Good morning, lovely readers! Normally, I’d have an end-of-week book review for you today, but honestly, what’s normal these days? Unless you live in one of the states that is not following stay-at-home guidelines, you’ve likely been cooped up with family or on your own for weeks. Either way, it’s draining. Also, in my case, it’s leading to a repeat of the kinds of behavior (above) that got me into trouble as a very little girl. Of course, it was also the beginning of my relationship with my one true love—chocolate.
All this uncertainty about what lies ahead, coupled with a lack of real leadership, isn’t helping so I’ve decided to do something different today. Aside from posting a silly picture of myself. I got email earlier this week from a reader asking about a book. It was such a delight to hear from someone I have never met and will probably never meet, but who shares the same love. So, I thought I’d write a bit about what I’ve been doing to keep my anxiety in check and then turn the comments over to you.
Puzzles are awesome (even when they’re frustrating) because they engage your mind in a different way. Plus, they’re great whether you’re alone or have a group (unless you’re with people who have VERY specific ideas as to how a puzzle should be assembled). You can also stop and start whenever you want. I feel as if a puzzle exchange is a great idea because what do you do with a puzzle once you’ve finished it?
This option is a bit more fraught with peril. I re-taught myself how to knit during the Democratic primaries because my head was going to explode (so you can imagine where I am now). I knew I wouldn’t invest in expensive yarn until I mastered the basics and had a real project so these are acrylic. The pink is a free-form ‘baby blanket’ and was fun, but then 1) I ran out of yarn and 2) Michigan went into lockdown. So, I bought the top yarn online. BIG mistake. I hate the texture and the colors are, well, kind of hideous, but I can’t buy any more yarn! I’m going to work on my skills and use this up until the stores re-open. Then I’ll treat myself to something lovely.
For all you knitters out there, feel free to laugh. I’m using Google to try and find answers about my mistakes (because, hello, I can’t go to the library for books or join a knitting group!). I don’t understand why the sides or bottoms (beginning) of the pieces curl. I’ve tried looser tension, but with no luck. Is it just because it’s acrylic?
Finally, the one subject on which I could teach a Master’s class: the fine art of watching television to avoid the real world (unless you’re watching the Real World, which is awesome). Here’s a list of some of my favorite shows and where to find them.
- The Good Place (previous seasons on Netflix, NBC)
- The Office (literally everywhere), Parks & Recreation (Netflix)
- Grace and Frankie (Netflix)
- Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce (Netflix- later seasons got weak)
- Insecure (HBO)
- The Politician (Netflix)
- Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)
- The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon Prime)
- Ballers (HBO)
- Top Chef (new season just started on Bravo)
- Formula 1 The Drive to Survive (Netflix- fascinating series about the race car circuit with good looking drivers)
- The Great British Baking Show (Netflix, PBS)
- The Challenge: Total Madness (MTV)
- RuPaul’s Drag Race (VH1)
Really Bad Reality, but Addictive:
- The Tiger King (Netflix)
- anything on Bravo- The Real Housewives, Million Dollar Listing, Shahs of Sunset, Southern Charm
- Married at First Sight (TLC)
- Before the 90 Days (TLC)
Dark but Great:
- The Mindhunter (Netflix)
- Ozark (Netflix)
- When They See Us (Netflix)
- Bloodline (Netflix)
- The Man in the High Castle (Amazon Prime)
- The Wire (HBO)
- Six Feet Under (HBO- all around outstanding)
- Big Little Lies (HBO)
- Chernobyl (HBO)
- Breaking Bad (Netflix)
- Better Call Saul (AMC, Netflix)
- Versailles (Netflix)
- The Crown (Netflix)
- The Tudors (Netflix)
- Cheer (Netflix)
- Making of a Murderer (Netflix)
- Inside Bill’s Brain (Netflix)
- Miss Americana (Netflix)
- Abducted in Plain Sight (Netflix)
- 7 Days Out (Netflix)
- The Mind of Aaron Hernandez (Netflix)
- This is Football (Amazon Prime)
I know there are lots of you out there. You may not feel comfortable commenting on books, but I would love to hear about who you are. Or where you are. What are you doing these days? Anything you want to share.
