it all out.  We worry now about being able to find toilet paper, fresh produce, dairy, and meat.  Will we ever be able to shop in peace again, confident that we'll be able to get anything we need, without being worried about another disruption that could change everything?  I doubt that I will easily take much of anything for granted again.

Certainly the generations who lived through world wars, plagues, the great depression and the dust bowl, could teach us a lesson about appreciating the good times while we're living in them.  They have whispered in our ears for years, but we disregarded it.  It's so easy to be unimpressed with how much we have, how good life was for us, to disparage our consumerism, until it's suddenly gone.

My hope is that we never take what we have for granted again.  While I believe that we will move on and leave this trauma behind us, that we will find a new normal in short order, the lesson of this season seems to be to appreciate how good our lives are, to share what we have with others, and to have compassion for those suffering the brunt of these hard times the most.

Until then, I hope you're staying healthy and keeping yourself busy.  I'm seeing posts that there are a lot of people cooking out there.  I've become rather addicted to the endless cooking videos on YouTube myself, and they've been keeping me company while I do laundry, spring cleaning, and cook.  I'm sure I'll move on to other topics eventually, but for now, the cooking videos have my total attention.

Hang in there, stay healthy, keep smiling, and prepare to meet the world again on perhaps some different terms ... at least for a while.

Quarantine "Diary:"
  • This quarantine was my excuse for trying a grocery-delivery service from a local supermarket.  It worked out well, the shopper texted me with updates while pulling groceries, indicating when items were out or a substitution had to be made.  While I still prefer to shop for groceries myself, this definitely works well when needed!
  • In addition to wiping everything from the store down with disinfectant wipes, I also try to eliminate the outer packaging altogether, whenever possible.  Bags of Easter candy were cut open and dumped onto my dining room table.  Cereal bags are removed from their cartons, as well as any frozen item with an inner bag.  Produce was thoroughly washed with baking soda or hydrogen peroxide to rinse away anything on the surface.  There are videos on social media about how best to handle your groceries to avoid virus exposure.
  • Milk boxes, found in the baking aisle at my store, are lifesavers.  I keep a bunch in my pantry, and a couple ready to use in the refrigerator, for when I run out of fresh milk.  My sister uses a dairy farm delivery service already, but I don't go through enough dairy to make it worthwhile, so I use milk boxes as back-up.  Usually I use them for cooking, but they work just as well for a bowl of cereal.
  • One of my recipes calls for powdered milk, so I always have a box or pouch of dry powdered milk on hand.  Not my favorite replacement for fresh milk, but it works in a pinch.
  • YouTube has been my best friend during this period.  I typically watch Netflix or Amazon Prime in the evenings, when I can devote my complete attention to watching some tv, but YouTube videos keep me company during the day when I'm running around doing other things.  The endless videos on just about any subject you can think of, are amazing.  I usually pick a topic or a particular channel, and let them roll.  My favorites are the cooking videos, spiritual videos, Ted Talks, and some of the educational videos.  Lots to choose from, and a lot of stuff for the kids, too!
  • Cooking is also really big during quarantine, for various reasons.  We're bored, we have lots of food and produce we stocked up on to use before it goes bad, and we're hesitant to get take-out every night due to the hit to our budgets.  However, the inability to get all the ingredients we may need for some of our recipes also forces us to be creative, try new recipes, and make substitutions where necessary.  Enjoy this time of experimentation.  Ask yourself what would work with the things you have onhand, and move forward.  You may create a new family favorite!  And don't forget to freeze the extra bananas you won't be able to eat, all those extra onions you chopped, and any leftovers you won't be able to get to while you're eating through your last grocery haul.
  • Make sure you're taking your medications, vitamins and supplements during this difficult time, to support your immune system and feel your absolute best.  I had stocked up on a number of supplements just before this crisis hit, and have been diligently taking them throughout the day and evening.  Whatever we can do to enhance our health now will pay benefits later, no matter what we're exposed to in the days to come ... so do not neglect to take them just because you're in seclusion from the rest of the world right now.

Enjoy previous seasonal blog posts:

One-of-a-Kind Design
Create your own fabric, gift wrap and wallpaper to take custom designs to a whole new level.
The Buzz About Bees
Bees are precious, industrious and endangered.  We can do our part to make sure we don't lose these amazing creatures.
Isn't it Romantic?
Elevating a moment spent with someone else to make it truly special.
Scones for Spring
An absolute must for a spring brunch or tea party!
Hello Spring!  Hello Cookies!
Our latest cookbook is out!  A book full of Afternoon Tea's cookie and bar recipes!
My Favorite Mugs
A menagerie of mugs ... one of life's simple pleasures.
Never Forgotten
Remembering those who gave everything so that we can live.
Happy Easter!
A bevy of lovely and playful Easter Cakes to welcome in spring!
Who Really Needs An Egg Plate?
Not me.  But I'm probably going to get one anyway!
Happy Mother's Day!
Wishing all of the Moms out there a very wonderful, healthy and happy Mother's Day!
Mother's Day Tea
A perfect way to celebrate and spend time with our Moms.
Breakfast in Bed
A time-honored tradition for Mother's Day!
A Bridal Shower Tea ...
the perfect way to entertain!
A Baby Shower Tea Party
Celebrating a little one's imminent arrival.
May Flowers
Surrounding yourself with flowers!
Love Tea Sandwiches?
Spring is for Tea Parties, Baby & Bridal Showers, and Garden Parties -- that means lots and lots of delightful tea sandwiches!
First Sign of Spring Quiche
Spring means quiche, at least it does at my house!
Our Current Obsession: French Macarons
Light, airy, delicate pastel puffs of mouth-watering deliciousness
Romancing Your Life
Setting the scene to fall in love with your own life
Romantic Foods
Something special ...
The Romance of Travel
Falling in love with a new destination, adventure, and vistas
Food Porn
It has become a national obsession ... we're salivating over food and all the food shows on tv
How It All Began
The very beginnings of Afternoon Tea.
Baking is Love
No one has to bake ... ever.  So when they do, love is there.
The Lenten Season
A reminder that accepting the challenge of self-discipline is good for the soul
Spring Cleaning
Tackling and taming the clutter 
Cooking with Herbs
Herbs are making a tasty appearance in some of your favorite desserts!
The Problem with Pesto ...
It's so darned easy, you'll be making it all the time!
The Icing on the Cake
Does a bakery really need to make frosted layer cakes?
What's Your Favorite Cake?
If only I could pick just one!
My Boy
A tribute to Max
Bless the Beasts
Spreading goodwill upon the creatures we share this earth with ...
Baking Cakes
Basic baking tips for beautiful layer cakes
Congrats, HWP!
Healing Warriors Program received a huge honor, and we were invited to the Pentagon to see it!
Ana's non-profit, Healing Warriors Program, gives away a state-of-the-art electric wheelchair!
Donate if you can!
Healing Warriors Program,
my sister's nonprofit, does very important work for our service members' complete health and wellbeing.

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