Honey-Harissa Beans, Quick Pickles, Inspire Us

Like most of you, we are trying to go as long as possible without going food shopping, and part of that is getting a regular delivery from Baldor every 10 days or so. Once we get to Days 9 and 10, which is where we are right now, it becomes all about stretching out what we have and cooking down the pantry. I had started our trusty No-Knead bread (using all white whole wheat flour) on Tuesday night, so going into Wednesday’s dinner, I knew that would be on the table. But what else…?

Pantry: Victoria’s Harissa-Honey Beans

…Well, there’s a lot to be said about the scourge of social media, but sometimes the stars align, and you come across something like these beans that offer at least a little redemption. They were on Victoria Granof’s instagram feed (I’m sure you’re tired of hearing me call her a genius after writing about her for 10 years), and this was her caption: “Oh beans, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways: 2) @rancho_gordo Corona beans, half a jar of @mina harissa (says spicy on the label but it’s not), a swig of olive oil, a dribble of honey, and some dill…” I happened to have everything she called for — even a bag of Rancho Gordo beans (though they were lima) which I promptly added to the instant pot. If you don’t have dried beans (or enough time to soak and simmer dried beans), canned white will work just fine. This is how I interpreted her shorthand.

Victoria’s Honey-Harissa Beans

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 carrot, minced
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons harissa (or tomato paste plus a pinch of cayenne if you don’t have harissa)
squeeze honey (about 2 teaspoons)
1/2 cup (ish?) chicken or vegetable broth
3 cups (2 14-ounce cans) cooked white beans (such as lima, cannellini, navy)
fresh dill

Add oil to a large skillet set over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and carrot and cook until vegetables have softened, about 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in salt, pepper, harissa, and cook until harissa deepens in color and gets toasty, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in honey. Stir in beans and enough broth to make it saucy (not soupy). Heat until warmed through. Serve with a good crusty bread and garnish with dill.

Project: Quick Pickling

Not all quarantine projects are the kinds of things best served warm with ice cream. Part of clearing out the refrigerator for the next round of groceries is not wasting the odds and ends of what’s left over. Enter: Quick pickling. I mean, you could do real pickling, of course, but that’s a legit project that requires actual technique and gear. You can decide you want to quick pickle something at 11:30 am and have cabbages (or wax beans or carrots or onions or radishes or peppers) steeping in their pickling liquid by 11:45, which accurately tells the story of my Thursday morning. (Note: For legit pickles, book owners can see page 137 of How to Celebrate Everything.)

Here’s how to do it: Slice and chop your vegetables then stuff into a jar. In a small pot, simmer 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup red or white wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons sugar, and 1 tablespoon of kosher salt until the sugar has dissolved, about 3 minutes. Let cool slightly, then pour the pickling liquid over your vegetables. Let cool, then refrigerate for 24 hours for best results. You can also add herbs (dill, thyme) and peppercorns to the liquid and switch up the vinegars. Note: I tripled the recipe for the batch you see above since it was an extra large jar.

Purpose: Tell Me Something Good

I need some good news. What has brought you joy lately? What has brought you comfort? What has inspired you? Comment below and I’ll send out a free book (any of mine) to the comment that gets the most likes by the end of the week. Yes! You can like comments, did you know that? (Just please, honor code, don’t like your own more than once 🙂 Inspire us!

Stay safe, stay home.

The goal of the Project, Pantry, Purpose series to keep us sane, distracted, and connected. Please continue to comment below with suggestions for recipes, projects (for kids and adults), good deeds, donation ideas, stories, movies, games, puzzles. Or just tell me how you’re doing, what your daily routine is, and especially how DALS can help you or people in your community. You can also email me directly at jenny@dinneralovestory.com.

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127 Comments

Karen

Joy – waking up each morning and hearing the birds singing. I know it’s spring in the outside world and soon we can join in.

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Georgia

This is going to sound silly but I am early into my first pregnancy and really anxious about it. Every morning after my partner brings me coffee in bed, I open my pregnancy app and read off the facts of the day about our growing baby. It’s kind of nerdy I guess but it does help replace the anxiety I feel about being pregnant during a pandemic with anticipation and excitement.

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Sarah

Me too Georgia! I am four weeks + five days pregnant today — this is my second pregnancy after a late miscarriage and a long time hoping and trying so the anxiety levels are high..! Its nice to know there is someone else out there in the DALS community going through something similar during this weird isolating time. I’m sending you lots of luck for yours.

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helen

Georgia, I’m also in my first pregnancy, and my treat is the same – my week turns over every Saturday when my husband reads to me from his app to tell me what’s happened in my body and the baby’s since we last checked in. No matter how stressed I feel, it always cheers me up. Although it’s scary to be pregnant during this time, I feel so lucky to have something to look forward to right now. Also, Georgia is my mom’s name!! 🙂

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Laura

My 2 year-old daughter recently transitioned to a “big girl bed.” My 8 year-old daughter has been begging to sleep with her little sister, and I told her once she got used to her bed for two weeks then she could sleep with her. So my big girl wrote it on the calendar, circled it in red marker, and waited for the day. It finally happened this week. The girls played and chatted for 90 mins and then finally fell asleep. When I asked her the next morning how it was she said, “All of my dreams came true.” Now they’re sleeping together every night and it’s such a sweet thing to see these sisters grow in love and friendship.

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Katie

Mud balls. My kids have made mud balls and walls for their fort for almost 2 weeks straight during their “recess” – no recipe, just mud. They are hellbent on making them. There is a “hot cocoa river” per my 5 year old that they flow from. I will never understand their purpose (explained multiple times, although something originated from studying 4th grade Native American structures). Our kids will be alright.

