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Pandemic Blues

How to beat the Pandemic Blues

Pandemic got you down, too much time on your hands, too many lock downs, then let me share some of my ideas with you and please do email me any you think should be added.

Streaming Services:
Last year I was totally fed up of streaming services and watching tv or social media in general but since late fall when it's time to get cozy, they have all upped their game and have added lots more content, which is great because we gave up on cable.  So here are things we have watched lately that's worth a look.
 
Netflix - always seems to have lots to offer all the time - if you need a few series to try then look no further than the lastest offering of Stay Close which I just binge watched as I'm a lover of Harlan Coben books, read them all years ago but I didn't remember this story and I was shocked at the end!  Other good series are Locke and Key (2 seasons) if you want something a little magical or Lucifier (6 seasons) if you like light hearted police dramas.  That being said I'm waiting patientally for Stranger Things Series 4 so it's time to watch or rewatch the first 3 if you like the retro supernatural vibe. 

Crave - I've given Crave a bad rap in years past as there just wasn't enough to keep us hooked.  Well let me tell you after re joining due to them having the Harry Potter collection (and yes i watched the Harry Potter New Years Special) and the James Bond Collection, I'm more than pleasantly surprised at how much new content they have.   Currently my favourite and I'm sad i've nearly finished the current season, of which there are 3, is Selena and Chef.  Our middle child was obsessed with Selena Gomez for a while and her pandemic cooking show is an absolute delight.  Each episode she has a top chef teach her how to cook, it is really quite funny and my favourite has been with Ayesha Curry which is season 3 episode 2 (I made her hot honey chicken sandwich and it's to die for).  Other favourite episodes for sure are the Jamie Oliver and Curtis Stone ones, however if you need to renew your love of cooking, watch each and every one as they are all so different.  That being said, also renewing my love of cooking is the Jamie Oliver Together Special which is just under an hour and features a bloody mary crumpet (its' in his new cookbook which I have so i'm going to try it),  not to mention binge watching over Christmas Chef Michael Bonacini's Italian/welsh recipes and Mary Makes it easy.   So apparently it looks like I just watch cooking shows but no, we are also watching Game of Thrones, also I may restart where I left off of the Handmaids Tale or start Sharp Objects as I like the author Gillian Flynn.  Crave also has some of my favourite series and movies from years past like True Blood, Orphan Black and Blade 1, 2, and 3!  

Prime - There are a host of things on Prime that other services just don't have and they keep coming out with their own amazon prime specials like the Wheel of Time that I highly recommend - when content is so readily available it was near torture having to wait for the new episode each Wednesday!  I've heard that the Lord of the Rings Series is set to come out sooner than later too which i'm watching for.   Another amazon original was the series Panic set in small time America that was good for a different type of genre as well as Liane Moriarty's Nine Perfect Strangers book adaptation with actors like Nicole Kidman and Melissa McCarthy, Carnival Row with Orlando Bloom and then Upload the sci fi comedy with Greg Daniels (they are working on season 2 yahoo).  They also have a bunch of series I used to watch years ago that i'm rewatching like Supernatural, the Vampire Diaries and of course my all time favourite the X Files.....i remember it was on at 11pm Sundays and i was a teen staying up late to watch it being very tired for school the next day!

Disney Plus -  well honestly what can I say, it's Disney who also has pixar, marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic so where do I even begin because this is Claires and probably Johns favourite streaming service.  Claire and I just watched Encanto - love it (too much singing in it for John just like Frozen, although I'm equally fed up with that, I can't listen to Let It Go anymore), Cruella which we all enjoyed and Aladdin (also a lot of singing - eek) but I do like Will Smith.  If you are a fan of Star Wars I do recommend The Mandolarin and Boba Fett and maybe its just me but I cannot for the life of me keep the marvel series straight.  

Sundance - really haven't explored this service enough, I've mainly kept it for the Discovery of Witches Series adaptation from Deborah Harkness books - last part coming out Jan 8th.  So if you have this service and have suggestions, please send them my way....


