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.
So this month ended up being pretty weird. And long. So long.
On the 8th of March I celebrated my birthday and that now seems like a lifetime ago. So much in the world has happened since then.
In my LANE post last month I said that we were taking the wait and see approach to the unfolding COVID-19 situation. We had started to see the panic buying of toilet paper and to be honest the situation all felt like an over-reaction. Fast forward to now and I am currently choosing to self-isolate following the WHO’s declaration of a pandemic and the lockdowns and closures restricting our movements outside the home.
Everything has been cancelled, from music events to the closure of Qpac (and thus I didn’t see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as planned) and restaurants are restricted to take away only. Now, the feeling is much different that it was when March began. Lockdowns don’t feel like an over-reaction, they feel necessary.
The world has changed forever and we are slowly adapting to what is going to be the new normal for at least the next few months. I do wish that I had documented more of the events of each day as they unfolded this month as I know this is going to be a time in history we will look back on and reflect as being a global shift on so many levels.
It’s hard not to dwell on what is happening in the world right now. I think it’s important to keep informed and know what’s happening, particularly around any new government restrictions as they are changing all the time. But I also know that as a society we feel ready to get on with our lives, even if that has to happen now within the confines of our own homes.
This post is where I usually share all the recommendations of things that I’ve been doing over the past month. This month I am still following that same format, but also trying to include more so that it becomes more of a helpful resource for ideas to keep you busy and entertained throughout the next month.
So grab a coffee, tea, wine or any other drink of choice and let’s catch up.
What happened in March
I turned 30. While sure it’s just another birthday and another year around the sun, turning 30 felt like a massive milestone. It came with the realisation that the number changes, as do the responsibilities but how I feel doesnt. When I was 20, I thought that by the time I was 30, I’d ‘feel more grown up’ and like an adult. I think at 30 I am just more aware that adulting is hard and that maybe that feeling of being ‘grown up’ never really happens.
Celebrating 30 with friends and family. I didn’t know at the time how big of a deal throwing a birthday party with all my friends and family would be. I didn’t know that this would be the last time in a long time I saw them, hugged them, and had in person contact. We all gathered in my backyard, drinking Pimms punch and laughing. It was such a good day, and I feel so grateful to have celebrated in this way.
Making my birthday cake. Of course, the birthday celebrations would not have been complete without cake (pictured below). I chose to make a 2 tier cookie butter cake from Frosting and Fettuccine and it was incredible. When serving I couldn’t keep up with cutting slices and while generally at a party where there is alcohol being consumed you can usually expect only about 50% of people to eat dessert, everyone grabbed a slice and declared just how much they enjoyed it. If you are in need of a cake, I can highly recommend this recipe.
Working from home. I love working from home and now, it’s full-time for the foreseeable future. While I know many people are right now struggling with this, I excitedly set up my office on the first day and have thoroughly enjoyed falling into at home routine.
Virtual wine night. A group of friends and I set up out laptops in our lounge rooms and video called our standard wine night catch up. We thought it would be weird but turns out distance wasn’t really an issue and the night rolled on as if we were all together. It made us realise that we can still manage to sustain relationships even while isolated to our individual homes.
30 Day Yoga Challenge. A friend at work got me onto the very popular Youtube channel Yoga With Adrianne. We chose to do the 30 day challenge and as of right now, I have just moved past the halfway point and am feeling good. With the mandatory shutdown of my yoga studio I knew I needed an outlet and this has been exactly what I needed. With 15-30 minute videos every day, Adrianne takes you through a range of different movements and has her unique find what feels good approach. Highly recommend if you are looking for some at home yoga as I am already feeling stronger and I find each day I am looking forward to getting on the mat.
Most Popular Blog Post
This month on the blog front has been really exciting for me as Eight Forest Lane recorded its highest traffic month ever! I don’t know if it is because everyone is stuck at home so people are looking to bake and cook more, but it’s really nice to think that these recipes might help you get through this time.
I managed to publish a few new recipes this month, but I also published something a bit different. I have always loved writing opinion pieces and this month I found I just had to comment on the unfolding crisis. I was overwhelmed with the response from this article and I hope that this is the beginning of a monthly column for a little life commentary – a change from the usual recipe content to discuss something that is happening in our daily lives. I hope that this will be something you enjoy reading as well.
If you didn’t see it, the article is titled apart from the anxiety, COVID-19 challenges millennial values of social freedom. A lot has changed since I wrote it in the world and our feelings towards the unfolding crisis, but there is a lot in here that I still stand by.
In terms of the most popular new recipe this month, it was these glazed baked doughnuts. My cinnamon sugar baked doughnuts recipe also did really well this month so I guess it has been a month for doughnut baking! I am not surprised though as these are so fun and delicious and use minimal pantry ingredients making them perfect for when you don’t want to go to the supermarket.