Thank you for writing so much again – it is such a bright light in my day.

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Kate

I’m in the same boat! I’m 8 weeks pregnant with our first child and…well, we did not think we would be going through this in the midst of a global pandemic. It has brought up a lot of fears and anxieties about the unknowns of this new situation. But I find a lot of comfort in my pregnancy app as well, and just had my first ultrasound on Wednesday! It was sad because I had to FaceTime my husband so he could see the tiny heartbeat flickering, but it was still such a special moment and reminded me that bringing a child into this world is so much bigger than the current situation we are in. It’s bad (especially here in New York), but it will not last forever. So much love to all those going through pregnancy right now!

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Andrea

During this surreal time, the above are such great questions, that make us all pause and focus on the positive. I have to say that having this much devoted time to be around my almost-16 year old daughter has truly been the best. During the school/work week, I barely see her, and when I do, she’s stressed about homework, busy coming and going from/to dance 5-6 days a week, I’m coming/going from work, and trying to get stuff done after work, on weekends, etc. What a joy to just be able to go for a walk with her, bake something for the heck of it with her, and just watch TV with her—on a school night! And also, what a supreme joy to see her have time for and enjoy her hobbies (drawing, painting, photography, sewing) again, to see her read a book for pleasure, and see her have time to just hang out and think about things she wants to do in the weeks to come, but also in the months to come. Take care and thanks for your fabulous blog, especially PPP! Love it!

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Amanda

A social media post by my daughter’s elementary school with boxes as far as you could see full of paper products, cleaning supplies, pantry staples and books. Donated by the teachers, staff and school families to support over 115 families at her school–both those in need and those with essential workers who do not have enough hours in their day to track down needed supplies. The little pantry outside her school that is always bursting at the seams with food for those who need it, and my daughter’s deeper understanding of how very lucky she is. And then rereading old favorite novels–happily ever afters, only! And wine. Lots, and lots, and lots of wine!

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Andy

Getting daily photos of my nephews (4 and 9) on the other side of the world. My sister sends them in the evening in Australia so they are the first things I see when I wake up in New York.

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Courtney Hedeman

Comfort – reading historical books helps me remember people have gone through extremely tough circumstances before and made it through. Reading “Prairie Fires” , the newish biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, and it’s good escapism picturing myself on the plains with them.

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Liz Love

I am teaching my 6 year old how to read, and what an exciting experience it is….every time the light bulb goes off and the sounds magically morph together into an actually word…the right word….I’m thrilled right along with him. And then when he insists on reading books to his grandparents over Facetime, my heart melts again.

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Taylor Filaroski

I’ve been volunteering at a local animal shelter for five (!!) years now with our dogs, mostly pitties. I know they have kind of a bad rap, but pit bulls breeds are the sweetest and most lovable dogs in the world. I always wished our community knew that too, as our other breeds of dogs, when we got them, would always be snatched up quick while our pits stayed for longer. No more! A combination of people wanting to adopt new WFH companions or give back to their community through fostering has nearly emptied our kennels. A few weeks ago we had nearly 60 dogs–now, about 20 (!!!!!!) One of my favorite dogs, a 2 year old American Staff Mix who is VERY spunky and VERY naughty (hehe) and had been with us for almost six months, was sent to her foster home on Saturday. I was lucky enough to see her get in the car for her freedom ride, and the look of excitement on her face is a memory I am so grateful to have. Thinking of how my community has stepped up for the dogs I love so much, and thinking of how maybe now even just a few more people have their minds changed about pitties, has been bringing me SO much joy. In addition to your wonderful blog of course!!!

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Noel

I couldn’t agree more with your assessment of patties! We have a spunky sassy (just at home) American Staffordshire Terrier, who we adopted from the D.C. shelter five years ago. She is the best girl and spending 24/7 with her and my husband has been a complete delight. With so much uncertainty and sad news in the world, relationships with family, friends, and community are truly to be treasured. Thank you for being a wonderful community to visit!

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Lindsey R.

We’ve been missing our family in Michigan. So what’s brought me joy is the nightly “Bedtime Story” FaceTime calls with my parents, where they read books to my 5-year-old daughter. Many of the books they read are ones saved from my childhood! It’s been a sweet way for my daughter to connect with her beloved Nana and PopPop — and for me to connect with my parents as well — all the way from California.

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Alyssa

This is so needed! I just wrote myself a list of things that can get me out of a funk, and have already had to refer to it a few times this week. Currently bringing me joy: the gorgeous cherry blossoms outside (PINK TREES!?), making cookie dough and freezing individual scoops for on-demand cookies, the Sephora spring sale and a few new treats, face-timing my friends’ kids, making my husband a birthday cake from How to Celebrate Everything, and more time for reading (currently: A Gentleman in Moscow. Up next: Next Year in Havana).
Thanks so much for the extra inspiration! Can’t wait to read the others!

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Mom of Boys

Jenny,
I’m not looking for a free book, but I love that you are offering one so that others can find things to celebrate. Today is the seventh week of no school Sparkling-Shelter-In-Place.

The things that are bringing me joy are: watching my two screen-deprived boys making up games to play; spending time outside, making things like yogurt and granola with the kids, watching the baby deer prance around, waking up to papa quail’s nervous titter keeping the still hidden chicks safe from the red hawks, and spending more time than necessary thinking about what is for dinner (yesterday we split a chicken in half and my husband and I competed for the best chicken dinner a-la-Top-Chef. Both kids voted for dad but he fried potatoes as a side and I made a cooked spinach side so I think he cheated).

As an aside, how do you make rainbow chard palatable to a 10 year old?

