Festively Locked Down; Thirty-Nine Weeks In

What Even Day Is It

Here we are, the last week of school (or, “school”) before the holidays, and I am feeling that old familiar what even day is it feeling. When I wake up in the morning, I rarely think in terms of Monday-Friday; instead, I categorize the day by what class I’m teaching or IF I’m teaching. My week is Strengthen and Tone, Seniors, Grocery Day, Foundations, and Ashtanga, but this week my registered classes – 3/4 of the classes I teach – have all wound up for the year, and so I’m feeling a little at sea.

Monday! It’s Monday. We are thirty-nine weeks into the pandemic and in a full lockdown.

Library Lockdown

Yes, as of yesterday, we are now in a full-scale lockdown; in other words, it is now illegal to have a gathering of any kind, any number, inside or outside. I feel a bit salty about this, as I haven’t gathered with other people in months, and my god, how are we back here again but you know. Perspective. I’m fine. We’re fine. Everything’s fine.

I WAS horrified to learn that the library is now closed. Our library app has a “for later” shelf where I have listed about 150 titles; the app has a feature that shows which of those “for later” titles are available right now. When I discovered the library was closing, I did what anyone in my position would do, and started putting all of those available titles on request immediately. It was the library version of panic-buying at the grocery store.

I was feeling quite satisfied with myself, thinking of the titles that would come in before the library closed at 5:00 on Saturday, until I found out that, unlike during the last shutdown a) the library is still doing curbside hold pickups, b) the return chute is still open and due dates are still firm, and c) all of the books came in and this is my current To Read pile:

And I have another FOUR titles that I need to pick up this week. Luckily my social calendar isn’t exactly packed. It’s fine!

Wrapper’s Delight

My least favourite Christmas-related task is gift wrapping. I am terrible at gift wrapping. Maybe I should have saved some of those gift bags? But we are a Tear Open The Paper kind of family, so I stand by my decisions.

One of the fun things about doing so much online shopping is that when you go to wrap the gifts, you discover all the things that you bought and kind of forgot about. As I was wrapping, it occurred to me that some t-shirts I had ordered for my older son – whose personal style is jeans and a graphic t-shirt, but not just any graphic t-shirt, it has to be a specific unique random thing that I’ve often never heard of, who even is Tyler Bryant – had not yet arrived, even though I ordered them in early November.

Not two minutes later, I heard a knock on my door. It was the elderly lady across the street letting me know that she would be away for a few days, and if anything happened to her house, could I call her, and by the way, did I know I had mail? And like a Christmas miracle, there it was, the package of Seinfeld-themed t-shirts with These Pretzels Are Making Me Thirsty and Look to the Cookie emblazoned on them.

Everything is fine!

Speaking of (W)rap

If you are a person who has a Spotify account, undoubtedly you will have discovered your number one song for 2020. My music genres are wildly varied, from hard rock and 1990s hip hop for workouts and running to Broadway show tunes, from mellow 1970s music to soul and Motown, alongside the hippie chanting and instrumental music I use for my yoga classes. I was excited to see what my very number one listened to song was.

It was – wait for it – Walk This Way by Run DMC. I was puzzled – I do love that song, it is on two separate playlists for running and cardio workouts, but I was surprised it was my number one song.

The mystery was solved when my husband looked at his list. His number one song was Let’s Stay Together by Al Green, followed by Copacabana by Barry Manilow, two songs he has never consciously chosen to listen to in his life.

His Spotify account is linked to our kitchen Sonos, which is what I listen to when I’m in the kitchen, which, as we know, is many, many hours a week. Hilariously, the rest of his list was filled with Aretha Franklin, the Bee Gees, and the Doobie Brothers, and although I am amused at the idea of him secretly grooving away to Nights on Broadway, you will have to believe me when I say he is not a Bee Gee kind of guy.

