Food Health Uncategorized

My thoughts on COVID-19.

*This post was written on April 5th, 2020. The Coronavirus pandemic is still a very dynamic and changing situation worldwide at this time of writing. Some information posted here will become outdated as time passes, so please continue to check with your local news outlets and government agencies for more current updates about restrictions and precautions.*

*Stay safe!*

It’s really easy to get caught up in all of the negatives in today’s news reports. For example, I live in Michigan, which is one of the highest reporting states for confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths. Our community is only about an hour’s drive away from Detroit, which is currently a hotspot for the virus. It’s definitely not the best-case scenario for me and my family, but we definitely could have been dealt a worse hand during all of this.

Looking at all the statistics, it gets even more depressing. Here are some that I’ve been hearing recently below:

I’m not writing this to cause even more anxiety, but it’s important to be aware of how serious the situation is. It’s even more important to focus on the positive things that are coming out of all of this:

While it is encouraging to see this information above, it is important to note that we’re not quite out of the woods yet. Not by a long shot.

I am one of the fortunate ones who still have a job. I work in a warehouse that supplies a local delivery chain, so I am still considered an essential employee. My husband and in-laws were not so lucky, as they are independent contractors who perform work that is not considered essential at the moment. All of their jobs have been suspended until further notice. Meanwhile, my employer has prioritized social distancing, sanitization of equipment and work stations, and regular deep cleaning of facilities as precautions. My hands are usually raw at the end of my shift these days.

We are also lucky to have access to grocery delivery options and supply stockpiles from previous Costco shopping sprees. But it’s still kind of eerie to enter a store these days to see firsthand what is happening – there aren’t many people around, limits on milk, bread and butter have been set, and some pantry items are still elusive like sugar and some canned goods. I am very thankful to have toilet paper and sanitizing wipes in my house. And knowing how to cook things that are edible. Because takeout and delivery foods become really expensive pretty quickly.

Hey, gotta start somewhere, I guess.

Speaking of cooking, I’m noticing that people are banding together online to help share easy-to-cook recipes with simple ingredients. I joined a Facebook group myself, and I’m looking forward to making some of the dishes that they have been kind enough to share with the rest of the online world. If you are looking to improve your culinary skills to save some money and some sanity, definitely try reaching out to the people you know on social media to see what kinds of ideas they might have for you. Maybe they could even spare a cup of sugar. (By dropping it off at your door, of course.)

Honestly though, it’s been so encouraging to see online how people are navigating the changes to daily life, like how one guy is using his drones to walk his dog during the lockdown in his area, how food providers are donating meals to first responders, and how people are simply paying it forward during some trying times. I definitely recommend following John Krasinski (Jim from “The Office”) on his Twitter accounts – his personal Twitter account and his new account, Some Good News if you’re trying to get away from all of the depressing content that’s filling up the newsroom these days.

During these next few weeks, it’s going to be crucial to keep a positive, yet informed attitude. Social distancing and isolation really suck the life out of most of us. (Introverts and people who hate socializing, in general, are rejoicing like crazy right now, though. Really, this is what they’ve been waiting for!) As for me, I enjoy being at home for the most part, but the moment someone else forces me to do something is usually the moment when I don’t want to do the thing anymore. I don’t like other people telling me what I can and can’t do, dammit. Even if I’ve already been doing it for a while.

The parks and rec centers in my area had to close down because people were like this.

We celebrated PJ’s birthday on the 3rd, and while we weren’t able to do much, she still enjoyed the day with cupcakes and running around outside (within social distancing guidelines, of course). She also got to stay up late watching Disney movies over and over again while eating pizza and candy. Not a bad set up for a 3-year-old, really. Dan has been using the spare time tending to his streaming channel on Mixer, and I finally got a chance to hop back on here for an update on things. Now I really have no excuse to forgo writing for months at a time. Seriously, I really appreciate you guys sticking around after months of nothingness.

Let me know if you’ve got any positive things or stories to share below! We’re all in this together. Believe it or not, many lives have already been saved so far by following these crazy precautions. And to all of the first responders and fellow essential employees, I salute you and I am praying for your safety and sanity for the next few weeks.

Stay safe out there and wash your damn hands!

DIY Home

An update on the thing we did.

So! I completely forgot to give an update about our house that we picked up to rehab. I wanted to drop some before and after photos before we handed the keys over to the lucky family who now calls the place home! This place came a long way from what it once was.

See if you can guess what photos are the before and after!

We re-mulched with the landscape fabric (I didn’t get another pic) and updated the house numbers.

Since we were already on a shoestring budget for the project, we weren’t able to bring all of the ideas we had for the place to life, but it sure did turn out nice anyways! We think some of the imperfections that it still had at the end kept with the home’s unique character.

The bathroom makeover was definitely the most dramatic one of them all.

Missed the subway tile backsplash I wanted to do, but there’s always next time…

It is truly amazing what a fresh coat of paint and a little elbow grease can accomplish! We hope this home serves its new family well! Now we wait for our next project…

DIY Life

This is what I’ve been up to.

