Creative in Quarantine

It’s been a while since we’ve checked in, so I hope this message finds you well! :)

I know most of us have been cooped up for quite some time now and I was hoping we could all share what we’re doing to keep ourselves sane for the time being.

I’ve seen a number of great ideas spread throughout the forum and I don’t think there’s any harm in sharing them!

How many of you have started new craft projects lately? I’d love to see pictures of the afghans I know are being crocheted, or any sweaters or blankets being knitted! Or descriptions if these will be Christmas presents and you don’t want to risk posting pictures. ;)

How many of you are using Zoom for the first time, or have found other new habits to keep in touch with your relatives? My family has participated in a few “drive-bys”, where we decorated our cars and made posters for whatever event we were honoring, and then drove by the person’s house to celebrate them.

I’ve witnessed a virtual wedding on Animal Crossing (a video game), our team members have had virtual pizza parties. 

Strange times call for strange measures, or however that quote goes, and we’d love to see how you’re handling things! :)

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  • I started doing a weekly Zoom chat with 3 of my best friends from high school.  We could have been doing this all along, but everyone was so busy.

    I'm also finally trying to finish sewing the dresses I promised to make for my nieces awhile ago.  I hope they still fit when I finish them...

    Now that I'm done with my teaching for the semester, I hope to have more time to do yoga.

    I also found that, when I was working from home, going for a walk before and after work really helped me to make my work feel separate from non-work time at home.

    Oh and I watched all of Downton Abbey a week.  I haven't watched that much else, I'm not a big TV person, but I got hooked on that show.

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    • PhysicsGal I know the circumstances are terrible, but seeing people use this time to reconnect and complete personal projects makes the dreary days seem not so bad. 

      I may steal your walking trick - only having to commute to the front room is great, but creating a commute around the neighborhood sounds like a motivating way to switch gears!

      Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, PlutoTV - you name it, I've clicked through it in the last month or so. I've never seen Downton Abbey but I may have to take a look. 

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      • PhysicsGal
      • Nerdy female homo sapien
      • physicsgal
      • 2 mths ago
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      Faness It's free on Amazon Prime, that's how I ended up starting it and getting hooked.  I'm warning you it's addicting though.  

      Steal away, the walking trick I believe I got from this podcast.  There were some other good tips too.  It really does help, plus I think I work better once I get my blood flowing a little by a walk.

      https://www.oneyoufeed.net/how-to-work-from-home/

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    • PhysicsGal  I ❤️ Downton Abbey.

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  • I've been cooking like crazy. I've filled my freezer with lunch sized portions ready for when I go back to work. I normally like cooking well enough, but I hate having to squeeze it in to the regular day, or have it intrude on my weekend resting. But now I have loads of time and it's so much more relaxing to plan and execute the cooking project. I've made churros, cheesecake, Dutch Babies, pasta Genovese, dumplings and scones all for the first time as well as old favorites. This is my faithful companion helping to make sure I don't drop anything as I prep the many, many, many onions for the pasta Genovese.

    As for staying in contact, I think I've been more social in the last 8 weeks than the entire previous year. I have a regular Skype happy hour with one set of friends on Monday, another semi-regular Zoom group on Wednesdays and for someone who hates to talk on the phone at home, I've had several awesome chats. I cooked the scones with one friend on Skype, and the churros with another friend while FaceTiming. 

    I do actually have a creative side job (writing romance novels) but for the first 6 weeks I just couldn't even do it. Couldn't force myself to that kind of creativity. I finally started writing again last week though, so that feels awesome, though it's not what you would call a money maker job and definitely is a long-term deal 😂

    It's been a very strange time and definitely not at all as I'd imagined my first stint on unemployment.

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    • Peppr2 How are your cooking adventures going? My husband has been diving in to new recipes lately, with excellent results. Tomato sauce from scratch and palak paneer are two of our recent favorites!

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      • Peppr2
      • peppr2
      • 4 wk ago
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      Nicole Wow, those sound like fun! I've put a little bit of a pause on the cooking, since I ended up getting laid off right after that. I decided it would be a good idea to eat up those frozen lunches. Then my dad sold his house finally (on the market for a year because he lived in a semi-remote area) so I went up to help him pack up (and eat up his food supplies lol) and drive his car down to my place where he'll be staying until he decides where he wants to look. Now I'll have to find a couple of recipes that I want to try out with him, which will be fun!

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    • Peppr2 I'm sorry to hear that! Yes, hope you enjoyed those lunches after all your hard work to stock up. Enjoy your time with your dad, and experimenting in the kitchen!

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  • During this quarantine period, I decided to give Sourdough Starter a shot (even though we have plenty of yeast! I've been baking homemade bread for years). I tried it once long ago and it did not end well.  But, a recent NPR article with a link to a university website inspired me to give it a go again.  I was willing to try my hand because even if it didn't work out, it would still be worth it because the science lab wants to know about successes AND failures. :-)

    Technically, my starter was a "failure" according to the testing protocols and measurements on Day 15 (final day of experiment to submit data).  However, having learned much more about sourdough and its characteristics, I was encouraged to keep going.  Our house is fairly cool and that can add time for growth.  Finally, on Day 20, my starter came to life.  :-) Since then,  I've successfully maintained it, and have baked my own, from-scratch, Sourdough breads, crackers, biscuits, pizza crust, and more.  Sourdough baking and the community surrounding it has been a very fun addition to C-19 life.

