The Quarantine Report: Episode 2 - Skillful Cook
Our recipes, your inbox. Sign up

The Quarantine Report: Episode 2

A dog sniffing the ground next to a grassy bush.

Hi again!

Things are still weird and stuff is still closed and life is still taking place within the confines of these four walls... so it's time for the next Quarantine Report!

Also, though. The grass is growing, and the sun is... kinda, depends on the moment... shining, and love from family and friends is still traveling the distance to meet each of us in our own little at-home worlds.

I still appear to be strapped into a rollercoaster that takes me all over the emotional landscape from day to day, but maybe that is normal because nothing is normal. This is just the ride right now. And on the upside, there are some fun things to report on this week.

Here's the Quarantine Report List:

  • Something Delicious
  • Something Outside
  • Something Connected
  • Something Fun
  • A Sage Photo


Arrow on an indicator points mid way between 'okay' and 'good'.

Overall this week was much better than last week for me.

When I say much better, please note that puts me at the top of the “Okay” category. It's an Okay +. We're not talking about best week of my life, just kind of... okay.

And okay feels really nice.

I don't know if I can even really justify or quantify or rationalize where these feelings come from - I'm sure, like so many of us, things just hit us at different times and for different reasons.

I think having Easter this last week was a huge pick-me-up for me, even though Easter itself was weird and I didn't cook anything and we didn't even go outside because it snowed all day. But just having one small little thing to look forward to - putting Solvi in her Easter dress that I bought before quarantine, and making a little Easter egg hunt for her the day before with pieces of chalk in place of eggs because quarantine - I felt myself having actual fun, which hasn't happened in a while. It was happy. And it was really good to feel that.

Something Delicious

Pasta with cheese.

Obviously the most delicious thing I made was date night rigatoni.

I was missing at least 5 of the main ingredients but I had variations or workable substitutions for each of them, so I went for it and it was just an ongoing glory moment for the 2-3 days that we got to eat through this big pot of saucy, luscious pasta.

Tied, of course, with this week's new post: that incredibly fun and easy-to-make cauliflower gnocchi.

Something Outside

A snake on a deck.

No, no, and NO. Nope. Goodbye.

During our one-hour Easter egg hunt, we saw not one but FOUR snakes, one of which I almost stepped on, which lead us to the disturbing realization that our beautiful new yard and landscaping appears to be housing a whole community of snakes.

We live in Minnesota, so yes they are harmless garter snakes, but OH MY GOSH NO! NOT SNAKES. Please not snakes.

Our backyard is pretty heavily wooded - we see lots of deer and other little forest animals, which is a dream come true - but then we also have this kind of loose rock landscaping that I think is drawing in all the snakes as a nice home base, from which they find their way into the yard, and onto the deck... I feel faint.

I cannot do this. I honestly cannot do this. I know, they go in houses sometimes, I KNOW. So we need to probably get our house checked and then also figure out what can be done with the landscaping to prevent them from hanging out in the rock crevices all summer.

HALP ME. If you know something about how to make snakes basically hate it here, please leave a comment. Sincerely, Despairing In Minnesota

Something Connected

Two men sitting in patio chairs, one man petting a black and brown dog.

Here's how it happened:

Our friend stopped by on a bike ride to say hi from the front yard. We were planning to eat in the backyard - very fancy takeout Chipotle - so we said, hey Nate, why don't you come join us for dinner but you'll have to sit six feet away and we won't feed you?

And he was like, sure!

So we had dinner together aka ate our burritos directly in front of his face while he sat in a lawn chair 6 feet away. It was weird and we owe him a burrito when quarantine is over, but also it was very wonderful to “have dinner with” a friend.

Something Fun

Lindsay holding a chocolate chip cookie.

A fun thing we did this week: WATCHED A MOVIE. And made cookies, and you're welcome for the picture of Quarantine Me Living My Best Life While Creeping on Bjork's Phone.

Listen, I don't watch a lot of movies. It feels like so much work. You have to meet new characters, you have to get invested in a new storyline, and most importantly you have to have a solid two hours of down time which seems really hard to come by these days.

