I don't think I'm the only one. I think we've all bought stuff during Covid that we might not otherwise have bought. Right? Please say you agree with me. Whether it's been boredom, picking up a new hobby, a new found enthusiasm for DIY, splurging on something to make yourself feel good, or using some money saved because you no longer have commuting-to-work costs. I think I've purchased things in the last few months that fall into all of those categories.

A number of things really have had a positive impact on my day-to-day life (even in some small way), and I want to share a few of them here with you.

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Instant Pot Ultra
I was skeptical of this purchase, but my wife really wanted an Instant Pot, so after a little back and forth we decided to go for it. After a few months of use, I'm sold! It's amazing. You can cook pretty much anything in it, and in a much shorter timeframe than you might otherwise. We use it pretty much daily and having initially played it safe cooking just chicken in it, we have expanded our menu lineup to: delicious baked potatoes (cooks approx 5 in 20 mins), a number of tasty soups, a surprisingly good Pad Thai plate, pot roasts and more.

I went for the 6 quart size, which is a good fit for most things, but with hindsight I might've picked the larger 8 quart size. There's been a few times where it would've come in handy, but I'm happy either way.

Mostly I get ideas and recipes from the countless blogs and YouTube channels dedicated to this great little kitchen appliance. There are plenty of books too, e.g. the highly recommended Ultimate Instant Pot Cookbook, but I prefer to stick to the step by step videos on YouTube (check this guy out for a delicious pot roast).

Office Equipment
Who misses the office? ME!!! I would love to get back to normality, and be able to be back in my office full time. The option to work from home would be great, but if I had to pick, I'd be in the office more than not. While working from home, I did need to buy a few things to keep my productivity up. My employer picked up the bill on an office chair, and a Jabra headset for calls (definitely recommend this product for great audio for a reasonable price), but I personally paid for a WiFi extender and an upgrade on my office printer.

Who loves coffee?
I was never one for buying coffee on the way to work, but I really did enjoy a properly brewed cup of 'joe' upon arrival at the office. This was quickly removed from the my daily grind when March 2020 rolled around, and I decided to go and buy a Keurig coffee maker. I gotta say it wasn't really for me. The coffee from it was just about OK. It definitely serves a purpose, for example, if you're in a real rush, it can pop out a half decent cup of coffee in a minute or so.

However what really has impressed me, and for a far smaller investment, is the Aeropress Coffee and Espresso maker. I buy my coffee pre-ground at the supermarket, and it turns out amazing in this little immersion brewer. It's not ideal if you're making coffee for a group, but if it's just for yourself, you really can't beat it.

Hobby Stuff
As a parent, the first few weeks of lockdown were real tough! No school, no activities, few neighborhood interactions. I was desperate to get my kids out doors! They love soccer, but it wasn't enough. I definitely splurged a little on them by buying a trampoline for the backyard. I can't say it's been used all that much, but at the beginning they did appreciate it. A much cheaper novelty was a badminton set we bought online. A very fun game, but tricky to play with any sort of wind around. Although that's a great excuse for my bad shots πŸ™‚

Biking
If you didn't already know this about me, then I have to share that I love mountain biking! I find it so relaxing to get out and explore a new area of the countryside, or go exploring all the side streets of a town I'm not too familiar with. During the summer I really splurged on this hobby, and went and bought an electric mountain bike. The plan was... exercise more, and see more. Some family members laughed a little at the 'exercise more' part, given the fact electricity is helping push me along. Trust me, you'd be surprised at how much work you still put in to get from A to B. I love the fact that I can venture a whole lot further, and at the end of my cruise, I've probably burned as many calories as I would've on a regular bike. Side note - now that I'm in electric bike circles, I've heard regular bikes referred to as 'acoustic'. Electric/Acoustic - they're not guitars πŸ™‚

I had most of the equipment I needed, but I invested in a couple of must-haves. The pricey nature of e-bikes meant a new lock was in order. To protect my investment I went with one of those really strong/compact ABUS foldable locks. On the plus side, they provide great security. I'm guessing you'd need heavy duty power tools to slice through it. You definitely can't cut it with a wire cutter.
However, and this is probably it's only flaw, it is quite short in length. You have to get really close to whatever it is you are securing it to, and locking two bikes together onto a bike rack is almost impossible.

Half the fun of an e-bike is how fast you can take off and zip along the road. As a result a couple of safety upgrades were necessary. Those came in the form of a decent helmet with a built-in rear light, and some hi-vis gear for those times I need to venture out in traffic.

Experimenting in the world of DIY
Who else has needed a major distraction away from all that has been wrong with 2020? Thankfully. lockdown has given many of us so much extra time in our day to do things we wouldn't normally do. Extra time with the family, more time to pick up a hobby, and plenty of opportunity to get some DIY around the home taken care of. During this time, I painted approximately 50% of the entire house. That's a total of 100% over the last 16 months or so. We moved into a new place in August 2019, and it needed some love, so I've been thankful for the time to do some things to make it feel more homely.

I've also upgraded some door handles, painted the interior doors, and added a couple of external solar panel lights. Those things are the best! No wiring = no chance of me electrocuting myself πŸ™‚ Recently with the change in sunlight, I have had to move one of the solar panels, but it still works a charm.

Over to you...
There's been a few other bits and pieces here and there. As they come to mind, I might update this post and add them here. How about you? What kind of retail therapy have you engaged in?