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Bridgit

Chard: have the 10 year old pick the topping? Parmesan, toasted bread crumbs, etc. or add it to a dish the 10 year old loves: tuna melts is the main way we introduce new veg to my 13 year old. I remember Jenny saying make sure there’s something else at the meal the kid is excited about.
I love it when my kids make up games. It’s so satisfying.

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Mom of Boys

Bridgit, your comment made me laugh until tears flowed. The Parmesan is an exceptionally good suggestion, as is the tuna fish. But we only have canned sardines at the moment (tuna is apparently a high demand food item we struggle to secure). The thought of serving my kiddo chard with canned sardines made my day! LOLOL

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Andrea

Maybe you could throw it into a salad, raw, mixed with lettuce, with a favorite salad dressing? If they like eggs and cheese, there are recipes around for crustless quiches with spinach-maybe you could sub the chard? Take care and all the best on this endeavor!!! (I grew up eating chard. So good!)

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Cora

We often serve a new veg raw for the first time. Our daughter loves collard greens, but don’t you dare cook them!

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Sherry

Question: so then how do you use the random veggies you’ve quick pickled? I know people put regular pickles on sandwiches, but what else?

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Kay Lynn

Swiss chard — I always make the chard pesto recipe from the Keepers cookbook and serve it on spaghetti or pizza. It’s delicious. They suggest making the pesto with chard, sunflower seeds, lemon and parm.

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Kristina

Feeding the birds. I love it when it’s been warm enough to open the back kitchen window overlooking our back yard and see the birds eating the seeds I put out for them. Hearing them chirping, seeing them happily eating and feeling the breeze on my face, seeing the one yellow bunch of daffodils that bloomed in the yard giving us a tiny burst of color and hope. For a few brief moments I pretend everything is fine. PS, Ive never commented but have all your books and look forward to your daily posts during this scary time. Thank you!

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Pam

What has brought me joy? I know the “correct” answer should be my kids, finishing a good book, or taking a walk in the great outdoors (and believe me, those are all fantastic!). But honestly, the real thing that has brought me joy is the recent notification that I earned an A on my midterm paper. I am in the middle of obtaining a Masters degree in Management and Leadership, and going back to school as I am nearing my 40s, plus working full-time and having two kids under six has been challenging to say the least. Add a world-wide pandemic coupled with sometimes debilitating anxiety, and I’ve been more than struggling. I spent many long, long days and sleepless nights trying to crank out this paper and now IT’S FINISHED. I am more than proud of myself for that A!

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Drew

Hi Jenny,

I’m curious what your Baldor order looks like. My household is just me and my husband. We’re big eaters and eat everything. I tried to make a Baldor cart and the quantities/volume of meat/veggies/pantry items just seemed too absurdly large for the two of us. Do you have any tips?

Thanks!
Drew

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Katie H

I live with my 13 year old chocolate lab, just the two of us. Over the past year, Charlotte has lost her hearing and some of her sight, and her movement is very slow and labored because of arthritis.
During this uncertain and sometimes very lonely time, I’ve found so much peace in the time I can spend with her in her twilight years. Instead of rushing her in and out as I come and go from work, errands, and other normal obligations, I have time to just be with her.
Our long walks have become short, and we spend most of our outside time sitting on the bench out front, where I might read or just sit and watch the (now very sparse) air traffic flying into and out of Reagan Airport. Charlotte rests in the grass and greets neighbors who walk by, happy to see everyone.
When I look back on this time, I will always be grateful for our long days together right now.

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Sarah

Katie, your comment made me tear up and miss my childhood chocolate lab. My spunky black lab just turned one yesterday. He and I wish you all the happy cuddles these days.

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Rachel

Have you read The Friend? Ugh, there is a similar scene at the end. I reread the final page or so often as it has one of my favorite quotes, and I deep ugly cry every time. The book is generally a good read, and Nunez really captures the intricacies of loss. Read it with a box of tissues…. I’m happy you have this time with Charlotte.

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Coralee

Crying so hard as I type this. So happy you are getting this time with Charlotte and realizing how precious it is.
I lost my beloved rescued boxer girl, Duchess, suddenly to hemangiosarcoma, an evil cancer the morning of April 8th. I am grieving so hard as it feels she was totally ripped away from me as the best option was to say good bye without her ever coming home again. She was the most loving and joyful girl and the hole in my heart is even bigger than I thought it would be.
Please hug Charlotte extra tight for me and enjoy every moment with your sweet girl this spring.

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Andrea

Sending good thoughts your way. We had a long goodbye with one of our Siamese cats, years ago. It was a special time, for sure. Take good care!

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Andrea

Thanks for sharing this and take good care. I always say that one of our Siamese cats gave us the gift of a long goodbye. We treasured every day with her.

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Victoria

Joy and comfort have both been brought to me by re-reading Anne of Green Gables for a Book Club Zoom. Haven’t been able to focus on any reading, until I’m suddenly three books into the series & revisiting The Blue Castle, which is my favorite LM Montgomery.

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Melissa Zabor

Not to sound cheesy, but it’s been cooking. While my husband and I are still working (from home) full-time and homeschooling 2 kids with 10 teachers between them, we don’t have to scramble with dinner getting sandwiched in between the commute home, track meets, gymnastics practice, tap dance class (for myself), student council, PTO…the list goes on and on. We’ve got time to play with new recipes and try new techniques. Over Easter weekend, I made buttermilk biscuits, focaccia bread, and cinnamon rolls, all from scratch. Hoping to try pizza dough this upcoming weekend!

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Andrea

So happy that you have this added time in your day now! And kudos to you for school-at-home for the kiddos. A great recipe to try is for cream biscuits–some of the recipes just use whipping cream and the dry ingredients–no pesky cutting butter into flour. Great for the kiddos to make! Take good care!

