Archives for March 2020

Quarantine snack regrets

For the first time in my life, I’m going to admit that I have some very serious regrets.

Most, if not all, of these regrets are in regards to my snack purchasing decisions prior to the Stay-At-Home orders. To be clear, I’m not hurting for snack packs. We live in a big house in the suburbs with a full basement. So, like, there are always back-up snacks for the back-up snacks. I didn’t need to go out and hoard a bunch of food when everyone was hoarding a bunch of food…because I was already hoarding a bunch of food. I buy my canned goods when they’re on super sale (like 33 cents a can or something like that), and I usually buy enough beans, tomatoes and corn to make 2-3 big batches of chili, which I did in, like, November. I also get a ton of snacks and jarred goods at an annual warehouse sale. So we’re good.

But I also went to the store before things got too crazy and picked up a few less-than-essentials. Brian got a giant jug of salsa and huge bag of tortilla chips. I spent $50 on fancy cheese and sparkling water at Whole Foods and got some packaged cookies that I thought would be delicious.

Waterloo sparkling water and cheese from Whole Foods
No complaints here. I know that these are all magic.

Unfortunately for me, I was so very wrong about the cookies. I like weird flavors and trying new things, especially Oreos, so when I saw Caramel chocolate coconut, I was like OMG CARMEL DELIGHTS! YES YES YES. But when I opened the package on Day 2 of self-isolation, I was hit with the disappointment of disgusting cookies. They tasted like burnt coffee with fake coconut flavor, and it was horrible.

No matter, I thought! I have these strawberry shortcake Fudge Stripe cookies, which will clearly suffice. I opened those up to discover, much to my dismay, that they were equally disappointing. These tasted like Nestle Strawberry syrup in skim milk, but in cookie form.

These now replace my first adult visit to the Mars Cheese Castle as the biggest disappointment of my life.

I’ve also regretted not purchasing a big bag of Cheetos Puffs (if you prefer crunchy, which we have in the aforementioned storage basement in jalapeno form, you don’t know my struggle). And Fritos. I really want some freakin’ Fritos.

At some point, I’ll have to go out to the store again. We are running a little low on the important things – mainly vegetables (I’ll bet you thought I was going to say cheese, but we never run low on that). And when I do, you can bet your ass that I’ve already got lemon oreos (my favorite) Fritos, and Cheetos puffs on the list.

Hi guys, please note that this is in no way, shape, or form meant to deter from the heaviness that comes with the current COVID-19 pandemic. I only hope to make you chuckle or at least smile at some silliness, because we all need it. That being said, if you do not have to go to work, STAY THE FUCK HOME. If you go to the grocery store, shop for a couple weeks and then STAY THE FUCK HOME. If you have to take care of family or pets or medical care, obviously do what you need to do, and then STAY THE FUCK HOME.

I know that I, like many of you, love someone or many someones who is or are considered (an) essential worker(s). Some of you are essential workers yourselves. From medical personnel to factory workers, from law enforcement to restaurant staff, from gas and groceries to car service and utilities, anyone who is working their butts off deserves our gratitude and for us to STAY THE FUCK HOME. Because they/you need to work, the collective we need to do everything we can to protect them.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Social distancing activities to keep you entertained

Welp, we’re all on self isolation lock down until further notice. If you’re already going stir crazy, it’s probably going to get worse before it gets better.

As an extrovert, I’m doing my best to maintain social distancing, which is hard when you’re a natural hugger. I’ve already cried a dozen times, like when I told my dad that I was probably staying home for the next two weeks instead of watching the rest of the MCU movies live and in person with him.

I had planned to do a couple improv shows before this social isolation thing, but something about the best laid plans…am I right? So my last hurrah was more of a whimper than a bang, and now we’re on day one million (my counting may be off by a few days) of hunkered down and waiting…hoping we don’t run out of eggs.

But without all of the fun out and about activities usually on my radar, I’m hitting up my go-to stay-at home activities (and also eating all my quarantine snack packs), usually reserved for winter hibernation, not this time of year when everything starts waking up in the spring.

Here are a few things we’re doing to maintain our sanity in the midst of mass hysteria.

