Working Wednesday, April 8, 2020

This week, I named Cheryl’s diner and collaged her a sign:

Mainly because I could see somebody saying, “This isn’t what I ordered,” and Cheryl saying, “Surprise!”

So what did you make this week?

85 thoughts on “Working Wednesday, April 8, 2020

  1. Sherbet (the fizzy powder kind, not the icecream or drink kind) and toffee apples, apple cake, cheese scones, banana bread, pizzas, eclairs (failure), and a sourdough starter (I hope).

    I made my colleagues giggle with this take on taking a ‘candid’ work from home photo. Then I quoted Daisy/Jenny/The Girls – unreal but not untrue.

    I need a sign like that for my kitchen. The kids could say ‘there’s chilli in this rice/courgette in this pasta/onion on my pizza’ and I could just point to the sign.

    1. I see you’re isolating from your children. Always a good idea.
      I wish my office looked like that.

      1. So do I! Also, it’s our spare room, the bed that’s normally in there is in the garage temporarily. I normally work in a corner of the living room.

        1. My daughter took the bed out of their “spare” room as well. It had always been her husband’s home office and some times she worked there as well, but now that they are BOTH working from home full time and their three-year old’s day-care and Mimi-care (other grandmother who lives closer) are shut down, she has moved her desk and their daughter’s activity table into the room so that they can all work and keep an eye on E while she draws, paints, etc. (Needless to day, they schedule their meetings for different times.)

      1. The pastry dough was too runny, which I didn’t know because I’d never made them before. I’ve found an online tutorial and plan to try again tomorrow. I’ll keep you posted!

  2. I finished the polished first draft of my new cozy and sent it out to my first readers. Spent hours working on the job I’m supposedly laid off from, plus packing up and mailing stuff for the Etsy store that is helping to feed me while I’m not getting paid, and otherwise just coping.

    I did, however, put the first seeds into this year’s garden: spinach, lettuce, kale, and some sugarsnap peas. We had an unusually pleasant day (the rest of the week is supposed to be cold and rainy) and it was lovely to be outside.

  3. Unfortunately, I made the list of the unemployed. It was a six-month contract, ending this month, but those 3 weeks would have been super helpful. But I’m in a safe place and don’t have big expenses, saved some money from this gig, so no despair.
    So, I’ll be working on my website, poking a few people who mentioned some books they were writing to me, and brushing up the resume and LinkedIn.
    And I’ll order some fresh watercolors, and paint me some pictures, and garden and spring clean. I haven’t had a break (that didn’t involve family, so not necessarily a break) in years. Might as well look on the bright side.

    1. I can’t remember this much unstructured time. The first week or two was hard, but I think that I am learning better habits for a quiet life. Of course, I may relapse quickly. Actually, it makes me a little sad that we have so little time generally as I am finally doing things that I enjoy and am not so anxious about the new ‘Normal’.

  4. I did comfort baking this week, a sour cream coffee cake with thinly sliced apples in rows along the top covered with a crumbly mix and then oatmeal jam bars. Got too close to the scale and hopped on, a pitiful mistake.

    Oh, and I trimmed my hair.

    1. My husband keeps offering to take the clippers to mine.
      And way back in the bathroom cupboard, there is a box of blue dye…

  5. I made many holes in the garden, with help from the daughter, and we put lilacs in two of them. Most of the rest we are pulling stunning numbers of common orange daylilies from. Also false bittersweet. That stuff is relentless, and it goes everywhere underground, and honestly we are just digging out the front corner of the house and sifting bright orange roots and day lily bulb clusters out of it. We do not know what will go back in yet. We haven’t gotten that far.

    1. Does false bittersweet have thorns? Because I have that stuff everywhere. Finally ordered thorn gloves from Amazon so I can cut it all out.

  6. I made time for a long walk last night, out across some empty fields and around a pond where a goose was lying vigilant-but-stealthy on her nest, and a fat-cheeked muskrat was busy gathering hay. Toward the end of our walk, a full moon rose through the clouds and made everything silver.