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Melissa Zabor

Also, this is the THIRD time in less than 24 hours that I’ve heard a recommendation for The Blue Castle! Going to my online library now to see what I can download…

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KimS

First, I’ve become pretty good friends with a lady that lives around the corner from me. We initially met walking our dogs (before corona). Now, she has been furloughed and I am working from home. We have been taking bike rides at lunch and we are both loving it. It brings back so many good memories of riding bikes when I was a kid!

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Erica

Joy, early morning walks and lots of time to spend in the kitchen cooking wonderful meals.

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Jenn

I want to know what’s in your Baldor order so I can just copy yours and be ready for PPP. Love this series – something to look forward to after homeschool is dismissed. I’ve never been a meal planner and one thing I’ve done during this time and start keeping a dinner diary (and a photo wine journal) and I’ve been pouring over cookbooks for things I want to try and then actually planning and waiting until I can source what I need. It’s an exercise in patience and it’s been good to slow down and not have everything be instant gratification.

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Jennifer

I also need a good resource for what to do with produce before it goes bad – we got a little overzealous last week with deliveries and I hate to waste good produce! I roasted peppers (buying me 2 weeks to eat them) – I’ve pickled onions (but how long are they good?) – I cooked 2 different veggies so we can “snack” on them over the next few days – frozen peppers and celery for the first time ever!

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Bridgit

I’m a choir & theatre/speech teacher, distance learning is especially difficult. This week one of the assignments was “create a parody.” Some of my students were even bold enough to record them and it has been AMAZING to see their faces, hear their voices and listen to them laugh.

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jen

We have an 18-month old collie who is the light of my life. I work at home most of the time, but now we’re both here, so we’ve been walking him together. On longer routes. And playing fetch in the backyard. And snuggling. We didn’t get to do this in the hustle of prior life. It makes my heart happy.

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Hannah

This doesn’t feel original at all, but I am finding so much joy in watching my children play together. My son is 7 and my daughter is 4 1/2– they play and fight together in a way that feels “typical” of two kids with that age gap– but the balance has shifted lately so that they’re really PLAYING together. Amazing games with plastic dinos, legos and stuffed animals. I’m hoping it lasts once life goes back to our previously scheduled routines.

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Amie Black

Normally, my introverted kid with learning difficulties finds school challenging and exhausting. I’m finding our new situation of homeschooling and relaxed days has allowed his true self to shine through. Given a calm environment to do schoolwork and one on one parent time , he has become relaxed, funny, and enthusiastic. It makes my heart sing! I know so many kids are having a really tough time away from friends and school, but my family will look back on this terrible time with gratitude and a tinge of happiness.

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Amie

Normally, my introverted kid with learning difficulties finds school challenging and exhausting. I’m finding our new situation of homeschooling and relaxed days has allowed his true self to shine through. Given a calm environment to do schoolwork and one on one parent time , he has become relaxed, funny, and enthusiastic. It makes my heart sing! I know so many kids are having a really tough time away from friends and school, but my family will look back on this terrible time with gratitude and a tinge of happiness.

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Marisa

This is my first week on furlough. Not joyful. However, I have used this week to paint the white trim in our house, go for long walks every day, stay up late and sleep past 5am for the first time in years, and start and defeat Mario Bros. Beating that game gave me immense joy.

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Twyla

A huge source of joy and laughter these days are John Krasinski’s ‘Some Good News’ videos on YouTube. He features stories that are so inspiring and sweet, we often end up in (happy) tears. Each week they get better and better. It’s so heartwarming to see the humanity and love that people are still showing amidst so much chaos.

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Julie

Gratitude: Going for a daily 4 mile morning walk – even in cold or rain – and stopping on the way back for coffee at the only local walk-up counter that remains open. Somedays my hubby joins me, and on really special days the 13 year old daughter tags along.

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Laura

I’ve been a member of a community of women who have met a few times per week for bootcamp class and group runs that are led by an amazing running coach and personal trainer. Most of us are in our 40’s and 50’s and have children ranging in age from babies to college-aged kids. We’re a support group as much as a fitness group.

We were concerned about how we’d maintain community and fitness during social isolation, but our coach/trainer moved everything to Zoom, and now we hold our classes online. After class, we hold a round table check-in where everyone can express concerns, air grievances, and celebrate triumphs. We now ‘meet’ for coffee even on the days when we don’t workout because we are all finding this sense of community to be so essential for our mental health and well-being.

Connecting daily with these women has helped me get through the busy days of homeschooling while working full time, cooking almost every meal, and missing my extended family.

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Georgia

This is going to sound silly but I am early into my first pregnancy and really anxious about it. Every morning after my partner brings me coffee in bed, I open my pregnancy app and read off the facts of the day about our growing baby. It’s kind of nerdy I guess but it does help replace the anxiety I feel about being pregnant during a pandemic with anticipation and excitement.

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Cindee

My boyfriend and I making each other laugh until we cry for the past 9000 days is joy, comfort and I love him more every day.

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Rachel

One of our guinea pigs will most likely need to be put down in a few weeks (not responding to meds). To make the last few weeks meaningful, we’ve created a sort of guinea pig hospice retreat. Everyday, each of my kids does something for her that she likes, spends time doing something they like with/to her (dance for her or read or play the violin), and then something kind for someone else in her honor. It’s been amazing and profound to see how caring and kind and gentle and thoughtful my kiddos are. Our new motto has become “Live your life like Cookie is dying”. A bit morbid, yes, but it has also been something really great that has come out of this time together.