But on Saturday, we got Solvi to bed early, we did takeout for dinner, and we didn't have work to finish up... so WE HAD TIME TO ACTUALLY WATCH A MOVIE.

Bjork let me pick, and I (naturally) chose Love Wedding Repeat after watching about two seconds of the trailer. Chick flick rom com mindless funny cheesy perfection. It was exactly what the moment called for.

Plus popcorn and Easter candy and cookies. It was a shining moment from the week.

A Sage Photo

Sage lying on a chair with bunny ears on.

You knew it was Easter and you knew she wouldn't let you down.

What About You?

Team check in. How we doin?

Are you...

Drinking water? Eating regular meals? Getting enough sleep?

Do you feel...

Overwhelmed? Sad? Lonely? Grateful? Peaceful? Actually pretty okay?

I would love to hear how things are holding on for you guys this week - what you cooked, what you did to stay connected, what's giving you life and what's hard. Bjork and I and our POY team - we are living these ups and downs right along with you. It won't be like this forever - I'm reminding myself of this, too. There is more.

Sending all our love from our quarantine to yours! xo

Filed Under: Life

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    I’m definitely experiencing ups and downs with my emotions and handling everything. My fiancé and I made the best out of Easter by organizing a family Zoom which ended up being SO fun, taking our dog Perry for a nice long walk, then having a traditional ham dinner and carrot cake. Our wedding date is June 27, and I am so concerned our dream wedding plans will have to drastically change. All of the things we should be excited about are now causing anxiety and stress and we have to constantly remind ourselves that we will get through it. Taking time to get outside, soak in some sunshine (I live in Michigan so any time we get some warmth from the sun is a win!) and feel grateful is really helping. Thanks for these posts, I truly enjoy reading.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      I just started reading your blog the other day and might I say I absolutely love it! I am in the process of starting a food blog. Before I saw your blog, I was already considering having Mazer (my dog) as part of the blogging team. This past week has been a real learning curve, and I still have so much more to learn.
      I also hate snakes! But I’m not too sure how to get rid of them. There aren’t too many snakes in my part, although I have come across a few in my time. I hope you find a way to get them out of your yard and keep them out of the house.

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    Oh boooooy. This emotional rollercoaster of my life. Let me start off by saying thank you for continuing to post. It gives a little escape and makes me feel like I am hanging with a friend. I am a PA and still see patients everyday in my clinic. It’s busy. We wear all of our gear. I’m tired and I WISH I could be home doing all the cooking and decorating and organizing that I see everyone else doing. (or the eating raw cookie dough in my sweats if we are being honest, lol) BUT my place is here. Some days I don’t mind, some days I struggle with it. That is being human. I am very thankful that I have my health, a job, and food on my table. I also want to remind others that it is OK to feel your feelings. It is OK to complain a little, even when there are those who are worse off. It does not make you ungrateful or a bad person… it makes you human. And we are all struggling with this. Just keep on getting through these moments and they will change eventually. Oh.. and stay home please. 🙂

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thank you for all you’re doing! I hope that when this someday is over, or at least manageable with herd immunity, vaccine, and/or effective treatment, you have a much-deserved break to do all the things you wish you could be doing (and eating all the cookie dough). But THANK YOU for serving and for sacrificing and for being willing to serve so many others. We are cheering for and praying for you, grateful that you are using your gifts during this unprecedented time.

