It’s hard to write a pandemic silver lining post. So many lives were lost and upended. But there are some things that have helped keep us going during the pandemic. Here are 19 plus a few honorable mentions.
- Battery-powered frother
This $1.99 item from IKEA was rated the top Christmas gift of 2021 by my QwikTea chai latte-loving husband.
- Rechargeable LED lantern
After the power went out a few weeks ago, this came in handy, illuminating the kitchen so we could cook dinner. We bought a second one to have one in the bedroom, too.
- Just Egg and Beyond Meat Breakfast Sausage
These are our favorite second breakfast items. (When you eat very early in the morning, then second breakfast is a thing. Well, it’s our thing anyway.)
- Who Gives A Crap toilet paper
Before the pandemic, I had been looking at more environmentally friendly toilet paper options and learned about WGAC. They offer recycled paper and bamboo options. I was a little slow deciding, however, and then all hell broke loose and there was no toilet paper anywhere. When they finally restocked, I set up a subscription and we haven’t looked back. I prefer the bamboo option. The tissues aren’t my favorite, but the paper towels are great (we use very few paper towels having switched to bar rags years ago.) Oh, and they donate 50% of profits to build toilets worldwide.
- LinkedIn Learning
I love online learning in a big heart eyes emoji kind of way. And LinkedIn Learning has been a go-to favorite since it was Lynda.com. It’s less than $300/year or free if you have a premium LinkedIn subscription or possibly through your local library.
- Our Public Library
We have THE BEST public library system in the Timberland Regional Library. Great online holds system brings in books from its many branches to the local library of your choice (we have three branches that are convenient to us.) They also offer access to LinkedIn Learning, movies, documentaries and foreign films via Kanopy, and art and craft courses via CreativeBug. And when everything closed down, they still found a way with Library “take out.”
- Squirrel Proof Large Stainless Steel Bird Feeder
I love my little chickadees but they can clean out a feeder quickly on a wintry day. We bought this feeder from Chickadee Farms on ETSY. Sturdy and well made, it holds a lot of black sunflower seeds for my feathered friends and while no feeder is truly squirrel proof, we hung this with a swivel hook from an extended bird feeder hook and I haven’t seen a squirrel on it yet.
- Flannel sheets
I was just about today years old when I learned that flannel sheets are warm when you get in bed. Granted this is more important where winter lasts more than two weeks (looking at you Phoenix). My online research revealed that Target’s Threshold Flannel Sheets are Wirecutter’s budget pick option for flannel sheets. They are also STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® certified. Two thumbs up.
- Let’s Make Art
Let’s Make Art makes watercolor painting fun and accessible with kits and free YouTube tutorials. It’s worth buying the butcher tray palette and the round two and round six brushes that are used in most projects.
Me and YouTube–or YouTube-iversity as I like to call it–go way back. But when you are trying to make due in a pandemic, nothing beats on-demand video tutorials.
- LED pillar candles with remote
I like stuff that lights up. I like candles but traditional candles and curious furkids can be a bad combo. I’ve been looking at LED candles for a while and decided on a 3-candle set featuring a more realistic flame-shaped light perched on a black “wick” with a remote AND a timer (4, 8 or 12 hours). They make me RIDICULOUSLY happy.
- Grocery store pickup
We’ve been fans from way back but now it’s the norm instead of the exception. You have to have modest expectations when other people are picking out your produce, but for the most part, it’s been an exceptional service.
- Online events
So many people and organizations insisted that face-to-face was the ONLY way to host events. Until it wasn’t possible and then people started to embrace online. Online events are often cheaper and more convenient. There are often recordings and other resources. They are more accessible to disabled attendees, neurodiverse attendees, women with children and so many others. I’ve attended some fantastic online programs including three multi-month training programs.
- St. Ives Body Wash
Remember when you couldn’t find liquid soap anywhere? Out of desperation, we tried St. Ives Body Wash in the pump bottle as an alternative and we will never go back to tiny bottles. Nice consistency, non-drying, vegan, no animal testing and 100% recycled (and recyclable) bottle.
- Tek Gear 4-way fleece hood
I bought this for Robert to keep his neck and face warm on dog walks and realized that it also fits my big melon. Women’s hats are always too small for me and even most men’s hats are not made for a 7 ¾” hat size. But this fits! And it’s soft, warm and adjustable without giving me the claustrophobia that I get from other balaclava style hats.
- More fleece throws for the win
Speaking of fleece, we bought a couple of new fleece throws. We have a few of The Big One® Oversized Supersoft Plush Throws from Kohl’s that have survived our nest-making dog, stayed soft and still look good. We added a few more so everyone has their own. It’s amazing how a small cat and a medium dog can hog a blanket. (STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® CERTIFIED)
- New five-burner stove with griddle
Our oven gave out in 2021 and after weeks of deciding, we ordered a new five-burner range with a griddle. In the nothing’s easy department, we had to find a range convertible for propane and then find the installer that specializes in propane ranges. We are glad we did because the new range is amazing! Our old stove struggled with simple stuff, like boiling water, and before it stopped working, the oven took forever to heat up. And when the installer came, we learned it had been leaking gas, probably for some time. Yikes!
- New York Times Five Weeknight Dishes Newsletter
This newsletter has saved dinner more than once. And it introduced us to Pasta Puttanesca sauce, mushroom toast, Chile Oil Noodles and much more.
When browsing used book bookstores is no longer a frequent pastime, Thriftbooks fills the gap. ThriftBooks also sells new books which is a great alternative. Thriftbooks is a master recycler with a good supply chain and AI thrown in: you can read about this on Reddit. You can read more about their social responsibility efforts here.
Very honorable mentions: Coursera and Udemy for more online classes, Missouri Star Quilt Company for their fabric and their tutorials; Wakelet, one of the best website design tools I have used, amaryllis bulbs for capturing my curiosity, the Olympia Unitarian Church for moving their book sale online, and ring lights which really do make you look better on Zoom.