FYI: There are a lot of links here. I spent time curating them, and many of them are affiliate links. No one is paying me to share this information, but any purchase you make through these links could earn me a small commission at zero cost to you.

Small group, couple, and family quarantine activities

Movie and TV marathons

Disney+, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Videos are all my favorite things right now. Even when I’m mad at Netflix for phoning it in.

My dad actually broke his leg a few months ago, so he’s already stuck in the house (which, to be honest, I’m rather grateful for). And I recently got him started on the Infinity Saga, and we’re on a magical Daddy-Chrissy movie journey of joy. I’m introducing my dad to the most epic cinematic event in movie history. Obviously, we’re watching in the AMC chronological order Brian and I followed last year leading up to End Game. Of course, because we live in different households, I’m trying to convince him to watch the movies at the same time and then call to talk about them…I kinda hope he warms up to the idea sooner than later…because I really want to keep going. But not without Papa Bear.

If we’re being honest here, I’m about 3 days from adding my parents’ house to my quarantine zone. Brian and I have been really great about self-isolation, but I am going stir crazy, and I need my family. 

You can also binge watch TV shows or other movie series options, like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, James Bond…you know whatever floats your boat. Brian and I just started True Blood (again for me, and mostly a first for B), and some of our current faves include Westworld and The Magicians. It’s also a great time to start the Doctor Who journey (I recommend starting with Christopher Eccleston).

Board games

Games are our go-to for entertainment, we’ve been playing Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition and Betrayal Legacy lately. We also just bought Pandemic Legacy because it felt topically appropriate. But those big games may be out of your budget – especially if you had to buy toilet paper on the black market for eleventy billion dollars.

board game collection
Just a few games in our arsenal of boredom busters

Here are a few of my favorite games under $50 that will bring you hours and hours of entertainment.

  • Betrayal at the House on the Hill $30; 3-6 players (haunted mansion, cooperative with a traitor, super fun)
  • Mysterium $43; 2-7 players (haunted mansion, cooperative, storytelling element)
  • Sagrada $30; 1-4 players (visually beautiful, competitive puzzley game, single-player option for those of us who may have to play games by ourselves or play games with our dogs)
  • Castle Panic $26; 1-6 players (cooperative tower defense game with a single-player option)
  • Ticket to Ride $45; 2-5 players (competitive area control game, super easy to learn and play)
  • Tokaido $33; 2-5 players (competitive set collection game; gorgeous design)
  • 7 Wonders $40; 3-7 players (competitive card drafting game; I really love this one)
  • Pandemic $40; 2-4 players (Cooperative area control game; this might be too real right now…)

Want more suggestions? Check out these gaming gift guides and suggestion lists for some more of my favorites.

Hunt a Killer

Guys, we have been puzzling through our first Hunt a Killer season and LOVING it. We did receive this six-episode subscription box in order to tell you about it, and it is so awesome.

Hunt a Killer subscription box
This is the first box. Inside the envelope is a variety of letters and information to help us crack the case. The attention to detail is impressive.

Each box has a letter from the private investigator, a number of well-crafted clues and pieces of evidence (including receipts, cards, containers, letters, and even a small yearbook), investigation report details (witness statements, coroner’s report, 911 transcripts, etc), little gifts like enamel pins, and access to parts of an investigation website with more digital clues. It’s incredibly detailed and well thought out.

Hunt a Killer murder board
We built a “murder board” on an easel to collect clues and piece together evidence and it has been a riot.

For less than the cost of a few movie tickets, we get a couple of hours of enjoyment and distraction. There are six boxes to a full season. You can do a single box and still eliminate a suspect, but you won’t solve the full murder and find out whodunnit unless you go for all six. You can get the boxes monthly, you can ship the next one right after finishing the previous box, and now, to help get you through the coronapocalypse, they’re shipping full seasons to your door in one fell swoop. (We only let ourselves solve one box at a time for prolonged enjoyment, but I can also picture us spending an entire day solving all six and finishing the case!

Solo activities

Quarantined to your place by yourself or surrounded by your fur babies? Afraid you’re going to start hosting tea parties for your plushies? Or off work, while your partner/roommate/spouse/parent/etc is working their tail off so they can keep their job when this pandemic turns into a full-blown economic crash? Here are a few things you can do on your own without rage posting on Facebook.