    I've also discovered that I enjoy working in the garden a whole lot more when I have less outside commitments.  Instead of being another burden to fit into a busy day, it has become a relaxing, de-stressing, puttering around outside awhile part of the day.....

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    • VickiS The benefits of slowing down are something I think about a lot too! How are your starter and garden faring? My gluten-free sourdough starter did not do so well, but didn't have high expectations either. 😂

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      • VickiS
      • VickiS
      • 4 wk ago
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      Nicole With our warm summer weather, everything is going gangbangsters.  I now have to keep the starter in the frig else I'd have gallons of it every week it grows so quickly.  So far, I've like savory items made with it:  crackers, breads, lightly-sweetened granola, biscuits.  So far, I've not thought sourdough banana bread and other sweet treats  any better than my tried-and-true recipes.  That could be because I'm just not used to sourdough in sweets.....  But, I keep trying those recipes that sound good.... maybe I'll find one I consider a winner.....

       

      Did your gluten-free starter not survive or just not bake well?  Did you try oat flour? or other grains?  or something like almond flour?  On the FB I am a part of, plenty of people are quite adventurous with their starters.  Maybe you could get some pointers there....

       

      Our  garden is madly producing raspberries, sour cherries, and collards.  This is my first time harvesting collards so I'm collecting recipes to use it up.  The peas are over; looking forward to green beans and tomatoes. We got a late start with summer squash so that will be a while....  Fruit-wise, next up is peaches and currants..  With the extra time I have re: Covid, I've gotten better at succession planting....  I've got two sets of carrots going (about 4 weeks between initial planting) and I'm on my third planting of radishes.  I adore sourdough toast with a smear of butter or cream cheese, topped with sliced radish, sprinkled with chopped fresh herbs (whatever the garden is producing), and a pinch of salt.  Best breakfast ever!

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    • VickiS My wife just (like, twelve minutes ago!) made little sour cherry tarts with cherries scavenged from the tree on the neighbor's planting strip (they never harvest them, so it seems like legitimate thievery, right?).

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      • VickiS
      • VickiS
      • 4 wk ago
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      Matthew Enjoy guilt-free!  I think you *rescued* those cherries to serve their purpose. 👍

      I've just spent 2+ hours this morning doing nothing but cherries. Pitting, saucing, jamming, freezing.  Still have another 8-10 pounds to go.....  I'm going to try drying some this year, as a sub for dried cranberries.  And, if I get too bushed to look at yet another pound of cherries, I'll make juice; it's super easy with a Swedish-style juicer.  I always save juicing fruit for the end, when I run out of steam and enthusiasm. 😎

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    • VickiS The starter didn't survive. When we replaced our roof in June... everything else was forgotten for a bit. Neglect played a role, and I'll be trying again! I used a random flour blend, but this time sorghum or millet. I love hearing about your gardening adventures! So many different crops, and variety.

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  • I've also been taking walks in the morning.  Except the last 3 days, when it's been raining, but this morning I was able to again.  It helps to get moving a little before logging on to work.  

    Since the schools closed, I kept the same time set on my alarm, so I'm still getting up early as if I were taking my son to school.  So after I eat breakfast I've still got time for the walk.  

    We've discovered a fun app called Marco Polo, where you can send video chats from your phone to people, or groups.  I've been in touch with a friend from high school/college a few times, and I've got a couple family groups.  One for my wife's family, and one for my family.  Kinda tried combining them, but it didn't work great, so we keep them separate.  That's OK.  It's still fun to see what people are up to.

    Church isn't meeting, but the pastors still show up and preach, and we watch live streaming.  and some of the small groups are getting together via zoom.  

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    • Bruce  Marco Polo is the best!

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  • A few family members are essential workers, so my creative project the last few months has been sewing masks. Masks have been a great repetitive project to learn the in's & out's, and a nice change from knitting for me. Here's the next batch in progress:

     

    My grandma's sewing machine and serger were passed down to me, so it's a nice to use them more, and honor her as well!

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    • The pattern I'm using is here, from State The Label!

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    • Nicole That's cool! As someone who's never had much inclination toward sewing or textiles, I'm so happy I've been able to buy nice masks from my friends who are good at this stuff.

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  • I just bought a bike from a local bike store. I don't have a car right now, so it's been an amazing way to feel free in a city where people are still wary of public transit. I've been using it as a fun hobby, a fitness workout, and general transport.

    Our household (-cough- my boyfriend) goes through mounds of granola and fancy cereal each month. It tastes great, but we were both annoyed that it's so expensive at the store (like $7 for a tiny bag!). So I learned how to make my own for about $2 of ingredients. I didn't realize it was so easy, delicious, and customizable! The boyfriend has asked me to teach him how to make it this weekend so we can be self-sustaining in our cereal eating.

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    • Purple Panther Being able to get out & around while feeling safe is important! Hooray for handmade granola. That's quite the savings. I think my favorite part is that the two of you are making a project of it!

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    • Nicole Yes, thanks! He made his first batch today under my supervision, and it was *chef kiss* delicious!

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  • I've really been getting back into music and trombone playing. It has been awesome and very creative and freeing. I learned last night and today how to use notation software to transcribe music to the page. There's some good free software out there called MuseScore.

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