Jordan Siemens/Getty Images

We’re just like you: stressed out and stuck at home. Here are the things we’ve been turning to in order to get through it. It’s Best of the West, pandemic anniversary-style.

Sunset Staff  – March 2, 2021

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Keep the Calm App and Carry On

Jeff Warren Calm App

Courtesy of Calm

I’ve lived in Northern California over a quarter of a century and remarkably, before the pandemic had never taken to meditation beyond a few classes here and there where I invariably either fell asleep or spent the quiet time obsessively going over mental lists of things I should have been doing instead. I knew this wasn’t exactly the path to enlightenment, but I was embarrassed to admit that sitting quietly with my eyes closed seemed to be beyond me. Then I found the Calm app, specifically Jeff Warren’s How to Meditate series. Over a series of 30 quick lessons, about 15 minutes each, Jeff focuses on basics like where to direct your attention, how to gently guide your thought process, and how to increase your concentration. There is a lot of other good stuff on the Calm app, of course, but for me, acquiring the tools to start a basic meditation practice has been invaluable. And speaking of value, yes, Calm is expensive for an app ($69/year; available for iOS and Android), but if you happen to have health insurance through Kaiser Permanente, it’s free. —Nicole Clausing, digital producer

Bend Modern Bunny Lounge Chair

Bend Modern Bunny Chair

Courtesy of Bend Modern

I’ve been putting off a major redo of my yard for, well, 20 years. Which explains the hodgepodge of patio furniture thrifted, scavenged, and hastily hand-built over the past two decades. My thinking goes: I’ll wait until I have an intentional and unified overarching design before I invest in a decent piece of outdoor furniture. But at the outset of the pandemic I realized I needed a well-built and good-looking chair that I could move around to shady or sunny spots as I saw fit depending on the task at hand: writing, zoom calls, meditation, vitamin D uptake, persimmon-picking step-stool duty. Enter the Bunny lounge chair from Bend Modern, the L.A. firm behind oft-instagrammed bar stools and restaurant dining chairs (before the pandemic, at least). It’s indestructible but light, just lounge-y enough without encouraging too much of a slouch, and is neutral enough that it will fit into just about any landscape design I finally (hopefully, eventually) commit to. —Hugh Garvey, editor in chief

The Art of Steaming Milk

Nespresso Coffee Maker with Steamer

Courtesy of Nespresso

Prior to the pandemic, I had a foolproof morning routine. I would leave my house around 7:45 am, stop by Clark Street Bakery for an oat cappuccino and buttered baguette, listen to my daily horoscope and podcasts for the remainder of the forty-five-minute commute from East L.A. to Santa Monica, and make it into the office just before 9 am. The hardest part about acclimating to working from home was having to find my coffee fix, as I had been so used to my daily splurge being a takeout capp. Now stuck at home, I craved a well-pulled espresso shot with freshly steamed non-dairy milk poured on top in the shape of a heart and served in a paper cup. While browsing the aisles at a Marshalls in Hollywood everything changed, I saw under a table a single Nespresso machine with a milk frother. I stood there for a second, called my grandma to cosign the purchase, and haven’t looked back since. The Vertuoline Nespresso Machine is one of the newer models from the Breville brand and offers a more authentic espresso shot at the push of a button. I steam my oat milk with the included frother, pour it into a milk pitcher, and practice my latte art—all while saving tons of cash by treating my caffeine addiction in the privacy of my own home. —Magdalena O’Neal, assistant editor 

The Works of Gere Kavanaugh

Craft Contemporary Gere Kavanaugh Tea Towel

Courtesy of Craft Contemporary

I’m a sucker for a great museum gift shop, and the store at the Craft Contemporary in Los Angeles is one of the very best out there. The museum doors remain closed for the foreseeable future, so gift-shop sales are more critical than ever. Check out the site and stock up on gifts like craft kits, cool art supplies for kids, vintage Vernon Kilns ceramics, or this colorful tea towel from 92-year-old Los Angeles design legend Gere Kavanaugh, who was a part of the first group of female designers at General Motors known as “the Damsels of Design.” Kavanaugh was a critical member of California design scene of the 1960s and 1970’s, known for her folksy-modern take on textiles, furniture, toys, graphics, housewares, and interiors that emphasize color and craft. If you’re intrigued by the work of this living legend, there’s a monograph available that details her extensive body of work, too. While you’re on the museum site make sure to check out their free craft ideas for adults and kids—and consider a museum membership to keep their vital programming going strong until it can welcome visitors in person again. —Christine Lennon, home and design editor

GT Laguna Mountain Bike

Woman on a Mountain Bike

Jordan Siemens/Getty Images

The pandemic certainly has created obstacle courses in my mind. To reset I visualize transferring that obstacle course to the pavement while prepping for my bike rides (cue Grimes’ Darkseid here). Right now I’m riding the GT Laguna. GT Bicycles was born as a BMX brand in ‘70s SoCal. The Laguna is a solid introductory mountain bike with a not-so-bad price tag. These days mine’s not grabbing dirt as much as it’s tackling sidewalks uprooted by trees and sailing off curbs (yay front suspension!). Still, I can’t wait to ride it on a single track in nearby nature with the help of the AllTrails app. If you too want to ride high but aren’t in the market for a new bike, there are deals to be had at your local bike shops. The ReCYCLIST bike shop in west L.A. is chock full of used bikes for kids and adults. It’s worth checking out before you buy new. —Christine Bobbish, photo editor

Kitten Rescue Los Angeles

Kitten Rescue Blue-Eyed Cat Named Emu

Teaghan Skulszki

Like many others during quarantine, I decided to liven up my living space by opening up my home to a furry friend. I decided to adopt a cat through Kitten Rescue L.A. and since then my life has been filled with many ups and meows. I rescued Emu when she was about six months old. She went from living on the streets to a foster home, and finally to me, her furever home. I am a first-time cat owner and am loving every second of having her by my side… ok maybe not cleaning the litter or being woken up at 3 AM for pets but without quarantine, I would have never considered adopting a pet. Through it all, there was a light among the darkness, and mine was a cat. —Teaghan Skulszki, editorial intern


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