Thanks to my dear friend from Stanford, Katie, who wrote today’s post on what she is loving during quarantine. Not only is she brilliant and smart, the best cook ever, interesting and interested, but she has great taste and style, too. Thank you, Katie, for sharing with us your top 10 best finds during COVID — love you loads! Check out Katie’s other contribution to this blog years ago with her Ice Cream Flower Pots post. Take it away!
While in quarantine, some people have mastered making sourdough starter from scratch, planted a vegetable garden, or otherwise lived their #bestlife, I have chosen in many ways to slow down. Yep. Slow. Way. Down. Being tucked in, cozy at home, can be calming and comforting in so many ways if you choose to see it that way. In these insane past few months, I have found a variety of things that make my life a little easier, a lot happier, and definitely more fun. I am happy to share the best of them in hopes that it might bring a little bit of ease, happiness and fun to your life too. Here are my Top Ten Best finds, thanks to sheltering in place and slowing way down:
- Best yoga routine: I read an article recently that said a little bit of yoga (~10-15 mins) every day can be better for you than a lot of yoga (~60-90 mins) once a week. That made me feel better immediately, because it took the pressure off! As a result I found Yoga by Kassandra on YouTube. She created a 30-day Yoga “challenge” that is 30 individual ~ten-minute yoga sessions. Each one is perfect – not too long, not too hard but not always too easy either. Plus, for each one, she suggests a daily affirmation which is a nice little bonus. Try it for a month. You won’t regret it. I hope you’ll love it.
- Best yoga mat: I have a normal yoga mat that I like, but like all yoga mats, it’s thin. My knees and my back sometimes don’t love being on the hard floor. I discovered this exercise mat on Amazon and truly LOVE it for yoga . Yes, it is thick, so you have to employ more balance in some standing poses, but that is great for your core anyway (win-win). It has made my (new) daily yoga practice so much more enjoyable. Think “luxury yoga”.
- Best muscle gun: Pre-COVID I saw a trainer and she was always trying to get me to use a foam roller more to deal with tight muscles on my IT bands, hamstrings etc. I hate foam rollers. But then I discovered this muscle gun and holy cow, what a game changer. There are more expensive versions of this type of device, but this one is pretty reasonably priced and my muscles are soooooooo happy these days. I actually look forward to using it and it puts the foam roller to shame. Love, love, love.
- Best coffee at home: I’ve never owned a coffee maker because I used to buy my coffee at my local coffee shop around the corner every single day. But since being in quarantine, I finally developed my own coffee routine at home. I do a pour over with this reusable filter and this gorgeous electric kettle. You press a button and – presto! – just a few minutes later you have the perfect temperature water and the most elegant pour spout to soak the grounds.
- Best flawless tan: Even though it is summer, we all know old school sun-bathing is no bueno for our skin. This gradual self tanner is AH-MAZE-ING. You put a few drops on your clean face at night before you go to bed and you don’t notice anything the first morning…but by day 4 or 5, you will notice a subtle, perfect glow. It’s seriously the best beauty product I’ve discovered in the last decade. There are some reviews online about is causing break outs or smelling weird. I did not experience that at all. It leaves no trace of anything on your sheets either…it’s just pure summer magic in a little bottle.
- Best TV show: The best TV show I’ve enjoyed lately is Amy Schumer Learns to Cook on the FoodNetwork which you can watch on demand or online here. Her husband is a chef and their nanny films it with a camcorder(!) at a rental home where they were sheltering in place. If you like cooking shows and you like Amy Schumer, you will love this show. While her stand-up comedy is R- rated, this show is definitely family-friendly.
- Best Movie: What’s better than discovering a great movie you have never heard of before? Thanks to being home ALL THE TIME I found a great one based on a true story with an amazing cast: Bad Education starring Hugh Jackman, Allison Janney and Ray Romano. Have you heard of it? Maybe I’m the only person who had never heard of it, but it is a gem of a find on HBO. Two thumbs up!
- Best Recipe: This is one of those recipes where it might seem like a really odd assortment of ingredients, but it is THE MOST DELICIOUS THING YOU HAVE EVER TASTED. These Crispy Smashed Potatoes are to die for. That link is to the recipe, but if you want to SEE how they are made, watch this video of Molly Baz in the Bon Appetit test kitchen making them (she wrote the recipe too). Your mouth will be watering by the end.
- Best guilty pleasure: A sweet guy in my life asked me to make him a sweet treat to remind him of his sweet childhood…and this is what I made him: S’mores cookies. It’s basically a graham cracker square on a cookie sheet, a blob of chocolate chip cookie dough, baked for about 11 minutes. Then you take it out of the oven and place 1-2 Hershey chocolate bar rectangles in each cookie along with 3-4 mini marshmallows and put it back in the oven for another 2-3 minutes. Nope, the graham cracker does not burn (use parchment paper to be sure) and yep, they are heavenly.
- Better than best guilty pleasure: the only thing better than a s’mores cookie is a SALTED s’mores cookie. So to make #9 even better, sprinkle a little maldon sea salt flakes on top when they come out of the oven. Maldon salt flakes are a pantry must have…home made fries, kale chips…whatever you like a little salty you will LOVE if you use Maldon salt flakes.
Hopefully any (or all) of these suggestions will help you slow down when you can and make the best of this insane situation that we are all in. And I hope you and your loved ones are staying healthy and safe!
Love it all — thank you so much, Katie! As you readers know, I love lists, especially lists of things people are currently loving (and also love thinking in positive terms versus the things I miss / what I am sad about), so if you want to contribute to the blog with whatever you are loving, a la Katie Kaiser, send me an email! I am so appreciative and love hearing what people love! Like, I love you, all!