Two months into the stay-at-home regime and I've still yet to feel a longing for social activities. Again, haircuts and badminton would be great; weekly dance drills and the occasional Rec Room visit for coordination honing wouldn't be unwelcome either. While levelling up on the scale and experiencing torturous tingles from excessive muscle strain, I've simultaneously lost a substantial portion of hand-eye awareness. Though, as much as COVID-19 is an enabler of these unfavourable outcomes, alternatives are not out of sight. Humans are dynamic after all.
The weekend marked the last of my 8 AM grocery runs for the subsequent eight-ish weeks, concluding at my all-time fave of Sikgaek. If any, the virus has proved its greatest worth in enabling purchases of makgeolli at a consumer level; the sole prerequisite of the exchange was commitment in an accompanying food item. Yangnyum Chicken was the clear choice.
After hauling back some 4.4 L of kimchi, Wedding Cake Edition Honey Butter Chips, and some costly assorted rolls later - if only we had H Mart prices here, but I digress - I set out to craft yet another round of bread.
I opted for sandwich bread as opposed to sweet, pull-apart rolls with the aspiration of extending the batch's lifespan. The loaves were fluffy and delicate - just as advertised. My consumption preference was to toast and adorn with margarine or jam, however my lack of loaf pans also rendered them appropriate for garlic bread-making.
Hence, I set out with vigour, attempting the standout starters of the bygone Spaghetei. Parsley, minced garlic, and a thorough brushing of maple syrup landed me close to the 2016 memory, but, alas, my toppings had been too coarse for proper penetration.
Cravings for a chocolatey, cakey concoction were only amplified with launch of Alvin's mini series. I turned to the mentioned eggless mug cake for an oven-less single serving.
Results were subpar and chunks of flour were frequent - I'd recommend this UK-based alternative for tips and tricks. The supposedly speedy solution wasn't all that speedy either, so I resorted to proper execution - with a proper oven, with proper metric units.
Adapting the infamous zucchini pièce de résistance of many "healthy" baking blogs for the more pantry-friendly resource of sweet corn kernels yielded fifteen rounds of moist, chewy muffins that were tasty on their own, but even better with a side of cream cheese frosting. And yes, this contradicts the heart-healthy intentions of the origin recipe, though the aim had always resided with satisfying cravings within given limits. These days, we speak of limits on grocery store flour and sugar inventory.
Boredom is a state to which I cannot relate.
The thought of being idle is appalling.
The thought of being unproductive is repulsive in every aspect.
The thought of being lethargic and proceeding about without purpose does not entice me.
So while there are those that have been involuntarily bound to their homes without much work, the same simply cannot be stated for the remainder of society. At one end of the gamut are unconstrained souls, leisurely spending their days browsing Netflix while inverted on their sofa, and at the other are front-liners and employees working remotely in essential services.
With that said, being unduly occupied still overrules the inactive lifestyles led by many during this quarantine period. We're growing accustomed to the work-from-home procedures, inclusive of its around-the-clock responsibilities.
Things I learned during Corona (Rev 3):
Amongst my endless endeavours in the kitchen this week are the following:
1. Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies (thanks SKU!)
I've said it already, though I'll state it again: Few changes have taken place in my day-to-day activities, minus the arduous ordeal that is hour-long grocery shopping trips.
But humans are dynamic after all, and so while "unprecedented times" are here, the theory of natural selection applies still
I'd like to think that I've adapted to the lengthy lineups and costlier checkout totals, as the outcome of these successive trips are expense reports, (food) trend forecasts, and the most important result of all - mitigation measures. Undoubtedly due in response to my efforts was a treat in the form of Wonton Chai.
Cravings are more or less kept at bay by the ability to reproduce a similar enough product in the comfort of one's home. Mild exceptions remain, with Pocky being one of them.
Those that hadn't been on too friendly of terms with their kitchen haven been coerced into a changed mindset.
Yet those previously accustomed shall simply yearn for undertakings of greater difficulty.
Crafted from scratch were a series of lunch and dinner items, which sadly proved unsuccessful in lasting longer than several days.
Dish #1: Macaroni x Ground Beef x Sautéed 'Shrooms x Tomato Conpoy Compote Feat. Fried Egg
Seemingly effortless, there was a tremendous amount of preparation work involved. Other culinary techniques were also deployed, though somewhat subconsciously in my regard: boiling, marinating, sautéeing, pan frying, and, finally, broiling for a crunchy gratin-esque covering.
After a weekend of mayhem, I started my week off solid: An event known none other than GOT7's long-awaited comeback.
