Thriving in a Home-Based Life

House Scoop

I have now been Working from Home for 21 weeks. I love domestic life, but I never imagined I could integrate work and personal life to this degree. I am enjoying it while it lasts.

As I mentioned in earlier posts, the gym closed, so I can sleep an additional 90 minutes every morning. I’ve had a few sleepless nights over Covid, staffing at work, and #BLM. For the most part, my life is so charmed that I rarely experience that level of sleeplessness, so it’s new to me.

Every morning, I read the news on CBC and The Guardian, and do another quick check in the evening. In the context of world events, my cozy life at home is such a juxtaposition.

I had a mental list of all the things I would do if I had time at home – the things I think I should be able to do on weekends, or annually, or “if I ever took a staycation” and caught up on projects. Some are productive and some are frivolous.

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Link’s cookies, not mine!

1. Baking

So far, I’ve made banana loaf, cinnamon loaf, 2 kinds of muffins and 2 kinds of cookies. Meanwhile, Link made lemon loaves, brownies, and an impressive Black Forest cake – so we had a constant supply of treats!

Baked chili topped with thin sliced potato, tomato and zucchini – from Plants-Only Kitchen by Gaz Oakley

2. Cooking

I bought a new vegan cookbook (from a local independent book shop via curbside pickup) and tried 10 new recipes from it – the first time I have ever worked through a cookbook to that extent.

3. Reading

I’ve read everything from 2 short plays, to an art photo-book, to a re-read of Crime and Punishment. I met my lifetime goal of reading David Copperfield 😊

Rachel Ama’s YouTube channel is here

4. #BLM

I am immersing myself in the joy of Black culture. I adjusted my YouTube feed so almost all my recommendations are Black YouTubers. Focusing on my usual viewing topics, I now subscribe to Black-created channels for veganism, bullet journaling, personal finance, reading, minimalism and no-waste, feminism, music, comedy, etc. Loving it!

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Painted beach stones

5. Painting

It is a “thing” to place cute painted stones in public places for people to notice or to take home, especially as a cheer-up during Covid times. I cleaned up the area around our local superbox (neighbourhood shared mailbox). Link and I painted a bunch of cute rocks to leave there. They were all taken within a few days, and I’ve done a new batch to set out.

6. Gardening

You know my gardening is basic – my sole aim is to keep all my perennial flowers and shrubs alive. I try a few new ones each year, with mixed success. This year I have been doing some seasonal tasks earlier since I have the time, and I love being outdoors. You might remember one of our trees came down in a hurricane last September. I am still grieving that tree! We had the tree stump and big roots pulled out, and now we’re preparing the spot for a new tree.

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Very common plant – Canadian bunchberry (edible, but usually eaten by bears)

7. Identifying plants

I installed the Seek & iNaturalist apps on my phone so I can identify all the local wildflowers, weeds, trees, mushrooms, insects, etc. Now I’m like a one-year-old who can hardly walk 2 metres without stopping to examine something on the ground! At some point I’ll log most of the local species. As an aside, I thought everyone knew the names of roadside and woodland plants and trees, because my parents and grandparents always knew them. I was in my 20s when I found out this was uncommon!

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Me (left) and my most excellent guide at a remote lake

8. Hiking

This goes with identifying plants. Two weeks ago, my sister took me on a hike on a trail system we used to visit often when we were kids (in Brownies and Guides). My sister is a geocacher, so she is very familiar with local trails and GPS navigation. It took me a week to recover from that trip (16 km!) but now I’m ready for Hike #2. Meanwhile, Rom and I have been exploring local footpaths every day. Before I met Rom, I didn’t feel comfortable walking these trails alone, or getting my kid lost with me, but it’s better together. The cell signal is good, so we can easily find our way. Our house is on the edge of the suburbs and all around us is vast wilderness (forests, rocky bluffs, streams and lakes). We found a path that will take us to the ocean in just 30 minutes!

