Well. Here we are at the end of March. It’s been a weird month, no? Last month, when I was putting February’s round-up together, I can honestly say of all the scenarios I pictured taking place over the next four weeks, what ended up happening certainly wasn’t at the top of the list.
My husband, who works in nightlife, will be unemployed for the foreseeable future. If bars aren’t open, he has nothing to do. I’m currently working from home, and the company I work for is doing everything it can to stay viable (including a brilliant idea to manufacture face shields for healthcare workers on the front lines), but if we’ve learned anything over the past four weeks it’s that there are no guarantees. But when it comes down to it? I consider us fortunate. No one we know or love has been diagnosed with the virus, and with luck, it’ll stay that way. My parents, who are both retired, are mostly unaffected by the stock market crash. For us personally, it could be a lot worse, and I’m grateful. My heart goes out to those who haven’t been so lucky, but I’m optimistic that once this ends, we may find ourselves a generally better, more empathetic species. I’m holding out hope, anyway, even as I read articles about teenagers purposely coughing on produce in supermarkets.
Anyway, if you need a break from doom-and-gloom and click-baity, dramatic headlines, I’ve taken to sharing only optimistic (but realistic) information on my Facebook pages. If you want to feel a bit better, I recommend checking them out:
The silver lining (it’s a dull, tarnished silver to be sure, but if you look hard enough, it’s there) is that without spending upwards of 90 minutes a day in traffic, I have some extra time. I’ve been spending most of it working on A Holiday Gift, reviewing the first third to ensure that the remaining two-thirds make sense, and signing up for Camp NaNo, which begins April 1. I’ve also given my website a bright, shiny new makeover! But I’ve also been reading a lot, and watching a lot of Netflix, and of course, cooking (no time like a quarantine to use up all of the loose bits that have been collecting in the freezer and pantry)! So, here’s a round-up of what I’ve been doing to pass the time in March.
With more free time, I was able to tear through March’s book list in three weeks. One of the books on the list was The Secret Ingredient, by Nancy Naigle. I’ll admit it – most of the reason I chose this book was because I, too, am writing a book about a baker who enters a contest and ends up winning a second chance at love. But it was so cute! It revolved around Valentine’s Day, but would be a sweet and satisfying read at any time of year. The funniest part is that the Hallmark Channel debuted the movie version this year, and I was simultaneously reading it and watching the movie at the same time – literally, sitting on my couch with the book in my hand while the movie played on TV – before I realized this was the case. The movie cut out a huge chunk of the beginning, but it was weird watching on TV the same things that were going on in the book I was reading.
I’m not one of those people who does all my month’s shopping in one fell swoop and cooks only based on what I have on hand. I love going to the grocery store, and it’s not at all unusual for me to pop in 3-4 times a week to pick up an ingredient for a yummy dinner. But social distancing has forced me to change my habits, and instead of finding a recipe and going out to buy the ingredients I might be missing, I’m learning to adapt and use only what I already have. That’s what happened when I found these jalapeno popper taquitos at carlsbadcravings.com. They looked delicious, but I was missing a few key elements. Fortunately, I had viable substitutes. Instead of beef, I used ground chicken. I had half a jar of salsa verde left from a previous recipe, so I used that instead of regular salsa. I used canned jalapenos, a leftover 4 oz block of Monterey Jack cheese, and some ancient tortillas (that had been refrigerated, so they were definitely still edible). The end result? Delicious!
My sister got us Harry Styles tickets for Christmas. The show is in June, and hopefully we’ll be able to go. Until then, I’ve been listening to his latest album, Fine Line. While my sister is the bigger fan, I’m definitely loving this album with its combination of modern pop and classic rock sounds and moody, melancholy lyrics. I was far too old for One Direction when they were in their heyday, but I’m enjoying the solo careers that came out of it!
Well, that’s all for the hideous month that was March. I’m holding out hope by the time we meet again, things will be much brighter, saner, and healthier.