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Ann

My four-month-old learned to roll over, and she is so stinking proud of herself! Her toothless beaming smile every time she rotates back-to-tummy, or tummy-to-back, is radiant and redemptive. She has no idea what’s going on around her! All she knows is that she’s learned a new skill and now she can observe her three-year-old sister from a new vantage. I keep looking at her and thinking “yup, the world is going to keep turning.” (It’s a good thing she won’t remember any of this; I had to take her to the pediatrician for her four-month shots last week and both the doctor and I spent the entire visit in masks and gloves, which made me weep in mourning for the innocence we’ve already lost.)

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Rosemarie

What’s honestly bringing me the most joy right now are my 7 and 4 year old. It seems like the internet is filled with people feeling sorry for people with kids at home. This has been a fun time with them. Granted, I still work (from home) full time, but getting to get up later, bake at lunchtime if we want to, eat dinner together, and sit and watch Nailed It together vs running around cleaning and prepping for the next day, is such a welcome break. If not for them to focus on, I’d go a little crazy right now. Also, watching them participate in Zoom calls is so hilarious.

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Jodie

I’m a high school Foods Studies teacher and as you can imagine, teaching this kind of class in a online way is incredibly hard. When I first started this journey I had an idea in my head of which students would be able to manage this transition (I’ve got 18 years of teaching under my belt, I’m a pretty good guesser!). But I was completely wrong. Some of my more absent and struggling students are doing really well in this new way of doing things. Asking good questions, looking for more material, joining all our online “face to face” classes. That fills my cup and keeps me slogging forward. And seeing the kids each day (we do one class per day for high school students in our district) and seeing their pride in cooking for and with their families is just awesome.

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Pam

Thank you for posting about this book! I didn’t know it existed. I love LIW and devoured the Little House series again and again as a little girl, and I love them just as much today. I’ve added it to my “To Read” list!

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Kim Ryan

I enjoyed the Birchbark House series by Louise Erdrich which follows a Native American family and community. They are richly written and not to be missed.

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Ann

Every morning I Facetime with my grandson, who is in first grade. He reads to me, 1-2 chapters of a Magic Treehouse book. We talk about vocabulary words, why the K in knapsack is silent, and philosophical questions brought about by the book’s theme. We talk about how punctuation marks are a reader’s traffic signals, and how to observe them. We talk about Pokemon Go, about what his sister baked the previous day, about everything. I am so grateful to have this opportunity to get to know him in this special way.

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Ruth

This is all so hard, working a full time job (my husband too) while being home with our 4 and 1 year olds. But, silver line is that we ARE home with them. We get to see them in all their glory (and tears). I am especially excited that I will likely see my 1 year old walk for the first time (she normally goes to daycare).

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Nicole

As much as we miss playgrounds, it’s also a joy to see my two pre-schoolers make games out of sticks and rocks, jump in mud puddles on rainy day “puddle walks” (and pretend when it hasn’t rained) , play various forms of ‘chase’, and generally take pleasure in the bits of the natural world they’re allowed to access and explore.

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Sherri

I’m an Assistant Teacher at a local preschool. While I dearly miss the day to day interaction with these little humans I’ve found a lot of joy in participating in Zoom Circle Time, sending positive messages to the families and children through Facebook and preparing easy “do at home” lessons for our families. As a staff we send a positive boost each day….something we’ve heard about or something to make you smile. Today was a boost from CBS Sunday Morning who reported about Big Bird’s positive message to children during this time of the Coronavirus. Looking forward to a time when we can all be back together again at our preschool!

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Beth

I’ve been lucky enough to let my morning slowly unfold. I’m able to do a run or hour long yoga practice, have a leisurely breakfast with my 20 year old daughter who’s home from college, probably for the last time. I enjoy my coffee while I just take the day in. I’ve also started reading poetry and read a poem to finish up my morning.

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Molly

One thing that’s bringing me a ton of joy is family dinner. It has always been a priority in our house but now it is so unhurried – both the food preparation and the lingering over the meal. We are coming to the end of 6 weeks and we have not gotten take out a single time – I have cooked every night. It’s so enjoyable to cook without being rushed! And I have an appreciative audience, which helps. What’s funny is how many of the recipes are yours – chili, chicken parmesan meatballs, butternut squash soup, shrimp tacos. You and Ina Garten have the cookbooks I turn to again and again for solid family meals.

All that said – don’t pick me for a cookbook! I have all of yours and someone who doesn’t should be the recipient.

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gm

My 17-year-old daughter is the only girl in our family, with three brothers, and her 16-year-old cousin has just the one brother, so the girls have always been kind of like the sister they never had to each other. Watching their friendship over the miles during this time has been a lovely thing— whenever my sis and I hear our girls squealing with laughter, we know they’re on the phone to each other. 🙂

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Erin

My sister in law is having a baby today!!! I’m so excited to find out if it’s a boy or a girl and I’m relieved that my brother is allowed to be in the hospital with her.

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Molly

Some days I feel like I barely move at all while I’m sitting at my WFH desk. So, I started taking “coffee walks.” I wake up, bundle up (hopefully soon it will be warm enough to go without the jackets!), pour some coffee in a to-go mug, and take a walk around my town. I don’t have a distance or a time in mind – I just try to enjoy the fresh air. Sometimes a family member comes, sometimes my boyfriend comes (we are all quarantining together), and sometimes I go alone and listen to a podcast. I truly look forward to it every day!

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Andrea

Such a great idea and truly refreshing! And taking the coffee to go is a nice touch! Take care!

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Sheila Bauer

Here has what has brought me joy lately. I work as a nurse in a large hospital taking care of new mothers and babies. It’s a scary time for all health care workers, of course, but when I am there it’s pretty easy to leave the fear behind and focus on helping the new parents as they fall in love with their new little ones. In the midst of death there is life, always a miracle and so joyful.