We’re all isolated now and need community more than ever so please comment!
Joy McElroy says
Thanks for a great read. 🙂 I don’t know you, of course, but as soon as I read, “a lack of real leadership” and “during the democratic primaries” I knew I liked you. 🙂
Your knitting looks great. I don’t knit. I tried to crochet, I really tried, but I just don’t seem to have the knack. My grandmother and my (adult) daughter crochet beautifully and prolifically. Guess it skipped a generation. I sew well; I guess that’s where my fiber talents landed.
Thanks for the ideas of what to watch these days. I’m also going to look through some of your previous book recommendations.
Welcome and thank you for stopping by! If you start looking at any of my reviews from 2016 onward you’ll see I’m not good at keeping politics away from my blog. I try, I really do, but the last 3 1/2 years have been tough and this pandemic highlights even more how unfit the administration is. I don’t want someone’s son-in-law trying to cure a virus!
I tried crocheting because my grandmother used to do it and her fingers moved so fast, but the movement was completely foreign to me. It looks like magic so I’ll stick with knitting.
Please let me know if you find anything great to read!
Linda S. says
Hi Catherine, This is a fun post and thank you for the TV lists. I have just started watching “Breaking Bad” after several people recommended it. You are right it is dark but I am enjoying it. My husband and I have worked 3 jigsaw puzzles, and they are a good way to pass the time. My mother, age 86, has a puzzle going at all times, and it is her main source of entertainment. In my reading world, I am reading “The Count of Monte Cristo” and it is going well. My husband recently read it so we are having some nice discussions, except when he tells me too much, ha. Thank you for your blog and all the time you put into it; your reviews are so well done. I also enjoy listening to you on Sarah’s Bookshelves Live podcast.
Thank you so much for commenting and your support of my blog! I love hearing from readers.
We only had one puzzle in the house! I ordered 3 more but who knows when they’ll get here because the whole country has finally figured out what fun they are.
Breaking Bad is so good. Some of the best TV I’ve ever watched. You have so much great viewing ahead.
How fun to read with your husband. Mine doesn’t read much. He listens to books, but only mysteries so we don’t overlap a lot.
Take care, stay safe!
Our family watched Tiger King last weekend. We were all shaking our heads…. my youngest daughter and I are watching Jane the Virgin which is totally mindless and what I need right now. I love your list, and will have to look at more of those shows, especially since I’m pretty sure we’ll finish Jane before we are through being isolated.
I did read three books this week, so maybe my attention span is returning a bit. One was The Goldfinch. So long. Good, but now I’m ready for something else. The other was the new middle grade book by Rebecca Stead (I think it’s called The List of Things That Will Not Change…or something like that), and the new Julia Spencer Fleming which I’ve been waiting for for six years.
Yay to reading 3 books! I’m finding that my reading is coming back as well, but writing is getting harder every day. Which is not good for the blog!
The Goldfinch is some really dense reading. I loved it, but it was slow going. Did you see the movie?
Tiger King was horrifying in its way. By the time it was done I realized the only real victims were the animals. All of the humans were dreadful- although I looked up Baskin’s work and apparently it is legitimate.
Susie | Novel Visits says
I’m impressed that you taught yourself to knit. I tried a few years ago with very little luck.
Thanks for the list of shows. I’m always looking for new ideas there. The design show like Project Runway are always among my favorites and Prime has a new one, Making the Cut. It has brought back the Heidi Klum/Tim Gunn team and I’m really enjoying that one.
The Great British Baking show has become the thing I watch in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep!
I adore Tim Gunn so that is really making me question a Prime membership. Sigh.
British Baking is the best. They are so soothing. You just made me realize almost everything I’ve looked at for knitting- yarn, books etc- is out of Great Britain. They seem to have a monopoly on gentle hobbies!
We might be twins! First of all: Chocolate! I’m also doing a 1000 piece puzzle (we have similar ideas on the proper way), you’ve listed some of our very favorite tv shows, and I’m a knitter. I set it aside when we got caught up in moving to a different state and planned our daughters wedding but I dug out my yarn and started up again. I also unearthed a cross stitch project done on linen. (Luckily I have a magnifier lamp )
-I ordered a Let’s Make Art watercolor box to learn something new
-I have an adult coloring book with good pencils and gel pens (Fabre-Castell, Prismacolor, and Sakura gel pens) Mandelas are particularly soothing and stress reducing. It’s the closest thing to meditation I can do.
