Quarantine Newsletter #2

Hello everyone!
It’s the second best time of the year outside right now. (The best time is obviously every crisp fall day in November) Personally, I’m mourning as I pack away my sweaters, but it is truly a glorious time to be outside.
Fun Activity
I feel that you all know you should get outside and enjoy spring so I wont urge you to do that. Instead, I encourage you to check out one of the many online dance parties that have been popping up since March. Get your groove on! Keep your boogie muscles strong during this period of inactivity.
Also check out all the varied ways people are staying in contact during social distancing. Pretty neat. We caused a pandemic with our environmental intrusions but we can stay together with our technology.
Book recommendation
This week’s book recommendation was from Katie W.! Thanks Katie.
“I read the entirety of the Harry Potter series 7 times as a child, up until I hit that unfortunate high-school rut of not reading for fun because your AP Lit professor, who looks uncomfortably like an Old English Sheepdog, has shredded your love for any literature with his teeth.
For the past few years, then, I have felt “behind” when it comes to reading. There are hundreds of books I have promised myself I would read one day, but I have yet to rustle up the courage and energy to plunge myself into a new story. For some reason it has seemed daunting and exhausting. I know my love for reading is still there, but it only seems to rear its head annually over spring breaks (From one of these rare periods I do have one recommendation – Stiff: The Curious Life of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach – fascinating, clever, and an excellent way to gross out your company, should you (like me) enjoy that practice).(One of my all time favorite books too-E) Anyway, at this time of chaos and confusion, quite a bit of sadness, feelings of loss, simultaneous gratefulness because you are healthy and helplessness because you don’t really know what life has in store now, I found myself needing to escape. For the first time in quite a while, I wanted to pick up a book. Perhaps it is me unconsciously reverting to my childhood self, living at home again when never thinking I would, but the only book that felt right was entering the world I knew so well. Harry Potter offers me an escape of pure joy and wonder. I’ve always known it to be eloquently written and brilliantly formed, but reading it as an adult (legally, at least), I notice the emotional nuances of personal questioning and inner crises that fill the pages. These moments make these novels even more than magical – they are utterly human. It is cheesy af, but I really do consider Hogwarts and the HP series a home of sorts, and it just took a global pandemic for me to find it again.”

For those who didn’t grow up on the HP novels, can I recommend finding and rereading significant books from your childhood? Isle of the Blue Dolphins? A Wrinkle in Time? Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? The Phantom Tollbooth? Anne of Green Gables? A Little Princess? The Chronicles of Narnia? Most are free on an iPad or Kindle. The book itself isn’t the recommendation but rather the retreat to an older safer world. One that always has a happy ending and never an acceptable amount of death to reopen an economy…

Movie Recommendation
I really struggled to find a recommendation this week since I care maybe 20% about movies. (As far as I can tell, most movies are just unnaturally beautiful people poorly communicating over nothing until a reasonable excuse to have the lead actress topless shows up. Hence my love for food based media. No one cooks naked…do they?) But as I sit here writing this, Sam and I are listening/singing to the soundtrack of Les Mis… So why not head into musical land this week. I adore this musical. I remember studying the book in 8th grade and then going to see it three (3!) times when NC put on the play and watching the movie in theaters. But honestly my love for this show comes from my mom. We discussed the nuances of the casting, staging, and delivery for every show we saw together. We debated over the moral law/ legal law dichotomy and argued over the line “he took my childhood in his stride/but he was gone when autumn came” from “I dreamed a dream”. (Sam and I looked at the original French and it supports mom’s assertion that he stole her childhood. Damn) Those conversations were the first time I had analyzed literature/a play outside of a school context and I loved it. So yeah, this week I recommend watching Les Mis and then arguing the fine points of French art with your family. Bonus points if you read the book. Bonus points if you read these articles about Victor Hugo’s…hobby…

TV Recommendation
The Good Place available on Netflix, Hulu, and NBC. It has just finished with only four seasons so it’s a great binge watch right now. It’s a comedic sitcom centered around what happens after you die. It is very genuine and sweet while also extremely funny. Sam and I frequently laughed ourselves into tears as we watched. The plot is twisty and great fun. It has rave reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and NPR.
The best part however is that it is a secret philosophy lesson. What makes a good person good? And they answer the question using moral philosophy. (Since when does TV do that? Answer an unanswerable question? And actually answer, not just throw platitudes at you until the credits roll????) Also you will cry. Also at one point they do a real life trolley problem and its so gross and so funny you must watch.
The old Dickens (love you!) are currently working their way through season 1 which is what reminded me of this excellent show. Look, I don’t really like sitcoms funny or otherwise but I loved this. Check it out. Argue with your loved ones over what constitutes a moral life. Eat shrimp.

I forgot to include a recipe last week so I’ll do two this week. First one is these ginger oatmeal cookies from America’s Test Kitchen. I’m usually pretty uninterested in oatmeal cookies but I absent mindedly ordered (three times!) the same bag of extra thick rolled oats from my Misfits delivery…. Sam isn’t that big of an oatmeal fan (his only real flaw in my eyes) and I couldn’t conceive of eating all that oatmeal before the weather gets truly hot. So I started looking for ways to use it up quick. I made chocolate peanut butter no-bakes and three batches of these cookies. Every time we run out of the cookies, I feel obligated to make more since they are so darn good. The recipe calls for ground ginger but I used fresh and really enjoyed the extra zip. Also playing with the ratio of white sugar to brown will dramatically affect texture. Want chewier? More brown than white. Want crispier edges and bottoms? More white than brown. Also pro tip. Leave them out overnight to get stale and then dunk in coffee the next day as a breakfast cookie….what? It can’t be worse for you than store bought granola bars. Have you seen how much sugar is in those?
The second recipe this week is a cocktail recipe brought to us by Susan and Kevin Woodhouse from their trip to Ireland years ago. Susan fell in love with the drink and taught Mom how to make it. In her hands and in Sam’s hands, it has undergone a few changes but the basic premise remains.
That’s it.
Jk, here is how Sam and I drink it.
1 oz (or the amount your heart tells you) dark liquor of your choice. We use bourbon of various levels of quality, the OG is made with Irish whiskey.
Half a can of ginger ale. Go big and get the good stuff.
A half squeeze of real lime. Leave the lime in the glass.
Pour over ice and enjoy.
Emmy style: An entire lime or more.
Quarantine style: Add Honey Schnapps. Add more bourbon.
Impending nap: Replace all ingredients with bourbon. Find a comfy place to recline.

Good News
Indiana will soon be lifting restrictions. I’m choosing to rank this as possible good news. Kennedy is engaged in some stunning home decoration. Hopefully next week I’ll have a picture of the finished product. Sarah and Marie have been doing some gorgeous cooking. (Can I come over for dinner when this is all over?) I roasted a whole chicken and made a chicken pot pie the next day with the leftovers. They both turned out wonderful and I’m very sorry for sending so many pictures. I’m also averaging about 3 books a day this week and it feels bananas good to read like this. It feels like elementary school all over again. Emily has been really getting into bird watching and Krystyn is becoming a roller skating queen. Odie continues to be the best looking dog ever.
That’s all for this week.
Please send me any recommendations, or write them up yourself and send to me. Send me your good news, funny pictures, or interesting articles.
You are all wonderful.

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