  7. I made masks, baked bread, weeded, made videos of circle time for my preschoolers to watch at home, had my first zoom preschool circle (exhausting but so fun to see their faces), did some yoga, and went for many walks. So far so good. Will my regular summer job still be there? I don’t know. Will we get to take our planned vacation to Glacier National Park this summer? I don’t know. But for now we’re healthy and the sun is shining and that is enough.

    1. I tried this no-sew face mask yesterday:

      The hair ties aren’t quite stable around my ears, though putting them behind my glasses tips helped. So I’m going to add another hair tie with a couple of carabiners to go entirely around the back of my head. And the next time I go shopping, I’m going to get some headbands, as they should also work with this design and go all the way around the head.

      1. I made 2 of those this week and found that since my allergies have ratcheted up for spring, I can’t breathe through them. Today I will try one with one fewer fold and thus two fewer layers in it.

    2. Those duckling booties make me wish I could follow a knitting pattern. (When I’ve tried, it’s been a disaster. I can knit if I knit to measurements, which is the same way I crochet.) I’m wondering if I could adapt them for crochet, which is what I do mostly and what I can therefore be more adventurous with.

  8. I’m balancing ALL THE THINGS while still making increasingly larger messes. My kitchen table looks like a recording studio where a manic gnome is busily creating her next home, rocks and glass tiles spilling off their templates into the paperwork from the day job, my accounts, and regular detritus. Plus there are takeout cups. I should probably throw those away, they’ve been there weeks.

    I considered taking a picture so the rest of you could feel better about yourselves, but it’s really not that interesting.

  9. Continuing to make Facebook Live videos with my husband for our karate classes. It’s not the same as teaching to real people but it’s been 4 weeks now and it has been working out well. He does the teaching. I’m just the sidekick (no pun intended).

  10. I’m still doing the Arne and Carlos knitalong. I started the Pandemic knitalong on Ravelry. And I have designed (if not started yet) a coronavirus cross stitch pattern with a sentiment that we’ll all agree with… I’ll let you know when I’ve finished it.

    Oh yeah, and also I have to go to work.

  11. I went “Back to school” remotely, and it’s like being a first year all over again. How does anything work? Who knows! Will this lesson be fun or terrible? Let’s find out! Chaos, chaos everywhere!

    Last weekend I finished a short story for Round 2 of the NYC Midnight Short Story Competition. I was assigned “Romance” as my category, along with “isolation” (bit on the nose, hmm) and “a graphic designer,” and came up with a goofy rom-com based on hazy memories of Hitchcock’s “Rear Window” and HGTV. The heroine’s name is Lily because I was using it as a placeholder but it stuck. 😕 No past lives or Vikings, but I did adapt Jenny’s advice on acts in novels to fix the first draft’s top-heaviness. I was EXTREMELY grateful for all I’ve learned from your craft posts, Jenny! Someday I even hope to apply them to the novel I can’t seem to finish! 😝

    Today I’m making lesson plans and instructional videos. I let the 4yo dress me but luckily he picked a presentable shirt! Later I hope to make some bread (we’re out) and some progress on my grading (ugh).

  12. Thought y’all might enjoy this Guardian Cartoon: The seven types of literary conflict

    Auuuuugh my apartment is shutting down the water today from 9 to 4. I’m going to try to hike the afternoon away so I don’t stress about getting the water shut off during a shelter-in-place.

    Otherwise, I made a slow cooker (ground turkey) curry last night, and plan on doing a nopal chili today.
    Also, mixing in miso paste into hummus is A++, makes my tongue register it as cheese for some reason. (I was going to mix miso into the curry, but the sauce bars I put in it made it plenty flavorful, didn’t need any more salt.)

  13. I’m messing around with a peanut butter oatmeal chocolate chip cookies recipe with sun butter. It may or may not work, but the dough is delicious!

