Find a Little Free Library near you to catch up on some reading.
Buffalo Exchange is a great spot to send gently used items after Spring Cleaning.
With more time at home, you can now make delicious recipes – like this focaccia bread from Bon Appetit. (Photo by Alex Liu)
COVID-19 isn't stopping the USPS from delivering letters, so write and send some notes.
Learn something new from the Martha Stewart, the unofficial Queen of Crafts.
Every day is a new day in these coronavirus and social distancing times. Press conferences, updates, closures (and more closures) – it’s hard to keep up. And as America continues to shut down, with any sizable event cancelled and all restaurant dining rooms and bars shutdown in Houston and Dallas, we’re having to get creative about how to stay busy, engaged and quite frankly sane.
If you’re at a loss for what to do this weekend (or this week if you’re staying home all together), here are some activities and ideas to consider that just might save you from severe cabin fever.
You can no longer claim “I’m too busy” or “My weekend is completely booked” – we both know it’s now or never. Quit scrolling through Facebook/Instagram/Twitter, shut off the TV, put on your favorite playlist and coronate yourself as king or queen of the Spring Cleaning Kingdom.
Which spot is in most need of an overhaul? Is it the kitchen? Your closet? Or that stow-away closet that’s become a glorified junk drawer since your last cleaning session?
I know the fear and trepidation that sets in while contemplating just where to begin in the most egregious of all home spaces. While it might be easier to just turn around and pretend the mess doesn’t exist, your future self will undoubtedly thank you for diligently working to clean out, declutter and reorganize.
After you’ve gone through your things, parse through everything and consider which might be worth donating. There are plenty of spots that will gladly accept your donations, like Goodwill and local consignment shops. You might even be able to make some cash or score some store credit from places like Buffalo Exchange and Crossroads Trading.
Master a New Recipe
There may be no better time to hone in on and perfect a skill than now, when we’ve been given the luxury of time and an unforeseeable number of days at home. So pull out those daring recipes you’ve been eager to test, slip on your imaginary chef’s hat and become the master chef you’ve always dreamt of being.
Perhaps give that old family recipe and childhood favorite a shot – that rich banana bread, dense pound cake, or fall-off-the-bone pork roast; or maybe it’s your chance to whip out an dusty old cookbooks and flip to the many dog-eared pages we long ago marked to indicate, “I’ll have to try this one day!”
If cooking doesn’t suit your fancy, then how about cocktails? A mixologist is always the most welcome guest at any party.
My head is swimming with the possibilities of what to cook, bake, or make, but the ones that top my list are: bread (good, chewy, yeasty bread – I’m thinking focaccia), any kind of tart (I don’t discriminate between sweet and savory, I just want a short-crust pastry) and an Old Fashioned (on my way to nailing it).
Disengage and Pick Up a New Book
You can only scroll and tune into the news for so long before you can a) recite every meme by memory, and b) be assured that COVID-19 is still a pandemic and people are still getting sick. So let’s vow to disengage, rest our minds, and pick up something worth reading.
If you have a stack of books patiently waiting for your attention, that’s great and you have options. If you’re like me and rely on the public library, then you’ll have to get creative about how to acquire some reading material, as all libraries are currently closed.
My advice? Go on a little scavenger hunt to discover those Little Free Libraries that dot many of Houston’s neighborhoods, or get in touch with friends or family members and ask to borrow something. And when all else fails, there are loads of digital options – Kindles, NOOKS, even e-libraries like OverDrive.
So let’s get reading.
Yes, texting and emailing is so much easier – heck, even phone calls are less work. But there’s power in handwritten letters. Consider the time and effort required of letter writing. I mean, whose hand doesn’t ache after composing a heartfelt letter? Yet there’s such pleasure and glee in stuffing the envelope, carefully addressing the note, sticking on the stamp and sending it out.
Letters are like little surprises: we don’t know how long it will take for our friends to receive them, and we don’t know how long it will take for the responding letters to reach us. But we’re all familiar with that joy in receiving a letter. There’s nothing like discovering a personal letter – addressed to you! – in the stack of daily mail, riddled with silly flyers and disheartening bills.
Do you have a shirt that needs mending? Are there photos you’ve been meaning to print and organize? Well let’s get to work.
If you don’t know how to sew (speaking as someone who really only knows how to do a simple stitch), then now is a great time to learn. Consult your mother, grandmother, or maybe just Martha Stewart to master the craft. If anything, it’ll be a practice in patience.
In terms of photographs, there’s never been a time when so many people take so many photos thanks to our phones that double-up as state-of-the-art cameras. Unfortunately, these documented memories often just sit on our phones for years, untouched and forgotten in the sea of other snapshots. So let’s bring them back to life.
Scroll through your camera roll and select which pics you’d like to print, and then get them organized in a nice photo album. CVS and Walgreens both let you import photos straight from your phone or computer, often having the glossy prints ready for pickup on the same day; and online spots like Snapfish and Shutterfly offer great deals on prints (get the Shutterfly app and score unlimited free 4×4 and 4×6 prints, just pay tax and shipping).
Let’s pledge to make the most of these stay-at-home days, refusing to waste a single minute. In the midst of the every day craziness, now is the most opportune time to be challenged, discover something new and create new and good habits.