Lifestyle & Culture

Isolation Shopping

April 16, 2020

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IF THERE WAS ever any doubt, now we know what Americans will do in a lockdown: bake and shop.

Especially shop. My sister, Pat, calls it “sending myself little presents” while she’s stuck at home, and she’s not wrong, the only difference being the credit-card bill at the end of the month. At a time when we can’t get together with friends or extended family; when we’ve baked until we’re out of flour; seen “Frozen” more times than the animators who drew the movie have (I stole that line from Jimmy Kimmel); and it’s sketchy to go out to the few stores that are open, online shopping is a more worthy diversion than it usually is on a dull Sunday at midnight.

The shopping stops short of being glamorous, for sure. Some prized items are borne of today’s necessity (LittleBird Kathy’s barber scissors?) or an abundance of caution, otherwise known as paranoia (my sister’s oxygen monitor?); others are things we’ve been meaning to buy for a long time, especially after spending all of our waking hours staring at that empty corner of the front yard (hence my sister’s new Old-Fashioned Smoke Tree, $29.99, shipping from Spring Hill Nurseries on April 27). A less permanent purchase is neighbor Pat’s: a 4-pound bag of Tootsie Pops, $24.99. There’s a woman who has her priorities straight. And my personal favorite: friend Jane’s purchase of a needlepoint canvas that’s a portrait of Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg!

Feel free to chime in in the Comments box. What have you been buying? Is it out of boredom or something you’re finally getting around to focusing on? I think we all want to compare notes.

—Nancy McKeon

LEFT: Pat, a friend in Bethesda, Maryland, looked around her kitchen and saw how her cutting boards were “looking grungy.” Opting for cheap and cheerful, she headed over to Amazon and bought two flexible clear mats for $6.29. Needed or not, it’s hard to care at that price.

CENTER: Pat, who says she’s too old to go to the grocery store in this climate, also went online to find “elbow macaroni” for a neighbor who wanted to make mac and cheese. Using De Cecco Cavatappi (they’re ridged, which may be why De Cecco calls them cavatappi: it means “corkscrews”) will certainly elevate the comfort food into something even heartier.

Pat also reports that she ordered a six-pack of 10-count Crystal Light On-the-Go Natural Lemonade for $18 and up from Amazon, mostly because she’s too embarrassed to ask neighbors (see “too old to go to the grocery store,” above) to buy her some more Barq’s Diet Root Beer, which is what she really craves but now knows can also be bought through Amazon.

RIGHT: Pat my sister, not Pat my friend, was reading something that suggested the resin-composition knob on her Le Creuset Dutch Oven might not survive in a very, very hot oven (it’s okay up to 450 degrees, the company says). So, over to the Le Creuset site she went and bought the Signature Stainless Steel Knob, on sale for $14.40 to $19.20, depending on size. Cheaper than at a cookware store. So she didn’t spend all that time typing for that alone, she also bought a Signature Deep Dutch Oven, $200. I didn’t ask her which color.



LEFT: Rusticating in isolation (with family) in a West Virginia farmhouse led LittleBird Kathy to seek comfort from the feet up. Hence these Women’s Daybreak Scuffs, $64 at L.L. Bean. If a dog isn’t your thing, you should know there’s also a cat (dark red slipper with a charcoal gray cat), mossy green with a brown moose, mossy green with a brown-and-gray squirrel and other critters and motifs (sun, fir trees, turtle, butterflies).

RIGHT: In case anyone doesn’t know that dogs are close to Kathy’s heart, this purchase should seal the deal. It’s a fabric Frisbee from MuttNation, country singer Miranda Lambert’s foundation supporting dog rescues. The purchase is through Tractor Supply Company and it costs $6.99. But Kathy currently has four dogs so she bought several.

LEFT: One of friend (not sister) Pat’s friends decided a tennis trainer was what she needed. We couldn’t find the exact one she bought on Amazon, but there are at least 30 versions, from about $8 up. The idea is that if you don’t have a wall to hit against, the elastic string attached to the weighted base of the trainer will return whatever you send its way. This one, the SoloT Tennis Trainer, is $24.95 through Amazon. (Couldn’t you fashion something like this yourself? Sure. Maybe. But would you?)

RIGHT: The current baking frenzy has both sister (not friend) Pat and me dealing with hardened brown sugar. As it so often does, King Arthur Flour has the answer, an Airtight Brown Sugar Keeper, $12.95. The secret to keeping brown sugar from hardening is moisture, which you probably know, but if you’re tired of replacing that nasty damp paper towel in the brown sugar box, this may be a more elegant solution. The Keeper holds up to 2 pounds. You do have to soak the terra-cotta disc housed in the lid periodically. If you already have a container, you may prefer the King Arthur Flour Brown Sugar Saver, which is a 2½-inch version of the disc alone and is $6.95.


LEFT: LittleBird Kathy has a serious kitchen jones these days. She just gifted herself this Chef’n Mini Juicester, which has two sizes of citrus reamer and its own “juicing cup,” which has measurements marked on it. All that on sale for $6.36 at Williams-Sonoma.

RIGHT: Necessity may also be the mother of shopping. Tweezerman’s Stainless 2000 Shears, $28, will be a godsend until the hairdressers and barbers are back in business.


MyLittleBird often includes links to products we write about. Our editorial choices are made independently; nonetheless, a purchase made through such a link can sometimes result in MyLittleBird receiving a commission on the sale, whether through a retailer, an online store or

5 thoughts on “Isolation Shopping

  1. Nancy G says:

    We’re ordering out at least once a week from our local favorites. But I’ve also ordered a new knife from Mizen, a new Dutch oven from Sur la Table, and some clothes. Jeans are always “needed” aren’t they?

  2. Nancy McKeon says:

    I do look forward to the Ballard Designs catalogue. Just browsing makes me feel better, even when I finally decide against. I did pull the trigger earlier this year for this Aviary Etagere for my bedroom (also I just like the fact that Ballard has a whole “etagere” category!):
    It’s certainly the right time to be outfitting your home office–enjoy it!

  3. Nancy McKeon says:

    Awright! so MyLittleBird performed a community service! Happy to hear it.

  4. Kate Perrin says:

    To support some of our favorite restaurants we order dinner from one or two a week. And I order yummy indulgences like the divine Hope’s Caramels as I feel (too often) compelled. But on a grander scale, my drop in net worth and delay in being able to get the project started caused me to rethink built-in bookshelves and cabinets for my home office in favor of a marvelous sale with free delivery from Ballard. My new cabinets with hutches above for books and bibelots arrive next week!

  5. Terri says:

    My tennis playing neighbor was very excited to learn about the training item

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