Of course the true MVPs of 2020 are frontline workers, from doctors and medical researchers to custodial staff and administration, and also the free press for reporting on the pandemic when leadership was downplaying the severity, but I digress.
Since I have am immune-compromised and my doctors deemed the risk so acute that they wrote my husband a note so he could work from home and not be exposed to COVID-19 and subsequently expose me and the kids (two of whom have asthma and are themselves at a higher risk of complications) we have spent the last ten months at home. We only leave to get curbside, no-contact groceries, other than an emergency trip to the pediatrician for a severe ear infection, and a round of flu shots for everyone. I also mailed some boxes for Christmas, when I wore a mask, a face shield, and disposable gloves, and then changed my clothes and scrubbed to my elbows when I came home. And that is IT.
There are a few things that have kept me sane since March, and I feel the need to praise them right now.
First, I’d like to thank my favorite black leggings from Aerie. Leggings are my stay-at-home uniform but also honestly my pre-pandemic uniform, and I have found the love of my legging life. As a person with frequent stomachaches, I am not here for compression ever and these leggings are generously cut and don’t assault me with squeezing or pinching. Comfortable, but functional and can definitely be worn for workouts (I don’t like the crossover waist version, however). They are always the first thing I retrieve from my freshly folded laundry, and I refuse to wear any other pants once we are all vaccinated and reenter society, so you can all just get used to it. #legginglyfe
This past year I cleared out my Instagram follows and removed women who sold material items nonstop, and added some cooks, chefs, and inspirational speakers. Instagram MVP of 2020 goes to Half Baked Harvest, and her recipes are the flavors of our lockdown. Now, most recipes had to be modified because Walmart curbside is absolute garbage and would substitute completely random items (“sorry we don’t have tomatoes but we threw in frozen spiralized zucchini”) but her guidance served as the inspiration for many delicious meals this year. The Spicy Pesto Pasta Alla Vodka is now my very favorite homemade meal, and the only time I’ve ever looked forward to leftovers. If you make this, which you absolutely should, don’t worry if you don’t have enough pesto — I didn’t either the first time I made it and it was magical anyway. Tieghan’s recipes have international flavors and are clear and reliable. I made her turkey for Thanksgiving!
Eating Out Loud gets honorable mention in this category, as I’ve been following Eden on Instagram to get her recipes, but didn’t get her cookbook until Christmas. If you are into Middle Eastern food, this book is fantastic. I also got Yotem Ottolenghi’s Simple, but haven’t cooked from it yet. There’s nothing like lockdown to make you sick of your own cooking, and these folks helped (literally) spice things up.
Our nation’s supply of flour has kept me busy for the last ten months, except for the dark times when there was a shortage. I’ve baked a lot of cakes and cookies to try and make our birthdays and holidays special without help from the professional decorators at our grocery stores. After the brief interruption in supply, I’m thankful our wheat farmers could handle the demand of millions of sourdough starters and loaves of banana bread being attempted across the country. Honorable mention for powdered sugar and butter, because I made buckets of frosting to cover Archie’s rainbow-Avenger cake. My daughter turns three next month, and she wants a “blue princess cake” so please pray for me.
Our weekly family movie nights have benefitted greatly from Disney+, and we’ve been able to revisit some classics with the kids which has been fun. Plus, I finally got to see Hamilton! I was really excited to rewatch some of the princess movies from my childhood with my daughter, but unfortunately she only watches Frozen and Frozen II. The MVP here is our internet, which has juggled so many demands over the past ten months. Between the all-day Teams meetings for the kids’ school, my husband working from home, his two phones and my phone, Frozen on the TV to distract the little one during math tests for my oldest, and Alexa monitoring us all with frightening eavesdropping abilities, there have been some hiccups and crashes along the way, but we are so lucky our router hasn’t just burst into flames. Also, Schitt’s Creek was the highlight of my year.
LVP goes to our dishwasher which has broken twice during a time when we are cooking and eating at home more than ever, and of course to Walmart Curbside/Delivery, which has gotten worse the longer the pandemic has gone on. The latter is truly disappointing, because Walmart already had curbside groceries, a service I used frequently to avoid taking a toddler who hates shopping into a giant store for an hour. The staff repeatedly forget entire bags of our groceries (all the produce was missing from our last order), put bananas under soda, substitute by using a dartboard (ribs for pork tenderloin, Italian seasoning in place of fresh oregano, flavored creamer for whipping cream) and the only way to resolve those issues is to return them to the store which defeats the entire purpose of no-contact delivery. They also send us visibly rotten produce, like the time they sent home meat that stank before we even unpacked it, the oozing bag of cranberries that stained all the other items in the bag, the avocado that was half full of black slime and contained no green flesh. But, as it turns out, quarantiners can’t be choosers. I’ve had great luck with Sprouts curbside, but they don’t have everything we need, so I often put in an order as soon as we unpack our Walmart gamble and try to get some of the items we are missing. During our isolation a brand new grocery store has been built five minutes away and though it isn’t open yet I am eagerly awaiting the moment I can walk in and pick my own damn avocado.
My current leader for MVP of 2021 is a tie between Pfizer and Moderna, and we are anxiously awaiting our turn to get the vaccine. Immune-compromised people are in the second wave of Phase 1 here in El Paso, so I’ll let you know if it gives me any special powers!