You might have noticed that I’ve been MIA from the blog for a number of weeks.

Yes, I’ve had to put writing off to the side for a bit – bills had to be paid, which required a change of jobs, and a major rearranging of schedules for everyone. PJ did not like the adjustment as much as we did, and my energy has been spent either working, cleaning, or trying to help the little one cope with the time changes and to not immediately collapse into bed once she was down for the night. Yeah, I’m a slacker.

But all that will be for another post later. It’s time to share what we’ve been working on for the past few months among the chaos of life.

We bought another house. This is a pretty big deal.

What the living room looked like after we got the keys.

A while back, my husband and I became business partners with his parents, and we began to take on homes in the area that needed love and attention. When I try to tell people in conversation that I help rehab homes, they think that I’m absolutely crazy. Yup. Especially that I’m doing this in Toledo, Ohio – the quirky city where the crazy people apparently come from. Well, I like to think that we’re kind of like the local version of Chip and Joanna Gaines, except we’re on the edges of vast cornfields in a weird little corner of the Buckeye State, we have to work in snow and ice sometimes, and we may swear a little bit from time to time.

This home had definitely seen better days. The owner was long gone, but I could still feel the memories and energy this place used to have. Photos, letters, furniture, and clothing  scattered around in different rooms, in different boxes and bags. It seemed like a nice Polish Catholic family had once made this place home, with crosses adorning nearly every entryway. Prayer cards for loved ones were tucked away in books, dressers, and also in a small bible, completely in Polish. As we went through the house to see what could be salvaged and what had to be tossed, I was reminded of the home that I grew up in not too long ago.

The kitchen after the majority of the trash and debris was cleared.

I grew up watching my mom deal with the aftermath of the 2007-2008 mortgage crisis. My sister and I didn’t exactly grow up with silver spoons in our mouths during that time. We got by, but money was more than tight. It got bad enough for us to start receiving food stamps and other government assistance. Whether the bills got paid or not, we attempted to stay positive and made the most of things. My mom wanted us to stay in the same school district until we both graduated high school, and sacrificed a lot for us to accomplish that.

When we left our home of 20-plus years for the final time, it looked a lot like this one.

A funky green vintage tub with matching vanity and sink.

Now I am the one who has the opportunity to walk into these houses, to pick up the pieces and breathe new life into it, hoping to fill it with another family who will love it dearly and cherish it just as the ones before them. I find it kind of ironic that I get to do this sort of thing after experiencing what it was like to be on the other end of the deal. It’s also oddly satisfying, I’ll admit. Being able to take back these homes and give them back to the community is empowering. Definitely, this is some kind of karma coming back around here.

This home is about to be wrapped up and ready to go, but there are still some final touches needed, including reinstalling the kitchen cabinet doors and hardware, paint, and patching up the exterior. I’m so excited to see the finished product come through.

I absolutely love this color by Behr.

Now, there seems to be two schools of thought about painting kitchen cabinets: those who think it’s an absolutely terrible and horrendous thing to do to your precious cabinets, and those who don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on new cabinetry. (I was in the second group.) I was a bit worried about how they would turn out at first, as I was literally grabbing color ideas from Pinterest and collecting my favorites on a board for this project. We prepped them first by sanding them, priming them with Glidden Gripper Primer and Sealer, and then finishing them off with a coat of semi-gloss paint. We chose semi-gloss because it would be easier to clean from potential spaghetti night disasters, and it wouldn’t blind anyone with too much shine¬†while trying to cook.


What the kitchen cabinet doors looked like right after paint.

Afterwards, we moved on to prep the remainder of the kitchen for paint, including taping off the windows, baseboards, ceiling, and removing the electrical outlet covers. I originally wanted to finish the kitchen with a lovely off-white subway tile backsplash, but time and budget constraints killed that idea. Maybe one day I will be able to install this cherished and sought after look in another kitchen…

The kitchen is coming together nicely.

While I was waiting on my father-in-law to make some plumbing repairs, I went ahead to work on the yard and landscaping to try to clean up the curb appeal of the home. An important thing to note here: I am still learning on how to do certain things. I am a DIY, grab a task and run with it kind of person.

I literally Googled how to mulch for certain plants, how to edge sidewalks, how to not kill the existing plants after weeding and trimming the beds out, etc. Did you know that there are different types and colors of mulch for plants that attract monarch butterflies? My search history is going to look a little weird for a while.

Before picture of the front porch.

After I was done mulching, I had realized I forgot to do something crucial to prevent future weeds from popping up – and that was to apply landscape fabric before the mulch to keep the sunlight from germinating pesky weed babies. D’oh.

I will get around to fixing that issue once the weather decides to cooperate and stop being so freaking hot and humid. I seriously cannot wait for fall weather.

Progress photo. Edging and mulching made a big difference here.

I don’t want to make this post freakishly long with all that we did, so I’ll post a part two sometime in the near future, once we finish up the remainder of the project and I get the chance to resize and upload all of the photos I’ve taken to document our progress. I’ve got more things to talk about now after taking a break from the blog, so thanks for sticking around! There will be more to come very soon.