  14. Paid to monitor a Web site where finally yesterday someone had a question, and I could help! College prez seems to think no one is getting laid off, despite mandated cuts, so that’s hopeful. Started editing a research proposal for a colleague. Needs more than she thought it would, which won’t be fun for her and isn’t much fun for me, either. Being stuck in the office means I’ve been working on bookcases, and should finish the job today. A friend and I are writing a poem a week to send each other while we cannot meet for our usual writing together, so have that rambling around in my head.

  15. I was totally urked by my cow-orkers, yesterday, and anticipate more of the same today. They weren’t wearing their sneezeguards/facemasks. They made no effort to maintain a six foot distance. There’s been a second case positive for covid-19 in the prison. They seem to think that because the boiler plant is outside the chain link fence, we are immune.

    Today, I will not enter the building before 4 PM, sharp. Since they never stay past that minute, our interaction will be fleeting, and I’ll start disinfecting everything when they’re gone. It shouldn’t be this way.

    1. Stay safe!!!!!!!!! I have a friend who is working at a plant in town that manufactures plastic medical things like petrie dishes, so she’s still working. They’ve barely made any efforts to keep people safe, and it makes me crazy.

      1. I’m doing my best to remain safe. Today, I arrived at 3:58. I looked through the door – no masks, one of them lounging by the door, preventing entry without passing within 2 feet. I yelled, “Drop the keys on the table and get the f*** out!” Then I stepped back as they exited. I used up several ounces of disinfectant wiping everything they might have touched in the office and rest rooms before taking up my regular duties.

        A third inmate has tested positive. Entire cell blocks are quarantined. The first 2 inmates have been removed to the state prison hospital.

      1. I think we lost that when somebody who had signed up for notifications forgot and turned us in for spam, shutting down the whole blog for days while Mollie fought tooth and nail to fix it. There may be a way, but after that, we’re not looking for any more trouble. I’m STILL mad about that.

      2. There used to be a button you could check to see replies. I don’t see it now. hmm

  16. Cooking and baking. Making small batches of stew, H thinks last nights was best ever. Different every time. He is happy. Making banana loaf today. And back to carefully destroying the blackberry bushes. So far two scratches.

  17. This week I finished up one baby blanket and started a second (expecting to have a new great-niece and new great-nephew in the very near future.) I also started the piecing for some potholders from a kit that I’d had in my stash for about 10 years. I figure it’s time to use it.

    I also worked on another quilt top. I cut it out on Saturday and put it together on Sunday. It looks lovely – and I was able to get another 100+ half square triangles out of the scraps, so another little quit top could make an appearance someday. I need to contact my longarm friend to see what the protocol is since I’ll soon have several finished tops that need to be quilted.

    Here it is:

    Otherwise working from home and trying not to let the easy availability of snacks derail my diet. (I am making time to walk a bit every day, so I’m counting that as a plus.)

  18. I’m sorry but I have to get rid of the anger I’m feeling right now. If I rant to my family they will tell me to stop walking. I walk for my physical and mental health. In Ireland we are allowed to go for 2km walk for exercise. We are taking the virus seriously here and other walkers I meet keep their distance.

    So, I’m walking and I see this guy on a bike coming towards me. I make a polite hand gesture asking him to move off the pavement (sidewalk) and go onto the bike lane. He keeps cycling towards me. When he is about 6 feet in front of me, I stop walking and just stand on the pavement to see what he is going to do next. He stops and sits on the bike with a big grin on his face. I just stand there looking at him. After about 30seconds he must realise I’m not going to move so he turns the bike and goes onto the bike lane. As he starts to cycle I move forward, and I speak to him for the first time. I tell him with this virus now is not the time to play stupid games. He says he wasn’t being serious and it was only a joke. I didn’t find it funny. This virus could kill me or him. There is nobody else about so I keep walking. Normally when I encounter an idiot, I just shrug it off. But these are not normal times.

    1. I never understand the idea of teasing. “Let’s annoy you because I think it’s funny.” No.

      1. My first grade teacher told my parents that they needed to tease me more at home because I couldn’t handle it at school. I’m still annoyed about this.