Something weekly to look forward to:
 
There are two things each Friday that I do to give me something to look forward too.  One is after school - in person or remote, Claire and I head to Salute's drive though for a celebratory hot chocolate and cookie as a wahoo we made it through another week. The other is the weekly email from Real Simple - 6 Clever Items to Simplify your life.  There's always something interesting that catches my attention from products to apps that sends me down a rabbit hole.....and if you happen to like magazines, the Real Simple one is a nice one to leaf through, used to be sold at Coscto.

Snail Mail: 

I remember when I used to write so many more cards, letters, notes to friends and family just to say hi, not just for special occasions.  I've started to do this again and I really should make it a weekly practice. It's been especially good for relatives in England who have had it harder than us here. In February I sent postcards that said greetings from Canada that showed toilet paper on a stick - everyone loved it and it prompted emails and phone calls. If you haven't checked out Etsy then you should, so many small businesses that are wonderful and struggling right now.  

Here are the card shops on Etsy that I regularly buy from:
  • Carolyndraws (toilet paper postcard is found here)
  • Wonderpop (best pop up cards)
  • PhoebeAndJune
  • PeacheyPrints
  • Katndrewcards
  • MissSittasNest
  • TopHatAndMonocle
  • Heirloom Island
Compliments, Referrals and Testimonials

I've found during the pandemic that many places despite being overwhelmed or generally struggling, have been extremely kind and helpful.  So for these companies or individuals, I make sure I reach out to them to not only compliment the product or service I've received but refer them to others and offer to write a testimonial.  For small businesses this can make all the difference in their day, so give it a try. 
 
Music Playlists:

When I'm happy I love music, when I'm sad music can help, when I'm in the bath I listen to music, when I walk the dogs (I have a Golden Retriever and Bernese Mountain dog) I listen to music. So I create play lists, for moods or activities, or as I have the Sirius XM app on my phone, I switch between alt nation, 90s, stay home channel and chill if a playlist doesn't cut it! Anyway my point is music helps, so let it soothe you or make you dance those blues away. 

Pinterest

Yes I fully admit i'm addicted to Pinterest! What a great time suck, so many items and ideas to explore - I have 16,ooo and counting pins saved onto different boards and YES i have tried some of them! Gone are the days of cutting images out of magazines and having an idea board (yes i'm that old).  And yes most of my pins are to do with food and through Pinterest I have found many a chef or food blogger to follow and i've found many a good recipe that way.  I mean come on don't the following sound delicious: spicy asian pork cabbage rolls (chefcarolb), honey and herb fried goat cheese (vegeratian mamma), vegetarian three cheese white bean buffalo dip (ambitious kitchen).  Whilst I may not have tried them yet, what i have tried is the Cranberry Orange Chicken (every last bite - Carmen Sturdy) and it was divine, as is the Beef Barbacoa in the crock pot (melissa mondragon).  So sign up, get an account and dream a little dream and start saving or creating those pins!  Note of caution - giving yourself time limits does help to not burn the midnight oil.....

 
Let's talk CSA's

Farmers will be posting soon for 2022.

Community Supported Agriculture aka veggie boxes have been increasingly popular over the last few years.  Even though I do plant my own veggies, I like to have a back up and what's better than doing that through local farmers.  You do need to do some research as they vary per location, delivery options, what's included (some also have eggs) and cost.  This was a new farm to me based in Chelmsford and I was thoroughly impressed.  I chose this one because sometimes my kids are picky - imagine that! It gave me the option to have credits per week that allows me to customize my box and skip a week if on vacation and add my credits to the following week. I just did a half share as this is back up for me but you can do a full share instead. They also offer delivery to some locations and to add more credit if you run out. Product was always super fresh and a good selection. Leah would have been my second choice. I've used Leah last year for herbs and spinach and she's wonderful. She is now based in the French River area but pick up for the veggie CSA will be bi-weekly at the Thursday Sudbury market. She also offers eggs year round and chickens in July and Oct. 

Planning my vegetable garden: 

Winter is a great time to think about planning your veggie garden.  It gives you plenty of time to research, plan and buy those seeds if you grow your own.  Get a leather bound or pretty large plain paper note book and give it a try.

If you grow a vegetable garden, what are your favourite things to grow/do you start them from seed/where do you buy your supplies? I'm always interested to find out.  I was lucky enough to have visit a couple of summers ago and see a clients raised vegetable gardens, they had a few and were waist height and were fabulous. 

