Best life upgrades in a pandemic world?
January 25, 2021 6:02 PM   Subscribe

Is there anything you've purchased, any classes or hobbies you've started, or practices you've adopted that have seriously upgraded your life during this pandemic?

The things that have upgraded my life the most are finally caving and getting Netflix and Crave, buying a switch, premium Spotify, making better meals, getting warm blankets to sit under while watching films, and reading more. After a long rough patch of insomnia I'm feeling like I might want to take some online classes. What things would you say have made your life better, and more bearable, during all this?
posted by everydayanewday to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (57 answers total) 106 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I signed up for Stitchfix and am slowly replacing my threadbare/poorly fitting wardrobe with comfortable clothes I actually like wearing. It's making me feel better about myself than sitting around in the same jammies every day, and also like I'll be presentable/fashionable whenever this is finally over and I can see people again.

I also got very into gardening last year, and now is the right time to order seeds and equipment if you're starting them indoors. A $15 grow light, $10 heat pad, and cheap seed starting trays are all you need, aside from the soil.
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:10 PM on January 25, 2021 [17 favorites]

Regular exercise, specifically Pilates. I let my routine go at the beginning and starting having a lot of tightness and back pain from living in a chair. Starting back up has helped a lot (better moods, energy, etc. too).

I took an online class too; that ended up stressing me out more than it helped but I wouldn’t recommend against it, especially if you have the time. Or it’s something you really like.

I used to hate joggers because my philosophy was that if I was wearing sweatpants, they’d be REALLY comfy sweatpants. Now that I WFH I actually like having a little dressier sweatpants.
posted by stoneandstar at 6:11 PM on January 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

Exercise equipment that I use consistently. I have had some stuff at home before but lacked consistency, and mostly walked and rode my bike and ran sometimes. I'm missing all the additional movement of being out and about in the world (I'm working from home) but now am finally getting into a regular routine where I am building muscle with a barbell and weights, in addition to walks and sometimes riding my bike. Being able to take care of my physical health -- after letting go a bit over the summer and early fall -- has been a big help this winter, even as we've had a Covid surge and I have faced a lot of additional stress. I'd get some kind of home exercise bike set up if I wanted to spend even more.
posted by bluedaisy at 6:11 PM on January 25, 2021 [3 favorites]

A desk chair with a fancy cushion by TermpurPedic...and not because it's soft but because it's tall.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:12 PM on January 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

I also changed my home brewing from "not really making beer anymore" to "making small, one-gallon batches of mead and putting it into 8-ounce bottles" so I can have just one wee drink without gaining weight and descending into full-blown alcoholism.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:14 PM on January 25, 2021 [6 favorites]

I made a paludarium with a little waterfall inside. My world inside is a little richer and more beautiful, and I have more control of that space than anywhere else - but it's still complex enough to be surprising.
posted by amtho at 6:20 PM on January 25, 2021 [12 favorites]

Wow, I was literally just about to make a similar Ask...

Thanks to this thread, I upgraded my coffee maker and am impressed by how much better my coffee tastes (my old machine was $60, the new one $120 on sale). Certainly a quality of life improvement that was worth it.
posted by coffeecat at 6:21 PM on January 25, 2021 [4 favorites]

We bought ring fit for the Switch, and I LOVE it! I also bought myself an Oodie- and then more Oodies for my family because that's how surprisingly awesome they are. Oh and a martini book so we can try a bunch of fun new drinks, and associated alcohols/syrups since we didn't have much around before. I have cold-triggered asthma and live in a cold climate so this didn't help me, but a friend bought her 3 kids super high quality winter gear & full sets of long underwear so they could spend more time outside and she said it saved their sanity.
posted by DTMFA at 6:29 PM on January 25, 2021 [3 favorites]

- daily meditation
- daily exercise routine
- I stopped eating sugar at the end of December, and like many people who stop eating sugar, I feel the need to tell everyone about how I'm not eating sugar. This is kind of a hobby.
- writing workshop on zoom