        1. You’re kidding. “You need to abuse her more at home so she’s used to it.” Some people should not be teachers.

  19. I’m knitting fish and I started sewing together my 80ish knitted squares. So many loose ends. I am neglecting my crocheting, but completed UFOs have to come first. It’s like looking at a timeline of my crafting projects in 2013 to 2015. Need to find the toy eyes to complete a koala I started in 2014

  20. I’m working on not falling entirely into panic. Everyone who contacts me for any reason is scared, and so am I.

    I am flinching when the email or texts come in, or when the phone rings.

    And Galway Ties, I feel your pain and anger. I’ve had many people pull this kind of nonsense over the past month. I live in a big city and finding safer places to walk is a challenge. This kind of behavior isn’t funny at all.

    1. I was having a fair amount of anxiety, especially before bed. A couple of things that helped me: Yoga ( I like yoga with Adrianne in the evenings. Only about 30 minutes and breathing is so nice…) and limiting my access to the news. I check in the morning and again at lunch. Absolutely no news, caffeine or chocolate after 3p.m.

      Hang in there. We will get through. xo

      1. Limiting your access to news is so important, isn’t it. I am also finding it necessary to limit my access to other people’s reactions to news – i.e. Twitter. It sucks me in and drags me down, and I end up feeling way more anxious than when I started.

    2. Me too. 500 damn emails just in one email box alone here. 500 PANIC EMAILS.

      I really really really wish I didn’t have to work in panic and fear, but I can’t get employed otherwise.

    3. I like listening to Poetry Unbound to unwind. 10 minute episodes where the host (with soothing Irish voice) talks calmly and compassionately about a beautiful piece of poetry, it’s history, and why he likes it.

    4. This isn’t a really helpful reply but it may explain some of the bad behavior. If someone is young, they think they are bullet proof and everyone they know probably is too so there is no patience for those who are concerned and trying to follow health guidelines. While most seniors are following the guidelines (as I am myself), if you are 70 or older you have lived lived through some pretty scary pandemics already: polio and smallpox. Mass vaccinations and not being allowed to go to movies. Although we were still expected to go to school and church. Most of us in that age bracket knows or knew at least one child personally who had polio (my cousin, a friend of my husband). And most of us know probably more than one person who died from pneumonia since almost 50,000 people died from it last year alone and it used to be a lot more lethal and prevalent than it is now.

      But while I am not particularly panicked about the virus for myself, I can understand why other people are. It’s contagious, it’s unpredictable, and if your child gets it, even though they are likely to survive it, high temperatures are serious. That’s why measles, which were also prevalent many years ago since there were no vaccines, are so nasty. Children who got them, particularly German measles grew up to have astigmatism or develop hearing problems.

      1. I’ve been seeing the exact opposite case, as were my friends. When young people were already requesting work from home, their older relatives were still insisting on going to weekly bingo and prayer meetings and visiting their friends. My neighbor’s parents were inviting her to have dinner with them a week into the official lockdown.

  21. This week I finished the fourth draft of my novel (which was mostly just addressing the edits my beta reader gave on draft 3), along with the synopsis and the query letter. My friend’s proofing everything this week, and then hopefully I’ll be submitting them places next week. (!!!!!) It’s the first one I’ve pitched since I started ghostwriting, and I’m hoping the stuff I’ve learned ghostwriting (including how to get friendly with clear conflict and popular tropes) pays off.

    1. Good luck! And props for submitting while so much is crazy in the world. It can be stressful sending something out even when the rest of the world is stable. FWIW, Jessica Faust just blogged about how agents are still reading and publishers are still buying, so that’s encouraging.

  22. Today my team is having a Zoom meeting, so I had to work on getting myself decent-looking, which I generally haven’t been bothering to do. 🙂

    We have actual work, hoping that continues so that none of us get laid off.

    In ‘my’ work, since last week I’ve done a read-through-polish of a book written last year, almost ready to do pre-publication formatting. Have done such PPF on two other finished novels, one of which was actually finished over the weekend.

    Am writing a new thing inspired by current events. Have written 2/3 of another book since March 11, one which completely avoids current events.

