We spent the week indoors due to the wildfire smoke that hung around all week long. While thankfully we were never in the 500+ AQI range as much of Oregon was, 200-300 was still pretty awful, and meant that the only time spent outdoors was spent in an N95 mask, and even then, I ended up with a headache pretty much every day.

Climate change is here. And we are paying for it dearly with the extra hot, extra dry conditions that means that fires start and spread more easily. I’d like to say this year was extraordinary, but I’m afraid we are going to see more fire and more smoke in summers to come. I’m not sure what it will take to make big changes, but if these extreme weather patterns don’t do it, I don’t know what will.

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Friday’s Frugal Five

When we could finally even see the sun

1. A close friend turned thirty five this past weekend, so we had him and the couple that we’ve been “bubbling” with over for dinner and a vegan squash cake from my mother in law’s summer squash. Three people inside our house might be too many for some, and seem too cautious to others, but for us, it feels like the right balance of being very cautious while still seeing some people in a more “normal” way.

The air quality was absolutely awful Saturday night, so we spent the evening inside a slightly too-warm home, but it was filled with a few of my very favorite people, and we had a wonderful night. This extrovert may need people, but I’m learning that I do okay with the same few people, as long as I can see them face to face. This pandemic is going to last for a long time yet, and we have to get through it somehow, without throwing up our hands and “giving up” on being cautious.

2. Even with the bad air quality, we were able to go to our favorite farmers market and pick up some produce. My very favorite thing that’s in season right now has to be the baby artichokes. Sautéed in oil with garlic and salt is one of the best things I’ve eaten lately.

There weren’t nearly as many vendors as are normally at the market due to the smoke, and even fewer people shopping. With our N95 masks and keeping the trip short, it felt well worth it to support our favorite local farmers and have fresh produce to supplement my garden harvest.

Our *ahem* most interesting farmers market corn this year

3. We’ve also picked up a few new kindergarten books and activities and worksheets from a local bookstore. Not only do they have a great collection to choose from, it feels good to be shopping locally rather than buying whatever is available on Amazon. The prices might be a bit higher, but it’s worth it.

In all things, I’ve been working on ditching Amazon. It’s not always the easiest, but I’m finding that the more I look to local sourced options, the easier it becomes. Like anything else, a habit and a mindset switch takes time.

4. One of the books we picked up was My First Cookbook (the irony of linking to Amazon, I know), and the kiddo decided that he wanted to make English muffin pizzas one night. He’s been cooking and baking with me for a while, but the kid-level cookbook made it even more fun for him.

Of course, I insisted that we also make the English muffins and the pizza sauce (from garden tomatoes), but he decided that making the mozzarella too was too much for a weeknight. The mini pizzas were totally awesome, and he definitely felt some extra ownership by flipping through and selecting the recipe out of his own book.

Pizza making

5. My mother cut the kiddo’s hair this week. They both masked up, as always, but she was able to sit him in front of a television show and trim up his hair once he asked her to.

It had been since November or December I think since he’d had his last haircut, and it was getting shaggy and long. We’ve always said that his hair was up to him though, so it doesn’t get cut unless he asks. Nana Salon is a bonus – free, we don’t have to schedule a specific time to do it, and much lower risk right now.

Exercise Update

Thanks to the smoke, I wasn’t able to run all week. I might be a bit frustrated about that, but it’s probably been good for my heel. I did lift weights twice though, and did two longer dance sessions at home, so I’m satisfied with my workouts in a week where we had to stay inside the whole time. But I sure am looking forward to my next run outside.

How are you holding up? Any choices you’re making to make this long haul situation slightly better?

14 thoughts on “Friday‘s Frugal Five (COVID-19 Week 29)

  1. Vegan squash cake?! That sounds interesting! How is it?

    And THANK YOU for supporting your local bookstores. We need to ensure these wonderful places stay in business. From what I’ve heard, they’re surviving better than big chain bookstores, since people like lingering in the small bookstores. Fingers crossed the trend continues!