I do start some vegetables from seed, although I don't always have luck with them.  I got my seeds early as some places have shortages this year and I'm pretty sure 2022 is going to see the same shortages.  They also makre good Christmas presents! 

Here's a quick look at companies I've purchased from: Based in Wolfe Island, Ontario, I've used them for my seeds for a few years. They are a vrery popular seed company so make sure you order very early, even through the winter months.  My favourites to grow this from them are golden beets and Kohlrabi. Based in Northern Ontario, click fork has been my go to for many many years.  They have seeds from Three Forks and pre order for seedlings in the spring and also seeds from Northern Wildflowers.  Why not try something different like ground cherries along with thimble berry, borage, wild onion and we always should plant more milkweed.  Now based on Manitoulin Island, Peggy and Eric have become friends over the years I've know them. They do extensive research into their seeds and I've had good luck with theirs. Whilst their seedlings in the spring are only pre order through click fork, they will mail their seeds to you through their website and usually have a pretty consistent supply. 
 
The ever increasing need for Self-Care

Now it's said time and time again that self care is important and I can't agree more, between kids, working from home and a husband in emergency services, carving out a little me time is necessary. It can be simply sitting by the fireplace with my favourite wine (like Riesling or Chablis or sometimes a Baco Noir) when my youngest is in bed, having a long hot and I mean hot bath with some candles and my favourite bath products or making sure I schedule massage time. If you need a recommendation please don't hesitate to email me, I have a few individuals I would give 5 🌟 to!

Joyful Home 
  • Needing a gift or a pick me up for these dark evenings, then head over to their website as their candles won't disappoint I'm thinking of adding a few more to my collection like the fresh coffee and fresh bread candles.  Each season new scents appear and this winter I am in love with Red Merlot and Cozy Flannel.  They have a store in Lively but also offer delivery. My suggestion is to sign up for emails so that you get early access to specials they are doing. 
Old Soul Soap Company 
  • Pick it up at their store in Hanmer or have it delivered (they do free shipping often), Old Soul has something for everyone.  If you are feeling a little stressed, may I suggest the muscle ease bath soak.  They have many gifts for the season and new products like Sugar Plum Fairy, Peppermint Twist, FIreside and Hot Toddy soaps.  They are also awesome are having other makers products available like Dog Treats, Soap Savers, Five Cats Candle Co, Greeting Cards and Terra Luna Jewels.  Keep checking Facebook as she often has deals for her online store, alternatively she also sends these details out by email if you sign up. 
Bathorium 
  • A Ottawa based company that I've adored for years has what feels like luxury bath products. My favourite is the silkiest crush soaks, I can't pick a scent as they are all good.  At this time of year you can get the Holiday Trio and the Mistletoe & Holly is my pick in that set.  Normally my go to is the Charcoal Garden Detox Crush. Now for their bath elixirs (aka bubble bath) it's definitely becalm which is earl grey and lavender scented and they have the most beautiful looking bath bombs.
Decorating/Renovating:

A few times a year I get the urge to switch things around the house from artwork to furniture, to paint a room or to do a small renovation.  Now the fireplace is done, it's onto a minor master bathroom makeover - it has been painted in the colour You Are My Sunshine from A&J Homehardware (it was a dark olive colour) and a new sink/countertop has been ordered and new floor to go in as well. 

Have you seen the new pantone colour of 2022 that all the decorating companies are raving about?! It's Very Peri which is based on the periwinkle flower colour and it's stunning, described as blue with a hint of violet - unfortunately theres not a room in my house it would suit - sigh!

I also decorate with artwork.  I have lots of local artwork in my home but it doesn't stop me from being on the look out for more.  So if new artwork would brighten your spirits then check out these artists: 

Heirloom Island 
  • Julienne is a talented artist whom I have purchased cards and lake prints from in the past.  I especially love my Bear Lake Print which is the lake our camp is on.  She is always working on something new so keep an eye out. 
Gillian Schultz  https://gillianschultze.com/
  • Gillian is a long time friend of mine since we were neighbours many years ago.  Primarily she is a textile artist of which I and members of my family have many pieces of. They are absolutely stunning.   In the last year she has branched put into other styles of painting and making mobiles and I believe still takes on custom orders from time to time.  She's also thinking of virtually teaching textile art classes.