  23. Most of the things I’ve made are food- related. And they’re posted under Working Wednesday hashtag.

    Now that I’m feeling more positive, I made a schedule that I’d been planning to do for the first term vacation. It’s a timetable for my life to help keep me on task.

    It’s a good start as a guide, because I just need to not let myself get stuck in ruminating over the world now. I haven’t played enough with my dog and I can tell he wants to, because when I do go into the garden he comes to lean right against my leg, which he doesn’t do. He’s not very needy.

    So I felt I needed to schedule playtime in, along with all the things I actually need to finish.

    1. There once was a toy store in NYC that made t-shirts and buttons that said, “Don’t Postpone Joy”. I think that applies to playing with the dog, too.


    The more-than-a-year-long saga of the nightgowns is finally finished. And my mother hasn’t even tried them on!!!!

    During breaks in the day job I’m putting away at a crewel-work piece that’s 20 years old, listening to audio books, and trying to not eat all the plague snacks. Yesterday I finished using up all the wire I had to make my big-ish wire tree but I might wind up ordering more because the bunch is pretty pathetic looking and I have a bunch more little semiprecious stone beads to be the leaves.

    I made a meal plan for the next 8 days, shopped for the ingredients I didn’t already have, wiped everything down when I got home, and now I’m hunkered down and ready for another week at home.

  25. I love the diner name. In it’s honor I’ve renamed the garden I’ve been working on a Surprise Garden. I’ve been creating paths and growing beds which has so far mostly been carrying around rocks and creating path edges and putting down ridiculous amount of weed fabric. Most of this effort is to make my garden less snake friendly and more manageable to weed (desert). Which is really just to make it a nice place for my small dogs to hang out. The surprise is about what creatures you interact with. I was really surprised when an ant crawled up my jeans and bit my thigh. High jinks ensued with clothing removal, hopping around, and trying to kill the wee beasties. Thankfully, quarantine, so no witnesses.

    And trying to find a good pattern for the more fitted face masks. That is the big project for the next week. If anyone has a good reference let me know. I’m looking for fitted to your face with access for a filter of some sort. I don’t have any good washable filter, so am thinking I need to have a slit for it to be taken out before washing. So far this is the best one I’ve found…

    1. I couldn’t get the fitted masks to fit my face, so I’ve been making the pleated surgical masks (which are also better for mass-production, when you don’t know what size the recipient’s face will be, which is what most of my mask-making is for). Anyway, has a pattern library here: and if you look at the craftpassion one, it has a version that includes a filter pocket, and it seems to be a popular pattern among those who are making the fitted variety.

  26. This is the first year in decades that I have not been in charge of making the dessert for the Passover seder. Since there will only be 4 of us, we decided to have chocolate mousse and that can be made at my sister’s house and not hauled across town. As my source of cake boxes closed years ago, this is a good thing, but I really feel that I am not doing my part in the holiday prep. I’ll have to do all the clean up to compensate.

    It also really makes me miss my Mom. Every year she would call my sister before Passover and Thanksgiving to have the traditional menu discussion. They would toy with the idea of varying the menu for about 30 seconds and then decide to make what they’ve always made. One year my niece brought in new recipes for turkey, stuffing and dressing, but I think that my Mom must have been out of town that year. The recipes were such a big hit that they are now the annual tradition.

  27. I made some bread with dried cranberries and honey.
    And because my old car had sprung a large and expensive leak, I bought another car.

  28. I am working 8 hours a day at my computer from home, so — good: still getting paid. Bad: house and computer turning into a place of grim toil.

    But last night, I did a very nice online jigsaw of a pattern called “Lucy Boston quilt” which I’d never heard of before.

    It was more fun with 300 pieces.

    It’s not actually doing anything productive, but does that count?

  29. I am mostly being productive and am finally able to make happy things again. For a while it just felt frivolous and silly. I have decided not to think about it and just make what I want.