-I zoom with my granddaughters daily to read to them. So fun!
-On Saturday’s we have a zoom cocktail hour with our daughter and son-in-law. We chat while we eat snacks and drink. Also fun!
-I talk and text with friends a lot
-2 pm daily OH governor and Dr Acton press conference: Wine with DeWine and Snackin’ with Acton
Re knitting questions there’s a social media site for knitters called Ravelry. It’s easy to sign up and you can post questions there. You can upload pics too. I’m JanB37 and under the notebook tab on my page you can see some of my finished pieces!
Also you’ve probably seen this since you’ve googled but:
Good luck! I like your projects and would never laugh!
Thank you for this awesome reply- so much great information! I only looked at one curling answer because it felt so overwhelming so I’ll definitely check out these links. Also, I love that you have yarn to “dig out”. I saw someone on Instagram with a yarn closet and I was deeply jealous. The yarn I’m using is from Michael’s and it’s not dreadful just because it’s acrylic (which can be nice and soft!), but because the dye is marred with black streaks. I’d return it, but it’s too late.
You sound as if you are doing a fantastic job with stay-at-home! So many fun options. For me, working out and meditating are the best options for my anxiety, but even they don’t work all the time.
Haha….I only have a plastic bin not a closet but I love looking at yarn porn and dreaming.
I forgot to mention the Headspace meditation app, which I love. It’s all about controlling the anxiety and trying to get a good night’s sleep these days, right?
Good luck with the curling issue, let me know if you find a solution!
Stay well Catherine!
At this point, I’m just knitting to do something with my hands and keep my brain quiet. I can’t wait until I can get a different yarn. Is there anywhere online that you do buy yarn?
I use the Insight Timer app for meditation and love it. It still helps, but I feel like I’m stretching it to the limit!
Happy yo! Here are some of my favorite online shops:
I hope you find something you like. My problem is I find too much I like
I do the same. Lots of highs and lows and a constant struggle to control the thoughts and anxiety 🙁
Oh thank you, you are SO kind!! I just unraveled the pink baby blanket pictured in my blog post. I hate the other yarn so much I don’t want to knit anything else with it.
Thanks for the list on the shows — will try some out. Right now at night we’re watching Season 3 of The Crown and Season 8 of Homeland. Both are good escape. Pre-pandemic we really liked Big Little Lies (both seasons) and Chernobyl (which was amazingly done but too dark for now). You did a great job with the Shakespeare puzzle, Wow! Puzzles can be very soothing — while listening to music or an audio. I hear they are hard to get these days on Amazon. I’ve done one easy 350 piece one, ha. We are fine here — staying cooped up and trying not to drive each other nuts. Weather still with light snowflakes. It seems Michigan has been hit hard … so I hope you staying well.
The Crown is so fabulous! Nothing can beat the costumes from seasons 2 and 3, but the stories from the later seasons are just as fascinating.
It is a bit bizarre to track the pandemic via Amazon. First, toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Then, any kind of at-home workout equipment (I know because I was trying to buy adjustable weights). Then, jigsaw puzzles and coloring books. Now, I’m hearing hair clippers and hair coloring kits! Which is a subject for all of us who no longer remember our natural hair color. I think I’m going to take the virus as my cue to let it go and go gray.
We veer between 60 degrees (Wed) and snow (Fri). Michigan has been hit very hard, largely due to the black population. More underlying medical conditions, less healthcare, everything that racism in this country has perpetuated for decades. Thankfully, we do have strong guidance from our governor- unlike those in the red states that have not locked down. Sorry, it makes me really angry. We’re all ultimately going to pay for the actions of the few and the selfish.
Lauren O'Brien says
Ok, I’ll play, because I love me some television. Unfortunately, I’ve been watching nothing much but Puppy TV
Light-Hearted: I don’t watch much of this. I’ve been watching BETTER THINGS because a friend was on it. I love Pamela Adlon, but I want to murder all of her children, who are on the list of worst TV children ever. I loved THE GOOD PLACE, but for some reason delayed watching this last season. I finally watched the first two eps and left the rest. Unsure why.
