Quarantine Diaries: Traveling Home

So originally, my cousin was supposed to get married at the end of June. My girlfriend and I had planned a nice mini “East Coast tour” centered around the fact that I had to go home anyway for this wedding. Our plans included seeing my hometown as well as the city of Philadelphia, New York City, and the Jersey shore. Unfortunately, COVID had forced my cousin to push back the date of his wedding. What’s more, there was many places we wanted to go that were now not open for business. So, we had to rearrange our plans.

We certainly thought about not going at all, but instead shortened our trip and were still able to see a modified version of our original list. NYC was definitely out, but we did get a very quick driving tour of old city Philly in. We also got to spend some time with my friends in Philly, which included going to Morgan’s Pier and hanging out at my friend’s apartment with a great cheese plate. We also spent time in my hometown and with my family, and went down to Wildwood Crest for the weekend. Vanessa (who grew up in the desert) was obsessed with all the trees, greenery and landscaping, which really cracked my family up. We stopped to, quite literally, smell the flowers, and to take pictures with trees.  The beach was also awesome, of course, and we were able to do some kayaking and paddle boarding while we were down as well. We did a lot, but also did a lot less than we were going to pre-COVID. But truly, we had a great time! It was nice to spend some time at home, of course, but was also nice to plan a vacation centered around my hometown. I really enjoyed it. 

Traveling during COVID was obviously a little daunting and worrisome, but it wasn’t too bad. Here’s what I’ll say – this is a time where the airline you choose really matters. We flew American Airlines, where travel was pretty much business as normal. Our flights were 80% full or higher, with some even being completely full. Masks were required, of course, unless you were eating. The flight attendants gave you a little goodie bag when you got on the plane, and then didn’t really walk up and down the isles except to collect trash at the end. But again, otherwise it was just like any other American flight I’ve been on. I traveled home again about a month later, where I flew Delta. This was an entirely different experience. First off, they were not booking any middle row seats, so the plane was much more spread out. This already really eased a lot of anxiety. On several flights, I even had an entire row to myself. They also boarded the plane from back to front, where as American boarded front to back – which doesn’t make a lot of sense, since you’re forcing everyone to pass each other. The attendants still gave you a goodie bag, as well as wipes. They definitely walked up and down the isles a bit more than on American, but perhaps that was because of how spread out everyone was. After those two experiences, I would definitely recommend to fly Delta during COVID if you are traveling. Now, I’ll be traveling home AGAIN next month, where I’m flying American one direction and Delta the other, so I can give an update then on if this was a one-off experience or if you really should stick to Delta. 

I really didn’t take as many pictures as I could have, but here’s a collection of some of the good ones I found:

 

Thanks for reading! 

Quarantine Diaries: Puzzles

I’ve always been a big fan of puzzles, even long before quarantine started. Luckily my love for 1,000 piece jigsaws had piled up when covid hit, so I had plenty of puzzles to work through. I still have plenty left to put together (though I am definitely taking my time, as there’s no end to this fuckery of a year), but here’s some pictures of my accomplishments:

IMG-1306

 

More to come as I continue on with my puzzle endeavors.

Thanks for reading!

Quarantine Diaries: Animal Crossing New Horizons

img_9964

Full disclosure: After buying Animal Crossing: New Horizons, this now takes up maybe 50% of my waking hours. When I first got it, it was probably more like 80% or some days even 90%. It’s the best game and I love it so much and if you have a switch, it’s worth it, hunny – get it!!

I played Animal crossings as a kid, but it was on my friend’s gaming system so I only played a little bit here and there. Playing the new version has been amazing – it’s what I remember plus so many cool new features. I’ve had such a blast 4fixing up my town, earning and setting up my house, and collecting all the fruits and flowers. I’ve visited some islands of my friends, and also strangers from Facebook groups and Reddit threads. There’s a lot of things that I learned from doing some google searching, and things that I wish I had found out a lot earlier in playing the game. Here are 10 quick tips that everyone who is playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons should know:

AC81. Shake trees from the front while holding your net! You can find furniture, bells, and tree branches that will fall from the trees when you shake them. However, this puts you at risk of course for a wasps nest to fall and sting you. If you are holding the net and shake the tree from the front, you will turn to face the wasps when the nest falls. You can then use the net to catch the wasp before it stings you and sell it for a decent price at the shop. Shaking your trees daily to catch wasps and collect the items that fall can really pay off!

AC72. Bury the bells you dig up each day, but change the amount first! When you dig up the bells from the glowing spot in the ground and bury them back in the whole, a money tree will grow. However, if you change the amount before burying it in the glowing hole, you can harvest more bells when the money tree blossoms. I usually bury 10,000 bells each day, so the tree will give me a 30,000 harvest in the end. I’m sure you can do even larger amounts if you have the bells in your pocket when you go to plant them. This will only work once per day obviously, as you can only bury the money in the glowing hole in the ground that shows once daily. 