9. Using scented products

My workplace is scent-free. Since March, I’ve been using up my Body Shop moisturizers, and burning scented candles at my desk, and the like. It was a great joy for the first month! Still a nice option for home.

10. Cleaning

I cleaned the house the first week I was off, and I haven’t focused on it since. But I have kept up on little things like wiping cat nose prints from the windows, and cleaning scuff marks from the walls – which I hardly ever think to do.

11. Ironing

I have some nice, thick cotton tea towels and handkerchiefs that would always be improved by ironing, which I never do. I enjoyed having them looking perfect one time.

12. File Management

I removed all the unnecessary downloaded files from my home and work computers.

13. Paper decluttering

I sorted excess paper into future scrap paper and shreddables, and I shredded a big stack (i.e. confidential work materials, credit card receipts, etc.)

14. Other decluttering

Wonder of wonders, due to Link’s extended stay, they went through all the books, clothes, sewing and needlework supplies and projects that they’d left at home when they moved out (after many, many nudges). For the last 9 years, I have put off decluttering some categories of household stuff, thinking there wasn’t much point until Link finally did theirs. Now I have no excuse!

15. Online learning

I need to improve my Excel skills from intermediate to advanced for work, and Link wanted to make some progress too, so we took some Excel courses together on LinkedIn Learning (Lynda) which is free through many public library websites.

Since we can’t really go anywhere, I’ve been using up some of my vacation time by taking one day off each week during July and August. I miss travel (and especially miss seeing Rom’s parents), I miss concerts and festivals, and I even miss in-person work meetings. Otherwise, having a home-based life is amazing!

Have you tried any new activities since lockdown, or revived any old hobbies?

18 comments

  1. Jen

    I really needed this post today! I’m feeling a little down because it looks like I may leave my school library job as our school is returning in person. You know how precious a library job is, even part time! You re right though, that there are many other ways I am thriving and I think I need to look a little more closely at what they are.

  2. Aha! Now I understand painted rocks! My mums Canadian friend is connected to me on social media and she keeps pinning painted rock posts!!

    I have taken to, at long last, cleaning my boyfriends fridge! He didn’t ask but the drips and spills annoyed me and bored the other day, I cleaned it and we both love the cleanliness!!

    Have you found yourself eating more/too much, and putting on weight with less exercise? Certainly happening to me!

    • If I had an extra fridge to clean, I would probably do it!

      Eating and gaining weight – I avoided that topic on purpose 🙂 I decided in March I would not be too hard on myself during quarantine. So I eased up for 4 months. Now I am not baking any more and I’m getting more exercise. Trying not to focus on weight, though. Feeling better.

  3. Barbara -

    I love the painted rock thing. Where I live there are even facebook groups for it. I must explore some of those utubers.

  4. We are doing some home renovations in addition to much-needed deep cleaning and general sprucing-up. I’m an essential worker so was quite busy for the past several months but am now granting myself some time off. I’m using it to get my house in order. Besides the general cleaning, I’m also cleaning out closets and de-cluttering. It’s been too long since I last did so and when I get things cleaned/organized, I feel like I’ve accomplished something. 🙂

  5. I love iNaturalist. I used it a few weeks ago to identify wineberries on a hiking trail. They were delicious!

  6. Sounds you have a very busy, creative life. Great!

  7. We certainly have incredibly charmed lives to be able to actually enjoy this part of the pandemic.

    We’re stressed daily but we are also doing our best to enjoy the aspects of this new reality that we can. PiC is getting two workouts per weekend, I’m occasionally baking a yummy treat either for myself or for sharing with friends and neighbors. He and JB are exploring so much of the outdoor trails and loving it. I get out with them once in a while too. The school situation is driving me right up the wall and it’s doing the same for so many other parents with school aged kids and teachers who have no good options so that’s a huge stressor but I’ve found some calm in deciding we’re staying remote no matter what and we’ll figure out anything supplemental to help JB stay engaged and interested as needed.
    I’ve always read a lot and I continue to now. I’ve been reading ebooks from the library for years so it’s nice not to have had to adjust that habit.
    I have actually tackled a major section of organizing and decluttering that I couldn’t handle for ages so that’s been immensely satisfying!

