Hello from home, loves.
We wanted to extend some affection and support from afar, as each of us travels through this time of crisis and fear in our own way. As a small press, we feel the future's uncertainty and the current moment's overwhelming sense of "what can we possibly do to help?"
Though we know not everyone has the privilege to stay at home, (THANK YOU to our healthcare professionals, grocers, pet store workers, et. al.) many of us who work in "non-essential" jobs are in a state of mandated quarantine, and we don't know how long it will last. While it's easy and perhaps necessary at times to enter into survival mode, it is just as important to care for ourselves in the "non-essential" ways that nurture our minds and our souls.
The Host Publications team has been compiling a list of resources, recipes, tips for working from home, reading lists, playlists and more to offer you, our beloved community, in hopes that it will lift your spirits and give you a few more tools to navigate these uncertain, and often lonely times.
This post will be the first in a series, and includes: a giving opportunity for those of us who are able to give back to our health care workers and boost local businesses, a rustic bread recipe from Editor Claire Bowman, and tips for working from home from Julie Howd, author of the beautiful chapbook Threshold.
We want you to know that we are here for you. We want to connect with you now more than ever, so please feel free to share your thoughts, experiences, coping mechanisms, hopes for the future, or whatever you feel moved to share!
A Giving Opportunity
Here's an amazing project by local poet Katherine Noble which supports hospital staff and gives business to local restaurants:
Katherine is currently running a donation drive to buy food from local Austin restaurants to provide large meals for health care workers, from doctors to nurses to custodial and cafeteria staff members, who are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. It's a good way to help struggling restaurants we love and give some love to the health care workers who are putting their lives on the line to keep us healthy and save lives!
If you’re interested in donating to the cause, you can contribute via Venmo (@Katherine-Noble). Katherine suggests chipping in $12, which buys one large pepperoni pizza, but that any amount at all will be a huge help!
A Simple No-Knead Bread Recipe from Editor Claire Bowman:
Bread-making has always been a calming activity for me. Now more than ever, I love the way only the simple ingredients of water, yeast, salt & flour come together to create something magical & nourishing; even just the smell of fresh-baked bread feels rejuvenating! This recipe makes a delicious, chewy rustic loaf that will only cost a few cents to make. With the extra time on my hands, I find myself making this loaf at least once a week, and if you make it too, please feel free to post pics on social media and tag us, we'd love to see your handiwork!
If adding herbs or other ingredients, fold in here. Cover and let rise at room temperature for at least 8 hours (can go overnight.)
Preheat oven to 450°F. Place a Dutch oven into the preheated oven for 30 minutes.
While the Dutch oven heats, turn the dough onto a generously floured surface (I recommend parchment paper if you have it) and shape into a ball with floured hands. Cover loosely and let rise for 30 minutes.
Place dough (parchment paper and all) into heated Dutch oven, cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and let cook uncovered for 8 minutes. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before you dig in! I highly recommend eating a warm slice with either a slathering of butter and honey, or olive oil with salt and herbs. 🧡
Tips for Working From Home from Julie Howd, author of Threshold:
- Maintain your usual pre-work activities. The mind and the body love routine. Whatever you did before heading to work normally, continue doing that while working from home. If all you did before going into the office was shower and get dressed, do that. If you went for a 2-mile run, wrote a poem, meditated, let your mind swirl in the abyss for an hour, continue to do so each day to prime yourself for work.
- Change your clothes. As tempting as it is to stay in your pajamas all day, the act of changing your clothes—even if it's just into a new pair of sweatpants—can help signal to your psyche that we're getting into work mode. And, if you have never identified as a sweatpants-wearer, prepare to do so now.
- Practice personal hygiene. Okay, so you may not need to shower every day when you're not working elbow to elbow with others, but freshening up in the morning can help wake you up and give you a sense of purpose. Things can get pretty hairy in quarantine as well—so don't be startled at the sight of the creature that shows up in your mirror on day 14. I promise, you are still in there somewhere. Consider some light grooming now and then if it helps your mental wellbeing.
- Set up a designated work zone. That means don't work in bed, on the couch, or anywhere else you normally relax. If you're lucky enough to have a spare bedroom, use that as your office. Otherwise, set up a designated workspace—even if it's just a desk against the wall of your living room or the kitchen table—and protect that space from the other creatures in your home. Use headphones if necessary as a way to divide you from them. I find lo-fi hiphop channels on YouTube are great for productivity.
- Go for walks. To keep from becoming a full-blown cabin creature, take breaks from work to go outside on a walk. Leave your phone behind and listen to the birds and look around at the trees and remember that there is a whole beautiful universe outside your walls.
- Make use of leftovers. You don't want to spend your entire lunch break cooking when you could use that valuable time on other things to help maintain your sanity (see tip 5). Make a big dinner and save the extra to reheat for lunch the next day.
- Create micro-distractions. This is unpopular advice, as you'll see most articles recommend eliminating distractions when working from home. However, I find that I actually become hyper-focused when working from home and don't give myself enough breaks from the screen. When I'm in the office, there are plenty of built-in distractions due to the physical presence of other people. Remind yourself (or set a timer) to get up and stretch, do a set of squats, stare off into the distance, etc. every hour or so. You are not a machine. You are not a machine. You are not a machine.