It’s kind of hard to believe that we’ve been dealing with Covid19 now for well over six months. It’s also strange to think about how we took for granted going to the grocery store, concerts, or sporting events, much less work without all of the current precautions. We’ve somewhat survived quarantine by staying home (well, those of us that were able to stay home) and by not gathering in large groups. We now sport face masks, temperature readings, 20 seconds of serious handwashing as well as bottles and bottles of hand sanitizer. Remember grocery store shelves full of toilet paper? What a profound difference a few months have made on our lives. Are we done yet? Or is this now the way of our world. I refuse to say “new normal” as that just doesn’t really make sense.
At the end of March, and right before the complete shutdown, I was still wearing a jacket here in Tucson, Arizona. Prepping for the upcoming, monthly antique and vintage market didn’t entail electric fans and coolers; it wasn’t too hot to load the cookies in the car the night before! Now, with temps reaching 113 during the day and the Bighorn fire that’s been burning for over a month, I’m hopeful that the monsoons are on the horizon! Of course, getting ready for selling at a market is just not on the immediate calendar. Partly because of the weather, but mostly because of Covid19.
While the health, safety and well-being of our family and friends have remained top-of-mind throughout this ordeal, it took a little work to refocus while quarantined. Working from home (#WFH) took on an entirely different feeling! I definitely was better situated than so many others, not to mention all of our frontline and essential workers. I tried to help where I was able; between making face masks and donating when possible to our local food pantry and animal shelter.
Also, my long list of “to-dos” managed to ease, and I even conquered a couple of bigger projects during the quarantine. I knew that I would be remiss and mad at myself if I failed to take advantage of this “free” time. Despite the constant barrage of therapists and well-wishers saying that you shouldn’t be “guilting” yourself during quarantine, it truly helps me. A busy mind for me is more often a cure rather than a curse.
One project that I worked on during quarantine, I actually had begun earlier in February. This was a flagstone walkway in my tiny front yard. Dad wanted to help me, so we practiced serious social distancing in all ways imaginable. We masked-up, wore gloves, and only worked for a couple of hours each weekend. The weather was super nice and definitely cool under the two mesquite trees. As Dad didn’t want to come into my house, we stuck to the short work periods. Dad also had a good stash of water bottles in his car! This was probably the best-case scenario anyway; I would much rather be safe than sorry later. Always best to try and avoid as many points of contact as possible.
Generally, we would meet at the rock yard early on Saturday. We would pick out the pieces that we liked and then have it weighed. Next, we loaded up the flagstone for that day’s work and drove back to my house separately. I did a couple of “rock” trips on my own as well, including numerous trips during the week for multiple bags of sand.
I think it turned out pretty great! I will need to add a little more of the smaller rock in between the flagstone, but for the most part, it’s all done. What an accomplishment and thanks to Dad as inspiration, plus the power behind the ‘get it done’ mentality.
Now, I just need him to come over and sit and relax. The heat is now here for the summer and I finally treated myself to ordering a bench (tax refund, yeah!!). The wind, even though it’s quite warm, rustles the branches and it cools a bit in the evening. Sadly, I was seeing the Bighorn fire while sitting here. Then a few weeks ago, Fourth of July neighborhood fireworks. It definitely feels like an escape when you’re under the stars. Covid19 or not.
I also did manage a little baking as well during our quarantine. I absolutely love sourdough, but that was definitely not on my list! I did plenty of cooking for Mom and Dad and managed to squeeze in a little baking experimentation too.
Recently, I have been hearing a lot about “browned-butter” but really didn’t know anything about it. What difference would it make and why would you go to all that trouble? Well, now I have an idea. Browning luscious, real butter to a frothy, caramelly consistency was awe-inspiring! Add that to a seemingly basic cookie recipe and now you have elevated it to an all-time heightened taste experience. There is definitely a caramel taste hint, and I’m not entirely sure if it truly added to the melt-in-your-mouth sensation, but the flavor is out-of-this-world.
Now, for the record, I actually only tried it in one chocolate chip recipe! so I may not have experienced the entire realm of browned-butter goodness. I also didn’t make any other changes to the recipe. I used the same amount of butter originally called for in the recipe; I just browned the butter instead of using softened butter. Yet this entire routine has definitely become a keeper.
Dad, our official ASC tester, raved about the cookies and wants to know when they will be at a market. He said if they by chance don’t sell, he’ll take them. Consider them yours, Dad.
Are we done yet?
Are we ready to jump back into life, complete with face masks, gloves, and social distancing? I am. We are! I’m ready to get the juices roiling again. Precautions are absolutely necessary of course, and we do it simply because we care about our family as well as those around us. We consider it another little roadblock that we can overcome or adjust to as long as we give it a try. Life is never easy and sometimes feels as though we’re going through a constant re-direct or re-imagining. Yet, we’re ready to face it and we will mask-up for the challenge. We are so done with this Covid19. See you soon!