Things I Love: Quarantine Edition

cherry blossoms

In a time where people are struggling with health, economic uncertainty, and the stressors of a global pandemic, I realize how incredibly privileged I am to be writing something as fluffy as a "things I love during quarantine" post. I keep counting my blessings: My husband and I still have our jobs; we can work from home; we are quarantining together instead of alone; we have our health. But even in our relatively fortunate position, prolonged self-isolation can take its toll, which is why today I'm compiling a list of the small purchases, rituals, and things that are sparking joy and helping us stay sane. If you have your own recommendations or tips, I'd love to hear them!

working from home at the dining table during quarantine

Home

Every day I make a point of opening the blinds, and if it's warm enough, the windows. Natural light and a spring breeze make spending all day in a one-bedroom condo feel less claustrophobic. Even if we can't get outside for a walk during the day and we're stuck on Zoom meetings, we can still get some sun.

I've been working from the dining table so Lawrence can have the den and we have some physical separation. At the end of the day, I clear my workspace and stack everything in a neat pile in one corner of the dining table. It's a small ritual, but it signals separation between work time and home/rest time.

Messes can build up quickly when you're quarantining with your partner in a one-bedroom condo. We've been extra vigilant about keeping the floors clean, the furniture dust-free, and the dirty dishes and clutter to a minimum. Aside from alleviating boredom, all the extra cleaning has given me a sense of calm and control and made our 24/7 space more pleasant to be in.

sitting in bed with a mug of tea

Beauty & Style

When you have nowhere to go and nobody to impress, what do you wear for work? I'm not one of those people who can stay in PJs all day; I need to wear something I don't associate with sleep to get into a productive mindset. My daily WFH uniform has been a T-shirt and bra on the top (so I look decent for video calls), sweatpants on the bottom (for comfort and coziness), and old barre socks (the grips are too worn out for classes but not for walking on hardwood floors). I'm also loving my Smash + Tess romper—it's super comfy, looks professional from the waist up with a cardi, and washes and dries well. Beauty-wise, I am eschewing makeup and contacts for skincare and glasses. Bring on the sheet masks and facial oils and refreshing face mists!

In terms of recent purchases, here's what I've bought in anticipation of a prolonged quarantine period:

  • Rocky Mountain Soap Company Nomad Hand Sanitizer ($18). One of my favourite Canadian natural beauty brands has just started making all-natural hand sanitizer with 60-80% ethyl alcohol, a refreshing lemongrass scent, and a gel texture that leaves hands feeling soft. It feels good to be supporting a Canadian business in these difficult times while buying something we need anyway.
  • Roots sweatshorts for Lawrence and me. It won't be long before it's too warm for sweatpants, which is why I bought lightweight French terry sweatshorts for each of us. They'll be great for lounging and WFH—soft and stretchy with no constricting seams, but not PJs.
  • Gorgeous friend and local fashion designer Jenny Yen of Two of Hearts has just started making reusable cloth face masks. They come in two different adult sizes (S/M and M/L), they're handmade locally, and they cost $30 for a set of two. I ordered a couple of sets so we'd always have clean ones handy.
setting up for a Bar Method workout at home with light weights, yoga mat, stretching strap, and small pillow

Fitness

THANK GOD for Bar Method. Even before the mandatory shutdown, I was beyond impressed with how the Vancouver studio stepped up cleaning measures and tried their best to keep instructors and clients safe and healthy. When the gyms and fitness studios closed, they were one of the first to pivot towards IG livestreams and online classes. I've been doing classes from home using light weights, a yoga mat and strap, and pillows as props. A chair pushed up against a wall serves as a makeshift barre. Oftentimes I make a date with Sheila to do the class at the same time and we have a quick video chat afterward while stretching. The endorphin boost and sense of connection feel amazing.

chicken noodle soup

Food

Like everyone else, our grocery spending has gone up and we're cooking at home a lot more these days. But when I'm craving something that's not homemade, these are my neighbourhood go-to's:

  • The Federal Store makes incredible sourdough and the loaves HUGE. We've been slicing each one into quarters and freezing what we can't eat. It's great with charcuterie, cheese, and apples for a quick lunch on weekdays.
  • Sushi Yama when we need our fix of sushi, sashimi and specialty rolls.
  • Benkei for ramen.
  • Rosemary Rocksalt for bagels and sandwiches.
  • Peaceful for Chinese food.
  • Gene for lattes to go.
Kobo reader showing Loveboat, Taipei, bullet journal, Dior lip balm, Mistral vanilla hand cream

Entertainment

I keep joking with Lawrence that we live in the golden age of quarantine, what with all the streaming and digital entertainment options available to us. We've been buying ebooks on our Kobo readers and borrowing them from the Vancouver Public Library via OverDrive (see here for my latest book recommendations).

As for what we've watched and enjoyed recently, the shortlist includes:

  • Tigertail (Netflix). An immigrant story from Master of None co-creator Alan Yang, with aesthetic touches reminiscent of Wong Kar Wai.
  • The English Game (Netflix). Downton Abbey's Julian Fellowes turns his attention to the early days of football, when the game went from being played by well-to-do gentlemen to being embraced by the working class. Great for fans of lush English period dramas, with plenty of commentary on privilege and class politics.
  • Freud (Netflix). What do I love even more than a good Regency/Victorian/Edwardian period drama? A murder mystery set in the same eras. Freud sees young Sigmund working as a doctor by day and using his hypnosis skills to catch serial killers by night. It's lurid and trashy and somehow more engrossing for how trippy it all is. In other words, this is the post-modern Freud mash-up I didn't know I needed.
  • Hillary (Netflix). This four-part documentary is so well done, and it makes me so angry and sad to think about how differently the pandemic would be playing out in the US if Hillary Clinton were in charge.
  • Blow The Man Down (Amazon Prime). Two sisters in a sleepy Maine town find themselves grieving their recently deceased mother and covering up a murder. Smart, fun, visually arresting.
  • The Nanny (Amazon Prime). My comfort rewatch sitcom of choice lately.

2 comments

  1. I love this roundup! I was thinking about writing up my own but then I ran out of things to say after #1 - Bar Method XD

    I have to go pick up some of that Federal Store sourdough bread you keep talking about. When I was picking up yeast for baking, I saw people get their cupcakes and cakes too which looked DELICIOUS.

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    Replies
    1. You have a pretty sweet quarantine situation, I think! Home office, cute cat, Bar Method, a yard, yummy Asian groceries (frozen dumplings are GENIUS).

      As for the sourdough, it's SO good, almost Nelson the Seagull but thankfully within walking distance of us. We bought 2 more loaves the other day.

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