Go for a walk

Just make sure that if you see a human, you politely wave at them before you turn in the opposite direction. It’s the polite way to socially distance yourself.

Get lost in a good book

Here are a few great books I’ve read recently that devoured me completely.

Puzzles and Lego sets

Uh yes, I have a grown-up princess castle Lego set that I’m going to put together this week. I also have some of these crystal 3-D puzzles that are super fun (and inexpensive). I’m also thinking of ordering a few 1000+ piece puzzles to keep my brain occupied when I need to mentally detox from social media, which I will.

Grown-up coloring

I love coloring — it’s terrible for my back because I hunch over a coffee table to do it, but there are some really wonderful adult coloring books out there. My favorite is You Are Here, by Jenny Lawson (AKA The Bloggess), which I’ve given as a gift to a number of people because it’s that good.

Get writing

Now is the perfect time to pen that novel, start that blog, or just write down your thoughts about this strange new world we’re living in. And if you’re writing things online, I want to know about them! So feel free to comment with links here or on social media posts or even just.email/DM them to me!

Go Live

This is part of my plan. I’ll be going live, hopefully with some frequency to keep social contact up and make sure that I keep my spirits high. My hope is that it helps others too.

And if you go live, let me know when and where and I will try to be there!

How are you maintaining your sanity while socially distancing yourself from the world?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Things I did while on hold with airlines this week

Like the rest of the world, I’ve been watching in horror as the best laid plans crumble around me.

I’m not a good planner, but I enjoy the anticipation of coming events. I hate surprises because I get twice as much enjoyment planning for and just thinking about something coming up. For example, I’ve been excited about the 2020 Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop since the minute I hugged Kathy Kinney goodbye at the airport after the last conference in April 2018. That conference, originally slated for early next month, has now been postponed to Halloween.

I’m also still hopeful about a trip to Italy in July for one of Brian’s cousin’s weddings. But I’m not holding my breath.

Can you spot me?

Like the rest of my jet-setting brethren, I’ve spent a good portion of my time waiting to speak with airlines this week to find out my options.

What I did while on hold with Delta

Delta was kind. When I called, they said the wait time was approximately 239 minutes, and they offered an automatic callback when I was next in line. I managed to get a lot done while waiting 2 hours and 18 minutes for Delta to call me back mid-chiropractor appointment.

  • Got out of bed
  • Brushed my teeth
  • Went to the bathroom
  • Got dressed
  • Fed Nia
  • Took Nia outside
  • Played with Nia
  • Shared a photo on Instagram for the Disneybound Challenge
  • Went to Panera
  • Ate a Souffle from Panera
  • Drove to the chiropractor
  • Got a chiropractor massage
  • Had stim and heat treatment

What I did while I was on hold with United

United said my wait time would be more than 90 minutes, and then made me listen to their airline hold music for 71 minutes before anyone answered the phone. Then they placed me on hold for another 30 minutes while they changed my ticket. For funsies, the agent also told me that there were, at the time of my call, 4,560 other customers on hold. Here are all the things I’ve done since dialing the phone number for United (1-800-864-8331).

  • Got out of bed
  • Brushed my teeth
  • Went to the bathroom
  • Designed an outfit for the March Disneybound Challenge
  • Got dressed
  • Made French toast and sausage for Brian and myself
  • Ate said French toast
  • Did my morning stretches
  • Played with Nia
  • Fed Nia
  • Took Nia out to the backyard
  • Talked to Brian about my canceled conference
  • Fucked around on Facebook
  • Wrote this entire blog post

Airline policies in light of the Coronavirus pandemic

Just to give you a little help if you too need to change/cancel your flights, here’s what I know. I still have to call Southwest, but I can only handle so much elevator music in a single day.

United

United is waiving all change fees, including the fee to upgrade your nonrefundable basic economy fare to a standard economy open ticket that must be booked within a year from the purchase date. You will still have to pay any difference in price that comes with a standard ticket compared to your basic economy ticket. If you manage to find a flight with a standard ticket price lower than your original ticket, you’ll receive a travel voucher in the amount remaining for a future flight.