Good Reality: Survivor, Cabins in the Wild, Top Chef
Pretty Bad, But Addictive: I don’t know how I got onto Very Cavallari. I never watched any of her previous shows and really have little idea who she is. But I like her, and being a huge football fan I was curious to see Jay Cutler and he is the funniest thing on earth. So, I’m hooked. Also Tiger King, despite my brain telling me it’s horrible.
Dark, But Great: This is usually my wheelhouse, but I’m really not watching anything right now. I’m with you on Breaking Bad/Saul and many of these others and can’t wait to dive into the new Ozark season. The Outsider was pretty good, but I’ve not seen the finale and I hear it’s eh. The Sinner started out great this season, but has slipped a bit and now disappeared. I also started Little Fired Everywhere because I loved the novel. It’s not grabbing me. Part of it is that I’ve decided I can’t watch Kerry Washington. I used to love her in the first few seasons of her show, but when she tries to be serious and tough she gets this perpetual sneer on her face that just ruins her acting for me. I’m sure I’ll finish the series, but I wish I loved it more. Maybe I will by the end. Oh! I’m also ready for the new Bosch season to begin.
Documentary: OMG CHEER. I am not a cheerleading fan. I was a jock before girl jocks were cool and they never saw fit to cheer for or care about us. But this show knocked my socks off. The “boys” were so fascinating and fantastic. I really enjoyed this show and have recommended it several times. I watched one of the 485 Ted Bundy docs (The Bundy Tapes maybe?) and it was interesting. I had to ask my mother if she remembers that time, because while I certainly knew who Ted Bundy was, I had no CLUE he escaped twice.
Well, my list actually turned out pretty boring. Lol.
Your sweet puppy is my lifesaver! I recommended your IG feed to a friend in Germany who needs happy places only (she’s 5 months pregnant).
There’s no such thing as a boring list these days! I don’t know a couple of these shows so will have to check them out. Cheer was insane, right? I was prejudiced because when I was in school all they did was bounce around and act like mean girls, but these girls? Personalities aside, they are hard core athletes. There is no way I’d ever let myself be hoisted up and flung around like that. I’d be terrified!
So interesting you say that about Kerry Washington. I’ve never really liked anything she’s in and maybe that’s it.
Lauren O'Brien says
Oh, I’ve been talking with her, she’s super nice! Thanks for connecting us.
I’m glad he’s helping. He is a joy, but man, I am run ragged. Lol. He’s CUTTING INTO MY TV TIME, CATHERINE!!
I totally agree re CHEER. I like rollercoasters and you’d never get me to do that shit. I don’t trust anyone enough to catch me.
I’m disappointed, because I really love Celeste’s work, but she drives me batshit (KW, not Celeste, who is wonderful).
Uh oh…reduced TV time? Can’t you park him in front of an iPad like every other frazzled parent?
We just started the newest season of Ozark and wow, do they know how to mess with your mind.
What a fun list. I haven’t watched a ton of tv during this time, mostly because my son is awake or nearby most of the day, and a lot of things aren’t suitable for an eight year old! But he has watched Great British Baking Show with us and some of the comedies you’ve got on your list. One day I’ll watch all that dark tv everyone talks about all the time, LOL. One reality show that I’ve fallen in love with recently is The Repair Shop on a Netflix. It’s incredibly sweet and soothing, and I like the people who do the repairs.
I’ve heard wonderful things about that show. Kind of like the bakers, but repairs. What is it about the British that is so soothing?!
SueAnne Robinson says
Thank you for posting all of these. I think we are all desperate for shows! In the very light category I’d add Dollface which is on Hulu and Zoey’s Imaginary Playlist on NBC.
Thank you for commenting! I’ve wondered about Zoey so will add that to my DVR.
Lauren O'Brien says
Did my lengthy reply to this disappear? Criminy. I’ll just say re UK comfort viewing, check out Netflix’s Cabins in the Wild.
No, it’s there as is my reply. That pup is messing with your mind! I’ll look for that show!