Oh, swear Not By The Moon.
I've seen little to none of outside world occurences, so this entry shall merely serve as a personal recount of items ingested over the week-long period.
The start of the week commenced with a ground-shaking craving for Chipotle. Rushing out of the house for my guac-garnished assemblage meant omission of a water bottle. Thus, the drive entailed a detour into Galleria (296) for blaze-battling fluids. Oh and kimchi.
Alas, bottled beverages were deemed too pricey for purchase. I emerged instead with Jessica edition Peppero, obnoxiously salty danmuji, and Kakao-character-like-but-not-quite-themed Dalgona candy bites.
A semi-successful Espresso Chiffon Cake reared its icing sugar-decked head towards the latter part of the week.
Inspired by Cooking Tree and dolloped with a heaping spoonful of vanilla Greek yogurt and toasted desiccated coconut, the fluffy wedges were the ideal format of repurposing my Maxell House grinds.
Amidst this global pandemic, there are two types of people:
Similar to how loss from war was depicted in mandatory Canadian history courses back in our high school days, it's definitely difficult to empathize with certain emotions without firsthand experience. That said, there are those that can predict and responsibly take precautions, yet there are those that refuse to believe in reality until perpetually undoable realities culminate from their lack of prudence.
The situation is constantly evolving and, in order to survive, so should the actions that we, as citizens, must take. Humans are dynamic and it is my utter belief that even when confronted with such a tremendous degree of uncertainty, all residents are to fulfill their responsibilities and due diligence. Beyond acceptance, it is even more crucial to respond appropriately in order to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 and its unpredictable aftermath.
Things I learned during Corona (Rev 2):
The world is operating in a period of uncertainty, which can be unsettling. The future knows no stability, no steadiness in what is to come, or what is to pass.
As the work-from-home-ers continue to maneuver their daily lives, with technology playing a vital role in remote communication, many of us are starting to notice minor changes every time we set foot into society for our essential activities. From the hordes of hoarders coming at other innocent shoppers last week with full force to distinctly divided lanes and floor markings this week, it's evident that action is being taken to flatten the curve. There is intent to comply with government regulations, with the hope that peace and order can be restored to our community once more.
And while these preventative measures were imposed out of concern for public welfare, one cannot deny that in its accompaniment is a string of new issues - a hair-pulling situation of inefficiency.
Things I learned during Corona (Rev 1):
Quite frankly, there haven't been noticeable departures from my regular routine, besides working remotely and minimal interaction with friends and coworkers. Home exercise routines, kitchen task undertakings, Lysol-ing of frequently used surfaces, and cashless transactions were elements that had aligned with my preferences even before the outbreak.
And as I half-rant, half-report on such occurrences, I am simultaneously reminded that "This is the, so-called, 'New Normal'", and as humans - mere occupants of this planet - we are to adapt for the sake of survival.
With challenge comes change, and what doesn't kill us will only make us stronger.
How does one land oneself in the category of a go-getter?
Oftentimes do those interpreted as such act swiftly to attain their goals or check off their to-do list. Locking in on a single objective, they conjure up a plan with utmost precision, then proceed with execution, more often than not possessing a Plan B at the backs of their minds should the first attempt result unfavourably. It's a pragmatic approach to life, which may not necessarily be appreciated by more contemplative types.
I recently had the luxury to attempt pourovers, in addition to burrowing into an insurmountable cloud of thoughts. Slowly but surely, my harbourfront days adjourned in a hazy hush. Nine months in the South Core has concluded. Truthfully, I hadn't stopped to recount that tales of such an endeavour until the arrival of COVID-19 and all its work-from-home-imposing statutes.
"Life doesn't wait for you" and I've consequently been mindlessly trudging along the treadmill of life until corona pushed pause.
Forever one to periodically reminisce but never to dwell without constructiveness, my time was brief but not without vast amounts of opportunities for development. While a seemingly short stay relative to the prospective length of my career, I remain grateful for such opportunities - such chances to contribute in the limited capacity that I am capable - and, moreover, thankful for those that have shed their expertise for my personal development, both as a colleague and a mere mortal persisting on her own journey.
Skills acquired throughout an arduous process translate into individual gain, however the bonds stemming from interpersonal interactions that empower one to truly thrive as a member of society, co-existing and cooperating.
Surfacing from the abyss of reflection, I continued on with regular day-to-day activities. In light of social distancing measures, many eateries had undergone temporary closures and staff reduction. Juicy Dumpling was one of these destinations.