Banana Pancakes – both vegan and gluten free, these pancakes are perfect for Sunday morning brunch.
Oven Baked Chicken and Mushroom Risotto – an absolute favourite in our house and oven-baked means no standing over the stove stirring!
Homemade Sandwich Bread – in case the lack of bread in supermarkets has you testing your baking skills.
Easy Cinnamon Tea Cake – (pictured below) a classic and all time favourite made with minimal pantry staple ingredients.
What I Read This Month
Last month I wrote that I wasn’t sure what this section of LANE would look like as the majority of my reading this year has been via audiobook and I cancelled my subscription to Audible. Well it turns out that was a fantastic decision as I really only enjoy the audiobook format when I am on public transport going to and from work.
For the first week and a half of March when I was still commuting into the city, I decided to re-listen to a couple of my favourite self-development books and by the time they were finished, I was working from home full time and could use that would usually be on a bus time to read actual books each morning and evening which has been amazing.
I really am looking forward to filling the gaps in my days now with more reading and I have a pile of books that I am eager to get through.
This month I also started looking at my favourite books of all time as I was thinking about doing a post on that (would that be interesting?) and decided to re-read some of them over the next few months. So get ready for some old favourites mixed in with the new reads occupying this section.
You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero (2013) and You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth by Jen Sincero (2017) Audio (re-read)
I’ve grouped these two audio books together as they really go through the same themes but one is just more specifically about finances. I love Jen Sincero’s approach to self-development and improvement and it is actually these books that got me interested in the genre. I like to listen to these one a year just for a little mental boost to remind myself that my goals, no matter how far fetched they may seem, are achievable if I continue to work towards them
Her approach to source energy and the universe has also played a significant role in shifting my mindset when facing some pretty big life events over the last couple of years.
Read my full review in my best books of 2018 post.
Free Food For Millionaires by Min Jin Lee (2007)
This book is a mammoth. It’s probably the longest a book has taken me to read for a few years. Over the span of about 2 months I have slowly made my way through Min Jing Lee’s first novel. Having loved everything about Pachinko I was eager to read more from her.
While I found Pachinko had a stronger driving force throughout its narrative, what both books have in common is a rich and layered account of family and culture that spans over time and gives you a look inside the depths of the characters lives.
Free Food For Millionaires tells the story of Casey and her immediate family as well as those that are intertwined within her community. It explores the history of Korean immigrants in New York and the struggles they faced building a life for their children as the children balanced American and Korean culture and expectations.
This is a big and dense story but it is very well written and finishing it feels like closing down the window you had into the lives of this family. It is rich and vivid in its language and story telling.
If you’re looking for a book to really sink into, this is going to deliver. When I wasn’t reading I did find myself wondering little things about Casey and her mother, and if her sister Tina was really ok. This book slowly creeps up on you until you find that you have become truly invested in the outcome.
Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come: An Introvert’s Year of Living Dangerously by Jessica Pan (2019)
After finishing my mammoth read, I was looking for something light hearted and fun and this was exactly that.
Jessica Pan seems to have had a similar epiphany about herself as I did after reading Susan Cain’s Quiet. This books looks at introversion and the impact of extrovert behaviours when performed by an introvert.
This book is just fun, it’s not a guide book on how you should behave. Basically Jessica found herself quite unhappy and knew that a radical change was something she needed to shake up her life that was being driven by fear. She is not advocating that all introverts should find happiness by asking strangers silly questions on the street, but rather she talks about finding a way to do thing that you enjoy, even if they terrify you.
I enjoyed going along on this journey of self-discovery with Jessica and it made me think about the situations that I am uncomfortable in, and the strategies I have worked on to be able to enjoy them.
Sometimes it’s just nice to read about other people who feel uncomfortable in crowds even when they are the host of their own party.
Looking For Alaska by John Green (2005) (re-read)
I first read Looking For Alaska in 2015. It was both the first book by John Green that I read (also it is his first published) as well as the first book I downloaded to my Kindle app! I loved it so much then, and still today reading it again knowing how it ends I just couldn’t put it down.
John Green has a unique way of writing about emotion that makes you understand. It is beautiful, tragic and all consuming both in love and pain. Alaska feels like a metaphor for this emotion and Miles tries to understand his own through her as he searches for his own life meaning, his great perhaps.
This might be a YA novel, but I think at any age we can relate to some of the great life questions that are being explored and how these bring people together or rip them apart.
I haven’t yet watched the TV series that this has been made into. I wanted to read it again first. I’ll watch it in April though and report back!
You can read my original review of it in my 2015 reading challenge update #3 post.
What I Watched This Month
This month there was a lot of time to fill, so of course there has been a bit of TV watching. This is what has been keeping me entertained.