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Andrea

Thank you for all you are doing now, and all that you do, even during a “normal” work day. The world goes on because of people like you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

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Greta

Watching my 4 yo and 1.5 yo daughters grow their relationship. I love watching big sis try to read to little sis, calm her down with a toy, or “quizzing” her on where her toes, fingers, and belly button are. These are the few stolen moments in the day where my husband and I can just stand back, “spy” on them, say nothing, and just smile.

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Colleen

Watching my three-year-old son’s imagination blossom during all of this time has been inspiring. We went from a go-go-go lifestyle to one largely contained in an apartment and I was worried about the effect it would have on him. His storytelling skills and his world-building have expanded over the past weeks. I’m crediting it to all the open-ended play and reading (with a healthy measure of Disney+) that makes up the majority of our days now.

The homemade bourbon cream that was last night’s project is also bringing me quite a bit of joy.

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Melanie Pieper

I am deep in the garden / flower bed planning research for our new to us house. Scrolling through different IG feeds of Midwest gardens is bringing me joy…especially Lurie Garden posts.

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Alison Coleman

Have you watched John Krasinski’s “Some Good News” segments!?! So great! Thanks for keeping up the blog, it seems to have an even deeper meaning during this quarantine!

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Karen Benson

My 6th grade son’s teacher asked them to send letters of gratitude to health care workers. His letter was so heartfelt (from a normally reserved kid) and, along with many other kids, apparently made some local docs and nurses smile. Here is a shortened version of his letter:

Dear Healthcare Workers,

In this time of a crisis, we have all stepped up to help by keeping social distancing, washing our hands, and being aware of what we do and touch. Even though it is us following the 5 rules to staying safe, it is you, who help those who need it. Giving the right treatment to those who are sick has helped us all be more aware that you are the true heroes in this fight. And without you, the world would’ve fallen apart by now.

We thank you all for what you are doing today, what you are risking. And most importantly, helping us win this fight, like you did years ago, every time. Right now, you are the real Avengers. The real Jedi. The real Justice League. Now, you keep being heroes. The ones that we need right now. Even though many things have been canceled, hope hasn’t. And that is all thanks to you. Keep on being heroes, and we will win this.

From, Henry

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T

Joy is a hard descriptor right now. Perhaps seeing my kids have time to play together and feeling so fortunate that they have each other and we have them. And knowing that they’re seeing the world–or most of the world– at its most compassionate. They have witnessed so many generous and brave acts. I hope that when they look back on all this, that is what they will remember.

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Bonnie

The day my 82 year old mother began sheltering in place she snapped a photo of herself dressed up, wearing her signature red lipstick and a pretty necklace. She sent me the photo to demonstrate that she was doing just fine. It became a ritual. Everyday she wakes up, gets dressed, puts on makeup and selects a piece of jewelry (she has an eclectic collection of heirlooms and costume jewelry ) and texts me the selfie. She good naturally refers this tradition as “sanity through vanity” but for me her pretty face delivered by text is a daily gem.

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Sarah

I’m a pregnant nurse and I have two good things that happened to me this week! My covid test came back negative after feeling ill for two weeks and my husband felt the baby kick for the first time! A strong baby for a crazy time!

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Sarah

I’m a pregnant nurse and I have two good things that happened to me this week! My covid-19 test came back negative after feeling ill for two weeks and my husband felt the baby kick for the first time! A strong baby for a crazy time!

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Jen

New Zealand only had 3 new cases yesterday and we are hopefully on track for elimination. An overwhelming majority of the population are following the rules and staying home to protect our vulnerable populations and essential workers.
That and our baby chickens are unbearably cute.

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Heidi

Last night we had Happy Hour in our living room. I wanted cheese before dinner and this seemed like a good way to pull it off. My 12 year old son asked what HH was and I explained that it was a time to get together with people and talk about your day over a snack and a drink. Massive eye rolls as all we do is see each other all.day.long right now. Everyone grabbed a drink of their choice and gathered in the living (12 yo son, 14 yo daughter, and husband). It turned out to be the best 30 minutes! I borrowed a play from your book and asked everyone’s top 5 favorite meals, which turned into “oh yeah that was good” or “remember when we…”. We discussed books and what they were doing through their online schooling. It was such a bright spot during this time.

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Karen

I’ve been reading Harry Potter to my 6 and 8 year old every night. We are in the middle of book three now. I’ve read the series on my own twice and it’s been so much fun seeing their reactions to all the twists and turns and to hear their predictions of what they think will happen next. We all look forward to it each evening and my husband has even started to listen in too.

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Sarah

My good news is that I got engaged this weekend! While it’s obviously a weird time, it’s been fun to have something to celebrate!

Comfort: I’ve been cooking what I call “a real dinner” more often than normal and loving it. That includes replenishing the stash of DALS pork ragu in our freezer – one of our favorite staples 🙂

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Christine

My three year old son loves the new Dixie Chicks song Gaslighter. He sings Along with his own version of it. Belts it right out!!

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Kirsten

You may know that Seattle area is famous for growing as many tulips as Holland. Obviously with the markets closed, the growers are really struggling – this is their livlihood. So, there are several groups organizing pick-up and deliveries by neighborhood, also connected with foodbank donations – win, win, with sunshine and flowers. AND….at the Pike Place Market Foundation, we’ve raised over $250,000 dollars for the Safety Net for our farmers, crafters. The generosity and efforts of kindness I am seeing are boundless.

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Leigh

My kids actually eating a dinner we all knew wasn’t great. I tried to recreate the white beans, tomato paste, cheese dish in The NY Times. Mine was terrible! But kids—10, 9, 5, 4–stoically are it and waited for dessert.

