Welcome to Life at Number Eight! My monthly series that lets us recap the month and catch up with everything that has been going on.
This month’s recap is why I started writing these posts. I know that in years to come I will want to look back at what I did and the feelings that I had when the world was forced to stay indoors for an entire month.
Technically I did leave the house on a few occasions. I did a couple of trips to the grocery store, but only when absolutely needed. This was a significant change to my usual routine where I would just duck down to the shops to grab something that I wanted to make/eat. Now, I think more creatively about what I can make with the food that I have already.
This month was also Easter. An extra long weekend that we usually spend on a friends camping trip. This year, Easter was driving to Costco for an essential new experience as I had never been before, and purchasing 12 kilos of flour (apparently that’s the only size you can get at Costco and my local Woolies had been sold out for weeks) so that I could continue with iso-baking.
Overall I know that people are having mixed feelings about the situation that we are in right now. There are people who are feeling stressed and anxious and really struggling through this time. There are also people who are using this time to be reflective, try out something new and find joy in things that they hadn’t felt like they have had the time for due to their usual everyday life schedule.
I have found myself in the later group, and I’m a bit shocked about it.
As someone who was struggling with anxiety prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, as we moved through March and April I kept waiting for it to spike and to feel overwhelmed. But it didn’t. And if I am being honest, I feel better this past month than I have in a long time. And while that feels like a crazy sentence to write when I know so many people are suffering through this time, I felt it was important to acknowledge it.
I think it comes down to my personality. I am a sensitive introvert and what that means is that I am totally ok without social interaction and I prefer to be able to control the variables in my environment. Travelling on a crowded bus everyday and being in an office environment are things that often trigger overstimulation for me. So when at home, I don’t have these external factors to worry about and I have more time to be present and mindful of the activities that are filling my time.
So what has been filling my time?
In last month’s update I mentioned that I had started the 30 day yoga challenge by the insanely popular Youtuber Yoga with Adrianne. Well I finished it successfully doing each video in sequence for the full 30 days.
Prior to my studio being closed in March, I had been practising bikram yoga twice a week for about a year and so I wasn’t expecting there to be any huge breakthroughs for me throughout this yoga series, and gee was I wrong about that. The difference of practising every single day was clear and I started to notice changes in how my body responded to posures and became more aware of my movements, even off the mat. I felt my body get stronger as well, moving through flows towards the end that I couldn’t do at all when I had first began.
I loved this experience so much that as soon as I finished, I started another of her 30 day challenges, this time opting for the Home series she posted earlier this year. So far, I am loving this series as well and at the time of publishing this post I still haven’t missed a day of practise.
A Quest for Brighter Skin
I have long wanted to up my skincare routine, especially since turning 30 and starting to think about the importance of keeping my skin healthy and also since catching a look at myself in the mirror one day and being horrified at how tired I was looking!
So with nothing else to do, I ventured to the online shops and bought all the things I could see that promised brighter skin. This is what I ended up with:
Ole Henriksen Gel Moisturiser – To be honest I was not a fan of this to start with as I felt it made my skin feel oily after a few hours and I don’t usually have oily skin. However I have since reduced the quantity that I am using and then added a step of using my basic light moisturiser over the top and I am finding that combination is working nicely. This cream smells so good and feels nice going on the skin leaving it feeling fresh and clean as well which is a massive plus!
Ole Henriksen Banana Eye Cream – This cream had instant results. I definitely think this does what it says it will and brightens the area around the eyes. At this stage though I am unsure if there are long term benefits of using this, but rather it acts more like a makeup primer. Either way will definitely keep using this!
The Ordinary Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution – This by far is the best purchase in this new routine of mine and I feel like this has had the biggest impact on my skin. I usually get red and blotchy when I am not wearing makeup and since using this have felt like my skin has totally balanced out and it’s made me feel comfortable not wearing a foundation during the day.
The Ordinary Caffeine Solution – I really wanted this to do more about the darkness under my eyes but even though it doesn’t seem to help that, it does appear to help smooth out the area under my eyes and reduce puffiness, and for the price point that’s pretty good in my opinion.