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    I work from home (I worry about my bussines) and all social contacts are limited but luckily I live just outside the city with fields around and I can observe spring coming with all flourishing trees. I even have a chance for 1 run a day what I do regulary to observe nature and catch breathe. To get even more distance I decided not to check covid news (and we have no tv that helps), time I lost on it I dedicated to make crowfunding for security masks, gloves etc for our 2 city hospitals and now I check from time to time amount growing and it brings me up a lot to know that it will make doctors and nurses little bit more safety 🙂 and that would be it but there is one more important thing I cook and now I try to cook even better than usually including your healthy, yummy, comforting food 🙂 Bowls which practically can be done of random picks, muffins with blueberry and white chocolate, bars with raspberry, instant pots etc. and it’s sooo good… Sometimes I deliver a box of bakes in front of my friends’ doors and I hope after quarantinne 24 h time they enjoy it 😉

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    I really don’t know too much about the snake business, BUT I have heard that having an outdoor cat can help – because they get the mice, etc. the snakes hang around less because there is less to eat. I’m a WI/MN transplant to VA and I’m sad to report we have harmful snakes. UGH. Fortunately there are a few neighborhood cats and we welcome them to our yard with open arms to be on patrol.

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    SNAKES! NO! I, too, am terrified of snakes, even though I know our snakes are harmless. But they are so so so so so creepy. I hope someone has a good suggestion or you can find a landscape pro or something to help you solve this problem? I would have been SCREAMING if I saw that snake. Ack, it’s making me cringe just thinking about it!!

    I’m… hanging in there. As a planner, this has been really hard for me as you don’t know when it’s going to end and you can’t plan anything to look forward to. I’ll be so bummed if we can’t spend time at my parents lake home this summer. 🙁 Also, I feel like I can’t really take a day off, because what would I be doing with that day off when you can’t do anything? So everyone is going to just plug along and probably get really burned out in the process… My mood is at a solid ‘meh’. 😛

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    I am from Minnesota also and I had 2 garter snake inside my apartment last fall! I actually found it while putting on my running shoe. It was inside of my shoe!! I freaked out threw the shoe outside. The snake slithered away! The other was in the metal track of the patio door. I have no clue how they got inside but I check my shoes all the time now!

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    OMG. I hate snakes–doesn’t matter what size they are, I hate ’em. We’ve had trouble with them at our place. We bought Bonide Snake Stopper Snake Repellent because it’s one of the few available that’s safe to use in areas where kids & pets are. The only downside is that you have to reapply it after heavy rain or every two weeks. It doesn’t kill the snakes, it only drives them away, but it works. Fingers crossed you don’t encounter more snakes!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      I was going to say to buy some snake repellent from Home Depot or Lowes. I am from SC and we are used to snakes: many poisonous ones too. I will take your kind any day, however, I don’t won’t to see them in my house! I hope you find a solution to getting rid of the snakes.

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    Sadly – I think you will be fighting a losing battle with the snakes. Hopefully once the temps warm and they leave their winter nest, they’ll disburse to other yards. You’re in their territory with the woods and such and not a lot will change that. You could certainly talk to an exterminator about solutions, but my guess is that they’ll only be temporary. I am also not a fan and stepped on one barefoot at my family lake place when I was a kid. You know those cartoons where the character is running fast and all you see of their legs is a cloud of dust? Yeah, that happens in real life too. 😉 I lived in a house that would occasionally get one in the basement. So gross. You have my sympathies.

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    I feel the same way about snakes! We moved last year and also live in the woods. We saw 4 snakes last year. Our pest control guy doesn’t work in this area but was kind enough to tell us about a product that he believes in. It’s called Bird-X Nature’s Defense Organic Animal Repellent. You can find it on Amazon. My husband sprinkles it outside around our entire house. So far so good!

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    re: snakes. while i strangely would love to host a family of harmless garter snakes in my yard, i understand that not all people feel the same way..ha! i recommend contacting your local wildlife rehab! they are a great resource for humane removal/peaceful coexistence with any and all things wild. i’m not sure where in minnesota you are, but i follow wrcmn in roseville ( on instagram and they do awesome work! you should be able to give them a call and get some answers/info. you could also call the DNR or a humane wildlife control company for assistance. we have a company called skedaddle here in milwaukee that does awesome work…maybe there’s a similar company in minnesota you could work with. good luck!

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    Go online and order “Snake Away”. It will not harm them but will keep them away! They don’t like it! Works like a charm!

