Pre-pandemic, I wouldn’t have described myself as a “homebody.” I love to go places—whether it’s just one neighborhood over to try a new restaurant or a new-to-me country. Still, I’ve always valued having a place to come home to. Of course, when your home becomes the only place you can go, it takes on new meaning. As the weeks turned into months, these four items made all the difference.
If, in 2019, you’d told me that I’d soon be waxing poetic about my smart doorbell, I would have laughed...and then worried about my future self. But, as it turns out, that little video doorbell is my personal pick for MVP in 2020. It’s practical—I’m alerted when the twelfth Amazon package of the day is delivered—and it allowed me to maintain human connections without jeopardizing anyone’s health. Both me and the delivery guy from my favorite Thai place are grateful.
My Favorite Teas
I’m part of the rare breed of people who don’t drink coffee, but I love a good cup of tea. It feels like a warm hug in a mug and it’s the perfect souvenir—I’ve stashed it in my carry-on coming home from places as far away as India and South Africa. Problem is, my collection had become a source of clutter.
It took getting to the organizational craze part of quarantine to realize that the crammed cupboard wasn’t working for me. I bought a couple of clear storage boxes specifically designed to hold tea bags and went to town. As is often the case after organizing, being able to see all of my options made it easier for me to indulge more often.
I made a cup in the morning as a calm start to the day and then another at night to help me wind down. When I want to treat myself, my go-to is Tea Forte’s Orchid Vanilla. You can get it in loose-leaf form, which is both economical and environmentally friendly, but the aesthetics of their mesh tea bags are hard to beat.
Aside from the soothing effect, enjoying a cup of tea from my collection also transported me back in time to wherever I was when I picked it up. It was a little escape without actually going anywhere.
Once Zoom fatigue set in, I found myself looking for another way to connect with loved ones and turned to the lost art of snail mail. I broke out a paint-by-numbers postcard set a friend had given me that I previously never had the time (or, let’s be honest, patience) to tackle. A tedious task took my mind off of things and yielded sweet notes I could use to brighten someone else’s day. I loved browsing through the punny and all-too-real 2020 greeting cards on Etsy and even took the opportunity to practice my (non-existent) hand-lettering skills.
A Non-Toxic Candle In A Vintage Vessel
Having more time at home meant I had more time to do things like read labels and reflect on whether the cleaning products I was using to keep us safe could also be a health hazard. One area I became particularly interested in? Candles.
I’d previously read about the toxicity of certain candles and my general rule of thumb is that beeswax or coconut wax are best, followed by soy. I favor makers that include a detailed breakdown of their ingredients (look for phthalate-free and 100% naturally-derived essential oils).
Unfortunately, when you have all of these requirements, your options are more limited. A few months before the pandemic began, I attended a pop-up market and discovered Old Flame Candle Co. The owner transforms vintage vessels into one-of-a-kind pieces. Her scents are seriously good and—best of all—the candles are phthalate-free, made from a vegan wax blend of apricots and coconuts with wood wicks and no chemical scent enhancers.
They are an investment piece, but typically contain double or even triple the amount of wax from a high-priced luxury candle. Plus, you can get them refilled at a discounted rate or use the empty container as a chic planter, catch-all or decorative item.
It took me a while to light mine because I was “waiting for a special occasion,” but then I realized just making it through another week of 2020 was reason enough to celebrate.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pthalates Factsheet. Updated April 7, 2017.