    • Hi Revanche, I am glad you made a clear decision about the school year although it’s a big undertaking for your family. Rom and I were joking yesterday that we should do tutoring as a side hustle for some of the parents and students in your situation (no, we are not really going to do it!). I read in your posts about your reading, organizing and decluttering – very satisfying indeed!

  8. I did a lot of decluttering, reorganizing and cleaning during the first month of lockdown. I also cooked a lot – not too much baking. Even though I love to cook I’m pretty much fed up with it by now.
    I have also been restocking my pantry in anticipation of both Winter and a second wave come November (if not sooner). I’ve got about 6 different kinds of flour along with all kinds of baking supplies so I am ready!
    My latest cookbook is a flexitarian one by the Pollens and I’m looking forward to trying some new recipes.

    I didn’t really have much work to do from home for the first six weeks (but I was paid so very lucky) but now I generally go in 2 or 3 mornings per week for a few hours. With no programs running and only a few tenants on the premises (I work for a church) – we’ve been able to work on a few renovation and general clean up projects so it has been great to make good use of the time.

    I stick to a small group of friends – mostly out for walks – with the occasional patio for coffee or a bit of brunch. I am trying to support local businesses but not ready to go into restaurants as yet. I have noticed that shops – like The Bay – are not getting deliveries. I decided to go in a week ago to pick up some undies, new socks and Winter slippers and really, pretty much had to take what was there – very little choice. Usually the shops are pushing winter clothes and coats down our throats from July 1st but I’ve checked 3 times with my local Ecco shop for new shoes and she still hasn’t received any Winter stock. I’ve told friends that if they have certain items on their purchase list for Winter not to be too fussy – getting what’s there while we can might be the new norm.

    The next big test will be opening schools and I am very glad that I don’t have children to worry about – it must be so stressful for all involved. I’m not sure what is going to happen with the workers in all the downtown office towers – the majority are all still working from home. I checked in with my former boss last week and she said they’ve been told that they will be working from home until March when they will move into the new complex that is being built – no going back to the old office. The small shops and restaurants in the PATH (the underground shopping area in the downtown core) are finding it very tough as it is practically deserted. The very few that have reopened are on pretty limited hours. The foodcourt where I get off the subway has put out a grand total of 6 chairs – there are 2 coffee shops open and that’s it – with most people doing takeout. I’m afraid that many of them won’t survive.

    Stay safe everyone.

    • Hi Margie, Nice to hear from you! Sounds like all is well and you are getting out safely. When Link returned to Toronto in July, they said restaurants were still doing take-out and patios only, and most retail shops weren’t open yet. Before our shops opened, the only places you could get clothes were places that also sold food, like Giant Tiger and Walmart! And they never refreshed their stock. Now everything is open but I have seen zero winter items appearing – so unusual. I also had to replace underwear, socks and sneakers. Back-to-school supplies and sales have been very muted here. I guess the new school year is not one to get excited about. NS has said all elementary students must attend school in person unless they have a medical exemption. Families can homeschool on their own but there are minimal supports from the school system – they have not adapted the curriculum so it can be homeschooled by choice. I disagree with that. I acknowledge the time and expense on the part of the Dept of Education, but if not now, when?

      You are smart to restock your pantry for a possible future lockdown. I am going to look up the Pollan cookbook!

  9. Pingback: Living in the time of pandemic: COVID-19 (13) « A Gai Shan Life

  10. Hi Dar, how are you? I have missed you so much. For some reason I had been unaware of your last few posts — well, I know why, of course: I just haven’t been on WordPress too much. I’ve enjoyed reading what you’ve been doing during lockdown. Those painted beach stones!! — Gosh, they are amazing!! Being able to identify local plants and trees and wildlife is really cool. It made me smile. I must look up iNaturalist. Thank you.
    Thank you, too, for the follow, Dar!

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