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    i hate snakes as well. we have them in our yard which is similarly wooded with a rock wall that they love. i even hate photos of snakes, so i’m nicely asking you to feel free to share your snake STORIES but please NO MORE SNAKE PHOTOS. can’t take it….. not kidding…..

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    Definitely riding the emotional roller coaster. Definitely navigating NEW everything- brain on overload- with virtual school for my small humans, and teaching synchronous University classes from my dining room while my husband also tries to work upstairs, worrying about our family and friends and the WORLD staying healthy and trying not to look too far ahead….I hear you. Working on positivity and HERE IS SOMETHING THAT HAS HELPED:

    We just keep the live stream of this nesting pair of bald eagles on ALL day. When the kids are frustrated, they go and check in with the eagles. I find myself watching them for minutes on end, and have started to learn their rhythm and when those two invested parents feed those three babies it’s just….!!! Just check it out!

  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    I love snakes. Since you don’t, one thing you could look into is sealing up as many of the little crevices in your rocks as possible. They’ll still get underneath, but having fewer places to hide will keep their numbers down. I’ve never had one get into the house, but then we have a dog who’s fascinated by them.

  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    January 31 was my last day out of my house other than two trips to the Doctor, and two trips for grocery pick up. I am going more that a bit stir crazy. House Party is an app I find easier to use than Zoom and it has games to play with the friends “in the house”. not physically, but on your screen. It’s snowing again in northern Indiana, ’bout normal for now. I have made 5 loaves of bread and 2 double batches of chocolate chip cookies… in a week! packing on the quarantine 15! stay safe everyone and wash your hands like you were going to meet RBG.

  16. Skillful Cook Logo

    We are… hanging in there. My husband started a job about a month ago after two years “unemployed” (he was caring for his 95-year-old father who still lived alone because he refused help, so my husband was actually frantically busy with doctor’s appointments and errands, but not getting paid a cent) and Monday he was laid off due to the health crisis. So there went our hope of financial recovery anytime soon. But today is my 39th birthday – my sister and her family brought us pizza from our favorite childhood restaurant last night and we all ate our own pies six feet apart, and tonight we’re ordering takeout from our fave local Mexican spot. Plus a local bakery makes giant Ho-Ho-like cakes; you can bet I ordered one of those! And my mom is making me a cake for a Sunday porch party (Sunday birthday parties are a tradition for our family…the porch part will be my special thing). We’re all still healthy, and we have each other. We’re okay. Looking forward to sunshine and good times… hopefully soon!!!

  17. Skillful Cook Logo

    I’m trying very hard to not freak out about everyone else here freaking out about snakes. They are valuable additions to any garden and help keep insect and rodent populations in check. They are more scared of you and mean you no harm, so let them have their space. Wooded backyards have all kinds of nature in it, which should be part of their beauty. You seem to be an open-minded, good-hearted person, so maybe just take a moment and really look at the next snake you meet, and try to see beyond your fear of it. Visit places where you can view snakes and maybe even touch them, like the MN Zoo. They are beautiful creatures worthy of our respect, not our hatred.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      @rebecca YES! I’m trying not to freak out too. LOL at everyone’s irrational fear of snakes…..garter snakes no less. I hope they can be left alone. If not, then HUMANELY removed. I live in the desert southwest. Lots of poisonous creatures here. Respect and live symbiotically with all on this earth. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  18. Skillful Cook Logo

    My husband and I have been doing FaceTime happy hours or FaceTime dinners with friends. Keeps us sane. And lots of long phone calls instead of quick texts with family and friends.

  19. Skillful Cook Logo

    Greetings from Canada
    Like everyone else I have good days and bad days. The hardest is not being able to hug my grandchildren at Easter or attend Sunday service. But our church did have a live feed and was able to attend mass on Sunday. That was comforting. But I felt that there was something that I needed to do to stay connected to my neighbors. Being inspired by a message from Joyce Meyer I decided to act on an idea to stay in touch with the outside world. I started to place messages of hope on my lawn. Easter Sunday was : “He Is Risen”.This week the message reads:“Together we are going to make it.” As everyone drives by they will see this sign.