AC63. Don’t break rocks if you don’t have to! If you continue to hit them again and again, you will continue to gain materials that jump out. But if you break it, you only get one. You can break the rock if you are on an island that is not yours, or also if you do not like the location of the rock on your own island. But new rocks will only grow once per day, so do this with caution. Also, make sure to harvest the rock completely before you break it! (I learned this lesson the hard way unfortunately.)

AC44. Visit other islands as much as possible! By using Nook Miles Tickets or visiting the islands and trading with your friends, you can acquire things that cannot me found on your own island. This includes different breeds of flowers, trees, and fruit. Using a Nook Miles Ticket will also allow you to gain extra resources and materials when you run out from your island. 

AC55. Collect fruit from other islands, then bury them to plant a tree! You only need to start with even one piece of fruit from a friend to plant a tree and eventually end up with an orchard. If you use a Nook Miles Ticket and find yourself on an island with foreign fruit, make sure to bring back either the fruit or the entire tree. I have all 6 fruits on my island, which comes in handy often for crafting or re-organizing my island. 

img_0159

6. Save your cross-bred flowers! You will have flowers sprout each day when existing and blooming flowers of the same kind are planted close to each other, and you should save anything that is not able to be store bought. Aside from red, yellow and white (and in one case, orange), you cannot buy any other color flowers from the shop. Don’t get rid of any cross-bred flowers too quickly, because it may be difficult to get them back. 

AC3

7. Be careful of building bridges before unlocking terraforming! Once you unlock the Island Designer app and can change up the layout of your island, you may regret some bridges and inclines that were build prior to access to this tool. I’ve had to demolish two bridges since unlocking the app, which both cost 98,000 bells to build. I’m not saying not to build anything, because it can make navigating the island that much easier. But choose carefully to avoid having to demolish things that you worked hard for. 

AC18. Save Nook Miles for Island Designer permits! When you’re ready to use the terraforming feature via the newly unlocked app, you will need to buy permits to add new capabilities. These cost Nook Miles, but will be delivered to your phone immediately. waterscaping and cliffscaping each cost 6,000 Nook Miles, and different path patterns cost 2,000 Nook Miles each. You’ll want to have access to everything as soon as the app is unlocked, so I recommend saving up as much as possible beforehand. 

60971353735__00f7b05e-30ee-4437-a118-142485e5b30b9. Utilize your catalog! If you are lucky enough to have friends that also play Animal Crossings, you can visit each others’ islands to have catalog and trading parties! Trading is self explanatory, but cataloging is a little more intricate. If your friend drops an item that you do not have, you can pick the item up and drop it again to add it to your catalog. Your catalog exists at the Nook kiosk at Resident Services, and shows everything that you’ve ever owned. Because you picked the item up for even a second, it gets added to this catalog. Having catalog parties is a great way to give your friends access to your inventory without giving away all your stuff, and vise versa! After the party, you can buy anything they have that you liked for yourself. Note: You can only purchase 5 catalog items per day, which includes special daily items. 

AC210. Some catalog items are customizable! Many of the DIY items that you can craft are able to be customized, but many of your other items can be customized as well. You should check anything that you come across for custom options, as it may help you to better decorate. Some of these items include the magazine, director’s chair, loom, ironing board/set, and many accent items as well on things like the mugs, corkboards, record box, etc. Double check what you can make your own!

 

26

Let me know if you want to come visit my island!!

That’s all for the “Quarantine Diaries” series for now. Don’t forget to check my What To Watch series if you missed it. Another series next month!

Thanks for reading.

 

 

Quarantine Diaries: Food

59

What’s on everyone’s minds these days? FOOD!!

I’m no master chef, but I do love cooking and I think I’m decent at it most of the time. I’ve done some new things while in quarantine, so I thought I’d share some of what I’ve made. Here’s some recipes/descriptions of the food I’ve made so far in quarantine:

551

1. Rosemary Focaccia Bread: My best friend insisted that I make this dish after she perfected it on her own, and it was well worth it. It didn’t take super long, but I had never worked with yeast before so this was a new trick for me. I still was able to get success in 3 loafs that my girlfriend and I ate dipped in different balsamic vinegars and oil. Here is the recipe link: https://ourbestbites.com/rosemary-focaccia/.

54

2. Beef and Brocolli with White Rice: This was given to me by a co-worker after she walked by with it in the office and filled up all of our noses with something delightful. There are a good amount of ingredients to make this, but you can easily double what the recipe calls for to get leftovers and make the effort last. It’s so delicious and hella worth it. Follow the recipe via Tasty here: https://tasty.co/recipe/easy-beef-and-broccoli. I’ve had several other people try this out after I posted it on my Insta story and no one has been disappointed yet. 