Until now, my skincare routine has consisted of cleanse then moisturise morning and night, and the every now and then application of rosehip oil. These recent additions to my kit have meant a little more time in front of the mirror when washing my face but I am really excited to see that after a couple of weeks I am actually seeing and feeling some results!
Food, A Lot of Food
This month without any plans to go outside, we decided to create new experiences through the food we were cooking. Weekends became opportunities to try out a new recipe or create some of our favourite foods from scratch.
We also celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary this month and instead of going out to a restaurant like we normally would, we sat outside in the garden drinking Moët in our comfy clothes and then made margarita pizza and sweet and spicy korean fried chicken for dinner. It was so delicious and the perfect activity to do together as we both really love food.
Another weekend my husband fired up the BBQ and cooked a 12 hour slow cooked brisket. I made hamburger rolls and then we ate the most incredible burgers I have ever eaten (pictured below).
It’s easy to say that we are not leaving this isolation period without having eaten well.
Bringing a Touch of Outdoors, Inside
I have had plants in my home for quite a while now but my collection did expand quite a bit around my birthday when friends and family bought me either plants or wine (which was absolutely perfect gift options for me and thank you to them for knowing me so well).
However, I have to admit that I have been a slightly neglectful plant owner. Sure I am watering them and keeping them alive, but I haven’t given them that extra love and attention they need in order to really thrive.
This month that has changed and I have become much more attentive, being sure to prune off any old leaves, keeping up with watering using only water that has sat out overnight to let the chlorine and other stuff evaporate (I read about this helping prevent the ends of your plant’s leaves from turning brown as they can be sensitive so am giving it a try), and repotting those that needed more space.
So far they are looking really good, however my fiddle leaf is still a bit upset, I think I had it in a spot where it didn’t get enough light so now that I have moved it I hope it can start to return to its former glory.
I am really enjoying the small processes around trying to keep them all growing the best they can and have made myself a deal that I can’t buy any more plants (because the temptation is real) until I can prove that I can look after the ones I already have and make sure they are living their best plant lives.
Most Popular Blog Post
This was a productive month here on the blog with six new recipes published! The theme was recipes for things that I have always wanted to make but had always put them off for lack of time or thinking they were too difficult.
April was a month for getting adventurous in the kitchen and trying new recipes. I hope you are also using this time to step out of your comfort zone and try something new!
The most popular new recipe this month came at really no surprise to me being this one bowl vegan chocolate cake. I had so much fun taking the photos of this cake using my favourite colourful star sprinkles. Plus this cake is so easy and incredibly delicious if you haven’t already made it, you really should.
Easy Enchilada Sauce – elevate your enchiladas with this delicious and easy homemade sauce
Homemade Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Garlic and Spinach – Delicious comfort food that is so much easier to make than you think (pictured below).
Chocolate Hot Cross Buns – if you are still craving hot cross buns post Easter, this is my favourite recipe.
Olive and Herb Focaccia – continuing with the homemade bread series with this simple and delicious focaccia
Vegan Slow Cooker Lentil Chilli – perfect for the cool weather at the moment, let your slow cooker do all the work!
What I Read This Month
This month I found so much enjoyment again in the pages of books. I read one of the best books i’ve read all year and then got lost in the pages of one of my all time favourite authors with a re-read of an old favourite followed by the newer sequel.
I had hoped I would be able to read a little bit more than usual being at home all the time, but turns out I filled that extra time with the activities above instead so my reading habits remained consistent. It is nice though to be able to read actual books again rather than feel reliant on audio-books.
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (2018)
This book was on the New York Times Fiction Best Sellers of 2020 list for a combined 30 non-consecutive weeks as well as featured in Rhys Witherspoon’s book club, so you know that it’s going to be good based on that alone, however I had put off reading it solely because I didn’t think it would live up to the hype.