    Remember keep safe. There is still to much living to be done.

    God Bless

  20. Skillful Cook Logo

    I love the irony of people moving to an area to embrace nature, and then not embracing nature. Garter snakes are harmless and beneficial, and like another poster mentioned, they’ll disperse once the weather warms up. If you’re really that freaked out about them, get some Safer Snake Away and be done with it.

  21. Skillful Cook Logo

    About the snakes…unless you are interested in getting rid of all the rockscaping you could look for something to control (aka…eat) the snakes. They make roosting boxes for owls, you could look into putting up a couple or you could get a cat. Just thoughts.

  22. Skillful Cook Logo

    Man oh man, this year. THIS YEAR. I have no words for it. Before COVID-19 started I lost someone very very dear to me and afterward, I felt like I lost myself. Typically I have these goals and ambitions in mind and suddenly, I couldn’t make a decision or pick a goal. I was, and still am to some extent, just floating directionless.

    The truth is, quarantine came at the right time for me. I needed that bubble of isolation to grieve, to feel all the feelings, and to slowly take one step at a time. I’m still torn between the “before” and “after”, if that makes sense. Like I want to do these things that I always did before, but it’s just not the same so I want to start a new norm but I realize I’m only staring a new norm because of my loss therefore I land squarely in the middle and choose nothing.

    People ask me if it’s getting easier. I’m never really sure what to tell them. It hurts the same, but I’m able to walk forward. Is that getting easier? I’m not so sure I’d classify it that way.

    So while in quarantine I’m able to sort through my feelings a bit more easily without the voices of others in my head. This is where the strong desire to write came from. I currently am an SEO content writer at my job, but I’m writing about the same subject day in and day out. I was feeling quite burned out on it. Last year I had started a blog about mental health to help with burn out. Buuuuuut the blog fell by the wayside after my loved one passed. I think I want to pick it back up, but holy moly is it hard. I haven’t been able to muster the strength yet. Honestly, Lindsey, I admire you so much for going back to your blog after your loss.

    So here’s what I have been doing: baking, cooking, starting to freelance write, and start working on a novel I wanted to write. I really want to finish that novel this year so fingers crossed for me! But let’s talk about cooking and baking because YUM!
    1. Air fried donuts. The dough was incredible. Do you like making bread and pastry dough? It’s one of my favorite things. The dough was so pillowy and marshmallowy and just felt good. But the donuts were only okay. A bit denser than they should be. I’ll have to go back to this recipe and see if I can make alterations.
    2. Pizza. My husband, Jacob, and I decided it was time to find the perfect pizza dough. We have made about 6 pizzas, changing up the recipe or rise time each time. Believe it or not, I’m not burned out on pizza. Give me a slice right now and I would be happy.
    3. Ang’s Tortellini Soup. Please give Ang a chocolate croissant for me because she lit up my life with this soup. So much deliciousness and comfort in a bowl that I can’t even.
    4. Quiche. The only words for this are MORE PLEASE.
    5. Sugar cookies and peanut butter cookies. So delicious and so addicting. I had to stop myself from making more right after we finished them. In fact, I may need to take a sugar hiatus after inhaling those cookies.

    This comment is crazy long! I know it. If you get to this sentence, thanks so much for reading through it 🙂 Sometimes words just fall out of your head and onto paper (virtual paper?) as if they always needed to go there.

  23. Skillful Cook Logo

    Lindsay, I hear you about snakes…not my favorite reptile either….I grew up around rattlesnakes!! But garter snakes are a much more benign and beneficial snake. They are actually good for your garden and eat slugs….then clean up other pests as well. Please rethink having them in the garden…but do check under and in the house.

  24. Skillful Cook Logo

    My weeks are flip-flopped with yours – this one felt harder to me than last. I think it’s mainly because I’m pregnant and the weight of not knowing what life will be like when it’s time to deliver is starting to hit me and make me anxious. But the sun is out today, and I’ll tell you – taking walks through our (quiet, suburban) neighborhood with my 1.5 y/o has been SAVING me!