55

53

3. Eggplant Sandwiches: No formal recipe here! I used to make this sandwich back when I worked in a pizza shop; it’s basically an eggplant parm sandwich without the tomato sauce. (You are welcome to add that to yours, I’m just not a fan.) First I used the Air Fryer to make breaded eggplant slices, then added the slices and cheese to a roll and popped it in the oven to make it a grinder. I’ve been big into sandwiches a lot during quarantine, so when I run out of eggplant to use, I usually make a BLT. (Except without the T, and add C (Cheese) and A (Avocado)). 

56

4. Fried Tofu: My girlfriend, who is vegan, turned me onto this. (For best results, use a tofu press beforehand and use extra firm tofu.) You simply chop up the tofu bite size pieces and cook either using an air fryer or with oil in a skillet. Once mostly crispy, add in a sauce for flavor. We typically use a hot salsa, but a variety of condiments could be used for flavor here! Cook more once sauce has been added until tofu pieces are crispy on all sides. I usually serve with rice and veggies.

57

5. Chile Rellenos: This is a long process that my girlfriend taught me, but the payoff is worth it for special occasions. I made this on Easter, and enjoyed the leftovers for three more days after. You first have to sear and blister the peppers to remove the outer layer of skin and remove the seeds from the inside. You then stuff the peppers with cheese and can fasten it back together with toothpicks if needed. You then bread the peppers with flour and prepared whisked egg, and fry. Make sure to remove all the toothpicks once they cool off!

58

Bonus Air fryer dessert: Apple Crumbles: This is technically a vegan recipe, since it’s basically just deconstructed apple pie. I cut up apples and toss them in oil before then tossing them in brown sugar, cinnamon, and oats. I then air fry them and enjoy warm. Super simple and quick but incredibly delicious!

599

One more in the Quarantine Diaries tomorrow to wrap up the series!

Thanks for reading.

Quarantine Diaries: At-Home Dates

31It’s easy for romance to get lost during the quarantine, especially since most days are probably spent with you and your partner both looking at the TV, computers, or your phones. I’ve found that it’s really important for me to still feel close to my girlfriend during the quarantine, so I’ve made sure that our relationship is a priority for us both. Part of this included me planning a few of what I call “at-home dates”. No, we didn’t leave the house. But I went out of my way to make things special and different during a time of monotony. I’ve only done two dates so far (roughly one per month), and I’d like to continue this and have a few more coming up if I can get creative again. Here’s what we’ve done so far:

32

Date 1: So around 3 PM, I told Vanessa to go to her room and I would pick her up for our date at 5 PM. We hadn’t had any real reason to dressed up in a while, so we decided to go a little fancy. I set up a nice little picnic are3a out back with decorations, pillow and lights where we would eat dinner, and cooked while she was sequestered in her room. After I picked her up, we went and had a lovely dinner outside. I made sure that we didn’t use 36our phones and really just took a nice pause to connect. After dinner we had tickets for a show, which was one of the digital drag shows. Raja was performing, and I had set up the computer area to be a fancy at-home theater. We drank some wine while watching the show, and once it was over we changed into our pajamas and continued to get drunk while on the couch watching Drag Race. It was seriously such a fun night from start to finish and was a great way to do something new while still at home. 

34

Date 2: This date was definitely not as full-out as the first one, but I still told Vanessa to go to her room for a bit to get dressed up while I cooked. It was a bit more casual this time, so it wasn’t quite as fancy as the first date. I set up a nice space for us to have dinner outside, and we again focused on each other rather than our electronic devices. We also shared a hookah at table after, which I had recently ordered on Amazon so it was fun to use my new toy. We then went inside to watch a movie and snuggle up on the couch together.

We are all trying to stay sane during this weird time – so don’t let your relationship fall by the wayside! Offer to cook a special dinner one night, find new ways to connect, or have full out dates like I did. But either way, make sure to keep love a priority.

More to come in the “Quarantine Diaries” series tomorrow!

Thanks for reading.

Quarantine Diaries: Digital Drag Shows

My biggest disappointment during COVID was the canceling of all my plans – specifically, DragCon. DragCon is legit my favorite time of year, and I’m still not done being sad that we can’t partake this year. So to help cheer me up, next up in the “Quarantine Diaries“, let’s talk DRAG!

There’s been many ways that you can get your fix of drag during this quarantine besides just binging every episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race. First of all, there’s been tons of queens going live on Instagram. This includes both queens from the current season, like Jan and Nicki Doll, and some of the classic favorites like Ongina and Jujubee. There’s also been tons of digital shows that were hosted over the past couple and upcoming months from several platforms.

