A Summer at Home
I've noticed in myself a growing sense of cabin fever as we continue to stay mostly at home. Dealing with restlessness has been a challenge, and I know I'm not alone. After all, this is week 21 since the beginning of the pandemic in NYC, since we began working from home and our world shrank to the limits of our neighborhood.
The numbers in New York continue to be promising, but despite the few and disappointing examples of people flouting social distancing protocols, I feel that most of us are scarred and scared. It's been difficult to trust that the good news locally will last, given the state of the country and the coming flu season; we're anxiously waiting for the other shoe to drop, for the next, worse wave, for the fear to return two-fold or more. For many of us, life hasn't changed much at all since April, and we're resigned to things remaining this way for some time, at least through the end of the year.
For me, the ability to go to the studio on Sundays has helped so much, but deep down I can't help seeing it as a while-I-can activity to take advantage of during the summer, because it's almost impossible to imagine the fall from where I stand.
In this environment, I'm just trying my best to keep my focus on what I have here at home, and to appreciate the joy that’s within reach. Today, I'm sharing a few things that have lifted my spirits lately.
Summer Fruit Recipes
Berries, stone fruit, watermelon, and pineapples have all been frequent short term residents in my refrigerator. This season's fruit harvest contains some of my absolute favorite foods in life. We've also cooked with them a little bit. For Father's Day, we brought two desserts to a social distanced barbecue: an olive oil cake with a strawberry-chamomile-honey drizzle, and peaches to grill and serve with the ice cream we'd made.
Below are a few recipes that I've bookmarked for cooking with fruit.
Nectarine lemon salad from Eye Swoon
Apricot yogurt cake from Adventures in Cooking
Peach caprese from Wit & Delight
Peach thyme shortcakes from Half Baked Harvest
The Easiest Snack/Appetizer
Along with the sweeter members of the fruit family, tomatoes are in season during the summer.
A very fast and delicious snack that I've started to fix myself when it's hot and I'm feeling lazy is a plate of cold, sliced tomatoes topped with olive oil and Maldon salt. So easy, so good.
This simple preparation could also be included as part of a charcuterie or antipasto spread for gatherings (lol) or a date night in. It's bright, acidic, and colorful. You can also garnish with a sprinkling of herbs.
Being indoors so often, I've stopped applying sunscreen on my face every day. Instead, I wear one of my giant straw hats when going out for walks with the dogs or doing garden work. As a life-long lover of straw hats, I'm happy to now be a regular wearer of them as well.
If you're thinking of purchasing one, I've found that a stiff brim is absolutely crucial. Floppy hats are great for laying around by the pool or on the beach, but not when you're on the go in the summer breeze. The one I wear most often is an oversized straw bucket hat from COS (no longer in stock). The Summer Hat from Cuyana also looks like a good bet, with its sturdy-looking brim, sizing options, and clean style.
Briogeo Leave In Conditioner
This spray leave-in has a lovely, subtle scent, and provides a boost of sorely needed moisture for my long hair. I have both the full size and a travel-sized one... for that ever-receding future in which we can travel again.
I've avoided planting too many new things into the ground since moving in because of the landscaping work we'd planned. Still, I really wanted to grow cherry tomatoes for harvest this year, and was happy to discover grow bags as a solution. These reusable bags are made of a woven material, allowing the soil to aerate, air-pruning the roots, and encouraging a healthier root network for better growth. After transplanting 3 tomato seedlings into bags and watching them shoot up, I'm a believer. I got 7 lb ones, though I think 5 lb would have been fine.
I check on my tomato babies every day to make sure they're watered, sticking my face into them with a furrowed brow to try to witness growth. One of the plants is already sprouting fruit and we're now waiting for them to ripen!
Queer Eye on Netflix
It's heart-warming and hopeful, and I love the Fab 5 for the love, kindness, and support they give each person featured on the show. It's been a really enjoyable escape from current events. I cry watching virtually every episode, which means I cry about once a day, and I've found that there's a catharsis to shedding a tear or two on a regular basis.
The last time we purchased new bath and kitchen towels was five and a half years ago when we moved into our apartment. The kitchen towels especially have been used to death, and while they are still functional and mostly holding up, Kev recently commented that they look like bio-hazards. Fair. Our bath towels have seen better days as well.
I've since purchased a new Turkish bath towel for each of us and a new set of cotton kitchen towels and ya know what, it was a good decision.
I often have meetings around 8am or earlier on the weekdays and am the first one up in the household, which means feeding and walking the dogs in the morning. These walks take place well before the temperature climbs to the day's height and during an extra quiet time in my already quiet neighborhood. Stretching my legs first thing helps wake me up, and when I'm back home, every task completed before logging into work for the day feels like extra credit.
This summer has been a season to practice slow living. Real practice - forced, repeated, and prolonged, with all the boredom that comes with it and the discipline it demands. It reminds me of my piano playing days. July is coming to an end, which means it's almost time to sit down and contemplate my goals for August. More of this, I anticipate, and hopefully I'll be slightly more practiced at it by then.