Andrea Mara

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Snapshot of a Groundhog Day

So. Here we are. Still here. Still here! What is it – week 6? Week 66? Week 974? Does it even matter? We’re just pushing through as best we can, knowing that there is an end in sight, and knowing that we’ve done this before and we’ve come out the other side. So what are the things getting everyone through? These are some of mine – what we’re eating, reading, watching, and arguing about.

What we’re eating

Eating has been going well in lockdown 3. First we became obsessed with Quadwraps (TM) aka taco trend or tortilla trend on TikTok (where we get all our info now, obviously). You make an incision in a wrap, put a different filling in each of the four quadrants, than fold and put in the George Forman / sandwich maker. Favourite fillings include bacon and Brie, Parma ham and buffalo mozzarella with pesto, or scrambled eggs with avocado and salsa.



Then we became obsessed with our new Nutribullet and everyone had two smoothies a day for a week. Three weeks on, it’s still going strong and we have literally never eaten so much fruit in our lives.

This week’s fad is falafels. My husband is the lunch maker while I work, on the days when it’s not “everything on the table, make your own sandwiches” (a lunch routine which, to be fair, got us through six months of lockdown 1) he makes the best falafel wraps with Sriracha sauce, peppers, onions, and iceberg lettuce. Even the three fussiest kids love them.

Other favourites making breakfast and lunches less boring this lockdown: breakfast burritos (a makey-uppy recipe with egg, chorizo, black beans, grated cheddar, salsa), waffles on our once-abandoned waffle-maker, French toast, and blueberry pancakes.

And the new favourite Friday dinner, courtesy of my husband: Taco Fries.

What else we’re eating

Oh yes, we’re still eating. Flap jacks, pecan blondies, banana bread, (both recipes from the fabulous Cake Mum), blueberry muffins, apple and cinnamon muffins, and blueberry loaf cake. Sometimes I bake while supervising homeschool Zooms, sometimes the kids bake because they’re bored, mostly they bake so they can eat the end results and I’m very happy to help them with the eating.

And if nobody is in the mood for baking, the big treat is pastries from Strudel in Dun Laoghaire, truly the best pastries in the world.

What I’m buying

As we all know, putting things into internet-baskets without ever purchasing is a hobby in its own right, and is especially important during lockdown when we can’t go to real shops. Things on which I’ve actually pressed “checkout” include: a dress from & Other Stories (such optimism!),  new books from Easons, makeup brushes from Irish business Nima (more optimism!) and Vit C from Skin Formulas.

Just needs an iron. And an occasion…

What I’m reading

At the weekend, I read Above Water by my friend Trish Kearney. It’s an incredible book, warm despite the difficult subject matter, and anyone who has listened to the Where is George Gibney podcast will be particularly interested in this.

Before that, I read The Dark Room by Sam Blake, a twisty mystery set in Ireland and The Last Thing to Burn by Will Dean. Warning – the latter is very tense, not for the faint-hearted and I had to skim bits (best summed up on the blurb: Room meets Misery) but it’s so, so good and such a quick read.

Now I’m reading The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennet, which couldn’t be more different – it’s about twins who grow up in a small black community in the American south. They run away at 16, and eventually one comes home to live in her childhood home, while one goes on to live as a white person. I’m about one third in, and really enjoying it.

What I’m listening to

Girl A by Abigail Dean. I’m about quarter way through and it’s dark and disturbing at times but I’m completely hooked. It’s about a family of children held hostage by their parents, but set fifteen years after they are saved.

Before that, I listened to The Push by Ashley Audrain. Also dark. It’s about motherhood and dark thoughts and an evil child – or is she? The narrator is wonderful and I flew through it, grabbing twenty minutes here and there when I was out for a walk or a run on my own.

Before that, I listened to Take It Back by Kia Abdullah, about a sexual assault accusation. It’s really, really good, again despite (more) dark content and the narration is excellent.

What we’re arguing about

Oh you know, anything and everything. Noise during online classes, using up all the bananas (#smoothieissues), using the Nutribullet at 7:30 am when everyone else is asleep (more #smoothieissues), using the shower (we have one shower #constantissues) and “using up all the wifi”.

But specifically recently, we’ve been arguing during an online quiz we’ve been doing on Friday nights. You know families who play board games regularly and have great fun teaming up to compete together? That’s not us. But when my friend told me about the DLR Libraries online quiz, I decided it would be nice if at 7pm on Friday, everyone put down their devices and joined in. We registered, submitted our name (“Mara Family” – lots of thought put into it) and gathered in the living room with coffee cake (incitement/ bribe) to get started.

Twenty minutes in, the level of bickering and blaming had me close to shutting it down. “You pressed the button too soon” and “I knew that wasn’t the answer” and “Well, that’s not much good if you don’t know the right answer” and so on.  But at some point, the desire to do well and move up the leaderboard took over, and the excitement built, and we finally became a team. I am under no illusion; there will be bickering ever time we do it, but it’s worth it. To register for the quiz, email LibraryQuiz@DLRCOCO.IE.

What we’re watching

I resisted The Crown for a long time, due to a general lack of love for period dramas, but gave in just before Christmas, and I am smitten. Borderline obsessed. When I drag my two younger children for a walk on the pier, I spend much of it telling them how old Queen Elizabeth II was when she became Queen and the story of her uncle abdicating the throne and how much the actors playing Prince Philip look like him and how little the actor playing Princess Diana looks like her. After every episode, we google to see what was true or not, I’ve changed my Netflix avatar to Queen Elizabeth, and any day now, I’m going to start wearing a crown.

We also watched The Serpent on BBC1 about a creepy serial killer in 1970s Bangkok. It’s a dark drama based on a true story but the 1970s element of it (especially the costumes) is glorious. If you’ve missed it on BBC, watch out for it if it’s repeated there or arrives on Netflix.

Next up, Behind Her Eyes. I read the book by Sarah Pinborough a few years ago and can’t wait to see how they deal with the twist in this. The book is polarising, some people wanted to throw it out the window when they got to the end, but I loved it.

What we’re waiting for . . .

. . . schools to re-open. None of my three got lucky in this round so we’ll still be homeschooling on Monday, crossing everything for a safe re-opening. I wish the very best to everyone going back – to those who are worried and those who can’t wait and those who are feeling a bit of both. I hope it goes well, not least so some of mine can get in two weeks later! Good luck to us all.





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