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Kirsten

You probably know that Seattle area is famous for growing as many tulips as Holland. Obviously with the markets closed, the growers are really struggling – this is their livlihood. So, there are several groups organizing pick-up and deliveries by neighborhood (also connected with foodbank donations -so win, win, with sunshine and flowers). The generosity and efforts of kindness I am seeing are boundless.

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Carolyn

I have a dear friend who is a family care doctor. Her father is also a family care physician and they have a practice together. He became very ill with COVID-19 last month. His symptoms quickly escalated and he was admitted to the ICU. He spent over a month in the ICU and we were all incredibly worried. There were days we thought our friend’s dad would pass away. I am so happy to report that he went home from the hospital this week. We’re all pinching ourselves. The hospital put a red carpet down for him to be wheeled out on and the Beatles song ‘I get by with a little help from my friends’ was playing. Just wonderful.

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Sarah

I love reading these posts! Thank you and to everyone who has responded, I’ve enjoyed your comments so much. It got me thinking that so many things have brought me joy in this incredibly challenging time….walks and talks with my tween, seeing my girls play together, weekly Zooms with family and friends we’re often too busy to call, staying up late and snuggling with my kids because I can, making new things in the kitchen. I’ve even been writing in my journal more (bringing back my 90s, coffee shop, overall wearing, Sarah McLachlin listening self)….but this week my joy came from my third grade students. We officially started remote learning and we’re all learning new things together. I love their comments and seeing them in our video chats. My fav post came from a little girl begging me for books to read….she doesn’t have many at home…and has always been a reluctant striving reader. My heart! I put a call out for book donations and all of a sudden, bundles of books started showing up on my doorstep. I can’t wait to deliver them to her doorstep. I think I’ll have enough to surprise her and a few others in need. I love when community comes together. Much love everyone. Be safe.

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Mckenzie Cunningham

I started on the sourdough train like many of us, and have been feeling real delight in making something nourishing with my hands, then giving it away to friends and family! If I could place “why” – I’d say it’s because it connects me with people. When I can’t spend time with them, I give them something I spent time on for them. I give them something that brought me joy in hopes that it brings them joy. And above all else, it pulls me from the pit of myself, and reminds me that I have and that I am a part of a community. It’s a poor substitute for breaking bread with each other, but for now, it’ll do.

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Patricia

What’s bringing me joy is watching the sibling bond start to develop between my 3 year old and my 8 month old.
Being at home with two little kids is both the most challenging part and the brightest spot of this pandemic. Ahhh… the neverending paradox of parenthood.

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Jen

Watching my dad play online chess via zoom with my 13 yr old and then sitting down to eat your Stromboli with my partner and kids.

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Ann

We celebrate EVERYTHING! Our baby just turned 6 mos so we made all kinds of purees and stick foods for dinner for everyone! My 3 year old will soon be 3.5 so we will have a half-cake and some glitter pens I found in a drawer she forgot about. We have been decorating all week for the big day with paper chains and we made hats. We can’t go for walks outside here in Malaysia, as it’s been outlawed. At 5:00 everyday I put the baby in the chest carrier and we have a track loop we walk and sing and high five for 20 minutes.

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Sarah

Me too Georgia! I am four weeks + five days pregnant today — this is my second pregnancy after a late miscarriage and a long time hoping and trying so the anxiety levels are high..! Its nice to know there is someone else out there in the DALS community going through something similar during this weird isolating time. I’m sending you lots of luck for yours.

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Lisa DeArmit

Zoom meetings with my kindergarten class are like eating tomato soup with a fork! We are marching on…in our pajamas and daily check-ins with how many friends have wiggly teeth!

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Jennifer Victory

I teach 8th grade ELA and our school is k-8, many of my kiddos have been in school together since kindergarten. They did not have a chance to say goodbye. All year long on Fridays they write me a letter, I have been doing this since I began teaching, it is the best gift ever, it always has been but especially now. My kids can pour every thought out in a safe place of comfort. Sometimes, as a society we do not always listen to our kids and here my students know their voice matters.

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Olivia

My fiance and I made the decision yesterday to postpone our August wedding reception. Though we aren’t sure what August may look like, we know that hosting a party for around 300 people probably isn’t realistic. Through all the tears and sadness, it made me realize that, more than anything, I’m just excited to be his wife! We are still planning on getting married on our original August date. Stripping away all of the trappings of a big wedding and finding comfort in what really matters has brought so much comfort (and joy).

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Stephanie W.

I receive the daily emails from Modern Mrs. Darcy about the books that are on special. I usually scroll through thinking how nice it would be to read some of them. Well…I am! I can cruise through a good police/mystery/drama that costs 1.99 and not even feel guilty if I figured out the ending three-quarters of the way in. I enjoy reading fiction but as a teacher I have so much else to read that I rarely read what I consider a pleasure read. I’m building time for that in my day and I love it.

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Rita Sharma

My young son lost his two front teeth for Christmas this year. They have taken forever to grow in. He has had to eat food (crunchy apples, pizza, cookies). Over the past few weeks, the teeth are coming in. It is funny to see these large teeth dropping in and also crazy to see how these two teeth are making his face change into something more like a boy instead of a child. I am so grateful to have this slow time to really see the changes in my youngest. And we can laugh a bit every day since only one now is in with a peek of the second. At least he can bite into things now! It’s going to be a great memory—-quarantine chompers!

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Rita Sharma

My young son lost his two front teeth for Christmas this year. They have taken forever to grow in. He has had to eat food (crunchy apples, pizza, cookies) from the side of his mouth. Over the past few weeks, the teeth are coming in. It is funny to see these large teeth dropping in and also crazy to see how these two teeth are making his face change into something more like a boy instead of a child. I am so grateful to have this slow time to really see the changes in my youngest. And we can laugh a bit every day since only one now is in with a peek of the second. At least he can bite into things now! It’s going to be a great memory—-quarantine chompers!