"We can do Up Up Down Downs aka High-Low Planks."
"How many reps?" I added, "I die at 10."
"Then let's do 20."
Embarking on the second week of quarantine wfh, I was determined to set the tone right. Despite emails flying in and out at all times of the day, I took it upon myself to resume regular routine, just as I would on any other day of the work week.
Lunch would be consumed between the hours of 12 PM and 1 PM, while workouts could take place between 4 PM and 5 PM. Snacking would be permitted between the hours of 2 PM and 3 PM, if utterly necessary.
And on days where cravings were strong, I'd honour them. Because maintaining sanity is just about as vital as economic stability and physical wellbeing during these dreary, stifling times.
My heart yearned for sushi and CoCo, thus I set out to attain both following a damp day of unexpected March snowfall.
Two doors down from the closest CoCo was Sushi Park, a tiny but mighty family-operated shop that had been operating for years beyond the bubble tea shop's arrival. A quick search revealed that it was maintaining regular business hours; a single phone call later and I was on my way for Bulgogi, Shrimp Tempura, and an assortment of maki rolls.
Deluxe Sashimi was the priciest item of the order at $16.99, yet, regrettably, also the most disappointing. Fooled we were by the rigid cuts of despair, in all their saturated ploy. Shrimp Tempura was not far behind in terms of ratings; though not tasted, lukewarm responses stemmed from the strangely tawny beige pieces.
The Dragon Roll earned the greatest praise, spanning a profile of sweet and savoury. The Bulgogi set was quite balanced as well, given the inclusion of short-grain Japanese rice and a small side salad. At a mere $5.95, one couldn't go wrong with a set of California Rolls either.
As for the Miso Soup, there was little that could be said beyond "monosodium glutamate". Redeeming aspects were properly pickled pink ginger and smooth squirts of wasabi.
It goes without saying that more baking took place. Uncovered throughout the week were: the best Banana Bread formula on the planet, Thai Milk tea, and failed-croissant-dough-turned-turnovers.
I haven't exactly been "out" since my return from the West Coast, but I've definitely been "about" - about the house that is.
As the provinces of Ontario, British Columbia, and soon Alberta begin to wrap up their first week in Quarantine under the federal government's stringent measures to "flatten the curve" and prevent overloading the health care system, it should come as no surprise that many citizens are struggling, some more others.
There are those unable to request time off work, and may be further increasing work hours in response to surging demand for essential services.
There are those that have been blessed with work-from-home capabilities, though, in turn, suffer from ceaseless conference calls and heavier workloads.
Lastly, there are the tremendously fortunate few: the ones operating front-line in departments deemed "non-essential" that were simply sent home without reduced pay.
Honestly, the past week in Vancity had been blissful. But in under twenty-four hours, the gorgeous weather and sunny skies seemed nothing beyond a lucid dream. COVID-19 was officially declared to be a pandemic, causing the world as I know to collapse into itself. I had found myself squarely in the middle of an apocalypse - an unforeseen social calamity threatening sanity levels and the fragility of human health.
Even upon landing on Ontario soil, the direness of the situation was reflected in plummeting gas prices.
With work-from-home measures being implemented, I commenced email revision from the comfort of my own home whilst adjusting my sleep schedule. It was a terrible tempo to grow accustomed to, for energy levels were unbelievably low, and so was productivity of the mind
Just as I despise evening movies, I'm not a fan of afternoon flights heading east. Surrendered to the natural phenomenon that is geographical time difference is productivity - a factor that I relentlessly strive to harness in this eternally advancing world.
I booked my return trip around the late morning hours, and proceeded to hop on an Uber after a frenzy of egg-boiling, laundry-doing, and last-minute packing. All was smooth sailing until I arrived at baggage drop-off; my bag refused to join the others on the belt.
"Your bag is too heavy! You need to take some things out and carry it." piped a middle-aged lady in a thick European accent.
She pointed to the repacking area, where I somehow managed to rearrange my belongings to meet the threshold precisely.
Thankfully, there were no issues at security. I had made the boarding call with time to spare, munching on cookies on RITZ as the Zones were called up, one by one.
A Grilled Chicken Summer Salad, several short shut-eye sessions, and a quick round of mahjong tied me over until I was back home at the chillier end of the country.
Who Am I?
I'm the one that talks fashion and K-Pop randoms behind Quirky Aesthetics, the one who contributes honest opinions about commercial beauty items on Review Junkie, the one that obsessively shares photos of food on Pinterest, the one that loves her DSLR more than her own being and the one that wants to work in the transportation sector for a living.