Because of corona, I have less free time than I normally would, but I started using Streaks when I was on vacation and have kept it going even though I'm busy now. Streaks and Freedom were two of my best pandemic buys.
posted by betweenthebars at 6:44 PM on January 25, 2021 [14 favorites]

Best answer: A Hello Fresh Subscription. I'm learning a few new recipes, eating better and it releaves a little of that OMG what's for dinner stress. What I love best is it's resetting my idea of portion sizes which got way out of whack over lockdown.
posted by wwax at 6:45 PM on January 25, 2021 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I bought my son a PlayStation, which I never thought that I'd do. Now he plays online with his friends while they talk. It's become almost all of his social interaction.

I've indulged in high-quality tea blends, the nicest flannel sheets from L.L. Bean, an electric mattress pad, and a subscription to the New York Times.

I've also joined a craft group which meets weekly on Zoom, and look forward to the monthly live Risk! Storytelling shows also on Zoom, which allow for interactive chat between the audience and the storytellers.
posted by mezzanayne at 6:47 PM on January 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

My air fryer and instant pot have helped me strike a workable balance of not spending my life cooking/eating food I actually want to eat. I actually just bought myself an ice-cream-maker for similar foodie reasons, but can't report on that yet.

Also yoga (I love yoga Selection videos, they are wonderful and have revolutionized my practice) and meditation. And a Scribd subscription and Mango Languages (I can get that one free through my library) are helping me feel like I'm spending my downtime in a constructive way.
posted by lgyre at 6:49 PM on January 25, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I find I'm surprisingly motivated by the activity tracker on my Apple watch and I'm sure it's made a difference in getting me up and moving when I wasn't otherwise feeling up for it. It's not so much the daily tracker, although it's helpful but the monthly challenges that keep me going. Also started Yoga with Adrienne this month and love it, although I don't do it everyday. But even if I'm only 6 days in on the 30 day jan program that's 6 more days of yoga than I did earlier in the pandemic.
posted by snowymorninblues at 7:30 PM on January 25, 2021 [5 favorites]

I went back to loose-leaf teas. I also bought a camper early last summer, and it made our summer and fall in a pandemic absolutely fun.
posted by COD at 7:42 PM on January 25, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: My wife just got me a 15-lb weighted blanket (with geese on it!), and I love it so much. So comforting and grounding when things start getting overwhelming.

I also happened to get a Switch a few months before Covid got underway, and it's been a lifesaver. I know you said you already have one, but if you haven't gotten Animal Crossing I highly recommend it. It kept me sane this fall while wildfires surrounded us and the existential election dread was ramping up, and I still start my weekend days with a nice stroll around my island.

Oh, and lately we've started treating ourselves to the occasional bag of nice coffee, usually from one of our local roasters. I'm usually someone who's happy with Folgers or what-not, but it really has felt like a treat to brew up a cup of something tastier.
posted by DingoMutt at 7:43 PM on January 25, 2021 [2 favorites]

(And I just told my wife about this question and she thinks I should add our electric heated shoulder wrap as a recommended upgrade. She's not wrong - I keep it at my desk and have it on pretty much any time I'm not on Zoom; it's weighty and warm and so very soothing)
posted by DingoMutt at 7:46 PM on January 25, 2021 [7 favorites]

I just bought a huge pack of velvet no-slip clothes hangers and apparently I am now at the age where this brings me great joy. Throwing out a vast collection of bent, broken and otherwise grody clothes hangers was surprisingly cathartic. My wardrobe is still a mess, but at least things aren't cascading onto the floor into The Pile of Wrinkled Suckage.
posted by ninazer0 at 8:36 PM on January 25, 2021 [14 favorites]

Best answer: A heating pad for the cat, so that she can be content without constant pets from her constantly-home human.

New sweatpants. They’re nothing fancy, but the new fleece feel is amazing.

An e-reader. So much nicer than reading on my phone and killing its battery.
posted by momus_window at 8:59 PM on January 25, 2021 [4 favorites]

Yardwork Sundays. We've been doing this for months, now. It's three households and we switch off. Everybody brings loppers and clippers and we work for two hours. Our yards look completely different, now. It has become my favorite two hours of the week. One of us has an elderly dog who participates by snoozing in her little wagon while we work. We do three Sundays in a row and then there's a week off. Sometimes we start late if it's really cold or cancel if it rains. At least one participant should have a weed wrench so you can take turns tearing out small trees by the roots. Very cathartic.

velvet no-slip clothes hangers
Concur: they are great! Do you know the pulltab lifehack? It made it possible for me to cram two people's wardrobes into one miserably tiny closet.
posted by Don Pepino at 9:05 PM on January 25, 2021 [14 favorites]

I got a bicycle. Being able to get out without driving has been a lifesaver. And cycling day trips with my husband have been an absolute joy. Even just toodling a few meters back and forth outside my home helps when anxiety bites. There's something about the rhythm of cycling that's very soothing.
posted by Zumbador at 9:41 PM on January 25, 2021 [5 favorites]

Blue Apron subscription plus a new, nice chef's knife. The meal kit subscription relieves me of so much mental load re meal planning, and keeps me from wasting food by buying too much for a single person to consume before it goes bad. And the nice chef's knife improves the whole process of cooking so much. Seriously, if you're getting by with an old knife that you haven't had sharpened in ages, if ever, a new chef's knife is an incredible improvement.
posted by yasaman at 10:09 PM on January 25, 2021 [2 favorites]

I live in a tiny apartment that holds smells, had to start cooking a lot more often when in-person dining became a no-go, and also live in northern California, which was on fire for several weeks during the pandemic. And THEN I had to have unexpected surgery and couldn't shower properly for three weeks. For all these reasons, I was very thankful I invested in two nice air purifiers near the start of the pandemic.

And a nice HEPA-filtered cordless vacuum, too, for the same reasons.

Buying a bunch of uniform, airtight storage containers for all the additional supplies for all the additional cooking kept it all fresh and organized, and kept my tiny kitchen reasonably pleasant to use (I stop enjoying it when there's too much clutter or mess and I can't find anything).

A warm, plush robe and upgraded bedsheets and towels have also been very nice.

Oh! And I put up the art I hadn't yet hung since moving in about a year ago, and purchased a new piece I've always wanted from an artist friend. Being surrounded by art makes being stuck inside more pleasant.
posted by rhiannonstone at 10:21 PM on January 25, 2021 [7 favorites]

Best answer: I've been taking the opportunity to upgrade, repair or replace lots of broken, outdated or just plain not very good things that I've been putting up with for years. For instance, I've now got:

- a proper desk chair
- monitor and laptop stands
- a new iPad
- a rice cooker
- an air purifier
- a dishwasher cutlery holder that doesn't drop the cutlery handles through its base
- a phone battery that lasts for hours, not minutes
- a better camera, for those parts of the pandemic when outdoor recreation (not just exercise) is allowed.

I've also organised my tiny kitchen so that there's always a stretch of countertop clear, which significantly increases my chances of being able to face making something more complex than a sandwich. And I've just ordered some furniture shims so that I can stop being terrified my bookcases are going to fall on me.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 2:48 AM on January 26, 2021 [5 favorites]

Guitar, but I suspect any instrument would work.

Some books to help me learn a new language

Yoga with Adrienne (free)

Running shoes
posted by backwards guitar at 4:39 AM on January 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

Absolutely. K-Drama. I am now a South Korean serial TV addict. This has improved my mood/wellbeing/general health/mental engagement tremendously, as well as general knowledge of a part of the world I knew very little about. It's also been intriguing to compare cultural norms to my own culture (there are some striking parallels) and think about the adaptations that diasporic and dual-culture people themselves have to make when tangling with such a strong, ethnicity-based yet massively eclectic, culture of origin. Thank you Netflix, and Dramabeans. Incidentally this addiction has totally messed up my Netflix recommendations.
posted by glasseyes at 4:41 AM on January 26, 2021 [12 favorites]

I have foot pain from diabetic neuropathy. Since most footwear (including socks) isn't comfy I tend to go barefoot at home a lot of the time, summer and winter, and my feet are frequently miserably cold. A couple of weeks ago I threw out all my existing socks that always felt too tight on my feet and replaced them with stretchy diabetic socks which actually feel good so I don't mind wearing them and I now have warmer, happier toes. I also finally got myself a pair of the soft, ballet-style Isotoner slippers I liked years ago. They are comfy on my feet, and light and soft enough that I can comfortably pull a foot up under me when I sit in a chair, without feeling like I'm sitting on a shoe. AND, I just spent what feels like a huge amount of money on a good pair of diabetic-foot-friendly walking shoes since my husband insists on dragging me on a miserable slog around the neighborhood every day so we don't actually fuse and become one with our computer chairs. So it's been nicer to walk without pinchy shoes killing my toes.

For a long time I've had issues with nail clippers that don't actually clip that well, especially since I don't have a lot of gripping strength in my hands due to some old injuries. I finally invested in these expensive toenail clippers that are actually sharp enough to cleanly clip off the nail with a minimal amount of pressure, and I love them so much I just purchased the matching fingernail clippers.

One great thing to come out of the pandemic for me is that Weight Watchers started national virtual meetings on Zoom, and members can attend as many of these as they like. I've found a few coaches whose energy I like and now I attend 2-3 half-hour meetings per week. It is really helping with my motivation and mindset. I will be glad when we can go back to in-studio meetings as I love my regular coach and miss my group, but I hope they keep the virtual meetings once we go back to normal.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 4:44 AM on January 26, 2021 [3 favorites]

I mean, improving lockdown life feels as if it should mostly about trying to get back to normal right? Start acting and feeling how you used to? But these k-dramas are a completely new thing for me and if not for lock down I would never have found them. Not enough hours in the week (or month) for a start.

I can't find it now but there was a tik-tok or twitter by a Korean-American who planned to improve their Korean language skills in lockdown by watching lots of these serials - months later they said they hadn't learned Korean any better but "I learned how to love!" The best of them are that immersive and subtle and emotionally intelligent.
posted by glasseyes at 4:53 AM on January 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have rediscovered my slow cooker, and the concept of "dump" freezer meals. The idea behind the "dump meal" is that you take all the ingredients you need for a slow cooker stew and freeze them all together in a freezer baggie; then that just lives in your freezer. Then during the week you pull one out as you need it and cook (usually you need to let it thaw in your fridge overnight, and you may need to add some soup stock or water, but that's it).

I tried it out thanks to an Instacart accident - I needed chicken breasts for something, and if I were shopping on my own I'd just get the one because it's just me cooking for myself, but Instacart only had chicken breasts in a family pack, so I had like six times what I needed and was trying to figure out what I could do with them before they all went bad. But then I found some dump meal sites and discovered some recipes that would not just let me parcel out some of the chicken breasts into them, but also called for a backlog of some of the root veg lingering from the CSA, as well as some other things that had been in my pantry a while. So instead of a panicked "aaaaaah I have to make something with chicken breast again today" I have a much more relaxed "hmmmm, how about chicken in peanut sauce for dinner tomorrow?....Or the bacon lentil soup maybe? Or the butternut squash and chick pea curry? Yeah, I'll go with the curry tomorrow, and maybe the peanut sauce on Thursday."

You can also do a lot of these in advance, by design. A lot of these were created for busy moms who don't have as much time for daily cooking, so the idea is that you just need a few hours one weekend afternoon to go grocery shopping, come right home, shove things into bags, and then throw them all in your freezer, and you're all set for the next few weeks. This does mean that a lot of the existing recipes as written are "serves four" quantity size and call for a family-size slow cooker, but that just worked to my advantage - my slow cooker is half that size, and a half of a typical dump meal works perfectly in it and serves me and my roommate or me with leftovers, so I just split the recipes I found between two bags and got double the meals from the same amount of prep. Also, a lot of the recipe sites for dump meals have things that are a bit....comfort food-y, but I've also found plenty of sites that have healthier fare. (I have my eye on a stew with chicken and vegetables with balsamic vinegar - I'd actually run out of chicken and couldn't make it!)

Also, there's just something so...comforting about having something simmering away all day when you're working at home. I find myself wandering into the kitchen every hour or so and opening the slow cooker up to give things a stir - not because it needs it, but just because I want to smell what's in it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:18 AM on January 26, 2021 [18 favorites]

Best answer: I’ve been using a free app, Radio Garden, to hear radio stations around the world. Paired with a new purchase of a streaming stereo that also plays our long-unheard CDs!
Add a 100% wool, made in USA blanket I found on eBay (new old stock) that’s woven in buffalo plaid. Must have buffalo plaid in the winter.
There’s more. Being a typewriter geek, I type letters to friends and siblings. I find it very gratifying to stay in touch that way. And I’m currently exploring drawing programs for getting the most out of my Apple Pencil 2.
posted by BostonTerrier at 6:41 AM on January 26, 2021 [3 favorites]

Lululemon align jogger. The most comfortable pants I've ever worn. I wore them 4 days in a row before finally doing a load of laundry just to wash them so I could keep wearing them. Cannot recommend highly enough.
posted by bookworm4125 at 6:41 AM on January 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Quest 2. A cheap ($300 usd) standalone VR headset. No wires, no PC needed (but if you have a good gaming system you use use PCVR to better take advanteage of the resolution and get better graphics). Instant environment change with engaging immersive games. Bonus; if you're pretty stationary you'll get at least some exercise, and games like Synth Riders or Thrill of the Fight will get you actually sweating (buy a silicon cover).

If you get the Quest 2 I recommend also buying a Halo style 3rd party headstrap.
posted by nobeagle at 7:09 AM on January 26, 2021 [4 favorites]

Bicycles saved our sanity in the spring, in the city with no car and avoiding public transportation, they gave us freedom, movement, and access to nature.
posted by Freyja at 7:28 AM on January 26, 2021 [3 favorites]

Bombas really are the most comfortable socks. I am almost angry at how comfortable they are. I dropped an eye-watering amount of money, but now I have enough socks that I actually enjoy wearing, like truly enjoy the sensation of them on my feet, so here we are.

I got a fitbit because I wasn't leaving the house very much or doing much other than maybe a weekend bike ride. I've had fitness trackers before that made me kind of weird about getting activity, but honestly, it's a good weird. It actually has motivated me to go on more evening walks, start an actual exercise routine, or go out on that hike when I sort of don't want to. It's also easy to hide/ignore the food and weight-loss bits, which are still definitely unhealthy for me to pay much attention to.

And I finally signed up for a car-share, and am going to start driving again. Part of it is wanting to get to things that aren't accessible by public transit (like, gravel trails and hikes and stuff), but also the past year confirming that I am 100% ready to move out of the city to someplace way more rural. The area I'm eyeing up is very bike-friendly, but I'll need a car for a few things, so might as well remember which pedal does what kind of thing.
posted by kalimac at 7:29 AM on January 26, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: So many things!

Upgrades to household items: better pillows, kitchen utensils, pots and pans, an extra long charger for my phone.

Jigsaw puzzles and a book of Sunday NYT crosswords.

I take a lot of baths now. I bought a tub pillow and bath salts and sheet masks and scented candles so I can have a mini spa in my bathroom.

I exercise 6 days a week, alternating between indoor HIIT workouts on YouTube (I like Emi Wong’s channel) and outdoor walks in low traffic neighborhoods and parks.

I tried a bunch of stuck-at-home hobbies from sourdough baking to macrame to piano and so far the one I’ve stuck with the longest is language learning on Duolingo. I’ve also been reading a ton of books.

I’m lucky to have outdoor space at home (a small balcony) and when it’s nice out I work on my laptop out there or read on my phone outside in the evenings.

I think it’s also worth thinking about what to stop doing during this time. What adds extra stress without a lot of benefit? I stopped wearing makeup. I stepped back from reading politics and Covid discussions online and focused on getting the news from newspapers and newsletters I trust.
posted by capricorn at 8:04 AM on January 26, 2021 [7 favorites]

Stoneshop and I started planning a weekly movie night every Saturday. We never were in the habit of watching a lot of movies, and we don't watch TV, but a movie night feels like a treat and a welcome break from all that's going on. We take turns picking what to watch (the other person can veto that choice) and make sure we have a nice drink and something to nibble on. It's almost like going out.
Having things that happen on a schedule helps us keep track of the time.

We've also started doing half an hour of exercise a day (either riding our bikes, or some indoor cardio) and that probably keeps us fitter than we were before the pandemic.
posted by Too-Ticky at 8:09 AM on January 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

At 60 years old, I started running. A mix of Slow Jogging, new shoes, and the None to Run app on my phone, along with some good disco, has been a game changer.
posted by Bill Watches Movies Podcast at 8:21 AM on January 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

Some are things: E-reader. Subscription to New York Times Crossword puzzles. Little space heater under my desk in the basement.

Some are routines: every Friday we get take-out and watch TV for two hours after the kids are in bed. Every Sunday we have my parents over for dinner (we are in a bubble with them and nobody else; it's the only in person socializing any of us do). Every morning I open all the blinds and let in as much sunlight as possible.
posted by beandip at 8:23 AM on January 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

I started wearing exclusively toe socks. Turns out I find them far more comfortable than non-toe socks, especially (but certainly not exclusively) when not wearing shoes.
posted by ToddBurson at 8:45 AM on January 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

Previously on the Green: Not exactly the same question you asked, but related.
posted by JD Sockinger at 9:57 AM on January 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

I bought an exercise bike and have been riding it every-other day. I've gradually increased the time until I reached an hour, and I'm keeping it at that duration. I usually hate exercise. But what makes it bearable is watching TV shows and movies while I ride. I started by using my iPhone, then an iPad, and now I have a big computer monitor mounted on a stand in front of the bike. I have an Amazon Firestick connected to the monitor, and I'm using wireless Bluetooth earbuds. It's been working well. I also do a set of push-ups and sit-ups before I ride. I have a long history of being a complete couch potato, so doing regular exercise has been quite a big accomplishment for me. I'm probably in better shape today than I was 25 years ago.
posted by alex1965 at 10:06 AM on January 26, 2021 [4 favorites]

We didn't necessarily buy or begin anything new: instead, we fixed up things about our house that have bothered us for a while (i.e, "since we bought it ten years ago").

Like, my wife painted the office. We hired a dude to re-side the whole place. She & my oldest daughter painted the living room. Bought drapes for the living room. Ripped out a rhododendron as tall as the garage (to the eternal gratitude of the siding guy). We ripped out smaller rhododendrons and gave them to a grateful neighbor. She re-seeded parts of the lawn. (Hey, it's a slow project, but we've got time!)

The basement room that we never fixed up is calling my name...
posted by wenestvedt at 10:08 AM on January 26, 2021 [3 favorites]

* Adopted a dog
* Started fermenting hot sauce
posted by ftm at 10:13 AM on January 26, 2021 [4 favorites]

You can get your ham radio technician license with about 10 hours of study.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:02 AM on January 26, 2021 [4 favorites]

I was already a subscriber, but since lockdown, I’ve really ramped up my yoga practice with and it’s by far the best money I spend per month. Great money-to-time ratio with how much I use it. World-class teachers — my favorites are so excellent — and there are like 5000 classes to choose from. Also Pilates and some new HIIT and strength training stuff, but I haven’t tried any of that (and I’m honestly a little annoyed that they’ve chosen to dilute their mostly really really good yoga offerings).
posted by liet at 11:12 AM on January 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

I picked up hand embroidery as a hobby and it's been a really nice break from screens and it's not too expensive or equipment intensive to get started. There are tons of kits available on Etsy and other places. I started with this one from Jessica Long Embroidery, which has a helpful video tutorial showing you all the steps.
posted by carolr at 11:32 AM on January 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

Clarifying my point two posts up: the reason I’m so gung-ho about rededicating myself to yoga during these times is because it’s improved my life so much. I’m much stronger physically and mentally. I have muscles! I’m more mindful and less depressed and anxious! And it feels great to learn and make progress on poses. It gives me a project to work towards and things to accomplish.

Of course, there’s a lot of the physical parts of yoga that I’m not really making progress on (some poses I’m just going to need a real teacher to help me with) — and things I’ll never be able to do (hello, put my leg behind my head). That’s frustrating and can make me really down, but working through those feelings and getting past them is good for me too, on some level. It’s making progress towards personal peace and understanding.
posted by liet at 11:50 AM on January 26, 2021 [3 favorites]

I have never been so happy to have a weight lifting set: barbell, rack, and two each of 45, 35, 25, 15, 10, 5, and 2.5 pound bumpers/plates.
posted by medusa at 2:19 PM on January 26, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I bought USB game controllers and downloaded video game emulators to play all of my old favorites. A lot of fun for cheap.
posted by Sreiny at 2:34 PM on January 26, 2021 [3 favorites]

I bought this ridiculous $80 dishrack and it brings me joy several times a day. Simplehuman, full size, 2021 model.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:32 PM on January 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

Weighted blanket. New bedding for summer. A heating pad for my neck and shoulders. A subscription to Misfit Produce. Nexflix and CBS All Access.
posted by kathrynm at 4:21 PM on January 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

A coffee subscription. It sends me a randomly selected coffee every three weeks.

It works for me as my standards are a little higher than the common grocery store coffee brands, but I don't have a favorite and am indecisive but want to explore different coffees. I can specify whether I want ground or beans, decaf or not, and (if ground) how fine of a grind I want (my mood changes between espresso and cold brew so this is important!).
posted by The Biggest Dreamer at 5:14 PM on January 26, 2021 [5 favorites]

iRoomba - self emptying ability makes all the difference
Core - like a Fitbit for meditation
A rescue kitty who makes us laugh every day
A folding massage table so my husband and I can take turns practicing our new skills on each other
The Cocktail Codex for learning how to make good cocktails
Upgrading to DuoLingo Plus - we spend 15 mins every morning on a couple lessons over coffee
posted by egeanin at 5:43 PM on January 26, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Most of the helpful things have been covered, but

- Melatonin used to kick my butt, somehow it’s working well now. (Also, magnesium [at night], and Vit D, K, C, & B complex, and I alternate zinc and iron)

- I talk to loved ones every day (10/10 awesome).
posted by cotton dress sock at 7:32 PM on January 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

I bought a Tushy bidet a couple months into lockdown. I didn't have a problem getting toilet paper but I had become more aware of how much I was using and this seemed like an easy upgrade. I'm only mad I didn't buy it sooner.

I also bought an iPad right at the beginning of quarantine. This way I'm not on a laptop all day, and I have a clear boundary between work tasks and leisure internetting. I like to work from my couch, so the laptop and iPad are very different experiences and help draw that line. Physiologically, it's almost like curling up with a book, even if I'm playing a game or browsing. Plus it's easier to read the library books I can't get via Kindle.

I made the difficult decision to move in August. I was in a studio before in a building with no laundry facilities. Trying to get laundry done in Brooklyn the first month of lockdown was a struggle, as all the laundromats closed and my usual drop off service was closed as well, and local pickup/dropoff services were getting horrible reviews online due to the overwhelm. I did finally find a small local cleaner that was open, but between spending all day in a 300 foot space and not being able to wash my own clothes, and watching my neighborhood rents dropping, I decided to take the risk and upgraded to a one bedroom apartment with an in-unit washer and dryer. It's the best decision I ever made. I have more than enough room for me and my cats and dog, and laundry is no longer the burden it once was (I actually delight in the ability to wash everything WEEKLY, and on my own time without leaving the house!).

And finally, I bought a Eufy robot vacuum to clean the floors of said apartment, which is great because with the aforementioned pair of cats and dog there is a lot of vacuuming to be done and this was one less chore to worry about. And I'm around to rescue it if it gets stuck somewhere.
posted by Fuego at 10:28 AM on January 27, 2021 [7 favorites]

I got a hammock and an indoor/outdoor stand for it, plus a big, cozy Sherpa blanket to use with it.

I’ve been perfecting my pizzamaking. A baking steel helps with that.

I’ve, too, been enjoying the virtual Weight Watchers meetings.

If I have the urge to visit New York City, which is quite often, the videos of ActionKid help scratch that itch.
posted by SillyShepherd at 5:37 PM on January 27, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Roomba - i7+
After a few hours of exploring the house I can now tell it to go vacuum a particular room or a spot in the house (like where the pets like to lay) and it'll go do it. Now I can walk barefoot in the house and not feel a dirty floor. Love it.

We paid a professional organizer something like $160 for two hours of organizing advice, and now we can make a lap through our garage. She's coming back in a couple weeks to install shelving and then we'll be on track to put a gym in there.

Tried 3 different meal subscription services (Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, Purple Carrot). Not really worth it and I think we're going to cancel. Right now we're on Blue Apron and it's the best one (freshest ingredients, others always gave us produce that was almost spoiled).

I stupidly sold my PS4 in preparation to buy a PS5 (can't find one anywhere), and what I missed most was streaming movies to my badass noise canceling bluetooth headphones, so I bought a convoluted series of adapters to send audio from my TV to my headphones so I can blast movies at night and not wake anyone up. Actually, today a super long headphone cable just got delivered so I can use the same headphones and avoid the bluetooh audio delay that I can't seem to fix. You should really watch A Quiet Place or 1917 like this.

I've mentioned this elsewhere, but I paid for a Zoom license and every Saturday night me and 8-20 other people do dramatic readings of movie scripts. We've been doing this since early March. We vote on the theme of the month (November was Thanksgiving movies, December was Christmas movies, January is stoner movies, February is going to be musicals, looks like March will be Cohen Brothers movies) and have a signup sheet for roles. People get really into it. Sometimes we have folks join and just watch. We had an award ceremony around Christmast time. It's been a blast, and now I have a bunch of new friends from all over the country (still waiting to go international).
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 2:18 PM on January 29, 2021 [5 favorites]

Xbox Series X to replace my Xbox One S.

Can't get a Series X/S to replace your One S/X? Or PS5 to replace your 4? Invest in a USB 3.0 external Solid State Drive (SSD). I bought a bog-standard Toshiba T5 250BG for my PS4 and the difference in load times was seriously night and day. 50% reduction at least.

Like playing on consoles, and can afford and source a current gen console? Do it. Like paying on consoles, but can't find or don't want to invest in a current gen? Get an external SSD for like fifty bucks. They are amazing.

Added bonus if you upgrade, you will get good money for your last gen console on Facebook Marketplace (etc.)., as much as half the cost of your new console.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:02 PM on January 19, 2022

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