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Anu

What brought me joy this week was making sushi at home. I had bought the supplies months back, but in my normal life I could never find the time or energy to put them to use. I pulled up your post about making sushi, used veggies and leftover salmon and made a batch and it was such a treat! I’ve made it twice now and somehow the fact that I can now do this fills me with joy. not to mention how thrilled my kids were.

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Andrea

What a coincidence! We made sushi last night for the first time, too! It was so nice to have the time to do that, at last! Take care!

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Molly

I don’t know that this is inspiring, but it did make me laugh so hard I cried! My husband asked for chapstick the other day, as all this time inside is making us both rather dry. I told him there was some extra strong lip balm on my shelf in our bathroom. He came back down saying how much it helped! His lips looked extra shiny and pink. I just chalked it up to sensitive skin. Fast forward a few days and I happen to walk by him as he’s putting on more…and I realize he’s been applying my pink tinted, lip plumping balm. For days, he’s been wearing volumizing pink lip gloss!!! I could barely tell him through my tears of delight. We both had a big and much needed laugh!!!

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Andrea

Thank you for the good laugh!!!! And thanks to your husband for being a good sport about you sharing this. We all need to laugh. Take care!

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Stephanie

My joy has come from sewing masks. I’ve made 120 this month. It’s fun to pick fabric that perfectly suits the wearer. For a woodworker I had this fabric that looked like wooden planks walls. It’s all scraps. I did have to order elastic from China because there was none available in Canada. I have to argue with people about paying me. I tell them I wouldn’t feel as good about it if I were paid.

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Emily

My husband lost his job at the beginning of January. Needless to say, it’s the worst ever time to be looking for employment. We have three kids, two of whom graduated abruptly and to zero fanfare (from college and high school, respectively), and our daughter, who has autism, is struggling with online college classes. We’re all healthy, for which I’m so grateful, but these other factors have added to the stress level in our household. However, my husband of 28 years, after almost three decades of my cooking most of our meals, has taken over family dinner every night! His delight in this accomplishment and MY delight in this accomplishment and in his joy makes me smile every single day.

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Caitlin

Joy: an unexpected bonding with my sister. We’ve never been very close, live far from eachother and have pretty different lives. But we both cook dinner every night. Each night we’ve been using the app Marco Polo to show what we’re cooking for dinner. This has brought me a lot of joy.
Joy: postcard from my 9 year old neice. She sent me a list of activities to do to keep from getting bored. The last item: “I don’t know if you like slime, but all you need is glue (glitter if you wish) and water and baking soda and a saline solution!” She is so earnest and such a kid, this last line just makes my eyes tear up everytime I think of it.
Inspiration: My husband! He is an ICU RN, working with COVID patients. He comes home sore and emotional but brimming with gratitude and love. He gets called in on his days off. He’s just so good. He graduates from his Master’s program in May and yesterday was offered a job as a nurse practitioner in their Medical ICU. He’s incredible.

PS PPP and reading through these comments bring me SO MUCH JOY. Thank you

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Shell

This weekend is my husband and my 39th anniversary! One thing that brings me joy during our quarantine together in Portland, Oregon is that we have been doing a happy hour together each evening pre-dinner. No matter where we are in the house or yard or on our computers, about 5 pm my husband calls out “Ready for a drink?” and I answer “Sure!”. We make or pour our cocktails or wine, and go out to the deck, light the gas fireplace, and sit under the trees. We might chat, we might not. We usually turn on Spotify and decide what type of music sounds good to us that evening…last night it was an Amos Lee playlist, the night before Chet Baker. We try to PUT DOWN OUR PHONES and just reconnect, unwind from social media and newsfeeds, listen to the birds, notices what new blooms have sprung on the plants and trees. In a 1/2 hour or so, I get up to go in and start on dinner…but these “endings” to our work days have become a new ritual that I cherish and I’ll remember fondly when it’s all over.

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awads

i am a sucker for rancho gordo beans! we have a local health food coop that sells them so we pick up massive amounts. my big question: what do you do with the broth after you use the beans? do you make soup? freeze it? toss it? i never really know…

what brings me joy right now? zoom happy hours!! i’ve been having them with coworkers, college friends, local mom friends, family (both husband’s and mine) and they are a hoot! why did we wait for a quarantine to see our loved ones faces?? cheers!

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Amanda Luton

This weekend I will hit my 600th msak that I’ve sewn for frontline heathcare workers, essential workers, immuno-compromised individuals and friends and family that just needed a mask for protection to go to the store. It sounds corny and like such a cliche, but there is no doubt in my mind that giving and doing for others has brought me more joy than anything while being quarantined for the last 6 weeks.

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China

Pam, I am getting also nearing 40, getting a master’s in Social Org Psychology, and have three kids (7, 4, and almost 1)! Fortunately I only took one class this semester because of the baby and Comprehensive Exams (which, thank god, took place a week before the NYC lockdown started). Congrats on your A! That is awesome! It is so hard for me to focus on work right now, and when I manage to plow through any of it, I feel so proud of myself. Only two more weeks to go but I have to get through a 20-page group paper and a final exam. Then a month off from school, which I am desperately looking forward to!

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Erika Hasle

We are adopting a dog today! This process started before the quarantine and has taken so long. It has been an emotional rollercoaster and we are so happy to welcome this dog into our house.

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Elizabeth

I feel the same way, but about my mom. I usually only make time to call her once a week but I’ve been calling her most every day and enjoying our long conversations, realizing that, given she’s in her 80s, I will one day be very grateful for this time I had with her, even though it was by phone and FaceTime.

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