Festive Friday

I have declared the two Fridays leading up to Christmas to be Festive Friday, and so last Friday we decorated gingerbread men. This is, as longtime readers will know, an annual tradition that leaves us with dozens of identical gingerbread men with three buttons, two eyes, and a smile, all made by me, and about a dozen of ridiculous messes that no one will eat because that icing is really not that great. Allow me to illustrate.

After decorating, the boys proceeded to squirt the remains of the icing tubes into glasses of water, which they drank like tequila shots, at which time I uncorked a bottle of wine.

Pandemic Reading

Thanks to Suzanne (HI SUZANNE) for recommending this book. Light-skinned Black twins run away from home to start new lives – separately. It is a compelling read about racial identity, gender identity, and the pull of family. I immediately looked up other books by this author and put them on my (ever-growing) to-read list at the library.

So. Did someone recommend this to me? Was I drunk when I was on the library app? All I know is that I would have never put this on hold if I had read the plot synopsis. DEAR GOD. It is set in the fall of 2020. It concerns – wait for it – a deadly virus that is causing a global pandemic. A deadly NOVEL CORONAVIRUS. The incredibly uncanny thing about this is that it was written and edited between 2013-19, and published MARCH OF 2020, and there are many details about self-quarantine, wearing masks, and end-times panic about groceries. What the what. Why did I even read this to the end, I don’t know. It was written in a style I very much like: different viewpoints and timelines, showing how all of the characters are interconnected in the manner of no man is an island, ask not for whom the bell tolls, etc. However. Maybe if we WEREN’T currently living this dystopian nightmare, I’d feel differently about reading it, but we are, and I cannot UN-recommend this book strongly enough. Unless you like reading about the deaths of millions of children, then go for it, fill your boots.

Yummy Things

In addition to gingerbread, this week I made mint squares, peppermint bark – the Christmas treat that is so easy and yet always impressive – and chocolate truffles. Important addition to the latter: after rolling into balls, I placed them on wax-paper lined cookie sheets and then put them in the freezer. Meanwhile, I melted 1 cup chocolate chips with 1 tablespoon coconut oil, then dipped the frozen truffles into the mixture. Then I put them back to the freezer, and I’m taking them out as needed.

Have a beautiful week, everyone! Are your kids still in “school” this week? Are you all ready for the holidays? Tell me everything. xo


  1. Favorite part: “After decorating, the boys proceeded to squirt the remains of the icing tubes into glasses of water, which they drank like tequila shots, at which time I uncorked a bottle of wine.”

    I attempted this weekend to teach the children to mold chocolates. It’s something I used to do all the time in my teens and twenties. I discovered it is easier to do alone. But it’s fine. It’s fine!

  2. Noah’s last day of classes is today, then he has four days of finals. North’s in class until the Tuesday of next week. We started our holiday decorating and baking this weekend, just two kinds of cookies, nothing so elaborate as at your house, but there’s more to come.

    It looks like you’ve got your work cut out for you with that reading stack. I asked for a lot of books for Christmas, so I may, too, soon.

  3. I am glad you enjoyed the Brit Bennet book! And I am also glad your library is open during lockdown.

    My kiddo is in school this week and then BREAK. And then another week (please please please be just one other week) of remote learning before returning to in-person school. I have to reschedule my mammogram again because I can’t take her but also can’t leave her at home and if she has to go any longer I will have to reschedule my yearly exam for the FOURTH time since June. But it’s fine. It’s fine!

  4. I have a burning question for you: where do you get all the book reccos to put on your list? Goodreads? Inquiring minds need to know!

    • I’m not on goodreads! But I do get a lot from IG (sorry, I know you’re not on there) or word of mouth. A LOT come from my friend Allison (bibliomama) when she does her annual book round-up.

  5. Your memories (ie making a mess of the gingerbread men) reminds me so much of when my 3 boys were still in the house. The most civilized activities tended to quickly go out of control. I do miss those days. I love to bake but don’t love having all those treats in the house. This year I’ve sent boxes off to my two boys in Calgary, and the rest is safely in the freezer for delivery to our local kids/grandkids. Sadly porch drops along with the gifts as we are also locked down.