    Also, I am chewing through audio books at an alarming rate. I thoroughly enjoyed what my library had of Mhairi McFarlane’s work and would love other suggestions. Looking forward to Good Book Thursday for sure. 😉

  30. I am sewing masks – for my son and daughter-in-law who both work at a grocery store (they just found out a co-worker tested positive last week and the management did NOT close the store to clean). Also for my daughter and son-in-law who need masks for when they have to shop, etc, and my best friend who works in a bank.

    I enjoy sewing and the fabrics are pretty and cheerful, but the reason for this is grim, so I have mixed feelings.

  31. As of today, I’m starting to feel like I can settle into a consistent routine (which I liked to do) after being distracted by a number of crises that now seem to have resolved. I’ve been making masks, mostly for friends/family the last week, but I’m planning to get back to making them for health care workers tomorrow. And I did some real writing today for the first time in ages (rather than editing or pretending to edit while obsessing over the state of the world).

  32. I work from home so nothing is different and yet it all is. The “work” day at my PC takes longer because I keep checking the news and not doing the editing!

    Apart from work, mask making is my only tangible accomplishment.

    Took some time yesterday to go to Harris Teeter since it had been 2 weeks and I was out of some needed things. I had my homemade mask on and was struck by who was and who was NOT wearing masks. All but 2 female customers I saw wore masks and the majority of male customers wore them. People were doing their best to keep a safe distance from one another. NOT A SINGLE store employee wore a mask. Sheesh.

  33. I made a loaf of walnut oat bread.
    And a couple of masks. I’m trying about 4 different patterns. I’ll make more of the most comfortable one.
    I bought a dozen pansies. Filled a planter and put the rest out in the front yard. I also got some hyacinths (I’ll know if I lose my sense of smell) and some parsley. I love growing herbs. My mint, chives, tarragon, and thyme are coming up. So good to see.

  34. I sent in the final teensy changes on the manuscript for my Regency mystery, Lady Rosamund and the Poison Pen, which comes out in less than 2 weeks! Also got the cover finalized. Too much crazy last minute stuff, but it’s all looking good now.

    Also made mac and cheese for supper, the ultimate comfort food. Well, one of them. There are so many.

    My daughter has been making masks and sending them to various relatives and friends.

  35. I am working full-time from home and it has been interesting. I am helping out a group of makers who are using their 3-D printers to create face shields that they are giving to the local hospitals by creating a website for them.

    I had a huge sugar craving and baked a lemon drizzle cake. It has proven tasty and not too sweet due to the tartness of the lemon. If I had gone with the chocolate chip cookie dough that might’ve been gone by now. However, we still have about a fourth of the cake left.

    Due to (it’s Craftsy) having all the classes free to watch through April 16, I have started a new quilt. It is a wedding ring quilt using the quiltworx templates which use a very definite process. I should be quilting quilts for my customers or making masks.

    1. I highly recommend checking out the free classes on the site I posted above. It may be US only, I’m not sure. They have knitting, crocheting, quilting, baking and more.

  36. This is so ridiculous — I made a trip to the local Target this morning. I ALMOST rolled over and went back to sleep — chilly overcast morning and the cats didn’t want to budge — but got up anyway. And virtue rewarded, when I arrived, I was asked whether I wanted any cleaning supplies or TP, to which I said “You have it?” I was waved to a line, which looked longer than it was, and was allowed to purchase one 15-roll pack of TP. My brother and his tenant were down to seven rolls and getting worried. Was able to add a pack of Fancy Feast for the tenant’s cat, and some miscellaneous groceries for myself. Brother, tenant, and cat all very pleased with me!

    I am really supposed to be working on cleaning out the bookroom, but don’t really have anywhere to place the books right now, so I . . . .errr . . . napped, with two cats in my lap and a podcast playing.

  37. I made Dal, twice, using a wonderfully simple recipe from Meera Sodha’s book East.

    You really do just put it all in a pot and stir it.

    I also made a workout playlist on the theory that if the music kept going so would I. Theory to be tested tomorrow. Beyond this I have done nothing useful, but the legislation that helps me keep my job was passed in the Senate last night so I am feeling far more hopeful today.

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