Delta

Delta is currently waiving change fees for all flights through April 30, and international flights to affected countries (Italy, China, South Korea) through May 31. Any flights booked March 1-31 will also have waived fees if you need to change your flight. When I called about my July flight to Rome (booked through Delta, but flying Air Alitalia), they informed me that I had the same waived change fees as those with flights earlier…so know that despite what is published online, your mileage may vary.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

O for Onward!

On Monday night, we went on a quest. Tom, Laura, Brian and I adventured to our favor AMC in Chicago to catch an early screening of Onward. Tom and I were already stoked, having watched an extended preview on our last Walt Disney World adventure last month.

The movie, a LOTR-meets-Weekend-at-Bernies-meets-Goonies comedy adventure tale, was an absolute delight.

In Disney and Pixar’s “Onward,” Barley Lightfoot is a big, burly and boisterous 19-year-old elf who loves magic, his mostly dependable van Guinevere and his little brother, Ian—though he’s a little too confident as far as Ian is concerned. Featuring Chris Pratt as the voice of Barley, “Onward” opens in U.S. theaters on March 6, 2020. © 2019 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

The premise is that two elven brothers, once they are both 16, can bring their dad back for one day through magic. Dad comes back, but just his legs, so they must journey onward on a quest to finish the spell before the 24 hour magic ends.

Elven warrior workouts, sellout manticores, feral unicorns, pet dragons, and gelatinous cubes make for a charming adventure story with comedy rooted in DnD lore. The critics will tell you it’s lacking something, but ten bucks says those critics wouldn’t know a D20 if it hit them in the face.


EN ROUTE — In Disney and Pixar’s “Onward,” brothers Ian and Barley seek an ancient map from the Manticore—once a mighty warrior whose tavern served as a waystation for travelers embarking on epic quests. Part lion, part bat and part scorpion, the Manticore has adapted to changing times—but her adventurous spirt still lurks within. Featuring the voices of Tom Holland, Chris Pratt and Octavia Spencer as Ian, Barley and the Manticore, respectively, “Onward” opens in U.S. theaters on March 6, 2020. © 2019 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

It hit me in all the right feels, and left me in love with a family of characters that will hopefully continue to make magic together.

Laurel Lightfoot is a delight. She’s warm and kind and fierce AF. One of the best Mom characters we’ve seen in a Disney or Pixar film. Plus I love that she’s got squishy bits, just like me.

Chris Pratt and Tom Holland are a perfect match of awkward teen and fearless young adult. They made me laugh, and they made me cry. Their relationship was the best part of this movie. And their third adventurer was silly and made the quest more difficult, but Dad is definitely going to make the tiny humans swoon for Onward.

CONJURING DAD – In Disney and Pixar’s “Onward,” brothers Ian and Barley Lightfoot (voiced by Tom Holland and Chris Pratt) are given a special gift from their late father on Ian’s 16th birthday. But when an accompanying spell meant to magically conjure their dad for one day goes awry, they embark on a quest fraught with some of the most unexpected obstacles. Directed by Dan Scanlon and produced by Kori Rae, “Onward” opens in U.S. theaters on March 6, 2020. © 2019 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

I won’t tell you whether they succeed or to what measure, but I will tell you that Onward was a win in my book. (Though it still doesn’t beat Coco for first in my heart for Pixar movies). I love that this one is a champion of nerd culture and I really hope we see more of this in the future.

Are you as excited for Onward as I was/am? Have you seen it yet? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

When teenage elf brothers Ian and Barley Lightfoot (voices of Tom Holland and Chris Pratt) get an unexpected opportunity to spend one more day with their late dad, they embark on an extraordinary quest aboard Barley’s epic van Guinevere. Like any good quest, their journey is filled with magic spells, cryptic maps, impossible obstacles and unimaginable discoveries. But when the boys’ fearless mom Laurel (voice of Julia Louis-Dreyfus) realizes her sons are missing, she teams up with a part-lion, part-bat, part-scorpion, former warrior – aka The Manticore (voice of Octavia Spencer) – and heads off to find them. Perilous curses aside, this one magical day could mean more than any of them ever dreamed. Directed by Dan Scanlon and produced by Kori Rae, Disney and Pixar’s “Onward” opens in U.S. theaters on March 6, 2020.   

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!