23

22

First there is the Digital Drag Fest via StageIt, where you can find many of your favorite queens from the show and others doing 30 minute shows for roughly $10 each. You can also use the platform to tip the performers, and most of them give virtual meet and greets as a prize to the top tippers. Some of the virtual shows we have seen include:

33

JUJUBEE – “Live From Boston”2
ALASKA – “The Quarantine Cabaret”
RAJA – “Socialite Distancing”
SHARON NEEDLES – “Call Me On My Ouija Board”
MANILA LUZON – “At Home With The Luzons”
BENDELA CREME – “Terminally Detained”
ALASKA – “Snatch Game Series: Mae West & Lady Bunny”
SHARON NEEDLES – “Snatch Game Series: Michelle Visage”

Our favorite show so far has been Raja’s, simply because she was the most raw and effortless. Juju also put on a great show, and I laughed a ton during Alaska’s sets. Manila and Dela also had wonderful shows prepared, but my girlfriend and I were slightly disappointed by Sharon’s show. While we love Sharon and her creativity, her songs were a little on the low-energy side and it wasn’t the most engaging. Still, we had a great time at all of the shows and will continue to look for more upcoming events.

21

The “Werq The World” tour that the queens typically follow after the seasons of the show air has obviously been postponed for now, so they have taken things virtually. There’s been two shows, and what’s great is that these shows have benefited out-of-work drag queens and local performers. The first show raised over $30,00024 and the second was almost just as much. Both shows were hosted by Lady Bunny and Bianca Del Rio, who were hilarious and certainly delivered the comedy I was expecting. The first event was featured queens such as, Kameron Michaels, Gigi Goode, Miss Vanjie, Yvie Oddly, Plastique Tiara, and more. Each queen either had a live or pre-recorded number to show off for the show.  The second virtual event is the “Battle Royale”, which has queens going head-to-head for an ultimate showdown. Battling queens include Alyssa Edwards vs. Plastic, Vanjie vs. Yvie, Asia O’Hara vs. Brooke Lynn Hytes, and more.

Lastly, since DragCon 2020 had to be canceled for the year, they still are giving a livestream event for “DragCon Live” on YouTube. It definitely won’t be the same, but at least it’s something to have in place for that weekend.

Support the queens, in whatever way you can!!

Thanks for reading!

Quarantine Diaries: At-Home Projects

1So, I’ve been working from home for over a month now. There’s been good days and bad days of course, as I’m sure everyone can relate to. And I’ve been doing lots of lazy activities to occupy my time. Here’s some projects that I’ve gotten into while being stuck at home for so long:

  1. Writing: If you haven’t already read my “What To Watch” series, I included lots of writingquaranTV suggestions and recommendations. Writing on my blog comes here and there when I get inspired, but I’ve also been working on writing my book, which is one of my goals for the year. If I’m being honest, it has often been hard to find inspiration to write most days, and I’ve been having a hard time motivating myself to sit down and write. Hopefully I can start to find the drive to continue my progress in this area.
  2. Sewing: So after watching Dickinson on AppleTV, I got some inspiration to take 12some old segments of notebooks and sew them together Emily Dickinson style. Once it came together, it was basically like a DIY notebook, and also freed up some space img_9853in my store-bought notebooks. I then took my sewing skills to my clothing, and transformed a skirt into a pair of shorts to make a cute matching set with a sweater I have. Next up to sew was blankets. I first took a flag that was given to me as a gift that I had no room for, and sewed it onto an old blanket to make an outside-blanket for my hammocks. My girlfriend then gave me all her old band Tshirts, and I sewed them together into a big Tshirt blanket for her. All I need to finish up that is a blanket that’s the right size to sew it onto, and it’ll be done!
  3. New House Items: Since I was spending more time outside, I got tired of sitting on my phone while watching things on my hammock. So I made some purchases and turned my backyard space into a small outdoor movie theater. We can fit two img_9630hammocks and even some chairs to view a decent image projected onto the side of our wall – and I love it! My girlfriend and I then turned the spare room into a home workout room, since her gym has closed. This includes some yoga mats for me, some resistance and weight training for her, and chalkboard walls to track progress. I also became obsessed with the video game Animal Crossings; New Horizons, so we added a TV to our living room to make it a game room where we can both play at the same time. We also bought a hookah that has been used both inside in the game room and outside next to the outdoor mini movie theater. 

So this is what the first month of quarantine has brought me to so far. My work has no indication of opening offices back up at this time until further notice, so I’m sure there will be more things for me to get into as time goes on.

More to come in the “Quarantine Diaries” Series!

Thanks for reading.