We’ve hit the highest daily deaths nationwide this week since the peak in April that was concentrated in New York City. Now, COVID-19 is pretty much everywhere. We in Washington State also had our highest death count this week, even though our numbers are still better than most of the country. Better, but still much, much too bad.

Hospitals throughout the county are close or past ICU capacity. I’ve heard stories of family members having to be transported an hour or two away for treatment and priests not being allowed into the hospital even to administer last rites. After far too many people traveled and gathered over Thanksgiving, we are looking at a long dark winter.

Pfizer’s vaccine was granted FDA approval today though, so there is some light here in the future. I’d said that the one thing I wanted for my birthday (on Sunday) was a vaccine being rolled out, so maybe I’m getting my wish after all.

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Friday’s Frugal Five

1. It seems like everyone (myself included) is having a particularly hard month. With rising cases, darker days, and even more limited movement, the days are rough right now. While I can’t change the situation surrounding myself, I am working on trying to hang on to the small spots of joy that I can find.

One of those small spots of joy was my order of four holiday masks from my cousin through her website. Since we are going to be wearing masks for a while yet, it feels a bit more festive this time of year to be sporting cozy winter masks. “Cozy winter masks” was never a phrase I’d expect to utter, but I suppose that’s where we are at these days.

One of my four new holiday masks

2. We’ve been limiting our grocery store trips to once a week or less right now, but the last time we went, the kiddo spotted a pack of Magic Grow Dinosaur Capsules. He decided that he really wanted them, so I asked if he wanted to spend the four dollars they cost to buy them himself.

We worked through the fact that four dollars was sixteen quarters, which is quite a lot for him. He stood and thought a minute, almost put them back, but then decided they were worth it. Those little capsules have brought him so much joy this week (he calls them his “experiments”) that I would say they were absolutely worth the money for him.

Did buying them himself make a difference to that joy? Maybe, maybe not, but he’s definitely learning how to be judicious with his purchase choices when his dollar is on the line.

3. I’ve been baking some simple breads for a while now (okay, most of the pandemic), and I finally branched out a little bit this week beyond simply adding a few spices or some garlic to a loaf.

The roommate had added sandwich bread to the grocery list, and since I’ve been trying to get a loaf right to replace his store bought bread, I decided to give it another shot. I used this recipe to bake a honey oat sandwich bread, and it was very good, and I think one step closer to a true sandwich loaf I’m happy with. In the meantime, they’ve been tasty, tasty experiments (this one as a compliment to a slow cooker pot roast).

The loaves in question (plus pot roast + homemade marshmallows)

4. As I had mentioned previously, I cancelled my birthday weekend trip when the numbers began to skyrocket last month. I had really been looking forward to that weekend, even knowing it would be more subdued than last year when we packed a house full of friends.

In order to try and grab a bit more of that joy, I decided to kick off the second gift card giveaway in my restaurant support group to celebrate my birthday this coming Sunday. I had shared a few posts to let people know it was coming to give them some advanced heads up, and that meant that I ended up having an influx of donations ahead of the official opening on Sunday.

Instead of waiting the rest of the week, I decided to open it up officially on Wednesday to give people more time to enter and to give. So far, we are looking like we will surpass November’s Thanksgiving giveaway, and it’s definitely the bright spot I’m needing right now, especially as I hear about small businesses that are not making it through this winter (Washington predicts that 45% of the state’s restaurants won’t survive 2021).

5. Another positive of this month has been the continued harvesting of my garden into the winter time. We’ve had warmer weather with just a couple of days below freezing, so even the cilantro and parsley is chugging along in a big way, along with the hardier greens.

One morning last week I was up at 4am (thanks pandemic insomnia), and my brain turned toward the garden. While I didn’t enjoy being away at an entirely too early hour, I did write a poem during that time that I’m pretty proud of. It’s published over on Ecofrugals, and I’d love if you’d read it and let me know what you think.

Exercise Update

Regular exercise (especially running) is a forever mood booster for me. Now that my heel is mostly feeling better, I’m getting out more often, regardless of the weather. Saturday was a twenty minute run with the kiddo, and then I went back out for a speed mile by myself.

Sunday was two hours hauling firewood as my husband and roommate split the wood with a powered log splitter (we helped out a neighbor with a big pile of wood they’d had sitting in their yard). I was definitely sore the next day, but it felt good to get it done.

Wednesday was a run by myself as well at the end of the day. Thursday was a 5k run by myself, albeit a bit slower, and then I came back for a short run with the kiddo.

How are you getting through this long winter?

10 thoughts on “Friday’s Frugal Five (COVID-19 Week 41)

  1. Michigan has l-o-n-g winters. One positive way I get through it is by planning summer trips. The Michigan State Parks system allows campground reservations up to 6 months ahead of time. So ever the optimist, I am looking at creating a reservation this week for camping in June ☺️

  2. Hi, there – thanks for your posts; I always look forward to them. It looked like you intended to link to a recipe for the sandwich bread, but there wasn’t one in the article. If you have a moment to add it, I would love to see it. If not, know that I’m inspired by you even without it! Best, Abe

  3. Happy birthday!!!! My b’day was on the 7th 🙂

    Cilantro in December is amazing – quite unusual too I would guess?

    Sorry to hear you have pandemic insomnia – any sort of insomnia is not fun.
    I did enjoy your poem over at Ecofrugals though 🙂

  4. Happy belated birthday! Your pot roast and bread look delicious! That’s one of the joys I find during this time of year. The lack of sunshine is tough, especially now. Not that this a huge consolation, but where I work people aren’t getting as sick with COVID. Yes, many of our beds are filled with COVID and other patients, but our ICU isn’t filled. Most are on regular floors. We know how to treat it better and survival rates are far better. So that’s something. While our numbers are high in the hospital, we don’t have as many in-patients as we did during the first wave. Tons of my colleagues have had COVID, but only 1 has been extremely sick (long ICU stay with far too many complications). The rest had mild to moderate symptoms and recovered quickly. I hope that little peek into my hospital world gives you at least a little brightness! Sometimes I think our media makes it seem like a death sentence.

    Hang in there, Angela! Hopefully the next few months provide some turnaround. But it’s been a tough year for nearly everyone. I can’t tell you another year where I’ve heard such awful stories from patients and even those around me with all that’s been happening in 2020.

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