    I now have a few more books on my massive “for Later” shelf. Thank you! I was happy that I recently switched to mostly ebooks – I adopted that as we travel so much & I cannot pack a month of books in a suitcase. Not traveling of course but was so grateful for the ebooks when our library was fully shut down. Nicole, have you read any of John Boyne’s books? They aren’t new but I’ve been working through them and have LOVED every single one. I randomly came across The Hearts Invisible Furies. I loved every page of it and in fact it’s probably my favourite book that I’ve read in the past couple of years. It’s a heavy topic but absolutely laugh out loud funny in many places. If you haven’t read this I highly recommend. Enjoy your locked down holidays!

    • We are living parallel lives! The Heart’s Invisible Furies is on my library hold list as we speak – did you recommend it? I wonder how it got there. Anyway, I’m #9 in the queue and I hope I stay there as I got a notification that I now have FIVE books to pick up this week, oops.

      • I did not recommend that book to you (hearts Invisible Furies) but I did tell many people about it and every single one loved it. It’s 700 pages — but then you seem to power through an incredible number of books!

  6. This has been a ridiculous year!

    Your blog is an elixir. 🙂

    Merry Christmas!

  7. I need to get in the baking mood. Now that I’m on vacation, maybe. I’m sorry you are on lockdown again – I keep waiting for that shoe to drop here.

  8. Funny, I just had to look at the calendar on the computer to verify that it was still the 14th. Curly’s school is full remote this week. The high school gang all went to school today. Reg goes most days. They’re all done Friday. I have a few weeks off after Friday. Hooray.

    Your treats look DIVINE. I think we should make that peppermint bark because it is so dang easy and delightful to eat. Therein lies the problem – I don’t want to gobble it up. No self control.

    The gingerbread broken boys are hilarious. Reminds me of a ridiculous Valentine’s Day cookies adventure we tired once. Love the image of the boys downing the rest of the icing in water while you reach for the wine. Ha.

    Our library built a window in the fall to assist in pickups. So great, but when I saw they were doing that I got a little freaked out that this situation would never end. Always happy to have your book recommendations. The pandemic book that you read – unreal!

  9. Your boys are so funny and so normal with the icing shots! I have no idea who Tyler Bryant is.
    *googles Tyler Bryant* Oh, ok, he’s some obscure musician. I love it when kids don’t follow trends too deeply and enjoy different types of music.
    Funny about your library stockpile-hey, whatever you have to do to make yourself feel happy these days.
    You are such a fab. baker. I don’t bake anything, Christmas or not.

  10. Yet again I laughed out loud when reading this! It was the image of your husband “secretly grooving away”😂Your posts have been light in the darkness during this weird old year. Thanks for making me laugh and all your brilliant book recommendations ! Wishing you (and all the readers on here who might read the comments too!) a very peaceful Christmas and here’s to a new year that is more wonderful than we can imagine ! Love from Dorset U.K xxx

  11. I’m sure that the Spotify song of the year lists were way off for some reason this year. I didn’t even bother posting mine because there’s just NO way. My #1 song was apparently Iris by the Goo Goo Dolls, which I *do* love, but didn’t go out of my way at all to listen to this year. According to the stats I listened to it 19 times on January 1, 2020. AS IF.

    I shall just return to my regular programming of BTS and Taylor Swift and Vampire Weekend and ignore.

  12. I bought The Vanishing Half for Matt to give me for Christmas. The Saleema Nawaz book is on my list because I loved her other book, but also I kept confusing it with Song for a New Day by Sarah Pinsker which I read this year and ALSO deals with a worldwide plague. Reminiscent of when I was reading Middlemarch, Middlegame and City in the Middle of the Night all at once. Also, due dates should not be firm when the library is in lockdown, that is b.s., fight the power.

  13. Oh, and I don’t have Spotify, but I was laughing at my friend Kerry who is in the top two percent of Hamilton Soundtrack listeners, and Eve’s friend Autumn who is also a Hamilton Head – her top five include “Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Daveed Diggs and Leslie Odom Jr.

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