And here we are, another month at home. And on the brink of summer. As the sun teases us through our home windows, we’re also faced with reminders that the world we once played in wasn’t so rosy after all.
Here’s what’s been getting me through:
This was something I’ve been thinking about buying for a while now. As someone who is weird about water rituals (usually requiring a combination of brita + boiling water and then cooling it down), this sorcery technology was made for my best millennial self. It has streamlined my lengthy water ritual to simply filling up the bottle, pressing a button, and watching hypnotically at the pretty blue light pulsing as the germs go away. The bottle itself is rechargeable via USB. And it’s pretty. So yeah, very on brand for me. Probably the quarantine purchase I’ve used most, for obvious reasons.
INSIDE WEATHER DESK
Ok I use this purchase every day too. Again, for obvious reasons. While working from the counter and the couch is an appeal of working from home, desks are important and needed these days. And even though my Mac is thousands of miles away sitting in a box in California, this desk is still much appreciated for my double laptop + iPad set up. Spacious enough to host my work set up AND a full breakfast…and lunch.
So after three months and two apartments of looking like a slob on Zoom, I figured it might finally be time for me to unpack my makeup. Well, I still don’t use it on a daily basis, but it’s a nice reminder that I can feel human and social someday. Plus it looks extra cute when the evening sun dances along the shelves. The acrylic holds me accountable for keeping the shelves cute.
AROMA DIFFUSER + ESSENTIAL OIL
I used to ditch work to go to MUJI on bad days. Some combination of the MUJI aesthetic and the smell of the essential oils and the weird music that just instantly calms me. So even though I have a diffuser sitting… in a box across the country, I figured I’d just get a small desk diffuser to calm me down throughout the work day. Plus it came with a remote so I can turn it on and off from bed.
20lbs of flour
(specifically 10lbs of pastry flour and 10lbs of bread flour) Yeah so this is definitely more questionable territory, but hey I could have done worse impulse buys. To be fair, it has brought me lots of joy. Or at least, things to do to fill up the hours. Also, when else would you be ordering a moving box worth of flour straight from a mill?
Truly, all this time at home has me thinking I can quit my day job and open up a little cafe the world opens back up. Whereas I usually default to whatever is fast and easy and doesn’t require me to run to the store, these days, I actively look for cumbersome, multi-day projects. To be honest, it’s probably for the better that this gives my tired tired eyes a break from the constant screen time.
exhibit a: pineapple cake
If it were literally anything but a global pandemic that required me to spend months at home, I would never in a million years even come up with the idea to make my own pineapple cake. It’s one of those things where it would never occur to me to make because it’s literally something one buys. It’s like if you decided to make Milano cookies. Why would you do that if you can just buy it? It’s one of those things where you’d make so many other things before even entertaining the idea of making something like this. And alas, here we are, making pineapple cake. Without molds. So I made my own DIY cardboard-covered-in-foil molds. Did I have to mail order maltose? Yes. Did they look super janky? Also yes, let’s call it “rustic.” Were they delicious? All things considered, yeah. They did hit the spot, and are the closest thing I can get to Taiwanese pastries these days. So no regrets. But will I ever make it again? No. Unless the lockdown continues on for more months, in which case, anything goes.
exhibit b: babka
Babka is one of those things I always see being made on TV. Like it looks fun, it makes sense, they’re delicious, but I’ll just go buy one. I can’t be bothered to wait for multiple proofs. And then suddenly it’s May 2020, I have 20lbs of flour and 1lb of yeast (yes, the first time I have ever purchased yeast, and yes it was not easy to acquire) and here I am on a Friday night making 2 loaves of babka to bake in the morning. Again, no regrets. Also, they freeze well, which makes it even better because all this cooking and baking is fun until you have to eat it all.
exhibit c: taiwanese bakery breads
Ok this was when I knew I lost it. I had a 4 day weekend, and a vision that pushed me off the deep end. Well, more of an Instagram inspiration. Anyways, I saw this super cute nostalgic traditional bakery box that a bakery in Taipei was doing, and I figured I would take a stab at it, but also change up the flavors to be more my taste. The result? Eight (8!) mini Taiwanese breads. Four sweet, four savory. All pretty damn cute if I can say so myself. And then a lengthy photoshoot of me and my breads. See here for recipes.
Just when we thought we’d be able to be optimistic once more on the pandemic front, we were reminded that our country is still inherently broken, that some fights can’t be waited out in silence, that some society made and perpetuated institutional inequalities are still there as they always were.
It’s a surreal time. This year has thrown a lot at us. We’ve come together like never before, and we’ve seen new rifts that further fractured existing ones.
It’s hard to weigh the options: going out and protesting for something bigger than yourself, or staying home in quiet quarantine. But we live in an age where resistance, if done right, can be effective virtually too. If we’ve learned one thing from the past few months it is that many things can be done online in a meaningful way. And that community organization online, even in the form of a Google Doc, can be very powerful: