The Best Activities, Products And Hacks We Tried This Week (May 11-15)

Our editors share what's keeping them calm, productive and entertained during coronavirus social distancing.

There’s no “right” way to navigate the coronavirus pandemic — everyone lives and copes differently. That said, fostering a sense of community may make getting through this time a little bit easier.

Enter this weekly guide. Every Sunday, we’ll bring you a short list of products, routines, workouts, recipes, apps and other things we tried the previous week that are making life easier during this universally stressful time.

Take a look at this week’s suggestions from our editors below.

Activity Recommendations

One of our editors tried her hand at ice-dyeing this week. The results were awesome.
One of our editors tried her hand at ice-dyeing this week. The results were awesome.

Tie-dye, but less basic.

Everyone’s doing tie-dye right now, which means you’ll look just like everyone else when you wear yours. So make it different! One of my favorite DIY blogs, Honestly WTF, has a great tutorial for ice-dyeing. It’s less fussy than tie-dyeing and way more magical. You just ball up a cotton shirt, cover it with ice cubes, sprinkle on powder dye and let the colors melt through the fabric in the warm sun. It takes a few hours of waiting before you reveal unicorn-like swirls of color. Honestly WTF’s tutorial contains links for the dyes you’ll need. ― Kristen Aiken, Senior Editor, Food & Style

Recipe Recommendations

A juicy chicken piccata that shockingly tastes even better as leftovers.

I’ve never been a big fan of chicken piccata; it just reminds me too much of dried-out food at a wedding buffet. But WOW did I change my mind with this incredible recipe from NYT Cooking. My whole family loved the juicy, flavourful dish, and the leftovers were even better. I’d pair it with a tart green salad and call it a (fabulous) meal. ― Kate Palmer, Head of HuffPost Life

Entertainment Recommendations

Binge something unexpected.

Gonna recommend FX’s “What We Do in the Shadows.” I didn’t expect a deadpan comedy about bloodthirsty vampires rooming together in Staten Island, New York, to be one of the funniest hours of my week, but these vampires are stuck indoors during the day, and so am I.

Filmed like a mockumentary, the absurd show balances life-or-death stakes with mundane roommate squabbles to dark comedic effect. As energy vampire Colin Robinson (who literally bores people to death) puts it, “vampire roommates are forever.” The actors, who play Nadja, Laszlo, Colin and Nandor the Relentless as out-of-touch, centuries-old vampires, all look like they are having a ball hissing and mugging for the film crew. The way English actor Matt Berry cosplays as human Jackie Daytona in a recent episode was a theatrical, comedic delight. Hurry up and catch up with season two: Human familiar and vampire-slayer descendent Guillermo, who is played by Harvey Guillén, takes center stage as the emotional heart of the show. ― Monica Torres, Work/Life Reporter

Follow some hilarious people on Instagram.

I started following Jordan Firstman on Instagram, and his account is bringing me so much joy! He makes hilarious short videos that he posts in batches. My latest favorites are “This is my impression of summer 2020” and “This is my impression of banana bread’s publicist.” He is incredibly clever and entertaining ― my favorite quarantine follow. ― Caroline Bologna, Parenting & Culture Reporter

Work Recommendations

A snapshot of our wellness editor's desk in pre-coronavirus times. Incorporating parts of your office desk might help make your home setup feel a little more work-inspired.
A snapshot of our wellness editor's desk in pre-coronavirus times. Incorporating parts of your office desk might help make your home setup feel a little more work-inspired.

Incorporate parts of your former office into your home.

For anyone who might be working from home for the long haul, I highly recommend adding some touches to your workspace that help to make it feel a little less temporary and makeshift. I grabbed a few items from my old workspace and it’s made a world of difference to have those things near me, just like the old days. They include: my computer stand, so I’m not hunched over my sofa; a cute little plant, to make the space feel alive; and my old notebooks from work. Almost feels like being back in the office. ― Palmer

I have stopped lying to myself that my home workspace is only a short-term situation, and started treating my area like a real office. I purchased a wireless mouse, a nice notebook and some cute ballpoint pens to partially mimic what I had at my desk. Not going to lie, I feel more productive using them and they’ve made “going to work” a little bit more exciting ― kind of like the magical feeling you used to have when you got new school supplies. (Does that make me a nerd? Old? All of the above?) ― Lindsay Holmes, Senior Wellness Editor

Product Recommendations

A cold brew pitcher that makes your homemade coffee taste like a cafe’s.

One of my great joys in life is walking around New York City with my friends on a beautiful day drinking an iced coffee. Obviously a few of those things are not possible right now, but as it starts to get warmer, my hankering for cold coffee has grown exponentially. I usually make a cold brew concentrate (Adeena Sussman’s recipe) in a pitcher and use a cheesecloth to strain the grounds, but last week I purchased a cold brew pitcher. You fill the filter chamber with coarse grounds and cover with water, then let sit for 24 hours and you have delicious cold brew in the morning. It’s not quite the same effect, but it’s hitting the spot for now. ― Jamie Feldman, Personal & Lifestyle Reporter

A dustpan that actually does its job.

I have been spending a lot of time on my floors (doing workouts, quietly sobbing) (just kidding) (kind of), which provides a great opportunity to see how dirty the floor seems to get EVERY DAY, no matter how often I sweep or dust. I recently thought out loud to myself, “Why aren’t dustpans better in the year 2020?” Help. This week I reached my breaking point and looked up highly rated brooms and dustpans. I purchased this broom and this dustpan and I’m so simultaneously excited and sad about being excited over a dustpan I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. But either way, at least I’ll be doing it on a cleaner floor. ― Feldman

Activity cards for babies to help them through this crisis, too.

I’ve spent a lot of time during this lockdown stressing about my 5-year-old’s needs: how will she deal with not seeing friends, remote learning, explaining all of this, etc. But I realized that my little 1-year-old had kind of taken a back seat, which really isn’t fair! Luckily, I came across this awesome new product from the woman who launched Happy Baby foods. It’s called Healthy Nest, and in addition to diapers, they make these really lovely activity cards for babies and parents. My little one loves the games they suggest , like dance mimicking. They have been really helpful in reminding me that she needs some attention right now, too. ― Palmer

A yoga mat that’s designed to stay as germ-free as possible.

Because I’m doing all my exercising at home (shoutout to Pilates by Amanda, the best pilates workouts you’ll ever do), I decided it was time for a new yoga mat. I found this small business with a genius concept: The makers of Koru Mat realized that when you roll up a traditional yoga mat, you roll whatever germs are on the studio floor right onto the side of the mat that you use for class. Instead, their mat has a small indentation down the center that allows you to easily fold it in half and then roll the clean side onto itself (here’s a video). Perfect for any time, and especially perfect for the coronavirus era. Plus, they are donating $10 from each mat sale to coronavirus relief. Win-win! ― Ashley Rockman, Senior Relationships Editor

A HuffPost Guide To Coronavirus