Project Blue Book (2019)
This is my new favourite show and out of all the paid streaming subscriptions, this one comes for free on SBS On Demand. Think the US in the 50s, government conspiracies, aliens, Russian spies and great character development. All with the fact that these alien incidents are based on true reports from the research of Dr. J. Allen Hynek when working with the US Airforce to explain these strange encounters.
It’s such an interesting show and stars my favourite Vampire Diaries character Enzo (also known as Michael Malarkey) so that’s a big bonus.
The OC (2003-2007)
The OC was my favourite show when I was in high school and I loved it all, including Ryan.
I’ve been hesitant to watch it again because surely it couldn’t still be the same show I remembered. But it is. It might be a bit of a guilty pleasure show but I have now finished the first season and will confidently declare that it’s still amazing.
Also can we please take a moment to acknowledge that this show is so old I couldn’t find a trailer that wasn’t pixelated and 4:3 so I went with a compilation of open credits.
The Mandalorian (2019)
The next phase in the Star Wars universe, The Mandalorian tells a standalone story about a bounty hunter and the cutest little creature ever.
Known in the show as ‘The Child’ or ‘The Kid’ and affectionately by fans as Baby Yoda, this little baby is the number one cutest character that is on TV right now. Every single scene it was in made me happy.
The show in general is pretty good as well, with everything really building towards the final episode of the season.
Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness (2020)
It got to the point where I just couldn’t not watch this. Tiger King was the only thing that was providing a break on social media from coronavirus stories so it naturally sparked my curiosity.
This show is just wild. I don’t even know how to explain it but it’s insane and you just need to watch it to understand what the entire internet is talking about.
What I Listened To This Month
This month instead of singling out a song, I thought I’d share a few playlists that have got me through the month.
The Hottest 100 of the Decade (2000s) aired on Triple J this month and it had a lot of nostalgia feels from the last 10 years despite also having a bit too much Kanye for my tastes.
Upon having a pretty hectic day at work with a lot of event cancellations and big news happening, someone shared this Happy Favourites playlist and it brought me joy. I probably wouldn’t listen to this under usual circumstances but in the moment of needing a distraction and a pick me up, this was so perfect.
Ok I’ve spoken about The OC already in this post but can we take a moment to acknowledge how much this show did for indie music? This playlist of The OC Soundtrack takes me all the way back to mix CDs and I am here for it.
What I Ate This Month
This month has been massive in terms of cooking. With being indoors more and working from home I’ve found that I am back to feeling excited about cooking (which is a super positive side effect of all of this that I am embracing).
The challenge of needing to make a meal with only the ingredients I have on hand in order to avoid unnecessary trips to the grocery store has proved really inspiring and I found that my blog provided me with the exact recipes that I needed at this time.
I shared this on Facebook last week, but I thought it would be good to share again here. These are the recipes that I made last week using what I had on hand. I made a few changes and adaptations as I went and I think having recipes that are flexible and forgiving is exactly what we need at the moment.
So I hope this provides some inspiration when putting together your own pantry staple meal plans over the coming weeks.
Monday: Chicken Satay Noodles
Use whatever chicken you have, thigh or breast will work, and whatever vegetables you can find. I had carrots and broccoli available. Also you can always leave out the chicken. As for the noodles, egg or rice noodles will work fine here. If you can make the sauce, the rest is flexible.
I love this meal because it makes enough for 6 meaning there are plenty of leftovers for lunches and it uses pretty simple ingredients.
Wednesday: Golden Turmeric Sweet Potato Soup
Sweet potatoes and onions have excellent shelf life so these ingredients should definitely be a staple in your house at the moment. This soup is so comforting and easy which is what I generally look for with weekday recipes. Also it uses water instead of stock by default however I had some stock leftover from the risotto so I used it here to ensure I’m keeping food waste to a minimum.
Thursday: Vegetable Curry Pies
What vegetables do you have? Some frozen peas and corn, maybe some potatoes? Use what you have and dig out that frozen puff pastry from the freezer for this easy and so delicious veggie dinner. I had used up all of my sweet potato making the soup, so I replaced that with pumpkin and used extra peas instead of corn it was delicious.
Friday: 5 Minute Sweet and Spicy Noodles
Friday is usually takeaway night, meaning I really don’t want to cook. So instead I made these super quick noodles. Use whatever noodles you have any anything green left in the fridge or just enjoy the noodles and the sauce on their own.
What’s coming up?
At this point, who really knows.
I would expect to spend all of April at home leaving only for walks around the block and to replenish my food supplies. Other than that I plan on working, reading, writing, cooking and doing yoga. Basically just channelling my introvert personality and trying to make the most of this time at home.
With everyone at home for the next few weeks at an absolute minimum, I expect people to be spending a lot of extra time online consuming content. I hope that this post has been a good starting point for ideas to keep you entertained, but please let me know if there is anything that I can help you with at this time.
Stay safe, and stay at home.