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Quarantine Recipes and Books

Well babies, we’ve shared our ten tips for surviving quarantine. What a time this is. We’re wrapping this series with a few more goodies: recipes and links and ideas for making all these tips happen in your own home. So to close us out, here are some links to help you as we head into yet another month in quarantine:

(This is how Michelle would quarantine if stuck in a Sicilian abbey)

Light a morning candle. Here are our favorite scented candles in the world. Now that Tim makes candles for our clients every holiday season and we understand how freaking hard it is to get right, we have new respect for companies that create masterpieces.

Bake Bread. We were gifted this book last year and, like most of the country, have picked up bread baking with visions of scrapping our old life to start a countryside bakery. Finding yeast is a struggle (who knew stocking up on yeast would be equivalent to toilet paper?), but if you make this sourdough starter you can keep using it forever. The good thing about bread? You keep your hands busy and even if the loaf isn’t great, you can make another one tomorrow. By the time you get through this pack of yeast (still available!), you’ll be a master home bread maker. 

We’ve received a few requests for my recipe and it’s as uncomplicated as it gets. I mix 500 grams of flour, 360 grams of water, a few generous shakes with a salt shaker, and a half a teaspoon of the yeast above. I let it rise for about five hours, a couple of folds in that time, an hour of proofing after, and then baking in a dutch-oven, cover on, for 30 minutes at 475 degrees. 15 minutes sans cover. Check out the author of our book’s youtube channel for detailed instructions on each step.

Bathe well. Every year on Moveable Feast Retreats, our Feasters get a custom welcome package with products using scents from that region. We craft these products in-house, and in honor of having more time to bathe intentionally, here is our recipe for the perennially popular MFR bath salts: 

1 part epsom salts (I use a pretty tea cup I like. It’s around 6 oz)

½ part himalayan pink salt

¼ part dead sea salt

¼ part french sel gris

A dab of argan oil (or whatever moisturizing oil you have around)

Essential oils du choix

Each of the salts has totally unproven health benefits, but hey, I figure I’ll cover my basis and use a little bit of all of ‘em. 

Take a nap. Preferably in the best sheets you can find. We might get teased a little for our obsession with linen, but you’ll join us when you get your bod into these Belgian linen sheets. The best, PERIODT.

Read paper. Some of you saw my 2019 book list and wanted me to cull it down for my top picks for these wild times: done and done, baby. We are all handling this trauma in our own times and ways, so a single book list can’t cover the whole range of ways we are dealing with this life phase– some of us need mindless humor, some of us need to dive deep into ideas we didn’t have time to ponder before, and most of us probably need a mix on any given hour of the day. With that in mind, a little book list for getting through quarantine:

How to Do Nothing- Jenny Odell. This book is really an examination of how unchecked capitalism has turned even the most minute leisure activity into something to be measured for productivity, how modern society calls non-income producing activities “nothing,” and how we need to wrest our valuable and limited attention capacities from being bought and sold. Now, more than ever, we are realizing the need to push back on unchecked capitalism as a society. We’re left with no choice but to return to focus on creating whole, full lives rather than spending all our earthly moments tracking value in terms of money– I loved it, and I didn’t even know what was ahead for us when I read it.

Help, Thanks, Wow- Anne Lamott. Tim and I read this aloud to Amisadai in the NICU, unable to hold her with anything but our voices, begging God to let her survive. The kind of book that, even if you aren’t a praying type of person, cuts you right in half if you’ve ever pleaded with God/the universe to grant you a deep desire of your heart– and in these weird times, aren’t we all pleading for something even if we don’t know what? We couldn’t read a single paragraph without weeping in recognition and gratitude for the words to describe what our souls were going through. These times are so uncertain and I’ll be re-reading this book this year with new prayers.

The Stone Diaries- Carol Shields. This novel starts with the protagonist’s birth on a farm kitchen floor at the beginning of the century and ends with her dying in a Florida condo at the end of the century, and I haven’t stopped thinking about so many parts of it since I read it early last year. A study on how many lives a single person can live, how women’s roles and voices have changed throughout only a few generations, and truly impactful and powerful in a subtle and perfect way. It is also a timely reminder to me to remember that no single phase of life is permanent. 

Everything Inside – Edwidge Danticat. If you only have the attention span for short stories right now, let it be these. They will cut you right open.

Devotions- Mary Oliver. Read one of these every morning and I promise your soul will blossom a bit with new perspective. 

Meaty- Samantha Irby. Really, any Samantha Irby will make you honestly just keel over from dry-heave laughter. 

Me Talk Pretty One Day- David Sedaris. David Sedaris’ wry, offbeat approach to the world and his place in it is so comforting and hilarious. He inspires me to not only observe more intently, but to do everything with an intact sense of humor.

A Moveable Feast – Ernest Hemingway. Okay, this might be redundant given it helped launch this whole brand, but we’ve been reading it out loud to each other every morning over coffee. The cadence, the gentle reminders of what living well looks like, and imagining a time of cafés and crowded Parisian streets has made our mornings way better than scrolling news.

Anything missing from our list of soulful quarantine activities? We’d love to hear what’s soothing your soul.

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