But after a recommendation from someone at work saying it was the best book she has read in a long time and the language and description of the landscape was incredible, I decided I just needed to read it and form my own opinion.
From the moment I began reading I didn’t want to stop. This book fully consumed me and I struggled to put it down and step away to do something else.
The story spans over two timelines that intertwine, beginning with the murder of a local man as well as the lonley and abusive upbringing of a young girl, Kya Clark who they called the marsh-girl. Kya was one of many children and was left alone to grow up and look after and provide for herself, for which she created a reputation as a wild child of the marsh lands.
As she grows up she develops relationships with the natural world around her, as well as with a boy who teaches her to read and to study. As we learn about Kya’s life, we also are drawn into the mysterious death of Chase Andrews and the lack of evidence and speculation that surround it.
This story is so incredibly told, if you are looking for something to get lost in, this is exactly that book.
The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom (2003) (re-read)
This book will always be on my favourite books of all time list. I go on a little bit about how much I love Mitch Albom, but the way he writes is really special. He is able to connect reality with magic in a way that makes you understand life in all it’s sadness and beauty. When I read his books I savour every word as each has been placed on the page with intention and purpose.
This is the story of Eddie, a man who believes he has led a less than significant life when he is killed on his 83rd Birthday at the Ruby Pier, a theme park where he has worked most of his life. In the moment he is killed, he is trying to save the life of a little girl and throughout his journey that follows he asks the question, did his death mean anything?
Upon dying, Eddie makes his way to heaven which presents to him a series of five people from his life on earth that have impacted him in some significant way, whether he was aware of it at the time or not. He learns that these people are here to help him understand his life in a way that he wasn’t able to when he was alive.
Albom presents a version of heaven that aims to provide clarity around the meaning of our lives and highlight the interconnected nature of humanity, and how small events for one person can lead to a significant event in another’s life.
This book is wonderful and I am so glad I read it again, I really cannot recommend it enough.
The Next Person You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom (2018)
This the long awaited sequel to Albom’s The Five People You Meet In Heaven and warning, if you haven’t read it yet, this review contains spoilers.
This book is the story of Annie, the little girl Eddie saved when his own life came to an end. Annie can’t remember the accident, all she knows is that her hand was injured and had to be surgically reattached. Everything else is blocked out.
When tragedy strikes Annie, she too must follow the same path on her entrance to Heaven and meet the five people that are waiting there for her. This story tells a similar story to the original as each encounter teaches Annie something about her life that she couldn’t understand when alive.
If you loved the first book, you will also love this, and it was the perfect read to give me just a little more of one of my favourite stories.
What I Watched This Month
Looking For Alaska
I finally watched this series by Josh Schwartz (The OC, Gossip Girl) and to be honest I was nervous coming in that he would ruin one of my all time favourite books.
It’s not that I don’t like a Josh Schwartz show, because I do, it’s just that this story couldn’t have his brand of beautiful, shiny people. And I was pleasantly surprised that he left it exactly in all it’s gritty glory, although he did manage to sneak in a cotillion…
What I love most about TV or movie adaptions of books is when they explore the characters you loved the most and do it in the most perfect, beautiful way. Dr. Hyde was that character, and his portrayal by Ron Cephas Jones is one of my favourite on screen performances. He is everything I had hoped this man to be and it provided a beautiful depth to the show.
Overall I really enjoyed the adaptation and highly recommend it. Although I do still think you should read the book as well.
What I Listened To This Month
This song came on through a random spotify playlist and I just can’t get it out of my head.
Also, again in classic Josh Schwartz fashion, the soundtrack for Looking for Alaska is pretty amazing. This cover is an absolute standout for me.
What’s coming up?
More of the same I am guessing! While QLD starts to lift its restrictions I can’t really see things properly opening back up until the end of the month, and even then we don’t really know what that is going to look like.
I think for the moment the best plan is to not have a plan and be adaptable to whatever changes happen! I think for the most part I’ll be staying indoors and sticking with my new normal, at least for the rest of the month.
How are you? How are you handling this time? Please let me know in the comments!