    Btw, fun corn! 😉

  2. Well now I want English muffin pizzas haha.

    As for how we’re holding up…things aren’t bad here. There’s only one active case where we live (New Brunswick, Canada) and very few in our larger region. In many ways, this is nice, but I also worry that it will make people complacent over time. That said, I have noticed a lot more places here are making masks mandatory (a good thing!) and the people we see on a regular basis are pretty diligent about taking necessary precautions. What a strange time to be alive.

  3. How did you decide who is in your bubble/what rules do you have? Though we’ve had friends over, it’s been predominantly outdoor – all eating has been outside, and if anyone needs to come inside to use the kitchen or bathroom we all mask up. I am very worried about that no longer being possible in winter, but maybe if we come up with specific rules we can pick one household to invite inside.

    I love the kids’ cookbook! I didn’t bake most of the summer, but I want to start again now that the weather is cooler – and pizzas may be on the menu!

    1. Yes, colder weather means that it is time to bake! Our oven has been sitting unused since the beginning of June when the temperatures and humidity rose. We all love pizza, but we have been doing lighter summer fare of grilling and barbecue outside all summer. There is a season for all things, and cold winter nights means the oven is in use. I cannot imagine living in the south where the temps are so hot from April through November. Yes, make pizza, but make great pizza! And bake bread, cookies and other goodies. Homemade is supposed to be better! Here are some recipes that I have checked out. Hubby is the chef, I am the baker. He has infringed on my domain doing the pizzas and Stromboli. Naan bread and cinnamon rolls, plus my cookies and pies!

    2. Basically, we just picked a couple (and a single friend) who we can trust to be very very careful, and have them over regularly. We get our social time, but otherwise keep everyone outdoors / distanced.

  4. We have only seen one couple in person in any kind of close proximity these past six months. We’ve done both outdoor activities and had dinner together outdoors, or with a good distance indoors. They’re still working around people, hence the caution, but they’re also good about staying masked indoors when they’re in closer quarters with us. Likewise we stay masked at all times unless we’re eating, and then we see no one for at least two weeks after each get together. Though that’s funny because it’s only them we see once every 2-4 weeks so it’s not like we’re risking anyone else.

    I’ve given both JB and one of those two friends a haircut now, both outdoors, both not that great 😁 😅 but they were informed as to the risks of having ME cut their hair so I won’t feel bad about it.

    Of the five of us, I’m the last one who hasn’t had a trim since pre pandemic but I also probably care the absolute least about hair so it’s par for the course.

    I should really make time to check on our local bookstore. I’ve only purchased several ebooks for myself on Kobo, to avoid Amazon, and have been relying on the library’s contact free pickup and drop off for JB’s reading.

  5. I am so glad we are on the east coast and not breathing in that smoke from the fires. I read the CDC guidance to avoid breathing in that smoke and that the cloth masks are worthless as protection from the smoke even though the smoke particles are .75 to 2 microns, which the virus is .14 microns, plus the smoke burning your eyes. So the cloth masks are not protecting anyone.
    We are still getting fresh vegetables from our garden, but being we had a frost the last two nights, that is ending. The kale is cold hardy, so we will have that until the snow flies. Now that the temperatures are dropping, it is time for my husband to start making pizza again. He gets the oven quite hot in the kitchen, so we don’t do them in the summer. He has been researching making better pizza and he is looking to upgrade from his pizza stone to a pizza steel, and he will age his dough three days first. We made tomato sauce with Roma tomatoes, basil, parsley and garlic from our garden. It should be great on the pizza.
    Hubby is the family barber and stylist, he has been doing them for years, so I have been getting my hair trimmed every couple months and my teen boys continued to get their haircuts every three weeks. He does excellent work and I had a couple friends visit to grill on the deck and both asked hubby for haircuts. So he gave each one a haircut outside, both were quite pleased with the results. My friend that has short hair visited her salon once after that and was unhappy with the results having to wear a mask. My best friend will be visiting next weekend to have her long hair trimmed, I wouldn’t be surprised to see my other friend come with her as well as hubby won’t ask her to wear a mask.

    1. We have N95 masks, so thankfully we were able to go outside in those. It was still miserable though.

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